16 January 2019
16 January 2019,
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Brexit what next?

This is not about whether we should leave or remain but about the options left.

So what will be the result of the vote? Here are my views based on 28 years in Parliament. The vote of no confidence has now been called but the Government will almost certainly win this vote. The Conservative MPs will vote against an election that will lead to a left leaning Government and the DUP will support them as they want to remain in Government, with the benefits, but also do not want a Corbyn administration.

Winning the no confidence vote will be a Pyrrhic victory as it will resolve nothing. The battle lines are drawn with every MP having now declared their position. This means that if the vote had been smaller there might have been room for minor tweaks and a second vote but the size of the vote removes this option.

May will now go back to Europe and in an attempt to get Parliament’s support, try and get a deal radically different from the one she signed a few weeks ago after two years of negotiation. Europe despite the view of many want a deal but have to protect the interests of the other 27 including Ireland and getting an agreed new negotiated settlement in ten weeks, is just not possible in the time frame.

The clock is now working against May, she had, and I know this from talking to MPs, used the ticking clock as a means of pressurising them into supporting the deal, but the crushing vote has made that tactic backfire. This in theory leaves the only solution being the UK crashing out and relying on WTO rules. A sizeable number of voters who would be happy with this outcome, however it will be totally unpalatable to Parliament. The view that this will have a limited effect on the economy will be replaced by growing anger at whichever party is in power as the economy goes into recession.

The scare stories about medicine may have been overstated but the longer term adjustment and inevitable cost of tariffs will raise the cost of living for everyone and the lack of business confidence and therefore investment will lead to a sharp rise in unemployment. This is not speculation but a fact all sides have agreed will be a result. The ramification of a no deal means that no party will want to be left holding this ticking bomb.

So this leaves limited courses of action available to avoid a no deal in the time frame. First Britain will need more time. The only way of doing this is by revoking Article 50. Suspension will only happen if a second referendum is called. A suspension is entirely possible but only for a limited period of weeks or months rather than years as the limbo could go on for ever with the damage of uncertainty harming both sides.

If in the next two weeks Parliament is still deadlocked the only option will be to have a second referendum there is little appetite for one, except from the almost half of the population who voted remain, however this might be the only way forward. The argument is that no deal , was not really considered as a serious option apart from by the ardent Brexiteers, and therefore the peoples mandate will be needed for this outcome.

The other option is to revoke Article 50 and then agree what terms we will be negotiation on when it is once again invoked. The danger there is that that will be the end of Brexit as it will be tough to get a position that the majority of MPs will support and that will be needed if this is not to be blocked by Parliament.

I am an ardent remainer and believe a peoples vote is now a racing certainty but the outcome is not a done deal.

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