By Stephen Kangal
July 24, 2018
Red flags and red lines in anticipation of a no deal Brexit with the UK crashing out of the EU come 30 March next year are causing dark clouds of a doomsday scenario to gather over the skies of Britain and the 27 remaining EU countries in what could produce a most disruptive and an unprecedented chaos on both banks of the Channel. A mood of pessimism, political disenchantment in discredited Westminster politics and declining business confidence are increasingly generating traction about a no-deal given the EU’s negative reaction to the Chequers Plan that has been described as unworkable by EU chief negotiator, Francophonie Michel Barnier.
Britain is under attack, under the hammer and under duress to surrender by the EU.
It appears to me that Michel Barnier who represents the EU Commission is more concerned about punishing, isolating and embarrassing the UK into submission for its radical decision to leave the EU in order to deter other potential members such as Italy from doing so as well given the colonisation syndrome adopted by Brussels with German and French support. Hitherto the political exchanges have been stacked against the UK having to make all the concessions and suggestions although changing its Brexit Secretary from David Davis to Dominic Raad does not help to enhance the process.
On both sides of the Channel directives have been issued to the stakeholders of business, citizens and administration to develop preparedness and contingency plans to address the monumental problems that will arise should the Ides of March, God forgive produces the virtual shut-down.
The prospects of the Chequers Plan gaining passage in the Commons in September after the recess are remote given the lack of a Conservative majority and a deeply divided Tory Government between Remainers and Brexiteers (Eurosceptics) the latter headed by Jacob Rees-Mogg of the European Research Group. There is an outbreak of civil war in the Commons on both sides of the aisle. There is increasing uncertainty whether the Commons will approve the Withdrawal Agreement prior to 30 March 2019 given the deadlock, gridlock and stalemate there with Labour also in complete disarray with dissidents voting Tory.
Brexit has divided Britain on several fronts making it almost ungovernable in Westminster.
The problem is that there is a general perception nation-wide that the Chequers Plan does not adhere faithfully to the terms of the 2016 Referendum because it is a prescription for the UK being half-in and half out even though PM May said that Brexit means Brexit. Brexiteer hard liners who hold the balance of power in the fragile, fragmented and weakening Tory Government via the ERG are calling the shots. PM May is beholden to that Group for her political survival in Downing Street having won the passage of the Customs Bill by mere five votes last week.
The EU and Britain must conclude a withdrawal agreement by 30 March 2019. Failure to do so owing to a negotiating stalemate/dead-end will mean that there will be a complete disruptive break with no post-Brexit Agreement on EU/UK Future Relations and no 2020 transition period. It may also mean that UK will not pay the £40bn outstanding as the terms of the divorce settlement. Only the remaining 27 via the Council of Ministers can break the dead-lock by a strategic intervention at the last hour extend the withdrawal date.
In view of the uncertainty and divergence besieging the current EU- UK negotiations, the stalemate in the grid-locked House of Commons and the increasing threat posed by a no- deal Brexit the following political response options are being placed on the radar that will incubate during the summer recess of Westminster:
— Extension of the Article 50 departure deadline beyond 30 March 2019 on the approval of the 27 EU members and Britain once there are prospects of a break-through;
— Staying in the EU;
— No deal crash out by Britain with catastrophic consequences;
— Fresh General Elections in Britain to eliminate the stalemate in Parliament;
— A Government of National Unity ;
— A Second Referendum without Russian interference in Brexit;
— Acceptance by the EU of the Chequers Plan and showing more flexibility and less arrogance;
— A vote of no confidence in Prime Minister May by the 1922 Committee of Backbenchers with 48 Tory MP’s supporting;
— Negotiation of a frictionless Soft Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that preserves the integrity of the UK and which seems to be the most divisive and contentious issue in the negotiations;
— Emergence of a Third Pro- European Party now gaining increasing support of the electorate to break the Tory- Labour stranglehold of Westminster open the gates
— Dispatch of Cabinet members by PM May to the respective capitals of the 27 EU members to canvass support for Britain’s trade deal.
— The decision of the Electoral Commission to fine Vote Leave £61,000 for election violations during the referendum and which people feel invalidates the result to leave the EU.