Sunday 13 January 2019

Leaving with no deal won't happen - Britain will probably be a neutered vassal state

The European Union complains that the Government doesn’t know where it wants to end up. Closely aligned to the EU or more distant? Norway or Canada? It is absolutely right.
Cabinet members are united on one point, however. All now hope that May’s deal passes Parliament, if not next week, then later. And, collectively, they will carry on hoping – as authority drains away from them to Dominic Grieve, Steve Baker, and the Opposition, among whose numbers we of naturally include the Speaker. This Cabinet is firewood.

(Paul Goodman on Thursday, in Conservative Woman.)

It looks increasingly obvious that there is no possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal, something that makes me very sad indeed. 

I think the deal will probably mean vassal status though, if we had the same deal as Norway and – crucially - abandoned the backstop, this would not be so.

The whole thing has the look of a plot against Brexit. The Prime Minister does not revise her plan which has no chance of passing the House in its present form this week. The EU refuses to consider any changes and tries to hide its delight at the Carthaginian terms it has negotiated. The British press is full of stories about the horrors that would accompany leaving without a deal. Diabetics would die. There would be no mars bars. Soldiers would stand ready in dozens of places to enforce order against an infuriated mob. The Bank of England promises calamity as it did during the referendum campaign if Leave won.

The Prime Minister, speaking for the government, has repeated over and over again for two and a half years that ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’, but she never believed this and up to one third of her cabinet are said today to be ready to resign if she attempts to leave with no deal. 

Many Conservative MPs will resign the party whip in that case, the papers say today.

So no deal will not happen.

What will? 

Mrs. May’s deal probably, which is not Brexit at all and worse than staying in the EU, carried by Labour votes bought by promises of accepting the EU’s employment laws.

Possibly we’ll have the Norwegian option which I could live with – Norway pays a fortune to the EU but does so voluntarily as a form of aid to poorer EU countries. The UK would not do that. Norway is free from the 'political pillar' of the EU and only joins in on the economic pillar - and even there her fisheries, agriculture and oil are outside the EU's remit. Norway is in the single market but not the customs union and can make trade deals with any countries she chooses. The ECJ has no sway over Norway. Norway does permit free movement of EEA and EU citizens.

But though Norway is acceptable temporarily at least it must not mean staying in the customs unions and it must mean having different customs from Southern Ireland. 

No hard border with Southern Ireland would mean the backstop. The customs union means the situation Turkey is in. Countries like Canada that make trade deals with the EU can trade freely with Turkey without Turkey having any quid pro quo.

Thanks to the court case brought by the vexatious Gina Miller, as an example of the law of unintended consequences, no deal is now the default setting for the UK and will happen automatically if Parliament does not decided otherwise.

This would normally allow Mrs. May to implement no deal without a vote in the House. This should make her position strong. Furthermore, she also cannot be ousted as leader of her party for a year and it is no longer easy to bring down a government on a vote of confidence, thanks to the Fixed Parliaments Act 2011. But in practice her colleagues will not allow a hard Brexit. If the cabinet did allow it, which they would not, MPs would not allow it.

The Government Chief Whip, in what could be a scene from a Shakespeare play, has overheard in the Commons cloakroom, amidst the ribbons 
placed there by Pugin for tying up Members’ swords, two Remainer Conservative MPs talking about a plot whereby the Speaker will take control of the House of Commons order paper from the Government and give it to the House. 

In fact, he more or less did so on Wednesday when he allowed Dominic Grieve to submit an amendment on a government motion that the Orders of the House said could not to be altered without government approval.

The ultra Remainers want Parliament to be a rubber stamp for the EU, but have had a Damascene conversion to parliamentary sovereignty at the last moment. There is more joy in heaven…

I cannot think a second referendum is a real possibility. You can’t ask people to vote twice (you can in other countries but not in the UK) and if you could you could not ask them to vote on Mrs May’s proposal. Why not?  Because it is not a deal - only a proposal to give away 
£38 billion and to start negotiations with no bargaining cards. There is nothing to vote about. 

Tim Shipman today does think it a real possibility and he as political correspondent of the Sunday Times is better placed than me to know. Jeremy Corbyn said today that he would not support one and if he did that would cost Labour a huge number of votes.


  1. Should be so simple if the deal is rejected to move to no deal ....

  2. (The PM) "...will use a speech on Monday to warn that Parliament is more likely to block Brexit than let the UK leave with no deal. Mrs May will add that trust in politics will suffer "catastrophic harm" if the referendum result is not implemented."

    Or just as much if her so-called "deal" is passed.

  3. Mr. Wood

    38 million or 38 billion?

    Mark Moncrieff