by John Brian Shannon | December 8, 2016
In the aftermath of a landmark Supreme Court ruling in the UK, British MP’s have proposed the Conservative government authour a Green Paper, a Blue Paper, or a White Paper (these are different levels of British government policy documents) to inform members of the Parliament and the public about the government’s Brexit plan.
Ranking even higher than such policy documents would be a Public Inquiry, or the highest ranking, a Royal Commission (which although quite costly) employs all the resources of Her Majesty’s government to find the best solutions to the most important problems of each era.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has so far resisted such calls for transparency claiming that by showing their hand it could help the European Union thwart Britain’s advantage in upcoming Brexit negotiations. (And I think she was mostly right about that)
But presenting a secret Brexit plan to the EU also implies presenting a secret Brexit plan to UK citizens — and that’s undemocratic.
Yes. Britons voted for Brexit! And yes, Britons voted for a Conservative government!
But they didn’t vote for Theresa May as Prime Minister, they voted for David Cameron. Not only that, but Britons didn’t vote for a secret Brexit plan to be imposed on them — should the EU accept without changes, Theresa May’s secret version of Brexit.
Therefore, Theresa May has taken not one, but two, liberties with voters. They didn’t vote for Brexit plans that were to be kept secret, and all of it decided by a Prime Minister they didn’t vote into office. Yet, it’s probable she was pursuing such a path in order to obtain the best Brexit outcome for Britain.
For small and medium policy decisions that’s 100% acceptable, but it isn’t acceptable for top-level policy decisions resulting in major changes to the way the country operates — even though she has likely done so with the best of intentions and with the best Brexit result in mind, from the British-point-of-view.
To my mind, the government now needs to show a high level of transparency with voters. Had Theresa May been voted into office by voters and not by Conservative Party members she would’ve had more wiggle room on this.
But the simple fact is, she inherited David Cameron’s chair, voters didn’t select her. Had she won the Prime Minister’s chair from the outset, she could’ve gotten away with publishing a very generalised Green Paper at any time in 2016, and the electorate would have simply trusted her to finish the job.
That’s the problem with inheriting a sitting Prime Minister’s chair; You inherit the position, but not their political capital, nor their popularity, nor their credentials.
Which is why MP’s are now calling for a detailed policy statement. And there’s no doubt any such policy documents will become public, even if it gets marked ‘Sensitive’ or ‘Classified’. It’s just the way of things these days.
Which gives the European Union an edge that it wouldn’t have otherwise had in the Brexit negotiation process.
Thanks to the UK Supreme Court ruling, and thanks to British MP’s who now demand full transparency, PM Theresa May cannot now produce a ‘fait accompli’ Brexit document to the EU Parliament and use other, non-specified leverages to get that document quickly approved by the EU Parliament and approval by the 27 remaining EU member nations.
For Theresa May, that’s a big loss, because that’s obviously what she had planned.
But it’s all moot since the UK Supreme Court ruling, and since notable British MP’s have called for a policy paper to guide the government itself, the House of Commons, and the public, on matters Brexit.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that my argument in favour of PM Theresa May, is true.
It doesn’t matter anyway. Because powerful political and psychological forces are at work in the EU Parliament and in EU member states. They’re upset that Britain is leaving the EU. Plain and simple.
And, why not? Britain pays the largest NATO contribution, it’s a large net contributor to the European Union budget paying-in much more than it receives, and it has allowed Eastern European governments to offload millions of their unemployed citizens to Britain. Why wouldn’t they want that to continue when it’s so obviously in their own best interests?
Surely, the EU plan is to reject any and all Brexit proposals — believing it’s in their best interests to force either a so-called Hard Brexit or a No Brexit result.
It’s not that EU leaders are evil — it’s pure common sense from the European Union point-of-view.
“Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.” — former British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784–1865) also known as Lord Palmerston
We’ll eventually see that no matter how well-intentioned any Theresa May Brexit plan is, no matter how many White Papers are produced, no matter how many warm and fuzzy photo opportunities with EU leaders, the answer is going to be a resounding ‘No’ to any Brexit plan produced by the UK government.
Which leaves only two options: Hard Brexit, or the option that the European Union governments prefer, reversal of Brexit.
‘See? It’s too hard to leave. So just stay.’
It’s so obviously the EU strategy, that the British strategy must now be all about countering the European Union strategy.
UK Supreme Court rulings, MP’s demanding policy documents and any other happenings, must now be seen as incredibly minor waypoints along the path the EU is driving the British people towards; Hard Brexit (which Europhiles hope to make as ‘scary’ as possible) or Just Stay.
We must drop the notion that the European Union is going to be ‘looking out for Britain’s best interests’ and realize that even the most well-intentioned Brexit plan will be rejected, for the express purpose of forcing a show trial in the UK court of public opinion where the only two options will be; Hard Brexit or Just Stay.
Why? Because EU politicians believe that’s in the EU’s best interests.
Reacting to any Brexit news in the meantime, is merely tilting at windmills. The real show hasn’t begun.