I’ve argued before that our pro-Brexit farmers and fishermen might find their interests sacrificed in a EU deal to save the City of London financial sector, Nissan’s car sales and the soft Irish border. Though Tory politicians have said that the fishermen’s interests would be protected, few believe them. See:
We also know that English Tory leave voters would sacrifice anything relating to Scotland or Ireland in return for their precious ‘independence’ from the EU.
Writing in the Independent today, Richard Power Sayeed has made things clear:
‘Last year I interviewed several retired trade officials about their experiences, and they all described the process of negotiation in similar terms. You treat some products and sectors as bargaining chips, using them to protect the interests of other products and sectors. Brexit means choices. During those conversations I was really struck by how unanimous they were, regardless of their political persuasion, on the question of whose interests the UK negotiators would prioritise and whose they would largely abandon. British farmers and perhaps fishing communities, both frequently impoverished and both broadly pro-Brexit, will likely be sacrificed, because other EU members have nurtured those industries but Britain hasn’t. On the UK’s protected list will be sciences, engineering and pharmaceuticals, especially research and development, as will be the last vestiges of our car industry. Rather more controversially, the Government will also be desperate to look after the City. Our trade negotiators will ask the EU 27 to grant the UK “equivalence” – recognition that our financial services regulations conform to theirs – so that bankers, insurers and wealth managers in the UK can operate as if they were in the single market.’
So, that’s clear, we come bottom of the list of priorities. If we don’t like it, we can always leave the UK. That might be good news for the independence movement but I’m not sure it would really impact on No voters that much.
Anyway, it also became apparent today, missed by Sayeed, that a deal for the City of London will not happen. Reported in the Guardian today, The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said:
‘There is not a single trade agreement that is open to financial services.’
According to the Guardian report:
‘Britain cannot have a special deal for the City of London, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator has told the Guardian, dealing a blow to Theresa May’s hopes of securing a bespoke trade agreement with the bloc. Michel Barnier said it was unavoidable that British banks and financial firms would lose the passports that allow them to trade freely in the EU, as a result of any decision to quit the single market.’
I’d say this crushing news pushes Theresa closer to paying for a soft Brexit to save the City of London or, even, a second referendum. The latter is becoming more and more likely with public opinion demonstrably in favour of it.
Of course, a second referendum for EU membership makes a second Scottish Independence referendum impossible to deny.