Brexit: The Never Ending Story: It’s all about the Chequers Proposal
‘Relax’ said the night man,’ We are programmed to receive. You can check out any time you like, But you can never leave!’1
To summarise the week, chaos still abounds – writes Philip Gilbert of Aragonese Consulting.
Experts say the economy could suffer, our homes will fall in value, the PMs Chequers proposal è morto, and we are all going to be trapped in Blighty drinking Double Diamond at Wetherspoons.
- The IMF, in its latest annual assessment of the UK economy, said that all likely Brexit scenarios would “entail costs”, but a disorderly departure could lead to “a significantly worse outcome”, adding that “any deal will not be as good as the smooth process under which goods, services, people and capital move around between the EU and the UK without impediments and obstacles.”. I think she means we should stay in the EU!
- The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, said the government must listen to the IMF’s “clear warnings”, adding: “The IMF are clear today that no deal would be extremely costly for the UK as it would also for the EU, and that despite the contingency actions we’re taking, leaving without a deal would put at risk the substantial progress the British people have made over the past 10 years in repairing our economy.” Ah, of course, these are the repairs that have left the rich richer and the poor poorer. Wonderful work!
- Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, has suggested that interest rates may need to rise, rather than fall, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and could lead to a financial crisis as bad as the crash in 2008, warning that house prices could fall by up to 35 per cent over three years in a worst-case scenario. Excellent!
- And, if you thought you could escape the potential carnage think again, Eurostar trains would be turned back from Europe if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal. Nathalie Loiseau, the minister for European affairs, said it was “correct” that both trains and planes from the UK would be barred without an exit agreement. “If we reach no agreement this is what will happen, among other things,” Ms Loiseau told an event in London. And, for anyone thinking of taking the car, oh no you don’t,
- British driving licences may no longer be valid in the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and Expats moving abroad post-Brexit may also have to re-sit their driving test, as their UK licence would no longer be recognised.
With all this potential chaos to look forward to, the PM May told the BBC that MPs must choose between her proposed deal with the EU – or no deal at all, saying that if Parliament does not ratify her Chequers plan, “I think that the alternative to that will be having no deal”.
‘I think that the alternative to that will be having no deal’
Listen to Jacob ma’am; Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP who chairs the European Research Group, which is campaigning for a harder Brexit, said on an LBC phone-in that the PM was wrong to argue that the only options available to parliament this autumn would be accepting Chequers or leaving without a deal (or leaving on WTO terms, as he put it.)
The ERG wants a Canada-style free trade deal, with arrangements in place in Ireland that they claim (despite EU objections) would obviate the need for hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Meanwhile the Lib Dem activist, Sarah Brown, said it was time to “cut the crap and act now.” The new policy seeks to extend the article 50 period in a bid to secure a new referendum. However, the policy states that if no deal has been reached and no referendum is in sight, the UK should “withdraw the article 50 notification” if the EU will not allow an extension.
‘cut the crap and act now’
This is very sensible, needless to say no one is listening! You will need to shout louder Sarah.
Even the Labour party are getting in on the act; Michael Chessum, the self-described “hard-left, hard-remain” campaigner, who’s group, Another Europe is Possible, are campaigning for a second referendum. Whilst the party leader called for a general election, and the Labour Mayor of London for a second referendum
But, my favourite this week is our very own 21st century Machiavelli, Michael Gove. Last weekend he claimed that any deal with the EU on the political declaration could be undone by MPs after Brexit, as he urged his Tory colleagues to support the Chequers proposals “for now”.
Should go down an absolute storm with our continental friends, if we have any left, of course!
Now, finally we turn to Salzburg.
The pre-summit thrust came from the French President, who, ever keen to help, rebuffed the PMs demand for compromise by appealing to his fellow European leaders to maintain their tough approach to Brexit; Team GB’s Brexit Minister, Dominic Raab parried saying, “We’ve made the compromises and we showed the ambition and we do need to see that matched on the EU side, leading to a counter-thrust by Gernot Blümel, Austria’s EU minister, who said; “The reality is that the UK must find a way forward. The EU has done so, EU27 have a clear position and 80% of the departure treaty has been agreed”. Has it?
‘The reality is that the UK must find a way forward’
So, after such a start it could only get better, couldn’t it?
Well, no, European leaders concluded that Chequers was no, non, nein, etc. Donald Tusk declared that her proposals would not work, whilst the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said of Chequers: “We all agreed on this today, the proposals in their current state are not acceptable.”
Back home members of the PMs own party seemed unable to contain their delight at this reversal;
- “Chequers goes pop,” declared Jacob Rees-Mogg, the chairman of the hard Brexit ERG group, on twitter and he later argued that the prime minister now needed to abandon her plan and instead pursue “a Canada plus free trade deal”.
- David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, said on Thursday lunchtime that the EU “will demand more concessions” beyond Chequers to get a deal. In the spirit of continuing to support the PM (his elected leader) he believes a “rock-solid core” of up to 40 Tory Brexiteer MPs could vote against Theresa May‘s Chequers plan warning the Prime Minister would be undertaking a “very high risk” move if she turned her preferred approach into a confidence vote.
This is now taking on the realms of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”; “Is this a dagger which I see before me…”. As it was drummed into me at school, the play is notable for hallucinations, terrifying dreams, witches, prophecies and the forces of nature combining to cause chaos and murder in the gloomy countryside of Scotland, or in our case the UK!
I think we can safely assume their won’t be a murder, as for the rest, well……………….
‘Is this a dagger which I see before me…’
There is no better way to summarise the PMs position that by reading the excellent by John Crace in the Guardian,
There were so many wonderful quotes picking one was difficult, however;
“As quickly as decently possible, May made her excuses and left, keeping her head down, fearful that she might burst into tears if she made eye contact with anyone. If the shame didn’t get her, then the pity would. She had been laid bare. The naked prime minister. Sans eyes, sans teeth, sans everything”.
1 Those of you that enjoy unraveling the lyrics the Philip uses to illustrate his points should have got this one pretty quickly; in delivering the message he had to exchange his bondage trousers for some budgie smugglers. However, don’t dwell on that terrible mental image, let this wash over you:
Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s