The EU Withdrawal Bill

I confess, I’m not too sure what’s going on here:

Theresa May is due at a summit in Brussels, hours after Conservative rebels in the Commons defeated the government in a key Brexit vote.

MPs backed an amendment giving them a legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal struck with Brussels.

One rebel, Stephen Hammond, was sacked by the prime minister as a party vice chairman in the aftermath of the vote.

I think this might be the key passage:

It will not derail Brexit but MPs who voted against the government hope it will give them a bigger say in the final deal Theresa May strikes with Brussels.

The government had promised a “meaningful vote” for MPs on the final Brexit deal, but this defeat means that promise now has legal force and must happen before any UK-EU deal is implemented in the UK.

I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing for Brexiteers. Firstly, I heard this EU Withdrawal Bill contained passages which effectively gave unlimited power to the government with no oversight. I don’t know whether the vote last night has removed those clauses, but I’m not going to be too upset that someone like May is getting a kicking from the back-benches over a bill with stuff like this in.

Secondly, a few months ago I wasn’t too happy at the prospect of parliament having an effective veto over the final agreement with the EU over Brexit. Back then I thought the most likely scenario is one whereby we get a reasonable deal which gets scuppered by a hardcore Remain parliament, but now I think it’s far more likely May & Co. will sign us up to the worst deal imaginable with concession after concession in return for almost nothing leaving us in the EU in all but name. If this is what the negotiation progress brings, and the EU continue to display their staggering arrogance towards the people of the UK, the make-up of parliament in 2-3 years time may well be firmly behind Leave and can subsequently reject it. In other words, I think the benefit of a Leave-leaning parliament being able to reject a terrible deal outweighs the risk that a Remain-leaning parliament will reject a reasonable deal.

How this will all play out, and what shape parliament will be in on the day the vote is taken, is anyone’s guess. But one thing is still abundantly clear: May needs to go, immediately.

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9 thoughts on “The EU Withdrawal Bill

  1. One reason I favour the ‘Norway option’ of joining the EEA and EFTA is that it would put us quickly at distance from the EU. You don’t have to be in Richard North’s fan club to see that he is right that it is for the Hard Brexiteers to prove that they can achieve something better than this solution in the time available. (And the reality is that there is no majority for simply ‘walking away’.) By striving for something which is ‘better’ there is much more risk of ending up in a muddle which then leads to us staying in, or in some “EU-” approach.

    I don’t think there is truly a majority for ‘Leave’ in parliament. Many on either side of the house just wants to see May fail and would like nothing better than an opportunity to shrug and say ‘oh well we tried’ and then stay in the EU or something similar.

    Don’t disagree about May. There is a school of thought that we needed somebody stubborn like her to take us through the first phase of Brexit. Even if this was correct then surely this phase is now over and somebody like Davis or Gove needs to take the helm.

  2. morsjon

    “I don’t think there is truly a majority for ‘Leave’ in parliament”

    Well we knew that already. There wasn’t even a majority for leave amongst Tory MPs. And I don’t see why it is for “Hard Brexiteers to prove” anything. The vote was to leave the EU; it was made clear, by all parties, that that meant leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union.

    As to the vote, in the end it changes nothing. Article 50 has been invoked and approved by a huge majority in Parliament; deal or no deal, we are out come the end of March 2019.

    As for May leaving immediately, incompetent as she is, who do you propose to replace her that wouldn’t multiply the problems? Not to mention that it would probably end up with Corbyn in No.10, where he very would rapidly be replaced by McDonnell (cf. Livingstone and the GLC).

  3. If we are playing ‘fantasy cabinet’ I’d pick Davis for PM, Gove for Brexit department, Baker for Treasury. Boris fired.

    Timing is akward though and it probably would make more sense for May to resign when on a relative high rather than a low, to reduce calls for a new election.

    “The vote was to leave the EU; it was made clear, by all parties, that that meant leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union.”

    That is not the point. The point is that it is not possible to leave the single market in an orderly fashion in the time that remains until we are kicked out (2019). We don’t even have enough port facilities and custom’s officials to name just one thing. The choices that May and co have made so far make it much more likely that we will stay in the EU in my humble opinion. If we do end up staying I think the blame could be placed quite squarely at May’s feet.

  4. I’ve completely given up reading about details in politics. Or should I say alleged details, purported details, supposed details?

  5. “I’ve completely given up reading about details in politics.”

    Such a statement makes politicians giddy with happiness.

    In their minds, democracy works ever so much better when the damned demos minds its own business.

  6. The EFTA/EEA option is the only thing that could realistically have been completed within the 2-year period specified by Article 50. It would have got us out of the destructive and unnecessary political process of ever-closer union while retaining access to the Single Market. We get rid of the parts of European integration which don’t benefit us and keep the part that does. That’s why it’s the smart choice.

    It would have meant no problems with the ROI/NI border, little or no ambiguity about the other “phase one” issues (payments and the rights of EU citizens) and the freedom to negotiate our own trade deals. We would also have re-gained the right to send our own representatives to the global organisations that shape international standards and regulations – instead of “pay no say”, it would be “pay less and have more say where it really counts”.

    May’s pursuit of the perfect trade deal in which the EU gives us everything we could possibly want means we either get years of genuine “pay no say” during a post-Article 50 transition period with no guarantee of any result or we crash out of the EU without a deal.

    If we get a deal, the only way we can have anything like our current level of access to the Single Market will be by maintaining a very high level of regulatory convergence with the EU, with the accepted areas of divergence laid out in the treaty. When we negotiate trade deals with other countries we will face the same problem, and in many cases the lowest common denominator will be global standards that are not all that different from those of the EU. There will be no brave new dawn of deregulation and unconditional sovereignty in any scenario.

    A “no deal” outcome means considerable disruption to our international trade. It means a big hit to our economy, and gives us the choice of either negotiating a new trade agreement with the EU – which takes years and means accepting regulatory convergence – or of accepting that trade with our nearest neighbours will never recover to its current level.

    EFTA/EEA isn’t perfect but it’s considerably better than being in the EU and it’s available now. It would accurately reflect our relationship with the rest of Europe, recognising and protecting the close economic ties between us while asserting our independence in other areas. I fear that the government’s refusal to accept this will result in Britain wasting many years to get a much worse outcome.

  7. May needs to go, immediately.

    She’s got to go, but “Immediately” would probably be disastrous. The Tory party would tear itself apart if there was another leadership contest at this point, and Brexit would be put at risk, the government might fall…etc

    Unless the Tories can coalesce around one leading candidate, every deluded mediocrity— eg Nicky Morgan, Andrea Leadsom, Priti Patel — will imagine he or she has a chance of becoming PM.

  8. Unless the Tories can coalesce around one leading candidate, every deluded mediocrity— eg Nicky Morgan, Andrea Leadsom, Priti Patel — will imagine he or she has a chance of becoming PM.

    True, true. If I make it to high office, I’ll employ you to tone down my hyperbole before my words get broadcast or printed.

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