MPs should not vote for Article 50 until they are sure what it means

If you give notice to your landlord or your employer, you trigger a process which, if you don’t do anything else, will leave you homeless or jobless after a given period. Furthermore, even if you do take some action, the decision is still partly in the hands of others. You need to find a house you like and a landlord that will let to you or a job you like and an employer that will have you. For this reason, most people don’t give notice to their landlords without having another home to go to or notice to their employers without having another job lined up. The only people who do are those who have enough money behind them to give them other options. Or those who are extremely reckless.

Something similar applies to the triggering of Article 50. As we understand it at the moment, once triggered, Article 50 is irrevocable. It sets in train a process at the end of which, if we don’t do anything else, the UK drops out of the EU with no trade deals. That really would not be a good place to be. As the CBI concluded:

Relying on WTO rules alone would not work for the UK. Any limited advantages are easily outweighed by the significant costs to the economy as a whole.

This isn’t Remainer scaremongering. If anything, the warnings from some in the Leave camp are even more blood-curdling. The disruption to trade in goods and services from tariffs and non-tariff barriers would be horrendous. Martin Stanley, a former civil servant, explains the impact of non-tariff barriers here.

[T]he growth of ‘just in time’ manufacturing means that many firms are still very concerned that their businesses on both sides of the UK/EU border might experience significant post-Brexit impediments and delays in ports and at customs posts. I understand that one major bank has estimated that – if the UK were to lose unfettered access to the Single Market – the consequential non-tariff barriers could impose a cost on exporters equivalent to a tariff of 10-15%.

Of course, it is in everyone’s interests to reach some sort of trade agreement before this happens. The other EU countries don’t want to see their trade disrupted any more than we do. However, while a failure to reach an agreement after 2 years would be damaging for the rest of the EU, it would be catastrophic for the UK. If, on 1 April 2019, there is no deal, the rest of the EU would still have its trade agreements with the other countries in place and most of its cross-border supply chains would be intact. The UK would leave with nothing. Not even independent WTO membership.

The ‘they need us more than we need them’ argument, often trotted out by Brexiters, doesn’t stack up either. When it comes to trade, size matters. As this chart from the Economist shows, the EU’s exports to the UK are a relatively small percentage of its total exports, whereas the UK’s exports to the EU account for around half its total. Tariffs would  therefore affect a relatively small proportion of France and Germany’s trade while they would hit a much larger proportion of ours.

20151017_src804

The consequences of a failure to reach a deal after two years would be much more damaging for the UK. The time pressure therefore puts us at a disadvantage. The closer it gets to the deadline, the more attractive even a bad deal will look when compared to the alternative. Being under time pressure in negotiations is never a good place to be. If counterparties know you need to do a deal by a certain time, they are more likely to hold out and wait for you to blink. Effectively, it will be the UK against 27 other countries and the clock.

The LSE’s Thomas Sampson spelt this out a couple of weeks ago:

Bargaining power affects the outcome of trade negotiations. Countries that have little bargaining power are less likely to achieve their objectives. Unfortunately, the UK is starting from a weaker position than the EU. Because UK-EU trade accounts for a much larger share of the UK’s economy than the EU’s economy, the UK needs a deal more than the EU does.

The weakness of the UK’s position is exacerbated by the two-year time limit on exit negotiations under Article 50. As the two-year limit approaches, the UK will become increasingly desperate to obtain an agreement. There are two steps that the UK should take to improve its bargaining position. First, delay triggering Article 50 until the government has decided its post-Brexit objectives and EU leaders are ready to start negotiations. Theresa May’s commitment to invoke Article 50 in early 2017 before the French and German elections weakens the UK’s position because the EU will not be able to participate in meaningful negotiations until after these elections.

Second, the UK’s immediate objective after invoking Article 50 should be to neutralise the two-year time limit by agreeing a transition arrangement to govern UK-EU trade relations during the period between when the UK leaves the EU and when a longer-term agreement is concluded. Returning to the principle that you only get what you give, the UK needs to decide what it is willing to offer the EU in return for a transition agreement.

Agreeing an interim solution before we start negotiations would remove the time pressure. If no agreement was reached after two years, the UK would leave the EU but stay in the single market until such time as a deal can be agreed. That would at least avoid the severe disruption to trade and give everyone a bit more time to think. This option has been advocated by, among others, the former permanent undersecretary at the FCO, the Adam Smith Institute, the Centre for European Reform and professors Damian Chalmers and Anand Menon. Most people who have been involved in trade negotiations don’t believe that the negotiations can be completed in 2 years anyway. Even the chancellor doesn’t. Surely an interim deal that lets us continue negotiations at a sensible pace would be better for everyone.

Negotiation theory 101 says you should be clear about your fallback position, or Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement (BATNA), before going into any negotiation. At the moment, the UK’s BATNA is WTO only, which would be a disaster. An interim agreement would give us a better fallback position. It would be very unwise to start the negotiations without one. The UK’s strongest card is that, at the moment, it has control over the timing of the exit process. Starting that process is not something we should be bounced into either by ideologically motivated Brexiters or by those in other EU countries who are keen to be rid of us.

Against this background, the Brexit policies of the opposition parties make no sense. Jo Maugham has written an excellent piece taking Labour’s incoherent stance apart. As he says, waving Article 50 through removes any chance parliament might have to influence the deal. Once Article 50 is triggered, John McDonnell can bang on all he likes about red lines and moral pressure but it won’t make a scrap of difference. The country’s fate will be in the hands of government negotiators and their EU counterparts. Parliament will be irrelevant.

Almost as illogical is the Liberal Democrats’ policy which seems to be to vote for Article 50 with the condition that the government agrees to a second referendum on the final deal. By then it will be too late. With the clock running down, the British people will be offered the choice between whatever is on the table and no deal at all. To go back to my housing analogy, that’s like giving notice to your landlord then saying to your family, ‘We’ve got 3 days left in this house. We can either take this hovel we have been offered or be out on the street. What do you reckon, folks?’

No, the time to put up a fight on the terms of Brexit is now. If MPs want to determine the shape of Britain’s exit from the EU, they need to do so before Article 50 is triggered.

Of course, it might be that Article 50 isn’t irrevocable after all. The Lisbon Treaty is deliberately vague. But this raises another question. If we understand so little about what Article 50 does, should MPs be voting for it at all? Shouldn’t they get legal clarification on what Article 50 actually means before they vote for it?

MPs have a duty to act in the national interest as well as considering what they believe their constituents’ wishes to be. That’s what representative democracy is about. Before triggering Article 50, they need to know three things:

  1. Whether or not Article 50 is revocable;
  2. That there is a fallback deal in place should the negotiations extend beyond 2 years;
  3. What the government’s starting position will be.

For MPs to vote for Article 50 without establishing these facts would be utterly reckless and a dereliction of duty. It would set the country on a highly uncertain and potentially dangerous course. History will judge them harshly if they do.

Update 

There’s a further problem. It’s not even clear whether trade negotiations can be run in parallel with negotiations about the UK’s exit from the EU. The EU trade commissioner has insisted that it is against EU law for any trade agreement to be negotiated until after the UK leaves the EU. All that can be negotiated in the two years following Article 50, she argues, is the terms of the divorce, the withdrawal agreement covering short-term issues such as the relocation of EU agencies based in the UK, the rights of EU and UK citizens and cross border security arrangements. (There’s a detailed discussion of the difference between the withdrawal agreement and the longer-term relationship agreement, which covers trade, in this Institute for Government paper.)

Under this scenario, the UK would have to leave the EU and default to WTO only terms before it could even started negotiating its trade relationships.

Not everyone agrees with this interpretation and certainly most of the public discussion about the negotiating period assumes that we will be conducting both the withdrawal agreement and the trade negotiations in parallel. David Davis insisted that we can run both negotiations in parallel, while also admitting that defaulting to the WTO only option would be a disaster.

Luis González García of Matrix Chambers says:

This is a rather strict interpretation of Article 50 of the TFEU. In my opinion, such an interpretation would be contrary to the purpose of Article 50. The broad reference to ‘framework’ should be interpreted broadly in a way which ensures future stable and predictable trade rules to the benefit of businesses, investors, citizens and consumers of the UK and the EU after the UK exit from the EU. This means that the UK and the EU should enter into parallel negotiations of a free trade agreement.

This legal analysis from Sussex University comes to a similar conclusion.

Article 50(2) TEU addresses the content of the withdrawal agreement. It is open-ended, stating that ‘the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with [the UK], setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.’ This does not preclude trade talks forming part of the Article 50 TEU withdrawal agreement or taking place in parallel. In practice, as Article 50 TEU has never been implemented before, legal debates about whether the UK faces restrictions in pursuing trade talks are highly politicised.

But the important point about all this is that it is yet another aspect of the withdrawal process that is not yet clear; another potential pitfall hidden in the fog of Article 50.

As Chatham House director Robin Niblett warned:

After invoking Article 50, UK negotiating leverage with the EU is greatly reduced.

The approach that would offer greatest certainty for all sides, therefore, would involve interlocking the Article 50 process of negotiating Britain’s withdrawal with the process of determining the framework for its new relationship with the EU. In fact, the government should not trigger Article 50 until EU governments have stated collectively that they will negotiate, in parallel, this framework and instructed the Commission accordingly. After all, Article 50 states that, “the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking into account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.

So, to the 3 questions I suggested above, we can now add a 4th. Before triggering Article 50, MPs need to know:

  1. Whether or not Article 50 is revocable;
  2. That there is a fallback deal in place should the negotiations extend beyond 2 years;
  3. What the government’s starting position will be;
  4. That the other EU governments have agreed to negotiate the withdrawal and future relationship agreements in parallel.

Without this clarity, voting to trigger Article 50 would be an act of sheer recklessness.

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38 Responses to MPs should not vote for Article 50 until they are sure what it means

  1. Iain Coleman says:

    The Lib Dems take the view that Article 50 is revocable. Their position is that, once a final deal is established, there should be a second referendum on whether to accept the deal, or revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU.

    • Rick says:

      Well maybe it is but they need to be clear about that before they vote on it.

      • eatlupins says:

        Agreed the process should be clarified, as if it is irrevocable we are in a very poor negotiating position and should sort out our strategy much clearer before we start. If it is revocable, they can do it under Royal Prerogative. Whether it is a second referendum or a vote in parliament on the final terms it will be a real decision. At the moment if the deal is rejected at the end of the 2 year period, we leave anyway – parliament at the moment will be in a Hobson’s choice position at the end of 2 years.

    • gunnerbear says:

      The LDs can f**k off….the public voted out…not for a second vote or anything else….OUT means OUT.

  2. Dave Timoney says:

    A more cunning government would have delegated responsibility for determining the goals and strategy of Brexit to those who triggered its necessity, i.e. the voters, arguing that an exceptional circumstance required an exceptional treatment.

    Such a democratic process would obviously take much longer than the 4 months available before Article 50 is due to be invoked, but it would have the advantage of identifying the popular BATNA and might even lead to a shift in opinion about leaving the EU if the requirement to work through the consequences opened a few more eyes to the downsides – i.e. asking people to specify their reserve price for economic loss might produce a different answer to a straight in or out.

    This approach would involve accepting that nothing should be debated in confidence, though that in itself would not be a hindrance. The point about the recent withering assessment of Johnson’s performance by other EU states is that there are no “unknowns” from the perspective of the 27. They can afford to be dismissive because they know our negotiators cannot pull a rabbit out of the hat.

    Instead, we have an administration caught between two stools: spooked by direct democracy and worried that Parliamentary scrutiny could invoke press-fuelled public anger.

  3. Robert Hughes says:

    This is an incisive piece.

    On revocability, there appears to be a structural problem, as follows:

    1) If the Supreme Court refers the question to the CJEU, the only authority capable of deciding it as a matter of law, it will do so only if it is necessary to decide the case. Logically, if it refers, an answer from the court in the context of the SC appeal that A50 is revocable must decide the case in favour of the government, which can then proceed to trigger A50 using prerogative powers. Or the CJEU may decide that A50 is not unilaterally revocable, in which case the claimants win and an Act of Parliament, presumably, is necessary for A50 to be triggered. The answer to the question, if asked by the SC, nessesarily must produce one of these two outcomes.

    2) If the Supreme Court does not refer the question, it may decide for the claimants on the grounds that even if revocable, it would not overcome the claimants’ case, or it may yet decide for the government on the grounds favoured by a plethora of commentators that the rights in question are not in fact enshrined in UK law and the prerogative applies regardless of loss of rights. The result would mean that we do not know if A50 is unilaterally revocable.

    In these available scenarios, no opportunity arises for Parliament, pre-A50 trigger, to insist on the subsequent negotiated deal to be put before it in a manner in which it can refuse to ratify it AND insist that the question of whether to leave or remain be re-opened. Instead, the deal will subsequently come before Parliament under CRAG2010 and Parliament may decide only whether the UK leaves the EU under its terms or instead leaves the EU without terms.

    As a matter of procedure, the only way in which Parliament could reserve for itself the right to decide whether to leave or remain in the EU (or to put the matter to the people by way of a 2nd referendum, implicitly wiping out any notion that the 1st one was in any sense determinative) within the legislation for triggering A50, is for both the question before the SC to have been decided in favour of the claimants AND the legal question of whether the A50 notice is revocable to have been decided in the affirmative by the CJEU. This cannot happen. It is logically impossible.

    Even if later on, the question of revocability can be brought before the CJEU by some other means, perhaps as a result of a private action, there is still no available scenario in which Parliament can, post an A50 trigger, control whether or not the UK leaves the EU if it does not like the negotiated deal. Indeed, it would be left with a choice between a bad deal as it sees it, or, presumably, a worse option of leaving the EU without one. It would have no practical choice other than to ratify the deal. If ever it is established that A50 may be unilaterally revoked as a matter of law, the power to revoke will reside with the government not with Parliament. As a matter of course, there are no procedural means by which Parliament can demand post the A50 trigger that the government withdraw the notice, even if a unilateral right to withdraw has been established.

    So, it follows that the sovereign power of Parliament in this matter, even if confirmed by the SC, will evaporate once A50 is triggered.

    Assuming for a moment that the SC rules for the claimants, it is clear what Parliament should do. It should not hold itself hostage to bad process. It should create a different process – withhold approval for the triggering of A50 a) until or unless the government obtains from the European Council an agreement that A50 may be revoked (the CJEU would not need to rule), b) the UK will be provided with sufficient time to put the negotiated deal democratically, to a 2nd in/out but binding referendum in accordance with its clarified “constitutional requirements”. Parliament can then safely vote to trigger Article 50 on this basis.

    There are further advantages here. Utilising this process, the government is saved from finding itself in a position where it becomes clear that leaving the EU is demonstrably the wrong course of action likely, perhaps, to lead to economic suicide, but either has no authority to prevent it or even if the authority is established, does not wish to avail itself of it for fear of humiliation.

    As it stands, the triggering of Article 50 IS the falling off of the cliff. There is simply no other way to interpret it. Parliament, even if empowered now will be neutered then. What is the point of Parliament establishing its right to assert its sovereignty over the claims of the prerogative only to vote meekly for surrendering it in a context that may put the country in peril? We must keep our options open. Presently, the range of available options is insufficient. We must complete it. If we cannot do so, then it is structurally unsafe ever to trigger Article 50.

    • gunnerbear says:

      I read your article and in it is a key whinging a***hole Remainac phrase…”to a 2nd in/out but binding referendum.” which tells me everything I need to know…..you only approve of democracy when it gives you the answer you want…..

      …well….we had the vote – we voted to Leave…that’s the end of the matter….we’re Leaving….no need for a second vote…we’re going.

      When we’ve left and you want to campaign to get the UK flooded with hordes of immigrants as we won’t be able to control our borders as EU member….go ahead….

      • youreatool says:

        Funny. Let’s leave right now and face a complete economic collapse!

        • gunnerbear says:

          Oh…..you mean the collapse a like the sort that was going to happen the moment we voted out….that sort of collapse? You know, when the Remainacs were screaming that the world would stop spinning and that the EU would stop trading with us and that the housing market would collapse and whatever other b*****t they could think up at the time.

      • Robert Hughes says:

        Why is it undemocratic to give the people an opportunity to consider the question of leaving or remaining in the light of events over time and with knowledge of the terms of an exit deal? I am arguing for more democracy not less.

        • gunnerbear says:

          No….you’re arguing for a second vote…and then presumably a third, fourth or a fifth vote if things aren’t ‘quite right’. I’d have more respect for your position and argument if you actually said, “No….we must remain in the EU…”.

          • Robert Hughes says:

            I’m arguing for a vote on the deal with an option to leave with that deal or to remain. And I am saying that the result of that vote should be binding. You presume I am asking for further votes. I am not. One vote, on the terms.

            I believe we should remain in the EU. But my view hardly matters much in the scheme of things. What matters is ensuring that the people have an opportunity to make an informed choice in the light of developments over the next months and possibly years before the act of leaving the EU actually takes place. Circumstances may change. It may become clear that leaving then on the terms offered is such a bad idea that people would wish to reconsider their judgments. Or perhaps they will decide that their original choices were correct. I am not afraid of their decision. To offer such a vote is democratic. Voting is democratic. Why do you wish to deny the people such a choice? What are you afraid the people may say?

            Your position is the undemocratic one. You fear that your current personal preference will not be one the people wish to embrace. But you want to impose it on them perhaps years from now.

  4. Reblogged this on oddrops and commented:
    ⭐️

  5. Andrew Wilson says:

    Excellent analysis that should be widely published. The whole issue revolves around the question of whether A50 is reversible. This is exactly what the Belfast High Court said in its judgement on the action brought in NI. It felt that it probably was reversible but that it would need the European Court of Justice to make the final call. Hence it is quite possible that the UK Supreme court will refer the appeal to the ECJ. How ironic.

    • Robert Hughes says:

      Andrew, I think you and I have been commenting under Times pieces. If so, your views on Brexit are sound, but, I think here you mis-state the core question around revocability. The key issue is not whether A50 is revocable. We know it is revocable, by agreement even if not by unilateral right. I argue (above), that there are no circumstances in which a legal ruling granting the UK a unilateral right to revoke A50 provides anything other than a government facility to withdraw notice – a de facto reinstatement of the prerogative.

      Indeed, if the SC refers the question to the CJEU and its answer is that A50 is unilaterally revocable, then the SC will be bound to rule for the government, (it will not refer the question unless the answer will determine its ruling) confirming that prerogative power may be utilised to trigger Article 50. In these circumstances, Parliament has no control. Yet, without a unilateral right to withdraw notice, which it can invoke, Parliament has no control of matters after the triggering of A50 anyway.

      There is little point in discussing the question of revocability unless we are considering the possibility of the U.K. deciding to remain in the EU – revocability provides a lifeboat we can climb into should the political and economic climate down the line indicate that we should remain in circumstances where the people would wish to do so, where either the negotiated deal with the EU or leaving the EU on no deal terms are unacceptable.

      And so, that key issue as I see it: How do we establish meaningfully and operatively a facility to revoke A50, which the people through Parliament and not the executive are able to control? The answer can only be found if the SC does not refer the question of revocability to the CJEU! A decision to refer the question to the CJEU, whatever answer is forthcoming, scuppers Parliament’s control. Strategically, and as a matter of necessary safety, it is essential that the legal question of revocability is not answered, the claimants prevail at the SC and Parliament makes it a condition of its permission to trigger A50 that the government obtains prior agreement with the European Council that A50 may be revoked and that the process to be followed is that the terms of our exit agreement are put back to the people in a second in/out referendum.

      This should not represent a problem – Firstly, Tusk has already stated that this process exists for us to avail ourselves of; secondly, putting the matter back to the people would, objectively, be a democratic decision, which even hard bitten leavers who claim to support democratic decision making would be unable to argue against without arguing against their own approach to decision making.

      Do read my piece above and let me have your thoughts. Perhaps you will spot a flaw in my argument.

  6. Toby B says:

    The UK does not have an individual WTO trading agreement in place. So if the two years are up, there are no interim trading arrangements, and the nation has decided to rely on the WTO and hubris for survival, there will only be hubris.

  7. gunnerbear says:

    All this b******t from the Remainers about legalities and the like – I didn’t hear any such spiel coming out of your mouths when we Leavers were saying that the Maastricht Treaty (let along Lisbon) should have been voted on in a referendum…..you remember Lisbon don’t you…..when Gordon the Ungreat was so ashamed of what he was doing he tried to hide it from the Great British Public.

    ….we’re leaving….the end.

    • mygodwhatatotalanduttertool says:

      Quite riled about all this aren’t you. Don’t worry odds are you’ll still get your stagflation.

    • rich says:

      It’s amusing watching the desperation of this anonymous Brexiteer and others like them. What’s the reasoning behind these barely coherent rants? I suspect they may be worried that the older people who mainly voted for this are dying off and their slim majority may soon turn into a minority.

      • Nooneelse says:

        Unfortunately, Brexiteers never use reasoning – at least not on the many sites where I have seen their comments. And I do mean “unfortunately”, because it would help us all if they would explain their reasons for believing that leaving the EU will not cause severe damage to the economy over a very long period. If we could be convinced by their reasons, those of us who at present hold a different view would be less fearful of the future. The fact that reasons are never given inevitably leads us to suspect that there aren’t any.

        • Dipper says:

          I’ve given my reasons a few times. the latest one is the lengthier comment here

          https://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/enough-of-this-will-of-the-people-nonsense/

          so feel free to discuss.

          I’m not convinced that gunnerbear is actually a Leaver. I suspect he/she may be a Remainer/agnostic having some fun.

          • gunnerbear says:

            No…I want the UK out of the EU.

          • Keith says:

            The UK is in Europe however you define it and always has been and off course will be even if it, or parts of it, leave the EU. It takes millions of years for continents to move apart and none of us will be around to see it happen!

            The idea of splendid isolation arose from our temporary position as a world power and empire based on the power of the British navy. All this is over. Even with the Empire and the Navy the UK was forced to join in European Wars in 1914 and 1939. Britain could not stand aloof it only believed it could. By the start of the twentieth century the Cabinet had decided to actively allie the UK to France. Much more able people than say Boris Johnson or the other Brexit politicians concluded that it was unavoidable for the UK to adopt a view on who was to run the European continent and only making military commitments to our new allies would enable the UK to have influence. For most of British and most importantly English and Scottish history it was obvious that it was impossible to avoid involvement in European affairs. Other countries aimed to influence political events in England and scotland while the English and Scottish states did the same, most of france was claimed by the English ruling house as part of their feudal rights! In 1688 the Parliamentary factions imported a Dutchman to run the show for example during The Glorious Revolution. The UK today and tomorrow just as in the past will be exposed to economic and political influence from other European states. The EU just gives a formal legal frame work to this and giving up one frame will not change the realities of Power and trade and geography.

            So that is my answer to your contribution. History is taught as a national story or “narrative” as they say on academic websites but this narrative tends to hide the fact that every nation has been shaped by its relationship to other nations or tribes and empires for thousands of years. Every group of people feel they and their history are special but actually that is just an illusion. Comforting stories to justify our current policy choice.

          • Dipper says:

            for Keith 10:58pm

            The UK has always been half in and half out of Europe. In when it is convenient to Europe and the UK, out when it isn’t convenient to have us in. Leaver are for the most part well aware of this and expect it to continue.

            I keep returning tho this particular bombshell http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/structural_reforms/ageing/demography/index_en.htm. A UK population of 80M by 2050/2060. An increase of 16M from 2013. This is in marked contrast to the rest of the EU which is population flat, and Germany which is 10M down. About half of this increase is migration, and it would make the UK the largest country by population in the EU.

            I’ve never heard a Remainer politician seriously address this massive increase. To me, this increase seems unnecessary and unwelcome. Furthermore I would expect leaving the EU to reduce this growth considerably and consequently see a reduced total GDP, so economists forecasting reduced overall GDP are simply stating the obvious. I haven’t seen the projections of GDP per person, and why these haven’t been produced when it is obviously the relevant number seems to me to say a lot about nature of “Remainer” contributions to the debate. Remainers seem happy attacking straw men, producing dire forecasts and saying This Is Going To Be Really Bad, rather than addressing any of the actual issues.

          • Rick says:

            Page 12 pf the OBR report. Per capita GDP forecast cut despite lower immigration forecast. In other words, fewer people than we thought but still lower per capita GDP. http://cdn.budgetresponsibility.org.uk/Nov2016EFO.pdf

        • gunnerbear says:

          Why should leaving the EU cause massive economic damage to the UK? It is more than possible that the UK could join the EEA use Art. 112 and continue to trade with the EU and also control immigration and set up trade deals with other nations.

          After all, the EU has already made it clear in its treaty with the EEA, that the EU doesn’t consider immigration a ‘red line’ that can never be crossed or….or rubbed out….

          …of course some Remainers make the argument that the moment we leave the EU, the EU will stop trading with us….forgetting that the EU is comprised of 27 nations that will all have their own plans for trade with the UK….

        • Keith says:

          The problem of brexit arises I think from the fact those who are fanatical for it have unrealistic ideas about the UK position in the world and the nature of trade relationships. The need to compromise with other counties and get a quid quo pro means that leaving the EU if it has any economic upside, the upside will be minimal. Quite possibly the results will be severely bad for trade and hence growth. Irrational hatred of foreigners and nostalgia for the good old days explains a lot of it. Whipped up by an irresponsible press run by unaccountable billionaires. Not a good way to decide important issues.

          • Dipper says:

            This is just a straw man argument. Most of the post-referendum polls showed people voted for reasons of democracy and governance.

            Wanting to control immigration is not an irrational hatred of foreigners. No serious politician is calling for completely uncontrolled immigration. the EU has strict immigration controls itself, so there is no ‘morally right’ side of that particular argument.

            You may think the referendum is a bad way of deciding important issues. I may agree with you. However parliament disagreed by a majority of 6:1.

    • jm says:

      Put your future in the hands of one person, mrs May, If your future turns out not quite so golden so be it. I would prefer scrutiny, by intelligent people, not the media and my future decided by concensus and not by a dictator.

    • JohnM says:

      You seem to be becoming more shrill as time goes by. Have you taken the correct meds today?
      Out doesn’t mean “out”.
      Irrespective of in/out/shake-it-all-about, we will still be trading within the EU, and so will be bound by similar rules/regs for the rest of time; probably.
      You, however, are shortly to have a coronary/stroke if you do not take your BP control meds.

  8. Tonaut Brom says:

    As I understand it, the Lib Dems’ proposal is for the alternative to the Government’s negotiated position is to simply remain in the EU. That would of course mean that the EU would need to accept the withdrawal of Article 50.

  9. Mark Murray says:

    “The approach that would offer greatest certainty for all sides, therefore, would involve interlocking the Article 50 process of negotiating Britain’s withdrawal with the process of determining the framework for its new relationship with the EU. In fact, the government should not trigger Article 50 until EU governments have stated collectively that they will negotiate, in parallel, this framework and instructed the Commission accordingly.”

    There’s nothing to prevent the EU27 from giving this commitment, then changing their stance after Article 50 has been triggered and deciding to only negotiate a withdrawal agreement that doesn’t touch on the relationship between the EU and the UK after the UK has left.

    • JohnM says:

      Hopefully they’ll get fed-up with all the petty ego-rants (ers) and lose patience. A resounding 27-sided FUCK OFF will then echo from the EU rooftops, followed by the clang of shutters falling, and the rattle of tanks heading for the coast. Seriously…I look at the way things are and wonder….sanity seems in short supply. We have one aircraft carrier. No planes for it. So we buy planes. The planes we buy are so expensive that a full complement of them cost more than the carrier. Their life in conflict is an estimated 14 minutes with an equal foe.
      Sanity: Not. Much. About.

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