Tomorrow is Black Wednesday – May’s Article 50 Notice will be delivered
On Sunday last the Observer had an editorial which bears reading: “The Observer view on triggering article 50 – As Britain hurtles towards the precipice, truth and democracy are in short supply“.
The editorial begins: “Like sheep, the British people, regardless of whether they support Brexit, are being herded off a cliff, duped and misled by the most irresponsible, least trustworthy government in living memory. The moment when article 50 is triggered, signalling Britain’s irreversible decision to quit the EU, approaches inexorably. This week, on Black Wednesday, the UK will throw into jeopardy the achievements of 60 years of unparalleled European peace, security and prosperity from which it has greatly benefited.”
Tomorrow, Black Wednesday, Teresa May (aka The Wicked Witch of Westminster) will cause the senior UK diplomat in Brussels to deliver the UK’s Article 50 Notice to the European Union. See this report in the Guardian: “Sir Tim Barrow to hand-deliver article 50 letter to Donald Tusk – Head of UKRep to give document to European council president, signalling Britain’s intention to withdraw from EU“. The article gives the likely timetable: “Tusk is expected to make a short statement acknowledging receipt of the letter on Wednesday. On Thursday he will circulate among the remaining 27 member states a draft copy of the EU’s negotiating guidelines, which will provide a broad response to the British government’s letter.
Those guidelines will not be formally adopted by the EU27 until a special summit on 29 April in Brussels. The European commission will issue more detailed directives on the EU’s negotiating stance shortly afterwards but these will need to be adopted by a meeting of EU27 ministers in May, before negotiations with the UK can finally begin.
There will then be 1 year and 10 months of negotiations, but unless the negotiation period is extended by the unanimous consent of the 27 remaining states, the United Kingdom will be out of the European Union in two years’ time.
The Guardian has this by Polly Toynbee: “Now the battle line is drawn before Theresa May’s disastrous Brexit – Reality bites from this week: the reckless charge out of Europe has begun. But at last Labour, thanks to Keir Starmer, is fighting back“.
Labour may, indeed, now be “fighting back” – but far too late: there can be no doubt that under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour approach both to the Referendum and to the subsequent legislation to implement the result was a disaster. It is therefore unsurprising that the Independent has this: “Jeremy Corbyn is as unpopular as Donald Trump, according to poll – Theresa May is more popular than both“:
The results of the UK poll in question were: Corbyn: Approval 17% Disapproval 58% – Trump: Approval 18% Disapproval 60% – May: Approval 46% Disapproval 33%. President Trump’s US domestic polling is not good (the latest Gallup poll puts him at Approval 36% – Disapproval 56%) but for the Leader of HM Opposition to be 29 percentage points behind the incumbent Prime Minister shows how useless Jeremy Corbyn has been as Labour leader.
There was an email message from the Liberal Democrats this morning:-
“For months, we’ve had to watch as Labour trooped through the lobbies with the Conservatives and UKIP to give the Government a blank cheque for Brexit. It’s been an appalling sight. But the good news is, in just 36 days’ time, the voters of Manchester have a chance to pass their verdict on Labour in the Manchester Gorton by-election.
The good news is, a group of incredibly generous donors who are so angry with Labour’s behaviour have agreed to match any donation you make – that means for every £1 you donate to help us get a great result in Manchester Gorton, we’ll get £2 and your donation will have twice the impact!“
It was, of course a request for donations and anyone else who might wish to support a genuine pro remain approach might want to help too: http://libdems.nationbuilder.com/gorton-donate.
How Article 50 Might Go
Anand Menon, professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King’s College London is also the director of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative, writes in the Independent: “This is what will happen once Article 50 is triggered – and how it could lead to Teresa May’s resignation – Two years sounds like a long time, but in reality, when factoring all the breaks in, it’s around 18 months. I do not know a single expert on trade who thinks a comprehensive deal could be struck within the available time.”
Torygraph/Telegraph has this: “Theresa May fires starting gun on Brexit with pledge to get the right deal for ‘every single person
in this country’” This is the work of the Torygraph’s Telegraph’s Political Editor and might as well have been dictated to a secretary by the Downing Street Press Office. Of course, the paper is stuffed with other pro-Brexit pieces.
The Wicked Witch still has the problem of the Brexiteers in her party. The Financial Times has this report of how they are behaving: “Eurosceptic MPs walk out from ‘gloomy’ Brexit committee” – because they consider a draft report on the consequences of Brexit to be “too gloomy“. The possible consequences of Brexit are not merely “gloomy“. They could easily be “dire“.
Perhaps the Brexiteers could start with this Martin Woolf op-ed in the Financial Times: “Brexiters must lose if Brexit is to succeed – If a deal is to be reached with the EU, the UK will need to make concessions“.
The Impact on the UK Union
The Independent has this: “Northern Ireland ‘can rejoin EU after Brexit if it votes for reunification’ – While Scotland would be forced to join back of the queue, a united Ireland would not need to reapply for membership, says David Davis“.
The Belfast Telegraph runs the same story: “David Davis united Ireland letter shows Northern Ireland has automatic route back to EU: SDLP chief Eastwood“. The comments attributed to the SDLP leader are worth reading. More worrying – the newspaper is running an on-line poll to see what the public think and at the time of reading 69% of respondents preferred the United Ireland option. Put at its simplest, the fact that both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom are in the European Union has made it possible for the two parts of the Island of Ireland to coexist. Brexit might well lead to the reunification of the Island.
A “hard Brexit” is already a big worry in the Republic: See this in the Financial Times: “Ireland braced for economic uncertainty of Brexit – Exports to UK could fall 30% over a decade if Britain leaves customs union“. It is not just exports to the UK which are in issue. There is also the problems of exports to the EU which also substantial needing to transit through the UK post Brexit and a host of other problems. The Republic’s newspapers are as interested in Brexit as we are: See the Irish Independent’s Business Brexit page.
Meanwhile in Scotland the Guardian reports: “Sturgeon says May’s Brexit timescale matches referendum plan – Scotland’s first minister says prime minister’s disclosure of full Brexit deal by autumn 2018 fits with schedule“.
The Independent has something similar: “Theresa May admits she must secure Brexit deal ‘within 18 months’ – ‘There is an agreement on the moment at which enough will be known for the people of Scotland to make an informed decision,’ SNP says” and the Scotsman has this: “Nicola Sturgeon: PM has no ‘rational opposition’ to indyref2“.
Today the Scottish Parliament voted 69-59 for a Referendum. We know, of course, that Mrs May will seek to defer any Scottish referendum for as long as possible.
There is quite a good prospect of both Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving the UK Union if the UK Government does not achieve a sensible result from the Brexit negotiations. See the post Conservative & Unionist for the implications of that for the Conservative Party.
It is only to be expected that the UK’s Article 50 Notification will be something of a lead balloon at any meeting of the EU “great and good”. There will be a lot of preliminary skirmishing.
Michel Barnier has this in the Financial Times: “Europe will be transparent and fair in Brexit talks – An orderly UK withdrawal has to be agreed before any trade deals are struck”
Guy Verhofstadt is reported in the Independent: “Europe to block Brexit deal unless EU citizens who enter in next two years can stay, Guy Verhofstadt says – ‘Any unilateral decision to curtail the rights of EU citizens in the UK, while the UK remains a member of the EU, would be contrary to EU law and we would oppose such a move vigorously’“.
The Guardian has this: “Brexit: UK backing away from threat to leave with no deal, say EU diplomats – UK officials recognise that failure to agree post-Brexit trade deal with EU27 would cause havoc, according to EU sources“.
One piece of good news about the former UKIP Leader is reported in the Independent:- “Nigel Farage: I will emigrate if Brexit is a disaster – but the former UKIP leader told a caller to his LBC radio show that he didn’t think it was going to be one”.
There were reports last year that Farage was planning to relocate to the USA – see this report: “Nigel Farage planning to move to US, as Brexit set to batter the UK“. Why not? He could pose beside the wall that his Presidential friend has committed to build on the Mexico/US border.