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1,222 days since the 2016 Brexit referendum and we’re no closer to Brexit, yet the EU has graciously granted another Article 50 extension, but this time it’s a unique type of extension coined by EC President Donald Tusk, called ‘Flextension’.
It’s unique because it grants the UK Parliament more time to get its house in order, and allows the official Brexit date to fall on any day the UK Parliament chooses between October 31, 2019 and January 31, 2020.
Which is pretty awesome of European Commission president Donald Tusk, extremely generous of European Union president Jean-Claude Juncker, and it demonstrates patience personified by the leaders of the EU27 countries.
Who’d have thought that a staunch Brexiteer like myself would feel such gratitude for the generosity and patience shown to the dysfunctional UK House of Commons by EC/EU/EU27 leaders?
Really folks, we should thank them sincerely — for the problems related to Brexit aren’t on the EU side as they’ve consistently delivered one message with one tone and one conclusion, while UK politicians have been all over the map. And if they aren’t squabbling with the EU they’re squabbling among each other, to the end that Brexit is no further along today than it was back on June 23, 2016 when Britons voted to leave the EU.
The present House of Commons couldn’t agree that water is wet or that the sky is blue. How EU heads have put up with all the mixed messaging coming from the UK side over the past 40.5 months (1,222 days) since the June 23, 2016 EU referendum is beyond comprehension.
(UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is new on the job having served a grand total of 96-days at this point, so we can hardly put the blame on him)
All in all, the EU side has shown class and consistency throughout the entire Brexit saga.
Although I have disagreed with some of their ideas or bargaining positions relating to Brexit etc., (and hey, they’re in business for the EU, not for me) they’ve demonstrated they’re a world-class operation and deserve that recognition.
That’s all for today, folks. Thanks for your time!
If you want to verify today’s Brexit news, please read these two short BBC articles:
Well, that didn’t take long!
Boris Johnson has been UK Prime Minister for 85-days and suddenly the UK and the EU seem to be getting along better, and a new and apparently worthwhile Brexit deal is agreed between the parties.
Of course, there’s no pleasing every side. Such agreements are enormously complex and there will always be concerns and doubts in various quarters.
The ‘devil is in the details’ as they say. But with sufficient goodwill on both sides, the UK and the EU are from this moment onward, moving forward on a better and more holistic path.
Quotes from the Brussels Summit as the New Brexit Deal was Announced
- EC President Donald Tusk: “A deal is always preferable to No Deal.”
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “the UK and EU have agreed a great new deal” and “the UK is leaving the EU as one United Kingdom.”
- Jean-Claude Juncker said the deal is “fair and balanced” and that, “there is no need for a further extension.”
- And the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier said, “the new deal should provide legal certainty in every area.”
- The DUP’s Arlene Foster said her party “cannot support the deal” although DUP support is crucial to passing this deal in Parliament. Interesting times, indeed.
Finally a Deal Worth Signing!
This isn’t Theresa May’s Brexit deal warmed-over. The Northern Ireland backstop for example, isn’t part of this agreement.
Also, Northern Ireland remains within the UK and in the UK Customs Union.
However, unlike England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland remains within the EU Customs Union and the EU Single Market which is ultra-important for the Northern Ireland economy and is much more convenient for the Republic of Ireland — thereby negating any need for a hard border between the two Irelands.
Further, Northern Ireland’s seat of government (Stormont) has the opportunity to opt out of this arrangement every four years.
As regards the rest of the deal, the new agreement allows the entire UK to leave the EU (at the end of 2020) as one United Kingdom (the same way it joined). And the leisurely schedule allows UK and EU businesses sufficient time to make preparations for a new regulatory environment beginning January 1, 2021.
All-in-all, quite impressive.
I must reiterate that no one side was ever going to get everything they wanted out of a Brexit Deal, but that really isn’t the point.
What is the point is that the present era of economic uncertainty is ending. And that’s good for the UK, good for the EU, and it’s an agreement that’s respectful of Northern Ireland’s unique position in all of this.
A hearty, Well Done! to leaders and negotiators on all sides of the Brexit paradox.
Just as Theresa May’s government appeared to be on the brink of collapse, the European Commission President asked the British Prime Minister to meet him in Brussels to jointly announce that negotiators had achieved the breakthrough to move forward to Phase II of the Brexit process.
EC President Jean-Claude Juncker said that “sufficient progress” had been made on Phase I discussions by December 8th, and the parties can now move on to matters of trade. Which is a great relief for some. For others, not so much.
Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Nigel Farage is on record as being against anything other than a complete Brexit with only the timeline to be negotiated.
Indeed, this is the position of many of the 17,410,742 people who voted for Brexit in the June 23, 2016 referendum that decided the United Kingdom’s future in, or out of, the European Union. And as negotiations drag on and as more political plays come to light courtesy of the ever-present media, the number of Britons who support Brexit are increasing, while those who supported it from the beginning want a faster, ‘harder’ and more complete Brexit.
If those who voted Remain were once within striking distance of preventing Brexit, their hopes are surely dashed now. ‘Off to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, are we?’
We hope you will enjoy the show.
So, What Did Theresa May Agree To on Behalf of All UK Citizens?
a) In May’s favour, it appears she agreed to continue negotiating with the EU, more than anything else
For now, nothing will change in the UK until Brexit day. The existing EU customs and trade union will continue to be in effect and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) remains the top court for the entire European Union, including the UK.
It’s also been reported that the ECJ will continue to be the court that rules over EU citizens living, working or studying in the UK for up to 8 years after Brexit — thereby giving European Union expats full access to the British court system — but also full recourse to the ECJ.
Essentially, EU citizens living in the UK will enjoy the protection of two court systems, while UK citizens will have the protection of only one court system.
Further, Theresa May has agreed that from December 8, 2017 until Brexit completes (whenever that is) the UK will abide by all laws and regulations passed by the European Parliament, the European Commission, and that the UK will accept European Court of Justice rulings. The final Brexit date has been suggested as March 29, 2019 but at this stage anything could happen including the government bodging the job and not getting voters their Brexit for another decade.
Goodness knows what kind of legislation the EU could pass during that time, yet the United Kingdom would be obligated to follow both the spirit and letter of that legislation. And EU citizens living in the UK would have more rights than UK citizens due to the ECJ deal. Let’s hope they don’t send an extra 5 million migrants to Britain annually (for example) as the UK would be obligated to accept them under the terms of this agreement.
If breaking the UK Treasury and maybe breaking the country is the goal of the EU (or if it ever ‘becomes that’ due to new politicians coming to power in the EU/EC) that’s surely the way to accomplish it. Certainly, the United Kingdom is in a precarious position from now until the day Brexit occurs.
Finally, there will be no transition period for Gibraltar.
Oh, and it Cost £40 Billion
Did I forget to mention that? Yes, they did too at their joint press conference, until a reporter asked about it.
Now the UK is obligated to pay £39 billion to the EU, and will continue to pay £8.6 billion (net) to the European Union budget until such times as the UK is no longer a member of the union.
Nobody has really said what the £39 billion is for — other than to say it covers the UK’s future obligations to the EU (which, reliable sources have said should only amount to £6.15 billion) and let’s keep in mind that the United Kingdom remains part-owner of many EC and EU buildings and properties — including the Parliament buildings in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg, and Britain’s share in the value of those and other EC/EU holdings exceed £9.65 billion.
Now for the Sweet Part of the Deal
Thus far, it sounds like a pretty one-sided deal in the EU’s favour — and many are now calling Prime Minister May ‘Theresa the Appeaser‘ after former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who tried to ‘appease’ Adolf Hitler and his Nazis prior to Britain’s entry into WWII — for which he was unceremoniously booted from the Prime Minister’s chair never to return.
Others have called the deal a ‘sell-out’ of British interests, while other groups claim that Theresa May (an admitted Remainer) is trying to scupper the deal by using the high cost of Brexit to get more Britons over to the Remain side.
b) Maybe Theresa May is smarter than everyone suspects
What if it’s true that this deal is merely the deal that the UK will be forced to honour if UK and EU negotiators can’t arrive at a better deal that supersedes this deal?
There is real incentive for Theresa May and her Conservative Party to excel here because it is 100% certain they will lose the next election if this deal isn’t replaced by a better deal prior to March 29, 2019.
Prime Minister May will thereby have almost as much power as a wartime Prime Minister to get a better deal done, and that’s as good a way as any to move things along.
What if she now spends a year trying to negotiate a better deal knowing that at worst the present agreement is the worst that can possibly happen? A little brilliant, I’d say.
c) So she spends a year negotiating uphill with the EU trying to get a better Brexit deal
And in the meantime, the worst-case scenario is survivable by her country but unsurvivable by her party if they want to win the next election.
In the simplest terms, if Theresa May’s Conservative Party don’t fully cooperate with her to gain a better Brexit deal, they will by default, have handed the reins of power to Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.
d) By virtue of the December 8th baseline agreement, Theresa May now ‘owns’ her party until March 29, 2019
Which means that the Prime Minister with her party helping, must find a way to improve on the present deal and they have one year to make it happen.
As one Machiavellian to another; Nice touch, Theresa.
Prime Minister Theresa May in the House of Commons on December 11, 2017 where she comments on the December 8th Phase I agreement with the EU.