Brexit, British Government, Northern Ireland, Single Market, UK Labour Party

A Never Ending #Brexit

This blogpost was written on Sunday Nov 4th, 2018
The Prime Minister Meets DUP Leader At Downing Street
Prime Minister May with DUP leaders

It is Sunday and the weekend papers are awash with suggestions that the Brexit negotiators are close to a breakthrough. The Sunday Times reports, almost breathlessly, on “May’s Secret Brexit Deal”. RTE’s European editor, Tony Connelly reports it somewhat differently – and far more soberly.

As usual, the potential deal-breaker is the Irish backstop.

Apparently, what is now being discussed is that the while the whole of the UK would stay in a “bare bones”, temporary customs union with the EU, Northern Ireland (NI) would stay within the full EU customs code and the single market for goods. Regulatory checks would take place in factories and businesses away from the actual border. Instead of the border being down the middle of the Irish sea it might be somewhere in a factory in, say, Liverpool. But then Liverpool was always part of Ireland, really.

Were this deal to be finalised between the negotiators it is being suggested that it would allow UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, to argue that her redlines of no divisions within the UK have been respected and that the NI backstop would never have to be used in practice.

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Brexit, British Government, Theresa May

First there was “Hard #Brexit” then there was “Red, White and Blue Brexit” – now, it’s a “Squatters’ Brexit”

This blogpost was written on Tues Oct 30th, 2018

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Brexit negotiations have been on hold for the past week or so pending yesterday’s UK Budget. Both EU and UK negotiators waited nervously to see if the UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond, could deliver a budget that could win acceptance in the House of Commons. As I write, on Tuesday morning, it looks like he did.

The cause for concern on the part of the negotiators were recent statements from both hard-line Brexiteers in the Conservative Party and from the Ulster Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that they would vote down the budget in a show of force over their Brexit concerns. However, after Hammond earmarked £350 million for Belfast and another £320 million for the Northern Ireland Executive, it is now unlikely that the DUP will vote down the budget.

But the government is not yet out of the woods as far as the DUP is concerned.  Sammy Wilson, a DUP MP, said the party was not yet planning to oppose the budget, explaining, “To date we haven’t seen the outcome of the withdrawal agreement, so it would be reckless of us to oppose the budget on the basis of something we haven’t seen.” Wilson added, “However, the government will need support when it comes to the finance bill… So, they shouldn’t take it for granted that just because they get the budget passed that they can do whatever they like with Northern Ireland.”

Hammond also loosened spending in what the Financial Times described as “an old-fashioned giveaway Budget”. As the FT further noted Hammond’s budget was “as much about politics as economics.”

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Negotiating, Northern Ireland, Single Market, Theresa May

U.K. Has Deadlocked Itself on #Brexit

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This blog was written on Sunday Oct 14th, 2018

When we began writing these BEERG Brexit Briefings in June 2017 we continually advised businesses to “hope for the best but prepare for the worst”.

As we head into a crucial Brexit week, with EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Wednesday evening and Thursday with Brexit very much on the agenda, we are dropping the “hope for the best” part and are now advising businesses to “prepare for the worst” because that is where we are heading.

The way we see it, there is no deal that Prime Minister May can negotiate with Brussels that would command a majority in the House of Commons.

As Andrew Rawnsley, one of the most perceptive UK political commentators puts it in the Observer on Sunday:

On the face of it, this makes it very hard to see how Mrs May can strike any agreement with the EU for which there will be parliamentary approval. The opposition has no incentive to help her out of a swamp of the Tory party’s own making. The Democratic Unionists say they will cut off their life-support. The DUP are co-ordinating with the Tory Brextremists. The parliamentary maths is a horror.

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Brexit, Michel Barnier, Negotiating, Rees Mogg, Theresa May

Deadlock on #Brexit

This blog was written on saturday morning, Sept 29th 2018, 

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I completely agree with Jacob Rees-Mogg. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

Actually, to be more accurate, Rees-Mogg agrees with me. Some weeks ago I wrote a Briefing, The Politics of Hard Numbers, here, in which I argued that there was no majority in the House of Commons for any Brexit deal.

In an article in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph Rees-Mogg argues, as regards Theresa May’s Chequers plan, that the EU:

“…has been so clear that the plan fails to meet its requirements that it is hard to see that it could change tack without a new chief negotiator.”

More critically, he notes:

The domestic opposition is even more important because, although our system provides for a powerful executive, ultimately laws need the support of the House of Commons, which Chequers cannot get. Indeed, if put forward it could be heavily defeated with no direct consequence for the Government.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Theresa May

#Brexit Will Not End Well… or…Brits need to realise: the #EU is just not that into you

This blog was written on June 12th 2018

Lemass DeGaulle
Lemass with De Gaulle in 1962

In the blizzard of policy statements, position papers, press conferences and parliamentary debates it is crucial to keep one fact in mind: the UK is leaving the EU on March 29th, 2019, unless the UK parliament votes to withdraw the Article 50 notice. Given the views expressed by the Conservative government and the opposition Labour Party this seems unlikely to happen. But never say never.

 

As matters stand, on March 29th, 2019, the UK will become a “third country”, outside of the EU institutions and legal framework. That there may be a transition period until the end of December 2020, with the UK de facto following all EU laws but without a voice in the EU governance structures, does not change the fact that on March 30th, 2019, the UK will have left the EU. Everything else is nothing more than dealing with the consequences of that exit. Damage limitation at best.

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Brexit, David Davis, Michel Barnier, Negotiating

On #Brexit there are the Crashers, the Cavers and the Light Remainers

This blogpost was written on May 27th 2018.

david-cameron-eu-referendum-390x285This week the Brexit negotiations resumed in Brussels with the UK presenting a series of papers, or rather PowerPoints, on issues ranging from future economic relationships between the two sides, through security cooperation to data protection and data flows.

On data protection, an issue with which we are very familiar, the UK’s pitch can best be summed up as:

Can we all pretend, and act, as if the UK has not left the EU?

Can we have exactly the same arrangement on data flows as we have now?

After Brexit, we won’t really be a third country, you know, not really, so can our data protection person still turn up at meetings of the European Data Protection Board?

But, of course, we will be outside the jurisdiction of the European Court and so we will need our own procedures to resolve disputes.

The only surprise is that the presentation did not end with that much used advert punchline: “…because we’re worth it”.

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