What, exactly, is the question to which Brexit is the answer?

A very simple indication of Britain’s future ‘global’ inadequacy is the EU’s deal with Mercasur, the South American customs union comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. (Venezuela is a full member but has been suspended since December 1, 2016). Associate countries are Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and the small (population 0.5m) ex Dutch colony of Suriname.

It has taken 20 years to negotiate and is the largest mutual trade agreement ever and has an emphasis on agricultural products, which the French, for example, are not keen on, but seem likely to accept as ‘Europeans’, but which is absolutely ideal for the 50% food importing British.

Yet, Britain will, on leaving, no longer be part of this scheme and will have to start all over again. In another 20 years time most of today’s Brexiters will, I’m afraid, be dead.

So an EU agreement which is particularly representative of Brexit Britain’s so called ‘Global’ outlook, and with countries such as Argentina, where there is a long standing British connection, will be thrown aside and have to be renegotiated. For what, I wonder?

In another example of a similar problem, I see the Guardian is pointing out that the prolonged Brexit uncertainty is causing British Universities to lose their leading research roles.

Yet again – another self-inflicted wound.

It leads me to wonder, three years after the referendum, when so many Brexit problems are so apparent:

What, exactly, was the question to which Brexit is the answer?


  1. Sean Danaher -

    Irish farmers too have been unhappy as beef exports are a significant fraction of the agribusiness economy and of course one of the big Mercasur exports is beef. The actual agreed volumes however are quite low and I understand are similar to UK exports of beef!

    I am not the person to argue for Brexit and argued in my trade piece recently that being part of the EU in practice increases rather than decreases trade opportunities.

    I think the usual arguments are the return of Sovereignty (Laws Borders and Money) and the EU is undemocratic, moribund and fissile.

  2. Peter May -

    “EU is undemocratic, moribund and fissile.”
    Much like the UK then!

    Laws will of course be ‘changed’ by whatever agreements we make with other countries. Border controls – we aren’t using the ones we have anyway. And money will probably have to be paid for future access anyway.

    We haven’t solved anything!

  3. Sam Johnson -

    Any reduction in Irish beef farming is welcome. The national herd, as they call it, reached an unsustainable 11m a few years ago. It’s now below 7m and even at 7m there were immense difficulties and expense in providing (imported) fodder in a dry summer – – of the sort we are likely to be having more frequently. The climate cost is significant and the business is both significantly subsidized by the taxpayer and distorted by near monopsony power of meat processor Larry Goodman. The taxpayer has funded a costly campaign culling of badgers as part of a programme of bovine TB control. This has been done & continues despite scientific evidence of its ineffectiveness and a judgment of the national Auditor & Comptroller General that it was one of the most egregious wastes of public money.

    TB is endemic in cattle and even if every badger in Ireland was killed it would persist, as it would in the deer population (about 30% of the deer in Wicklow are infected). It would be good news for Irish badgers, for the climate, for the environment generally, if Irish beef farming was reduced further.

    As an aside, the British dropped research on developing a TB vaccine years ago but the Irish continued and have recently completed reportedly successful trials. These included getting badgers to take bait by burying food. The demand for the vaccine from the UK will be large as TB controls in the UK were effectively relaxed after recent disease episodes and during subsequent restocking efforts.

    It would be useful for Ireland if UK beef is again banned from the EU. This would be hard on NI farmers who were quick to decide they sold Irish beef the last time this happened, and with whom collaboration on SPS controls has been good. The British army could never close the NI border, but Irish farmers on both sides did in respect of animal movements and can do so again. They can also, of course, be the worst enemy of any bureaucracy if their interests diverge from that of the powers that be. We’ve seen it with rent-a-flock games when subsidies were paid on a headage basis and in many other ways. The British border in Ireland runs through territories that solidly nationalist on both sides, and even more solidly pro-EU.

    1. Sean Danaher -


      thanks for the update 11m cattle is more than 2 per capita given the IE population is under 5m but still more cattle than people. A smaller more sustainable and organic industry is the best place to go.

  4. Graham -

    The question was, how are we Tories going to stuff those Eurosceptics in the Party leaning towards UKIP who have been causing no end of trouble for as far back as we can remember and whom we are too cowardly to face down and tell to shut up or leave the Party?

    I know, I’m a winner, so I’ll call a referendum and that will truly put them in their coffin shaped box for good.

    Now, did we get the right answer? Oops!

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