Sunday, 31 March 2019

Brexit: handing over control

It took a little while for me to catch on. Of course Conservative Central Office does not want a snap election. they do want to frighten rebel MPs into voting on a fourth attempt for Mrs May's proposal.

Their plan is for Kenneth Clark's proposal to stay in the customs union to pass and the Government to use that to frighten the Brexiteers into backing the Withdrawal Agreement.

I begin to think it might succeed, but it is absolutely impossible to know. 

Bringing the Withdrawal Agreement back over and over illustrates what little respect the Government has for the House, and rightly so, because power now lies with the EU and the referendum result should over-ride Parliament's moral right to do as it thinks best.

I feel like the character John Cleese played in Clockwise, the headmaster who is delayed by a series of terrible mishaps from making it to deliver a very important speech. He says to his companion, with whom he has stumbled across country, as yet another idea for reaching his goal emerges:

'It's not the despair: I can cope with the despair. It's the HOPE - that's what's killing me.'
So say I, but unlike the John Cleese character, I am no longer sure exactly what I am hoping for, except that I hope for a Brexit with different customs regimes in Northern and Southern Ireland. I toyed with giving up on Brexit. I think the Withdrawal Agreement is preferable to staying in the customs union forever, but is it better than staying in the EU for a few years? I like leaving with no deal but it would be followed by a deal and what sort of deal?

If you want someone who knows much better than me, here is Richard North, who  hates the Withdrawal Agreement but thinks it is better than no deal or no Brexit. I quote:

'For the moment, the best that can possibly happen is that the European Council will take pity on Mrs May and give the UK a time extension after 12 April, keeping us in the EU until we have sorted out where we are going. And it is here that the transfer of control becomes so apparent. The length of time is the Council's choice, on terms and conditions entirely at its discretion.

'Despite that, an extension looks unlikely. Tucked into the prime minister's response to the vote was a powerful little landmine. The European Union, Mrs May said, has been clear that any further extension will need to have a clear purpose and will need to be agreed unanimously by the Heads of State of the other 27 Member States ahead of 12 April.

'This will almost certainly involve the United Kingdom holding European parliamentary elections, she added, then placing the explosive device. "On Monday this House will continue the process to see whether there is a stable majority for a particular alternative version of our future relationship with the EU", she said, noting that: "Of course, all the options will require the Withdrawal Agreement".'

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