Top positive review
A brief but informative summary of the issues facing BREXIT
25 June 2017
On the cover of Ian Dunt’s book is a promotional stamp proclaiming “For people who still believe in experts”, referencing Michael Gove’s quip during the referendum campaign that “people in this country have had enough of experts”.
The author of this short and excellent book works in the press gallery in the UK Westminster Parliament, edits politics.co.uk and writes regularly for various publications including ‘The Guardian’ and ‘The Times’. In researching this book, he consulted widely with more than 20 academics and professional “experts” in constitutional law, strategic studies, economics, human rights and trade law throughout the UK and Europe; most are listed in a section at the end of the book.
The book contains succinct but detailed explanations of exactly what the single market is, how the customs union works, how the political institutions of the EU work and intersect (the Commission, the Parliament and the Council) and how the laws governing member states are agreed and enforced. The author examines in detail how non-EU members Norway, Switzerland Turkey and Canada each have specific and different legal relationships with the EU which in each case have pros and cons, and how the UK negotiating team might learn from these models. Dunt also demonstrates that the UK economy cannot survive without mass immigration and restricting ‘freedom of movement’ is likely to result in severe economic consequences for the UK, especially in the farming sector and in health & social services.
The main takeaway from Dunt’s book is that a substantial medium-term economic decline as a result of the Brexit process might be avoided, but only with a first class negotiating team (Dunt doesn’t see the UK has this right now, and demonstrates why) and sufficient time to agree the thousands of important details necessary to sever from the EU properly. ‘Leavers’ talk glibly about “a trade deal” as if that were a straightforward process, whereas in reality such deals are so complex they take years to conclude, need scores of professional trade negotiators the UK does not have, and frequently result in formal disputes and break-down.
Dunt explains that a transitional arrangement with continued membership of the single market and customs union to give the UK a few years to properly sort all this out might be a workable solution, but is there the political will to concede this?