Schools are out, holidays are here and for much of the UK the weather is Scorchio! And with Westminster’s summer session ending tomorrow we can all have a much needed break from both work and politics – possibly.
Sadly our government has left us with homework – in the form of a 104 page document setting out The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Now very few voters are going to bother to read this important White Paper; especially at the start of the holidays. And the few that do try might change their minds by page one – which starts out –
In the referendum on 23 June 2016 – the largest ever democratic exercise in the United Kingdom – the British people voted to leave the European Union.
And that is what we will do – leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, ending free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in this country, leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, and ending the days of sending vast sums of money to the EU every year. We will take back control of our money, laws, and borders, and begin a new exciting chapter in our nation’s history.
Even those with little interest in politics may be able to spot some issues already – just two paragraphs in. For example taking back control of our money – when exactly did we cede control of the pound to the EU? And ending the days of sending vast sums of money seems to ignore the £39,000 million already promised to be sent to the EU in the years after 2019. And stopping free movement can never happen as long as there is an open border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic – since simply flying to Dublin, from say Athens, will still provide an open door into the UK.
But, in reality, what we the general public think of this plan has little importance. It is what the EU thinks that is the next big issue. And things have not started well.
Just one day after its release The Guardian reported – The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has forensically picked apart Theresa May’s white paper after a meeting of the EU27, warning that the prime minister had failed to offer Brussels a firm basis for the negotiations. While The Irish Times led with – Brexit: UK’s White Paper largely unworkable, says Barnier.
So new boy Dominic Raab may have to cut short his holidays as Barnier told reporters: We have a lot of work to do with our teams. There are, as you know, 13 weeks left, before the October European council. In this time, short time, we have two things to do. We must finalise the withdrawal agreement and we are not yet there on governance.
However at least one man in Whitehall should be able to enjoy an even more luxurious break this summer considering the extra £20,000 he apparently received for simply doing his report-writing job. Go Olly!