As I write, on the morning of Tuesday March 14th, we know that the Brexit Bill has cleared its final hurdles in the Commons and the Lords, and Theresa May is now in a position to invoke Article 50.

I’ve been campaigning for British independence for twenty years – eighteen in the European parliament – so I hope, Dear Reader, you’ll forgive me a moment of quiet satisfaction.  Mission accomplished.  A seemingly impossible objective realised.  All of us who have engaged in the Brexit campaign can congratulate ourselves on a job well done.  It wouldn’t have happened without UKIP.

Article 50 is simply the starting pistol for 2 years of negotiations, a time when UKIP will be needed more than ever. We’ve all seen the proposals for a £60 billion “divorce settlement”.  The EU seems to base this on EU programmes, for which the UK (inter alia) has voted, which they say we must continue to fund.  I say “balderdash!”. Imagine that last year you were a member of a golf club, and as a member you’d voted for a five-year refurbishment programme.  Then later you resigned. Would you expect to keep paying your subs for five years after you’d quit?  Absurd.

Of course Brussels is panicking about the big drop in income they’ll face after Brexit.  But they’ll just have to cut their coat according to their cloth.

Good marks to Theresa May for her counter-proposal that we should demand £9 billion from the EU as the UK holding in the EIB

There have been several bizarre Brexit proposals going around prior to last night’s votes.  One was that parliament should have a vote on the final deal agreed with the EU.  OK. Let’s think that through. If they voted in favour, well and good. But what is the consequence of a NO vote? Article 50 would have been invoked nearly two years before. The calendar rolls on relentlessly. Article 50 plus two years will arrive in March 2019, and if our parliament voted against the deal, we should leave the EU with no deal at all.

For me, that’s a better outcome than staying in the EU. But it’s likely to be a less good outcome than an agreed deal. Any MP imagining that a NO vote means reversion to the status quo ante had better think again.

The Lords had an even more bizarre idea. They’d have like to be able to send the government back to Brussels and (like Oliver Twist) ask for more.

What would that mean? First, it would probably push negotiations over the two year limit (in theory that can be extended, but only in the unlikely case of unanimity amongst the 28). Second, it would almost certainly result in a firm “NO” from Brussels. We’ve given you our best shot, they’d say. It’s that or nothing. And again we’d be out without a deal.

But third (why can’t those guys in the Lords see this?) it creates a huge incentive for Brussels to offer another minimal, nugatory, Cameron-type non-deal.  That would ensure that the Lords voted for a renegotiation, which would leave the British government snookered.

The people voted for Brexit.  Let’s just get on with it, and stop posturing.

This article was adapted from Roger Helmer’s “Straight Talking” electronic newsletter. If you would like to be added to the mailing list to receive this newsletter, please email roger.helmer@europarl.europa.eu

Print Friendly, PDF & Email