Just days to go now until an historic meeting on October 17th when leaders of the European Union are to decide just how UK leaves.
Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, has proposed a new deal that looks very much like the old deal, but with some modifications.
Northern Ireland is to stay in EU rules for goods, but not in any other rules as it will stay in a customs union with the UK.
Northern Ireland moreover has the right to leave the EU goods rules, with their assembly to decide if they wish to do so or not.
Obviously this isn’t acceptable to EU, but it is the first proposition. In any negotiation one expects the first offer to be modified considerably.
Instead of the assembly deciding, for example, they could end up with the right to a referendum. Instead of it being just goods, they could end up with NI staying in the customs union too.
So in many ways, after much bluster and all the rest, this looks like the old deal, with that same blockchain too, but instead of it applying to all of UK, it applies to NI only.
The hope is obviously this won’t apply at all if they can get a free trade deal, but to get there, a withdrawal agreement is required first.
Such agreement is being megaphone negotiated with EU, but a vote in parliament would probably be very close although Johnson will probably have the whip out.
Brexit Yay or Brexit Nay?
Fearing no Brexit at all, nationalists are keeping their mouth shut, but it probably won’t escape anyone that this is kind of the deal Johnson resigned over last year.
There is some modification, and one modification can be crucial: if Northern Ireland has a right to a referendum to leave the arrangement.
Under the Good Friday Agreement they have such right to join Ireland if they wish. Conceptually it’s not clear why they shouldn’t have the right to break up with EU/Ireland fully if they wish.
Obviously it’s difficult to see any situation where they might wish to do so, but it is also difficult to see why EU wouldn’t want to give them that right.
Not least because the main reason why the backstop was voted down time and again is because it had no exit clause. If there is an exit clause here, then this could pass parliament.
Labour will probably vote it down whatever deal it is, but some will rebel. Libdems don’t want to facilitate Brexit, so they might vote it down too. SNP wants their independence, but Scotland is very pro-EU, so they’re in a pickle, but they’ll probably vote it down.
That however might be a lot less relevant than whether EU will actually agree to a deal with Boris the Brexiteer because it might then go back to the people.
The Brexit Election, When?
An election is imminent you’d think, but labour is probably terrified of one in what may be a miscalculation because now an election might be a proxy referendum of Brexit with a deal or remain.
They could have had a no deal leave or remain election, but they abstained because they thought Boris was tricking them, which he probably was but not in the way they thought as you’d expect some “leaks” to obviously be disinformation.
So even if parliament votes down the deal, the British people in an election may turn a new majority conservative parliament which then would pass the deal.
Labour’s strategy however was to bolster Nigel Farage to divide the leave side. That may happen to some extent, but a no deal leave when there’s a deal negotiated by brexiteers is unlikely to attract much support above around 10% or less.
Another miscalculation here is that Benn Act. Johnson can now say he obviously has no choice but to ask for an extension. It’s the law. Give me a mandate and then judge.
So an extension is likely unless parliament does pass a deal, with Labor then thinking an election would be on domestic issues rather than Brexit which has divided the labour party.
So instead of miscalculation this is in a way a collusion between Labour and Conservatives, but Europe as a domestic issue may well just begin with Brexit, not end.
There would be a two years transition period where negotiations would continue in regards to free trade with that question of just how close to Europe continuing for decades.
So where that question is concerned labour and conservatives are sort of on the same page, with just Libdems being the real opposition.
Meaning that in some ways if there is a deal then kind of nothing changes – except that Farage would lose his “job” – as the debate then turns to what sort of trade deal with one side probably wanting a kind of never left deal, while the other side might want a lengths arm relationship.
Europe would then move towards sort of merging, while Brits would keep wondering if they should merge too, with this maybe becoming one of those debates that never end.
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