by Mark Angelides
This Monday or Tuesday sees the “Ping Pong” of the Bill for triggering Article 50 (the mechanism that allows the UK to withdraw from the EU), shuttling between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Once done, Prime Minister Theresa May will be in a position to announce that the UK is giving notice of leaving to the EU and Brexit negotiations can officially begin. Political chater is indicating that she could give notice to leave as early as Wednesday the 15th. But what happens next? What will the “Movers & Shakers” be aiming for? And most importantly, will the UK finally be free of EU oppression?
The Next 2 Years
The UK will now have a maximum time limit of 2 full years to negotiate with the EU on the terms and aspects of UK EU relations after exit. What the “final deal” will look like is of course an unknown, but we do know what some of the likely positions will be:
Hard Brexit: This is where a successful equitable negotiation has failed (or more likely that the EU has insisted on unreasonable demands in an effort to scare other EU nations from leaving). The EU refuses to grant Britain access to the Single Market (without either the Free Movement of People or a hefty bill), so the UK jus leaves the Union and begins trading under World Trade Organisation (WTO) Rules. A lot of Brexiteers would be happy with this result, not because they see the single market as necessarily a bad thing, but because they see it as the continued “Yoke of Control” by the EU.
Soft Brexit: This would entail leaving the EU, whilst retaining access to the single market; it is the “Brexit of Choice” for the Remain Camp, but anathema to most Brexiteers. The Soft Brexit would likely involve either the UK having to stick with the EU’s principle of Free Movement of People, or paying a substantial yearly fee. If this were the end result, the vast majority of those who voted to leave the EU would feel rightly betrayed.
However, due to the House of Lord’s Amendment last week, it is likely that Parliament will be given yet another vote on the UK’s final exit once the negotiations are done. For those of you not overly familiar with the British parliament, the vast majority of elected members supported staying “IN” the EU, and many people fear that they will act against the wishes of the British people for a full, clean Brexit.
The “Music Makers”
Theresa May (Prime Minister): It’s important to remember that she was a Remainer. She wanted to stay in the EU and is only going through the process because she would be unable to govern without revolution. So for now, she is saying “Brexit means Brexit”. Many are distrustful as to whether she will negotiate with Britain’s best interests or the EU’s.
Jean-Claude Juncker (EU President): The EU President has made it very clear that there will be no enefits for the UK. No access without paying and accepting Free Movement. He is determined to make an example of the UK so that other EU nations don’t follow Britain’s lead.
Nigel Farage (the man behind Brexit): The man most credited with bringing about and winning the EU referendum will likely not stay silent if talks begin to turn badly. If he sees backsliding on the deal, or UK Parliament ceding powers back to the EU, you can expect him to once again leap into the fray.
Jeremy Corbyn (UK opposition leader): For about 30 years, he moaned about the EU and talked about leaving…and then he became his party’s leader and his principles flew out of the window. He backed Remain and has had almost no useful contribution to the debate since = Mostly Harmless.
Will the UK Ever be Free from EU Rule?
Most likely not in the foreseeable future; at least not until the EU itself falls apart. At present it has its tentacles in almost every aspect of British life, including government, defense and education. Until the whole edifice crumbles, it will likely continue to exert influence. However, the rise of anti-EU parties across Europe is growing, and they include mostly young people, so the demise of the sclerotic EU may be sooner than hoped.
by Mark Angelides