The UK government makes it seem as if they are going into a 'no-deal' contingency mode, but the truth is that they aren't preparing for one in earnest.
Britain’s government seems to be going into a ‘no-deal’ contingency mode following Theresa May’s no-confidence vote being rebuffed by two-thirds of her MPs. The leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn is now beginning a no-confidence motion, brought on by MPs in his party this time, all aimed at pushing for a second referendum.
This, much like almost everything we have witnessed about Brexit in the last two years, is disingenuous at best and a fraud at worst. There is a common theme to this hypocrisy in that it follows a pattern which we have seen in government and in Theresa May’s camp since the referendum itself.
No one, it seems, is capable in the UK parliament of being honest about Brexit.
Corbyn has had no policy on Brexit for months leading up to the December 12th vote–now postponed to January–and it is no secret in Westminster that he’s a closet eurosceptic and wants a no-deal scenario.
The no-confidence motion, which is unlikely to succeed, will put more fire in the bellies of his MPs calling for a second referendum.
Corbyn’s act, much like the politician himself, can’t be taken seriously. It’s too little too late for a leader who has not been able to give a straight answer from MPs or journalists on any Brexit question.
The motion from Corbyn's party does at least serve one remedial purpose in forcing Theresa May to do the unthinkable following weeks of breaking promises and shifting goalposts on Brexit: to act honestly.
The fortuitous talks May is now having with her cabinet are revealing in that she seems determined to not fall back on the second referendum plan. She knows it would leave the country divided as hardcore Brexiteers in her party, not to mention over half the population who voted to Leave the EU - would feel bitterly cheated by a system open to manipulation.
Why not have a third referendum after that? Or, even better, shouldn’t we have a referendum to decide if we need a second referendum?
May is looking for a parliamentary solution, which would bypass, or dissolve, the controversial second referendum issue. And she hopes to get this not before the date of January 14th when she will present her deal to parliament – but as a consequence of its rejection.
The reason why we don’t know what that ‘parliamentary solution’ looks like, is that neither does Theresa May.
The problem Britain has is that it is muddled about its own identity. Its prime minister, who also has divided loyalties, is precisely the last thing the country needs in this historic moment, which is probably one of the most important decisions Britain has taken since troops were pulled out of Suez in 1956.
May was always with the ‘Remain’ camp from the start and has a partiality for the European Union. But when EU bosses like Jean-Claude Junker go to such lengths to praise her in front of international media, there leaves little doubt that it’s not only the EU which has lured the UK into a trap but worse, it is May who has fallen into it.
Not so lucky Irish
The so-called ‘backstop’ for the Northern Ireland border, I believe, was an ingenious trick by the EU to give the UK a conundrum while the two-year deadline approached.
Even if May can be forgiven for her mixed loyalties, her cabinet has been playing a game of rancid deceit with the country’s future for quite some time now, to appease Brussels and stay in the EU, in one form or another.
The deal that May has is atrocious for the UK. You could almost call it a suicide pill of all international treaties. It is the deal which aliens from planet Zog would have negotiated for if we had sent them to Brussels in our place. Hammond and his colleagues simply can’t play hardball with Brussels which they blithely consider being Britain’s only future.
For months and months, the problem of the Northern Ireland border has not only been presented by Brussels as a real problem but even one which cannot be resolved by London, even on a temporary basis. It’s this misinformation which has led us to the crisis which May is facing in Brussels today as many MPs will not back her ‘withdrawal agreement’ simply because of the problem with the NI border.
But just very recently we discovered that the British public has had the wool pulled over their eyes on this matter. In the last few days, a Sunday tabloid revealed that a British technology company had been banging on the government’s door for months with a technological solution to the problem – but, mysteriously ho-ho-ho got no joy.
Yet a Sunday tabloid of limited political leverage suddenly gets Downing Street to now talk to the company? And grovels for an apology, waxing how inconceivable it is that the PM’s office somehow just couldn’t make contact with the company?
Is this a scene from the British political satire The Thick of It?
Britain’s billions in Luxembourg
And it’s a similar story with money. The news just this week that Theresa May is setting up a $2.5 billion fund for a contingency plan for when the UK leaves the EU with a no-deal and reverts to WTO trade rules leads us to ask again if that same BBC political satire show is dictating policy here.
Is the PM having a laugh here and her press team just forgot to put a zero on the end of that figure, to make it at least a tiny bit closer to reality?
For the public sector, this represents nearly nothing. May doesn’t even talk about a financial contingency plan for the private sector (and this is the Tories?), but Britain is going to need a whole lot more money in the coming years due to an entirely bad deal swallowed by the prime minister.
The lie is that government is not preparing for a no-deal. If it were, it would be thinking more about how to get at least $60 billion in cash in the coffers to soften the blow to the economy and help small businesses. Not paying the Brexit divorce bill would be good.
What would better though would be if Hammond and his friends would at least demand that the UK’s stake in the European Investment Bank, should be sold. It is rated, on paper at least, to be worth around $45 billion and not only would give the UK valuable cash, but also irk Jean-Claude Junker to no end and be a very good bargaining chip to get a better Brexit deal.
It is not surprising that the government can keep quiet about the UK stake in the hugely profitable bank (whose main investors are American) when there is hardly a journalist in Westminster which even knows what this bank does, let alone who owns it.
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