Brexit Musings (16) – Home-Made Customs Pie

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When Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, starts talking about wanting to remain in a modified customs union, and big industry starts applauding him for such nonsense, you can be pretty sure that the UK is in trouble – big time.

On this side of the North Sea, we must feel compassionate, and not mock the afflicted. Theresa May’s government and most of the opposition, have landed themselves in a terrible situation, having to solve a mathematical problem that cannot be solved. It’s a problem that everyone understands, but no-one has yet come out with a solution.

Try this for size: it’s called the Collatz Conjecture.

  1. Pick a number.
  2. If that number is even, divide it by 2.
  3. If it’s odd, multiply it by 3 and add 1.
  4. Repeat the process with your new number, and keep going. You’ll eventually end up with 1, every single time.

The problem is that mathematicians have tried billions of numbers and always ended up with 1 as their answer – eventually. And, guess what, maybe out there, there’s this special number that never leads to 1, but goes to infinity instead, or goes round in circles. It’s just that we haven’t found it yet.

They assured me that I could call it what I wanted to – customs union, customs agreement, customs shambles. I rather like the term “customs pie” and, rather like the Collatz Conjecture, UK politicians are trying tons of recipes, and each solution leads to that dreaded number 1 – as in single market, and customs union where all countries act as one, for trade.

Here’s what has been agreed so far:

  • the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, will be leaving the customs union
  • the UK will ensure “full alignment” with the rules of the customs union and single market that uphold the Good Friday agreement.

Now, it doesn’t take much of a mathematical genius to work out that this particular maths problem cannot be solved.

But wait. Now cometh Jeremy Corbyn. I have already mentioned that Jeremy Corbyn was the man you should have voted for, in last year’s general election. His latest speech, describing how he can transform the customs union, single-handed, has convinced me even more that he’s the man you are all craving for, whether you know it or not. It’s a customs union that the UK would be part of, and would have a significant say in any trade deals that the EU-27 member states would make outside the EU. Put simply, that would be like if my next-door neighbour, although not living in my house and sharing the housekeeping costs, could order me where to buy my food.

We want to influence them [the EU] on the sort of trade deals that are made with the rest of the world. – Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn is really onto an electoral winner. Not only can the UK continue doing business as usual whilst, at the same time, tricking the Brexit voters into thinking that they have cut loose from the EU, but will also be able to bully the Union into setting up dodgy trade deals with others.

The question to be asked, however, is whether Jeremy Corbyn is reasoning (if you can call it that) out of love for Brussels, Westminster, or hatred of Theresa May. Things may get complicated, and to Corbyn’s liking, if Theresa May does eventually issue a “back me or sack me” ultimatum, concerning her crystal-clear Brexit policy and the customs union. Imagine how she is going to feel, if she gets defeated by Labour dreamers and a handful of Tory rebels. Clearly, it all odes well for the EU. All Juncker has to do, is sit around and wait. No need to get the EU in a mess over Brexit details. The UK is quite capable of doing it, single-handed, thank you very much.

Of course, I may be wrong, and Jeremy Corbyn may be the only potential UK prime minister who has seen the light of reason. He really does realise that, in this day and age, practicality must take precedence over dogma. The very best of British can only be protected, and thrive, as an integral part of the very best of Europe.

A Mini will cross the Channel three times in a 2,000-mile journey before the finished car rolls off the production line – Jeremy Corbyn

Let’s just hope that the cute little Mini’s roll off the production line, and not off the white cliffs of Dover. It all reminds me of that wonderful British movie, “The Italian Job”. After a successful robbery of 4 million dollars worth of gold bullion, the getaway bus lies dangerously over a cliff-edge, with the gold bullion sliding slowly towards the rear doors. Nobody can move without further tilting the bus. Charlie Croker, the gang leader played by Michael Cane, issues his famous final words: “Hang on a minute, lads. I’ve got a great idea,” and the credits roll. A bus, stolen millions, hanging over a cliff-edge, a leader with an idea that we don’t get to know about? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it.