The Brexit jigsaw

Deals with the European Union are known to be, “not a done deal” until the last minute.

by Victor Cherubim

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Internal Market Bill has cleared its first hurdle by 340 votes to 263, a majority of 77 in the House of Commons last evening 14 September 2020.

Five former Prime Ministers and 10 former Tory ministers are thought to back the idea of giving Parliament a final say on any overrides to the Withdrawal Agreement signed with the European Union.

But with a commanding majority in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson has hinted that the whip could be removed if the rebels don’t back down.

The key moments that have led to this Brexit saga

Brexit as many know is not just a storm in a teacup. It has had a long history. We all have known that this has been brewing for years, if not for decades. The defining moments in its history can be summed up as follows:

  1. The Maastricht Treaty or The Treaty on European Union of 7 February 1992 entered operation on 1 November 1993, was signed by the then Prime Minister, John Major, obtaining concessions to placate his rebels.
  2. The Black Wednesday,16 September 1992, saw Britain’s departure from the Fixed Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) of the European Monetary System. It had important consequences. The British Government was forced to withdraw the Pound Sterling from the ERM, after a failed attempt to keep the Pound above the lower currency exchange limit mandated by the ERM.
  3. The Lisbon Treaty of December 2007 signed on 13 December 2007 entered into force on 1 December 2009. It amended the Maastricht Treaty and the Treaty of Rome, called Treaty Establishing the European Community. It was thus not a new Constitution. But, Gordon Brown, the Labour Prime Minister surrenders Britain’s sovereignty, according to the Conservative rebels.
  4. On 1 February 2009, the European Debt crisis begins, first with the world realising that Greece could default on its debt. In three years, it escaladed into the potential for sovereign debt defaults from Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and Spain.
  5. The fear was a two-tier Europe with preferential treaties for euro members.
  6. In February 2016, David Cameron’s EU Reform deal fails, leading the way for Britain to vote Leave Europe on 23 June 2016.
  7. The rest is history, when Boris Johnson is voted in December 2019 with an overwhelming majority to negotiate a New Deal with Europe and leave on 31 December 2020 – Deal or No Deal.

Let me say with all humility that each of the above episodes have been witnessed by me during my long stay in Britain. I may recount this saga, more like pages and chapters in my understanding of the Brits and their way of life. I may even go on to state that unlike other nations, the Brits never give up. It is all because their lives are enshrouded in history. They unlike in Sri Lanka, do not have a written Constitution. Time is not a defined commodity, nor is history.

A whole new Brexit Battle

The whole saga is a high risk, high stakes game between Britain and Europe. Of course, the reality is not just the border issue of Northern Ireland, Britain, Ireland, and Europe. There is more to it than meets the eye. The controversial proposal to change the law as an “insurance” to ensure goods can move easily between the UK’s 4 Nation States, is one part of the argument. The other unexpressed part of this negotiation is the fact that there is a lot more wrong with the Withdrawal Agreement than the Border Issue of Northern Ireland.

What about the Trade Deal with the EU?

Deals with the European Union are known to be, “not a done deal” until the last minute.

Deals with the European Union are also known to be done not “by negotiation” but by “a meeting of minds” of Heads of State.

Will it be expediency rather than argument, that will resolve the issue of trade, is a matter of conjecture?

Post a Comment