Diary Day 322: UK is told to find that elusive credible fallback position.  Experts are baffled by Government’s stance on Euratom. Economic warning lights are flashing that have nothing to do with Brexit.

My #Remainer’s Diary Day 322: former governor of the Bank of England and now crossbench peer Mervyn King said the UK needs a “credible” alternative if Brexit negotiation fails.”But it cannot succeed without a credible fallback position and that is something which I think is a practical thing that the civil service ought to be taking a lead on.

“It’s do-able proposition if we start now. We’ve probably wasted a year but we need to be much further along the road to making that a credible fallback position.” 

He’s right that a negotiation cannot succeed without a credible fallback position. But how is it a do-able proposition? A credible fallback position cannot be conjured out of the air. It depends on the facts, and if the facts point to your best alternative being worse than a negotiated agreement, you can’t rationally walk away. You are in trouble, especially if the other party knows the facts as well as you do. 

That is the position the UK is in. 

Commentators picked up on a piece by Professor Martin Freer, Head of Nuclear Physics and Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute at the University of Birmingham, in the Independent on the Government’s decision to leave Euratom. He argued that the decision conflicts with the Government’s policy favouring electric cars, which will require new nuclear power stations. 

He wrote: “The reason every single expert in the civil nuclear industry, the nuclear medicine industry and scientists alike are so baffled by the Government’s decision is that it is completely unnecessary and has zero benefits. The best case scenario is that we spend an enormous amount of money, time and resources to create the same situation we have now. No one is calling for anything other than close scientific cooperation with our allies.

“However, the risks are immense.

“If we leave Euratom without the necessary arrangements in place, then we will be unable to import the material to power our nuclear power stations. Our scientific collaboration will be hindered, and funding may dry up.” 

Iain Begg wrote on the LSE Brexit Blog that “three warning lights are flashing” with regard to the UK’s economy: first, the lack of productivity growth; second, the low rate of investment by businesses and in infrastructure; third, the persistent gap in skills. 

He wrote that with both government and opposition “fixated” on Brexit, “fundamental and necessary measures to underpin the economy” might be neglected. 

It seems pretty clear that Mrs May is uninterested in the economy and business, and that has already caused the Government to make some poor, no, disastrous decisions. So yes, it quite likely will neglect such measures. The DUP seems business-unfriendly too. As for Labour, its current leader favours the Venezuelan economic model. 

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