My issue with an EEA+CU “plan B” is not so much the principle of being a rule-taker, although @ottocrat in particular makes good arguments against that.
It’s that I don’t think UK politics would allow it to be a stable arrangement. I don’t think it would survive first contact.1/
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the rule-taker thing is a particularly good thing, and I think it’s crazy to dump being a rule-maker in favour of being a rule-taker for, essentially, nothing. 2/
But even aside from that, ask yourself the question, how long would it be until there were calls for a referendum on leaving the EEA+CU? 3/
From the first new regulation on vacuum power ratings, or kettle efficiency, or lightbulbs (what is it with people and lightbulbs?), the Brexit Ultras would set about it crying “betrayal”, and “vassal state”, and “why do they want to ban British cauliflower”, and so on. 4/
And you’d still either need a backstop, or a full Customs union (so no Global Britain deals for the Ultras), or both. The frictionless trade that would be the real prize of it needs SM and a CU. One or the other doesn’t do it. 5/
Added to that, UK would be (rightly, I think), viewed with deep suspicion that the arrangement was not meant to be remotely permanent, and was just a way to get Brexit over the line before tearing it all up again. 6/
The reason that suspicion is justified of course is that Brexiters keep saying that that’s exactly what they’d do. 7/
I’ll make an admission here. Had the PM and UKGov set this out as a serious option from the start, and spent 2 years explaining, defending, and gathering consensus for it, this might not have been the case. 8/
While I wouldn’t have been happy with it, but if that plan, which is undoubtedly the least damaging option that involves Brexit happening, had been adopted, sold, and supported from the start, even I may (reluctantly) have accepted it. 9/
Instead though, the well was almost instantly poisoned, absurd, self-harming red lines adopted, and limiting the economic damage and personal disruption of Brexit became a less-than-even-secondary objective. 10/
From where we are now though, this would be very far from a stable solution, impossible to achieve in most of the Cakeist forms proposed, and would be a gift to those who want to Brexit, then wreck whatever’s agreed anyway to get to their no-rules, no protections dystopia. 11/
Once again, none of this had to be this way. 12/12
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