So when we consider whether we want a Canada trade deal, we must consider whether we want to conclude a trade deal with the unelected officials in 2020 only to see it still not ratified in 2026. One needs a certain trust in one's negotiating partners that they actually have a remit to negotiate on behalf of their principals, and it's not at all certain that M Barnier enjoys that trust.
So far, Greece has threatened not to ratify the trade deal unless the British Museum given them the Elgin marbles. And France has threatened to end the return of asylum seekers under the Dublin convention. And Sinn Fein is seeking a referendum on Northern Ireland's future.
The first is a risible playground taunt. For the second, we return some 6k migrants under the Dublin agreement and take in 2k (mostly for family reunification) so the EU is threatening us with 4k migrants a year when we have 3.5m EU citizens living here already? Please.
As for Northern Ireland, yes, if the people of the province want a referendum on their future we must grant it, and we must abide by their decision. However, it's far from sure whether either the citizens of the province or the Republic of Ireland would be keen. First, finance. Northern Ireland costs the UK about £10bn more each year than it raises in tax - not far short of the £13bn we paid each year to the EU. If Ireland is to keep the same levels of welfare and public services there as now, it will be a painful cost. Ireland currently has a GDP of around £75bn and taxes are just under 24% of GDP. Irish taxes would have to rise to 37% of GDP to pay for the North. I suspect that's why NI polls show that just 25% favour unification with the Republic with 52% opposing.The levels of austerity they would need to endure would be destructive.
Ireland's low tax rate is significant. The EU is asking its members to tax their people more to both make up for Brexit and pay for other aspirations - but the effects of tax increases to pay for the Berlaymont's trillion Euro goggle eyes (we've just punched a €94m hole in that) impact the people of Europe very differently. Ireland has an overall tax rate of 23.5% of GNI, France 48.4%.
|% of GNI subvented by EU|
Increasing the EU's annual charge to its members from 1.0% of GNI to 1.3% of GNI doesn't sound much - but for an Irishman it means the proportion of his tax going to Brussels rises by 1.2%, whilst a Frenchman can shrug off a 0.6% increase.
*CETA passed the Dutch lower chamber yesterday, but is due to go to the Tweede Kamer next month, where it is likely to fall. Incidentally, the best hashish in A'dam could be bought from a tiny place for locals, very non tourist, called Der Tweede Kamer on the Spui. In my youth I spent many happy hours there, and it's still there today.