At the time of writing, Prime Minister Johnson’s slight variation on his predecessor’s plan had passed the House of Commons, but MPs had rejected the government’s moves to force the plan through in just three days. The deal, which had previously secured the agreement of the European Union, would involve a hard Brexit for the UK but ensure that a hard border does not materialize between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to its south.
According to the EU, the deal provides that Northern Ireland would remain aligned to a limited set of rules related to the EU’s Single Market in order to avoid a hard border. Specifically, it would be bound by EU legislation on goods, sanitary rules for veterinary controls (SPS rules), rules on agricultural production/marketing, VAT and excise in respect of goods, and state aid rules.
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The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), passed by the United States Senate on May 10, is unlikely to be grabbing any headlines in an increasingly uncertain and volatile world. But it deserves a mention, if only because it shows that Democrats and Republicans can come together on tax-related issues. It’s also refreshing to see a piece of legislation that will, hopefully, reduce trade taxes for US businesses, amid all the hubbub created by rumblings around raising barriers to trade with certain countries from some quarters of the presidential campaign.
This is a highly-charged political debate of course, involving as it does patriotism and economics, but mixing nationalism with economic policy is rarely a recipe for success, and can often come back to bite the Governments that carry them out (not to mention the people who suffer economically as result).
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Having considered both sides of the Brexit debate, many observers have come to the rather depressing conclusion that the United Kingdom is in a no-win situation with regard to its position in the European Union. It has been argued by those campaigning for a Brexit that the Remain campaign is preying on voters’ fears about the economic impact of Britain leaving the EU, especially with regard to tax and spending. Yet it’s also difficult to see how Brexit won’t have negative repercussions for the British economy, at least in the short-term. It’s just that we don’t know what those ramifications will be (although we can have a good guess: tanking pound, financial turmoil, plummeting foreign investment, etc.), or how severe they will be and how long they will last. The notion put forward by Brexiters that once detached from the … Read More »
In an age of increasing voter apathy, of general disenchantment with mealy-mouthed style-over-substance politicians desperately trying to stay on-message, it was refreshing to see another example of Switzerland’s “direct democracy” in action when a proposal to replace VAT with an environmental levy was rejected by the people. But can the people be given too much say on issues ranging from the mundane to the fundamental? I suppose it could be argued that democracy Swiss-style is potentially a hindrance to the political process. With Swiss voters able to demand a say at every level, from the federal right down to the communes, of which there are almost 3,000, it sounds like a recipe for legislative paralysis, a system in which proposed laws are endlessly debated and amended and never approved – isn’t this what we elect politicians for in the first … Read More »