Saturday, 9 December 2017

The Brexit deal: the end of the beginning

Martin Schulz, the German Social Democrat leader, told his party conference on Wednesday that a new treaty should be presented to member states creating a United States of Europe and countries who oppose it must leave the EU.

England has made her decision.

Martin Schulz lost the recent election badly, but it seems he will once more be Vice-chancellor. This is how democracy works in Germany, thanks to proportional representation and a tradition of consensus politics. All the German parties are social democrats except the Greens, who are crazy leftists, the ex-Communists and AfD.

Mrs. May's Brexit deal sounds worrying, sounds a sell-out, but this insightful article by Andrew Lilico cheered me up no end. Much is till to play for.

On the other hand, I see the UK being forced to remain in something akin to the single market unless we bite the bullet and go back to a hard border with Southern Ireland. A border that will in reality always be incredibly porous, as it was between 1922 and the 1965 Anglo-Irish free trade treaty, agreed between Harold Wilson and Sean Lemass. (They agreed it expecting to join the EEC.) Unless we do so we cannot prevent free movement of EU citizens into the UK (though we can prevent EU citizens who enter the UK after we leave the EU from working legally) or avoid being de facto part of the customs union. 

But although we might get customs posts at the Irish border I doubt that we shall.

Thank God the DUP has the power to prevent Northern Ireland remaining in the Single Market and separated from Great Britain by a customs barrier.

The Western European political classes despise the DUP as they despise UKIP, AfD and all parties that care deeply about Christianity or nations. They dislike the far left parties much less and are relatively unfazed by Sinn Fein/IRA or with leftish pseudo-nationalists like the SNP and the late, unlamented Catalan left-populist government.

One European negotiator is quoted in The Times today as saying
“To see a British prime minister a hostage of people like the DUP is horrifying. Can she get through this? This is the relative easy part, it gets really tough next year and she looks too weak. What we find alarming is the alternative: elections and a possible Corbyn victory. Then it’s game over.”
Theresa May has been helped by her sheer weakness and the probably unfounded fear in Europe (meaning Berlin) that Boris Johnson might succeed her. She has done better, in her terms, than might  have been expected. 

My guess is that Angela Merkel stepped in to save Mrs May and keep her show on the road.

Mrs May should not have agreed to decide the leaving payment and the Irish border before the trade deal, but she has kicked the can down the road. 

But it is still a can of worms. 

Peter Guildford, a former British EU official who runs a Brussels consultancy, pointed out:

“I never realized you could have a border without a border, but I was obviously wrong. Now let’s see how they create a single market without a single market. The wheels have to come off somewhere.”

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson must fight very hard now against the civil service, the diplomatic service, most of the establishment and the cabinet for a hardish Brexit.

I still like the idea of leaving the EU in an orderly way without a deal, and it might still happen. Andrew Lilico tweeted today that there is still a 50-50 chance of it. I doubt that because Mrs May will go to great lengths to prevent it and so would almost any new Conservative Prime Minister who replaces her. 

Another outcome I'd like is a Canadian type deal plus a deal on services, which are not covered in the Canadian agreement or the WTO rules.

This is, as Mr Lilico says, a moment when the Conservative Party should elect a new leader and thrash out what sort of Brexit we want.

At least it is clear that we are leaving in 2019 and that the EU no longer harbours hopes that we shall stay. If the transition arrangements end before the next election at least this will have been achieved. 

If they do not, though, and some think that they may need to extend for some years, then it may be Jeremy Corbyn who decides.

 How wonderfully brave my countrymen are (I had no vote but would have voted Leave). What is remarkably impressive is that roughly the same number of people in the UK are Leave now, despite all the propaganda from the pro-EU people. I expected people to get cold feet.

This fact is a great blow to the Remain establishment in the UK and to the EU.

Once more, I hope, to quote Pitt the Younger,  that England will save herself by her efforts and Europe by her example.

We are doing this not just for ourselves but for the good of Europe too.


  1. As you say, we need a new leader, and thank heavens for the DUP, the only real conservatives we have, apart from a few decent fellows like Mogg, Redwood, Cash, and Hannan. Theresa May is even more duplicitous than most PMs, but in public life you can't hide what you are for long. It's a funny old world where a Ted Heath type EU-loving liberal is kept in office by Eurosceptics.

    1. Charles FitzGerald9 December 2017 at 17:31

      Here enders the most important lesson of a turbulent political week... regardless of which of it's prophesies might be gulgilled, Europe won't ever be the same again.