Clarity on Brexit

Interesting Bloomberg column Clive Cook:

The crucial point is straightforward. Britain needed to seek a compromise that traded off degrees of access to Europe’s single market against degrees of effective sovereignty and democratic accountability. Remaining in the EU involves close-to-frictionless trade with the other members combined with seriously diminished democratic self-government. A clean Brexit, leaving the U.K.’s relationship with Europe akin to Canada’s with the U.S., involves short- and possibly long-term economic losses combined with a stronger form of self-government.

Reasonable people can disagree about where to be on that spectrum. A deal of the form May first had in mind — a middle point between a narrow free-trade agreement and full access to the single market — could well have worked. But the final form of May’s exit agreement finds no such point of balance.

Compared with remaining in the EU, it entails substantial economic losses and diminished, not enhanced, democratic accountability. The only significant policy question over which Britain gains new control is immigration. On almost every other issue where the EU has competence, Britain, thanks to the so-called backstop on Northern Ireland, will be indefinitely hemmed in –- while losing any say in what the EU chooses to do. On a scrupulously unzealous assessment, this is less self-government than Britain currently has as a member of the EU. It isn’t a compromise, it’s a capitulation.