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In a historic first, the British Parliament found the government of Prime Minister Theresa May in contempt on Tuesday for failing to release in full the advice it received from the country’s top law officer about the terms of exiting the EU.
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The opinion of the ECJ Advocate General that the UK can unilaterally revoke its Article 50 letter, has put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons.
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On the day that the House of Commons is due to start a marathon five day debate on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, culminating in the ‘meaningful vote’ next Tuesday, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona, has stated that in his opinion the UK can unilaterally revoke its Article 50 letter and remain in the European Union without having to go to the EU27 for permission.
As I pointed out this morning, this is his opinion but in coming to its decision in the next couple of weeks, it would be unusual for the ECJ not to heed his advice.
And isn’t it strange that this comes out after weeks of being told that it’s May’s deal, no deal or no Brexit at all? You could be forgiven for thinking that it’s all been choreographed.
Now, I have to remind you that although the UK Remain establishment and Remoaners will be happy with this development, the EU Council and EU Commission will not be, as their lawyers did not want this outcome as I explained in a previous video, the link to which is above.
This intervention, does add a couple of new facets to what is being debated as of about 4:30 this afternoon and to how MPs vote next Tuesday – so the ECJ Advocate General has effectively interfered with internal UK politics.
The first thing to point out is that our politicians will be aware that the ECJ could ignore Bordona’s initial advice, which inserts uncertainty into the equation.
The second big driver is time, with Christmas fast approaching and less than four months to Brexit day, the pressure is on and trying to fit a general election or another referendum into that time would be nigh on impossible for those who wish to stop Brexit – and there would be huge political problems in doing that.
So, it seems it will now be down to them! It is now down to our mostly Remain minded politicians to make that decision in Parliament in the next few weeks.
So if you are a Leave politician are you now going to fear the possibility of a Brexit reversal and back Theresa May’s deal on the basis that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush?
Will this bring round Tory Brexiteers to the PM’s way of thinking?
And will it make Remain minded MPs more likely to oppose May’s deal in the hope that it will lead to Article 50 being revoked very quickly?
Now, one of the authors of Article 50, Lord Kerr, says that should the ECJ agree in its final ruling then we could decide to stay in the EU on current terms.
The trouble with that though, is that the UK has been signing off all sorts of EU empowering stuff, especially in the areas of defence and foreign policy, on the basis that we were leaving and we did not want to get in the way of the political direction that the EU27 wished to take.
So arguably the Remainers would opt for a general election or referendum to try and be seen to win over the voters, but as I’ve already pointed out, there isn’t really time and there are no guarantees – the electorate let them down as they see it in 2016, they might very well do that again.
And the Remainer Holy Grail of exiting from Brexit could be within their grasp if the ECJ decision goes their way. But they have to move fast.
Finally, the head of the UK financial services regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Andrew Bailey, told the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, that the UK is better prepared to protect UK financial services consumers that the EU is, should there be a no deal WTO exit from the EU.
“In the context of the EU end of this – he told the committee – there will be consumers who are EU residents and EU citizens but there will also be UK expatriates living in the EU who fall into that group of EU resident consumers.
“We obviously are working and doing quite a bit of work with the Government on that but I have to tell you they are in a different place in that sense to the assurance I can give you in respect of UK resident consumers.”
You could be forgiven for thinking then that the EU has decided not to prepare as they think we will be taking May’s Brexit In Name Only (BRINO) deal – or believe that our politicians will take the step of negating Article 50 altogether.
As the British Prime Minister finally puts forward her contentious draft Brexit plan this week, Kal, our cartoonist, illustrates the potentially monstrous consequences.
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Ever since I was a little boy I enjoy drawing monsters. I would spend ages assembling fangs, eyes, scales and horns into the creative critters of my imagination.
This week in my cartoon for the Economist, I was able to put my youthful zeal for beasts to good use. I wanted to create two toothy cartoon abominations to help explain the uncomfortable choices facing Britain in the fast-approaching run-up to brexit next spring.
The British prime minister Theresa May this week finally put forward a draft brexit plan for the UK. It was a 500-page Colossus that received mixed reviews from her cabinet. It faces even tougher scrutiny in Parliament – which will have to approve it. When the public faces this brexit behemoth they will see a scary creature that will leave damaging tooth marks on many parts of the economy. A worse option for brexit may be looming – a No Deal brexit monster.
A failure to agree on Mrs Mays deal by March could unleash this fiend with even more ferocious bite. Surely there must be a way to escape these groups you may ask? Well, not according to Mrs May and many of her fellow conservatives – they say a second referendum on Brexit is out of the question.
Asking the citizens to vote again on this weighty issue would, they claim, unleash even more monstrous consequences. Is the door an escape or a trap? There’s only one way to find out. What lies behind the door? We don’t know
Daily Watch: mind-stretching short films throughout the working week.
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