potential brexit deal will not end may’s woes
Last Updated : GMT 09:07:40
Egypt Today, egypt today
Egypt Today, egypt today
Last Updated : GMT 09:07:40
Egypt Today, egypt today

Potential Brexit deal will not end May’s woes

Egypt Today, egypt today

potential brexit deal will not end may’s woes

Andrew Hammond

Theresa May will meet with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron this weekend on the sidelines of events to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. The conversations come amidst growing speculation that a fudged Brexit deal could be agreed before Christmas, and possibly even this month.

After the best part of two years of negotiations, a Brexit deal would be greeted with much relief by the administrations in London, Brussels and many continental Europe capitals, despite the fact that key issues will need to be kicked into the political long grass for resolution later. Yet, even if such an exit agreement can finally be put on the table, the biggest challenge could lie ahead in December and early next year, especially in Westminster, with the need to secure ratification in the UK and EU parliaments.

This is, in large part, because of the continuing UK-wide divisions over Brexit that leave May’s tenure in Downing Street precarious. These problems were meant to have been put to bed by the publication of the government’s Brexit White Paper in July. Yet, if anything, May is even more politically isolated following the subsequent departure from her Cabinet of leading Brexiteers Boris Johnson and David Davis. Both of these former senior ministers have previously been in the frame to be Conservative Party leader, and may be again in the future. Both are also lobbying hard against what has become known as her Chequers deal.

May’s vision in the Chequers document came under intense criticism over the summer and autumn from the UK political right and left, not to mention outside players such as Donald Trump. Indeed, such was the opposition of elements of even her own party — which lobbied to “chuck Chequers” — that the prime minister had to effectively rebrand it.

Should a Brexit deal now be agreed along the lines she hopes, the parliamentary arithmetic is such that May could need to rely on the votes of opposition Labour Party MPs to get the agreement through the House of Commons. Here it is highly unclear how many such Labour parliamentarians would support May, despite the potential pressure to do so for those politicians representing constituencies that voted to leave the EU in 2016.

Another factor that could impact the final vote in Westminster is the growing fervor for a national referendum on any deal. Last month, an estimated 600,000 to 700,000 people marched in London for the right to have such a “people’s vote” and this could yet help influence the votes of a critical mass of legislators.

The Brexit endgame comes despite the fact that the debate has yet to be conclusively decided about the meaning of the 2016 referendum result. 

Andrew Hammond

Take the example of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who, like his predecessor John Major, is campaigning for such a referendum. Blair argues that, even if a Brexit deal is agreed, parliamentarians should vote it down as the consequences of inflicting a bad outcome would not ultimately be forgiven, in his view, by the electorate in future years. 

Blair’s view was echoed on Monday by former Conservative minister Dominic Grieve. He said: “I don’t accept that rejecting (any) deal would necessarily mean it is no deal at all. Of course it would provoke a political crisis… but there comes a point where you have to look to the long-term… let the public decide what they want and if they are content with the arrangements the government has come up with.”

What all this underlines is the continuing disagreement within the populace and political elites over Brexit, more than two years after the referendum, which is generating significant further uncertainty into 2019. Even leading Brexiteer and Trump acolyte Arron Banks — himself under investigation over the source of the £8 million ($10 million) he gave to Brexit-supporting groups in 2016 — said last week that he would now vote to remain in the EU “and not unleash the demons” of the last two-and-a-half years.

The Brexit endgame the nation is now heading into therefore comes despite the fact that the nationwide debate has yet to be conclusively decided about the meaning of the 2016 referendum result. There was not, and still is not, a consensus across the nation over any specific version of Brexit, whether the prime minister’s vision or harder or softer versions.

The continuing divisions within the electorate on these issues are underlined in polls that now generally show more people favor EU membership than not, and the country split over whether maintaining access to the European Single Market, or being able to limit migration, should be the key objective in Brexit negotiations. 

Taken overall, while May would be mightily relieved to secure an EU exit deal, it would not be the final word on Brexit. Besieged on multiple fronts, getting such an agreement through Parliament could prove her undoing, with her hold on power very fragile, not least with the growing momentum for a new referendum.

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potential brexit deal will not end may’s woes potential brexit deal will not end may’s woes

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