Where are we on the road to Brexit?

It has been a slow process so far, thanks to the delay imposed by the courts over sending the Article 50 letter.

There were always four tasks to complete for exit after the referendum decision. We have now completed the first two.

We have sent a formal notification to leave. This fulfils all the Treaty requirements to leave, and has a date of 29 March 2019 for our departure. It means our departure is valid in international law.

We have now passed legislation to ensure the UK Parliament and courts take back control the day we leave the EU. This also ensures legal continuity, providing that all current EU law remains in force as UK law on exit day, which had to be that same 29 March 2019 date.

We now need to see if there is a deal concerning our future relationship that the government thinks is worthwhile. The EU wishes us to sign a Withdrawal Agreement, but this is not a legal requirement of the Treaty and would presumably only occur if the UK government is satisfied that its terms are reasonable and it is complemented by a good future relationship agreement.

The final act will be Parliament’s decision as to whether we should accept the government’s deal and implement that in UK law, or whether we should leave without a deal.

Some have sought to turn the Parliamentary decision on the final deal into a vote between the deal and not leaving the EU, rather than a vote on whether to leave with or without the deal on offer. This was the underlying agenda to the arguments about a “meaningful vote”. It was finally wisely agreed not to put instructions to Parliament on how we should proceed after the deal has or has not been concluded into law.

It is difficult to understand why some want Parliament to be able to veto Brexit at the end of the process. After all the referendum decision was made by the people, and the Parliament voted overwhelmingly to leave when it voted for the Article 50 letter to be sent. The UK would be in an exceptionally weak or absurd position if Parliament vetoed the deal on offer and vetoed leaving without a deal. Why would the EU want to improve its offer in those circumstances? And how and why would the EU take the UK back into membership on current terms?

The anti Brexit forces claim to be new champions of Parliamentary sovereignty after all those years when they were busy giving it away to Brussels. They have to accept that Parliament has decided to leave and made that clear when it sent the letter. They also need to remember that 3 times now the Commons has voted by large majorities against staying in the single market and customs union. A mature sovereign body has to recognise when it has made a decision.

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46 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Yes we are getting there, but what a bloody shambles politicians have made of it, when they have spent so very many months arguing of the meaning of a single word like leave.

    Do those who have tried to frustrate what should have been a simple process, not realise how utterly stupid they have been, and have made themselves look, first voting one way to leave (enacting Article 50) but then voting to try and remain in all but name.

    Time now for Mrs May to get on with some real and proper bargaining with the EU, with no more pussy footing around, they either want free trade and co-operation without tariffs, or they do not.
    We need to know soon, so plans can be made.

    Our default position should be made absolutely clear to all concerned (including our own politicians), its WTO terms, unless they want free trade without tariffs.

    The time has come to run our own Country again.

    • Paul Cohen
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 6:02 am | Permalink

      Hear.hear! Just do it or leave the stage !!

      • Timaction
        Posted June 22, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Spot on. Definitely time to deliver or get out!!

    • gregory martin
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      Absolutely spot-on Alan,
      Its done, no more fudging about!

  2. Mark B
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    Whatever those in the HoC think or feel about the EU and / or BREXIT they need to be reminded why they are there and who put them there – We the people. They are there to represent us, nor the EU or special interest groups.

    • old salt
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Mark B
      So we are told!

  3. Leslie Singleton
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Dear John–Why couldn’t a child’s explanation of the difference between Parliament and the Government have sufficed to blow the forces of evil away? I had thought there were procedures for getting rid of a Government if that were what one was tring to do. A vote on anything, by no means just Brexit, right at the end by Parliament is just plain daft. I’m no expert but smacks of unconstitutionality if there is such a word.

  4. oldtimer
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Parliament came perilously close to voting itself unfit for purpose the other day. It is now obvious that there has been a sustained, organised campaign to frustrate the Brexit decision from the moment the referendum result was announced. It started with Cameron’s resignation on the Saturday and the Court challenge which was made on the following Monday. It will continue with more forecasts of gloom and doom as the government pursues it’s negotiations. It will need to raise its game to achieve a satisfactory outcome. At present all that is obviously on the table is a bad deal.

  5. Roy Grainger
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    “The EU wishes us to sign a Withdrawal Agreement, but this is not a legal requirement of the Treaty and would presumably only occur if the UK government is satisfied that its terms are reasonable and it is complemented by a good future relationship agreement.”

    The word “presumably” very significant there. I imagine May will sign this agreement anyway, thus guaranteeing the EU their exit payment, and then the EU will play hardball on trade.

    • Ian wragg
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      Verdstoft? now wants us to sign an association agreement. This presumably is a treaty document which will no doubt be open ended and keep us enmeshed in the corrupt EU until a compliant government opts for re entry.
      I don’t see the point of a Withdrawal document which will only confirm our payments and rights of EU nationals but say nothing on our trading arrangements.
      No deal. No documents and certainly NO PAYING.

    • Peter
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Roy,

      Agreed. If there is a wrong way to go about negotiations May will always take it. The only question is whether she does this through sheer stupidity, or as a clever way of tying the country to the EU.

      She could try to sneak it through without fanfare.

      • miami.mode
        Posted June 22, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        Peter, on that basis she might as well sign it in Versailles or Compiegne.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 22, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        She seems unable to recognise bad advice for what it is.

    • Peter
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      “It was finally wisely agreed not to put instructions to Parliament on how we should proceed after the deal has or has not been concluded into law.”

      But she gave rabid Remainer Bercow the opportunity to throw a spanner in the works…..

  6. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    I think everyone will be cracking open some kind of bubbly when the deal is finally done. It has been a very long winded process thanks to the remainders wanting to sabotage the vote at every stage. If Mrs May can keep her cool and only agree a deal which involves handing over no vast sums of money and bring able to trade freely with the rest of the world and the EU without FOM and in control if fisheries etc then she just might get the respect of the voters again. We want to see a strong hand being played from now on and we want our country back.

    • NickC
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Fedupsoutherner, It is getting too late to still believe that Mrs May will keep her cool and only agree a good deal. The evidence shows that her default is capitulation to the EU. We needed a Mrs Thatcher, a Mr Trump, or even a Nigel Farage.

      What we’ve got so far is a Remain mess courtesy of Jeremy Corbyn playing party politics, and fanatical Remains such as Viscount Hailsham, Tony Blair, and Olly Robbins.

  7. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    We’re stuck at the Irish border, but the blockage is psychological rather than physical.

    All we have to do is tell the EU a) that whatever happens we will be making no changes at all at that border, we will leave it exactly as it is now, and b) if it turns out that we need to collect customs duties then we will do that away from the border, and c) we will address their understandable concerns about the integrity of their Single Market by being good neighbours and passing and rigorously enforcing a new UK law to forbid the export to the EU of any goods which the EU informs us are unacceptable under their law.

    And of their response is that they don’t believe in countries being good neighbours, and they would never trust us to implement export controls to keep their Single Market free from contraband items such as “chlorinated chicken” – even though at present they trust us to implement import controls to keep the UK free from such items – then they can go ahead and build their Berlin Wall on their side of the border.

    We will have made a perfectly reasonable offer, the offer of a new system akin to that which works well at the open border between Switzerland and Lichtenstein, and if they choose to spurn it then the world will know who is being stupid and spiteful.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Perfectly reasonable, and the government would have a fair wind behind it if it acted like this. The fact that they don’t shows us that they’re not acting for us, but against us.

    • NickC
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Denis Cooper, Your four principles are excellent. Perhaps JR can put them to the government in a Parliamentary question?

    • mancunius
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      All we have to do is tell the EU a) that whatever happens we will be making no changes at all at that border…”
      Rees-Mogg told Verhofstadt precisely that (‘in the case of no deal’) at the Wednesday 9.30am Exiting the EU Parliamentary Committee hearing, and asked him whether, in that case, the EU would instruct the RoI to build a border.
      R-M had to repeat the question several times, as each time V could not (or would not) grasp the simple concept, first blustering that the UK had already agreed ‘the backstop’ and then ‘of course in that [no-deal] case there would be a border’ – but he looked helplessly nonplussed as R-M, gently smiling, pressed home the point that the EU would need to order the RoI to build a border, as the UK would refuse to do so.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 23, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

        I think it is a pity that you have decided to vaporise my reply to mancunius, JR, because it is a crucial point that if we do end up with checks on the Irish border it will not be our fault, most likely they will be EU checks on their side because the EU has obstinately insisted on checks for ideological rather than any valid practical reasons. So those propaganda photos of stern faced uniformed men standing by signs saying “British customs” will be wrong, the signs should be saying “EU Customs”. By their own argument the EU is willing to risk a return to terrorism because “The rules are the rules and cannot be changed”.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    It has been a slow process so far because Cameron, Hammond and the bureaucrats abjectly failed to prepare for a Brexit outcome and failed to deliver the section 50 letter on 24th June 2016 as he promised. Had they done so we would be leaving in two days time. We would be in a far better position. We would also be in a far better position with some proper pro Brexit leadership rather than the current idiotic socialists we have in charge. With their gender pay gap and upskirting obsessions!

    Not to prepare for both (fairly equally likely) outcomes was gross negligence and charges should have followed. A general or ship’s captain who showed such negligence would surely be locked up for gross negligence. They we being paid to do a job and that included sensible preparation for either outcome of the referendum they called.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      Sorry I meant Cameron, Osborne and the bureaucrats abjectly failed to prepare ….

  9. Andy
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Brexit is like a real life version of One Foot In The Grave.

    The EU is the bemused neighbour.

    Remainers are the long suffering wife.

    And Brexiteers are Victor Meldrew. The ranting irrational old codger.

    Seriously – you all need to embrace reality.

    Your Brexit is not going well. And it is not going well because it is incoherent.

    If you want Brexit to succeed you need to stop with the fantasy unicorn stuff.

    • DaveM
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Whoop! There it is!

      Was worrying that the broken record had broken altogether.

    • libertarian
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Says Andy, who so far has got every reality based fact wrong

      Let me know if you would like my help sorting out your business , genuinely I’m very happy to help

      • hans christian ivers
        Posted June 23, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        pompous and out of control again

    • NickC
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Andy, There is nothing incoherent about being independent of the EU: most of the world is.

  10. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    It all makes us look stupid and weak.
    It’s at least partly a result of the EU crutch being in place for the past 40 something years.
    That was reason enough to vote Leave, to get some strength back into our muscles and governance structures.

  11. Eh?
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    “Where are we on the road to Brexit?”

    Well we had TWO years of travel to Brexit on 23rd June 2016.
    Now we have TWO and THREE-QUARTER years.
    The Remoaner road makers in Cabinet must be on bonus and piece-work.

  12. stred
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Any progress on finding out whether Mrs May is actually preparing for a no deal and installing the tracking sytsems for British and French customs at Channel ports? These will be necessary whether we have a deal or no deal, as we will be a third country. If we are not ready, there can only be a very bad deal offered by our ‘friends’ and the plot is to offer a second referendum to chose between rejoining or capitulating to the ‘friends’.

    Why not write here offering any loyal customs officers a strictly confidential opportunity to let yourself and other trustworthy MPs know what is going on, or is not, and who is giving the instruction to weaken our position by delay? If there has been misleading information or deliberate plotting then heads should roll.

  13. NigelR
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    As you say there’s no need to sign a withdrawl agreement we should just leave..all negotiations should come to a stop now and on the 29th march that will be it..

    The people voted to leave only we did not vote to leave and then to make a deal

  14. Adam
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Anti-Brexit is similar to anti-British.

  15. Gp Capt Shootfoot
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Remoaner MPs continue their opposition to Brexit , actively. Despite all the votes voting them down nationwide and in Parliament, indeed the most recent ones. Of course Brexit also features positively in Tory and Labour Party Manifestos.

    So, since they cannot even hope and pray for a democratic decision in their favour from anywhere at all, in the country nor in Parliament,
    then are they planning

    a military coup?

  16. Ed Mahony
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Without God, politicians are nothing more than surgeons with sticky plaster (and easily able to mess things up) – but with God, politicians then become highly effective surgeons in what they do (the Bible is v. clear at this, just look at Vizier Joseph of Egypt (and we ALL do – equally – in whatever field of human activity we’re in)

  17. Simon
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    You like Theresa May are still peddling a complete myth or a lie as I like to call it. The lie is that by the time Parliament comes to consider the Withdrawal Agreement that it will be at the same time complemented by good future trade agreement (the description you use here) .

    The Withdrawal Agreement is said to need to be ready for ratification by this October. (subject to slippage).

    The Framework Political Declaration as to the future will not be ready at the earliest until at least next March if then. That is what Verhofstadt told the Select Committee just a day or two ago. And as you well know a declaration is not an agreement. Furthermore EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malstrom has confirmed no trade talks EU / UK are currently in train at all. . Barnier has no mandate for such a thing.

  18. Jacey
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    It is extremely doubtful that the E.U. will offer the U.K. an acceptable deal. They fear that if we break away and are successful this may and probably will mean that other countries within the E.U. will attempt a similar departure ; there are many potential candidates for such a role. The E.U. negotiators, although they would deny this in public, see the U.K. as an existential threat ; very possibly they are right

  19. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I am unhappy with the way Parliament has proceeded since the referendum, but that is attributable to the low ethical standards of the majority of parliamentarians across both Houses, and it could have been expected as it was our parliamentarians who got us mixed up with the EEC/EC/EU/USE project and most still want us to be part of it.

    I note that one of the Tory party rebel MPs who has been trying to frustrate Brexit was initially selected as a candidate by a primary election held in the constituency, which some welcomed as an important enhancement of our democratic process, while another had previously obliged his leader by introducing a Private Members’ Bill for a referendum on EU membership:

    https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141017/debtext/141017-0001.htm#14101786000001

    “This Bill is about choice. It is about giving the British people a choice on something that is fundamental to our constitutional arrangements and fundamental to our future. It is a straightforward and simple Bill, because the proposition of choice and democratic fairness for our people is a simple one that everyone here should be able to grasp.”

    There’s a nice comment from our host a little further down in that record:

    “May I support my hon. Friend’s excellent point by asking whether he has noticed that there is only one Liberal Democrat in the Chamber? I presume that the Liberal Democrats are ashamed of trying to stop the British people having a vote on this issue, and ashamed of the U-turn they have performed. They once believed in an in/out referendum, but now that there is a chance of our having one, they will not support it.”

    Now we have the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Lords openly saying:

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2018-06-20/debates/45BF3EFF-097D-47D3-AC4A-9597562AF967/EuropeanUnion(Withdrawal)Bill

    “we will not rest until we have stopped Brexit”.

  20. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    On this site it has often been proven that the UK holds virtually all the cards in the Brexit negotiations because of the large trade deficit with the EU in goods. The UK also holds all these red lines that surprisingly popped up just after the referendum.
    The weak EU couldn’t do better than allowing the UK to change any red lines even during the UK demanded “implementation period”, of which we don’t know yet how long it will take. The continentals just have no choice than to prepare for whatever the UK will decide from its prominent position. I’m sure many on this site will agree.

    • NickC
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      PvL, Few will agree because we in the UK don’t tend to view trade as merely an extension of government. And normally we don’t see trade as war either. The majority of Leaves voted to leave, not have some half-in/half-out deal. We want independence. Much of our establishment doesn’t like change and is wedded to the EU. Many of our politicians hoped for a reasonable EU. No Leave voter I know thought that the EU would be reasonable. So your sneers don’t work.

  21. NickC
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    JR said: “It has been a slow process so far, thanks to the delay imposed by the courts over sending the Article 50 letter.”

    Actually there was no need to wait for the courts, Parliament could have had the same vote in July 2016. That would have complied with the essence of the plaintiffs point immediately.

    The 9 months delay was unnecessary, the two years for the Art50 process is the maximum and not necessary, the subsequent “transition” is yet more delay, and the extension to the transition begins to look like a pattern.

    The reality is the UK could have been out, with the WTO deal, in August 2017. There was no need under Vienna to use the EU’s own exit restrictions via Art50.

  22. Dennis Zoff
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    As always it beggars belief how certain members of the so-called political class deem it necessary to circumvent the will of the electorate. Equally, all the original supposed pumped up guile shown from Parliamentary Brexiteers, which at the time was highly commendable, has now descended into bluff and bluster from the majority with the ensuing negotiation shambles; which has become very irritating and frustrating in equal measure!

    So what is there to do to show the disappointment in all these nefarious pointless shenanigans?

    Other than civil disobedience the only recourse is to show one’s displeasure at the ballot box.

    1. General Election
    2. Choosing your next MP
    3. Local level – choosing your next counsellor

    Those delusive officials that chose to support the Remain factions, against the will of their electorate, should now feel the full displeasure by voting them out of public office!

  23. Ed Mahony
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    (apologies, i shouldn’t have written this – but i struggle not to, i’m a super optimist for the UK. This could be such a much better country than it already is, if only ..).

  24. Alison
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Something useful re Electoral Commission, re attempts to claim vote invalid because of spending. We know that the Remain side had unfair funding advantages. The Venice Commission is the EU’s body advising on fair elections. In 2006/ 2007 (full plenary) the EU Member States – including the UK – adopted the “Code of Good Practice on Referendums” (poor Latin). This has the following provision (my caps):

    “II. 3.1.(e) Political parties or supporters and opponents of the proposal put to the vote must be EQUALLY represented on electoral commissions or must be able to observe the work of the impartial body. Equality between political parties may be construed strictly or on a proportional basis (see I.2.2.d.).”

    It is unarguable that the UK’s Electoral Commission’s activities post referendum, specifically in relation to the referendum vote, do NOT comply with this provision of the code, because there is no equal Remain/Leave representation in the Electoral Commission.

    (Other Code provisions interesting, eg I.2.2(a) and (d).)

    PS Re Irish border – fascinating in Germany at the moment, as the CSU are demanding, at the moment, that the German/Austrian border have stop points, ie no longer open, as this is where one third of illegal immigrants come in.

  25. mancunius
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Philip Davies had it right in the HoC yesterday, when he told the rebels: ‘We do not have government by parliament, we have parliamentary government‘.

    There is no such thing as the ‘opinion of parliament’ – there is simply a majority vote of 650 MPs on any issue. If individual MPs do not like government decisions that are based on the result of plebiscite, they can either try to bring down the government or they can be honest enough to vote against the Referendum Bill in the first place. As Davies pointed out, most of the rebels hypocritically voted in favour of the Referendum, but only because they assumed it would come down on their side of the argument.

    The latest manifestation of the hypocrisy is where MPs claim they are voting ‘according to their conscience’. They were elected on the basis of party manifestos that leave them no room at all for this constitutional issue to be a matter of conscience.

  26. G Wilson
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    the delay imposed by the courts

    No, that’s false.

    Cameron could have invoked Article 50 the morning after we won. Instead, he took the coward’s route and resigned.

    May could have invoked Article 50 the day she took office. Instead, for no reason, she dithered for nine months.

    We could have been out of the EU the day after tomorrow. There was no need to create an opportunity for the bogus judicial review we saw. But the Conservative party has kept us trapped.

    How much better off we might be if people like Mr Redwood were learning from such errors, rather than wrongly attributing them to “the courts”.

    We could be out of the EU to

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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