The Curse of Brexit

Is Brexit Inevitable?

The Guardian reports that the former head of the civil Service, Gus O’Donnell, now a life peer in the House of Lords, thinks not: “Brexit is not inevitable, says former civil service chief

The crossbench peer said: “Lots of people will say, ‘We’ve had the referendum, we’ve decided to go out, so that’s it, it’s all over’. But it very much depends what happens to public opinion and whether the EU changes before then.  “It might be that the broader, more loosely aligned group is something that the UK is happy being a member of.

The Conservative Home website, which very much reflects the views of Tory Brexiteers, has an article by Alex Morton.  Morton was formerly Secretary to the Conservative Party’s Globalisation and Global Poverty Group Policy Group under the Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP, he was later a graduate entrant to the Civil Service and spent time in the Department of Health before leaving to work on Conservative housing policies. He was Head of Housing, Planning & Urban Policy at the Policy Exchange from 2010 to 2013 and he is now a special adviser on Housing and Planning Policy in 10 Downing Street.  His article “Brexit means politics”  is worth reading.  Of particular interest are the following propositions:

We need to return to the successful European Common Market

We are inevitably in a showdown with pro-federalist EU politicians. So we need to get other countries to think that the UK deal may one day apply to themselves.

To win we need to push three key elements. Firstly, we must make it clear we want a Europe of national states – a Common Market of national governments – not just Brexit. This means freedom of movement of goods, services, and capital, but where regulatory difference is accepted, not a single regulatory zone controlled by Brussels; co-operation on crime and other areas, but voluntary and inter-governmental; and smaller (although still operating) transfers of funds between countries.

Secondly, we should not put EU and non-EU citizens on equal footing. Bringing EU migration down to ‘tens of thousands’ means reducing numbers by 20-30 per cent. In 2015, 270,000 EU citizens came to the UK while around 85,000 left, giving net migration of 185,000 a year. Some UK citizens also move to the EU, though the data here is limited, giving us this 20-30 per cent figure. We could reduce unskilled labour through restrictions on in-work benefits, place geographical restrictions on work (so you can come to London but not East Anglia), and limit spousal/family unions to those who can work. But we must give EU migrants a higher priority than others.

Anyone who has been influenced by Peter Lilley MP (who certainly qualifies as a Swivel Eyed Loon Brexiteer) is necessarily suspect, but a lot of what Morton says makes sense.

Will Hutton, the Principal of Hertford College, has a column in The Guardian and last Friday he wrote this:  “Don’t be fooled. There will be damaging fallout from Brexit”.  What he says also makes a lot of sense. Worth a careful read.

Is Article 50 to be triggered quickly?

The  Telegraph has this: “Theresa May will trigger Brexit negotiations without Commons vote”.  The article is based on anonymous sources and although it recognises that there are High Court Judicial Review proceedings to be heard in October which might require there to be a vote in Parliament before invoking Article 50, the assertion is:  “However Government lawyers are confident that they will win, paving the way for Article 50 to be triggered at the beginning of next year, which could see Britain leave the European Union in 2019.”

One can only observe that the Court has already given consideration to the case and it is expected to end up before the Supreme Court bypassing the Court of Appeal.  That indicates that the case raises serious and properly arguable issues of public importance.  The expression “government lawyers” covers a whole spectrum of people with different levels of ability and competence.  One has to wonder whether those who have felt able to assert what the outcome of the proceedings will be before the case has been argued are among the less competent. Herbert Smith Freehills have published a very helpful briefing on the issues which is well worth reading:  “BREXIT – TRIGGERING ARTICLE 50: WHAT ROLE FOR PARLIAMENT?”.

Getting Poorer

As an Old Age Pensioner, I have concerns that prices are going to rise because of the weakness of sterling against the US Dollar and the Euro.  I am leaving tomorrow for a brief visit to France (something close to a booze cruise) and today £1 gets me just EUR  1.17 as opposed to EUR 1.35  at Christmas. Fortunately I still have some EUR bought prior to the Brexit vote.

But I wonder how many OAPS are going to cope this winter as the currency falls though the floor and the weekly shopping bill rises. Let us hope that Teresa May will take things slowly and carefully, negotiating a deal which will save us from the ravages that the curse of Brexit will undoubtedly bring.

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