24th July 2019
Today there should be a new Prime Minister.
The new Prime Minister is a person about whom many (including me) have Very Strong Opinions.
But regardless of the character and personality of the new Prime Minister, what can usefully be said about the appointment and Brexit?
The United Kingdom continues to be a full member of the European Union.
That membership, however, is set to end on 31st October 2019, just under one hundred days away, by automatic operation of law.
This departure from the European Union can be delayed or averted, but only if one of three things happen.
First, there could be a further extension. There has already been two. When the current extension was granted, the United Kingdom was warned not to waste time.
The United Kingdom, however, has wasted time. There has been no real preparation for “no deal” and the deal on offer has made no further progress.
The governing party has been preoccupied with a leadership election, as have the political and media classes generally.
An extension required unanimous support from the twenty-eight member states.
In theory, say, Malta or Cyprus could even say no, and that would be enough for there to be no extension.
And unless there is a good reason, the United Kingdom may not get another extension, especially given how it has wasted this one.
Second, there could be a deal which provides for a new departure date.
This would require revisiting the draft agreement and perhaps converting the current transition period to a limited period of further membership (and this would solve a range of technical problems).
There could even be an agreement for continued membership until a future relationship agreement was in place (and this would address the backstop problem sensibly).
But again, this is not in the gift of the United Kingdom.
Third, there is revocation.
A sensible government acting in the public interest (ho, ho) would revoke Article 50 and accept the current exercise is botched.
Brexit-supporters should be told to come back with a better plan.
This, of course, is unlikely but it is the only exception to departure on Hallowe’en which is in the United Kingdom’s gift.
The new Prime Minister would not want to revoke the process – but it is the only way to “stop a No Deal Brexit” which is entirely within the control of the United Kingdom.
The options above would be the same for any new Prime Minister.
The character and personality of the new Prime Minister will distract many for a while, but the structure of the current situation will continue to be the same.
As it stands, the prospect of a No Deal Brexit on 31st October 2019 is a real one – an outcome in my view which is more likely than not.
The other outcomes require support from the European Union or a revocation decision. These outcomes are possible, but there is reason to doubt each one will now happen.
Thank you for reading me on this new(ish) blog, where I am hoping to blog regularly.
I expect to be blogging here more often, instead of spending time on Twitter.
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