Ed: Since there’s a dearth of articles at the moment – for whatever reasons – we’re going to publish letters by accredited authors as if they were articles. Other letters will be published under ‘Letters’ as usual and in due course.


Beware the Ides of March, Michel!  On 29 March 2018 the UK will have reached the half way point in the period of two years which Article 50 allows for the UK and the EU to reach a binding agreement approved by the European Parliament.  Should no such Agreement have been reached by 11.00 pm UK time on 29 March 2019, then at that moment the UK will be released from the Treaties of the EU.

It is good to know that our noble civil servants have now made detailed plans for such an eventuality.  It would also be a good outcome for the UK as there would be no “divorce bill” to pay, and WTO tariffs would immediately be slapped on sales of German cars to the UK. Moreover, there would be no immediate change at the Irish border, and such changes as emerged there would be hardly noticed because of what modern technology can achieve.

However, absolutely everyone knows that the best outcome for everybody would be the maintenance of the existing free trade in goods and services after the UK is released from the Treaties.  Michel Barrier (as I now call him) nevertheless still goes out of his way to raise obstacles to this desirable result; though of course he has yet to say exactly what barriers he wants to impose.  I do not blame him for this, as if he allowed an Agreement to be reached as easily as it obviously could be, at the moment that Agreement was ratified by the European Parliament the UK would be released from the Treaties of the EU; so it is in his interests, and more particularly those of his political masters, to spin the whole process out as long as possible.  But remember, Michel, the clock is ticking…

As Mrs May has rightly said, therefore, ”Let’s get on with it!”  Michel Barrier must be told in no uncertain terms to stop messing about.  Let’s get the Agreement, including free and frictionless trade in goods and services, signed sealed and delivered without further delay; otherwise the UK should just walk away now, not returning to the negotiating table until he comes round to our way of thinking.  And in the same blunt way, he must be reminded that if there is no deal, he can kiss goodbye to the “divorce bill”.

It flows from all this that there is absolutely no point whatsoever in having any “Transition Period” or “Implementation Period” after the UK is released from the Treaties; there will be nothing to “transit” to, and nothing to implement.