Tuesday, 4 December 2018

The Last Days Of The Brexiteers

As the UK Parliament begins five days of debate on whether and, if so, how the UK might leave the EU, four things tell you that we are seeing the last days of Theresa May and her merry band of Brexiteers. 

At stake is whether the UK (a) crashes out of the EU with no deal and has to rely on World Trade Organisation tariff rules ("No Deal"); (b) exits on the basis of May's daft draft Withdrawal Agreement and a vague commitment to a future trade deal on uncertain terms that won't cover everything yet binds the UK to follow EU rules with no influence ("May's Deal"); or (c) does not exit at all ("No Brexit").  

Here's why the result should be No Brexit:

How dumb would any Member of Parliament have to be in order to deliberately vote to make the economy smaller?  That can only mean less money for everyone, whether they're workers or benefits recipients. Investors would reduce their investments in the UK because they would see lower returns from a less valuable economy. There'd be less money for both state pensions (because the tax take would be lower) and private pensions (because pension funds would see lower returns like other investors). An ageing population and stricter controls on immigration would mean higher taxes on a declining number of people in work (and fewer carers for the old folks).

Anyone feeling the pinch now will know Brexit Britain would be a far worse place to live.

The UK Can Revoke Article 50 Notice On Its Own, Free of Charge

The government has wasted a fortune on 5 QCs trying in vain to stop the European Court of Justice ruling on whether the UK on its own can cancel or revoke its notice to leave the EU. This morning, the Advocate General filed her opinion which recommends that the court find in favour of that claim. She says the UK can unilaterally revoke its Article 50 notice any time before it expires, by notice to the European Council, following UK parliamentary approval. 

The ECJ usually follows the Advocate General's opinion.

That means it is highly likely that the EU will be bound to accept that the UK Parliament can direct the government to notify the European Council that the Article 50 notice is revoked, in which case Brexit is over, free of charge. Simplez! 

And the Brexiteers' legal problems don't end there...

The Government's Own Legal Advice Does Not Help The Brexiteers

May's draft Withdrawal Agreement says that if the UK and EU can't agree a future trade deal within 2 years, the UK will remain in a customs union with the EU that it can't escape without EU agreement. Brexiteers suspect it might never escape (the 'backstop').

May claims this is just paranoid and the EU also wants the backstop to be temporary. But she's raised suspicions that this is yet another pork pie by refusing to release the legal advice on her daft Withdrawal Agreement, on the basis that disclosure is "not in the public interest". This is tosh. Not only is it perfectly normal to release the full terms of legal advice given to ministers (including the papers requesting that advice), in order to allow their decisions to be challenged by judicial review; but any client can also waive the right to claim legal professional privilege if disclosure of the advice would help it's case.  

So the mere fact that the government has refused to disclose the legal advice allows us to infer that, at the very least, the disclosure would not help the case for accepting May's Brexit plan. 

Huge momentum for a People's Vote, Remainers Are Younger

Even if MPs don't have the cajones to do their job and simply direct the government to revoke the Article 50 notice, they can very likely rely on a referendum to give them a clear mandate to do so. 

The Labour Party says it should first go through the charade process of trying to win a vote of No Confidence in May's government to trigger a General Election, failing which it will seek a People's Vote. But given that a No Confidence motion requires more support, the odds are they'll have to go with a People's Vote.

The support for Remain has likely increased significantly.

Lastly, any referendum tends to be a vote on the government. In 2016, the government of the day was on the Remain side of the debate and it's been suggested that many Leavers voted against the government out of protest at their being 'forgotten' rather than because they really wanted Brexit.  But this government would be on the Leave side of a People's Vote and has been so obsessed by Brexit that it has failed to solve people's problems from 2016 - and, if anything, has made those problems worse. Any 'protest vote' would therefore favour Remain.

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