Brexit will take longer than the American Civil War?

“Brexit Vote Looming, Theresa May Secures E.U. Help” (nytimes):

On Monday, after a telephone call with Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, Mrs. May flew to meet him in Strasbourg, where the European Parliament is holding a plenary session.

Back in London, David Lidington, Mrs. May’s de facto deputy, told Parliament that the prime minister had won a legal pledge to reassure pro-Brexit lawmakers who fear that Britain could be trapped indefinitely inside parts of the European Union’s economic rule book.

Tuesday’s vote is seen as a pivotal moment in the endless withdrawal saga, known as Brexit, coming less than three weeks before the deadline for Britain to leave the European Union.

How much longer would Brexit have to be delayed before it would be fair to say that the question of Britain’s secession from the EU took longer to resolve than the question of Confederate secession from the U.S.?

Slowing things down back in 1861-1865: communication limited by the speed that a horse could trot (admittedly there were some telegraphs and railroads as well).

Slowing things down today: bureaucrats and politicians.

It would be interesting if it turns out that bureaucracy is slower than horse-drawn travel over muddy unpaved roads.

[Separately, for folks who think Brexit is a bad idea and being part of the EU is a huge benefit for the UK… shouldn’t the U.S. be seeking to join the EU either in Britain’s place or in addition to the UK?]

European readers: What more needs to be done before the Brits can wander off into the global economy?

8 thoughts on “Brexit will take longer than the American Civil War?

  1. The first paragraph is there twice. [delete the note as need!]

    It might just be a very complicated and machiavellian ploy to get rid of Northern Ireland, which is basically a black hole where tons of English money disappears, for reasons unknown.

    There is a chance the UK will ask for a delay, which might not be grated (lord, the poor buggers grovelling to the likes of Malta to have, pretty pretty please, a bit more time). There is an European Election in May, so I assume people would want a final resolution before that.

  2. The world economy is organized around trade blocs like NAFTA, the EU, ASEAN, practicing managed trade. Any country outside a bloc lacks leverage and is vulnerable. Minnows like Switzerland can wiggle through the net, but not a large economy like the UK that trades more in services than goods. Tariffs on goods are a mere annoyance for goods, but non-tariff barriers on services are a critical blocker, e.g. UK lawyers not being able to practice abroad due to licensing requirements.

    My estimate is that it will take 10-15 years to restructure the UK economy so it can do without full access the EU Single Market. That’s the whole point of Theresa May’s much-maligned deal with the EU. It’s certainly worse than the status quo, but it’s the only way to get that transition started.

    • Switzerland is an EES member though, which is basically ‘associate EU member’. There are some drawbacks to that which I think are unacceptable to the UK. But however that may be, I assume the UK will have to get cracking on their trade agreements. Are they WTO members?

      “non-tariff barriers on services are a critical blocker, e.g. UK lawyers not being able to practice abroad due to licensing requirements.”

      I wonder to what extent ordinary UK lawyers are currently capable of effectively practicing in, say, Sweden or Germany. There are plenty of differences even if the overarching EU law is the same, from languages to structure of the court systems, and so on.

  3. > It would be interesting if it turns out that bureaucracy is slower than horse-drawn travel over muddy unpaved roads.

    I don’t think that would be interesting (i.e. unexpected) to anyone in the developed world.

  4. I understand that Philip’s main point is time it’s taking to resolve Brexit. But the analogy with the American Civil may not be so apt. By the end of the war the North was no longer relying on “horse-drawn travel over muddy unpaved roads.”
    According to Wikipedia:

    Within 6 months of the start of the war, the U.S. Military Telegraph Corps (USMT) had laid approximately 300 miles of line. By war’s end they had laid approximately 15,000 miles of cable, 8,000 for military and 5,000 for commercial use, and had handled approximately 6.5 million messages. The telegraph was not only important for communication within the armed forces, but also in the civilian sector, helping political leaders to maintain control over their districts.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_telegraph#American_Civil_War

  5. The South’s will to fight was sapped by Northern campaigns of terror against the civilian population. The most notable of these is Sherman’s March.

    All the Europeans have is murderous Arabs, and their oresence is cdrtsinly obnoxious to the Brexit secessionists.

  6. > What more needs to be done before the Brits can
    > wander off into the global economy?

    Whether anyone can answer that is doubtful, certainly not me. Who can tell whether the “wander off” will ever even happen?

    But I can offer another question. Trump’s trade wars are evil, bad and wrong (example). The EU’s planned trade war against the UK is however presented as an inevitable force of Nature and its consequences therefore the Brexiteers’ fault (example). Why this curious contrast?

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