SEVERE WX : Severe Thunderstorm Watch View Alerts

UK MP: May's Brexit deal 'practical, clear-eyed'

Rory Stewart, British Justice Minister and a Conservative MP, explains why his support for Theresa May's Brexit deal is "partly about national healing."

Posted: Nov 27, 2018 10:24 AM
Updated: Nov 27, 2018 10:34 AM

US President Donald Trump has kicked up quite a stink here in the UK, after suggesting that Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal might put the brakes on a UK-US trade deal in the brave new world of post-Brexit Britain. He went on to suggest that it was a "great deal for the EU", thus implying it is not such a great deal for the UK.

Many of May's Brexit-loving backbench MPs have already said that they cannot support her deal when it is put to a vote on December 11. Trump's words will have done nothing to calm those in the UK who think that May has given the EU way too much.

Prior to the referendum, hardline Brexiteers often hailed a trade deal with America as the reward for the UK claiming back its independence: untold riches pouring into UK business as the result of free trade with the world's largest economy.

But as with all things Brexit, there is just one small problem with this: reality.

In order to trade sans tariffs with the US, the UK would have to accept American standards on things like food and other goods, which are seen by the EU as being lesser than the standards within the union. Think US-exported hormone-treated beef and chlorine-washed chicken -- things that the EU doesn't want moving freely through the borders of its member states.

The prize of a trade deal with the US -- and all the benefits that would bring to the UK -- was always talked of in such wistful terms under the assumption that post-Brexit, the EU would practically bend over backwards to offer the UK a free trade deal. As the UK's international trade secretary Liam Fox said, it would be "the easiest trade deal in history".

That very same Liam Fox is these days referred to unkindly by some as the "minister without portfolio," owing to the fact that since the UK is still an EU member state, he is unable to actually negotiate any trade deals until it formally leaves on March 29, 2019.

And even after Brexit day, it is unclear that nations will want to sign up to trade deals with the UK until its future trading arrangements with the EU have been fully agreed.

The assumption that the EU would immediately offer the UK a free trade deal proved to be wrong. For many reasons, ranging from food standards to customs arrangements on the island of Ireland, the EU has stayed largely united. Over the past 28 months, it reinforced the uncomfortable truth about Brexit: the UK can either trade independently with the world, or have frictionless trade with Europe.

The EU is the UK's largest trading partner. Come Brexit day, should all of the current arrangements suddenly not be in place, chaos would ensue -- all across Europe and possibly even further afield.

Therefore, a key aim of any Brexit deal always had to be an immediate standstill in the UK's trading relationship with the EU while both sides sort out what comes next.

Once the transition period -- the 21 months immediately after Brexit day, in which the UK carries on its membership of the EU's Single Market and Customs Union -- is over, it's possible to make the case that trade deals with nations elsewhere could make up the shortfall from the UK's lost trade with Europe.

Better still, if successful, post-Brexit, free-trading Britain could have its cake and eat it -- good deals with the EU, the US, Japan, Canada and who knows who else.

But in 2017, the UK's exports to the EU stood at £274 billion ($349 billion) compared to £112 billion ($142 billion) with the US. And trade deals famously take years to negotiate. It was always fanciful for the UK to believe that in the two years it takes to formally leave the EU, it would be able to agree free trade deals with enough nations to prevent economic mayhem.

So while Donald Trump isn't necessarily wrong to suggest that May's deal might make it difficult for the UK to strike a free trade pact with America in the future, the idea that this makes it a bad deal is a matter of opinion, particularly as nearly half of the UK would prefer to be permanently tied to the EU anyway.

The Withdrawal Agreement was only signed two weeks ago, which would leave the UK with five short months to get its affairs in order after leaving Europe. The US is a notoriously difficult negotiator and the idea that anything could be agreed in such a short window is pure fantasy.

What May's deal does is allow the UK to maintain a critical standstill while carefully work out what happens next.

It might not be exciting, it might not be the fireworks that some Brexiteers want, and it might frustrate those who want to leave the EU yesterday. And Trump's words will add weight to their claims that the deal leaves the UK a "vassal state" at the mercy of the EU.

But we come back to that key word: reality.

Theresa May is not lying when she says she has secured a deal that respects the result of the referendum but prevents the UK becoming a basket case. She now has to sell this reality to the public and to her restless MPs.

West Lafayette
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 89°
Kokomo
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 85°
Rensselaer
Overcast
81° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 86°
Fowler
Overcast
81° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 86°
Williamsport
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 92°
Crawfordsville
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 83°
Frankfort
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 83°
Delphi
Broken Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 87°
Monticello
Broken Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 87°
Logansport
Scattered Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 89°
Active Weather Pattern for the Work Week.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 74328

Reported Deaths: 3041
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15860725
Lake7570275
Elkhart484384
Allen3902163
St. Joseph350081
Hamilton2763104
Vanderburgh196313
Hendricks1887108
Cass17959
Johnson1757118
Porter131639
Clark123347
Tippecanoe121111
Madison97965
LaPorte91130
Howard89065
Kosciusko85212
Bartholomew79347
Marshall78422
Floyd77946
Monroe75630
Delaware73052
Dubois69612
Boone67846
Noble67829
Hancock66038
Vigo65110
Jackson5865
Warrick58130
LaGrange55910
Shelby55327
Grant52630
Dearborn50828
Morgan47634
Clinton4343
Henry38320
Wayne37710
White36910
Montgomery35421
Lawrence34627
Harrison33823
Decatur33732
Putnam2888
Miami2742
Daviess27320
Scott26810
Greene25034
Jasper2432
Franklin24214
DeKalb2324
Gibson2254
Jennings22512
Steuben2103
Ripley2087
Carroll1912
Fayette1897
Perry18612
Starke1787
Orange17124
Posey1710
Wabash1693
Fulton1682
Wells1682
Jefferson1632
Knox1540
Whitley1526
Washington1401
Tipton13810
Spencer1363
Sullivan1261
Huntington1223
Randolph1224
Clay1215
Newton11810
Adams1012
Jay910
Owen901
Pulaski831
Rush804
Fountain742
Brown731
Ohio655
Blackford642
Benton610
Pike530
Switzerland520
Vermillion520
Parke511
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren221
Unassigned0206

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events