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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
DMcG BS: Brexit #3: A futile gesture? (2668* d) RE: BS: Brexit #3: A futile gesture? 24 Mar 19


That's more a matter of definition that actuality, stanron. There are at least two other ways of leaving without following the WTO rules. The first has not been explicitly talked about as far as I know, but it is real and to some extent a few of the proposals are based on this.

a) You could leave and not choose to follow WTO rules.
Philosophically, if you object to the EU because you don't want to have rules set by a remote organisation whose democratic accountability you think very dubious, then it makes little sense to move to one which is even more remote and has no democratic accountability at all. But practically, the enforcement of WTO rules is ultimately set by a court and Trump is refusing to appoint the US representative to it. So in practice, the court cannot sit and the rules cannot be enforced. Some of the issues around Northern Ireland arise because of WTO rules. If you decided to ignore the rules it actually eases some of the problems.

So leaving and not following the WTO rules fully is undoubtedly a huge risk and potentially has great long term costs, but it is theoretically possible.

b) What was proposed during the referendum.
I expect everyone remembers the famous 'easiest deal in history' quotation. If you read the stuff around it, the idea was that initially the UK would follow the EU rules *voluntarily*, not by *legal obligation*, and then over time adapt them to something more in line with our wishes. If a given set of standards is acceptable to the EU and our businesses are set up to work to those standards, why not follow them until you come up with something you like better? There is some sense in this, and had it been possible to continue to trade with the EU on this basis, it would have been far better than the WTO rules. We were unable to negotiate the joint recognition of standards bodies this would need.


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