A quick EU trade deal for Britain is unlikely

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As the formal Brexit date of the 29th March 2019 grows ever closer, speculation over what arrangements and trade deals can be worked out before then has reached fever pitch.

The markets and the participants of the talks all “remain confident” a deal can be reached. Even when the possibility of talks failing to achieve a trade deal is brought up, it is often dismissed as unlikely.

The British government and the European Union may indeed negotiate a continuation of current trade deals, of which Britain could potentially remain a part, for a time at least.

A whole new trade deal is another matter entirely.

Trade deals are notoriously difficult to negotiate even when only attempting to look after the competing interests of two nations.

Putting together a framework where both sides sufficiently benefit is a gruelling process. In the case of the EU, it’s not just two sides that need to walk away satisfied, it’s the nation making the deal and the EU’s 28 member nations.

According to the European Court of Justice (Europe’s highest court), EU trade agreements that deal with regulatory or investment issues must be ratified at multiple levels. In these types of instances, for example the Canada – EU free trade agreement. The approval of the EU council, EU Parliament, the national assemblies of all 28 member nations and certain sub-national bodies is required before the deal can be fully enacted.

The Canada – EU trade agreement took 7 years to negotiate and was 22 years in the making. It has been nearly two years since the deal was signed, but it has only been ratified by 9 of the required 28 EU member nations. So the full agreement is not yet entirely enforceable and parts of it are only provisionally applied.

Despite over two decades in the making, the Italian Parliament is currently attempting to block its ratification, a move that could potentially sink the entire deal.

So what does that mean for Britain?

The cost of bowing out of the EU without a trade deal is currently estimated at £27bn a year to UK companies and an additional £31bn to their EU counterparts.

The British ambassador to the EU privately told the government that a trade agreement with the EU may take 10 years to negotiate and then still potentially fail to be ratified.

The complexities of EU internal politics and the plethora of political speed bumps will likely ensure any potential Britain-EU trade deal will take a considerable amount of time.

That doesn’t even begin to take into account the likely issues Theresa May’s embattled government may face in negotiating any trade deal.

Given the current governments extremely slim majority, having the political mandate to push through a deal that may prove unpopular with elements of British indistry, could potentially be a terminal battle for the Prime Minster’s leadership.

There may indeed be some EU member states that are extremely keen on a good, quick deal for Britain, for example Germany. However considering the extremely complicated process EU trade deals can potentially entail, a quick sweetheart deal for Britain seems very unlikely.

If for any reason your interested in the ins and outs of the 30 step EU trade agreement process, there is a guide to the process here.

Will polling get it wrong again this midterms in a rerun of 2016?

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With the midterms fast approaching there is a question on every political analysts and pundits mind, will the polls be accurate this time? In electioneering, polls are still the only real way to measure voter intentions going into any democratic contest, yet in the recent past beginning with the Brexit referendum they have failed to accurately predict elections and referendums on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the 2016 election the vast majority of polls suggested Hilary Clinton would be the next President of the United States by a handy margin, yet not only did that not come to pass, Trump won the election by 77 Electoral College votes.

For example, Michigan was considered practically in the bag for Hilary Clinton during the 2016 election cycle. Polling numbers less than a month out from Election Day had Donald Trump’s campaign lagging up to a huge 11.4 points behind in the race. On Election Day however Trump emerged victorious by 10,704 votes.

Michigan Democrats were absolutely shocked that the Clinton campaign and the DNC listened to the polls predicting an easy victory, over their own on the ground experiences which painted a very different picture. These battle-hardened political operatives very much knew that Michigan was a live race in the battle for the Presidency, yet the Clinton campaign chose to stand behind their “model” based around pre-selected data.

In 2016 the Democrats put their faith in the polling, in the data and left themselves putting all their eggs in one basket. On November 8th 2016 the bottom fell out of that basket and left them not only with egg on their faces, but picking up the pieces in a world in which Donald Trump would now be President and the Republicans would control both the house and the Senate.

Fast forward to today, some of the same polls that predicted the Clinton campaign handily winning the Presidency are now projecting a strong possibility that the Democrats will retake control of the house. The Real Clear Politics Generic Congressional Vote polling currently gives the Democrats a mammoth 5.7 point lead over the Republicans. Democrats are rejoicing at the possibility of Congress going blue and finally having a means to check Donald Trump’s agenda politically.

Yet in this renewed faith in polling there is danger that the mistakes of the recent past may once again be repeated, with potentially dire consequences for the Democratic Party all over again.

Since the 2016 Presidential election, political discourse has become even more polarized, seemingly by the day. As the two sides drift further and further apart, regular every day voters feel less and less comfortable sharing their political opinions with those that don’t share their particular values.

People are increasingly keeping their own counsel when it comes to political matters, with some even going as far to outright lie or deceive others about their voting intentions in order to maintain their relationships and communities.

Trump supporters and Republicans are often vilified by prominent individuals or media commentators and this has led to them increasingly dropping out of political discourse but increasingly motivated to get out and vote come November.

The rapper Eminem for example said in an interview when asked about Trump “He’s got people brainwashed”.

In all these pieces of commentary there is often the common thread that you are not a good person, or a good American if you want to vote Republican. With all this negativity surrounding anyone voting for the GOP of course some people are going to be reluctant to share their opinion if they want their state to go or remain red.

As some Republicans and Trump supporters increasingly go underground, this potentially makes the pollsters job that much harder. If people that are interviewed can’t or won’t be truthful about their genuine political allegiance then the polls will become increasingly skewed towards pointing to victories for the Democratic Party.

If Democrats hope to win back the House and make a dent in the Republican majority in the Senate they must be careful not to repeat the mistakes of the recent past and this time listen to those with genuine sources on the ground, rather than relying solely on big data to give a complete picture.

The fringe left simply can’t stand people #WalkingAway

As the political and philosophical battle lines are increasingly drawn in the sand, some of those left in the middle are slowly gravitating towards the ideology they feel most aligns with their personal morality and beliefs the most.

In the popular imagination many may believe these people should be gravitating to the left, after all it is a group of people that espouse tolerance and inclusion for all who may come.

But the reality is parts of the modern left, increasingly under the influence of elements that were considered an “extreme fringe” just a few short years ago is driving everyday people away from liberalism.

This is perhaps best illustrated by the Walk Away campaign where lifelong liberals and Democrats are breaking with the political ideology that they held dear for so long.

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It’s not that these people’s values have changed, from what I’ve seen they still believe in freedom, equality and tolerance just like they always did. What has changed is how militant elements of the left have become in the enforcement of its idea’s on people within its ranks and on the general public.

If your values don’t align exactly with those of the hard line “progressives” on this particular day then you’re behind the times, a bigoted dinosaur that doesn’t seem to understand “things are different now”.

The militant left is going after the Walk Away movement with a vengeance, those who “Walked Away” are treated like apostates and traitors to an ideology that they’re practically not allowed to leave.

The “Walk Away” movement has been written off by some Democrats as a Russian backed online movement concocted to affect the party’s chances in November and going into the future.

The fringe left simply cannot accept that it is their own betrayal of long held values like freedom of speech and its increasingly divisive rhetoric that is driving away liberals, so they must attribute people leaving their movement to an outside forces interference

Even extremely liberal individuals are attacked for being insufficiently “progressive” in the eyes of the militant left. Ian Mckellen for example was attacked by supporters of the #MeToo movement for sharing his thoughts on sexual exploitation in Hollywood. Mckellen has championed LBGT rights and other progressive movements for decades, but in this one instance he was not in lockstep with his fellow liberals.

For this apparent transgression he was ceaselessly attacked until someone realized it was perhaps not the best idea to be seen berating a 79 year old gay man who has advocated for the LBGT cause for over 30 years.

Because of this militancy those who have “Walked Away” are now looking for a new broader church, some like the Walk Away movement founder Brandon Straka have turned toward conservatism as a new ideological home after no longer feeling welcome at their old one.

Those who have Walked Away bring with them new viewpoints and ideals to their new ideological homes, taking with them the best parts of genuine progressive thinking and a willingness to engage in a genuine good natured political debate.

It would seem that some of the now ideologically homeless progressives are realizing a basic truth that is hidden under decades of mistrust and media narratives that have at times stoked the conflict, we are not really all that different after all.

Underneath decades of mistrust and ideological armor many Americans of all political persuasions still possess a common thread. A belief in the fulfilling the dream of America, of making the founding fathers vision of equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness  a reality.