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Meet Abrexa

Another offering on Brexit by Robert Shrimsley in last Friday's Financial Times.



With the flurry of new position papers, British citizens are naturally asking where things now stand on Brexit. To get you up to speed -- and in keeping with tech trends -- the Financial Times has developed a digital assistant to help you catch up with all developments. Want to know what's happening? Just ask Abrexa.

Abrexa, are you there?
With you in a minute, just googling Irish passport applications (pause). Hi. How can I help you? Do you want to listen to some music?
Not right now thanks.
A little Elgar, perhaps?
No thank you. Abrexa, bring me up to speed on Britain's Brexit strategy.
Is that you again, prime minister?
No. I'm just a concerned citizen who has been on holiday and wants to know where we've got to in our thinking about some of the key issues.
A lovely bit of Elgar? Nimrod?
Just answer the question please.
We are going for a great British Brexit. A red, white and blue Brexit. A Brexit which means Brexit.
I was hoping for a little more detail.
Are you sure that's not you Mrs May?
OK. Abrexa, let's keep it simple. Are we still leaving the EU?
Yes.
OK good. When?
March 29 2019. Although I suppose it depends on what you mean by leaving. Do you count our transitional arrangements as leaving?
Will we be ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice?
Definitely ... well, probably. Depends what you mean by jurisdiction. We're definitely ending direct jurisdiction.
What does that mean?
It means the ECJ can't tell us what to do.
Excellent.
But it can make suggestions which we will have to follow to the letter.
In all areas?
Certainly not. Only in those areas where we wish to have an ongoing relationship like trade, medicines, financial services, that sort of thing. Dominic Raab, justice minister, says we'll keep "half an eye" on its rulings.
Half an eye? Is that a legal term?
It's Raabish.
So what are we suggesting?
We are proposing accepting the rulings of the Efta court, which polices the adherence of EEA members like Norway and Iceland to the single market rule.
Isn't that a sort of European court?
You might not wish to depict it in that light.
On what are Efta court rulings based?
Mainly on European treaties and the ECJ judgments.
Hmm. Sounds quite nuanced. Abrexa, can you get me the position papers on this? Perhaps I ought to read them?
I would wait for the next draft, if I were you.
What about the customs union?
We will be leaving it.
Thank you, that's clear.
And then we will be rejoining it.
How does that work?
We will set up our own customs union and then seek a new customs union with the EU customs union.
I'm not sure I understand that.
Don't worry it isn't going to happen.
But our new customs union will be able to negotiate its own trade deals?
That is one of the possible outcomes.
But we are still taking back control of our borders.
Yes, except the land border with Ireland which will remain open.
So we will take back control of all land borders except the one with Ireland.
Precisely.
Are there any other land borders?
Not as such.
How much are we going to pay for all these new freedoms?
At least 40bn euros but it could be more.
Why?
Have you seen what's happening to sterling?
Where are we on transitional arrangements? Does the cabinet have an agreed position on them, Abrexa? ... Are you still there?
The cabinet is moving towards consensus. There will be a transitional period where the UK continues to accept EU regulation.
How long will it last?
I am awaiting further updates.
Where's Boris Johnson these days?
Is that really something that is troubling you?
No, not really. Just wondered. Thanks.
You're welcome ... by the way ...
Yes?
Do you think Abrexa sounds like an Irish name?

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