Time is running down on the Brexit clock (399 days and counting!) and the default path seems the only way that will allow a smooth and orderly Brexit in a timeframe that could be construed as reasonable to British voters. (See how many more days until Brexit here)
If the UK government chooses to simply photocopy existing EU trade regulations and then change those laws incrementally over a period of years, the UK should rightly expect to be invited by the European Union to continue their mutually beneficial trade relationship.
After all, how could the EU possibly be upset that the UK will voluntarily continue to follow European Union trade regulations in the pre-Brexit period?
However, this implies that until Brexit actually occurs, the UK will be obligated to consult with the EU on every incremental change made on those photocopied laws and regulations from now until the UK officially leaves the European Union on March 29, 2019. It’s not about polite diplomatic behavior, it’s about pragmatic self-interest.
The UK must begin today to re-prove that it intends — in all cases — to be a fair and reliable trading partner with the EU, and other countries are sure to be watching as this process unfolds. No amount of effort can be spared in this regard, because as so goes the UK trading relationship with the EU, so it will go between Britain and every other country in the world, after Brexit.
Trade After Brexit
Once March 29, 2019 has passed and the UK has officially left the European Union there will be no longer be any requirement for lengthy consultations with the EU on changes to British trade laws or regulations far in advance of them coming into effect.
That doesn’t mean that the UK shouldn’t continue to consult with the EU, it means that it doesn’t need to consult with the EU during the entire policy formation period. But once UK policy has been decided, the EU should continue to be the first to know about pending changes due to the bloc’s importance to the British economy.
As above, no effort should be spared in showing the EU every possible courtesy on even the most incremental of trade policy adjustments under consideration in the pre-Brexit timeframe.
And in the post-Brexit timeframe, a high level of communication and consultation must continue to define the relationship between the two sides.
Customs Law After Brexit
Unlike trade, the present customs union will end the day after Brexit which will be a very positive thing for the UK. After Brexit, the UK alone will be fully in charge of who can and can’t enter the country, and it should mount a Herculean effort now to identify and locate every single foreigner in the country, matching them to their home and workplace (or school) address.
Every non-British born resident in the country should be required to pay 100 pounds sterling per year, and also be required to provide their updated home and work/school address as often as it changes, no matter which country they originally hailed from. It’s the 21st century(!) all of this can be done on a UK.gov webform in less than 10 minutes per year.
Especially for those foreigners living in the United Kingdom anytime prior to Brexit day, the UK government should make the entire process as streamlined as possible.
Commonwealth Nations in the post-Brexit Timeframe
As the UK returns to its Commonwealth roots, immigration to the UK should thenceforth be sourced from Commonwealth nations.
Of course, there will always be a number of immigrants from the EU, America, and other countries. But as much as possible, the focus should be on the ‘all for one and one for all’ approach of Commonwealth nations — and one great way to keep that viable is by sourcing 2/3rds of the UK’s immigration requirements from the Commonwealth.
In addition, the UK should continue to spend .7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid — but spend it in Commonwealth nations exclusively.
This means that the British government must find other nations to take over its existing foreign aid commitments in non-Commonwealth nations so that Britain can concentrate on building a better Commonwealth.
Done right, every pound sterling spent in Commonwealth foreign aid should return a minimum of two pounds sterling to the UK, as a rising tide in a finite environment like the Commonwealth will lift all boats, which is quite unlike spending that same amount of foreign aid in the wider world.
One example of how Britain could benefit in the post-Brexit timeframe with a policy that favours Commonwealth nations is that UK universities, colleges and trade schools should see a vast increase in enrollment from the 2 billion citizens of Commonwealth nations.
Time is Tight
Although Brexit once seemed far-off, time is getting a little tight. Much needs to be accomplished in the remaining 399 days until Brexit.
The best way to do that is to harmonize UK trade law with EU trade law and then make incremental changes over time. That’s how not to lose.
How to win is to engage with Commonwealth nations as never before in ways that work to benefit both the United Kingdom and every Commonwealth member nation.
Keeping our EU friendships healthy on the one hand while updating our Commonwealth friendships for the 21st century on the other hand, is irrevocably in Britain’s best interests, thereby creating a new paradigm that will allow the UK to work to its strengths over the next 100 years.
Written by John Brian Shannon
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