Theresa May’s Betrayal – Bruges Group meeting 3 12 2018


Rt Hon. the Lord Lilley, PC

Parliamentarian and former Cabinet Member

Rt Hon. Sammy Wilson MP

Brexit Spokesman for the Democratic Unionist Party

Daniel Kawczynski MP

Member of the European Research Group

The  three speakers were all  good value : all promised to vote against May’s “deal”, all slated the “deal” , all debunked Project Fear. Yet something was missing. A t the end of the meeting I felt that enthusiastic, sincere and well informed  about  the detail  as they were  none of the three had a  coherent end game.  They all  seemed to be acting on the assumption that   winning a vote to get  rid of May’s “deal” was the end game. In short it was all a bit ritualistic, not exactly virtue signalling but first cousin to it  with the three MPs pushing all the cheer making buttons whilst dodging the really testing questions.

What was missing was a plausible  plan for removing  May  from Number 10 if she refused to go voluntarily  after losing the vote  on her deal”, stopping May if her “deal” did, unlikely as it now seems,win the approval of the Commons or  what to do if the vote on May’s “deal“  was lost  and May reigned or  lost a vote of confidence.

Nonetheless there were points of interest about the general situation.

Peter Lilley

Lilley was as usual first class  as a speaker. He concentrated on trade questions  rather than the political upheaval in the UK.

He favours a Canada plus deal and wants any money the UK pays to Brussels to be deponent on  a full blow trade deal between the UK and the EU being concluded.

Surprisingly Lilley claimed that behind the scenes both the Uk and the EU had made much more progress on trade deals and regulatory harmonisation  than might be apparent from the public idea of what was happening to prepare for the UK’s departure.

Lilley also poured cold water on the idea that lorries would be parked up waiting interminably to be checked manually – Lilley gave a figure of only 1% goods coming to the UK  from outside the EU requiring  physical checks. He could not see why any more would be required for goods from the EU after Brexit.    Lilley  also claimed that the French in particular were taking steps to ensure that the flow of goods across the Channel would not be impeded   unduly.

As for tariffs being imposed after the UK left,  ideally  Lilley   would abolish tariffs on goods the UK does  not produce. But  if this was not possible, he would be happy to trade on WTO terms because the tarries on UK goods going on the EU would be £5-6 billion pa while the tariffs on UK goods going to the EU would be £13 billion pa. Lilley also pointed out that world trade  outside the EU was  growing three times as  fast as  trade within the EU.

Finally, Lilley is  not troubled by the idea of leaving to trade on WTO terms and he described the WTO as “a safe haven “ The scare stories he dismissed and predicted that they would turn out to be another Millennium bug.

Sammy Wilson MP

Wilson  challenged the idea of  what constituted a hard border by pointing out that this could mean no more than checks on goods  and some additional administration , things which occurred now because  of  Northern Ireland and the RoI having different currencies and different rates of VAT .

Importantly, he  made no attempt to address the question of illegal human traffic between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.  In fact, this is a subject rarely addressed by any politician of whatever stamp . Nor does May’s withdrawal draft  treaty . May’s claim that her “deal” allows UK borders to be controlled is a simple nonsense because if there is no check on those moving from the RoI  into Northern Ireland  by definition there  can be no control of immigration because people can simply arrive in the RoI, move into Northern Ireland and then cross to the British mainland without let or hindrance.

As for the supposed problems with physical checking of goods, Wilson said that such checks did not have to made at the border but could be done through checks   made away from the border,  for example Trading Standards officers checking   goods after they had been delivered to the business which was the  purchaser.

Wilson  is convinced that the Irish border issue only existed because the EU wished to make things awkward for the UK.

Answering questions at the end of the meeting Wilson stated  without qualification that he would not  attempt to either overthrown May as PM or influence the choice of any successor PM.   His reason for this was that he felt it would be wrong for a party with ten seats (the DUP)  to interfere in the choice of leader  of a major party.  That was probably the most important thing said during the meeting.

Daniel Kawczynski MP

Kawczynski  was born in Poland and came here as a child when his family fled Communism.  He concentrated on the continental EU countries and what Brexit meant for them.

He compared the coming vote on May’s “deal”  as being on a par for importance with the 1940 Norway debate  which ended Neville Chamberlains’ premiership

As for Euroscepticism in the rest of the EU,  he said there was a good deal of it especially in countries such as Poland and Hungary .  But these countries were hamstrung because they had got rid of their currencies and were now  trapped in the Euro. Hence, their chances of a Brexit were much less than they would have been had they kept their own currency.

Because of the worries about following the UK’s example, Kawczynski said that it was very important that the UK did achieve Brexit because if it did not then the EU would become stronger and  Eurosceptic parties elsewhere in the EU would become disheartened by seeing how one of the major EU countries had been treated.

Kawczynski is concerned about the proposed EU army weakening NATO; sees the £39  billion promised by May to the EU as s simple bride and   views Russia as a serious threat.

Robert Henderson


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1 Response to Theresa May’s Betrayal – Bruges Group meeting 3 12 2018

  1. Adam Hiley says:

    May has to go at least if JRM or Boris took over We should leave the EU & hopefully the ECHR

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