“No Deal is Better than a Bad Deal”? 187

These are some of the inevitable and automatic consequences of “No deal” with the EU:

1) A fenced hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, likely re-igniting the Troubles
2) 900,000 UK citizens resident in EU countries have to return back to live in UK
3) Tariffs on all UK goods exported to the EU, almost certainly triggering a major recession
4) Massive bureaucratic non-tariff barriers to British exports – sixty pages of forms for every consignment
4) No access to the Schengen database and other EU security and policing resources
5) British citizens need to apply for visas to visit EU countries and stand in two hour long queues at many EU airports
6) UK universities removed from World’s leading scientific and research programmes.

Those are just for starters. These are the natural consequences of not being an EU member. They could be seriously mitigated by negotiating a deal. But they are inevitably what “No deal” means.

I have not included the massive harm that would hit the UK economy if EU citizens were deported as a result of “No deal”, because that is not a necessary consequence. The UK could unilaterally decide to allow them to stay. Sadly such wisdom is improbable.

So when Theresa May states “No deal is better than a bad deal” she is talking absolute nonsense. It is a ludicrous display of machismo from the “leader” of a country which has put itself into an extremely weak negotiating position.

“No deal is better than a bad deal” went down very well with the leaders’ audience on Channel 4/Sky last night. It is shorthand for “we will reduce immigration and we don’t care how much it hurts us”. Both Brexit and the Tories represent at base a visceral xenophobia, nothing more and nothing less. The slogan appeals to racists.

Jeremy Paxman failed to push Theresa May at all on the stupidity of the “No deal” slogan yesterday, instead just giving her the opportunity to repeat it again and again to the applause of morons. I like to believe that Theresa May is not stupid enough to believe what she is saying, but the more I see her…

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187 thoughts on ““No Deal is Better than a Bad Deal”?

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  • Ishmael

    It’s eminently clear that some people do need… LOCKING UP …

    For everyones safety.

  • N_

    MI5 are having an absolute fucking field day in this election, helping Conservative Central HQ and putting stuff into the billionaire press. An absolute fucking field day.

    I thought I’d seen it all when the leader of the Labour Party was asked by some cunt on a “British” parliamentary committee whether he accepted Israel’s right to exist. Last night I watched the Tory cunt Jeremy Paxman accuse Jeremy Corbyn of not liking the “queen” and suggest that Jeremy Corbyn might baulk when the intelligence services asked him for permission to have someone killed. Which Paxman then followed up by supposedly sounding sceptical towards the leader of the Tory party but in actual fact asking her to repeat and repeat again her fuckwitted statement that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.

    What a fucking shithouse of a country!

    While I’m here, here is a tape of the thug Boris Johnson, citizen of the United States and also of Britain, a man twice sacked by employers for dishonesty, arranging to have a journalist beaten up


        • N_

          Hi Ishmael. Let’s look at it as a positive that you didn’t already know about it 🙂 If you didn’t know, there are probably millions of other people who don’t know, to whose attention it should be brought in the next few days.

          I’m not active on Facebook or Twitter, but this should go viral. The Tory campaign has been viciously negative and personal against Jeremy Corbyn. We must attack the Tories at their weakest points.

          Next Sunday’s Sunday Times and next Tuesday and Wednesday’s Sun are likely to set a new low for brutality. I’m envisaging something that greatly surpasses “Michael Foot is soft on the Kremlin and just committed political suicide” (1983) and “Naval officers will practically mutiny if Neil Kinnock becomes prime minister” (1992). They could also try “the Queen wants you to vote against Jeremy Corbyn”, just as they used “the Queen wants Britain to leave the EU” (2016), the day before the referendum, which many have forgotten.

          At the time of his appointment, Johnson had no foreign policy experience, no government experience, and not even any experience in the shadow cabinet. Nobody has been appointed as Foreign Secretary for 150 years without such experience. And this is supposed to be a time when there is such an important foreign relations job to do! And we get this guy! The Tories are taking the piss! An Old Etonian, he is not only dishonest and filthy-mannered; he is also a violent thug.

          Please do all you can to make this video go viral.

          Perhaps a filmmaker could make a short film about Johnson, something like that?

          • Ishmael

            I see your reasoning. Iv also vacated twitter and FB, but I understand Craig has FB, and know he has twitter.

            Maybe he could dedicate something to it? I certainly think it an issue worth informing about..

            Something about that man has always made my skin crawl. I can now put a finger on it, and I’m a loudmouth so I talk to people I know about everything I hear.

  • N_

    @Craig – Did you notice last night that Theresa May said Britain would set its own rules for immigration from EU countries after it has left the EU?

    So she’s telling around a million British citizens currently living elsewhere in the EU to fuck off, then? What a pity Tory Paxman with his so-sharp interviewing style didn’t make that point.

    • Habbabkuk

      No, she is not telling them anything of the sort ( and perhaps Paxman didn’t make that “point” because it is not a point).

      That is because you cannot conflate the UK setting its own immigration rules with a million UK citizens living in the rest of the EU being told to “fuck off”, which I assume is your elegant formulation for being expelled. Your conflation rests on the assumption that the UK setting its own immigration rules means that EU 27 citizens currently resident in the UK will be sent home. I suggest that that is highly unlikely to happen and that there is no evidence, at least at this stage, that it will.

  • reel guid

    Murdo Fraser demonstrating very effectively outside the SNP manifesto launch.

    Demonstrating very effectively that he’s a buffoon.

  • Aurora

    She doesn’t seem that smart, no, but also it’s the only thing she’s got and knows it: a rabble-rousing no-deal Brexit.
    Also agree with you on the need for Labour supporters to vote SNP in Scotland to minimize Tory wins. May is a dangerous entity, mediocre bordering on dim, and authoritarian, as well as plain nasty. Ensuring she has no majority or even loses the election should be the priority.

  • philw

    You sound like those old-time members of left-wing sects who screamed ‘Fascist’ at members of other left-wing sects.

    Yes, “No deal is better than a bad deal” is pretty meaningless. We are not buying a car, we are dealing with hundreds of points where we have reciprocal interests. But it sounds like common sense, and for that reason is going to appeal – it is nothing to do with racism.

    • philw

      I am referring to this part of Craig’s post:

      “No deal is better than a bad deal” went down very well with the leaders’ audience on Channel 4/Sky last night. It is shorthand for “we will reduce immigration and we don’t care how much it hurts us”. Both Brexit and the Tories represent at base a visceral xenophobia, nothing more and nothing less. The slogan appeals to racists.

    • philw

      I’d like to invite anyone who would like their country to unilaterally remove all controls on immigration to argue the case, or at least stand up and be counted. I suspect that really we are talking about how immigration is controlled, not whether it should be.

      Just because all racists want to control immigration, it does not follow that all those who want to control immigration are racists.

      • Ishmael

        What irks me is the idea we don’t control it. We do in all kind of ways. And the choice that was made regarding the EU was an example of that control over it. We agreed to terms, were part of that decision to control it. Imagine in those days the control that is stopping it was seen as a bad thing. leading to horrific outcomes for human beings.

        Myself I think those who see those who see the free movement agreement as “uncontrolled immigration” and raise it as an “issue” (it is imo, but not that way round) either are (and sorry but in a REALLY nationalist country that’s a lot of people) racist, or simply parroting talking points of racists. And that makes them effectively…

        • philw

          Totally agree. We do control it. All nations control it. Many people do not understand this and think Labour is (or was) advocating ‘uncontrolled immigration’. Of course it wasn’t. Nobody advocates it, do they?

          But some people believe it is being advocated, and obviously they find that scary. Some become racists, largely because they are ignorant and scared.

          Obviously real die-hard racists and right-wing parties cynically play up the fear of uncontrolled immigration. My main point is that we fight racism better by educating people and allaying their fears than by abusing them and letting them think that we are in favour of making their fears become true.

      • craig Post author

        It doesn’t follow. But it amazingly has always turned out to be true in my experience.

        • philw

          So, Craig, would you be happy to see completely open borders? Unilaterally?

          For my part, after much soul-searching, I would support a project to move to a global removal of immigration controls. But I would want to be clear what the effects would be, because they would be immense.

          Ask yourself this : if you were trying to feed your family on the median wage of any African nation, and you had the chance to move to Europe, what would you do? If you were in any war-torn country, and you could just get on a plane to London or Edinburgh?

          If you are not prepared to open your arms to everyone who is worse off than us in the UK, then I dont think it is appropriate to call the guy who wants to limit right of access for (mostly white) Europeans a racist.

          Again, personally I would hate to see free movement within Europe disappear. But then, like you, I’m not on a zero hours contract or desperately trying to find work. There are a million and a half people registered unemployed in the UK.

          • Ishmael

            “So, Craig, would you be happy to see completely open borders? Unilaterally?”

            What do you mean by “completely open borders” ..Ultimately id love to see it. But atm do I think some kind of checks are useful ? Sure, a lot of people do have it in for “other counties”..

            There are a myriad of different things people go through to travel. What we have now is so far from that it’s hard to imagine anyone seeing that as remotely open. But i’d say definitely something we should work towards. And I mean open like walking to the shops.

            These borders are what feeds 99% of the worlds troubles. The ideological issues there physical existence manifests is part of the cause of every war. Every Terrorist bombing. How we imagine the world and ourselves in it.

            Unless looking from space. Where they reveal themselves to be the folly they ARE. There is no question, no debate to be had about this.

          • philw

            By ‘open borders’ I mean that anyone has the right to go and live in that country – that all immigration controls are done away with, and I think thats how it is generally understood.

            That’s what many people are afraid of, why they talk about the possibility of being ‘swamped’.

  • Walter Cairns

    Ah dear, we seem to be back to Project fear. There is nothing “inevitable and automatic” about any of these contingencies, Craig. The fenced hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will only be erected if the British Government so wishes (somehow I don’t think the Republic would want this). Well before Britain and Ireland joined the EC/EU there were arrangements (e.g. no passport controls) between the two countries which were not extended to others, so there is no reason why the same should not apply post-Brexit. 900,000 UK citizens being forcibly repatriated? A bureaucratic nightmare which no EU country would even contemplate. There were thousands of Brits living abroad before we joined the EC and lived there without let or hindrance (I should know, my father came to Belgium to work for a leading Belgian bank as a translator and didn’t even have to apply for a work permit – in the 1950s!). Tariffs on UK goods? So what – before we joined the EC/EU we had a healthy trade surplus with the EC (£900 million the last pre-accession year, equivalent to £15 billion today) – currently we have a very unhealthy trade deficit with them (£16 billion for the first quarter of 2016 alone!). EU tariffs have done this country much more harm than good. Visas needed to visit EU countries? Oh come off it, I remember travelling freely between Britain and all Western European countries during the 1960s, without ever completing a visa form. UK universities removed from the world’s leading scientific and research programmes? That will be something for the universities themselves to broker with the institutions concerned.

    • N_


      The fenced hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will only be erected if the British Government so wishes (somehow I don’t think the Republic would want this).

      It’s not a matter of wanting or not wanting. The Republic is a member state of the EU and has to obey EU rules. If Britain leaves the EU and also leaves the single market and customs union, then the Republic will be required to have customs checks at the border. (And the same goes for an independent Scotland that is a member of the EU.) It would be not only an external EU border, but a border between the EU and a territory outside the single market and customs union, whatever the feelings were of the government of the Republic on the matter. Such borders are required by the EU to be hard.

      • Walter Cairns

        I really find it difficult to believe that the EU would punish the Republic, who would have the most to lose, by requiring it to create such a hard border. Besides, member states are known to go their own merry way as regards national borders – look at Hungary!

        • Jo

          You clearly aren’t factoring in here the immigration -obsessed in the UK! You think they’ll be happy with an open border between NI and the South via which some might choose to access the British mainland? I don’t think so.

    • craig Post author

      Walter, but we do not revert to the status quo before we joined the EU. That you could travel visa free in Europe before we joined the EU is totally irrelevant to what will happen now. Either we join the EEA and single market, or strike some other deal, or there is no deal and we need visas.

      Same with the Irish border. No deal = hard border.

    • Dave Lawton

      @Reply ↓
      Walter Cairns

      “Oh come off it, I remember travelling freely between Britain and all Western European countries during the 1960s, without ever completing a visa form. UK universities removed from the world’s leading scientific and research programmes? That will be something for the universities themselves to broker with the institutions concerned.”
      Well said So did I and traveled freely also all over Europe in the 1960`s and worked.Also we had people from all over Europe working in our universities including the Soviet bloc countries. All we get is lie after lie that the world is going to fall apart when we leave the EU.

      • craig Post author

        I really despair of you silly old buggers. The world does not revert back to the halcyon days of your youth. If we leave the EU we are out of the best scientific and research programmes in the EU, which are all under PHARE and other programmes.

        On travel you are not in the situation you were in, in 1963. You will be a non-EU citizen seeking to enter the EU – and one from a state in appalling financial crisis. There will be visas.

        • Dave Lawton

          !If we leave the EU we are out of the best scientific and research programmes in the EU, which are all under PHARE and other programmes.”
          Craig this silly old bugger says you have got it wrong.In real scientific research it is about personnel connections and expertise and the “Network” regardless of any EU programmes.

    • philw

      Personally I agree with much in the article, but I think its wildly off-base to imply that anyone who voted for Brexit and does not agree with them is a racist.

      I think it is totally false and hugely unhelpful to suggest that the majority of the British population is racist. It only helps and encourages those who really are racist.

      • Soothmoother

        I only typed non-racists as it is constantly stated in the comments that Brexit is down to racist right wingers. IMO Brexit split the country down the middle – right, left and centre voted for Brexit and opposed it. I don’t agree that everyone who voted for Brexit is/was racist.

        • craig Post author

          There are a huge number of rampant racists who consider themselves left wing. I had to ban a whole slew of them for supporting LePen.

          • defo

            You didn’t “have to” Craig. You chose to, as is your right. You pay for the server.
            Racism is the remnant of tribalism, and there’s not a race on the planet who doesn’t have their unfair share.
            The reason ‘white’ people are singled out, one reason anyway, is that ‘we’ are at the top of the economic & technological heap. At the moment.

          • craig Post author

            Yes I certainly banned Bevin, for saying LePen is preferable to Macron. I detest Macron, but supporters of fascism are banned from this blog.

          • Phil the ex-frog

            Bevin isn’t a racist.

            For you to accuse him of being so with no right of reply isn’t very liberal is it sunshine?

          • Ba'al Zevul

            What Defo and Phil said. One of the commonest charges against neo-fascists (if I may be permitted a sweepingly inclusive epithet for a range of views) is that they suppress the opposition and deny free expression of opinion. I don’t need to elaborate. There are reasons for the rising popularity of the far-Right, and they are largely ignored by the intellectual Left. They are real and compelling issues. ‘Lalalala, you’re banned’ does not begin to address them.

          • Stu

            That is extremely disappointing. Bevin was by the far the best commenter here and I always looked forward to and learned something from his contributions. That he has been banned for disagreeing over the lesser of two evils whilst your comment section regularly contains Israel apologists, idiots who believe every terror attack is a false flag and posters who are here only to obfuscate and stifle debate is mystifying to me.

            Hopefully you are considering the contradictions in your political position after seeing Corbyn tonight state that immigration has suppressed wages. These contradictions are why Le Pen is such a uniquely taboo subject to you. She is odious but she is the unavoidable consequence of neoliberalism. Until you understand that the fight against neoliberalism is class struggle and the only way to defeat Le Pen is first to defeat Macron you will be unable to deal with these issues.

  • Rob

    Craig, If the UK government wanted to avoid problems 3 & 4 on your list, they would not implement point 1, would they?

    An open border into the Republic would allow goods to move into the Single Market. If the EU insisted on a hard fenced border, then the EU Commission and the EU Council would become responsible for any ‘troubles’ in NI. A negotiated settlement on this issue is inevitable.

    • N_

      Britain outside of SM and CU means hard Irish border. Customs barrier means fence.

      Can you describe a hypothetical negotiated settlement which would allow that particular external EU border to stay open, with Britain outside the SM and CU?

      Remember too that even if the six counties join the Republic (personally I think at least one part of Ireland would vote against reunification) there will still have to be a hard border between the Republic and Britain. It would just then be in a different place, and I don’t see the Protestant majority in NI buying that.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        If it were in NI’s interest to remain, the majority would be less ‘religiously’ than economically motivated to vote for reunification. And if they did, the ‘loyalists’ would be in a minority vis-a-vis a reunited Ireland.

        If it is not in NI’s interest to remain, then it clearly has to accept a hard border – if that is the result of the negotiation. Any attempted analysis is beset with ‘ifs’, and inevitably so. Then again, given the global political situation, what outcome might we expect from further integration into the EU? And if the EU should suddenly notice that the UK has no money, and start pressurising it as it is doing with Greece, what then? If Trump weakens NATO by witholding US support, what then? Just as many ‘ifs’ there, no?

        The fear* of a hard Brexit is a useful propaganda tool for anyone campaigning to stay in the club. And, given the EU’s predicted hard line in negotiations, our departure will certainly not be to our immediate advantage. But simply walking away and accepting the worst is unlikely. The hostility of the EU, and certain of our fat cats and influence-peddlers, to Brexit, strongly suggests that
        (a) they have something to lose by our departure too, and
        (b) they’re not the good friends they represent themselves as, and we’re well shot of them.

        *Always whip up the fear.

    • craig Post author

      Rob – you cannot argue both that a negotiated settlement is inevitable, and that there will be no deal. The entire no deal idea is a total disaster. The Irish point is part of that, but you can’t wish it out of existence.

    • laguerre

      “If the EU insisted on a hard fenced border, then the EU Commission and the EU Council would become responsible for any ‘troubles’ in NI.” Why would the EU be responsible for what happens in a foreign country? The EU is not intervening in Northern Ireland; it is rather doing the opposite and staying out. Seems a nonsensical idea to me.

  • Sharp Ears

    Would the BBC have interrupted a broadcast of one of May’s speeches not once but twice. They have just done that to Jeremy speaking in Watford.

    Once for Rolf Harris’s solicitor’s statement following Harris’s acquittal and the fact that there will no retrial and second for breaking news of a terrorism arrest at Stansted.

    Then it was cut off completely for an online discussion with in the SDLP in Belfast who have released their manifesto, Now news of a new powerful antibiotic. You get the picture of the BBC priorities.

  • berlingooner

    Most, if not all, pan-European companies based in the UK have worst-case plans already drawn-up to enact immediate or staggered large-scale redundancy notices should we leave the customs union. I know personally of at least half a dozen companies with redundancy plans, closures, lease-renewals on hold and all other jump-ship measures in place. The customs union departure will be a dark, dark day.

  • Charlie Aerö

    Yes! Paxman let her spend almost the whole of the final three minutes mindlessly repeating her “no deal is better…” punchline without even a hint of any followup. Brain fade? There are many vital questions to ask about any “no deal” scenario, but Paxman flunked them all:

    o What would be the consequences of “no deal” (e.g. a very hard border in Ireland, complete exclusion of UK service industries from the EU market, no access to EU security databases such as SIS II)? Not asked.

    o How much would “no deal” cost the UK economy? Not asked.

    o How could we assess whether any deal would actually be worse than “no deal”?
    What would be the criteria or basis for any such assessment? Not asked.

    o How is it possible for her to even talk about “no deal” being better or worse than anything when her government has, by its own admission, made no adequate assessment of the consequences? Not asked.

    o How can it be possible that her Secretary of State in charge of the process still has no such assessment 11 months after the vote? How can failure to evaluate this likely outcome (the critically important so-called ‘Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement,’ for those who have managed to get at least half-way through Chapter One of Negotiating for Dummies) rank as anything better than complete incompetence? Not asked.

    o Does this “no deal is better…” schtick constitute a credible fall-back position, or does it actually make the UK government look like laughable amateurs to the EU? Given the above, how would she even know? Not asked.

    Paxman could have asked any one of those or similar questions, to which an attempted answer might have been informative and a failure to answer revealing. Instead he just allowed her to burble on minute after minute with the pre-cooked slogan; he might as well have dozed off for all the difference it would have made. I found myself reading with the TV on in the background in case anything interesting happened — it didn’t!

  • Dave Price

    2) 900,000 UK citizens resident in EU countries have to return back to live in UK

    190,000 of those are in retirement and would come with a significant health care cost.

    From the Guardian today:

    “The NHS would be hit with a bill for an extra £500m a year if all the retired British citizens now living in Europe could no longer get care post-Brexit and returned to the UK, a report from a healthcare thinktank has calculated”.


    • Ba'al Zevul

      I’m willing to bet that at least 50% of those expats have private medical schemes and insurance.

      • Dave Price

        The figures come from the Nuffield Trust, so I have a lot of trust in the £500 million per annum cost from public funds they come up with, however it is sliced.

        The Guardian report phrases it like this:

        “There are 190,000 British pensioners now living in European countries such as Spain, who currently get their healthcare costs paid as part of a reciprocal agreement called the S1 scheme”.

        (It may be my misconception but I thought retiring to a villa in Spain was the cheap option, not for those in the private healthcare bracket).

          • Dave Price

            Bet accepted, plus some e-crisps. From your link:

            “The Bottom Line
            At least for the present, the financial downturn is good news for retirees considering Spain. If you have estimated your annual retirement income at $20,000 to $25,000, you’ll find that it does stretch to a comfortable life on the Costa del Sol.”

            In other words, someone on a modest £15,000 to £20,000 pension can have a comfortable lifestyle in Spain, *including* enough left over for private health insurance. That’s not going to happen when they return to the UK.

  • John V Denley

    So a bad deal is better than a no deal is it??!
    How about a deal where:
    * We pay the EU £100 million per week
    * 50% tariffs on all exports
    * ON TOP of all the things you list above, which I am not convinced are all “guaranteed”
    Sounds like a worse deal than a no deal to me!!

  • julia blake

    There really is no other point in May claiming no deal is better than a bad deal when she also claims there will be a deal other than to rally support for her oligarchal government. To fire up the misinformed haters of the EU.

  • John Brunton

    This makes complete sense. Further to this we can all see which alternate trade agreements can be reached. These at best taking five years to sign, the promised new deals with Australia, China, India the US etc. They are not happening, and only one country looks a sure certainty: Cloud-Cuckoo Land. Any anyway, who would make an agreement with someone who walks away from an existing deal without honouring their agreed obligations? Someone please stop this insanity before it does us all serious harm.

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