Sir,

this is the Brexit position as of 1st February 2019:

After months of uncertainty, things suddenly looked a lot clearer as at the close of the divisions on the amendments proposed in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening.

The most important feature of those proceedings is that Yvette Cooper’s proposal was defeated; the significance of this is that there is now no real chance of the UK seeking an extension of the Article 50 period. The only two to get through were the meaningless one rejecting “no deal”, and another mandating the PM to seek the removal of the so-called “backstop” provisions of the extant proposed withdrawal agreement.

Remoaner MPs were correctly openly disheartened at the outcome.  This is because a clean no deal Brexit will now definitely occur at 11.00 p.m. UK time on Friday 29 March 2019 (i.e. “exit day” as defined in the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018), unless one of two improbable things happens, one of these being less unlikely than the other.

The slightly more likely event is that a withdrawal agreement comes into force at any moment before exit day.  For this to occur, firstly there would have to be a legally binding alteration to the extant proposed withdrawal agreement.  The concrete position of the EU is that this simply cannot happen, as their various spokespersons were quick to emphasise immediately after that close of business on Tuesday.  Nothing is impossible, however, and this might just happen.

If it did, the next hurdle would be to put the amended proposed withdrawal agreement to a “meaningful vote” in the House of Commons.  Given the history of this aspect of the matter this year, in particular the 230 vote majority against the original proposal, the narrow margin by which the relevant amendment was passed, and the £39 billion bill, it is far from certain that any amendment would be enough to sway the vote in favour.

Just suppose, though, for the sake of this hypothesis, that the Withdrawal Agreement got through these two stages. It would then go for rubber stamping at the European Parliament, and the moment that occurred the agreement would come into force. Under Article 50 the UK would at that moment be released from the Treaties of the EU, and the ECA 1972 would promptly put them straight back! The trap set out in the EU (Withdrawal) Act would indeed have been sprung. To put it mildly, this would be a chaotic legal situation of immense proportions. Thankfully, for the reasons set out above, it is unlikely to happen.

The only other way of preventing a clean break at Exit Day would be for statutory authority be given to the PM to revoke the Article 50 Notification.  There was not even a proposed amendment seeking this. Moreover, it seems that there are only a handful of MPs who would be willing to do such a monstrous denial of the democratic vote of 17.4 million people.  This possibility is therefore less likely that the first.

In view of all this, it is now very likely indeed that at Exit Day two things will happen: the UK will be released from the Treaties of the EU in the absence of a withdrawal agreement, and the ECA 1972 will be repealed; and because these two events would occur at exactly the same instant, the aforementioned trap would be completely disarmed.

This being so, as soon as possible the UK Government should now make the position clear to the EU, and suggest an arrangement under Article XXIV of GATT be agreed to come into force immediately after Exit Day, which would clearly be beneficial for all concerned, giving as it does 10 years in which to agree a formal trade treaty.

Respectfully, Septimus Octavius

 

~~~   OOO ~~~

 

Sir,

I have just sent the message below directly to No 10. I will if course let you know if and when I get a response:

“Dear Sirs

FOI request – £39bn Payment to E.U.

Please regard this as a formal Freedom of Information Request to the Government

It is understood that the U.K. government has agreed to pay the European Union the sum of £39 billion, in exchange for Brexit.

We might expect the U.K.’s stake in E.U. assets to be factored in the balance of accounts. So please could you advise:

  1. What the E.U. has promised the U.K. in exchange for the £39bn payment, and under what conditions. Also:
  2. How much that payment was adjusted to account for the value of the UK’s stake in E.U. assets, plus any surpluses or profits arising.
  3. Since neither Article 50, nor the House of Lords, can justify such payment, what justification does the Government have for making it?

It would clearly be unreasonable for the British taxpayer to be denied that information and I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully, etc”

Respectfully, Roger Arthur

 

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