People as soon as dreamed of a Brexit that will give Britain extra management and free us from paying something to Brussels, whereas opening up the prospect of giant new commerce offers and “the very same advantages” we have now at the moment as EU members.
Now, within the chilly mild of a Brexit daybreak, we have now a withdrawal settlement that can see the European courtroom handing down rulings binding on the UK for years – if not a long time – to return, with us trapped in a backstop deal from which, because the legal professional basic has confirmed, there isn’t any unilateral escape. In the meantime we might face limitless negotiations to create what would solely ever be second-class entry to Europe’s markets and, lest we overlook, a £50bn divorce invoice.
Little surprise that the federal government has needed to search for different arguments to assist the deal. What they’ve hit on is that a substitute for their Brexit is a fair worse Brexit. They discuss up the prospect of a “no-deal” possibility – of jammed ports, grounded aeroplanes and emptied grocery store cabinets – with the identical relish that dangerous dad and mom use when making an attempt to scare their youngsters into mattress with tales of monsters.
However we now know that the concept this selection – a nasty deal or no deal – is as a lot a fantastical nightmare as the sooner guarantees about Brexit have been a dream.
This week the advocate basic of the EU’s courtroom of justice printed recommendation to the courtroom concerning the revocability of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU underneath article 50 of the EU treaty. He has confirmed that we have now an absolute proper to alter course and take again our withdrawal notification with out paying any worth – monetary or political.
I admit that is one thing of a specialist topic for me: I used to be secretary basic of the European conference that drafted the article. I’ve at all times believed that nothing in it restricted our rights as a full EU member to alter our minds, keep in and maintain all our present rights, privileges and opt-outs: Margaret Thatcher’s funds rebate, John Main’s exemption from becoming a member of the Euro, Theresa Might’s opt-in to the European Arrest Warrant and Europol.
I used to be not, due to this fact, notably stunned that the advocate basic suggested the courtroom in the best way he did. The total courtroom might disagree, however such reversals are uncommon.
Even because the courtroom was confirming that staying within the EU was an possibility, the concept we would slide out with no deal was being cleared from the desk. Dominic Grieve and Chris Bryant, in numerous events however each specialists on parliament and the structure, got here collectively to checklist six additional methods through which parliament might put the brakes on any try to drag the UK out with no deal. The defeat of the federal government on the procedural modification tabled by Grieve gives a assure that MPs could have a correct say over what occurs subsequent.
The lengthy and the wanting it’s this: the concept no deal is both a reputable risk in scary MPs, or that it’s the default possibility if we reject the deal have each been killed off. There isn’t any bar on parliament stopping no deal and no accountable authorities would ever wish to power the nation into it, when it is aware of it’s so simply stopped.
The actual debate now’s between leaving underneath the humiliating phrases of the proposed withdrawal settlement, with no certainty concerning the eventual everlasting relationship, or staying with our present rights as full members, with a voice, a vote and veto.
So the selection is between a nasty Brexit deal and sticking with the deal we have now within the EU. And it’s a selection for the folks. I don’t assume it could be proper for parliament to only vote to cease the Brexit course of. The folks began this with their vote and so they should make the ultimate determination.
Nearly definitely that can require some extension of the article 50 deadline past 29 March. The treaty could be very clear about this – it may be achieved however requires unanimity amongst all EU states. If our function in asking for an extension was to permit time for a referendum, there isn’t any doubt that every one would agree. Brexit could be dangerous for everybody, although clearly worst for us.
And that leads me to 1 extra, closing, Brexiter fantasy, that we might ask for an extension to barter a “higher” Brexit. For that there isn’t any enthusiasm in any European capital. Desires of a Norway-for-now-or-ever are simply that – goals.
The deal we have now been provided isn’t what was promised and it’s not almost nearly as good because the deal we’ve bought within the EU, however it’s the one Brexit provide on the desk.
Right now was the day the phrases of the talk modified as a result of, if MPs and in the end the British folks, assume it’s a nasty deal, we all know we will reject it with out concern.
• Lord John Kerr drafted article 50 and is a former UK ambassador to the EU