26th November 2018
So where are we now on Brexit?
We are in a fog.
We are in a situation the outcome of which nobody can predict, at least with any certainty.
There is no pundit, no official, no politician who knows what will happen with Brexit.
In this fog, however, there are paths which are currently more visible than any others.
First, the UK will leave the EU by automatic operation of law on 29 March 2019 – that is, unless something happens to prevent it.
In domestic legislation, the European Communities Act 1972 is also set to be repealed on 29 March 2019.
So this is the default predicament – the quickest way to the bottom of the slope.
Nothing more need to be done for these two legal events to happen, and for these events not to happen will take substantial effort.
This will be the path of least resistance, even if it would be a disaster in practice.
But it is not the only path.
The second visible path in the fog is accepting the deal.
The deal has been negotiated by both sides, and there is a single agreed text for both sides to now endorse and ratify.
The EU has already endorsed it senior level though the European Parliament has yet to approve it or veto it.
Signing this agreement would, for the UK, to be path of next-to-least resistance.
The problem here is that it seems that there are not enough MPs to approve it.
If there is not not enough support in the Commons, the UK can either drop back down to the path of least resistance (a no deal Brexit as above) or somehow do something else.
If the EU is sincere when it says it does not want to re-open negotiations, then the current deal will be the only deal on offer, regardless of whether UK seeks extra time for a referendum or otherwise.
In other words, the choices above will not change.
(I cannot see any political appetite on either side for my preferred option of abandoning the Article 50 process, and for the UK and EU to negotiate the withdrawal and relationship agreement together as a single treaty, for as long as it takes.)
And so the only other option would presumably for Brexit to be abandoned altogether. Only “remain” remains once the other options are discounted.
That is the only other visible path, but it will be quite a climb(down).
A number of good and sensible people can see other things in this fog, paths leading elsewhere. I hope they are right, and I hope they will forgive me for not being able to see these other paths out of the the current mess.
But a genuine worry must be that the UK government continues to take the path of least resistance and falls into a no deal scenario.
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