How England subsidises the Celtic Fringe

This note provides information on levels of public spending per head in the countries and regions of the UK.

Download the full report

In 2018/19, public spending per person in the UK as a whole was £9,584. In England, it was £9,296 (3% below the UK average).  This compares with:

  • Scotland: £11,247 (17% above the UK average)
  • Wales: £10,656 (11% above the UK average)
  • Northern Ireland £11,590 (21% above the UK average).

Among the English regions, public spending per person was lowest in the South East and East Midlands at £8,601 (10% below the UK average) and highest in London at £10,425 (9% higher than the UK average).

Extrapolations  from the official figures

Scotland gets £1951 more than England per  capita

Scotland has a population of 5,438,100

£1951 x 5,438, 100 = £10,609,733, 100 more than Scotland  would get if their per capita Treasury funding was the same as England’s 
Wales gets  £1360 more than England per capita 
Wales has a population of 3,138, 600
£1360 x 3,138, 600   = £4,268,496,000 more than Wales  would get if their per capita funding was the same as England’s.
NI has £2,294 more than England per capita 
NI has a population of 1,881,600 
£2,294  X  1,881,600  =   £4,316,390,400 more than NI  would get if their per capita funding was the same as England’s.

Total of  the direct annual  English subsidy to the Celts £19.3 Billion approx 

The English subsidy to the Celts is considerably more for various reasons:
– the tax take of the Celtic Fringe is less per capita than England 
– The Barnett Formula 
-The large number of English public service jobs which have been exported to the Celtic Fringe. 
Posted in Devolution, Economics | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Escaping the  European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019.

Robert  Henderson  

The EU may  have  overreached themselves.  On  9th October the president of  the European parliament David Sassoli  suggested  that a n extension  under Article 50 should only be granted if  either a General Election  or  a second referendum  is  held during the extension period, viz:

 Mr Sassoli told the European Parliament: “I had a fruitful discussion with Speaker Bercow in which I set out my view that any request for an extension should allow the British people to give its views in a referendum or an election.”

‘France’s Europe Minister Amélie de Montchalin backed the plan and said: “If there are new elections or a new referendum, if there is a political shift leading us to believe we could have a different dialogue from the one we have today, then an extension can be discussed.”  ‘

If the EU  stick by the conditions  Sassoli wants to  see attached to an extension it raises the question of  what  exactly the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 can  force upon a Prime Minister .

The Act requires Mr Johnson to send  to the EU  this letter if there is no agreement between the UK and the EU:

“Dear Mr President,

The UK Parliament has passed the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. Its provisions now require Her Majesty’s Government to seek an extension of the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty, currently due to expire at 11.00pm GMT on 31 October 2019, until 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020.

I am writing therefore to inform the European Council that the United Kingdom is seeking a further extension to the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty. The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end at 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the Government proposes that the period should be terminated early.

Yours sincerely,

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”

Thus Mr  Johnson is certainly obligated to seek a simple  extension without conditions.  But there is nothing in the Act which obligates him to accept an offer of an extension with conditions for the question of conditions is not mentioned in the Act.

The   failure to mention conditions either generally or specifically  might well be sufficient to negate the need for Johnson to accept the offer of an extension which had conditions attached  such as those the EU had stipulated.    However, there  are  also the tests of irrationality and unreasonableness   in English law.

 Lord Greene MR said this in the Wednesbury case“If a  decision on a competent matter  is so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could ever have come to it, then the courts can interfere, and this kind of case would require something overwhelming. “

Lord Diplock in a case involving GCHQ :  said  this: “By ‘irrationality’ I mean what can by now be succinctly referred to as ‘Wednesbury unreasonableness’. This applies to a decision which is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question  to be decided could have arrived at”

The idea that Johnson (or any Prime Minister) have to accept whatever conditions the EU place on an extension is clearly unreasonable because the EU could ask for anything no matter how absurd,  for example, the EU  might  demand £100  billion as a condition for agreeing to  an extension or   stipulated that the extension period be for   years?   Both irrationality and unreasonableness would surely  apply in such  instances.

If the EU back  the   stipulation that an extension will  only be granted if there was a general election or a second  referendum  is objectively damaging to our democracy because it  is a gross interference with UK politics and is specifically designed to further the EU’s interests and not those of the UK .

 To obey the Act    Mr  Johnson is required to do no more than seek an extension.

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Slaying some Brexit Monsters

Slaying some Brexit Monsters

Robert Henderson

The island of Ireland  

Throughput the Brexit negotiations about  Ireland  ‘s position, both north  and south, the Irish tail has been wagging the British  dog.  This is both ridiculous and dangerous.  At best what is proposed – the Irish Backstop – would keep the UK effectively trapped in the EU   for years and at worst indefinitely?  There would be no end to Brexit wrangling.

How should the UK government have addressed to  Irish situation? The UK should have given the Republic of Ireland (RoI) this choice: leave the EU with the UK and retain free movement and tariff free access to the UK market or remain in the EU and lose the free movement and tariff free access to the UK market.

Almost certainly this would have  forced the RoI  to leave the EU with the UK because so much of their commerce is tied up with the UK.

It is worth noting that the RoI only entered  what was then the European Economicf Community (which they did at the same time as the UK) because the UK joined. Hence, there is a certain logic to it leaving with the UK .

If this  happens  the Irish  border problem disappears because there  would be no need for a border between Northern Ireland and the RoI either for reasons of trade or the movement of people between the UK and the RoI.  Moreover, the  Good Friday Agreement would remain intact and untroubled.

It would also mean that the RoI’s borders could be properly controlled. This  would  prevent the easy access of migrants to the RoI and  reduce the number who use the RoI as a jumping off point to get to the UK mainland.

Would the RoI be able to swallow such an agreement? Well, after more than 40 years the RoI  became a net contributor to the EU budget in 2016 . Moreover, their  net contribution could rise significantly once the UK’s contribution to EU finances is removed, perhaps by  400 million Euros a year..

Apart from the retention of the free movement and tariff free privileges with the EU, the RoI could also benefit by being included in any trade deals the UK struck.

It would also not be unreasonable for the  UK to also offer the RoI  financial help for a few years, say, £2 billion a year for 5 years.

EU citizens in the UK  and UK citizens in the EU

There are around  1 million British citizens in other EU countries and 3-4 million citizens of the  27 other states in the UK. Hence, even if equal rights and benefits were given to both British citizens in the other EU countries and EU citizens in the UK the UK would be a serious loser because of the disparity in numbers between the UK and the EU. .

But it will not  be equal rights and benefits because all EU law requires is for each EU member to treat each member from other EU states  as they would their own people. As the  majority of  EU states have inferior Welfare states to that of the UK  the UK will end up paying more directly and indirectly  on average to each individual member of other EU states than the other EU states will pay for each British citizen.

It is also worth noting as things stand British citizens living in other EU states will not be able to claim  any benefits to from any  state other than the one they are deemed to be resident in at the  time of Brexit. . For example, if you are resident in France you  will not be able  to go to any other EU state and claim benefits.

Nor does the disadvantage for the UK  end there. Those with a permanent right to  live in the UK will acquire reunion rights  in the UK for members of their families living in the other EU states.  As the disparity between the numbers of   UK   citizens residing in other EU countries and  EU citizens residing in the   UK is roughly in  the ration of 3:1,  there could be many more family reunions in the  UK than in the other EU countries.  Indeed,  citizens of other EU states could potentially  bring in several million people through the family reunion route.

What should the UK d have do to  escape this imbalance?  Refuse to agree to

(1) the right of family reunion.

(2) Set up a system similar to that which exists for healthcare for what might broadly be called welfare  (healthcare, benefits, education etc) whereby  the   UK will pay for the   UK  citizens receiving  provision in the  remaining EU states and the various EU states reimburse the UK for the costs incurred through the provision of welfare to citizens of the remaining  EU states.

Such a system would address the 3:1 difference between the number of EU migrants in the UK and the number of UK migrants in the remaining EU states. However, that would leave the difference in provision of welfare throughout the  EU. This could be  addressed by having a schedule of  welfare provision based on the least   generous welfare provision amongst the remaining EU states. This the UK would provide  for EU citizens but any thing beyond  this restricted provision would have to be paid for either by the member state from which a n EU migrant hailed or by the migrant themselves.

The final Danegeld  to the EU 

Since 1973 when the UK joined the then European Economic Community  Brussels in its various incarnations  has fed deeply on UK taxpayers’ money.and now expects the UK to pay a minimum of £39 billion as a leaving present.   This is outrageous.

A 2015  Vote Leave  estimated how much money the  UK has sent to Brussels using ONS figures at  more than half a trillion pounds. ( If each yea’rs  UK contribution to the EU had been put instead into a sovereign wealth fund and allowed compound interest to work its magic  God alone knows what  the value of the fund would be).

Presently the UK pays around £13 billion gross to the EU and receives around £4 billion back through the rebate.  That  means the UK contribution is around £9 billion a year. However, the UK cannot spend the  £4 billion  it receives back from Brussels as it wishes.  While we are in  EU  Brussels determines that.  After Brexit, the UK will be able  decide what to do with the entire gross contribution to the EU, either spend it or use it to reduce taxes.

As a final grab for UK taxpayers’ money the EU persuaded Theresa may to agree to pay the EU at least £39 billion  (and it could be more) as part of  the withdrawal deal she e agreed with the EU.

The economist  Andrew Lilico writing in the  Daily Telegraph suggested that the outstanding  bill for legitimate obligations  was much smaller than the £39 billion  (££7-9 billion)  because  (1) the UK has paid pro rat the  UK’s annual membership fee following the delay in March  (2), a  No Deal departure will end those payments  (3)  much of the  rest of the money allegedly owed is illegitimate because it  derives from post-Brexit expenditure from which the UK  derives no benefit. Lilico made this analogy:

“Suppose that you lived in Iceland, and whilst there you voted in Icelandic elections. You might have voted for the Icelandic government or against it, but in some sense you were part of choosing it.

“The Icelandic government made some spending commitments, which required taxes to fund. Fine — you were part of choosing the government so even if you voted against the measure you’ll still have to pay the tax. In the same way, although we in the UK might have sometimes agreed and sometimes disagreed with EU spending decisions, at the end of the day we were part of making them so we have to pay the taxes associated.

“But now suppose you leave Iceland to move to Peru, but then the Icelandic government came to you in Peru and said: “When you were a voter in Iceland, we decided to build a bridge. I know we haven’t started building it yet, but the decision was made when you lived in Iceland, so you owe us $2,000 in taxes.”

“What would you think? I think you would think: I’ve left Iceland. I won’t benefit from the bridge and I am no longer part of the collective “us”, the Icelandic people, that will benefit from the bridge either. So what has funding that bridge got to do with me? If my $2,000 is really so crucial to funding the bridge, perhaps they’d better cancel it now I’m gone? “

There are obligations  such as  EU pensions which might  at first glance seem to be  legitimate UK obligations  but there are complications even there. For example, would the UK only be liable for paying a proportion of  pensions paid to all  EU pensioners or just the British ones?  If it is all pensions  at the point of Brexit would this include pension built up before the UK joined the then EEC in 1973? What about uprating of pensions in the future?  Could the UK get stung for extra contributions even after Brexit?

The advantages of a  No Deal Brexit

Leaving with NO Deal means :

1.The UK immediately ceases to pay the gross annual membership fee of £13 billion or so net.

2 The UK can refuse to agree to any payment until a trade deal is agreed. This reverses the situation Theresa May put the UK in.

3. The UK can begin making trade deals throughout the world.

4. The EU will probably be anxious to make a trade deal with the UK because the balance of trade is so much in the EU’s favour.

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Is Boris Johnson walking into an EU trap?

Robert Henderson

The Daily Telegraph reports (3oth July) that Boris Johnson has said that the UK could stay in the customs union and single market for another two years.   This is potentially fatal for a true  Brexit.

Consider what Johnson is suggesting.:

He wants  the UK to be  to all intents and purposes a  part of the EU for another two years.

He has a tiny majority which is unlikely to  sustain his government for two years.

He is likely to have to call a general election before the two year period  is over either because his small majority  makes government impossible or as the consequence of a vote of No Confidence  being passed  which is not overturned by a vote of confidence within 14 days.

The Fixed Term Parliaments Act  muddies  the waters because it either requires two thirds of MPs to vote (that is  two thirds of the 651  seats not  just sitting MPs) .   Labour , SNP and other smaller parties  may not want have been demanding a General Election they would, both collectively or individually,  find it difficult to  vote against an election being called.

In any event the  Fixed Term Parliaments Act means the next General Election has to be held  on 5 May 2022 regardless of the wishes of the House of Commons.

If a General Election  is held there is no guarantee that it will return a  House of Commons which  gives the Tories  a clear majority. We might  find ourselves with  a remainder majority for Labour or a coalition of remainer parties.  such governments would be able to stitch the UK firmly  back into the EU without much difficulty for two reasons, (1)  operationally we would still effectively be in the EU (albeit but with a  loss of privileges) and (2) the at least one senior EU officer has suggested that  reinstating the UK’s membership could be done  without   too much bother.

The recently departed European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker  said this in January 2018:

“Once the British have left under Article 50 there is still Article 49 which allows a return to membership and I would like that. ”

“His suggestion came a day after European Council President Donald Tusk suggested he was open to a “change of heart” from the U.K. on Brexit.

‘Juncker backed him up later Tuesday, saying, “I hope that will be heard clearly in London,” according to the Independent.’

Article 49

Article 49 says this:

Any European State which respects the values referred to in Article 2 and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union. The

European Parliament and national Parliaments shall be notified of this application. The applicant State shall address its application to the Council, which shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after receiving the consent of the

European Parliament, which shall act by a majority of its component members. The conditions of eligibility agreed upon by the European Council shall be taken into account.

The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded which such admission entails shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State. This agreement shall be submitted for ratification by all the contracting States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

On the face of it Article 49 does not look las though reapplying for EU membership would be a shoo-in , but the fact that someone as  powerful as  Junker raised the possibility  and was backed up by  another powerful EU apparatchik in   Donald Tusk suggests that  re-joining it would be more or a less a formality . To that reasonable conclusion  can added the facts that both economically  and politically the EU gains from the UK  being within the EU.

Economically the EU gains from both the annual net Dangeld  (around £9 billion) taken from the UK by Brussels), continental EU ‘s massive balance of trade  advantage with the UK (£64billion) and the general advantage of having the fifth largest economy in the world (the UK) as part of the EU.

Politically the great advantage of keeping the  UK in the EU  (probably with  worse terms than we have at present) would be the disincentive it would create for any other EU member  thinking of leaving to leave.

The UK remaining in the EU would  have  other advantages. For example,  having not one but two permanent members of the UN  Security Council (the UK and France)   would be a loss of prestige for the EU and  would  scupper for the foreseeable future the EU’s desire to have a permanent  Security Council seat  for itself. The UK also has some still very handy armed forces and much of UK foreign development Aid  is channelled through EU not allocated directly by the UK. The EU has much to lose and nothing to gain if the UK leaves with no deal.

The reality is that No Deal is really the only certain way of getting out of the clutches of the EU. Embrace it not as an unfortunate way of leaving the EU but the only certain way of leaving the EU because anything short of it will allow the remainer rats to keep on gnawing away at our regained freedom.

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Adapting to different forms of cricket

The modern complaints about the difficulty of adapting to different forms of cricket does not stand up.
Cricketers have had to adjust far more dramatically in the past, for example, in 1973 county cricketers had to play
20 Championship matches
16 John Player league matches
Gillette Cup matches
Benson  and Hedges Cup matches

The Championship was played as a single league – this meant more traveling  than now.

The John Player was played as a single league. The games were 40 overs a side and bowlers runups were limited to 15 yards.

The Gillette Cup was played as a straightforward knock out  over 60 overs.

The Benson and Hedges cup was played on a regional group basis followed by a straight knockout format  competed for by the  winners of the regional groups. These games were played over 55 overs.

Apart from the different formats John Player League matches were played in the middle of Championship matches, normally the Sunday  of a 4 day double  bill.

There was little if any complaint about the difficulty of adjusting to different formats even when the JPL game was  played in the middle of a CC match.

The difference today is that players lack  the regular rigour of  first class cricket t to keep their techniques and mentalities  in shape.

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Stand fast must be the order of the day for Leavers

Robert Henderson

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which” .(The last sentence of  Orwell’s Animal Farm )

This is precisely where Brexit is heading.  The leave voting public look from leaver politician to  remain politician and increasingly find it difficult to distinguish between most of  them. This trait is exemplified by media reports which suggest some grubby deal is being cooked up whereby May agrees to resign as PM and the wavering leave politicians agree to vote for her agreement with the EU.

This trade off  fails to address the questions  of what May’s agreement contains, the likely behaviour of remainer politician and public servants if  May’s agreement  is accepted by Parliament  and the EU’s attitude to the UK   if May’s agreement is turned into a legally enforceable document.

May’s agreement leaves the UK in the hands of the EU.

The Spectator magazine  recently listed what they called the top 40 horrors of the agreement. Apart from the Irish Backstop, these include the following :

  1. May says her deal means the UK leaves the EU next March. The Withdrawal Agreement makes a mockery of this. “All references to Member States and competent authorities of Member States…shall be read as including the United Kingdom.” (Art 6)
  2. The European Court of Justice is decreed to be our highest court (Art. 86) both citizens and resident companies can use it.
  3. The UK will remain under the jurisdiction of the ECJ until eight years after the end of the transition period. (Article 158).
  4. The UK will still be bound by any future changes to EU law in which it will have no say, not to mention having to comply with current law. (Article 6(2))
  5. Any disputes under the Agreement will be decided by EU law only – perhaps the most dangerous provision of all. (Article 168) Arbitration will be governed by the existing procedural rules of the EU law – this is not arbitration as we would commonly understand it (i.e. between two independent parties). (Article 174)

These clauses of the agreement alone should make the agreement unacceptable to British politicians for they are the type of subordination required of a defeated enemy who has sued for peace.

The likely behaviour of remain politicians

The circumstances of a remainer  PM, a remainer dominated Cabinet and a remainer  dominated Parliament alone make it wildly improbable that  the  British Government  (of whatever complexion) after Theresa May’s agreement was  converted into a treaty will be any more robust in its dealing with the EU than May has been.  This is not merely a matter of weakness or inexperience by those calling the political shots in the  UK  Rather, it is the consequence of a remaner political elite which is determined to sabotage Brexit.

Nor  can we look to an early election to change matters. The House of Commons is probably 75% remainer. Hence, even if a General Election is held it is likely that a remainer  dominated Commons would be returned simply because it would require an almighty  and most unlikely throwing out of remainer  MPs.

The attitude of the EU

The  EU has given ample evidence since the Referendum that they  have no intention of treating the UK reasonably. Thieir behaviour has run the gamut of personal abuse to a rigid refusal to make any meaningful compromise with the UK or simply to accept the reality that the UK have voted to leave. The idea that they will behave more reasonably if the agreement made with May is enshrined into  a legally enforceable treaty is best described as ludicrous.

A taste  what the UK is likely to be confronted with if Parliament passes  May’s agreement  is demonstrated by the struggle which Switzerland is having with the EU.  They are meeting the same bone-headedly arrogant and unyielding EU attitude that the EU has presented to the UK since the Referendum, viz:

“All the terminology in this tiff will be uncomfortably familiar to the U.K. “Nothing is decided until everything is decided,” Commission officials say, and the Swiss can’t “cherry-pick” the benefits of the EU.. “

WTO terms is the only way to Brexit

All of these considerations make leaving to trade on  the WTO deal absolutely  necessary. Irreconcilable remainers have shown ever since the  Referendum that they were not willing to accept the result and are  demonstrating their resolution  in that intention  to prevent it happening as I write – a Sunday Express article   of 23 March  claims that the Government is already plotting to bind us fully back into the EU.  This is entirely plausible based on remainer behaviour since the Referendum.

Leaving under WTO terms serves two purposes : it is  the most efficient and rapid way of leaving  and is the most difficult for situation for   remainers to subvert because it immediately provides  a general trading framework.

The Irish Question

The Irish Backstop has not been made unnecessary or modified in any way.

If the  UK leaves to trade on WTO terms there will be no legal constraint , other than the WTO rules,   on  how the UK engages with the EU generally or the Republic of Ireland (RoI) specifically.  The UK government could offer the RoI a deal, namely,  to come out of the EU and retain the common travel area and frictionless trade between and with the UK or remain in the  EU and lose those advantages.

Given the RoI’s fervently  EU stance this might seem impossible at first glance but less so when the present circumstances are seriously considered.  The  RoI only joined the  EU (or EEC as it then was) because the UK joined.  They  did so for exactly the same reason s that it would make sense for the RoI to leave now, the large  amount of UK-RoI trade and the ability to  travel freely between the UK and Ireland.

To the trade argument can be added the fact that RoI  in 2016 moved  from being a net recipient of EU money to being a net contributor to the EU.  Their contribution in 2018 was more than £2 billion. With the UK leaving and removing a great wad of money from EU coffers  net contributors to future EU budgets will have to pay even more to make up for the loss of the UK’s contribution.

Of course leaving would raise the difficult  problem of the RoI  being in the Euro,  but the UK could  help the RoI to resurrect the Punt by lending financial assistance and perhaps even underwriting the Punt for a period.

If the RoI did leave the EU the Backstop problem would evaporate.

What happens if the RoI remains in the EU?  That would leave the EU not the UK with the problem of erecting a border between Northern Ireland and the RoI. The UK will not place  a physical border between the two so the only authority who could do so would be the EU.  Would they dare? I doubt it.

We desperately  need a modern law of treason

The UKL does not have a functioning Treason Law. It is sorely to be missed because without it what would have been called treason in most times in our history passes without any action being taken.

A recent  first rate example was Tony Blair advising major players within the EU how they should in effect thwart Brexit – see here and here . That amounts to treating with a foreign power without the authorisation of the Government.

A new treason law should make any attempt to assist a foreign power to the detriment of the UK treason.  That would cover much of the behaviour of irreconcilable remainers including politicians.

Such a law should not interfere with the normal democratic process. For example it would allow renainers to work for the UK to  rejoin the EU after the UK has left by making it the policy of a party and standing for election on that platform.   (That incidentally was the only democratically acceptable way for remainers to attempt to reverse Brexit, namely, let it take place and then try to reverse it in the way I have described).

The post-referendum position

The only reason Brexit is in such a mess is because  remainer politicians from Theresa May downwards have made  it  so.

The constitutional position is simple: by passing the Referendum Act Parliament contracted out the question of whether  the UK should remain in the EU or leave. Once the country voted to leave  Parliament (Lords and Commons) were obligated to put that decision into effect.

The referendum question was beautifully clear, senior politicians said publicly that the result of the vote would be  honoured by implementing it and after the vote the major parties promised in the 2017 election manifestoes  carried the same promise.  Parliament also agreed to the activation of the Article 50 procedure putting the UK on the leaving path. In short, there is absolutely no excuse for the grossly anti-democratic misbehaviour of  remainer politicians. They are not people acting in good faith to do what is best for the country. Rather they are  simply trying to enforce their will.

If Parliament passes May’s surrender document of a deal it will not only create great uncertainty,  but will also leave the UK securely attached to the EU, an attachment which will be  progressively tightened by a remainer dominated government and remainer dominated Parliament until within a few years the UK will be a de facto member of the EU . Like the animals in Animal Farm the uK  shall be indistinguishable from a full blown member of the EU.

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Speaker Bercow  may have  radically changed the rules of the Brexit game

Robert Henderson

Recently there has been a sense of resignation in the leave camp, a  feeling that we  were at the mercy of  our treacherous remainer politicians who appeared to hold all the best  cards because of their domination of Parliament. Singlehandedly the Speaker has changed the mood .

John Bercow’s  ruling (18 March) that May cannot put her deal with the EU to the Commons for a third time if it is “the same or substantially the same” .  This has undermined  utterly May’s entire strategy which is the democratically contemptible one of trying to force a thoroughly bad deal through by a war of attrition allied to Project Fear.

Even before Bercow spoke the situation was unsettled however much the remainers might have portrayed it as being a  clear choice between May’s deal   being passed by the Commons or May going off to the EU to ask for an extension (preferably a long one) which would allow the remainers more time to complete their sabotage of Brexit.

Nor, despite the remainers’ shrill, incessant claims, has a “no deal” departure been taken off the table. In fact a  “no deal” Brexit is  still the default position until and when  the 29 March date in the Withdrawal Act is amended.

Consequently, there was a  launching pad for greater resistance to the game May has been playing and the problems of dealing with a Remmainer dominated Parliament.  All that was needed was something to strike a serious blow at the status quo. Bercow provided that.

Before Bercow stated his position with regard to May’s deal, the Government had no inkling of what he was going to do before he spoke.   The very nasty shock he has administered has already born fruit. May has made a request  for the EU to sanction both a short  extension and a long extension,  The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has  replied  smartly  that she cannot have both. He also made it clear than an extension should not be taken for granted and that May must come to the EU with a firm plan of action to justify any extension of Artic  50.    She will  find this very difficult to formulate.

The implications of extensions to Article 50

If May does obtain  a long extension this at the least would mean  during  the extension the UK paying  even more money than the £39 billion Danegeld May has already offered to the  ERU  with nothing in return , continuing free movement,  being subject to  any new EU laws and regulations (including quite probability a transaction tax which would hit the UK hard because so much of our economy is services based) and coming under the jurisdiction of the ECJ.

Those sort of impositions might not only strengthen the resolve of Brexiteers but be too much for many remainers,  especially those with leave majorities. Moreover, it is important to understand that though the Commons has authorised May  to seek an extension  it will need a vote in Parliament before it is adopted as law, presumably by amending the Withdrawal Act.

If an extension is beyond the EU elections in June  the UK would have to hold elections for MEPs. That could well result in a phalanx of hard core  Brexiteers intent on making as much trouble as possible.  Neither the British remainer establishment nor the EU apparatchiks, elected or appointed, would welcome that.  Both or the EU alone might conclude that letting the UK leave without a deal was preferable and refuse an extension.

That leaves revoking Article 50 entirely.  The ECJ has ruled  that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 ) but I doubt whether Parliament would vote for that because individual remainer MPs in leave majority seats would be worried about losing their seats. . (Strictly speaking May could probably do it off her own bat using the Royal Prerogative, but I doubt whether even she would have the brass neck to do that. Moreover, in the new Parliament is  the executive power situation and mood I suspect that she would face and probably lose  a vote of no confidence if she did so)

On the EU side it would be rash to assume that an extension would be automatically granted. Each of the other 27 EU members have their own national axes to grind and it is possible that one or more might simply say no to along  extension.

Why May’s  Deal Does Not  Mean Leaving the EU.

Anyone who is under the illusion that May’s “deal”  is anything other than a a subordinating horror for the UK should read the  Spectator column The top 40 horrors  lurking in the small print of  Theresa May’s  Brexit deal and watch this excellent less than 4 minute summary of the content of  and the implications of  the  “deal” by the  Bruges Group.

Proroguing Parliament

The suggestion that  Parliament could be prorogued  and a new Parliamentary session started would hit the buffers of the Fixed Term Parliament Act.  This provides for five Parliamentary sessions  of 12 months. If the present session was ended  by proroguing Parliament that would mean the five year term would be shortened because the current Parliamentary Session would be reduced.  As things stand this would mean the end date of the Parliament would not be reached by the end of five Parliamentary sessions.

Short of voting for a General Election now,  to get round this problem either the  new  Parliamentary year would have to be lengthened  or the Commons would have to vote to amend the  Fixed Term Parliaments Ac to fit these distinctly peculiar circumstances.

If nothing is settled by 29th March

What is required now is as much disorder and confusion as possible amongst our political class to distract them from the  draining away of  the last ten days before the 29 March.

In the present complex and rapidly reshaping circumstances It is quite conceivable that  the UK may come to  and pass the 29th March with the withdrawal date intact. That would mean the UK has left the EU. There would be no legal way for  either our remainer politicians or the EU to re-establish UK membership simply by  passing retrospective legislation or by the making of Treaties.  The only way back would be for the UK to re-apply for membership of the EU. From scratch.

Brexiteers should not be unthinkingly optimistic, but the situation is undeniably considerably more favourable to the leave side than it was  on 17 March, not least because Bercow’s intervention has swept away much of the obfuscation and outright lying  which has tainted the Commons until now.

Of course it may be that there is a good deal  of playacting by Bercow,  the Government and the EU and come the crunch Bercow my  allow another vote on May’s deal, the Commons may vote for the deal and the EU will agree to a long  extension, but that scenario   looks a great deal less likely today that it did  48 hours ago.

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