Thursday, 2 February 2017

blurry white snow job vs it is what it is

I had a quick look at that new White Paper. All 76 pages of it. Yes, I did notice the 14 weeks holiday for UK folk. Oops. Maybe that Steve Bell cartoon last week was right?

I was expecting the Exit and Partnership White Paper to contain something akin to a plan. Nothing too detailed but maybe a few key steps or something that would move the ball along. If the Article 50 trigger is pulled sometime in March (31st anyone?) then there had jolly well better be a plan of the next steps and their allocated budget of time.

Does David Davis provide this? Why no.

He reframes the 12 points that Theresa May issued a week or so ago at Lancaster House. Admittedly there's more verbiage behind everything, but it does slightly smack of a re-purposed ONS report which has had some EU exit commentary added. In consultant speak it's 'the thickening' but not the main report.

I'd have liked to have seen the timetable and maybe a sense of the priorities. I decided to apply a very coarse lens to the various topics. I've called it 'Actionable?' and it's to determine whether the things listed are directly actionable by the UK Government, and to a degree how much they are within the power of the government.

A few conceivably are actionable, but there's a whole bunch that still need the acceptance or indulgence of the parties with whom we would need to negotiate. I can understand that there was a need to provide something substantive to support the thin 50 word exit Bill, but I'm not sure that a snow job of verbiage without determined actionable topics really cuts it. Our Mr Brexit is a little bit too blurry for this stage in the game.

Some might say that this White Paper amounts to the Playbook for the negotiations. I'm less convinced. It feels to me more like an Appendix to a Playbook, which has pulled together some useful statistics. Maybe it is a holding position, but the team behind this have had a lot longer than the last week to get their act together. It is kind of frightening.

Theresa May needs to be banging on the doors of the people supposed to be running this to demand the actual Playbook. The Plan. The options. The leverage. The Budget. The one-off cost. The ongoing annualised run-rate post exit. You get my drift.

Perhaps the press and media will see it differently? They could spend ages poring over the minutiae of the stuff included, but I'm not sure how this really drives the position much further forward.

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