Disregarding the nonsense, vitriol and hyperbola that went on this last week in Parliament the question now has to be asked about when the letter will be sent about Article 50 and just what will it cost for us to leave.
The second White Paper, which was a 172-page extension to the Lancaster House speech made by Mrs May, lays out the 12-point plan the government wishes to pursue as it begins eventually to negotiate our divorce from the European Union.
The first, much smaller than a tweet, White Paper on which Parliament sanctimoniously voted to allow the government to trigger Article 50 was missing one key important element … the date. No one from the government benches who defended the Bill mentioned an actual date on which the so-called letter would be forwarded to the EU hawks awaiting it to land through the letterbox, or are they waiting?
This year within Europe there are to be national elections within France, Germany, the Netherlands and possibly Italy. With most southern Mediterranean countries within the EU running a youth unemployment rate at 40% and the eurozone clearly in crisis, one could put forward a reasonable argument to suggest that the last thing on the minds of the leaders of the European Union is a protracted, complicated and emotional negotiation with, as they see us, an errant rogue nation which is hell-bent on upsetting the apple-cart.
A new High Court case, this time laid by people wishing to remain anonymous, is challenging the fact that we did not, last June, vote to leave the single market. They claim that the treaty to take us into the single market was a stand-alone treaty and we should have a separate vote on this issue in Parliament. I do not think this case will have the legs to succeed but it is another annoying tick on the neck of the Brexit movement.
Then there is the potential cost. Please do not be fooled. We are being drip-fed the possibility that we will have to pay up some £60 billions to leave the club. It has been talked about by Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, and yesterday at the Brexit select committee Sir Ivan Rogers, the recently resigned ambassador to the EU, also reiterated that we could have to pay £40 to £60 billion in order to leave. This extraordinary figure is made up from agreed payments for the future, outstanding and therefore owed, monies and the possibility of a continued payment to access the single market.
What is frankly very disturbing is the that the government have stated quite clearly that we are to leave the single market and the customs union but they have not ever made clear that we are not and will not in the future be liable for this money. Is the fact that £60 billion could be owed the ace up their sleeve, the final reckoning, a last ditch effort to remain on the basis that we cannot afford such a financial settlement?
The very fact that this potential payment is not mentioned within the White Paper, nor that it has been raised in Parliament would lead you to think that the government has not written this off. Have ministers accepted that this is exactly what is going to happen?
Could they dare to lay this at the feet of the public who voted so passionately to leave this failed project? I am cynical enough to believe that they could. Clearly an invoice to the British people for £60 billion is unacceptable at any time. We just will not be railroaded into such a payment.
This is a ticking time bomb, a potential complete mess, and needs urgent clarity. A number cruncher must be found who can forensically investigate monies promised and owed. We must get the actual figure, if there is one, and take it to the country to make people aware of this potential hand grenade that may at any time be lobbed into the Brexit hand to hand fight.
No one who voted for our independence day on the 23rd June 2016 thought that it would be easy. But the intrusion and mischief making of so many sore losers and spoilt children purporting to have the best interests of the thickos who voted to leave in their hearts have to be silenced. For sure they will, as they learn of this potential large bill make much of it. We need to get there first.