When Theresa May handed in the UK intention to withdraw from the European Union she set off a two-year clock in which the UK is supposed to negotiate a withdrawl Treaty and also a strong political statement of intent concerning the basis for a future trading relationship between the UK and the 27 remaining EU members. The deadline is 29 March 2019 and progress to date has been remarkably slow due to internal divisions in the Conservative Party with Brexitremists like Jacob Rees Mogg, Boris Johnson. Liam Fox and David Davis making it hard to strike a workable deal with the EU which in my view would be a Norway + agreement allowing for UK membership of the Single Market and membership of the customs Union but with the UK becoming an EU “rule taker”.
What is clear is that she and her party had absolutely no end game strategy in place when triggering Article 50. She has at various times said “No deal is better than a bad deal” and that the UK will end the role of the European Court of Justice in British law and decision making, She set out so many red lines, like the UK will not be part of a customs Union, the UK will leave the Single Market and the UK will have complete control of immigration after the 29th March 2019. As we now enter the critical stage of the negotiation process the reality has finally dawned that no deal is in fact not an alternative that any sane UK government could implement. The penny has finally dropped that all these red lines must be crossed to avoid a disastrous no deal Brexit.
May’s current plan is for the UK to have a transition period till December 2020 when the UK essentially stays in the EU with no say in the decision making process. Thereafter, she is looking for the UK to stay in a Customs Union for goods only in order to avoid tariffs and a hard border in North Ireland for as long as it takes to come to a longer-term deal. This is clearly a terrible deal for the UK economy and for Hard Brexiteers to swallow. The UK will not be free to do its own trade deals with the rest of the world, we will lose the benefits of special access to the Single Market for our services sector which is 80% of the UK economy, we will become a rule taking country, we will pay £40-£45 billion exit fee, the European Court of Justice will still have a pivotal say in UK laws as UK courts and we will essentially follow EU rules and legal decisions for at least a decade or more.
There was a complete mis-selling scandal on the part of Brexiteers of the “benefits” of leaving the EU in the referendum of June 2016 and it is now clear that there is no Brexit Nirvarna as they promised. It seems incredible to me that the Brexiteers can still claim this is the “will of the people” when most opinion polls now suggest there is a majority to remain in the European Union were a second referendum to be held. Is there a way out of this mess? Well hopefully Parliament will block Theresa May’s disastrous deal in the “meaningful vote” in late November/ early December and give UK citizens a “Peoples Vote” to accept her disastrous deal or remain a member of the EU. It is in my view the only way out of this mess.