The art of being in without being in

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before (No, don’t!). Seems Labour doesn’t have its troubles to seek Brexitwise these days. It appears Mr Corbyn is making yet another attempt to square one of the biggest circles on his busy to do list by proposing an amendment to next week’s withdrawal bill votes. An amendment which is meant to pressure the government into ensuring access to the single market, but without yer actual full membership of any of its official bodies. (No swerry wurds people!)

“It shall be a negotiating objective of Her Majesty’s Government to ensure the United Kingdom has full access to the internal market of the European Union, underpinned by shared institutions and regulations, with no new impediments to trade and common rights, standards and protections as a minimum,”

Clearly an attempt to win over remain elements within his party, which is fair enough.

Just one teeny speed bump to consider however…

“We can’t possible imagine a situation in which we would accept cherry-picking. We are responsible for guaranteeing the integrity of the single market,”

“The UK knows what the rules are that underpin that integrity because they’ve been helping us put them together for the last 40 years.” Michel Barnier (Feb 2018)


“These three points were already made very clear by the European Council and European Parliament, but I am not sure whether they have been fully understood across the Channel,”.

“I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and build a customs union to achieve frictionless trade. That is not possible.

“The decision to leave the EU has consequences and I have to explain to citizens, businesses and civil society on both sides of the Channel what those consequences mean for them.

“These consequences are the direct result of the choice made by the UK, not by the EU. There is no punishment for Brexit and of course no spirit of revenge. But Brexit has a cost, also for business in the EU27, and businesses should assess with lucidity the negative consequences of the UK choice on trade and investment and prepare to manage that.”

“I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and keep all of its benefits. That is not possible.” Michel Barnier (July 2017)

Of course, if Mr Corbyn doesn’t want to accept the fairly unambiguous statements made by Michel Barnier? Then perhaps this observation by Martin Donnelly, former Permanent Secretary for the Department of International Trade may be of use?

“The single market is a coherent tapestry of economic and social regulation. Pulling out one strand is very hard to do without changing the whole picture. And so far the EU has been consistent in its commitment to keep the single market as it is, with a single set of rules for all.”

Setting aside ALL of that parliamentary amending, voting, abstaining and party political strategies waffle for a moment. Three things kinda stand out for even the mildly politically engaged person. 1. The jist of the amendment would tend to suggest that Brexit would appear to still be going ahead. 2. The EU have made it pretty clear that there will be no access to the single market from those outwith its regulatory bodies. 3. Given those fairly clear statements above, just how would a government of any stripe achieve this seemingly impossible ideal agreement?

As of this moment, neither Labour nor the current Conservative government are exactly forthcoming on the ‘how to’ part tbf. Maybe it’s a kung fu thing? Like walking on rice paper without leaving a dent. The art of being in without being in.

This amendment is supposedly an olive branch and a step towards compromise with remain elements within the ranks of Mr Corbyn’s PLP and membership. Personally, I’m not entirely sure Mr Corbyn understands either the nature of what is clearly a binary choice for many, or the resolve of the EU to maintain its charter.

Arguably, over the period since the referendum, merely the effects of the vote for Brexit have impacted on near every aspect of life on these islands. You have to wonder if the political class, in their dash to strategy, even notice what’s happening outside of their chambers.  Do they actually care about the damage that’s been done so far? The agreements they’ve endangered, both nationally and internationally? The pledges and settlements within their own competence they’ve ignored? The economic fallout? (which WILL visit every business and every home)

Remember. Merely the effects of the vote for Brexit. NOT Brexit itself. Not yet.

There does appear to be quite the consensus from evidence gathered so far, whether it be governmental impact reports or commentary from the business press, that Brexit has the potential to cause immense, near catastrophic, damage to the UK’s economy.  Kinda leaves a person wondering, why persist without consulting the population on what is clearly a material change in both information and circumstance? But then, Westminster government does have a habit of ignoring such things. If they don’t suit (cough).

The clock is ticking down to the June summit, by which time both a transition period deal and future trade pact discussions are supposedly meant to be on the cards. Tick, as they say, tock. No pressure guys. (Taps watch) Readers can draw their own conclusions as to whether UK gov are anywhere near ready for that summit.

So far as Scotland’s electorate is concerned? Soon as the deal (whatever it is) becomes clear? Well. It’s very likely that it’ll be your turn to have a say and make a choice.


(A rough guide of key Brexit dates can be found HERE.)

45 comments on “The art of being in without being in

  1. Muscleguy says:

    It is becoming rather hard to believe that there are still a lot of No Remainers out there who are hoping against hope that ‘something will come up’ so that they will not have to square that unsquarable equation. Edinburgh voted something like 60% No and over 70% Remain. Folk cannot have both, it is no more possible than it is to leave the EU and stay in the single market.

    I cannot believe Leavers will accept an EEA or EFTA style arrangement whereby we have to obey all the rules but have no say in the drawing up of them. Though it will have the advantage of thinning their ranks as the gammon has a collective cerebral aneurysm when they realise what it means.

    • Andy Anderson says:

      EEA have said that the UK is to big to be part of that group. Politically it would cause an imbalance like us and London. I suppose they could go for a stand alone EEA.

      • Derick Tulloch says:

        Standalone EEA analogue is basically Switzerland. Which took a decade to negotiate, and required the Swiss to agree FoM

  2. Not a snowball’s chance in Hell will they be able to cherry pick from the EU buffer.

    Italy, Easter Europe and others will then be encouraged to try the same.

    End of EU

    • Robert Harrison says:

      Think that’s the ultimate goal of the southern lot is to end the European by doing this.

  3. Andy Anderson says:

    Like you I worry Sam. How anyone can take a country and damage it I have no idea. Criminals all.

    Brexit will help Indy especially if it is a partial crash.

    • Alasdair Macdonald. says:

      Andy Anderson,

      Have you never read Robert Tressell’s “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists”?. It provides a pretty good insight into how people can convince themselves to act against their own interests. Labour Party members and supporters used to read it avidly. I wonder how many, today, have ever heard of it.

  4. Therapymum says:

    It’s a mess Sam. If we weren’t seeing it daily, it would be impossible to imagine having gone this far into the process and yet have no clue about the strength and processes of the EU and no plan for what the U.K. government wants. I agree with Muscleguy. I can’t help feeling that we will be in for the hardest of hard Brexits and that is what has been the plan all along. The Brexiteers will not negotiate, and May is incapable of pulling the party together. They will try to blame the EU. Unfortunately the EU negotiators have been clear and consistent throughout the debacle. It beggars belief that a government, any government, would deliberately harm a country’s economy, trade and living standards, but it looks like that’s what they are going to do.

    I am concerned, though, that many soft “No” voters will be frightened off by a double whammy of Brexit and Indy. The MSM & staunch BritNats have done a real hatchet job that will be difficult to overcome.

  5. Deep sigh.
    Yet Brian Taylor, Gordon Brewer, Glenn Campbell, Sevvie Carrell, and the infinite list of Brit Nat Propagandists will present every twist and turn of Brexit nonsense as though they were viable options.
    You cannot be a little bit pregnant. You are either in the EU, or out
    Wangland voted OUT.

    We didn’t.
    Westminster is heading towards a brick wall at full tilt.
    BY October, our choices will be stark.
    Indyref 2 soon now.

  6. Peter says:

    More ignorance of WTO and international trade agreements that wont LET the half in / half out option.
    For “country of origin” to be able to use EU parts to count then we need to be IN.
    If we are out then all those cars and , engineering products and food products we export are going to have to fine UK sourced replacements for the EU ones if they wish to trade with other countries who have “country of origin” limits.
    ANOTHER obvious one from day one that the media and political “elite” ( aka numpties ) chose to hide from the electorate !!!

  7. mogabee says:

    It may be an art, but seriously, they haven’t got it!

  8. bjsalba says:

    I have to say that Michel Barnier has the patience of a saint.

    Almost since day one he has made it clear that there is no halfway in state, no cherry picking, no cake and eat it option. Talking to a brick was would probably be less frustrating as the wall would not nod and smile in response.

    As I understand it, DD is absolutely convinced that when it gets down to the wire the EU27 will capitulate – so all the UK has to do is hold out to the bitter end and the cake with whipped cream, chocolate, cherries and a drop of brandy will be theirs.

    Simply delusional.

    • Andy Anderson says:

      Saw DD’s talk today that you refer to. He is a total bafoon. He has not enough intelligence to teach in P1.

  9. Macart says:


    • Patience is a Virtue says:

      There was no beginning to his talents.

    • Gove and Johnson have written to May. They want Wangland to be a Singapore style tax haven. They want Davis replaced by a Brexit Czar?
      Davis will resign if May agrees to an open ended backstop to the Irish question which would mean not only Norn Irn, but the rest of the UK being stuck in the EU of sorts indefinitely.
      Gosh if only we had foreseen all this mess, Sam, we could have done something about, like produce Alternative Proposals, like , Scotland’s Place in Europe Versions I and II.
      Madness stalks the green lanes of Old England.
      Indyref 2 starting gun? October 2018.
      It is beyond belief that we wait any longer.

      Wangland is heading for Third World poverty, except for the Moggs and the Johnsons.

    • Macart says:

      Now NOT resigning…. again.

      Hahahahahahahahahah (and breathe) Hahahahahahahaha!

  10. Excellent piece, as always, Sam. I particularly appreciated the quote from Michel Barnier in 2017. How much more explicit could he be? For the sake of my friends and family in England, I wish JC well South of the Border … but I do not see how this last strategy to appeal to his remain people will further his cause in any way!

  11. Geordie says:

    And yet still supposed Scottish Indy supporters vote for Corby, naming no names – Cat Boyd. There is currently a deranged insanity in UK politics that knows no reasoning or consistency.

  12. I really can’t see a peaceful end to all of this. I’m just glad I’m about as far north as you can get on England’s west coast!

  13. Catherine says:

    Watched Scottish Questions at Westminster today. Oh dear. …. David Mundell was dreadful. He is supposed to be the Secretary of State for Scotland. Shocking. …….Well done to our SNP MPs especially Alan Brown and Tommy Sheppard for putting him on the spot. Anyone watching this must surely wonder how David Mundell is representing Scotland.
    Also thank you to Sam for his excellent piece

    • Patience is a Virtue says:


      Ministerial Role

      Job Role: Secretary of State for Scotland:

      Responsibilities: ‘The main role of the Secretary of State for Scotland is to protect the devolution settlement.’

      Other responsibilities include ‘promoting partnership between the UK government and the Scottish Government and relations between the 2 Parliaments.’

      When the Scottish Parliament votes 93 to 30 to withhold legislative consent for the EU withdrawal Bill amendment (and who exactly came up with wording??) where Yes = your Consent, your non-response = your Consent and No = your Consent- pardon us for being so daft as to read the small print and vote 93 to 30 against these weasel words.

      The ’30’ (Con.) obviously thought this was a ‘good deal for Scotland’ and so does the Secretary of State for Scotland (Con.) given his woeful performance and shameful defence of the same during Scottish Questions. Indeed if the Scottish Parliament was to hold a vote on his performance it would probably go about 93 to 30 against again.

      it the Secretary of State for Scotland (Con.) feels it is perfectly ok to ignore the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament, so be it, but difficult to see how he is in any way fulfilling his main job role of ‘protecting the devolution settlement’

      A Plague of Boils seems in order Lord Smith.

  14. Herald Britland online’s headline informs us all that there is a recruitment crisis in Scotland’s fruit picking industry as only one in 400 is British. Breaking news! You read it here first! Pulitzer Prize journalism!
    Good old Dead Tree Scrolls. Still there’s a bums and tits piece on a banned lingerie advert, and the new Rangers manager has signed another World Beater…
    Only two years behind the news.
    We were pointing out the Eurmageddon impact of Brexit in June 2016, on here, and on many many online blogs.
    Yet our Brit Hacks produce this c**p on a daily basis.

    Seriously, The Herald is now a pointless wee Brit Nat Rag.

    If Jackie Baillie or Murdo Fraser slags off NS with no basis in fact, you can rely on Tom Gordon to stick quotes around the cat calling stupidity and headline it in this sad shrivelled up excuse of a ‘paper.
    Tomorrow’s headline?
    John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish the new Dream Team at ra Sellick!

  15. Dave Hansell says:

    I recall rule 1 of Trade Union Conferences back in the 1980’s: ‘The words are the words.’ Drummed into new delegates from day one to ensure any props or amendments were tightly worded to either avoid ambiguity and possibility of alternative interpretations.

    So let’s look at the words of this amendment:

    “It shall be a negotiating objective of Her Majesty’s Government to ensure the United Kingdom has full access to the internal market of the European Union, underpinned by shared institutions and regulations, with no new impediments to trade and common rights, standards and protections as a minimum,”

    Nothing in there containing the specific words or letters EEA or EFTA. Nothing about a half way house, cherry picking, or having the cake and eating it. That interpretation cannot hold given the wording contained above.

    Just a plan simple these should be the objectives.

    There is only one logical way that the Government can possibly achieve the objectives set out in the wording of that amendment. Sam has spelled out what that is here. It is, as stated, for the UK to stay in the SM & CU etc as laid out in the other quotes provided from Barnier etc.

    Anyone in the Government with half a brain cell, if such a creature exists, should be able to see this for what it is. On that basis alone the government position will be to whip their MP’s to vote it down. If it passes it will be the Government put in a position of having to square the circle of achieving those objectives, which in practical effect require them to essentially abandon ther Brexit stance .

    Its not quantum mechanics

  16. Brian Powell says:

    It would be very useful for the Scottish electorate to hear Labour in Scotland’s manager explain this in Holyrood.

  17. Andy Anderson says:

    On a different topic, sorry everyone.

    For some months now it seems to me that people I talk to are slowly thinking about Indy. I means soft No voters. Others said the same the other day at my local Yes group meeting.

    With the latest You Gov poll from April backing this up (Pity that BBC Scotland distorted theirs report about it) it seems to me we are at a cusp. Opinions are turning.

    Brexit will help our cause as will the new SIF initiative to fund Yes group campaigns. AUOB and all of us must ramp up visibility.

    Although depressed about a few things like the WM power grab etc I am very optimistic we will win this time. Freedom.

    • Marconatrix says:

      The subtle attitude shift is to a POV where Indy is seen as the normal, baseline situation, so people on the whole stop asking “should we risk independence”, and naturally wonder instead, “Why are we (still) in Union?” Since a moments reflection shows that the Union hardly benefits Scotland now, if it ever did, which itself is debatable.

  18. Cymru Rydd says:

    Watching this all unfold from Wales, the way Brexit has been handled by the Westminster Government is a real clusterfuck. It just beggars belief that they have a PM who doesn’t believe in Brexit and who hasn’t delivered any clarity as to what the Government actually want almost two years after the Referendum in 2016. It really is the biggest crisis for the British state for generations- which is why I (as Welsh Nationalist wanted a NO vote to happen, because I just thought it would completely upend the normal order, and allow new possibilities to emerge).

    What’s also interesting is that Brexit has also led to a crisis for the EU, with so many different groupings now fundamentally opposed to it. From Italy’s new populist government considering leaving the Euro, to Austria, Hungary and Poland and now Slovenia deeply unhappy about the EU’s encouragement of unlimited immigration to these countries, plus the bitterness felt by the people of Greece over the EU’s austerity measures: it really is a crisis over there as well as over here.

    It seems to me that the writing is very much on the wall for the EU technocrats and its “one size fits all” myopic vision for Europe..

    I have a couple of questions for my Scottish friends is this: have the SNP chosen the right course in make Scottish independence so contingent on membership of the EU- when the EU looks close to imploding altogether??

    With almost 40% of the Scottish population voting Out in the Brexit referendum as well, how can those people be brought on board for the new independence campaign when it happens?

    Soar Alba/Cymru am Byth

    • Marconatrix says:

      The Scottish strategy, as far as I understand it, is to take things one at a time, step by careful step. First get free of the UK, then look at the options re Europe, EU, EEA etc. The EU has its faults, what doesn’t?, but on the whole seems to be a Good Thing.

      “It really is the biggest crisis for the British state for generations- which is why I (as Welsh Nationalist wanted a NO vote to happen, because I just thought it would completely upend the normal order, and allow new possibilities to emerge).”

      OK, I can see the sense in that, sort of. But what a risk you’re running. Don’t you see the danger of being left in the tender embrace of a reactionary, isolationist Engerland, totally rUKed as it were? A sort of microcosm of how Brexit England might be swept up into the arms of the USA?

      Even Norn Iron voted Remain. Druan o beth does gennon ni Cymru hefyd yn erbyn y Saeson y tro hwn 😦

  19. Hetty says:

    Re; Therapymum June 6th.

    I think you are correct there Therapymum, and it is not looking good. My dad always used to say the UK would end up ike a ‘little America’, meaning another state of the US. It looks like that is the plan and it’s seriously scary imo. Looking at what is going on in the US, re immigrants and removing children from parents whose status is unstable.

    They are actually locking babies up having torn them out of their mothers arms! I mean what the heck. Little children being removed from their families, detained in centres which apparently could well be very dangerous for them, it’s just insane in 2018 this is happening.

    Scotland needs to escape the clutches of little America ie England and rUK or be ruined. I know what you mean re the no voters, but if they have any sense they will surely see that a Scotland that is able to stay in the EU if people want that, and able to make decisions to the benefit of the people, is by far preferable to becoming a tax haven wasteland and playground for dodgy regimes’ powerful and dangerous.

    Let’s hope so anyway.

  20. Robert Graham says:

    Let’s hope the SNP are well advanced with planning for the Referendum that is certain to be called , and planning well out of sight of the Civil Service in Scotland who in my opinion cant be trusted , it is obvious now this is Brexit shambles has no chance of being to our benefit so stop wasting time hoping for some kind of miracle that is not going to happen to a deal where they have absolutely no input and cant change anything .
    What we need now is a clear timetable of the steps required and latest dates they can be implemented .
    By all means go through the motions by saying they are waiting for clarity on the final deal while preparing the ground for a fast referendum campaign .

  21. manandboy says:

    At some point before Indy2014, there was an ‘awakening’ among Scots which produced a huge leap in support for Independence.
    And then, in the darkest hour of September 19th, an unprecedented upsurge in membership of the SNP began, from around 26,000 to over 120,000 members.
    Both of these increases were spontaneous, unanticipated, and shook British Nationalism to their boots.
    Just one more such ‘stirring’ of the Scottish population is required and who would bet against it as the seriousness of Scotland’s position becomes clearer.
    So let everyone do what they can to support Independence.
    But remember, Scotland will be free after Independence, but it won’t come without a price, and no one else can pay that price for you.
    So, SHOW your support; get out and march; hold your banner high; and proudly declare your Yes to self-determination and to independence, for Scotland.
    Just do it!

  22. Macart says:

    One more update.

  23. stuart colligan says:

    The only way to square that un-squareable equation, is to remain in the EU and obtain the kind of “new” deal you are looking for, Cameron tried that pre-Brexit vote, and failed miserably!
    So, dive off the cliff-edge Brexit it’s going to be, or the complete embarrassment of a letter, stating “We were wrong Mr. Barnier, please can we cancel Brexit and remain as we were!”….
    Which will mean their UK representatives are forevermore treated with disdain and derision, by the other member states! Making all future “deals” within the EU, nigh on impossible.
    So either way, in squaring the equation, it’s a “lose,lose” result for Westminster!

  24. Robert Graham says:

    I doubt if anyone who is unable to attend the SNP conference will have much luck trying to follow the coverage on any of the TV channels despite having the most MPs & MSPs in Scotland that dosent warrant any coverage , as usual i guess we will be presented with heavily edited clips and the BBC version of events , Its on u/tube if anyone is interested just do a bit of work and search for SNP conference its being streamed live and the timetable is advertised when they are having a break .

  25. Robert Graham says:

    o/t Again, I see Smith of the entirely neutral BBC is giving her thoughts and trying to push divisions in the SNP , In your dreams dear most people don’t believe a single word you utter , you and the BBC stick slavishly to the Unionist agenda , the more your media push the more we resist , your propaganda isn’t working .

  26. Andy Anderson says:

    Theresa’s (the nutter from London) latest plan announced today regarding the backstop for Ireland has already been rejected by the EU. No surprise there!!

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