46 days until B-Day – that’s Brexit Day – and today the confusion is as great as ever. Everyone I spoke to over the weekend is united: there’s no way to predict how March 29th will play out. Even Boris Johnson (DT, paywalled) writes not about Brexit today but about Twitter’s crusade against ‘transphobes’ rather than knife crime. Our ‘betters’ look to be as clueless as we are.
The one issue which has attracted the MSM’s attention is that Ms May will talk to Corbyn again (here, here, and paywalled here and here). What the papers are agreed on is that the talk will be about a ‘Soft Brexit’ – along the lines of Corbyn’s proposals, the main points of which were to stay in some sort of customs union and accommodating some sort of common market access.
The Times writes:
“Theresa May opened the door last night to a soft Brexit by engaging with Jeremy Corbyn on a customs union in a move that puts her at risk of losing the support of members of her cabinet. In a letter to the Labour leader, the prime minister suggested that their parties hold further talks on the issue of a permanent customs union in an attempt to win support from Labour MPs for her Brexit plan.”,
while the DT has this to say:
“Theresa May has agreed to hold fresh talks with Jeremy Corbyn’s over his plans for a soft Brexit that would keep Britain tied to the Single Market after Brexit and locked in a customs union with the EU. In a letter to the Labour leader, the Prime Minister did not rule out Mr Corbyn’s demand for a “permanent” customs union although she said it would present a “negotiating challenge”. She also agreed to talks on Mr Corbyn’s call for “close alignment” with the Single Market, as well as committing to asking Parliament if it wishes to follow EU rules on workers’ rights and environment standards.The letter alarmed Tory Eurosceptics, who fear the Prime Minister could ultimately change tack and back keeping Britain in a Customs Union with the EU. Jacob Rees-Mogg, a senior Eurosceptic Tory MP, said: “As the 2017 Conservative manifesto promised to leave the Customs Union it would be more consistent for the Prime Minister simply to rule one out.”
The DT reports further:
“She said the “fundamental negotiating challenge” is that Mr Corbyn’s proposal will require the UK to stay in the Single Market and accept free movement, a breach of Labour’s own manifesto. However in a move that surprised Tory MPs and some ministers, she did not explicitly rule out keeping the UK in a customs union with the EU. Mrs May also said she wanted discussions between Tory and Labour teams to consider “alternative arrangements” to the Irish backstop and said cross-party support for security co-operation sends a “powerful signal” to Brussels.”
That is the only time the Backstop gets mentioned today! And obviously, her much-vaunted ‘alternative arrangements’ are still non-existent … But note that Ms May has apparently not ruled out staying in a Customs Union – and we all know, or ought to by now, what that means: staying IN, and under the boot of the ECJ.
Of course, given the disarray the Labour Party is in at the moment, with some Labour MPs demanding a 2nd Referendum but not the Corbyn Plan, I can’t help but think that this is yet another indication of Ms May being ‘handled’ by her Remain civil servants: she ‘performs’ what looks like ‘political consultations’ while the real work is done by them ‘en coulisse’, leading one to the question if there’s now a split in Whitehall as well. See for example this report, by the famed “Brussels sources”:
“Secret talks have begun between the UK and EU to prepare the way for a managed no-deal Brexit, sources in Brussels have claimed. It is also understood that the World Trade Organisation has opened the door to a route for the EU and UK to continue trading on an interim basis in the event of no deal being reached by March 29. The revelations come as leading pro-Brexit lawyers have warned that extending Article 50 would be a “blackmailer’s charter” for the EU. Senior figures in Brussels have said that officials at UK Rep – the British embassy in Brussels – have been “putting out feelers” for extending Article 50, but “only to deliver a managed no-deal”.(my bold)
Is this yet another hint that B-Day will be our No-Deal Brexit? Mind you, the German car industry is up in arms about that because it would-could-might mean huge job losses for them (see here) – and that at a time when world recession looms and when the EU economy is sliding into recession as well. It’s nothing to do with Brexit, and even the Remainers haven’t dared to claim that – yet! Italy seems to have seen the writing on the wall and is working towards alleviating a no-deal Brexit, as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes in the (paywalled) DT:
“Italy is drawing up emergency plans to safeguard financial stability and keep trade with the UK flowing even if there is a no-deal Brexit, if necessary through a bilateral deal between Rome and London.”
Some countries are apparently taking the No-Deal-Brexit outcome so seriously that they are preparing for it, and why not if even the EU is doing it! Keeping the looming world recession in mind, AEP concludes with this warning:
“A developed economy with full sovereign policy instruments in such a downturn would typically launch a fiscal stimulus of ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure and investment projects worth 1pc to 2pc of GDP. It would restart quantitative easing. It would engineer a sharp slide in the currency. All three together would right the ship. Italy can do none of these things within the constraints of the euro. It is essentially defenceless.”
Reading between the lines: this is exactly what we’d have to face up to if we get BRINO! I simply do not understand why Remainers are incapable of grasping that simple truth. But I forget – for them, especially the young’uns whose ‘future is wrecked’ when we leave, the economy is only about roaming charges …
I close yet again with a quote from the inevitable Sir John Redwood, whose Diary entry today is titled “Brexit End Game”. Do read it – you won’t find a better dissection of the current parliamentary confusion. If you don’t have the time, here’s his conclusion:
“Worse still is why would the UK want delay? It prolongs business uncertainty. It makes the UK look feeble and indecisive. It delays new trade deals and stops us spending the money saved on exit. It fails to take back control of our laws, our money and our borders. I do not see how there are things we can get the EU to agree in April and May that we cannot get them to agree in February and March against the pressure of the deadline of our departure. The public want government and Parliament to just get on with it. That is also the best negotiating strategy.I still want a managed WTO exit with a UK offer of a free trade agreement which could avoid tariffs and other new barriers to our EU trade.” (my bold)
Indeed, Sir John – so do we all!
It’s a scandal that he is still being disregarded, his expertise not used by Ms May. You draw your own conclusions as to why that is …