The European Union Brexit negotiating team has said many times in recent months that there’s nothing to negotiate in regards to Brexit, and consider the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by former UK Prime Minister Theresa May to be the ultimate Brexit agreement — although it didn’t pass in the UK House of Commons and therefore isn’t a valid agreement.
In fact, saying that Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement didn’t pass in the UK Parliament is a bit of an understatement, as it failed badly each time she presented the bill to the House of Commons.
Here’s what The Guardian wrote about the former PM’s first attempt to get the bill through Parliament: “Theresa May has sustained the heaviest parliamentary defeat of any British prime minister in the democratic era after MPs rejected her Brexit deal by a resounding majority of 230.” — Heather Stewart, writing in The Guardian
In the 2nd attempt to get the bill passed in the House of Commons, the BBC posted this summary on its website: “Theresa May’s EU withdrawal deal has been rejected by MPs by an overwhelming majority for a second time, with just 17 days to go to Brexit. MPs voted down the prime minister’s deal by a margin of 149.” — BBC
And in the 3rd try, which was also defeated, the (by-then) hated withdrawal deal went down in flames with the EU’s vox.com writing, “The British Parliament has rejected the Brexit deal for a third time, intensifying the UK’s political chaos just two weeks before the country breaks up with the European Union. Members of Parliament (MPs) defeated the deal, 286 to 344 — a much closer margin than the previous two votes in March and January, but still short of a majority. It has dealt another deep blow to the already flailing authority of Prime Minister Theresa May.” — Jen Kirby at vox.com
And that 58-vote loss was only obtained after Theresa May offered to resign if the bill passed Parliament.
So, the Withdrawal Bill is dead, dead, dead, and it won’t be returning no matter how much the EU miss it. And no wonder they miss it, for it was practically written by them, for them.
In short; A completely one-sided deal that never had a chance to pass.
It’s Clear That UK MP’s Wanted Brexit and Wanted a Deal. But What Deal?
The UK House of Commons voted enthusiastically to follow the instructions of UK voters way back in February of 2017, voting 498 votes to 114 to get Brexit negotiations underway, passing the government’s European Union Bill by a healthy margin of 384 votes.
But Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement just didn’t cut it.
Since then, there has been much talk about gaining a new and better deal, one that might actually work for the UK, instead of only the European Union.
But as the EU has said many times, there is nothing to negotiate. The now-defunct Withdrawal Agreement is the only deal they would’ve considered, and they continue to maintain that position.
One wonders if they’re 100% serious about that position as the EU (and especially German car manufacturers) will see millions of euros worth of losses each year should trade relations between the UK and the EU revert to WTO terms, and I think that’s what new Prime Minister Boris Johnson is banking on to get them to the table to negotiate a new Brexit agreement.
Yet, if you know continental Europeans like I know continental Europeans, you’d know that they always bluff to the last second.
And the EU does have a long track record of last-minute deals that were preceded by years of excruciating trade negotiations.
In the case of the Canada – EU trade deal, it took the two countries 8-years of on-again, off-again negotiations to reach a deal — which the Canadian Parliament ratified CETA within 60-days, while not one EU27 country has ratified it. Indeed, the EU has chosen to ignore the parts of the CETA deal that they don’t like, which makes them guilty of ‘cherry-picking’ the (signed and ratified by Canada-only) CETA deal.
Is that the kind of compliance that the UK can expect if the EU were to sign a political agreement on Brexit? And is that the kind of compliance the UK can expect if the EU eventually sign a free trade agreement?
If so, why waste a minute on it?
Boris Johnson Wants a Brexit Deal – But the EU Doesn’t
Who will win that round?
Easy; The EU.
But UK Parliamentarians just can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that the EU doesn’t want a deal.
And of course, they’re right because the EU does want a deal — it wants the one-sided Withdrawal Agreement that was ‘negotiated’ during Theresa May’s time in office! — and if that doesn’t work, it wants the UK to give-up and stay in the EU, which, from their point of view, is an even better deal.
If the EU can’t have either of those two choices, it doesn’t want any deal.
But approximately two weeks after a No Deal Brexit, EU27 car manufacturers will have unsold cars piling-up and will begin to pressure their governments for a trade deal with the UK (by that time a Brexit agreement won’t be needed as Brexit will have already occurred) and I suspect that such an agreement would be negotiated and in place by January 1, 2020 (about 115-days from now) and a cavalcade of sector-by-sector trade deals would be signed and ratified by both countries in very short order.
Indeed, by calling the EU’s bluff on their non-negotiable position on Brexit, that in itself will trigger a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’ which will require a slew of à la carte trade deals to be signed and ratified within 6-months of that Hard Brexit date.
And, in the face of the thrice-failed Withdrawal Agreement, I think that’s the option the EU27 prefer. I know I prefer it!
So, Knowing All That: What‘s the Point of Trying to Obtain a Brexit Extension?
The EU has said many times that they’re not interested in negotiating any more. They wanted the original Withdrawal Agreement and they didn’t get it, so now they want to bluff until the very last minute in a game of blinkmanship, hoping against hope that the British people, or the UK Parliament will lose the plot and just give up.
There is therefore, nothing to negotiate; So why are some British MP’s trying to get an extension of the Brexit date?
- Because they think the EU is lying and really will negotiate a new Brexit agreement?
- Because they hope to overthrow Brexit altogether by using endless delay tactics?
- Because they were at first, brave, and wanted to fulfil the democratic will of Britons, but have since gotten ‘cold feet’?
If they think #1 is correct, I have to say they’re incredibly naive.
If they think #2 is correct, I have to say they’re wrong. More and more Britons (even former Remainers) just want Brexit done and dusted.
If they think #3 is correct, I would have to agree. And that means the UK needs a strong and dynamic Prime Minister to help them stay on-course and confident in Britain’s future to get them past the present moment.
And guess what? That’s exactly the kind of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is. Thank goodness for good timing!
What Kind of Brexit Deal do I Favour?
I prefer a No Deal Brexit — but only because I have seen close-up how the EU doesn’t keep its end of the bargain here in Canada (at least in the CETA context) and I see that only two of the EU27 countries have ever met their NATO spending commitments.
That’s enough to convince me that ‘deals’ with the EU aren’t worth pursuing as they seem to consider such ‘deals’ more as ‘guidance’ than they consider them ‘regulations’ or ‘laws’ that must be ‘followed’ to the letter.
Calling the EU’s bluff, Brexiting in a No Deal scenario on October 31, 2019, followed by a flurry of international trade deals will put the EU in its place and make it realize that it isn’t the centre of the universe, not even in the UK’s universe, which will also help to repair the mindset of some Britons for whom the EU seems to have an outsized importance — far beyond what is healthy and good.
Not that I wish one bad thing for the EU. I wish every one of the EU27 well. In fact, I wish them very well.
And eventually, the UK will get around to signing a free trade deal with the EU. After America. After China. After the CPTPP countries. After The Commonwealth of Nations. You know, all the nations that don’t ‘cherry-pick’ their deals.
It’s just that this part of our relationship is over EU, and now, I just want to be ‘friends’.
Hey! We’ll do lunch!
Written by John Brian Shannon