This evening, MPs will vote on the second round of indicative votes. The essence is to find some alternative to the Brexit plan as put to the House by Theresa May and rejected by the Commons 2.5 times. The first round of indicative votes came up blank for a very simple reason – the real majority in the House is for finding someway to cancel Brexit, either outright or through the cover of a second referendum, but they are all too scared of the electorate to actually say so. Instead, we go round in circles.
What do we expect tonight? The logical thing would be for them to coalesce around a second referendum since this is actually the most straightforward possibility, oddly enough. The argument against it tends to be that it will cause division – this is really starting not to wash given the divisions in society that are already clearly there. Another complaint is that another referendum will not settle the issue unless somehow it produces a thumping result either way. News flash: nothing is going to settle the issue definitively. The Brexit issue will rage on for another decade at least, which it feels like I’ve been saying for a decade already even though it’s only been three years and a bit.
What’s likely is they’ll convene around adding a customs union to the political declaration. Although this is really a minor wrinkle and represents the Remain House trying to find a compromise, it isn’t going to work. Grayling and Truss have come out with both barrels against a Customs Union for the usual reason: it will stop the UK signing imaginary trade deals with the USA and China.
Further, if this is about getting May’s deal over the line, then I’m afraid I have to go back to putting “deal” in quotations. All this will achieve is a new Tory prime minister announcing “Bollocks to Customs Union” on day one in Number Ten and on we go.
There are also problems with any other form of softer Brexit. The EEA/EFTA possibility is faced with the very, very real issue that none of the EFTA countries really want us anymore. The reasons are pretty sound as well: the UK is a huge economy that will disrupt their strange little band quite profoundly. Add to this the fact that the UK will treat it like purgatory, disrupting everything and then very possibly pissing off elsewhere, and no wonder Lichtenstein and the Norwegians aren’t that keen.
Also, the Brexiteers objections to EFTA will be much greater given the free movement issue. There is no compromise there to be reached. A second referendum, sadly in most respects, is all there is left. The House has to realise there is no magical solution; there is no easy way out of all of this. It should come together around something that at least theoretically solves the problem at hand. My bet is that they won’t, but I would be be happy to be proven wrong on this.
Paul W says
A second referendum isn’t a ‘solution’, it is a process. Those who promote the idea see it as a means to one end: having another go at ‘stopping Brexit’. That is so plainly obvious, it seems hardly worth making the point. But it still needs to be made nevertheless.
Bye bye G7 says
No easy option
This will go on for another decade
Divide the nasty party with a soft brexit of any form or revoke will do the trick
They need to be dealt a fatal blow as the betrayer of brexit as the brexit party
To be degraded like their bed partner the liberals
Their aged membership can go to ukip or del boy farage in their twilight years
Wither the tories and you end 40 years of fighting the eu
You seem to be unclear about The Customs Union, EEA and EFTA. This is not surprising, most of us are. I do know this much: the EEA is effectively The Single Market, in which all EFTA countries, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein participate; Norway does not belong to The Customs Union (nor, I presume, do the others); Switzerland does not participate in the EFTA court, so, when need be, has to go through the EU Court of Justice;
I see no necessity to be in EFTA. In order to comply with the Good Friday Agreement, I cannot see any other arrangement than staying with the Customs Union and Single Market. This also implies recognition of the authority of the Court of Justice of the EU.
It is simply dishonest of May to insist that she will honour the Good Friday Agreement, but terminate free movement and judicial oversight of the CJEU.
Paul W says
The EEA is the single market with a different wraper. The EEA was designed as the ante-room to EU membership. EFTA members Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are in the EEA. Norway voted against EU membership in 1994 and has stayed in the EEA (unlike eg Sweden which voted in 1994 to join the EU instead). The EFTA court serves a similar purpose for the three EFTA-EEA states as the CJEU does for the EU states. The two courts operate in parallel, if not completely in tandem.
Switzerland is the EFTA member that is *not* in the EEA. The Swiss voted by a very narrow margin against EEA membership in 1992. Instead Switzerland negotiated a series of bilateral agreements during the 1990s/2000s with the EU covering single market issues, freedom of movement issues and laterly the Schegen and Dublin Conventions on borders and asylum respectively (as well as participation in other programmes eg in the field of education). Note: *none* of the four EFTA countries are in the EU Customs Union.
Paul W says