The BREXIT Bulletin: They should have seen this coming...
So we finally have the Political Declaration that is to sit alongside the bindingWithdrawal Agreement.
Since the publication of the latter on 14 November, its inherent tensions from a UK perspective have been written large across traditional and social media, not to mention in pubs, coffee shops and working men’s clubs across the country.
The UK Government has been made to accept a ‘backstop’ solution to Northern Ireland that, in the rather likely event that no magical solution can be found outside of the Customs Union and Single Market to avoid a ‘hard’ border, the UK will be bound as a whole to a “single customs territory”, whilst Northern Ireland could end up diverging from a regulatory perspective from the mainland.
Such a situation, which in effect leaves the UK as a rule-taker, unable to pursue an independent trade policy and induced to voluntarily align with EU regulation, is a situation that fails to appeal across the Leave/Remain spectrum.
Crying foul, however, isn’t really an option. Casual engagement with the Brexit subject matter pointed to the above outlined contours of the deal, not just from the commencement of the negotiations, but as a result of the nature of the EU’s legal order.
Engagement of more than just a casual nature is expected of politicians. If they scrutinise issues properly, surely they would have identified the trade-offs and seen all this coming.
Perhaps the greatest example of this can be found in the UK Government’s intention to use the Political Declaration as a massive PR exercise to sell the Withdrawal Agreement. It is hard to see how the text satisfies this objective.
Brexiteers will no doubt be satisfied with the direction of travel towards a future relationship underpinned by a free trade agreement. However, it is equally clear that such a scenario does not point towards a relationship that avoids the ‘backstop’ from coming into operation. The intended direction of travel hardly matters if there is no likelihood of ever reaching the destination.
If the Prime Minister was relying on the Political Declaration to secure the House of Commons' approval for the Withdrawal Agreement, then it is virtually impossible to see how she will secure a majority.
With the EU-27 in no mood to renegotiate, it is the odds of a ‘no-deal’ or 'no Brexit at all' that have increased as a result of the recent flurry of Brexit activity.
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The view from Spain