Late last Tuesday, Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, got the green light from the lower house of the Parliament, the Commons, to trigger and negotiate the Brexit any way she likes. The elected members of Parliament reversed a decision of the upper chamber, the unelected Lords, who had attached two conditions in the law for the launching of the Brexit procedure. Some Conservative MPs had threatened to ignore, in that crucial Commons vote, their leader’s firm stance for absolute government control over the Brexit, but it seems that finally May convinced them not to.
If the Commons had endorsed the Lords’ decision with a number of Tory votes, May’s position as President of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister would have been severely undermined. In such a case, Britain’s political scenery would have been in turmoil. To be reminded, Britain has promised that until the end of March, the London government will trigger the Article 50 of the European Treaty, which foresees the exit procedure of a member country.
The Lords were ignored
The Lords wanted the government to guarantee firstly, the irreversibility of the present status for the EU citizens living and working in Britain and secondly, they required the government to consult with the Parliament about the terms of the Brexit agreement. This second condition if read ‘a contrario’, means there couldn’t have been an exit, no matter how hard, without agreement with Brussels, as May has repeatedly threatened. Recently, she has clearly stated that “no agreement is better that a bad agreement”, introducing by that the option of a completely wild Brexit. In any case, after the Commons reversed the Lords resolution, Theresa May and her government of Brexiteers is free to manage the exit procedure any way they like, even taking Britain out without an agreement.
It seems that this last overtly hostile option will be the ace in the sleeve of May’s government, during the long negotiations of the terms for a hard but controlled exit. According to the EU Treaty, if, after two years no exit agreement is signed, the member state is automatically out. It was exactly this possibility the Lords wanted to avoid. Not without good reason then, after Tuesday’s reversal in the Commons, the GB pound sterling lost much ground and closed near 1.2 with the dollar. The option of a wild Brexit with no agreement with Brussels, is the worst off case scenario in the untested waters, of an EU member state leaving the club by forcing its way out. This means Britain would not recognize any obligation at all towards the EU.
Forcing their way out
It’s highly possible that London counts on the approval or possibly has already secured the energetic support of Washington, in the eventuality of totally hostile divorce. Very likely, this scenario may be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting in the White House, where the American President Donald Trump is to receive the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Trump boasts that he only amongst all Western politicians, had predicted the outcome of the June 2016 British referendum, which has ineradicably stamped the future of Europe.
He has also noisily celebrated the ‘leave’ outcome, and Ted Malloch, his ambassador designate to the EU, went as far as to predict the dismantling of the EU within the next few years. By the way, the heads of the main political groups of the European Parliament (center-right, socialists and liberals) addressed a letter to the European Commission and the European Council, asking for the rejection of Malloch as US Ambassador to Brussels.
Can the UK unravel?
Coming back to the British Isles, Scotland has again questioned the eventuality of the entire UK exiting from the EU. Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish National Party leader and First Minister clearly stated, that if the terms of the Brexit are to the detriment of Scotland, she will rally for a second referendum for independence. However, the consent of the London government is needed for that. Seemingly, May reacted extremely strongly for this reason, at the limits of political correctness, against the Scottish First Minister. She said that “Instead of playing politics with the future of our country, the Scottish government should focus on delivering good government and public services for the people of Scotland. Politics is not a game.”
There is no end, though, to May’s problems with the Brexit. Northern Ireland is even more aggressive than Scotland against the London government’s management of Brexit. Michael O’ Neill, the leader of Northern Ireland’s largest political party ‘Sinn Fein’ said that they cannot wait to see what kind of Brexit London wants. Instead he stressed, that “a referendum on the Irish unity has to happen as soon as possible”. By ‘unity’ he means of course the unification of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland, in the south of the Irish island. There is a hard geographic reality there, too, and there is also no doubt that the Brexit would destructively sever (economically and otherwise) Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland if they have not unified by then.
Northern Ireland leaves…
Today, there are practically no borders between the two parts of the island, because both belong to the EU. This is a well established and cherished reality, that the Brexit will destroy, and, obviously, the Irish people on both sides cannot accept this. If London doesn’t give its consent for a referendum, it’s rather certain that Northern Ireland will be haunted again by rivalry or even worse, by deadly terrorism. In Northern Ireland the Protestants and the Catholics had been killing each other for centuries, until the practical unification of the island, in the context of the EU.
In conclusion, there is no end to the problems the Brexit is causing to the UK. The hard poker the Brexiteers have chosen to play, may lead their country to a path of dismay. And all that without counting the immeasurable losses of London’s City, in case of a wild Brexit. This is the one square mile of Britain packet with financial mammoths, which produce 10% of the country’s GDP. Because of May’s intransigence, the City runs the danger of ending up as an obscure tax haven and a money laundry.