It is now the first week of February 2019, with just 53 days until BREXIT on 29 March.
In the last two months we have had political turmoil, with votes of no confidence in the Prime Minister and the Government and the biggest ever defeat for a government. Yet a month later, armed only with the “Sir Graham Brady Amendment”, referring to “unspecified changes” to the Irish border backstop, the Government has a majority in Parliament.
So it’s back to the EU and the hunt for a Unicorn…. Our future will all boil down to a few key ingredients and facts.
- Parliament has a choice:
- The Deal
- No Deal
- No Brexit
- There isn’t time for a second referendum or a General Election before 29 March and there isn’t time to pass BREXIT legislation either if it comes to that, so the 29th March deadline will probably have to be extended.
- The EU will only agree to an extension for a tangible, time limited reason. Just carrying on negotiating will not be enough.
- No Deal remains the legal default position. Parliament voted by a huge majority to trigger Article 50, knowing that without a deal we would leave with No Deal and that remains the legally binding position.
- Parliament however has no appetite for No Deal so presumably that just leaves: The Deal or No Brexit?
- Mrs May and ultimately her Government, remain committed to delivering Brexit, so presumably that rules out No Brexit..?
- All that remains then is The Deal, which Parliament rejected in December by 230 votes. However, nearly all the 256 Labour MPs stuck to their party line and voted against the Government, when arguably 52% of their constituents voted for Brexit in 2016. At some point Labour will have to be more than just present but not involved…
- The EU operates consensus politics, where the UK operates confrontational politics. In the EU they play the long game, run the clock down and only concede at the 11th hour.
Before Christmas, the BBC Brexitcast podcast suggested we may end up with a “TWIX Brexit*”
A layer of substance, the 500 page legally binding Withdrawal Agreement – that’s the biscuit bit
Covered in the thick layer of fudge – plenty of options here
Topped with something tasty to get everyone interested – that’s the chocolate on top
If the 500 page Withdrawal Agreement containing the Irish Border “Backstop” cannot be renegotiated, the EU and the UK will find another way, at some point in the next 53 days….. It is going to be interesting watching.
*Other confectionary options are available and yes, I ate the Twix.
Martin Gibbs is Dafferns Managing Partner. He likes talking about BREXIT and any political views in this post are his own.