Fully nine months since the UK made its historic, momentous, marvelous decision, our Prime Minister has finally notified the obsolete EU that we intend to leave its protection racket. Over 17 million people refused to be bullied by an unprecedented campaign of baseless scaremongering, lies and threats that demeaned so many of our institutions and great offices of state. One million more people voted Leave than Remain, and across the country (well, outside London and the BBC, by which I mean Bristol, Brighton and Cambridge) joy was unconfined.
I’m sure a few babies were conceived in the celebratory aftermath of that vote. Those babies have now been born. They will be walking and talking before we actually leave the EU. Yet we are finally on our way. Article 50 states that we now have two years to agree a deal, or, joyously, the EU Treaties cease to apply. We are leaving with or without a deal. Many Remainiacs have failed to grasp this fact (don’t you find Remainiacs spectacularly ill-informed about their beloved EU?). But triggering Article 50 is merely firing the starting pistol, it is not crossing the finishing line.
The battle ahead is with our own government, to prevent them from needlessly negotiating away powers that we voted to return to the UK. Any negotiation, by definition, means that we give the EU something and we get something in return. That, my friends, is not Brexit. The whole point of Brexit is that we no longer have to beg for crumbs from the EU table. The days of negotiating for what is rightfully ours are over.
Be in no doubt that these negotiations will be conducted with a view to keeping as much power in Brussels’ hands as possible, while still being able to spin the public into believing they’re getting the Brexit they voted for. The worst possible result is not the “Hard Brexit” we hear so much about, because it doesn’t exist (“Hard Brexit” and “Soft Brexit” were on your ballot papers on June 23rd as “Leave” and “Remain”). No, the worst possible result is a deal with the EU that covers anything other than simple free trade.
Theresa May’s six page letter to Donald Tusk was long on rhetoric, short on detail. This is quite proper, the instrument of notifying the EU that we are leaving is not the place to reveal your hand. On the plus side, there is a clear commitment to taking the UK out of the Single Market. This bodes well for control of immigration after 2019 (although having regained control of immigration, what the Tories then do with it is another matter. Noises so far are not encouraging).
But there is no mention of ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of justice or the ECHR. No mention of regaining control of our fishing waters. These should be laid out, along with immigration, as things not up for discussion.
The tone and language of the letter should also give Brexiteers cause for concern. There is fulsome praise for the EU. Apparently Theresa May thinks the EU is responsible for peace in Europe since the war. It buys in to Remainiac propaganda language, talking about “consequences” for UK businesses when we leave the EU, and even mentions the notorious “cliff edge”. It talks about the possibility of border controls in Northern Ireland. All straight out of the Remainer’s Big Book of Scares, and not a good starting point.
Make no mistake, this letter does not reveal a British PM who is telling the EU, in diplomatic language, that we’re off and thanks for all the fish. It is a Remainer PM being brought reluctantly to implement the decision of a democratic vote.
Leaving the EU requires no negotiation, much less any deal. If we had a Brexit government and a Brexit PM, Article 50 would have been triggered months ago, with an offer to continue tariff free trade on the current terms. The 1972 European Communities Act would have been repealed in short order after Article 50 was invoked. We would, obviously, continue to participate in Europol, Erasmus or any other scheme that we perceive to be of benefit to the UK, as many non-EU countries do today. We would, to all intents and purposes, be out by now.
Instead after a 9 month wait we now we face 2 years of Remainiac politicians and bureaucrats attempting to keep the UK in the EU in all but name. If we leave so much as a toe in the EU swamp, we will be dragged back in, bit by bit, by pro-EU UK governments over the coming years.
Ironically, the best chance of a clean Brexit may rest with our Remainiac friends. Yes, even Gina Miller. They seem intent on continuing their antics of the last 9 months – to delay and disrupt Brexit by whatever duplicitous means they can find. Having presumably not bothered to actually read Article 50, they appear to think that if a deal isn’t agreed then the fall-back position is Remain. It isn’t. In fact, our best hope of getting the Brexit we voted for is that no deal is agreed, as we will then leave without one.
Leaving with no deal is 100% Brexit. Leaving with an agreed deal means some powers remain with the EU. We may remain under the jurisdiction of the ECJ. We have already said the ECJ will remain the ultimate authority on UK patent law. I can almost see Theresa May at the dispatch box now, arguing that it is sensible to have an “implementation period” where the UK remains under the jurisdiction of the ECJ while all EU law is transcribed into UK law by the “Great Repeal Bill”… We may remain in the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy in all but name. Be under no illusions, we will remain in whatever those supposedly negotiating on our behalf think they can get away with.
With Article 50 triggered, the clock has started counting down. In 730 days, the EU Treaties cease to apply to the UK. So I suddenly feel convinced that Tim Farron has been right all along. Parliament should get a vote on any deal. Preferably several. Bring it on, Branson. Do your worst, Blair. Delay away, Remainiacs, delay away. Tick tock, tick tock…