In a speech to the Bundestag on the 22nd of June 2016, the German chancellor Angela Merkel set the parameters for Britain’s future relationship with the EU. There would be no “cherry picking”. That is the message that has been repeated ever since.
“We will ensure that the negotiations will not be run on the principle of cherry-picking,” the chancellor said according to the Financial Times. “We must and will make a palpable difference over whether a country wants to be a member of the family of the European Union or not. Whoever wants to get out of this family cannot expect that all the obligations fall away but the privileges continue to remain in place.”
Two years later, after a bruising away-day at the UK Prime Minister’s Summer residence Chequers, the squabbling cabinet united around a negotiating proposal that by all accounts is a proposal for “cherry picking”. Something that already causes frustrations in Brussels.
It is a recipe for cherry picking, because it first recreates existing courts simply to be able to say that the jurisdiction of the ECJ has ended, and second because it limits freedom of movement in some vague way. Worse, it proposes that a third country should act as a border guard for the European Union, which is completely unacceptable to Brussels, or as one senior EU diplomat put it according to Politico, it is “the bullshit king of cake and eat it”.
That hasn’t stopped many Britons from relaxing, thinking that Brexit is over. Many Britons call this a “soft brexit” when it’s anything but. It is a hard brexit because this proposal will most likely be rejected. None of the parts of this plan will be agreeable to the EU. The UK has the same choice today as it had last week – CETA or Norway. I don’t see how this government, incompetent as it is, could capitulate to accept the Norway solution. There is no part of the British political body that would accept that. So, CETA it is.
Nothing has changed from last week. A no deal brexit is still the most likely outcome of this process because the UK has not engaged with the process. Their political and media spheres have played internecine games with it, and jockeyed for positions within their own bubble on the back of the process.