Blog: Let’s hope the second Brexit battle is less exhausting than the first – City A.M.

Let’s hope the second Brexit battle is less exhausting than the first

Boris Johnson said in a major setpiece speech last week that he intended to cut taxes and to pursue a smaller state approach to government in a bid to reset his faltering premiership.

The sequel is rarely as good as the original.

Jaws 2, for instance, was beset by problems from the off. Steven Spielberg said he had already directed “the definitive shark movie” and refused to take part – a replacement director, John Hancock, was then booted out, not before complaining that the mechanical shark provided by the props department couldn’t swim after 18 months of production. Even local residents in Martha’s Vineyard, where the town scenes were filmed, kicked off about the presence of camera crews. In short: bad idea, executed badly.

The movie’s slogan – just when you thought it was safe – could also apply to Brexit 2: The Northern Irish Protocol.

It will now be for the UK and the European Union to decide whether this year’s iteration is any less excruciating than the last.

There should – should – be a very simple and pragmatic solution to issues around the Northern Irish border, with peace on the island of Ireland and a far simpler trade in goods between Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland the end result. It would involve good old fashioned fudges on both sides and politicians on all sides accepting that all sides getting 80 per cent of what they want is a fine conclusion.

Alas, that is unlikely to happen. Already the European Union is rounding on the UK’s proposals to bust open the withdrawal agreement, with the political weather in Westminster now favouring a battle between SW1 and Brussels. Northern Irish politicians, when anybody stops to listen, are arguing along party lines too. In short, it’s a mess, again.

Some in the City may be inclined to note the effort going into this very public row and contrast it with efforts to ensure that the financial services sector has some idea of what its future relationship with Europe might look like. This week has seen a raft of good news tales about the capital already, and yet clarity on what the future looks like comes there none. A question of priorities, perhaps.

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