Brexit Update – November 2018
When on November 14th it was reported on the news that the EU/UK negotiating committee had concluded a draft deal, we at Vademecum Italia thought we would finally have a substantial update on Brexit for our readers. However, what we can report on Brexit is a substantial uproar!
Although Theresa May’s cabinet approved her deal, six ministers promptly resigned and when she took the proposal to Parliament she faced widespread disapproval. During a lengthy question and answer session, the Prime Minister was bombarded by requests for clarification, accusations of not getting a deal in Britain’s best interests and repeated appeals to let the people decide by holding a second referendum (some polls show that nearly two-thirds of UK citizens would now prefer to stay in the EU).
Despite nearly unanimous recognition of Theresa May ‘s dedication to the task and hard work, and the very polite way in which the proceedings were conducted with PM and MPs addressing one another as ‘My most honourable friend’ -and one MP repeated it so many times while questioning Mrs. May that it became reminiscent of Marc Antony’s Funeral oration (Julius Caesar, Shakespeare) when Mark Antony repeated that ‘Brutus was an honorable man’– there was an outbreak of rebellion on both sides of the aisle: it became apparent that neither the Prime Minister’s party nor the opposition would accept the deal.
One might wonder who had actually had time to read the 585-page draft deal overnight. Nevertheless, news outlets summarized the main points, some of which we are passing on to our readers:
– Britain will leave the EU on March 29, 2019.
– A transition period will ensue until December 2020. During this time Britain will continue to follow many EU rules.
– There will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland –no-one wants to resuscitate the Irish ‘troubles’! However, a backstop provision has been put in place in case no customs deal is reached during the transition period. This provision foresees “a single customs territory between the UK and EU”: the UK must follow EU rules and to pull out both sides must agree. In this (worst case?) scenario, British sovereignty would be lost, which is what Brexiteers did not want to surrender in the first place.
– Financial markets–“Entities established in the United Kingdom shall be treated as entities located outside the Union.” This could potentially make UK markets less attractive to international companies.
– Freedom of movement –“No exit visa, entry visa or equivalent formality shall be required of holders of a valid (UK or EU) document”.
So, what is to be done? During her very trying session in Parliament, Theresa May made it clear that there were three paths for Britain to take:
•No deal — which practically everyone agrees would be a disaster.
•The risk of No Brexit–which many are calling for but the PM staunchly refuses to consider.
•Accept The Best Possible deal –which Mrs. May insists is the best course of action but for which she has little support even in her own camp. At this point, a “meaningful vote” seems unlikely and even Theresa May’s position as Prime Minister is at risk.
Meanwhile, back in Brussels, officials who say it is “This deal of No deal” are most likely gloating over the chaotic response to the draft deal in Britain. Certainly, EU negotiators have taken a particularly punitive stance towards Brexit, presumably hoping to discourage other member states from following the British example.
Only time will tell what the outcome will be of the highly uncertain fate of Brexit.