Here we are at another deadline in the EU relationship saga. And it is sobering to reflect that there are eight year-olds who have spent their entire lives with Brexit on the national agenda.
Today’s question is will the UK government, that is the Prime Minister, walk away from the fraught trade negotiations by midnight tonight – as promised? Or will they allow the EU politicians to impose their timetable instead?
By tomorrow we should find out.
But there is a feeling that this is a critical tipping point. Anything other than the UK landlord calling last orders tonight will show everyone – on both sides – just how weak and ineffective the UK leadership has become …
Update 19-Oct-2020 The cynics win again. Bluff and bluster but the deadline is not enforced and so the talks continue …
Back at our Leaving The EU Scoreboard not much has changed. In terms of regaining our independence from the EU that is. Another fifty days have gone by with the UK’s political parties spending their time – and our money – canvassing for our votes on their big issues; or at least their small issues made to look big.
By late tonight the first of the general election results will be declared and who finally gets the short straw to handle the EU negotiations will be confirmed.
However all parties seem to be working on the notion that we have until March 2019 – or even later – to sort out a deal. Yet the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, was reported as long ago as last December as requiring a deal by October 2018 – to allow time for all sides to ratify it.
Considering that almost a full year has been wasted on diversions and squabbles, things do not look promising for a well thought out solution by then. And even though some actual negotiations are due to start this month there are already new excuses being found for more delays. For example the state opening of parliament has now been called for 19th June – the same day as the promised start of EU negotiations – and the German federal elections fall on 27th August so blocking any meaningful EU progress [Correction; 27-Aug was the earliest allowed date. The actual date is now set as 24-Sep]. But with the UK parliament due to have their summer break from July to September that’s just one more diversion. Meanwhile millions per day in EU payments are still being given away; with little regard for our ever increasing national debt.
But just imagine what could happen if we wake up tomorrow to the prospect of a hung parliament or a change in government … Gawd help us!
As you will all be aware since our last check on the Leaving The EU Scoreboard the UK has taken that all important first step – sending in our resignation letter. But then today’s announcement of a snap UK general election threw more fuel onto the already overheated political fires. With UK local elections already called for next month the various party political machines are now going into overdrive. And with some big votes due within the EU there will be plenty of diversions in Europe as well. So given that many (all?) politicians have self-interest high in their priorities the chances of any meaningful progress on Brexit look slim. True a general election will give a new mandate to who ever wins. But recent UK results have been very close and we could have an unexpected draw.
In the light of today’s news Grandad’s recommended second Brexit step – suspending EU payments – seems very unlikely to happen; at least in the short term. So creating a rather obvious weakness in the UK’s negotiating position. Instead the EU have used the opportunity to put in their first precondition – a multi-billion euro bill to cover future expenditure. A demand with little in the way of detail to support it – yet that has to be agreed to before the UK can start discussions on any trade issues. The worry is that this will be the first of many expensive obstacles designed to keep British tax payers on the EU hook for the maximum time. A process that has already started with the EU machinery wiping off 30 days off our 730 days (two year) maximum through simply waiting for a meeting to approve their own draft guidelines. The UK elections will wipe off another 40 or so days and the diverse demands of the EU members could mean that even approving the guidelines could stretch out further.
And Grandad’s recommended third step – repeal of the 1972 act giving the EU jurisdiction over the UK – has become tied into a much bigger piece of legislation. A bill that was proposed for the next Queen’s Speech (the target date of 17-May was left unconfirmed even before today’s news) but not to be enacted until the final leaving date. Again this creates a major weakness in the UK’s position. The EU is able to force through legislation and financial commitments that the UK has no option but accept. We will be an opponent of the EU when trading with the rest of the world – but under the control of increasingly hostile EU politicians and bureaucrats.
So a new UK government faces some 660 days of one-sided poker playing – if they are foolish enough to play by the rules imposed ..
It’s supposed to be just one day each year – but not that you would know that by reading the media reports and political statements surrounding the attempts by the UK to have a new relationship with the EU.
Instead we are suffering from a range of demands and pronouncements that even the most cynical must be surprised by. Which of them are jokes and which are genuine? Which are serious plans and which are simply said to stir up dissent? Are any of them worth even repeating?
No trade deal negotiations before Article 50. No trade deals after Article 50 unless the UK pays 60,000 million euro. No exit agreement unless Gibraltar accepts control by Spain. No exit agreement unless the UK breaks links with the Commonwealth. UK to keep paying into EU for three years after leaving. Assets owned by the EU will not be shared with UK on leaving. EU citizens will retain free movement in / out of UK after leaving. UK will still need to subject to European court decisions after leaving. EU will continue to have access to UK intelligence resources after leaving for free. UK military resources will still be assigned to defending EU borders even if the EU countries do not pay their contractual contributions to NATO. Social security benefits will still be paid to EU citizens even if they are not UK tax payers or residents.
The list goes on and on … And with various political factions in each of the 27 EU members having their own demands perhaps they hope that the UK will be overwhelmed, give up and comply. However that’s a dangerous strategy since an increasingly likely outcome is that the EU will only benefit from a polite UK goodbye. Either way we will see little in the way of thanks or reward for the forty-four years of contributions paid by you and me – the typical UK tax payers – into the EU money pit. But only time will tell who has been the biggest fool.
Alex Salmond MSP in the official independence referendum prospectus for the September 2014 vote stated –
The debate we are engaged in as a nation is about the future of
all of us lucky enough to live in this diverse and vibrant country.
It is a rare and precious moment in the history of Scotland – a once in a generation opportunity to chart a better way.
And this definitive document then went on to state –
The Edinburgh Agreement states that a referendum must be
held by the end of 2014. There is no arrangement in place for
another referendum on independence.
It is the view of the current Scottish Government that a
referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. This means
that only a majority vote for Yes in 2014 would give certainty
that Scotland will be independent.
If we vote No, Scotland stands still. A once in a generation
opportunity to follow a different path, and choose a new
and better direction for our nation, is lost. Decisions about
Scotland would remain in the hands of others.
Strange how the same politicians puff and blow that it’s now time for a second vote. Yet we are just three years on from the last one…
Time for the people to make their political representatives honour their threats/ promises by blocking another vote until at least twenty five years have past.
Politicians sometimes wonder why there is increasing public cynicism about their motivations and performance. And with the Brexit process they have had the chance to show everyone that the public’s concerns are misguided.
Yet as we slip past the 250 days mark without completing any of the steps needed to leave the EU they seem to be determined to prove, beyond doubt, just how ineffective they have become.
And sending Brussels our resignation is just the easy part. Once accepted by the Eurocrats there follows a maximum negotiating period of 730 days. A limited time to either complete the difficult negotiations – or give up and leave without agreement. Based our politician’s performance so far, leaving straight away would achieve the same result with a lot less hassle. But then the Lords and Commons don’t get paid by results so it looks like Grandad will be stuck with writing these depressing posts for years to come …
So exactly seven months on from our vote to leave the European Union we now have a decision on who needs to be consulted before we can resign. If progress by the UK government continues at this pace the EU negotiation window of two years maximum will close before any British plans are even submitted.
But those hoping to remain in the EU seem to have lost sight of how the EU plans to change over the next few years. Britain would not be able to stay on in the EU on its 1990 terms – even if leaving was reversed or delayed for decades. All those special terms that the UK enjoyed in the past will not be an option in the future.
The master plan to create a European super state unifying and integrating all its countries economically, politically and socially is the only vision of the future that politicians in Brussels will allow.
The pound would have to go, along with imperial measurements and an independent military. While the much despised British rebate is already being lined up for removal along with our veto powers over key policy areas. Obviously the free movement of people would be strictly enforced, despite UK objections, since it is one of the articles of EU faith that cannot be challenged.
So ignoring the majority and forcing Britain to remain a member would not provide a safe, stable or familiar future within the EU. Rather it would commit the country to a series of destructive changes at colossal expense. At the same time our reduced voting capacity would mean that even fewer British plans would gain support in Brussels. And with poorer member states easily outnumbering the net-contributors, like the UK, we would have to put up with more laws benefiting them while their escalating costs would get passed onto us. Not a bright future – even if the grand EU design actually worked.
So being ruled by a rather dubious bunch of British politicians may not be much to cheer about – but it’s a lot better than the alternative …
The combination of the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday and the Supreme Court’s promise today that they will issue a judgement next Tuesday has injected some much needed action into the Brexit soap opera. A drama that was in danger of boring its audience to distraction.
However, despite this welcome news, we are still awaiting the issue of that national resignation letter. And we are, of course, still bankrolling lavish, and unaudited, spending by eurocrats on their pet projects – and supporting their comfortable life styles. The hope is that the PM, with the backing of parliament, will actually meet her own target of March for the resignation. But even so millions of our national taxes are still going to be siphoned off until 2019; as things stand.
So despite this week’s developments the British position is much the same as it was back in September and the advice then to opt for the simplest terms, agreed as quickly as possible, still applies. Let’s hope that Whitehall gets its act together and takes on board the advice that no deal is better than a bad deal …