After Voting To 'Escape' EU Sovereignty, Post-Brexit UK Will Become Subject To Corporate Sovereignty On A Massive Scale

from the out-of-the-frying-pan,-into-the-fire dept

One of the slogans used by those in favor of the UK leaving the European Union -- aka Brexit -- was that it would allow Brits to "take back control." In particular, it was claimed, Brexit would stop the European Union and its top court from "imposing" their decisions that took precedence over national laws. It was an appealing slogan for many -- a bit like "Make America great again" -- but as with other appealing slogans, with time it proved rather hollow. In the wake of the UK referendum in favor of Brexit, the British government is faced with the task of coming up with large numbers of trade deals that will somehow compensate for the almost-certain loss of preferential access to the EU. Naturally, the most important of these "new" trade deals is with the US. Unfortunately, the British negotiating position is fatally undermined by the fact that the UK is desperate for a deal, whereas the US doesn't need it at all. Inevitably, then, the US will get to dictate its terms, and UK government will be forced to accept them, however bad they are, because it has no alternative. So much for "taking back control."

Rather belatedly, people are beginning to wake up to what that is likely to mean in practice. Here, for example, is an analysis on BuzzFeed of a key problem with the UK government's plan to sign lots of new trade deals to plug the gap left by exiting the EU:

Trade experts have warned that signing such deals without the EU judicial system will almost inevitably mean signing up to systems known as "ISDS" (Investor State Dispute Settlement) -- secretive, binding arbitration systems that can force countries to overturn their laws when it hurts corporate interests. These formed the core of international opposition to trade deals such as TTIP (between the EU and US) and CETA (between the EU and Canada).

It might be argued that ISDS -- corporate sovereignty -- isn't a new issue for the UK. The country already has many trade deals that include corporate sovereignty chapters:

UK corporations have been some of the most active users of ISDS to enforce their rights overseas, analysis of the 700 or so known disputes shows. Sixty-four of the 700 were made by UK companies against overseas governments, while only one ISDS dispute has ever been filed against the UK -- and didn’t go anywhere.

The UK has been able to use ISDS as an offensive weapon without being hit by many claims itself because most of its existing trade deals are with countries that have relatively small economies. They have few companies or individuals who are in a position to make major investments in the UK, which means few are able to use corporate sovereignty clauses against the UK. The UK, by contrast, has plenty of rich investors who can and do take advantage of secret ISDS tribunals.

That situation will change dramatically if and when the UK signs a trade deal with the US -- the British government has made clear that doing so will be a priority post-Brexit. The US has huge investments in the UK, and these are likely to be covered retrospectively by ISDS in any trade deal. That was the intention in TAFTA/TTIP, which now seems likely to suffer the same fate as TPP. After all, why wouldn't Trump demand this strong protection for investments made by US companies -- and by himself?

As the BuzzFeed article points out, requiring a corporate sovereignty chapter in a US-UK trade deal would lead to a rather ironic situation. The Brexit vote, which many insisted would allow the UK to throw off the yoke of supposedly "anti-democratic" supranational EU judgments, is almost certain to see a post-Brexit UK subject to large numbers of supranational ISDS judgments that are even less democratic.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 2:57am

    I would argue that they aren't in any worse waters than the US. I mean, for all their woes they don't have Trump.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 3:43am

      Re:

      "I mean, for all their woes they don't have Trump."

      However, historically we're the ones who tend to blindly go along with whatever the US tells us to, especially on business and economic issues when there's a Tory in charge, and May desperately wants to be Thatcher. Meaning that for the moment, we not only have Trump and May but we didn't get a say in electing either of them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Call me Al, 31 Jan 2017 @ 3:55am

        Re: Re:

        Except you did get a say. We had an election in 2015. The UK is not a Presidential system, you do not vote for the Prime Minster. You vote for the party and they choose their leader. I know the line gets blurred, not least with the debates we had last time around, but its an important distinction.

        That said, at the moment I have nothing but contempt for May's handling of pretty much everything.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 4:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes, I know the difference, but it's a big problem when they decide on a new leader with very different ideas on how to run the country that the person in charge when that party was elected. Especially since that party didn't get a majority vote from the people when they entered power in the first place, so their leadership was already skewed away from the wishes of many voters.

          The fact is, May's acting like she has a mandate from the people to push Brexit through however she sees fit, when in reality she has a ~3% lead in a referendum that was taken when people thought Cameron was going to be the one to implement it, and would have done so in a very different manner (if at all - the referendum was after all not legally binding and clearly not unanimous across the nation).

          It's the same type of situation as the US - while the system allowed May (or Trump) to be in charge within the technicalities of the system, they were not voted in by the people with a majority or a mandate.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Richard (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 4:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Well - No UK government has actually had 50% of the vote since WW2. So we have been beholden to those technicalities since just about forever.
            AND Theresa May was one who complained loudly when Gordon Brown took over without an election even though everyone knew at the previous election advance that this would happen - so she is a total hypocrit on that point.

            May just wanted to be prime minister. My prediction is that she will live to regret it.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 4:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "No UK government has actually had 50% of the vote since WW2"

              True, but 2010 was the second time a majority winner didn't get elected in that time, and the Tories only got in due to a coalition (which many Lib Dems were against and the leadership regretted later). All within the rules, but not the will of the people.

              Agreed about May, but as with Trump a lot of British citizens can only look on hoping that she doesn't screw us all too badly until we have a say again.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Richard (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 4:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            y she has a ~3% lead in a referendum that was taken when people thought Cameron was going to be the one to implement it,

            What is more she campaigned on the remain side - thus no-one could have predicted what has happened even when voting in the referendum - still less at the election a year before.

            The referendum simply rejected remaining in the EU on the terms that Cameron had negotiated. Some people thought that a no vote would simply precipitate a renegotiation of those terms followed by a re-run. This idea was even expressed by Boris Johnson at one point.

            I think if the referendum question had said: Do you want to remain in the EU or do you want to be cannon fodder for US corporate interests then we might have got a different result.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 5:05am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Well, you've identified one of the main problems - lots of people didn't know what they were voting for. I mean, forget the lies being spread by UKIP and their cronies about what they could/would do if leaving, nobody knew what "leave" really meant.

              We're still discussing "hard" vs "soft", which part of the EU infrastructure to leave or stay in, what to agree regarding existing immigrants/ex pats and so on. If we're still discussing that 6 months after the vote, then how can you pretend people knew what they were voting for? Hell, I've even seen people believing that it was a vote to leave Schengen (which we were never part of to begin with).

              The remain vote was the easy one - stay, but work to improve what we have through existing agreements. People are still trying to work out what "leave" actually meant, and nobody can agree. Yet, May's acting like she has a mandate to burn it all to the ground, even though many voting were simply protesting the status quo (please, people on both sides of the pond, stop doing this!)

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 5:23am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                >lots of people didn't know what they were voting for
                Arguably, anyone who voted "leave" didn't know what they were voting for. The referendum question was designed to be too monstrously stupid for anyone to vote for anything except the continuation of the status quo and yet here we are...

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Richard (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 6:25am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                nobody knew what "leave" really meant

                Which in practice meant that everybody who voted leave projected their own idea of what should happen onto the "leave" concept.

                Worse than that most people will have thought in terms of outcomes - without ever reasoning through as to how "leave" could (actually) deliver those outcomes.

                Arguably exactly the same thing will have happened with many Trump voters, although in that case there is more opportunity for any damage he does to be undone at a later date. (However having said that I am not convinced of the ability of the US political system to actually throw up anybody better. In my mind US politics has been in freefall quality-wise since Reagan was elected. )

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 6:52am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "Which in practice meant that everybody who voted leave projected their own idea of what should happen onto the "leave" concept."

                  Exactly. What should have happened is a debate to discuss what action should be taken, with MPs pushing the preferences of their constituents in order to get the best for their respective communities and a clear plan going forward. As much as I think the result is a terrible idea and should not have been actioned with such a small majority, this would have been acceptable.

                  Instead, we had rats instantly fleeing the ship, people acting as if the referendum somehow meant we had instantly left and nobody having any idea what the result actually meant (although its effects started to be seen instantly).

                  "Arguably exactly the same thing will have happened with many Trump voters, although in that case there is more opportunity for any damage he does to be undone at a later date."

                  Again, this. When someone asked me after the referendum why it was so bad, I tried to explain - you get a general election result you don't like, you can weather it out and take action at the polls next time. With Brexit, it's a one-time permanent change to a fundamental way in which the country is being operated and there's no going back once it's started. This is a problem, even if you believe that there was a good understanding of the consequences and the country would absolutely be better off in the long run (I don't).

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Richard (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 4:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It's the same type of situation as the US - while the system allowed May (or Trump) to be in charge within the technicalities of the system, they were not voted in by the people with a majority or a mandate.

            Actually Trump is in much better shape than May here.

            In both systems you have to take the point that all the campaigning effort, getting out the vote etc takes into account the rules as they actually are - not the rules that maybe ought to have been. So, although Trump lost the popular vote under current rules that does not necessarily mean that he would have lost had the popular vote been the deciding factor.

            May, on the other hand has taken over without an election on the basis of a referendum where she was on the losing side and has promptly morphed into something like an extremist in opposition to everything that she said beforehand.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Pebbles1726, 31 Jan 2017 @ 8:50am

        Re: Re:

        No it's worse you can get rid of the idiot in a few years time. We cannot repair the damage this act will bring even if we were to rejoin the EU it would be from a severely disadvantaged position.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 4:25am

      Re:

      I would argue that they aren't in any worse waters than the US. I mean, for all their woes they don't have Trump.

      For the US at least Trump is (in some sense) on your side.

      For the UK Trump is NOT on our side

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 6:00am

        trump on your side

        there are at least two sides here: the nation of the people and the nation of the govt/corporations. careful when you say our side. which america are you speaking to?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 31 Jan 2017 @ 4:27am

      Re:

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 5:14am

    Why?

    Why is the UK "desperate" for a trade deal with the US? they like the US import far more than they export since like the US the have a mostly post industrial economy, serious question I don't get it

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 6:24am

      Re: Why?

      not sure how you do not realize that you answered your own question.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 9:03am

        Re: Re: Why?

        I don't see how, trade deals are only of value when you get something for your EXPORTS to the other country, the UK has control of it's IMPORT taxes, plus I doubt they are importing much from the US.

        I don't see why they need any sort of trade deal with the US

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 6:28am

      Re: Why?

      It may sound strange, but: Agriculture. USA has a lot of agricultural/food products produced very effectively (at some extremely applorable conditions, but I digress). Also, leaving EU makes UK less susceptible to get a relatively more favourable trade deal with EU. Thus a trade agreement with USA now that TTIP is sunk is very important to make up for the loses. But when it comes to sustainable economy, UK will have to rely less on trade deals to line their coffers. They simply cannot match the EU when it comes to making shrewd deals with developing countries.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 9:12am

        Re: Re: Why?

        Again importing food or whatever is already under the control of the UK government, they could issue a credit on imported food if they wanted, there seems to be an axiomatic assumption that trade deals are necessary, because... reasons

        the UK is wealthy, has it's own currency, is the center for finance in europe and is a reasonably large market, there really isn't any reason to believe that they cannot negotiate beneficial trade deals except ??

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 6:28am

      Re: Why?

      Why is the UK so desperate?

      The UK isn't - however trade deals are an important part of convincing the public that brexit isn't a disaster.

      What worries me is that the brexiteers will never admit it was a mistake - no matter how bad things get.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 9:18am

        Re: Re: Why?

        I still don't get it it isn't the majority Brexit people that are screaming but but TRADE!, it looks like active propaganda since I can't see an actual reason to be concerned

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 5:43am

    with the USA economy in shit street, as it is, exactly what does it have that the UK so desperately wants or needs? if Thersa May is so stupid as to sign away the rights of the UK and it's people, in favour of being screwed by the USA or any other country or corporation, she will deserve the anger that she gets in return. there is no way in hell that any corporation and it's profits should be allowed to take priority over any country, people, health, safety well being or anything else. it's disgusting this practice was ever allowed into being to begin with and those who designed it need locking up for a very long time!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 6:54am

      Re:

      "with the USA economy in shit street"

      All the while the so called experts who are just day traders are busily blowing smoke up yer ass with their "everything is coming up roses" bullshit. The economy will not recover without a middle class, it will simply limp off into the sunset and die a peaceful death, alone and miserable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 6:29am

    Weak Citizens...

    You have only one destiny, and multiple routes to get there. You will be ruled over and from you will be taken many things, just as you have requested. When you bow your head to another, you give them power over you.

    Only strong citizens are capable of telling governments what they want in order to live free.

    Every Nation gets the government it deserves!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 6:59am

      Re: Weak Citizens...

      While some are being fired for doing their jobs and standing up to an oppressive government, what exactly have you done lately - other than post your silly signature in this blog?

      I'm sure your finger has become quite tired from all the wagging it has been dong here, perhaps it could be put to good use sending messages to your representatives, have you done that? How about getting your ass up off the couch and go protest - you done that? If not, just wth are you going on about then?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 7:41am

        Re: Re: Weak Citizens...

        I cannot prove what I have done, and don't care to either.

        If you need that proof then you are worthless. We all have a responsibility regardless of the actions of the rest. As far as protesting goes... not seen much come of it.

        The only solution is the education of "The People"... people like you that DON'T wish to be educated. You instead make fun of meaningful quotes by people that have proven their worth in history. Got any meaningful quotes you are known for?

        I don't... so I use others that do. One thing I can assure you... if you hate that quote by Joseph De Maistre... then you are the exact person that it applies too! It applies to me as well, but I understand that quote and know why it was uttered.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 8:30am

      Re: Weak Citizens...

      This has been discussed already and it's really not like this. Between crony capitalism, misleading information, stupid electoral systems and outright fraud there are plenty of ways people don't really have control over the Government as a whole. Specially in larger countries.

      "When you bow your head to another, you give them power over you."

      Or when your head is forcibly moved into a bow motion. And sometimes if you resist it is broken to conclude the movement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike Silvey, 31 Jan 2017 @ 8:02am

    Triggering Article 50 is insane

    Britain, outside of the single Market and outside of the free movement of people will transform into a Third World zone, where those employees which do have a job will be indentured to their companies like the Coffee Plantation workers in Guatemala.

    https://carelesswhispersdotme.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/triggering-article-50-is-insane/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 8:09am

      Re: Triggering Article 50 is insane

      There are plenty of disingenuous arguments there.

      You can still be united without being legally beholden to each other. Every problem listed can be resolved using other means. There are multiple solutions to these problems, but as usual, people just cannot see past their political noses.

      Yes, it is nice to have solidarity, but not at the expense of sovereignty. The one world government is coming, I just hope I am dead before it gets here.

      Humans, for all intents and purposes, have a very nasty habit of destroying ourselves in the attempt to save ourselves. Most people want governments around to protect them... despite the fact that Governments have caused more human death and suffering than ALL wars, famine/pestilence, or disasters combined.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 31 Jan 2017 @ 8:23am

        Re: Re: Triggering Article 50 is insane

        "Every problem listed can be resolved using other means."

        Yes, but the majority of them were already being solved to some extent. What was needed is a streamlining of the rules and a renegotiation of the things that we felt were not serving our needs. Not "let's blow the whole thing up and try to renegotiate with everyone toward an end result we haven't worked out yet". Sadly, the election of our representatives in the EU was never something that people voted for as much as a general election, so we ended up with muppets to represent us.

        "Yes, it is nice to have solidarity, but not at the expense of sovereignty."

        You can have both, but not while following the little Englanders who think that sovereignty means complete isolation.

        "The one world government is coming, I just hope I am dead before it gets here."

        Well, if you aren't, you can thank the people who burned everything to the ground in the name of sovereignty, while in reality handing it over to multinational corporations.

        "despite the fact that Governments have caused more human death and suffering than ALL wars, famine/pestilence, or disasters combined"

        Now *that's* a disingenuous comment! Apart from the obvious "citation needed", most of those wars were fought between governments. So, how did governments cause more of that than wars fought between governments?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 10:23am

          Re: Re: Re: Triggering Article 50 is insane

          Look up the word Democide. It is a metric of all government involved NON COMBAT deaths. In other words it measures the number of people killed by their own government whether through gas chambers or forced starvation or pretty much anything else. IIRC the estimate was 260,000,000 over the last ~100 years. It dwarfs the number of actual combat deaths due to war. Uhhh what the heck, here's a link if you're interested: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democide
          Isn't it funny how you never think about something before you learn the term for it?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 1 Feb 2017 @ 12:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Triggering Article 50 is insane

            Interesting. However:

            "It dwarfs the number of actual combat deaths due to war"

            There's a lot of deaths during wartime that aren't classed as combat deaths, but aren't under the democide definition. I'm not sure how you differentiate and compile figures, but I just wanted to point out the fallacy of claiming that wartime casualties aren't associated with a government action.

            Thanks for putting a little more thought into this than some do, there's far too many who just go "government bad!" with no thought to what they actually do. Which *does* involve protection and support as much as it does neglect and suffering, depending on the government.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2017 @ 9:47am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Triggering Article 50 is insane

              Yeah just to be clear, I'm not the same AC that you first responded to but I am the same one that brought up democide. Maybe I should make an account lol. I felt the need to mention it because democide isn't something the comes up in typical parlance (my mobile keyboard doesn't recognize the word). Also if I understand you correctly, I didn't mean to imply that combat deaths were not the result of government action, just pointing out there is a metric that measures deaths due to a government violating it's contract to protect it's people.

              I don't agree with the original post that said "despite the fact that Governments have caused more human death and suffering than ALL wars, famine/pestilence, or disasters combined" but I do think it shows there are a lot of cases that a government can be its own citizens worst nightmare. For instance I am way more afraid of my own government (US) than I am of any individual terrorist attack. But hey, it's just something to think about. Thanks for the response

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Richard (profile), 1 Feb 2017 @ 3:04am

        Re: Re: Triggering Article 50 is insane

        Yes, it is nice to have solidarity, but not at the expense of sovereignty.

        Sovereignty is over rated. North Korea has Sovereignty. It is, perhaps, the small country with the most sovereignty .

        Does that make it a better place to be than the EU?

        What matters is the degree to which ordinary people have a say in their destiny. However (as the referendum has shown) it is important that their "say" is exercised within a framework of rational debate.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 6:03pm

    The EU is at it again. I for one am glad to see the UK stand up for itself, no one else will if they don't. I can't wait for the Hague to start dictating law and order here in the states. Fuck the Department of Foreign Affairs and The New World Order. Keep their bloodied hands out of our lives, let them do their own killing for a change, and leave us be. I would have pulled out after that right to be forgotten bullshit became gospel. I am all for a four day workweek though! Switzerland doesn't belong, that says it all for me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 1 Feb 2017 @ 12:30am

      Re:

      "The EU is at it again"

      If you weren't an idiot, you'd notice that this is about actions by the UK and its potential negotiations with the US, nothing to do with the EU. But why would a Brexiter deal with facts?

      What a shame the wilfully ignorant have the same vote as people who understand things.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2017 @ 11:49pm

    Well Troika

    I see after many hour no one has an answer for me, which makes me think that this scary stuff is just the only way the germans can torture england since they still have there own currency and cannot be abused the way Greece was.

    Germans have not changed and have been joined by the aristocracy of america

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2017 @ 8:58am

    > an analysis on BuzzFeed

    > "Ten things you won't believe about Brexit. Number three will shock you!"

    Into the trash it goes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.