Yesterday, the HoL voted again on the Government Brexit Proposals, showing that Brexit is not going away, Footie World Cup or not – although our ‘betters’ in Parliament and Government hope that they can smuggle in nefarious ‘deals’ while the Nation is celebrating England’s team. Don’t forget that there’s the summit Meeting of EU leaders on June 28th/29th where Ms May has the ‘opportunity’ to sell Brexit out to Brussels.

Thus, the first letter is on Brexit and comes from our correspondent Septimus Octavius:

Sir,

Article 50 should be compulsory reading for all our MPs in both Houses.

To a man (or woman), they are all behaving as if we had already “taken back control”.  We have not!

The UK is still a member of the EU, which means that the UK Parliament is still subservient to EU law.  This means that all this talk of “meaningful” votes in various scenarios is just so much nonsense.

Article 50 is part of EU law, and as such there is nothing the UK can do to contravene it; and its binary operation is attractively simple.  What it provides is that if the EU and the UK enter into a Withdrawal Agreement, ratified by the European Parliament, before 11.00 p.m. UK time on 29 March next year, then at the moment of that ratification the UK is released from the Treaties of the EU.  If there is no such ratification by the said deadline in March, then as the clock strikes 11.00 UK time, the UK is released from the Treaties of the EU.

A little more than 9 months now remains before the deadline is reached; and once the summer and Christmas shutdowns are taken into account, the date will be upon us before we know it!

Our negotiators must ask Michel Barrier (as I now call him) precisely what “consequences” he wants to impose as part of a Withdrawal Agreement”.  Until that is known, it is impossible for the trade talks to continue.

The writing was on the wall last year, but nobody really noticed it: In April, over 40% of those voting in the first round of the French elections voted for parties the policies of which were to leave the euro and leave the EU; but because Macron won, this fact was overlooked.

In September, in the German elections, the AfD got 12.6% of the vote and 94 seats in the Bundestag; but because Merkel (at that stage) was able to hang on by the skin of her teeth, again, nobody really thought anything of it.

Viktor Orban has now been in power in Hungary for more than a couple of years.  In Poland, the anti – EU Law and Justice party is the dominant political force.

In October, the anti – immigration Andrej Babis led his ANO party to victory in the Czech Republic and became the country’s Prime Minister; and in the same month, the Freedom Party in Austria got 26% of the vote, up from 20.5% in the previous election.

However, it was this year that things really started to hot up.  In January the Czech Republic President Milos Zeman’s uncompromising anti-immigration platform saw off a challenge from a liberal internationalist.

Then of course on March 15 we had the Italian elections, leading to the recent confirmation of a Government dedicated to opposing the EU, and last week repelling some boat people.

But what we have now is Merkel’s fragile coalition on the brink of disintegration because, of course, of an immigration issue.  This means that the whole European project is now in real and urgent jeopardy.

Respectfully, Septimus Octavius

Allow me here to warn all who, during the last few days, expected a “Merkel-Dämmerung” – yes, me too (no hashtag!). It now seems that Ms Merkel is weathering the storm, and many writers in German papers now believe this was a lovely theatrical production to cement the chances for re-election of Merkel’s Bavarian coalition partner (CSU) who will go to the polls later this year. Her Home Secretary, Mr Seehofer (CSU), is of course Bavarian – and the aim (sounds familiar!) is to shoot the AfD fox.

Back to Brexit, here is a letter from our star correspondent, Roger Arthur:

Sir,

Mr Booker (Sunday Telegraph) advocates a Norwegian trading compromise with the EU, before other (better) options have been taken off the table. But surely we should negotiate what is the best for the UK, not just copy someone else’s homework?

If WTO tariffs are applied, the UK Treasury will collect many £bns more than will the EU, due to our net imports of £80 bn pa, on top of the £9bn pa membership cost saving. If those gains are used to give UK/EU exporters tax benefits, then their exports need not become less competitive due to EU tariffs. Of course WTO rules preclude the application of penal tariffs by any member.

Also a 2005 report by Gordon Brown estimated that the cost of compliance with EU regulations is around 7% of GDP, which equates to around £140 billion per annum today. Thus the 93% of UK companies which don’t even export to the EU will also be relieved of much of that burden over time.

So it is not surprising that when the Swiss carried out a cost/benefit analysis (CBA) of EU membership, they concluded that costs far outweighed the benefits. They stayed out of the EU and have never looked back.

Mr Booker might suggest that the Swiss re-run their CBA. Did they get something wrong? I doubt it and so he would do better to spend his time thinking up ideas for making the best of Brexit, rather than with fear mongering.

Respectfully, Roger Arthur

​PS. Of course it wasn’t TMays decision to leave the customs union and the single market. That was taken by the 408 constituencies which voted to Leave the EU.

 

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