At eleven o’clock last Friday night we should have been celebrating our departure from the EU. Instead I was fretting over the probability that we will lose the only opportunity in 46 years to return to the status of an independent nation.
voted for the PM’s withdrawal agreement for the third time on Friday.
Notwithstanding the risks that the agreement presents, and which I have explored in this column previously, I believe that the risk of no BREXIT is substantially greater.
Either we leave on 12 April without a deal,
Or we apply for a further extension of Article 50 negotiations.
The EU has made it clear that any such extension will have to be a long one, probably another two years, and no doubt other unwelcome -even humiliating- conditions may also be attached.
Of these two alternatives, the bulk of my correspondents demand a no-deal BREXIT. I suppose it might happen by accident but the EU certainly doesn’t want it and Parliament has now voted several times against it. My estimate is that its likelihood is very small.
we are probably looking at a long delay at best, and ultimately cancelling
BREXIT altogether at worst.
A long extension to Article 50 -whilst whatever Parliament now fixes upon is negotiated- will, I believe, very probably lead to our remaining in the EU.
With every month that passes status of the decision of the 2016 referendum will erode.
Our political establishment will deliberately seek to present us with alternatives that are so dreadful, that we may opt in the end, to stay. (Indeed, I suspect that this has been their plan all along).
If we opt instead for some variety of ‘soft’ BREXIT, we will face the prospect of becoming a vassal state, our laws and trade policy dictated by the EU, without our voice or vote. (Nevertheless, the very nature of that status might inexorably lead to the demand for it to be remedied. The process of escape could conceivably continue).
If Parliament had accepted the PM’s deal despite all its shortcomings’, we would on 22nd May no longer have been a member of the EU and there would have been powerful correctives to any prospect of returning. We would have been free of the Common Agricultural Policy, free of the Fisheries Policy, and we would regain control of our borders. Anyone arguing for a return would have had to have persuade us to adopt the Euro, Schengen, and very much higher contributions without Mrs Thatcher’s rebate.
If we end up remaining however, the trauma of our failed escape attempt will make it very difficult indeed to persuade Parliament and people to give it another shot in our lifetime.
The only positive thing that I have to say, is that this isn’t over yet.
And, hey, Latvia might veto the request to further extend Article 50.
God save Latvia!