British PM May’s Brexit proposal remains obscure while her government unravels

British Prime Minister Theresa May held in Brussels a bilateral meeting with the French President Emmanuel Macron. Brexit was the main item on the agenda. Taken on October 17, 2018. Some rights reserved.

Only days before, Theresa May, the British Prime Minister is expected to table her proposal for a Brexit deal in the Commons, the British Parliament, and her government appears unraveling. Her transport Minister Joe Johnson resigned last week, having revived the discussion about a second referendum. He was strongly pro-remain in the June 2016 Brexit referendum, while his brother Boris Johnson championed the ‘leave’ campaign.

Now, Joe proposes a second referendum, for the British voters to approve the Brexit deal 10 Downing Street is about to put together. He says Boris’ ‘leave’ campaign promises in 2016 have proved beyond any doubt completely superfluous and unrealistic. He stopped just before calling his brother a liar. The ex-transport Minister argues that the Brexit which deal the government is currently preparing has nothing to do with what the Brits were erroneously and deceitfully promised in 2016. This is why he resigned and demands a new referendum.

Not just Joe

May’s problem is not just Joe. According to a yesterday’s ‘Sunday Times’ report, four more members of the May government are ready to resign. In such an eventuality, 10 Downing Street will remain completely unsubstantiated. They are the pro-European Union members of the government, representing a small group of likely minded Tory MPs. They have formed a minority faction in the governing Conservative party. However, the large majority of the Tory MPs are overwhelmingly of hard Brexiteer side. Some of them are so strongly anti-European as to vie for a no-deal Brexit.

According to the same ‘Sunday Times’ report, another member of the government, obviously a hard Brexiteer this time, said the Prime Minister must for once put mainland Europeans before the dilemma: either accept her Brexit proposal or face a no-deal divorce. On top of that, the Northern Ireland MPs, who furnish May’s government the needed parliamentary votes to keep it alive, would never accept even the slightest partition from the UK. 10 Downing Street and more so Brussels contemplate the enactment of customs controls and checks aboard vessels crossing the Irish Sea, between Northern Ireland and the main British island.

Still the Irish dilemma

Reliable sources in Brussels were confirming last week that the Irish backstop is not the only problem in the Brexit negotiations. There are other equally important issues to be clarified. For one thing, it’s not clear yet, whether or not during interim period after the typical Brexit date of 29 March 2019, the EU citizens will be able to travel freely to and from Britain. By the same token, London insists in opposing the jurisdiction of the European Court in that period.

From what has being made known so far, in May’s proposal, the key aspect will be that the UK remains in EU’s Customs Union, so the trade in goods continues as freely as today. In this eventuality, Brussels have finally accepted the EU can wait as long as Britain needs, to work out a viable trade relation with mainland Europe. However, the majority of May’s governing Tory parliamentary group, the Brexiteers, will not vote for her solution without an end day being agreed for the interim period. They fear the interim period can be extended ad infinitum.

No end to the interim period?

On the contrary, the EU says it’s out of question to set an end day in this arrangement. The reason is that during that time the application of the Internal Market rulebook – plus the new rules to be adopted – and their possible legal upshots cannot have a termination date. The EU Brexit negotiators say the interim period can be terminated the moment Britain and the Union agree on their long term future trade relations.

All in all, 10 Dowining Street doesn’t seem to have enough Tory votes in the Parliament to pass a Brexit deal without termination date. So, the Prime Minister looks to the Labor Party for a possible positive vote. In any case, though, there is no indication how the Irish dilemma will be solved after the end of the interim period. Consequently the Brexit terms remain as uncertain as aver, while May’s government unravels dangerously. Unfortunately, Britain remains in a political limbo.

 

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