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In the Brexit Home Stretch there are Only Three Possibilities

by John Brian Shannon

In the Brexit home stretch it looks like nobody is happy, which is a situation that negotiators and their backers often encounter and no one should extrapolate any great conclusions from the recent commentary or resignations of leading actors in the Brexit play, for the simple reason that when emotions run high common-sense usually runs out the window.

Even MP’s in cabinet can get jittery nerves, while others can suddenly lack the necessary conviction to see it through to its inevitable conclusion — or they decide they can’t trust their leader which seems to be the flavour of the week, this week.

But it’s important to remember that Article 50 was lawfully triggered and Brexit will occur and by process of deductive reasoning we find there are only three remaining Brexit scenarios:

  1. A ‘Good Deal’ Brexit proposal is one that the UK cabinet can read, understand, and have access to the legal paperwork. But it will still need to pass through the House of Commons before it can become law.
  2. A ‘Bad Deal’ Brexit proposal is one that the UK cabinet can read, understand, and view the legal paperwork on, but it’s one that might trigger an exodus of cabinet ministers while providing an opportunity for Theresa May to get the cabinet she needs to get Brexit done and dusted. Along with plenty more negotiations to gain either a ‘Good Deal’ Brexit — or if time runs out — default to a ‘No Deal’ Brexit.
  3. A ‘No Deal’ Brexit proposal (through no fault of Theresa May because it takes two to tango and Theresa May has surely done her part in the long-running negotiations) is one that would need to be explained to the British public and would need a high level of oversight to prepare for and implement over the next 4-months.

In the case of the Good Deal Brexit proposal, all sides in the Brexit negotiations would celebrate and find themselves starring in hundreds of fawning interviews that would work to build their political credentials allowing them to go on to ever-brighter futures. Why this isn’t the #1 default option for everyone involved in the Brexit process is beyond the ability of civilized human beings to fathom.

In the case of a Bad Deal Brexit proposal that Theresa May would share with her cabinet colleagues, it would be a case of carefully considering each chapter and verse on its merits and then offering counter-proposals to the Prime Minister that she could subsequently present to EU negotiators. A Bad Deal Brexit proposal in essence, becomes a cabinet brainstorming session to counter EU concerns and objections. Simply put, a Bad Deal proposal means negotiations aren’t over yet.

And in the case of a No Deal Brexit proposal it means that negotiations have ended and Theresa May’s government — with great sense of purpose and speed — must take all necessary actions to help UK citizens, businesses, and all levels of government prepare for a No Deal Brexit scenario.

Legitimate Items of Concern

  • As the Prime Minister begins to finalize the eventual ‘Good Deal’ Brexit proposal — you know, the one that is 95% ready and approved by both sides and just needs a solution to the Northern Ireland border question — it’s completely legitimate that Theresa May’s cabinet wants more details and wants to see the legal briefings on the ramifications of such a deal. That interest should be welcomed by the Prime Minister once she presents that proposal to cabinet. However, her cabinet Secretaries and Ministers mustn’t take that as license to interfere in Brexit negotiations. Rather, it means they should be warmly invited by the PM to read, discuss, question, and even challenge points within any Brexit proposal presented by her to the cabinet in the spirit of creating a better Brexit document.
  • Theresa May has valiantly travelled Europe for the past 2-years selling her version of Brexit to EU leaders and negotiators. Sometimes that can have the effect of the leader becoming too attached to the work-in-progress and over time, the leader can lose their objectivity. This isn’t a knock against Theresa May it’s a knock against all human beings, for it is a uniquely human failing to fall in love with the policy you’re promoting — even if the other side has made alterations to it or has chosen to interpret it differently than its primary authour. While Theresa May should receive plenty of latitude from her cabinet (and even moreso from her non-cabinet caucus) for as long as negotiations continue, when it comes time to evaluate the Brexit deal she presents to her cabinet let’s hope she doesn’t try to bully the document past her cabinet, but instead chooses to allay their concerns using logic and reason.
  • If the EU’s tactic is to delay and delay — the more Theresa May and her government are seen to be preparing for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit — the sooner the CEO’s of Mercedes Benz, BMW and Volkswagen, etc., will prevail upon EU negotiators to gain a proper Brexit agreement. As long as the Prime Minister ‘gets that’ the UK can’t lose. Let’s hope Theresa May is bright enough to see it for what it is and has the internal fortitude to drive EU negotiators right to the deal she wants. I can’t help but feel that Theresa May sees this tactic as her weakest hand when in reality it is her strongest hand.

As long as Prime Minister Theresa May stays strong the UK will enjoy a ‘Good Brexit’ but if she weakens — either by her own party tearing her apart or by the EU draining her confidence — the UK (and the EU corporate world and EU consumers) will suffer for many years on account of a substandard Brexit deal.

Therefore my Brexit friends; Strengthen your team captain to ensure her success and her success will be your success. Or, her failure will be your failure and you will surely wear it at the next election.

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