[Ed: this is the second part of a five-part series which will be published over the coming days here on UKIP Daily. You can read part one here.]
It is true that Remainer political and social dominance gives them great opportunity to delay and chip away at the idea of a true Brexit with practices such as amending Brexit Bills to death. But that does not mean May has to cave into the EU. Rather, it should be a signal to her to press ahead as hard and as fast as possible. This will thwart Remainer efforts to delay the leaving date and to obfuscate the nature of the referendum result by making bogus claims that the British had not voted for a hard Brexit (this is the Remainers post-referendum BIG LIE); when in fact what the British people voted for was to leave the EU, no ifs, no buts.
Instead of acting decisively, May failed to activate Article 50 until March 2017. Had she done this as soon as she became Prime Minister, the UK’s leaving date would have been July 2018. Not only was Article 50 triggered much too late, it has become embarrassingly apparent since the negotiation with the EU began that there had been a complete failure by the Government to prepare for Brexit (either before or since the referendum). That is unforgivable as both as a matter of administrative incompetence, and indicative of the Remainer belief that the referendum would result in a vote to remain in the EU. When that did not happen, they thought it would be possible to subvert the Brexit vote somehow, whether through a second referendum or by simply making a such a mess of the negotiation that the UK would be left as a de facto member of the EU.
The dismal reality of the negotiation to date
The fact that Brexit exists because a referendum instructed the Government to leave the EU means that the UK side of the negotiation should have the most crimson and indelible of red lines. The Government and Parliament contracted out the decision on whether the UK should remain in the EU by having a referendum. Consequently, the idea that this was just like a business negotiation where both sides hide their bottom line until the last moment is simple nonsense.
The question on the referendum ballot paper was crystal clear, namely, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” This meant no membership of the customs union, no membership of the single market, no payments to the EU, no jurisdiction of the ECJ over UK affairs, recovery of UK sovereignty over her borders and fishing grounds, and the reestablishment of full sovereignty to the Westminster Parliament. Those should all be absolute lines in the sand as mandated by the British people in the referendum.
May has completely ignored this mandate. To date, the negotiation has consisted of the EU saying they want this and they must have that and May caving in. She has not been willing or able to make any meaningful stand against what the EU have demanded. She has also allowed herself to be insulted by both the EU bureaucracy and EU politicians. In allowing herself to be insulted, she has allowed the UK to be insulted.
May’s first mistake was to accept the EU’s demand that they set the agenda for the negotiations with the UK. This meant agreeing to pay a huge amount of money to the EU, a settlement of the Irish question, and the position of EU nationals in the UK and British nationals in other EU countries before moving on to trade. This insistence by the EU contradicted their own guidelines for Article 50 negotiations. These state:
“2. Negotiations under Article 50 TEU will be conducted in transparency and as a single package. In accordance with the principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, individual items cannot be settled separately.”
May should have called them out on this but failed to do so. The fact that she did not do so means that the UK is already committed to much that is to the UK’s disadvantage.
May began the detailed process of capitulation in September 2017 when she offered £20 billion as a “divorce settlement” if a satisfactory agreement between the UK and the EU could be made. She also made it clear that the UK would meet all of its “obligations,” which would be the UK’s share of all spending commitments the EU had made up to 2020 and the funding of EU pensions to politicians and bureaucrats which could go on for many decades. By December 2017, the UK appears to have accepted that the Bill could be £39 billion with again probably more to come for EU spending stretching into the future.
The striking thing about all these promises is that no detailed computation has been made public to show why the UK owes such sums or is obligated either legally or morally to make such financial provision. This is unsurprising because there is a strong argument to say that there is no legal basis for any “divorce” settlement. The House of Lords European Union committee reported in March 2017 that:
“We conclude that if agreement is not reached, all EU law — including provisions concerning ongoing financial contributions… will cease to apply and the UK would be subject to no enforceable obligation to make any financial contribution at all.”
[To be continued in Part Three tomorrow here on UKIP Daily.]