Feature

Why Britain should not fear a WTO Brexit, according to Lord Lilley

In a report sent to Members of Parliament (MP) on Monday, Brexiteer and former Conservative MP Lord Peter Lilley offered a list of thirty reasons why the United Kingdom should embrace a “no deal”. He is in favour of leaving the European Union (EU) on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.

  1. It will allow the UK to cash in, not crash out - the UK will not have to pay the £39billion divorce bill

  2. It avoids the corrosive uncertainty which the transition period would bring

  3. The UK will be able to use administrative measures to solve Irish border issue, without the need for a backstop

  4. After resolving the Irish border issue, the UK as a whole will be able to enter a Canada +++ style free trade deal, such as the one suggested by Donald Tusk

  5. WTO is a safe haven, not a hard option. Six of the EU’s top 10 trading partners trade under WTO rules

  6. UK exports to countries trading on WTO terms have grown 3x faster than to the Single Market

  7. EU tariffs on exports from the UK would amount to less than half the UK’s current net contribution to the EU budget

  8. The UK is already a WTO member so would not need to rejoin it

  9. We can start to trade on the new tariff schedules as soon as we leave, without waiting for agreement from other WTO members

  10. The UK is making good progress in replicating the EU’s most important preferential trade arrangements. Switzerland has already agreed to carry over existing preferences

  11. The UK could take up Japan’s invitation to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership

  12. Bilateral trade deals do not have to take a long time to renegotiate. The average renegotiation time is 28 months

  13. “Micro” trade agreements will not be a big issue

  14. Scares about delays to imports are ‘ludicrous’, because Britain will control its borders

  15. There will be no medicine shortages

  16. There will be no food shortages

  17. Manufacturing supply chains and other goods deliveries will not be significantly affected

  18. The UK will not run out of clean water

  19. HMRC’s computer systems will be able to handle extra customs declarations, even if its new system is not fully online

  20. France is determined to prevent delays at Calais for fear of losing trade to Belgian and Dutch port

  21. A new traffic routing system will prevent serious delays to incoming lorrie

  22. Planes will continue to fly to and from the EU

  23. Planes will continue to fly to the US and elsewhere

  24. Aircraft manufacturers will still be able to export parts, such as Airbus wings, despite claims to the contrary

  25. British haulage companies will still be able to operate between the UK and the EU

  26. Trade in animals, plants and food will continue after Brexit

  27. UK citizens will not face high mobile phone roaming charges when travelling to the EU

  28. UK car manufacturers have obtained approvals to sell their models to the EU

  29. New VAT rules will not affect the cash flow of importers

  30. British opera singers, musicians and other performers will still be able to tour the EU


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UK’s Labour opposition tables a no confidence motion in PM Theresa May

Britain’s leader of the opposition Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, tabled a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May Monday, claiming she had forced the United Kingdom (U.K.) to face two unacceptable choices: leaving the EU with her flawed deal or with no deal it all. He accused the Prime Minister of "cynically running down the clock" towards the Brexit deadline. The no confidence vote is expected to be held Tuesday evening, if PM May fails to name the date of the government’s vote on her Brexit deal.

 

PM May said Monday she would bring her Brexit deal back to Parliament for a vote in mid-January, pledging to get assurances from the European Union (E.U.) that the Irish backstop clause would be temporary. The Prime Minister is also expected to unveil the Government's latest steps to prepare for a 'no deal' scenario.

 

Mr. Corbyn said, Corbyn said May was the architect of a constitutional crisis, “leading the most shambolic and chaotic government in modern British history.” Labour lawmaker Liz Kendall said, “What is irresponsible is delaying a vote on her agreement, not because she is going to get any changes to it but because she wants to run down the clock and try and intimidate MPs into supporting it to avoid no deal.”


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British PM Theresa May survives a no-confidence vote within the Conservative Party

The United Kingdom (U.K.) government remains in turmoil despite Prime Minister Theresa May surviving a party vote of no-confidence. On Wednesday morning, Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, confirmed that he had received the 48 letters required to hold a vote of non-confidence against the Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative party, and that the vote would be held that same evening. Party rules dictate that Ms. May only needed to win a simple majority of MPs, which would be 158; she won by a margin of 200 to 117.

 

However, this latest development does not put an end to the revolt. PM May’s Brexit bill is still unlikely to pass a vote in Parliament, which she postponed indefinitely on Tuesday. The Northern Irish party propping up PM May’s minority government is against the so-called ‘Irish backstop’ outlined in her Brexit deal, which the European Union (E.U.) has agreed to, additionally stating they will not allow any revisions going forward. The opposition parties are also against the Brexit deal and have threatened to introduce their own motion for a vote of no-confidence, which can trigger an immediate general election.

 

In the event of an early election, the decision by Conservative MPs on Wednesday to support Ms. May as party Leader will come back to haunt them, as they will have lost the ability to determine the timing of a leadership race, allowing them to continue to govern until the next general election in 2022. The Conservatives and opposition Labour parties are tied in the polls due to citizen’s frustration with the erratic governance by PM May and her Cabinet, specifically on the Brexit file.


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British PM Theresa May delays Parliament’s Brexit vote citing ‘significant’ rejection  

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (U.K.) Theresa May postponed a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, delayed as late as January 21, 2019, telling the House of Commons, “If we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin … We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow and not proceed to divide the House at this time,” and adding that she was confident it was the right deal. The government will now advance contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit when it is due to leave on March 29, 2019.

 

PM May insisted "it is not possible to give a date" for when the delayed vote would happen, suggesting she is obliged under current British legislation to hold it by January 21st. However, House of Commons officials argue that that obligation no longer applies, meaning she could hold the vote as late as March 28, 2019.

 

PM May’s decision to halt the vote came hours after the European Court of Justice stated in an emergency judgment that the U.K. could revoke its Article 50 formal divorce notice with no penalty. She said she would now go back to the European Union (E.U.) and seek reassurances over the so-called Irish backstop, which is meant to ensure no return to a hard border with Ireland as a result of Brexit but is seen by many on all sides in Parliament as leaving Britain’s Northern Ireland province within the E.U.’s economic and regulatory orbit.

 

After a meeting with counterparts in Brussels, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said there were no possibilities to amend Britain’s 585-page withdrawal deal, saying “I cannot see at the moment what could be changed ... We have an agreement ... supported by both sides. We want an orderly Brexit.” European Council President Donald Tusk said the backstop would not be renegotiated and that time is running out for a negotiated settlement, as he announced he would convene a Council meeting this Thursday.

 

PM May claimed other E.U. leaders were open to a discussion about the backstop, but few in Parliament were convinced. Deputy leader Nigel Dodds of the Northern Irish party, which props up May’s minority government, said, “Please, prime minister, really do start listening and come back with changes to the withdrawal agreement or it will be voted down.

 

Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said, "We cannot continue like this. The Prime Minister must either govern or quit." The leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said Britain no longer had “a functioning government” and called on PM May to “make way” for a Labour government. The Scottish nationalists and the Liberal Democrats both said they would support a vote of no confidence in PM May’s government.


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British PM May's government loses contempt vote over Brexit legal advice

Photo Credit: Parliament Live TV

Photo Credit: Parliament Live TV

The British government was found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to release its full legal advice on Brexit, ahead of five days of debate on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal leading to a vote by Members of Parliament (MPs) on December 11 on whether to accept or deny the deal. The motion was backed by 311-293 in a vote on Tuesday and found ministers in contempt of Parliament, ordering the immediate publication of the advice. The government will now publish the full legal advice on Britain’s exit from the European Union (E.U.).

 

The Government's defeat is a landmark moment which effectively sees Parliament claw back more power over the executive and ends the longstanding principle of confidentiality and legal privilege. The contempt vote centres on the refusal by ministers to release the legal advice given by the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to the Prime Minister, despite Parliament passing a motion demanding that it be made available. Whilst MPs argued that the gravity of the vote due to take place next week warranted the publication of the advice, the Government has insisted that doing so would run contrary to the public interest and would harm its negotiating position.

 

Instead, P.M. May dispatched Mr. Cox to the House of Commons Monday afternoon to answer hours of enquiries from backbench MPs. This was the first time in nearly forty years that an Attorney General has taken questions on legal advice, which is normally treated as privileged information between lawyer and client and which cannot be disclosed.

 

Mr. Cox’s efforts did not satisfy the four opposition parties, or the Democratic Unionist Party, who submitted a joint letter to the Speaker, John Bercow, asking that he trigger contempt proceedings. He obliged, meaning that the Government now finds itself in an unprecedented situation in which ministers, for the first time, could be found in contempt and facing sanctions which, in their most extreme form, could result in suspension or permanent expulsion from Parliament.

 

Senior fellow at the Institute for Government Catherine Haddon said the opposition wanted to use “every opportunity they have to show the instability of the government” and that the contempt motion was a “show of force” which could foreshadow both the final vote on the deal and the various amendments MPs are trying to attach to it.

 

Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, said this had been a “full and frank exposition” and that releasing the full advice would set a dangerous precedent. Ms. Leadsom said the government, which had sought to slow down the process by referring the issue to Parliament’s Committee of Privileges, had fulfilled the spirit of the order to publish. "We've listened carefully and in light of the expressed will of the House we will publish the final and full advice provided by the Attorney General to Cabinet but, recognising the very serious constitutional issues this raises, I have referred the matter to the privileges committee to consider the implications of the humble address," she said.


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U.K. PM Theresa May threatened with a vote to bring down the government if Parliament rejects her Brexit deal

British lawmakers begin debating Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit package this week, before a final vote on December 11. Over one hundred members of her own Conservative Party, government coalition allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, and all opposition parties say they’ll reject the plan. Science Minister Sam Gyimah also quit on Friday, as the 22nd ministerial resignation from PM May’s government since last year’s election.

 

Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said that it was “inevitable” that the opposition party would propose a no confidence motion if, as is widely expected, the Prime Minister’s deal is rejected. In that event, an early general election is anticipated. Labour have long expressed a preference for an election if PM May can’t get her deal through Parliament. Mr. Starmer said Sunday that “If she’s lost a vote of this significance after two years of negotiation, then it is right that there should be a general election.”

 

The U.K.’s Fixed Term Parliaments Act stipulates that, after losing a confidence vote, parties would have two weeks to form another administration that can command a majority in the House of Commons. If nobody can, an election automatically is called. On Sunday, Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis said, “the best way to prevent” such a vote is “get this deal through Parliament on December 11.” The motion would be separate from a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister herself, which would be triggered if 48 members of her own party submit letters to Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of rank-and-file Conservatives.

 

Conservative lawmaker Nick Boles, who is advocating a plan to join the European Free Trade Association and keep Britain inside the EU’s single market, said he’s had conversations with six to eight members of the cabinet about his proposal. Mr. Boles said he intends to vote for PM May’s deal, but he thinks she should step down before the next election.


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Brexit Documents

Letter from Prime Minister Theresa May to European Union President Donald Tusk, March 29, 2017


Prime Minister Theresa May’s draft Brexit plan, July 7, 2018


The 585-page Withdrawal Agreement

Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, as agreed at negotiators' level on 14 November 2018.


 

Political Declaration on Future Relations

Draft Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.


 

Technical Details for Withdrawal

14 November Explainer for the agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union.


 

Technical Details for Northern Ireland

14 November Technical explanatory note: Articles 6-8 on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

 


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Brexit Update: Prime Minister Theresa May faces a vote of non-confidence in the face of her Brexit proposal

Read Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit draft withdrawal agreement in full

 

Draft Brexit Deal

 

This week, British Prime Minister Theresa May drafted a Brexit divorce settlement of more than 500 pages which, she says, delivers on her pledge for the U.K. to take back control of laws, borders and money. A five-page Political Declaration was also published, outlining the future trading relationship between the U.K. and E.U. A Withdrawal Agreement outlining Britain's departure from the E.U. will be signed by both the U.K. and the E.U.

 

As it currently stands, the Withdrawal Agreement legally obliges the U.K. to pay a divorce settlement of at least £39 billion, justified as covering payments to the current E.U. budget and other outstanding financial commitments, and the U.K. will receive nothing in exchange. The U.K. also agreed to a backstop clause that ties the whole of the U.K. to E.U. rules and regulations to avoid a hard border emerging in Ireland. E.U. citizens' rights will be guaranteed and legally enforced, with those who wish to stay in the U.K. invited to apply for "Special Status." While disputes over the Agreement will be settled by an independent panel, the European Court of Justice will have the final say on matters of EU law.

 

The "backstop" clause would see Northern Ireland remain in a customs union, applying the full E.U. customs code and the E.U. single market rules for goods. Britain would remain in the same all-U.K. customs union but will not follow single market rules. Together, Britain and Northern Ireland will remain in a "single customs territory" with the E.U., as set out in Article 6. This "backstop" will remain in place "unless and until they are superseded, in whole or in part, by a subsequent agreement", according to Article 1 of the Irish protocol.

 

Cabinet Approval

 

After a five-hour Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Prime Minister Theresa announced she had full backing to move ahead with her Brexit plan, causing a 1 percent drop in the value of the pound on currency markets. "The collective decision of cabinet was that the government should agree the draft withdrawal agreement and the outline political declaration,” PM May said outside her Downing Street office. Angry Brexit supporters and critics protested on Downing Street. “It sells out the country completely. We will be a vassal state of the EU,” said Lucy Harris, who founded the Leavers of London group.

 

The draft agreement still faces a vote in parliament next month, which appears likely to fail as it does not have support from government or opposition MPs. Conservative MP and euroskeptic Peter Bone, a leading accused PM May of “not delivering the Brexit people voted for” and warning her, “Today you will lose the support of many Conservative MPs and millions of voters.

 

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party who is seeking early elections, called the entire negotiations process “shambolic”, saying, “This government spent two years negotiating a bad deal that will leave the country in an indefinite half-way house.”

 

A European Union official told news media that the final deal includes a so-called “backstop” in which the whole United Kingdom will remain in a customs arrangement with the EU. Northern Ireland would have special status under the proposals, meaning that some checks may be required between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country. The Northern Irish Party propping up PM May’s government threatened to break their alliance over leaks about a special arrangement for Northern Ireland. Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster said she expected to be briefed about the deal by PM May late Wednesday, warning that “there will be consequences” if the leaks were true.

 

The reported arrangement did not go down well in Scotland, where the pro-independence and europhile government also questioned the deal. Its nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon asked why Northern Ireland should have a special status that would effectively keep it in the European single market while Scotland should not.

 

Immediately prior to Ministers gathering on Wednesday, thirteen Scottish Conservative MPs, including Scottish Secretary David Mundell, handed Downing Street a letter warning PM May’s proposed Brexit deal would be a “betrayal” of the fishing industry if Britain was unable to take back control of its waters after the transition ends in 2021.

 

Resignations

 

Despite winning Cabinet support Wednesday to accept her Brexit deal, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May faced the resignations of four Ministers and several high-level party members on Thursday following a three-hour debate in the House of Commons. Many Conservative MPs openly called for PM May’s resignation and publicly confirmed that they had submitted letters of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the Conservative’s backbench 1922 Committee.

 

The 1922 Committee, also known as “the 22”, is a committee of all backbench Conservative MPs that meets weekly when the Commons is sitting. Its chair is usually a senior MP elected by committee members and has considerable influence within the Parliamentary Party.

 

MP Jacob Rees-Mogg spoke out against PM May’s deal, saying he believed she should "stand aside". In his no confidence letter submitted to Sir Brady, Rees-Mogg stated PM May’s Brexit deal "has turned out to be worse than anticipated” and it “fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the Prime Minister, either on her own account or on behalf of us all in the Conservative Party manifesto".

 

MP Rees-Mogg is Chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), which represents about sixty pro-Brexit Conservative MPs. Following debate in the House, two meetings took place within three hours. ERG sources say they expect the threshold of forty-eight letters of no confidence to be passed as early as Friday, triggering a vote on PM May's future as early as Monday.

 

Resigned: Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab; Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey; Northern Ireland Minister Shailesh Vara; Education ministerial aide Anne-Marie Trevelyan; Justice ministerial aide Ranil Jayawardena; Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party Rehman Chishti; and Director of Legislative Affairs Nikki da Costa. Environment Secretary Michael Gove was offered the now-vacant position of Brexit Secretary, but will only accept if he can renegotiate the deal and is expected to resign tonight.

 

Resignations from the following individuals are also anticipated: International Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt; Transport Secretary Chris Grayling; Home Secretary Sajid Javid; Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom; Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss; Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC; and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

 

Potential Leadership Race

 

MP Jacob Rees-Mogg dismissed suggestions that he would stand to be the next party leader and said it should be a Brexiteer, naming possible candidates in now-former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, International Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, former Brexit Secretary David Davis, former London Mayor and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson.

 

European Union response to Brexit

 

European Council President Donald Tusk confirmed a Brexit summit will take place on November 25, at which time European leaders will consider and approve the deal from their end unless something "I" happens. Tusk reiterated his support for the U.K. calling off Brexit altogether. Reversing Brexit, rather than rejoining with the E.U. would require the U.K. to unilaterally revoke Article 50, however, there is no legal precedent for this and may not be legally possible.

 

Nordic and eastern European member states want the U.K. to remain in the E.U. Germany and France want to see Brexit resolved quickly to push ahead with controversial reforms, such as the creation of a European Union Army, which the U.K. would have veto power over. Once the U.K. leaves the E.U. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron desire for the U.K. to rejoin, requiring new negotiations and empowering Brussels to impose conditions on Britain that it would never accept as one of the EU's most powerful countries.

 

Brexiteers against PM May’s proposed deal

 

Boris Johnson dismissed PM May’s proposed Brexit deal as "vassal state stuff" and "utterly unacceptable". Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, Chair of the European Research Group, which represents about sixty Brexiteers, said, “This fails to meet the Conservative party manifesto and many of the commitments the prime minister makes … It keeps us in the customs union and de facto in the single market. This is a vassal state. It is a failure to deliver on Brexit. Sometimes what she [May] does and says does not match. If this document turns out to be accurate it will be difficult to trust anything that comes out of Downing Street."

 

Hardcore Remainers would likely vote against the deal, hoping for a second referendum instead. Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit Secretary expressed his scepticism, "This is highly unlikely to be the right deal for Britain."

 

If PM May loses the Commons vote

 

If PM May survives a potential no confidence vote as early as next week, the Brexit draft deal will face a vote in the Commons, which is certain to be voted down. If the draft deal does pass, the Fixed-term Parliament Act, passed to keep the 2010 Coalition stable, makes it hard to bring down the Government, requiring at first a two-thirds majority to call an early election. This is the scenario Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is hoping for, as he anticipates he would take advantage of the upheaval and win the election.

 

The Act sets out strict rules for no-confidence votes, whereas there has to be a specific motion. Even if the Government loses it, there is then a two-week cooling-off period in which it can be undone.

 

Key Dates to Come

 

  • November 19: E.U. ministers meet in Brussels to discuss the latest Brexit draft proposal from PM May.

  • November 21: E.U. government leaders and heads of state meet ahead of the "extraordinary summit".

  • November 25: E.U. leaders meet in Brussels for a Brexit summit over the weekend, with final discussions and potential sign-off on the deal.

  • December 10: U.K. House of Commons 'meaningful vote' on the Brexit deal, which could be returned to U.K. Brexit negotiators to amend.

  • December 13 – 14: Final European Council summit of the year will be held in Brussels and could be the moment the deal is signed off.

  • December 2018 to March 2019: Ratification process for the Brexit deal begins in U.K. Parliament. After Westminster votes on the deal, the European Parliament will have the final vote on it in March.

  • March 29, 2019: The U.K. leaves the E.U. and enters the transition period.

  • December 31, 2020: The U.K. leaves the transition period.  


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Primer: Brexit

The United Kingdom has been a member state of the European Union (EU) since 1975, when it joined the European Economic Community (EEC, the EU’s precursor) in 1973. A referendum was held in 1975 with a 67% vote in favour of membership, despite objection from the Labour party.

 

In 2016, the UK held a referendum on whether to ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ the EU. ‘Leave’ won with a 51.9% vote in favour, with turnout at 71.8% and more than 30 million people voting. Despite the mainstream news media claims that Millennials voted overwhelming for ‘Remain’, no exit polling was conducted, so there is no evidence to support how Millennials voted.

 

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU at 11:00pm on Friday, March 29, 2019, with the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020.

 

Article 50

 

The Lisbon Treaty (2009) was signed by EU member states to make the EU "more democratic, more transparent and more efficient". Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any EU member the right to leave the EU and outlines the procedure for doing so. Article 50 states the leaving country has two years to negotiate an exit deal, which cannot be stopped once set in motion, except by unanimous consent of all member states. Any exit deal must be approved by a “qualified majority” of EU member states and can be vetoed by the European Parliament.

 

UK Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 shortly before 12:30pm on March 29, 2017, meaning the UK has until April 2019 to officially leave the EU.

 

The UK wants negotiations to focus on future trade relations, with the plan for a two year "transition" period to smooth post-Brexit relations. Business leaders want the easiest terms possible, to prevent economic harm, but the EU’s intention is to create brutal conditions designed to discourage other states from also leaving the union.

 

Why Leave

 

Polls showed concern regarding national self-determination, not immigration, as the single most important consideration that encouraged people to vote Leave, or in favour of Brexit.

 

Leave proponents state the following reasons as to why Brexit is necessary:

  • The UK can reprioritize at home 350 million pounds per week that would otherwise go to the EU;

  • Control over the national border and migration, by leaving the Schengen Zone;

  • Opens the UK to free trade with the world, for more opportunities and jobs, which EU rules prevented;

  • Increased democracy, with UK lawmaking returned to citizens and their elected representatives;

  • The EU continues to expand, resulting in more money than the 350 million pounds per week going to the EU to support member states;

  • National borders and migration would remain uncontrolled;

  • The UK would be on the hook for future bailouts;

  • The European Court would remain in control of lawmaking.

 

Northern Ireland and the Northern Irish Backstop

 

Northern Ireland voted 55.8 percent in favour of the UK remaining in the EU, higher than the UK average.

 

The EU proposed that regulations in Northern Ireland should remain the same as in Ireland, so that there was no need for checks of any kind, which would result in a border in the Irish Sea, threatening the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. EU-UK negotiators who drafted the March 19, 2018 Withdrawal Agreement outlined a December 8 Irish “backstop” arrangement, which effectively gives the European Union perpetual right to the economic annexation of Northern Ireland if it deems there is ever any regulatory divergence between North Ireland and the rest of the EU.

 

Both British and Irish governments have stated their commitment to preserving free movement and trade between north and south. A hard land border between the EU and UK could put Irish North-South relations under strain. The UK has said a backstop customs arrangement would be temporary and only in place until a future deal is introduced and expects a permanent future arrangement to be introduced by the end of December 2021.

 

What is the Chequers Plan?

 

On July 6, 2018, Theresa May and members of her Cabinet met at her country retreat Chequers to draft a Brexit deal to propose to the EU. Afterward, former Brexit secretary David Davis, Boris Johnson, Steve Baker, Maria Caulfield, Ben Bradley and Robert Courts resigned in protest following the Chequers meeting.

 

The Chequers proposals are unpopular with the UK electorate and have been formally rejected by the EU.

 

Two Years of Negotiations

 

At present, the following has been agreed to between the UK and the EU:

 

  • A guarantee of EU citizens’ rights;

  • The UK will pay over £40 billion to the EU with nothing in return;

  • The UK will remain in a customs union and forfeit control over tariffs, borders, money, and laws;

  • A transition period by which the UK would effectively remain in the EU for another two years with no say on laws or taxes, enforceable by the European Court of Justice;

  • Trade policy determined by the EU until at least 2022 and inability for the UK to pursue free trade deals;

  • If future trade agreement negotiations break down altogether the UK has agreed to remain in the customs union indefinitely, for the sake of the Irish border, making Brexit meaningless.

 

Looking Ahead to Key Dates

 

Mid-November 2018: Revised EU and UK deadline for agreeing a “divorce” agreement, which would then be passed to the EU and UK parliaments for ratification.

 

January 2019: Brexit ratification deadline.

 

March 29, 2019: Brexit Day and proposed start of transition deal.

 

December 31, 2020: Transition period ends.

 

January 1, 2021: The UK enters a new free trade deal and special treaty relationship with the European Union.


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Four U.K. Cabinet Ministers resign, and PM May faces letters of no confidence

Photo Credit: Evening Standard

Photo Credit: Evening Standard

Despite winning Cabinet support Wednesday to accept her Brexit deal, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May faced the resignations of four Ministers and several high-level party members on Thursday following a three-hour debate in the House of Commons. Many Conservative MPs openly called for PM May’s resignation and publicly confirmed that they had submitted letters of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the Conservative’s backbench 1922 Committee.

 

MP Jacob Rees-Mogg spoke out against PM May’s deal, saying he believed she should "stand aside". In his no confidence letter submitted to Sir Brady, Rees-Mogg stated PM May’s Brexit deal "has turned out to be worse than anticipated” and it “fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the Prime Minister, either on her own account or on behalf of us all in the Conservative Party manifesto".

 

MP Rees-Mogg is Chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), which represents about sixty pro-Brexit Conservative MPs. Following debate in the House, two meetings took place within three hours. ERG sources say they expect the threshold of forty-eight letters of no confidence to be passed as early as Friday, triggering a vote on PM May's future as early as Monday.

 

Resigned: Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab; Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey; Northern Ireland Minister Shailesh Vara; Education ministerial aide Anne-Marie Trevelyan; Justice ministerial aide Ranil Jayawardena; Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party Rehman Chishti; and Director of Legislative Affairs Nikki da Costa. Environment Secretary Michael Gove was offered the now-vacant position of Brexit Secretary, but will only accept if he can renegotiate the deal and is expected to resign tonight.

 

Resignations from the following individuals are also anticipated: International Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt; Transport Secretary Chris Grayling; Home Secretary Sajid Javid; Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom; Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss; Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC; and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.


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UK Cabinet supports Brexit plan and the pound drops

Photo Credit: Evening Standard

Photo Credit: Evening Standard

After a five-hour Cabinet meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa announced she had full backing to move ahead with her Brexit plan, causing a 1 percent drop in the value of the pound on currency markets. "The collective decision of cabinet was that the government should agree the draft withdrawal agreement and the outline political declaration,” PM May said outside her Downing Street office. Angry Brexit supporters and critics protested on Downing Street. “It sells out the country completely. We will be a vassal state of the EU,” said Lucy Harris, who founded the Leavers of London group.

 

The draft agreement still faces a vote in parliament next month, which appears likely to fail as it does not have support from government or opposition MPs. Conservative MP and euroskeptic Peter Bone, a leading accused PM May of “not delivering the Brexit people voted for” and warning her, “Today you will lose the support of many Conservative MPs and millions of voters.”

 

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party who is seeking early elections, called the entire negotiations process “shambolic”, saying, “This government spent two years negotiating a bad deal that will leave the country in an indefinite half-way house.

 

A European Union official told news media that the final deal includes a so-called “backstop” in which the whole United Kingdom will remain in a customs arrangement with the EU. Northern Ireland would have special status under the proposals, meaning that some checks may be required between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country. The Northern Irish Party propping up PM May’s government threatened to break their alliance over leaks about a special arrangement for Northern Ireland. Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster said she expected to be briefed about the deal by PM May late Wednesday, warning that “there will be consequences” if the leaks were true.

 

The reported arrangement did not go down well in Scotland, where the pro-independence and europhile government also questioned the deal. Its nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon asked why Northern Ireland should have a special status that would effectively keep it in the European single market while Scotland should not.


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UK's Jo Johnson resigns over Theresa May's Brexit deal

Photo Credit: Sky News

Photo Credit: Sky News

Jo Johnson, former Transport Minister, Leave supporter, and brother of Boris Johnson, resigned from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet Friday night and hinted more senior Conservatives and high-profile Ministers may follow.

 

Mr. Johnson said being left with the choice between Prime Minister May's Brexit deal plans or a no-deal scenario was a "failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis", describing the situation as "chaos" and criticizing Prime Minister May's deal, stating: "We were promised a Brexit that would enable us to strike trade deals around the world - we are far from that. We were promised a Brexit that was going to unleash our economy as sort of a low tax Synaporian tiger on the edge of Europe, on the contrary we are signing up to all the rules and regulations that bind the rest of the EU and we're going to end up without taking back control."

 

Prime Minister May now faces a knife-edge Commons vote on the Brexit deal with the loss of both Johnson brothers, and both Leave and Remain supporters turning against her. A defeat in the vote next month increases the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit or potentially a general election.

 

Brexit polls showed concern regarding national self-determination, not immigration, as the single most important consideration that encouraged people to vote Leave. Brexiteers are deeply anxious that the UK will get trapped in a customs union, unable to set its own tariff rates and strike trade deals around the world as an independent country. They argue that no serious country would give up the right to determine its own trade policy, handing the keys to its own future to a foreign trading power, the European Union.


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