A warning for Brexiteers supporting the Deal this week

17th March 2019

A number of pro-Brexit Members of Parliament may be switching to supporting the current draft withdrawal agreement – the “Deal” – and so will support the government in this week’s “meaningful vote”.

They should be careful.

Since the Deal was published, UK politicians and the media have been preoccupied with the “backstop” arrangements – which are a small part of the published deal and are intended, by definition, not to apply unless necessary.

This preoccupation has been at a cost – very little else of the Deal has been discussed, let alone scrutinised, while Brexiteers have been distracted.

And once the Deal is approved and executed, it will be too late for Brexiteers to change their mind.

For Brexiteers, the sensible course of action would be to seek a long extension, so that the rest of the Deal can be properly assessed.

Otherwise there is a real risk that they will accept the bulk of an agreement just because they can bring themselves to support the government despite a small part of the agreement.

And the Deal, once ratified and executed, has direct legal effect in the UK.

“We did not realise the Deal also included this,” will sound rather pathetic from those MPs who voted for an agreement on one basis without bothering to read and assess the rest of the agreement.

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23 thoughts on “A warning for Brexiteers supporting the Deal this week”

  1. Second referendum:
    Please can you help me understand why Mrs May can go back with her deal to Parliament for a second, third, possibly fourth vote in seeking to get ‘the right answer’? Meanwhile we – the People – are denied a second vote. I don’t know enough about the constitution, but the former appears to be democratic while the latter, we are told, is anti-democratic.

    1. I too have wondered this. Going against a 52-48 vote based on many lies and after two-and-half years and much clarification is, it seems, undemocratic because it is against the “will of the people”, but going against an original 68-32, and subsequent 61-39, vote of MPs on an unchanged deal after two months is still “democracy”.

      I must have misunderstood something somewhere … :-(.

    2. I don’t think it’s possible to answer this in a brief BTL comment. The uncodified ‘constitution’ of the UK doesn’t approach these questions. Erskine May, the procedural manual of the House of Commons says that, having lost a vote, the government should not/cannot bring it back in the same session (to avoid the appearance of bullying).

      Neither logic nor rationality will provide any explanation. Rather, it would take a discourse on the psychology of our leaders to try to give insights into their thinking; include cognitive dissonance with that. Add the features of the ‘establishment’, the influences of private education and PPE at Oxbridge, and the place of dogma and belief within the Anglican church and its adherents.

  2. Of course this is right. The May withdrawal agreement is worse than EU membership in critical respects. It permits the EU to legislate over the UK in a circumstance in which the UK has no say whatsoever on those laws. It permits an expansionist European Court of Justice to maintain its undeserved status as the UK’s most senior court. It leaves us in this state of permanent vassalage until the EU (and only the EU) decides to release us. It puts us in a position so demeaning that we will be unable to negotiate a trade deal that properly reflects the weight that our market size & significance to EU trade in goods and services entitles us to. It effectively prohibits any non EU trade deals.

    Remaining would be better.

    Even if it is ratified, a deal this bad will soon be repudiated by a successor UK government and it describes the total level of institutionalised madness of the EU (& the domestic remainer establishments) that they believe some sort of “code of the Woosters” will prevent the inevitably acrimonious rupture that will follow……

  3. May’s deal is built on sand. It’s storing trouble for our future relationship with Europe. Current divisions will re-emerge bringing the whole edifice down.

  4. I’m sure you’re right, as ever. Do you think it’s correct that if the HoC passes the deal this week, but then refuses to pass the enabling legislation during the ‘technical’ extension of the A50 period, the UK then crashes out at the end of such a period? Assuming of course that the EU won’t offer a second extension, which would seem unlikely….

  5. Thanks for the post David. Michael Gove suggested that a new administration would not be bound by the terms of any agreement made by a previous government. Why don’t the ERG take this advice, vote for the deal and then ensure that it’s torn up by whoever succeds the hapless Mrs May?

    We’d be left with the no deal Nirvana they’ve been flogging to the public for the past few months and I’m sure that Mr Fox will quickly strike new free trade deals with Easter Island, the New Hebrides etc which will more than make up for the loss of our manufacturing and agriculture sectors.

    But seriously, what’s to stop the brextremists backing the deal, at least until the day after bday?

  6. Good to have you back, sir. I have found your explanations and insights invaluable.

    Whereas I absolutely concur with the points laud out above, is it not right that the WA only dictates the relationship during the transition period? During that period a completely different relationship could/can be negotiated? I appreciate the naïvety of that statement, but is the gist at least correct?

  7. David – are there particular points in the withdrawal agreement that you are thinking of when sounding this warning?

  8. Ideally the EU will offer a 2 year extension, take it or leave it, realising that any short term fix will not give enough time. UK is woefully under prepared and politically neutered. 2 years gives enough time for participation in the EU elections, a further referendum if required, and a GE almost inevitably.

  9. An extension for what? EU has clearly said that the deal will not change. UK needs to change course for an extension, and that is a big mouthful to ask from the pro-brexit camp – I think.

  10. To add to Andrew Barnes’ post:
    To my knowledge the composition of Parliament has been exactly the same for the first and second ‘Meaningful Votes’ and will be if it is voted on again this week. Furthermore the Parliamentary rules on not presenting the same issue for another vote in the same session are laid down.

    The UK electorate has changed since June 2016 as some voters have died and new ones added making it questionable whether the original result is still the ‘will of the people. As an advisory referendum the rules were sketchy at best, but apparently, the original result must be honoured without question.

  11. David
    As far as I can work it out, the WA says that during the Implentation Phase, the following will occur

    1. U.K. will no longer be part of the EU,
    2. U.K. will remain in the Single Market
    3 U.K. will remain in the Customs Union
    4. There will be reciprocal FoM
    5. U.K. will be subject to ECJ
    6. U.K. will mirror EU legislation
    7. The Irish backstop will be in place
    8. U.K. will for four years after IP over – whenever that is – will continue to follow EU state-aid rules.

    Is my reading right, or have I missed somethimg because to my simple mind, we will have delivered on leaving the EU – as per the vote – but in the least possible dangerous way, at least in the short term.

  12. Those asking for a second referendum need to think carefully about the principles they are establishing.

    To quote the arguments back:

    – The composition of the electorate changes the day after any referendum, so any referendum is invalid the day after it took place.
    – No parliament can bind a future parliament, so there is no such thing as a binding referendum. All referenda are, ultimately, advisory.
    – The future cannot be predicted with any certainty. So, the day after a referendum the future becomes “no-one voted for this”, invalidating the referendum.
    – The mandate of the referendum is time-limited. So there is no need to implement any result as the losing side can simply wind the clock down until the mandate has “expired”

    I’m sure if there is a second referendum and Remain win then Remainers will have no trouble with the losing side sitting in judgement on the winners and working to overturn the result on any or all of the grounds above.

    And welcome back.

    1. Would that be a problem? The result of the first Referendum didn’t stop a small minority pressing for the second one, despite the fact that a majority of people in the country i.e. less than 10% felt strongly about the EU.

  13. It is quite possible, if the ‘deal’ is not voted through this week, that the EU summit on Thursday will severely limit the UK’s options.

    There are two delay options possible –
    – a short one, limited to a date before the European elections, with the requirement to agree the deal, by then. The result is a crash out if there is no deal.
    – a longer one, with a set of vague limits, to enable a case by case withdrawal. Could last for years, meanwhile, with UK seats in the European Parliament.

    The summit is fraught, quite a few member states have reservations. Mostly, these are based on the effect of a ‘hangover’ membership of the EU by the UK.

  14. Disgustingly, this whole Tory psycodrama has been about keeping May in power (well…) for as long as possible and preventing the party from imploding. Nothing in “the deal” is in the national interest. The government is seeking to make the nation poorer and less influential.
    May’s days are numbered and nothing is going to avoid the schism of the Tory party, so the only sensible course of action is a “People’s Vote” probably along the lines of the Kyle amendment.

  15. Is it really too late simply not to do Brexit at all? So far as I know,
    Brexiteers have offered no plan for how to run this country and have surely forfeited Brexit.

  16. … and just to make an obvious point for the umpteenth time. When I along with 17.4 million or so others voted to Leave, we were not voting to elect Farage, Johnson, Davis, Raab, Hannon, and Rees-Mogg in some kind of alternative government which then has to go and navigate a hostile Parliament, I was voting on the option offered to me by the likes of Heidi Allen, Soubry, Umunna, Lammy, and I hold them just as accountable for delivering Brexit as any other MP (but not Ken Clarke who voted against the referendum). If their repost is ‘it isn’t clear what kind of Brexit people voted for’, then the obvious rejoinder to that is they selected the question, so to ask a yes/no question, and then say you don’t know what yes means is just draw-droppingly crass.

  17. Unless Parliament is clear about the basis of the proposed new trade deal with the EU, it would be insane to approve Mrs Mays deal. Parliament will have the same problems approving the new trade deal as with the WA unless there is such agreement. It is clear we are not in a fit position to start a negotiation: What do we want, what would we trade off in exchange?

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