Brexit Progress

Brexit means Brexit, or does it ?

The Guardian’s weekly Brexit briefing has this headline: “Brexit weekly briefing: Theresa May’s EU tour fails to bring clarity – UK has not worked out what the questions are, let alone found potential answers to how it will leave the EU, critics say”.

The article, which is a useful summary of where we are at, contains links to other sources – some of which were posted here yesterday.

The Financial Times has an interesting piece: “Three Brexit ministers jostle for position – The house-share at Chevening is a metaphor for overlapping responsibilities”.

The reality may be that that the house share at Chevening is the Prime Minister’s metaphor for a silo in which the three Brexiteers are to be confined.  It is pretty clear the Mrs May  intends to be fully in charge of the Brexit agenda and these ministers are only to be let out for such specific roles as she may consider appropriate.

One of the points the FT article makes is that times have changed since David Davis was last involved in EU negotiations (when John Major was PM).  These days, the Heads of Government do not take their Foreign or Europe ministers to their meetings. They rely on “Sherpas” – the trade name for the seasoned UK and EU civil servants who do the preparatory work and sniff out the possible pitfalls.

The article points out that the Prime Minister has been taking advice on EU matters from Sir Brian Rogers KCMG, presently the UK Permanent Representative to the EU.

[At the end of January 2016, the Financial Times published an article on the “Sherpas” for the UK and the Commission who worked on the deal obtained by Mrs May’s predecessor, poor David Cameron:  “Brexit: the sherpas who plotted a path to the EU summit – Seven officials who have worked backstage on Britain’s revised terms of EU membership”].

Whether Sir Brian will be the “lead Sherpa” or whether the PM will be assisted by others remains to be seen, but it is very clear that that the PM is going to be very much in charge of how the UK side of any negotiations will proceed.

Consequences of Brexit

The Torygraph Telegraph has  this: “EU demands Britain pays pensions of 1,730 Eurocrats in wake of Brexit vote” and this: “More than half a million EU nationals will be forced to leave Britain after Brexit, think tank warns” and also this: “Theresa May’s repulsive threat to EU citizens could make the Tories toxic again”.

The first story does not specify where and how the EU demand was made (or even whether it has yet been made).   It is certainly likely that pension costs will figure in the Brexit negotiations.

The second story is based on a briefing paper issued by the Social Market Foundation: “Here to stay? Residency and EU migrants after the referendum.”  As will be seen, the briefing paper seeks to estimate which EU national will have acquired permanent residence under EU law on the date Brexit might come into force.  It concludes that that the vast majority of EU nationals in the UK will have acquired permanent residence by the time Brexit actually comes into force:  On an assumed date of 2019: ” Over 1.2 million – or over 80% – of EU14 migrants would have these rights. Nearly 90% of EU8 migrants would have permanent residence. And a majority of EU2 migrants also would.“.

The issue is what happens to the minority.    Fraser Nelson is the Editor of the Spectator and a regular columnist for the Telegraph. He is much read in Conservative circles.  His complaint about Mrs May’s refusal to unilaterally declare that all EU citizens presently lawfully in the UK will be able to remain on Brexit is one which has some significance.

One suspects that the final sentence of his piece “It would be tragic if the woman who invented the phrase “nasty party” were to end up hanging it around Conservative necks once more” will be noticed by the PM’s advisers.

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