Because of leaks coming out of the UK Government, we have known for some time what the broad lines of their negotiating offer to the EU would be. Yet the White Paper is still striking for the depth, breadth and detail about the UK’s future dependence on the European Union. It covers almost everything, from customs, to regulations in industrial and agricultural products, competition policy, regulatory institutions, security, broadcasting, justice, social and environmental protection, health insurance, research, energy, refugees, data exchange and overseas development.
Last week the government released its fisheries white paper. While most of the fisheries and Brexit debate centres on quotas and access to waters, there is also an important devolution dimension. Brexit already has profound consequences for the UK’s devolution settlement and fisheries policy is one example of this.
In the classic American musical, Guys and Dolls, the cast sang the praises of Nathan Detroit, the man who ran The Oldest Established Floating Crap Game in the City of New York. The game produced winners and losers with one exception: Nathan Detroit was always a winner. As long as, that is, he could keep the crap game going.
Faced with a choice between splitting her Cabinet into winners and losers, Theresa May has sought to keep the Brexit crap game going. She does this by avoiding betting on either a hard or soft Brexit.