What does Parliament want on Brexit?

The government has now decided to delay voting on the draft Withdrawal Agreement until 14 January. It looks likely that it will still lose that vote.  The government hopes that it will extract from the EU better language about a  timetable for negotiating a trade and future partnership agreement, which is the way to avoid the Irish backstop.  They want  stronger language about avoiding use of the Irish backstop in any way that might be available. It may also play up some of the fears of No deal in the hope of persuading more MPs to vote for the Agreement. Given the 100 or so Conservative MP public pledges to vote against it is difficult to see how the government can win the vote, even allowing for a substantial number of MPs changing their minds. The DUP have said they cannot vote for the Agreement unless the text concerning the Irish backstop is amended. The EU so far has refused all attempts to re open the legal text. Instead it offers clarifications and reassurances that are not legally binding.  The DUP and others say if it is the intention of both sides to avoid the backstop, then delete it from the text as an earnest of good will on this matter.

Meanwhile the government is intensifying work on a Clean WTO Brexit. It has announced resolution of the aviation issues so it can assure us the planes will fly, and is well advanced with fixes to ensure reasonable transit times for goods  through channel ports. The EU and its member states too are busy working on this, as they now sense it is a possible outcome even though the UK government says it intends to pilot the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament. The government has announced the UK will remain in the Common Transit Convention after departure which ensures simplified cross border trade as today.

The House of Commons has a large Remain majority, with a set of Opposition parties keen to use the issue to destabilise the government. There are several other options in play amongst Remain factions. Some favour a second referendum. Some want to cancel Brexit altogether and just tell the people they cannot negotiate a satisfactory exit. Some believe it would be possible to negotiate a better or different deal and favour a delay to attempt a different approach.

The second referendum idea cannot now be legislated in time to hold the vote before the UK  leaves on 29 March 2019. Proponents therefore have to support delay to the UK exit, which requires agreement with the EU and repeal or amendment of the EU Withdrawal Act. The EU is reluctant to allow much slippage as they have European Parliamentary elections to consider next May which could change the political direction of the EU itself. The current plan is the UK will not be contesting them.  Advocates disagree about the question to be put in a referendum. Some want a three way question, offering WTO exit, staying in or the Mrs May Withdrawal Agreement.  Were staying in to win with say 35% of the vote the other 65% would say they had been cheated of Brexit by a minority of voters. Some want a two way skewed to staying in, running Remain against Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement. Leave voters would say this did not offer them their choice. Some want a Leave oriented vote, running the Withdrawal Agreement against just leaving, on the grounds that Leave/Remain has been settled by the original People’s Vote. Remain of course does not like this approach. The government so far has ruled all these out comprehensively. It would require a government with a majority to draft the legislation and make the time available to try to pass it through Parliament. This all looks unlikely. Conservative MPs are mainly opponents of a second vote and would not even wish to vote for a timetable motion to help get a second Referendum Bill through, so it would require full Labour backing from the outset which Mr Corbyn would  be reluctant to offer.

It is difficult to believe this Parliament would vote to simply remain and argue the people were wrong to vote for Leave. It would need the full repeal of the EU Withdrawal Act and supporting measures. Both main parties in the Commons stood for election in 2017 on a Manifesto to implement the result of the referendum. It would require the two front benches of Labour and Conservative to join together to force it through against a major revolt on the Conservative side and a smaller revolt on the Labour side, with considerable public anger.

So that leaves us with some form of delay as the other option to the WTO Clean Brexit. The EU may well say they have set out the terms for delay. They are in the Withdrawal Agreement. The UK would just have to swallow those if it wants another 21 months or up to 45 months more to negotiate a future relationship. In the meantime the Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms for the UK continuing in the single market and customs union. If the EU were to back down on this stance, they could presumably agree to the UK continuing with current arrangements for  a bit longer to see if anything different could emerge from new  talks. This would be quite a loss of face for the EU, but would not guarantee they would go on to concede on all the issues over the future partnership to make it palatable to the UK. It is difficult to see what new would emerge from the talks, given the lack of any progress on the future partnership in the 30 months used up so far.

There could be an agreement to delay for a few months  to tidy up remaining issues for a managed No Deal Brexit between the EU and the UK, but this would also require legislation in the UK and the consent of both the UK and EU Parliaments.


    December 19, 2018

    Why delay the vote? Why not scrap the vote if there’s no chance of it succeeding? Is May hoping that by playing for time she will somehow warp the reasoning of her opponents and they’ll suddenly perform a volte face and offer her Commons victory?

    Is she hoping that milder language from the EU will somehow melt the hearts of each Tory Eurosceptic MP between now and mid-January? Does May not realise that MPs aren’t naive teenagers that they can be seduced by warm words?

    Brexit means leaving the EU. It does not mean leaving the EU with conditions attached which is the May’s WA plan. May’s way is a Parliamentary stitch-up of the 2016 referenda result as engineered by the utterly offensive Grieve.

    The aim of May is simple. It is to avoid a sincere and full Brexit using Parliamentary gymnastics. She is insincere in her stance. She is mendacious. She is shameless. She must be told that she will implement FULL BREXIT or else

    I am tired of seeing her face and listening to her voice on my television. It will be a blessed relief to see her gone, whenever decent Tory MPs get around to toppling her. She won’t be missed. She’s dragged our party through the liberal left gutter

    1. Peter
      December 19, 2018

      Maybe she is killing time and hoping if her deal is still standing she can push it through on fear of a WTO exit?

      If she canvasses MPs opinion she can draw attention to their lack of support for Leave and use it to reinforce her WA option or a last minute change of direction.

      You are not the only one tired of Mrs. May.

      1. Hope
        December 19, 2018

        ROI voted twice for the EU constitution the second time it was labelled the Lisbon treaty and the public were given firm words of what they thought was legal advice actually guaranteeing them nothing at all. They were just empty bogus words to con the public with a pinch of scare them witless stories as well. It worked for the EU and the ROI voted for it. It worked in France as well.

        You might also recall Blaire publicly told everyone that there would be no second referendum! It turned out he welched on the referendum he promised! Now what has this lying road being saying lately?

        Undoubtedly some ever so clever weasel in the civil service will find a form of words in conjunction with EU chums to try to fool MPs and the public there is some legal basis not to be tied in. It is too late, the legal advice May tried to prevent us reading and found in contempt of parliament is out. May’s servi due plan endures indefinitely, that is all we need to know. The words will be smoke mirrors and lies.

        Good to see Guido unearth a pledge from Boles he will call a by election if he defects. No need to wait he made his stated intention against manifesto and withdrawal act and govt policy. Now his association needs to force his hand. If Boles needs to honour what he said and call that by election as an independent against a pro leave Tory! If Soubry would follow that would be a double win and Greive a third! Go for a landslide and add Rudd and Wollaston.

      2. Lorna Ainsworth
        December 19, 2018

        I agree with your conclusions. You can not but have a sense of distrust about anything our PM said . What exactly is she up to ? I fear that it is written on the wall that she still has hopes of putting her WA through as an alternative to NO Deal. Hammond and Gauke have been busy being the bully boys of the Cabinet Still the message about No Deal preparations is full of doom . The good news like the transit and aviation agreements have not been heralded as the success they are WHAT is Hancock doing buying fridges?? Has he actually spoken to suppliers and worked out workable arrangements including diverting shipments ,early supply of orders or even rerouting if required . I fear that there is no 0ne in the cabinet with the expertise or knowledge required to assess WTO options . May needs to coop some Breixiteer MPs with the and business people with the necessary knowledge to make THE RIGHT DECISIONS BASED ON FACTS. So tired of these amateurs with our future in their hands !

        1. Peter
          December 19, 2018

          Name calling is now the big political story. Soon MPs will be off for a long Christmas & New Year break. May’s WA proposal will not get looked at until mid January.

          I don’t know what she and her allies are up to.

          If she does get a fix to the backstop at the last minute maybe that could be sold as the answer to Brexit( avoiding questions on all the other issues associated with the Chequers Deal) and church bells would ring throughout the land.

          I think a General Election after a confidence vote would suit me at the moment. A chance to clear out some of the deadwood and let the people have a say on how things have been managed over the last couple of years without reneging on the referendum result.

    2. Peter Wood
      December 19, 2018

      Mrs. May has colluded with the EU politburo to produce a solution to the Backstop at the last moment, just in time for the final vote. It will be made to look like a great breakthrough to bring the DUP onside, and hopefully the rest of the backbenchers. As mentioned by others, RoI has a veto, but they will not use and will fall into line on the instruction of the Politburo; RoI is too small a voice and our £39 Billion +,+ is essential to keep the EU functioning.

      Will someone please ask Mrs. May to produce these ‘other opinions’ on the UK’s legal liabilities to the EU on our departure.

    3. jerry
      December 19, 2018

      @Duncan; “She must be told that she will implement FULL BREXIT or else”

      Or else what?! That bus left a week ago today, without her on board, are you seriously suggesting Tory Brexiteers join the opposition in the No Lobby should Labour table a NC vote because that is the only “or else” left to threaten her with for 12 months.

    4. Mark B
      December 19, 2018

      Sorry Duncan

      Today marks 100 Days until we Leave the EU.

      Not that I am counting 😉


    5. Sir Joe Soap
      December 19, 2018

      I agree with Jeremy. Stupid woman.

  2. Peter
    December 19, 2018

    Thanks for this detailed breakdown of possible outcomes.

    What do you think are the chances of a General Election?

    Labour seem to favour either an election or a losers vote.

    If a No Confidence motion could be won then might an election follow? If May persisted with and delayed her Withdrawal Agreement, No Confidence might also have appeal to MPs from the Conservative party fearful of permanent loss of sovereignty.

    I note Project Fear has been cranked up yesterday targeting a WTO exit. channel 4 news was absolutely relentless.

    1. eeyore
      December 19, 2018

      There is a realistic mechanism for delaying the March 29 departure date, by vote of both Houses on an SI from a Minister. That must be the likely way forward now, the government’s last throw of the dice.

      Our host has said he will oppose it and so, presumably, will his 100 like-minded colleagues. Among them are many hugely experienced hands well able to extract maximum value from the few weeks remaining.

      This great constitutional struggle looks like going all the way to the wire.

      1. GilesB
        December 19, 2018

        My understanding is that a delay also needs the unanimous agreement of all member states, and the EU Parliament.

        A unilateral revocation may be possible if the CJEU agrees that the decision is unconditional and unambiguous. I suspect they will clarify this to mean that it cannot be invoked again for at least five years. By then there will be a treaty change that removes Art 50.

        1. Peter
          December 19, 2018

          Delay is certainly one option that avoids delivering on the referendum result. I don’t know all the requirements to allow a delay.

          It would not surprise me if the EU can use granting a delay as a mechanism for holding the UK under its thumb for several more years and also extracting further concessions.

        2. Peter D Gardner
          December 20, 2018

          Ever since the Five Presidents Report of June 2015 I have been saying that Art 50 will be removed or time limited (more likely) in the next round of teeth changes. Since then the EU has continued with white papers etc to develop options for the Federal State. Currently completion of economic and monetary union is the central plank of the next five year plan commencing after the elections in May. Me treaties to be in effect no later than 2025, which fits rather well with Mrs May’s transition. That may give members a short time either to leave,
          become tier one members or tier two members. This will determine uk’s future relationship under all alternatives to an exit on 29 Mar on WTO terms. Then the Federal State of Europe will be founded by 2028-30 and there will be no exit clause in that constitution.

  3. oldtimer
    December 19, 2018

    The public will understand a clean break on WTO terms. It was what they voted for. They will not understand or condone further delay, procrastination, obfuscation and posturing from MPs. In the now well worn phrase “Just get on with it”.

    1. Andy
      December 19, 2018

      You do not speak for the public. You speak for you. As poll after poll shows there is no desire among most people for the complete amputation you seek.

      And, in any case, Mrs May sought a mandate for what you call ‘a clean Brexit’ at last year’s general election. She lost.

      What part of democracy do you not understand?

      1. Fedupsoutherner
        December 19, 2018

        Andy. No more than you speak for the public. The referendum was the public speaking and I know nobody that has changed their minds. Even Parliament voted to uphold the result. Those that refuse us the chance to leave are being undemocratic. Would we be having this discussion if remain had won? No. Are we to have all this debacle with a general election? Its about time you grew a pair and accepted the result along with many in our so called democratic Parliament.

      2. Edward2
        December 19, 2018

        Read the leaflet.

      3. Dame Rita Webb
        December 19, 2018

        Mrs “twenty percent lead” May will tell you opinion polls these days are meaningless

      4. oldtimer
        December 19, 2018

        The referendum was explicit. You are saying the public was too stupid to understand what they voted for – even though Cameron and co wheeled out everyone they could think of including Obama and the IMF to try to persuade them to vote remain. 17.4 million did not buy it.

        Both Conservative and Labour pledged to implement the referendum in their last election manifestos, accounting for the vast majority of the votes cast.

        What part of democracy do you not understand?

    2. Christine
      December 19, 2018

      Hear, hear.

    3. Adam
      December 19, 2018

      We voted to Leave. A clean break is like returning home to London, & gaining easier access to the whole world.

      Being part-stuck in the EU is like arriving in a bad place with empty suitcases & finding our essential belongings strewn along railway tunnels between Brussels, Estonia & Bulgaria.

  4. Fedupsoutherner
    December 19, 2018

    It’s not only May’s cock up. Its the fault of the whole of Parliament that we have this mess. If they all accepted the result of the vote and for once kept to their word then we would just be leaving. Because they want to remain, we have this continuous fudge. I can’t see us leaving because Parliament one way or another will keep us in. I am not s bit surprised. Nobody wants the responsibility of PM at the moment. Its too much of a hot potato. Because of their treacherous actions we now find ourselves in hock to the EU and having to hand over money to a failing institution which will require more and more money for the poorer countries joining. We will be the main cash cow while the EU strip the bones from British industry. What a complete farce its all been.

    1. Lifelogic
      December 19, 2018

      Ministers are still going round saying that May’s appalling and dead and a dodo deal is the “only” way forwards and MPs should ‘come to their senses’ and vote it through . If it does go through a new Farage party will split the Tory vote. The anger against the Tory partly traitors would be massive, they will be buried for very many years (or for ever) in the John Major style.

      Nearly everyone wants a real clean Brexit (the voters, most businesses, other than a few large and rent seeking ones & the Tory members anyway) and a real Tory government except a few idiotic Libdim MPs masquerading as Conservatives. Alas about 80% of the Cabinet and the two dire people in Nos 10 and 11 are determined to cheat the 17.4 million and are standing in the way.

    2. Stred
      December 19, 2018

      If MPs refuse the opportunity to be sovereign and make laws that their electors want, if they break their written promises given during a referendum that they voted for and in the manifesto that they stood on, and if they try to fool us with false information, then they must not realise that they will be held in absolute contempt. Many of those that elected them will not wait four more years, during which their lies will become increasingly apparent, and they will need protective clothing and security. The cost of this for 500 welchers will be enormous, especially as the security services and police are already unable to fully protect the public. They should pay for it themselves.

    3. Andy
      December 19, 2018

      Nobody is preventing you from leaving on the terms promised by Vote Leave.

      You know – where everything was better, notbing was worse, we were all richer and you really could have your cake and eat.

      Sadly the terms promised by Vote Leave wee fake. A fraud. A con. A lie. They were never deliverable – by anyone. Sure some of you continue to believe otherwise but then there are still people who think the world is flat.

      Deliver on your promises and you can have Brexit. Deliver something which will demonstrably make our country worse in everyway and describe it as Brexit and those who do not want to damage Britain will fight you.

      You are only struggling with this because your side lied.

      1. Edward2
        December 19, 2018

        The referendum debate went on for months and we even had a leaflet posted to every home.
        Remain shoukd have won but they were very negative, pent their time just attacking Leave and creating a tidal wave of Project Fear hysteria.
        Rarely do negative political campaigns ever win.
        But even now you carry on your tactics.
        Insulting those who voted differently to you will never get anyone to change theor mind.
        You are still focussing on trade.
        Leave supporters are focussed on independence freedom and democracy.
        You still dont get it.

      2. John Hatfield
        December 19, 2018

        Andy, those who voted leave are not struggling. It is Mrs May who is struggling by trying to keep Britain in the EU while pretending to leave.
        And believe me, life will be much better if we ever do get to leave the EU – cleanly.

      3. Fedupsoutherner
        December 19, 2018

        Andy, your posts get more ridiculous by the day. Don’t you think if leavers were in charge we would have left by now? But, no,we have remainders like you in charge and that’s why its a total cock up.

  5. Lifelogic
    December 19, 2018

    Just leave and negotiate after leaving, that way the process will be much better, much cheaper and much quicker. Any delay will mean we never leave properly and will be extended for evermore.

    The May Government are finally going to prepare for a WTO Brexit it seems. Well over two years too late, but rather better late than never. It will be just fine dear, there is no cliff edge and never was. The sooner we get on with it the better. Mutual interest agreements as needed will be made after Brexit. Businesses are quite good at getting round most damaging obstructions from Governments. Imports will be much cheaper exports to the EU may be a bit harder or taxed a little but that can easily be replaced by the home market demand or other markets. We export far less to them than they import to us anyway.

    Perhaps lift the economy and everyone’s Christmas Spirits by replacing the appalling tax to death Philip Hammond with someone who believes in lower taxes, a WTO Brexit, easy hire and fire, cheaper energy, deregulation and far smaller government.

    1. Lifelogic
      December 19, 2018

      A Chancellor who does not talk the economy down, employ Carney to do the same, mug landlords, house buyers, pension pots, people who insure and tenants and does not regulate bank lending in such absurd and hugely damaging ways.

      A Conservative Chancellor with vision for a change rather than a tax to death grim reaper and an economic illiterate PPE dope.

      1. rose
        December 19, 2018

        A Chancellor called Redwood.

        1. fedupsoutherner
          December 19, 2018

          Rose. I second that.

        2. Helen Smith
          December 19, 2018

          I vote Redwood too

    2. Andy
      December 19, 2018

      “Just leave” – spoken like someone with zero understanding of how the world works.

      Deals make our world go round. It is unfortunate that you have not figured this out.

      1. libertarian
        December 19, 2018


        Says the man who sacked all of his staff as he hadn’t got a clue how to negotiate a new deal

        You’re a parody of yourself Andy

      2. Edward2
        December 19, 2018

        Plenty of deals available once we have left.

      3. John Hatfield
        December 19, 2018

        “Deals make our world go round.”
        That’s why we need to leave the protectionist EU and trade using WTO rules like everyone else in the world.

      4. Fedupsoutherner
        December 19, 2018

        Thanks for the laughs Andy

  6. Roy Grainger
    December 19, 2018

    The EU will offer a concession to May at the last minute next year softening the backstop. Then MPs will pass her deal. Then May will start “negotiating” the trade agreement which the EU will sequence to agree fishing rights before they will even talk about the main trade deal and she will agree to whatever they want to move the talks forward.

    1. iain
      December 19, 2018


    2. Know-Dice
      December 19, 2018

      Too true Roy, that’s the EU’s modus operandi just look back at Ireland [RoI], France, Denmark, Norway

      Reasonable article here – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-46591250

    3. Andy
      December 19, 2018

      The UK goes into trade talks with the EU as – by far – the weaker party.

      If you do not like Margaret Thatcher’s single market you will hate what comes next.

      1. libertarian
        December 19, 2018


        Join us in the 21st century

        86% of our economy is services

        There is NO single market in services

      2. Edward2
        December 19, 2018

        Thats OK we can just increase import tariffs on EU goods until they see sense.
        What is it, €90 billion per year trade imbalace?

  7. William
    December 19, 2018

    I wonder how much fear of being proved wrong is going to influence MP’s votes against a WTO Brexit…

  8. Steve Pitts
    December 19, 2018

    What are the chances they would decide to cancel or delay Article 50 for now to be resumed in a few years once a full trade agreement is agreed so they can say nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. In other words kicking the can down the road. This would be typical. I just wonder if this could happen especially if it has Labour support?

  9. matthu
    December 19, 2018

    There was a letter in one one the national newspapers the other day that made the following very good point:

    Sir – I used to work for a man whose pet hate was the split infinitive. As a consequence if I wanted to get a proposal or letter signed by him I always included one. I knew that once he spotted that and corrected it, he was so pleased with himself that he didn’t bother with the rest and simply signed it off.

    The Irish backstop is Brexit’s split infinitive. The rest of the deal is dreadful (£39 billion for nothing), but 
I fear that at the last minute the backstop will be solved and, like my boss, Parliament will be so smug that it will rubber-stamp the deal, leaving us in the EU in perpetuity.

    So I do hope that MPs have done their research properly and are willing to rip the rest of May’s deal to shreds if Ireland and the EU are suddenly and miraculously able to dispense entirely with the backstop, because there are enough other commitments in the WA about our future relationship with the EU to make the whole thing entirely unpalatable to an aspiring sovereign nation.

    1. Mark B
      December 19, 2018

      I agree, and thank you.

    2. Bryan Harris
      December 19, 2018

      Excellent point @matthu – The Irish border issue is not the only foul surrender in May’s deal… MP’s need to look beyond that particular issue, and see the deal for what it is…

  10. Fedupsoutherner
    December 19, 2018

    Off topic but in answer to Hefner’s comment yesterday about naming scientists who don’t believe in man made climate change. Just look it up on Wikipedia. There is a full list of credible scientists.

    1. Lifelogic
      December 19, 2018

      Nearly all sensible scientists (mainly sensible physicists not seeking grant income) know that Catastrophic Runaway Global Warming is, to say the least, a massive exaggeration and con trick.

      It’s Difficult to Make Predictions, Especially About the Future as Niels Bohr put it.

      The weather today affects the weather tomorrow we clearly cannot predict the weather next week with certainly so how can we predict for the week after or for 100 years. We do not even know the technology, genetic variations, population, when controlled fusion will be sorted, the volcanic activity, meteor impacts, the suns activity …. for 100 years and even if we did we could not do it.

      Tiny variations in shape of a tiny bit of grit falling from a light fitting might easily change the whole outcome of a snooker match in a butterfly effect (on indeed a butterfly flying past might) and the climate is a bit more complex and chaotic than that.

      Anyway they alarmist have been wrong in almost everything they have predicted so far. They are similar to the Brexit alarmists and the same sorts of people I find. Usually people lacking any understanding of science, maths or energy systems who talk more like religious leaders.


      The “Consensus” is only really among those seeking government grants, the green religion or people in government seeking an excuse to raise taxes or boss people about & regulate more. Or an excuse for a holiday at some warming exotic conference.

    2. hefner
      December 19, 2018

      FUS, Thanks a lot. Some interesting lists that can be cross-checked against Google Scholar, Science Citation Index, the papers published in the journals published by the Royal Meteorological Society, the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union (which I think are the three main English-“speaking” societies for atmospheric/oceanic studies).
      That gives a rather good estimate of who the scientists with real published work on atmospheric/oceanic science are: up to now only Dr Roy Spencer, Dr John Christy, Prof. Judy Curry and Prof. Dick Lindzen pass the tests of real scientific papers on (satellite-based for Christy and Spencer) climate-related atmospheric physics/dynamics/chemistry.
      Thanks again for inducing some interesting readings.

  11. Turboterrier
    December 19, 2018

    John. Very informative thank you.
    Even more reason in light of shat you have highlighted is:- JFDI
    If politicians cannot or will not accept the will of the people they should resign their seat at the next elections. The house voted to proceed with leaving. Enough is enough.

    1. Mark B
      December 19, 2018

      Correct !

      Parliament must represent the views of the people, not big business and self interest. If parliament finds itself at odds with us it must go and allow us to elect one that does.

    2. Caterpillar
      December 19, 2018

      Turboterrier, they should not wait until the next GE, they should go now, they clearly do not agree with a key part of the manifesto on which they were elected.

    3. Lifelogic
      December 19, 2018

      And they nearly all stood on a leave manifesto in the last election. In May’s case an idiotic “vote for me and we will hugely punish Tory voters” one. Hence her lack of any majority.

    4. Martin Conboy
      December 19, 2018

      Totally agree. Nick Boles MP is a perfect example of a politician who could perform a great service to the country by resigning immediately. He was elected as a Conservative MP with the Manifesto Commitment of “No deal is better than a bad deal” and yet now has the dishoneaty to say he would resign the whip if No Deal went ahead. Things have changed, and Mr Boles could really help the remain cause by forcing a By-Election, and so proving that his strongly leave-voting constituency is now strongly in favour of a remainer MP.

  12. Javelin
    December 19, 2018

    Good summary. The main point being you need a Parliamentary Majority or to Pull Art 50 to stop a No Deal Brexit and May does not have a majority and would not risk widespread rioting and public disorder if she simply stopped Brexit.

  13. Kevin
    December 19, 2018

    “Meanwhile the government is intensifying work on a Clean WTO Brexit. It has announced resolution of the aviation issues so it can assure us the planes will fly”.

    Just as they did after December 31st 1999, in spite of all the naysayers who argued that Britain could not survive outside of the twentieth century.

    For a second referendum to be legitimate, Parliament would have to be prepared to honour a reiteration of the decision to Leave. But if they were genuinely prepared to do that, they would already be honouring that decision in the first place.

    That decision, moreover, was to reject David Cameron’s renegotiation of our EU membership. In other words, it was to leave with “no deal”.

  14. Richard1
    December 19, 2018

    We have probably now got to the point where we need WTO Brexit. In the first place there will be an enormous confidence boost when we all look back 6 months later and see that the cliff edge was 2 or 3 feet high. If there is disruption it will be because the EU, in a gratuitous and mutually damaging way, has decided to impose it. That in itself will shift public opinion. It will be much easier to get to a sensible comprehensive FTA once we are outside, it is apparently – and absurdly -impossible to do so from within the EU.

  15. Mark B
    December 19, 2018

    Good morning.

    NO DELAY !!!

    You have had two and a half years to do this. Longer if CMD had done his homework BEFORE the referendum. There can be no excuses.

    The House of Commons has a large Remain majority . . .

    Well there shouldn’t be ! We had a general election in which the majority stood on a Leave means Leave BREXIT. They knew what they were standing for when they went to the hustings. No Customs Union. No Single Market. No ECJ.

    If parliament now finds itself in a tizzy over this may I suggest a ‘Peoples General Election’ ?

    1. Hope
      December 19, 2018

      Well said Mark B. Better still this is why we need a proper right to recall to force the hands of lying politicians who deliberately deceive the electorate.

  16. Turboterrier
    December 19, 2018

    If the politicians wish to keep playing these silly games over leaving and ignoring the people, they should take notice of what is happening in France especially as well as other European cities with the yellow jacket protests. Coming to UK very soon?

    1. Lifelogic
      December 19, 2018

      It will split and bury the Tory Party (a new Farage real Brexit party will be formed) if May’s appalling deal goes through and we will get a Corbyn disaster.

      1. fedupsoutherner
        December 19, 2018

        L/L. If the conservative party were true to their word and all voted to come out cleanly then the DUP would come on board and everything would be sorted. Instead we have traitors like Clarke, Soubry etc defying the very thing they voted to do. Despicable.

  17. Bryan Harris
    December 19, 2018

    So the basic problem we have is that our Parliament is doing everything it can to subvert our instructions to them, when it is clear we want a Clean Brexit.
    They really demonstrate how unfit they are to rule.

    A lot of MP’s are going to get a nasty shock at the next GE, if the ‘People’ don’t revolt in the meantime…

  18. Robert Bywater
    December 19, 2018

    No second referendum. We need to respect the one we have and as you say John, both main parties went into the last election pledging to respect the referendum.

    It is no good having Ken Clark claiming that a referendum is “just an opinion poll”. If that is the case then his second referendum is also just an opinion poll.

    1. fedupsoutherner
      December 19, 2018

      Robert. Absolutely right. Margaret Howard doesn’t think the referendum comes under democracy. Would she think that if a second referendum came about? Can we come back to the table if we don’t like the result? Pathetic all of them.

  19. GilesB
    December 19, 2018

    A WTO exit is best.

    May’s Deal is worst.

    Revoking Art 50. admitting failure to implement their manifestos is what we are going to get.

    Sad. But better than a bad deal.

  20. Alan Jutson
    December 19, 2018

    Yes we are all fed up with the endless surrender document contents and arguments, but I really do hope politicians do not fall for the last minute so called “nice words but no legal change”, on the backstop and vote it through.

    The surrender document is still a surrender document, even if the so called backstop was removed entirely.

    The real negotiations which we originally wanted over trade, fishing, agriculture, and the like have not even yet started, so more humiliation, delay and capitulation on the way.

    The only way to take back control is to actually leave on WTO terms at the end of March 2019.
    Thus a clean break.

  21. Mike Stallard
    December 19, 2018

    Two choices: EU Diktat or economic disaster.

    Mrs May is a committed Christian, she is a very experienced and loyal Conservative who has stuck with the party through thick and thin. She has a good marriage and she is charming and nice in public. She also is a mistress of the apposite soundbite. She is the product of a good education and a loving and stable home.

    And a total loser as Prime Minister.

    Now what?
    Close the watertight doors!

    1. fedupsoutherner
      December 19, 2018

      Mike. She doesn’t do a lot for the reputation of committed Christians. Since when was it ok to tell so many lies? I wish the glue holding her to the party would come unstuck!

    2. Sir Joe Soap
      December 19, 2018

      Geography degree a good education? How has it equipped her for this?
      Apposite soundbite?

      All she is good at really is

      1 remembering things
      2 pretending to be all things to all people, but actually being nothing to anyone

  22. A.Sedgwick
    December 19, 2018

    There is a groundswell for WTO, listening to LBC and Talkradio (I heard your confrontation with Alexis Conran) Leavers seem to be hardening their opinions with the EU living up to expectations of being bloody difficult to save the creaking edifice. More are worried about the future of the EU with crises everywhere and the politburo digging a bigger hole for everyone and do we want to be part of this increasingly ungovernable shambles. Whilst the Remainers from Heseltine, Major, Blair, Patten downwards just promote project fear and why are we leaving the sunny uplands. I had to laugh when Heseltine in an interview was lauding the opinion of Caroline Lucas.

  23. Alison
    December 19, 2018

    Several comments suspect that the backstop will be pulled at last minute before the ‘meaningful vote’, thus getting the WA approved in parliament. Whether pulled or cosmetically tweaked, I agree this is a big risk.
    The WA is dreadful, and must not pass.
    So Mrs May’s tactics are to get pro-Brexit groups to focus on WTO in the next weeks, easing up on the WA. At the same time, the very tardy announcement of preparation for no-deal, with long documents and scary things (troops on standby) make people nervous, unsettled.
    Overall the consequence would be that MPs approving the WA would not look bad.

    So far Mrs May’s team’s strategy & tactics to counter opponents have been very successful. I suspect that calling some of their actions invisible to the public ‘skullduggery’ would be too polite. I assume that skullduggery will continue.

    Reply Were the EU to climb down and take the backstop out of the Withdrawal Agreement then it is true a lot of Conservative/DUP MPs would switch to reluctantly accepting it, but not I think enough to carry the vote. I dont see a fix that falls short of changing the draft Agreement having much impact on the large numbers who currently oppose.

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      December 19, 2018

      So long as that also precipitated an election with a new Brexiteer leader of the Conservative Party, the WA could be pulled before doing significant damage. Labour would perhaps offer a renegotiation of the WA, but even J Hunt would pull it, and win.

    2. Denis Cooper
      December 19, 2018

      JR, I am sure that like me you will remember how almost the entire legal contents of the EU Constitution were decanted into a new treaty, first called the Reform Treaty and then renamed the Lisbon Treaty, and it was then claimed by Gordon Brown that the referendum promise given by Tony Blair:


      only applied to the previous document and not the new document.

      So surely like me you must also see that the same kind of device could be employed with respect to the ‘backstop’; its legal effects could be more or less replicated in some other agreement, either before or after it had come into operation, and the government could then claim that Theresa May had kept her word because all of that talk in late 2018 and early 2019 only related to the ‘backstop’ itself.

      And probably that is what would happen, because the threats presently emanating from the Irish government would still be there, and the UK government would still want to keep us under the economic thumb of the EU.

      You need to focus attention on the legal purpose of the ‘backstop’ and explain that the Irish government would insist on maintaining that wicked purpose even if the ‘backstop’ itself was plucked from the withdrawal agreement and ripped up.

    3. Richard
      December 19, 2018

      The Chess board as seen from the other side:
      “You unlock huge numbers of Tory MPs if you can get something the DUP can accept,” the cabinet minister said. “There’s no point at all in holding a vote until you win back the DUP. That is the absolute priority.” Several cabinet sources played down the prospect of any efforts to try to form a coalition of support with Labour MPs and said all efforts were focused on regaining the DUP’s support. “You cannot get this deal through only on the back of Labour votes because it would split the Tory party,” one official said. “That means one thing – bringing the DUP back on board.” https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/18/theresa-may-within-20-votes-sealing-brexit-deal-say-senior-tories

  24. Sir Joe Soap
    December 19, 2018

    It is increasingly being seen by the public as being cleaner to break then work things out. If 2.5 years isn’t sufficient time to sort this lot out, then we go for the clean break and start with the boot on t’other foot.

  25. Lynn Atkinson
    December 19, 2018

    With respect in 2016 we specifically voted for WTO Leave. The £9 million Government leaflet delivered to all homes specified this in detail. Any deviation from this – even handing £20 billion for an extension, is a betrayal and will cause a backlash – so Remain and Leave-but-will-compromise MPs should mind their ps & qs.

  26. Ron Olden
    December 19, 2018

    If Parliament voted now to Remain, it wouldn’t merely be a contradiction of the ‘advice’ we gave it in the Referendum, it would be a contradiction of their own overwhelming vote to invoke Article 50 and their vote enact the Brexit Act.

    If any MP has voted to invoke Article 50 on the off chance the EU would give them a ‘Deal’ to their taste, they are too stupid to be an MP and should resign their seat immediately.

    The simplest way forward now is to require the House of Commons to put up or shut up.

    Hold a series of indicative votes immediately prior to the ‘May Deal’ motion and if there’s a majority for one of the myriad or proposals that every Tom Dick and Harry has been advancing, amend the ‘May Deal’ motion accordingly, if the proposal is practicable acceptable to the Government.

    Seeing that the EU itself will be able to see each proposal in advance of the vote, it too can announce whether any of them are starters and report back and say NO if they are plainly hopeless.

    If there’s no majority for any of them, put the unamended motion to the House. If it passes, we Leave with the Deal. If it doesn’t we Leave without it.

  27. Newmania
    December 19, 2018

    Much as I loathe your view of Brexit , that was a pleasure to read for anyone who admires clarity and the use of English . I see no fault in the logic and as such we are clearly headed for the National catastrophe that is crashing out
    The blame for this lies with all those people and media outlets who misled the voters at the time of the referendum and whose lies are now about to collide with reality.

    1. BCL
      December 19, 2018

      It is disingenuous to suggest that Leave lied during the campaign unless also allowing for the lies told by Remain. I think it is clear that both sides were less than honourable, in some respects. It was unfair that Remain had the “benefit” of £8M spent on that leaflet which itself was hardly a shining example of truth and honesty. What it did say was that we were leaving the single market and the customs union. Why do remoaners now say no one knew that was what they were voting for.
      What is required now is for us to leave, preferably on WTO rules. I hope Mrs May’s secret plan is to delay and obfuscate until that become unavoidable.

    2. Edward2
      December 19, 2018

      Your ridiculous Project Fear 2.0 carries on apace.
      catastrophe, cliff edge, disaster, no water, no medicines,people dying, no trade at all with Europe ever again.
      Just calm down.

  28. Penny
    December 19, 2018

    I’m greatly heartened that proper preparations for Brexit are finally growing – about damn’ time! The government has wasted so much precious time on Mrs May’s dreadful Withdrawal Agreement and made this country a laughing stock in the eyes of the world. So much for “Great” Britain and the “United” Kingdom.

    If a proper Brexit gets through the next couple of months, the Conservative Party may just retain my vote (that I’ve given to them for the last 40 years). If it doesn’t, then I’ll be looking to one of the other parties.

  29. Nigel Seymour
    December 19, 2018

    Sorry John, Too much blah blah

    In 2016 17.4m voters said they want to leave the EU. Voters who found themselves on the wrong side of the ref result now have to conjure up the nastiest and most horrific rhetoric to stop Brexit. They are probably succeeding because the leave side of the equation have failed to put their case forward. Art50 29/03 will never occur as long as we have TM…

  30. LucasH
    December 19, 2018

    So when the WA is defeated in the House where does that leave us? Right up against the wire with No deal to WTO rules or else revoke A50 on the grounds that we are not prepared for departure. See how foolish we are going to look to the rest of the world

    I remember well the years before we joined the EEC, at that time we still had a semblance of an Empire, we had thousands of merchant ships, hundreds of thousands of merchant seamen, but all of that is gone now. If we leave by crash out to WTO rules, Ro-Ro trade through Dover Calais will not be the same. It’s hard to see anything good coming from crashing out..the world has changed so much since the 1960’s and we’re not in any way prepared. Let me repeat, we are not in any way prepared.

  31. Butties
    December 19, 2018

    “The House of Commons has a large Remain majority”

    I would request that this post passes the guard dog gate and is published.

    Circa 80% of votes cast at the last election were for manifestos that promoted LEAVE.

    Now you are you telling us that the there is a large Remain majority!? of the people elected!? who stood on a leave manifesto? who we voted for!

    How would you classify this type of creature?

  32. agricola
    December 19, 2018

    Half a dozen different outcomes few of which are in any way compatible. Most driven by narrow factional political interests while that of a sovereign UK are ignored. Outcomes built on lies and hypochracy.
    Time for honest men with vision to rise to the fore.

  33. Freeborn John
    December 19, 2018

    The UK should put pressure on the Irish government by normalising Irish workers access to the Great Britain labour market, I.e. treating Irish citizens the same as all other non-UK citizens. With an election in Ireland coming up the UK could easily topple Varadkar if his reckless gambit on the backstop is seen to backfire. The EU could hardly object to Irish citizens being treated the same in Great Britain as all other citizens of EU member states.

  34. JoolsB
    December 19, 2018

    John, I am just travelling back from London after sending most of yesterday in the public gallery of the House of Commons where I watched the whole of yesterday’s 3 hour Brexit debate. I saw you appear very briefly before you went again and with the exception of Nigel Evans who made a wonderful speech about leave meaning leave, the only MPs in attendance were remain MPs. Soubry, Grieve & Greening were there calling for their second referendum and the few remaining Tory MPs that bothered to attend plus Labour MPs insisted the public did not vote for No Deal. I wanted to shout down ‘oh yes we did’ but obviously couldn’t for fear of being thrown out but where were the pro Brexit MPs? Did they boycott the debate on purpose? The other surprise was how much the SNP dominated the debate and how unruly they were. We hear that May has had meetings with Scotland and Wales’ First Ministers today and the NI Civil Service re. Brexit. Of course the wishes of England which overwhelmingly voted Brexit was as usual totally ignored both yesterday in the Commons and by May today.

    Relly It was a needless SNP debate so we left them to get on with it

    1. Fedupsoutherner
      December 19, 2018

      Well said John. If it was anything to do with the SNP then it would be a waste of time.

    2. JoolsB
      December 20, 2018

      That’s what I wanted to hear, I knew there must have been a reason. I was shocked, despite watching BBC Parliament often, just how discourteous SNP MPs were, not just in the Brexit debate but in other debates as well, especially the student loans debate and especially towards Tory MPs. Not satisfied with having their own parliament, they seem to be taking over the UK Parliament as well.

  35. Chewy
    December 19, 2018

    I sincerely hope you’re right. If this deal is voted down decisively I just hope we don’t end up with a pivot to the Norway option as favoured by quite a few Remainers, although both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have previously dismissed the option.
    I also wonder what the impact will be of potential cabinet resignations from some of the hard Remainers who have hinted at such if we move towards No Deal. Potentially enough even to withdraw confidence in a vote.
    Still a lot of variables. Also I wouldn’t bet against an EU climb down, and offering some concessions to placate us. They like bullying and pushing their weight around but like most bullies do tend to fold when someone stands up to them as proved by Margaret Thather. And remember the Comissuion was widely blamed for the Brexit vote because it failed to give David Cameron enough. They’ll certainly be picking up the wrap across the channel for a No Deal, as will Varadkar across the Irish Sea and that may well concentrate one or two minds.

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