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September 1, 2017updated 21 Jan 2021 1:29pm

Editor’s letter: Who will have the brexit cake and who will eat it?

By Vincent Huck

What the UK wants, the European Union can’t possibly give it. It is not a question of punishment as it has been suggested in some parts. But while the UK wants and needs to retain its prestigious position as the English speaking high standards doorstep of the EU market, for the EU what is at stake is the sustainability of a project which has come close to being a white elephant.

And this dichotomy brings about an important problem for citizens both in the UK and the EU: they are at the mercy of the short-sightedness of politicians more interested in their careers rather than building a future for the next generations. Time is an important and worrying aspect of Brexit which has been left overlooked so far. Interestingly the UK voted in the Brexit referendum on 23 June 2016, just over a month to the day of the centenary of the Sykes–Picot Agreement (May 1916).

The agreement defined the sphere of influence of the UK and France in the Middle East and there is little doubt that the current situation in the region from Syria to Palestine and Saudi Arabia is directly linked to this agreement.

Political decisions taken in secret a hundred years ago by politicians had tremendous consequences to this day for the whole world: setting a region in flame and fostering tension and insecurity globally.

Both UK and EU politicians should remember this lesson from history.

It is very unlikely that an economic and politic integration build over 60 years will be unwound in two, as ACCA UK head John Williams tells us. Stripping out Brexit of all politics then raises a whole lot of questions around the practicalities of doing business from the UK to the EU and the other way around. Amongst those questions: is there the infrastructure to hold Lorries at the border if we were to return to a hard border? What about cooling containers to preserve all the fruits coming from Spain while they clear custom?  What will be the impact on prices for UK consumers?

In its paper entitled Future Customs arrangements a future partnership paper, the UK government suggests two scenarios stating that it seek to have an arrangement that facilitates the freest and most frictionless trade possible in goods between the UK and the EU.

But the UK can’t have the cake and eat it.  

The so called “deal” that the UK and the EU leaders will broke will have to facilitate business in the short term and will have to be satisfactory to their current and respective electorate. But it will also have to stand the test of time so that in 100 years’ time it will be lauded rather than condemned.

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