Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Brexit - post-Chequers

The stakes are high - the pace is fast - where are we with Brexit?

Friday 6 July - the Cabinet agreed a collective proposal for Brexit and there was a reassertion of the need for collective responsibility - Previous post 7 July.

On 8 July, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU (Mr David Davis MP) resigned from the government - see his letter of resignation and the Prime Minister's reply.  He has been replaced by Mr Dominic Raab MP and see his voting record.  The Foreign Secretary, Mr Boris Johnson MP, resigned on Monday 9 July - resignation letter and PM's reply.  He has been replaced by Mr Jeremy Hunt MP.

The Prime Minister addressed the House of Commons on Monday 9 July and also faced the so-called 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs.  The committee has power to trigger a vote of no confidence in the Party Leader but this was not done.

For now at least, the Chequers proposal remains on the table - see Government Statement 6 July.  The promised White Paper is to be issued on Thursday 12 July - BBC News 12 July.  Negotiations with the EU resume on 16 July.

My previous post contains links to some of the reaction to the Chequers proposal.  I am reserving analysis of it until the White Paper is published.

The Labour Party issued its Plan for Brexit but, so long as the Conservative Party form the government, the only plan in town is the Chequers plan.  The plan has yet to receive a formal response from the European Union but there is much in it that they are likely to take issue with.  Similarly, no matter where one stands regarding Brexit, the Chequers plan is unlikely to be welcomed without significant reservations.

In the House of Commons, the Conservative government is supported by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - see the Agreement of June 2017.  Their reaction to the Chequers plan is not fully clear but it has been reported that some aspects of the plan are a concern to them.   Nonetheless, the Chequers proposal appears to meet a key DUP concern that there be no "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and also no customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The Prime Minister defended the Chequers plan in the House of Commons - see House of Commons Monday 9 July  and it is to be noted that she uambiguously ruled out membership of the EU Single Market and EU Customs Union - see answer to Mr Ian Blackford MP -

"The right hon. Gentleman’s key question—he asked it twice—was whether I would work with people across this House to stay in the single market and in the customs union. The answer is an absolute unequivocal no. We are leaving the single market and we are leaving the customs union."

Mrs May also ruled out any extension to the Article 50 timescale to allow more time for negotiation - see answer to Liz Saville Roberts MP - "We are not - we are not - extending article 50."

The big "What if" is what will happen if the Chequers plan fails.  A No Deal Brexit is then highly likely and that is an outcome that will not be viewed with happiness by anyone other than hardline Brexiteers who seek to leave the EU regardless of the consequences to either the UK economy or the future of the UK as a Union.

Just to look back to the days before the referendum.  As required by the EU (Referendum) Act 2015, the government published "Alternatives to Membership ..." which concluded  -

I believe that this is as correct today as when it was written.  Remaining a full member ought to be the fall back position if the Chequers proposal fails.  The alternative of No Deal is one for which, according to the Prime Minister, the government is preparing but it is a road to major economic problems and there is no good sense in pursuing the 52% to 48% referendum outcome to that conclusion.  After all, many British people were excluded from the franchise and the campaign was undoubtedly influenced by the questionable operations of Vote Leave and Cambridge Analytica - see The Guardian 26 March.

BBC News - 10 July - Theresa May's new Cabinet meets amid Brexit turmoil

BBC News - 9 July - Theresa May's Cabinet:  Who's in - Who's out

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