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Brexit bind: Here are the reasons why we haven’t had a deal yet

There’s a Brexit deal on the table, but it looks increasingly unlikely that it will get through the House of Commons

Brexit bind: Here are the reasons why we haven't had a deal yet
Brexit bind: Here are the reasons why we haven’t had a deal yet

thejournal.ie|AIWA!The Bollocks To Brexit bus arrives in Dover as it tours around the UK. 14 December 2018.Source: PA Wire/PA Images

WE’RE JUST ABOUT three months away from 29 March, which is the legal deadline by which the UK must leave the European Union.

For the past two years, the UK has been hammering out the terms and conditions for leaving the economic, customs, trade and immigration agreement they have with the 27 other member states through being part of the European Union.

Although the EU and UK negotiating teams, the 27 EU leaders, and UK Prime Minister Theresa May have agreed to support the Brexit deal, there has been a growing backlash against the deal due to concerns that the backstop could lead to the UK being permanently locked into an indefinite customs deal, or Northern Ireland being carved off from Great Britain.

Unless there’s a dramatic change (of which we haven’t been short), the UK will be out of the European Union by 30 March 2019, deal or no deal.

Both sides have agreed that a no-deal scenario is the worst outcome for everyone, but since June this year, it’s become an increasingly likely outcome. Here’s why that is, and why the deal on the table looks so unfavourable.

It’s a worst-of-both-worlds Brexit

The proposal for a deal that they’ve achieved has been described as “Frankenstein’s monster”: a creation made partly through a bizarre experiment to see how far it could go, and captivates the attention of onlookers, agape at how things unfold as time goes on.

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, which only sets out the terms upon which the UK leaves the European Union, is seen as being too closely aligned to the EU by Brexiteers.


Nigel Farage speaks at a Leave Means Leave Save Brexit rally.Source: PA Wire/PA Images

The deal cuts off the free movement of people, which means that the UK wouldn’t be allowed access to the Single Market; disputes about EU law would go before the European Court of Justice; and the issue of fisheries, which has been called the UK’s strongest hand, is the only issue for which there has been no agreement.

Last week, Theresa May postponed the crucial House of Commons vote MPs have on her Brexit deal when it looked as though as many as 100 Tories would vote against her.

Two days later, 117 MPs voted to say they had no confidence in her as Tory leader.

Then there are the MPs who oppose Brexit altogether. They are starting to think that if they reject the deal in the House of Commons vote, their chances of getting a second referendum are higher.

Since the postponed vote, the UK media have been reporting that there are secret preparations for a second referendum, despite Theresa May’s public declarations that holding a second vote would do “irreparable damage” to the integrity British politics.

EU-UK tensions have soared

A breakdown in goodwill and trust between the UK and EU has also contributed to the Brexit deal stalemate we’re in now. There’s a lack of trust from both sides, whether justified or not, as is evidenced by the row over the backstop.

But that row has been going on for some time now.

After David Davis resigned as Brexit Secretary in July this year and Dominic Raab took his place, it seemed as though negotiations were put on firmer ground.

There were reports of chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier getting on better with Raab, press conferences together seemed warmer than with Davies.

Michel Barnier And Dominic Raab Press Conference - Brussels

Former Brexit Minister Dominic Raab and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in September.Source: Monasse Thierry/ANDBZ/ABACA

But in the run up to the Salzburg summit, things took a turn. That’s something both sides do agree on. 

Speaking to the Telegraph’s Brexit Podcast this month, Dominic Raab, said that he had been given political assurances that the backstop would be time limited, but that EU and UK officials began leading negotiations in the lead up to the Salzburg summit.When we got to September in the lead up to the Salzburg summit, [negotiations] frayed a little bit, because we were being led much more by officials. And there’s a huge role for officials… but I think as we got close to the Salzburg summit, and certainly after as we addressed and approached the October Council, I think it was very clear to me that we needed a political closure to this deal. We didn’t have that and I think it probably accounts for the failure at Salzburg. 

The summit at Salzburg was organised to discuss the Irish backstop (which hadn’t been agreed then), but ended up with EU leaders criticising Theresa May’s Chequers plan in a move that reportedly “blindsided” the Prime Minister, and culminated in her firing back with a statement from 10 Downing Street, saying that she expected to be treated with respect.

“The EU have played a good game,” Raab said on the podcast. “We haven’t been tough enough or clear enough. We could have won this backstop argument, even as late as July.” 

At the time of the summit, EU Council President Donald Tusk said something similar: “The UK stance presented just before and during the Salzburg meeting was surprisingly tough, and in fact uncompromising.”

What’s at the heart of Brexit?

On 23 June 2016, what did the 51% of people who voted for Brexit actually vote for?


29.10.18A Brexit timeline: How much time is actually left to strike a deal?

Was it increased sovereignty by limiting the rules and regulations of the EU, to limit immigration, or to “take back control” of its waters? Was it all three?

The most accurate answer is we’re not sure, but we can take a good guess, and that’s what MPs have been doing. The problem here arises when we hear MPs say that this Brexit deal doesn’t represent what people voted for – although that may be true, it’s not clear what the UK electorate did vote for on 23 June.


Boris Johnson given 24 hours to respond or face legal action over Brexit ‘lies’

Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, waves a Cornish Pasty during the first day of a nationwide bus tour to campaign for a so-called Brexit in Truro, U.K., on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. While online polls suggest the contest for the June 23 referendum is too close to call, less frequent telephone polling has put the "Remain" camp ahead. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images

|AIWA! NO!|Boris Johnson has been warned he has just hours to respond to claims he lied about the UK sending £350,000,000 a week to Brussels – or face prosecution.

The clock is ticking for the Vote Leave figurehead after a private prosecutor announced plans to take him to court over figures plastered over his big red bus. Marcus Ball said: ‘During the 2016 referendum I witnessed the disgusting demonstration of the depths to which our political professionals were willing to stoop.

 ‘I want to prevent conduct of that kind from becoming the normal political standard in UK politics. ‘I knew that if we could win a prosecution against such immoral and untrustworthy actions the precedent could make it illegal for them to occur in future.’

The former Foreign Secretary was notified on November 16 of the intention to bring a private court case over alleged misconduct in public office. Microwave, bricks and wheelie bins launched at ambulances in spate of violence He was given 28 days to reply and that deadline expires at the end of Friday December 14. So far Mr Johnson and his team have remained silent.

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US President Trump ‘Endorses’ Boris Johnson as Future Prime Minister

European politics must change if the left is to fend off the far – right “fake populists” who feed on people’s fear of low living standards and inse

European politics must change if the left is to fend off the far – right “fake populists” who feed on people’s fear of low living standards and inse

Donald Trump hailed Boris Johnson as a future prime minister, accused the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, of doing “a bad job” on terrorism

|Dan Sabbagh, The Guardian|AIWA! NO!|Donald Trump hailed Boris Johnson as a future prime minister, accused the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, of doing “a bad job” on terrorism and said there had been too much immigration in Europe in an incendiary interview that raised questions about the decision to invite him to Britain.

A day before the US president was due to have bilateral talks with Theresa May, Trump used an interview with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun to endorse her principal Tory rival just days after he resigned from the cabinet in protest at her Brexit policy.

Trump described Johnson as “a very talented guy” for whom he had “a lot of respect”. He claimed he was not trying to pit Johnson against his host, but added: “I am just saying I think he would be a great prime minister. I think he’s got what it takes.”

The president – who has said he would like to see Johnson during his UK trip– added that Johnson “obviously likes me, and says very good things about me. I was very saddened to see he was leaving government and I hope he goes back in at some point. I think he is a great representative for your country.”

Last month, a leaked recording of Johnson revealed that the former foreign secretary was “increasingly admiring of Donald Trump”. The Conservative MP said that Trump would negotiate Brexit “bloody hard”, adding: “There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”

Boris Johnson says he feels a deep sense of 'personal responsibility' for Brexit and Britain can do 'much better' than the PM's deal as he predicts May will suffer a big defeat on crunch vote

BORIS JOHNSON Leads A Cabal Of Chauvinists To Oust May By End Of Week

Prime minister’s former election guru behind plan to replace her with Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson says he feels a deep sense of ‘personal responsibility’ for Brexit and Britain can do ‘much better’ than the PM’s deal as he predicts May will suffer a big defeat on crunch vote

  • Boris Johnson became visibly emotional as he told of the responsibility he feels 
  • Said the UK can do better than the PM deal which he predicted will b
  • e defeated
  • He said the UK should tear up the hated backstop and renegotiate with the EU 
  • PM is in the political battle of her life to get her deal passed amid opposition

|KATE FERGUSON, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT FOR MAILONLINE|AIWA! NO!|Downing Street has uncovered a secret plot by Theresa May’s former election guru to oust the prime minister and replace her with Boris Johnson.

According to senior figures at Tory HQ, Sir Lynton Crosby is behind plans to mount a nationwide campaign against May’s Chequers agreement on Brexit as the precursor to a leadership challenge from the former foreign secretary.

Australian-born Crosby masterminded the Tories shock general election win in 2015, but “is said to be motivated by “revenge” after No 10 blamed the strategist for last year’s botched General Election”, reports the Mail on Sunday.

MPs plan to publish an alternative to May’s plan before the Tory party conference at the end of the month with the backing of both Johnson and David Davis, who resigned as Brexit secretary over Chequers and yesterday said he would vote against the deal in the Commons.

The Sunday Times has revealed that May’s aides have had talks with civil servants about whether to call a general election if her Brexit deal is voted down by MPs. They have also discussed whether she should announce that she will stand down in the year after Brexit.

But it is the revelation that the Tories’ top election strategist is trying to destroy May’s flagship policy that “will ignite a firestorm in Westminster” says the paper.

Crosby’s powerful campaign company CTF Partners is said to be in close contact with the European Research Group (ERG) of Brexit hardliners run by Jacob Rees-Mogg to coordinate with Change Britain, a group set up to argue for a hard Brexit, and turn it into a guerilla campaign against the Chequers deal.

The campaign would then double as a platform for Johnson – whose 2008 London mayoral victory was also masterminded by Crosby – to make a rival leadership bid.

For his part, Johnson, who has seen his popularity soar among Tory grassroots members resigning in protest at the prime minister’s proposal for Brexit, has denied plotting with Crosby to derail negotiations with Brussels and seize Downing Street.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed it would be published around 11.30am today with 'regret' after Theresa May (pictured in Downing Street yesterday) suffered an historic triple defeat in the Commons.

TORY’S Andrea Leadsom confirms May WILL publish final legal advice on her deal after historic triple defeat gave MPs the power to call for a second referendum or even a HALT to Brexit; ‘They will live to regret it’

  • Theresa May suffered historic triple defeat in the House of Commons last night
  • Commons leader confirmed the final legal advice on the deal would be released 
  • Andrea Leadsom said publishing the document set a dangerous preceden
  • May will be back at the Despatch Box at noon for PMQs after bruising defeats
  • Ministers hope another defeat by Tory Remain rebels could deter Brexiteers 
  • But another Leave MP Tory Mark Harper went public against the deal today
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed it would be published around 11.30am today with 'regret' after Theresa May (pictured in Downing Street yesterday) suffered an historic triple defeat in the Commons. 

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed it would be published around 11.30am today with ‘regret’ after Theresa May (pictured in Downing Street yesterday) suffered an historic triple defeat in the Commons.

TIM SCULTHORPE, DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR FOR MAILONLINE|AIWA! NO!|Mrs Leadsom  said ministers would follow the orders of Parliament but said it undermined ‘decades if not centuries of convention’.

Mrs Leadsom told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It was incredibly disappointing that the House of Commons decided to vote in effect to overturn what has been decades, if not centuries, of conventions whereby the law officer’s advice to Cabinet and to ministers are not even acknowledged, let alone published.What new powers do MPs now have? 

Tory rebels led by Dominic Grieve won a major new power for MPs last night.

If and when Theresa May’s deal is defeated next week, the Government is required by law to show a plan for what happens next to MPs and hold a vote within 21 days.

This was supposed to be unamendable and a simple statement of what the Prime Minister would do now.

But Mr Grieve and another 25 Tory MPs forced a change in last night’s vote.

The next steps motion can now be re-written, meaning a majority of MPs could call for a second referendum or even a total halt to Brexit.

MPs could also order ministers to pursue a Plan B Brexit based on Norway’s relationship with the EU – a deal much closer than Mrs May’s but which has cross party support. 

The instruction would not be legally binding but would have huge political power.  

‘The Attorney General had come to the House for two-and-a-half hours, which is also unprecedented in these many years, to answer questions to give his very best legal advice.

‘He published a 48-page document that outlined all of the legal impact of the Withdrawal Agreement, so the vote yesterday of the House to require the specific legal advice to Cabinet we will comply with, but not without some regret.’

Mrs Leadsom continued: ‘Going forward, not only will Government ministers be very careful about what they ask law officers to give advice on, but law officers themselves will be very reluctant to give any advice to Government that they might then see published on the front pages of the newspapers, so it’s the principle of the thing.

‘And frankly I think any parliamentarian who wants at some point in the future to be in Government is going to live to regret their vote last night.’ 

Mrs Leadsom said the impact of Mr Grieve’s amendment could make a no deal Brexit both more and less likely, depending on how MPs react.

She said MPs should vote for Mrs May’s deal because while it was not perfect was the ‘best combination we are going to get’.

Admitting she was unhappy with the Irish border backstop, she insisted it was also ‘not in the EU’s interest’ for Britain to be locked into it indefinitely.’  

Mrs May’s ailing hopes of winning the vote on Tuesday took another blow today as former chief whip Mark Harper (file image) joined the ranks of Tory MPs pledged to vote No 

Last night, Mrs May tried to keep her plan alive with a rousing speech to the Commons, in which she warned ‘Brexit could be stopped’ entirely if it is voted down on Tuesday.

She acknowledged criticism of her ‘compromise’ deal, but said: ‘We should not let the search for the perfect Brexit prevent a good Brexit that delivers for the British people.

‘And we should not contemplate a course that fails to respect the result of the referendum, because it would decimate the trust of millions of people in our politics for a generation.’

Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general, led the rebellion which could effectively takes a no-deal exit off the table.

He claimed it could lead to a second referendum, adding: ‘MPs are tonight starting the process of taking back control.’ 

Downing Street must now hope that the threat of Parliament blocking a no-deal Brexit convinces some Eurosceptic opponents of her deal to change their minds before the meaningful vote.

However, a number of high profile, and previously loyal, Tory MPs rebelled during the series of defeats last night – including Michael Fallon and Damian Green.

And in a clear indication that the Prime Minister’s ‘confidence and supply’ deal with the DUP is fractured beyond repair, the Northern Irish party warned her it did not fear another election.

Downing Street had hoped the threat of a general election would bring the DUP to heel, because it could bring the pro-Nationalist Jeremy Corbyn to power.

But the party voted against the Government last night, with Nigel Dodds, the party’s Westminster leader, telling Mrs May his party was ready to spark another poll. He added: ‘I’m certain we will be returned in greater numbers.’