Speculation that the European Union will wave Britain out of the EU with a warmly-worded, yet specifics-free, political declaration about future relationships between the UK and its largest trading partner, demonstrate how the mess of the UK Government’s negotiating strategy after the Chequers car crash is taking us closer to a disastrous, disorderly and chaotic Brexit.
Reports have emerged that EU member states and the EU Commission, which is nominally in charge of the Brexit negotiations, will agree to Britain exiting the European Union with nothing in place but a time-limited “transition period” and a commitment to some form of backstop on the Irish border. There would be no political declaration, never mind treaty, on future economic, security or environmental relations. Instead a weakly-worded commitment to continue negotiations in the transition – which would end in December 2020 – would be signed by both sides.
British voters will be told this “blind Brexit” is better than the alternative of a “no deal Brexit” and the threatened shortages of food, fuel and medicines that would follow from such an outcome. In reality, though, a blind Brexit could simply mean “no deal” delayed: precisely why so many Brextremists in the Conservative Party appear to be backing it. All Jacob Rees-Mogg and co have to do is continue to stall the negotiations by vetoing the Government’s strategy until 2020 and then pull the plug on the Irish backstop to get the “clean” exit they are so desperate for.
For the European Commission and EU27 a blind Brexit might give them slightly more time to insulate their economies against the disaster of “no deal” – as well as securing another two years of British budget contributions during which the bulk of Britain’s expected contributions will be paid.
But it would be wrong for European leaders to conclude that, with Theresa May unable to deliver a majority in the UK Parliament for her Chequers car crash or anything like it, a blind Brexit is the best they can hope for. With public pressure growing, Labour keeping the door open for a People’s Vote and votes on a Customs Union on a knife edge, MPs are moving further and further away from a ‘no deal’ Brexit by the day.
Commenting, Chris Leslie MP, leading supporter of the People’s Vote Campaign said:
“A blind Brexit would take the UK to the same place as a ‘no deal’ Brexit, but without the clarity. In fact, many Brextremists are happy to go with it because they think it will lead straight to the outcome they’ve always wanted – and all they have to do is pull the plug on the Irish backstop after exit day.
“The idea that the fundamental contradictions of the Government’s Brexit policy can be more easily resolved after the UK has left the EU is simply ludicrous. The UK would be walking to the end of gang plank, blindfolded, only to turn around at the end and try to talk tough; it would be the weakest negotiating position in history.
“A blind Brexit is being talked about because some see it as a short-term face-saving deal for both the British government and the European Union, both of which are now terrified that concluding with a failure to agree a deal will result in a humiliating no deal Brexit. With the EU27 Governments and the EU Commission wanting to spare Theresa May’s blushes, there is a risk we end up with a fake deal to save face. The danger is that short term political calculations may cloud Britain’s long-term future.
“As Members of Parliament with a duty to stand up for our constituents we should not be facilitating this establishment stitch-up when our country’s national interest, hundreds of thousands of jobs, as well as the future of young people and vital public services are at stake. That is why we must demand and vote for a People’s Vote on any final Brexit outcome.
“Brexit is a big deal, but it is not a done deal, and we go along with a phoney process with no clarity about what happens after exit day at our peril.”