Britain leaving the European Union.


Last night, two years, four months and sixteen days since the referendum, four months and twenty three days before the UK leaves the European Union, prominent leave campaigner and United Kingdom Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said the following:



At least he was honest.

I’m seriously at the popcorn stage.

The U.K. actually NEEDS Brexit at this stage. They need it for the cathartic effect it will have on them.


Brexit and someone to blame.


It’s pretty amazing. I thought maybe Raab had been misquoted or his phrasing was distorted a bit at an informal chat. But then the video emerged.

He hadn’t understood the extent to which an island is dependent on the sea crossing between itself and its nearest trading partners. His civil servants must have had to explain this to him when he arrived with a head full of nonsense.

But, as TI suggested, at least Raab has listened and learned. David Davis was in situ for two years and learned nothing. Now Davis is calling on MPs to reject May’s deal (whatever it is) and send the government back to strike a better deal.

This is despite the fact that he rejected such an idea while he was the minister, arguing that it would actually undermine the government.

I want to think May is running down the clock so she can throw a take-it-or-leave-us-up-the-creek vote to Parliament at Christmas but I may be overestimating her.


I wouldn’t have used cathartic - maybe enema or colonic irrigation. ‘Now then, what you really need Boris, Gove, Nigel, Davis and Hannan is to have all the Brexit sh1* you’ve been talking cleaned out of you.’


While we’re talking Raabish, … rotection/


At some point Raab will read the next chapter in his Brexit for Dummies book (yesterday’s bit showed him Britain was encircled by a watery substance across which trucks cannot drive). The future chapters will explain how the choice on future relations is binary: high alignment with the CU and SM but no independent trade policy or independent trade policy but no high alignment with SM and CU. You cannot agree to high alignment in order to solve today’s problem (exit deal, NI border etc.) and then just deviate from that when things settle down. The EU will notice if you do this.

Meanwhile, further confirmation that Tony Connelly understands Brexit better than Theresa May.

One little nugget in May’s letter to Foster today caught my eye. The EU says they don’t want to enshrine the future UK-EU relationship in the Withdrawal Agreement under Art. 50 because this isn’t the place for it. Legally, Art. 50 is supposed to deal with exit but not future relations.

However, the EU does want to include the N.I. backstop in that Art. 50 legal agreement. How are they going to pull that off? This inconsistency hadn’t occurred to me before now. What am I missing?


p.s. Tory Eurosceptics are saying they will reject May’s dealregardless of how things pan out with the backstop.

In a way, this makes May’s next move for her. No point trying to placate them by tweaking this or that. The UK negotiators will just do their best with what they have and May will bring it to Parliament. There’s no version of it that pleases the ‘European Research Group’ (hardline Tory Brexiteers) so f*ck it. See if a few Labour MPs will hold their noses and cross the isle at the 11th hour.

She’s already laying it out for the DUP. It’s ‘squeaky bum time’ (to borrow a phrase from Alex Ferguson).

Update: DUP replies to May’s letter (and posts it on Twitter). Clear about what they don’t want, as usual…
They say at the end they won’t support/vote for a withdrawal agreement with the backstop. But they don’t say they’ll bring down the government per se. Not yet anyway… Comrade Corbyn must be a very scary proposition indeed.


At least he is reading the book and trying to understand the situation, it is a low bar, but it is a hell of a lot more than most Brexiteers are capable of or willing to do.


OK my guess how it will pan out is: May will bring “Chequers” before Parliament (in whatever form it survives, presumably a UK-wide Customs Union and NI backstop).

In Parliament, the DUP and ERG will vote against it. There would be Labour MPs breaking the whip, but Corbyn would probably push Labour to reject May’s deal, in order to try to oust May and get a General Election. (I would hope so, anyway.)

With “Chequers” defeated, Parliament would vote on “No Deal” and would reject that also.

At that point, the politicians have failed, and they get another referendum (and possibly a GE).



It’s as likely as my scenario - it turns out Brexit is a virus of Russian origin, stage one is irrational voting patterns; stage two is the desire to eat a remainer; stage three is to turn into a scotsman and march north to the border. If you’re the DUP, you march into the sea. Good at marching them DUPpers.


You’ve confused two separate things in the Brexit process.

It’s worth remembering what’s actually going on. The UK informed the EU of it’s intention to leave in 2 years (March 2019) which means all treaties are gone. Zero cooperation. For the EU, the UK becomes legally equivalent to North Korea unless there’s a deal. People say it’d never happen, they’d agree something but of course that something is a deal! That’s the default position - North Korea.

At the minute, the negotiations are on the Withdrawal Agreement. Which basically boils down to the UK gets two years pretend EU membership, the right to negotiate but not enact trade deals with the rest of the world, no formal political representation on EU bodies, pays up what it said it would to the EU budget, guarantees the rights of EU national in the UK and of course the backstop to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after the two year grace period ends.

All that’s pretty much agreed except the backstop.

There are occasionally noises about other awkward loose ends in the Withdrawal Agreement like geographic trade marks (champagne can only come from Champagne in France, Parma ham from Parma etc). They’re considered small enough and I could see a symbolic row over something inconsequential before the Withdrawal Agreement is finalised.

All the tedious developments at the minute are reformulations of how the backstop would work but who knows what will make the final text. There’s no point speculating.

If a final text is agreed, the UK will have to pass it through their parliament but also the EU must pass it through the European Parliament (that powerless body that does nothing!) and all the Member States have a veto.

Then we’re into the future relationship. Assuming the Withdrawal Agreement holds, that means ~no changes until 2021.

However, with the end of the Withdrawal Agreement’s two year transition period, the UK becomes to the EU legally equivalent to North Korea. Unless a long term trade deal sorts that. (Back to square one).

That’s where Chequers comes in. It’s the UK’s pitch on what the future trade will look like. It tries to avoid the backstop being required by harmonising the UK to the EU for physical goods only. There’s other fluff around computer tracking goods for customs but that’s purely for show. Interestingly rather than reference EU law or state full harmonisation Chequers uses a convoluted locution on how the goods would be the same in the UK and EU. Suggesting they were leaving space for stroke pulling to gain an advantage.

In any case, the EU rejected Chequers on sight. So who knows what the 2021 trade deal will look like. But for the UK, it is always going to be a trade off between adherence to EU law and access to the EU single market. Low adherence = low access.

Generally trade agreements worth having take decades to sort and the consensus is that the two year transition period is wholly inadequate. A problem for a different day.


Is it not a qualified majority required on the EU side?

In the end Ireland will be told to play ball and be good Europeans.


I’ve no idea of the procedure but if member states think the Withdrawal Agreement is a “mixed agreement” covering national and EU competencies it has to go to each Member State to ratify in accordance with their own laws.

Given that the much less comprehensive Canadian trade deal was considered mixed I don’t see why the WA would not be. Though it’s fundamentally a political decision rather than a legal one. Politicians might be happy ratifying at the Council to buy 2 years’ Brexit peace.


The last bit doesn’t follow at all. Parliament doesn’t get to vote down a “No Deal”. Remember all the political shenanigans over the “meaningful vote”? This became Section 13, Sub-section 11, of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The government can announce at any time that there is no prospect of concluding a deal with the EU or, if there is no agreement in principle by 21 Jan 2019, it must make such an announcement. Then within five days the government must propose how it intends to proceed. At that point, the Commons will consider the proposal and there will be a motion “in neutral terms”. That means the Commons can neither veto nor amend the proposal. The Lords will then go through a similar process.

Now, it may be that the government is under immense political pressure at that point, and it can choose to take the Commons’ views into account. But as it stands today, parliament cannot reject a “No Deal”. I don’t think it will have to wait until 21-Jan either. If there is no breaking of the deadlock in November (i.e. the next two weeks) there is no chance of an emergency EU summit in December, and it would seem sensible to acknowledge that “no deal” is upon us.

Theresa May has also reiterated today after JoJo’s resignation that there is no possibility of a second referendum. So clearly her head would have to roll before such a thing could happen. So it’s hard to see what the government proposal could be except to go ahead with no deal and crash out of the EU. Now, I would expect all hell to break loose at that point and anything could happen. But seeing as Corbyn favours a GE, even if the government was toppled you would be facing into a minimum six weeks of an election campaign.

So consider the timing. The “no deal” announcement process will take three weeks – five sitting days each for the government to come up with its proposals, and five each for the Commons and Lords debates. Even if this was all put in train at the end of November, you’d be looking at an election in mid-February, a month before Brexit date. If the can-kicking went beyond November you could even see the UK in political crisis and in transition between governments on Brexit day itself. You’d like to think everyone would see this for the nightmare it is, but unfortunately both the Brexiteer Ultras and the Corbynistas might see it suiting their game plan quite well.


The whole thing is enthralling. It’s rare to have such a major geopolitical event approaching via a countdown.

Even if May still had the Cameron majority and had sorted the Irish sea border, she be facing Scotland demanding the same exemption.

Even if the UK stays aligned with the SM after next march I can see their exports been heavily checked for compliance and they won’t be able to do a thing about it without a seat at the table.


Corrected quote - it was D4000.

You’re right on the withdrawal treaty, but any future trade treaty can be vetoed.
This has been threatened with the Canada deal and TTIP was killed off pretty sharpish.


EU member countries are insisting on seeing the proposed text of any withdrawal treaty before May takes it back to the UK parliament. Apart from adding scarce days to the whole timeline, I reckon it’s a sign that the EU members are losing faith in the Brits’ sincerity in the negotiations. Hardly surprising – every time the Brits consider signing up to something they seem to have a side discussion with themselves about how they can weasel out of it later. … rexit-deal


Thanks ps200306, I didn’t know that. There’s a good explainer about Parliament’s ‘neutral terms’ vote on a no-deal here: … ote-brexit

It concludes (similar to you),

"The procedural niceties of ‘no deal’ only matter if the Government survives them. The Government claims that Parliament cannot force ministers to adopt a particular stance in the negotiations. In particular, the Government has argued that ministers could take the UK out of the EU without a deal, even if that was not the will of Parliament. In reality, however, the politics of a ‘no deal’ scenario, or a scenario in which the Government could not get its deal through Parliament, would be extremely fraught.

The Government would probably come under political pressure to resign, to subject itself to a vote of no confidence in the Commons, or to move a motion for an early general election under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. What happened next would depend not on the precise terms of the EU Withdrawal Act, but on the UK’s Brexit policy, as it then stood, and on how the EU27 responded to it."

If - and that’s a big if - the above happened, then a People’s Vote scenario has to be the eventual outcome.


Just to lighten things up a bit.