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Until now I’ve been a strong Theresa May supporter. After all, she jumped at the chance to become ‘The Brexit Prime Minister’ and she respected the will of the British electorate by acting appropriately on the result of the June 23, 2016 EU referendum, and she has endured a brutal schedule spending countless hours flying to European capitals to arrange a sensible and fair Brexit agreement (an amazingly thankless task that even her political enemies acknowledge is thankless) and now, she and her ministers have carved-out a Brexit agreement that EU negotiators say will be signed by all 27 EU countries. (What the EU negotiators say, and what EU27 leaders will do, may be two different things. We’ll see)
This, in addition to fulfilling all her other duties, qualifies her in my mind as operating a very successful premiership.
However, it did not go unnoticed that Theresa May is now quoting THREE possible Brexit outcomes; (1) Theresa May’s Brexit deal, (2) A No Deal/WTO Brexit or, (3) cancelling Brexit.
Whereas prior to being pressured by her party and the media Theresa May was only quoting TWO possible Brexit outcomes; (a) A negotiated Brexit deal, or, (b) a No Deal/WTO Brexit.
Which represents a big difference in political thought and a very dangerous game could begin thereby impacting civil order in the UK, and Conservative Party fortunes well into the future.
Does Theresa May (The Brexit Prime Minister!) Pose an Existential Threat to Brexit?
No doubt that every Brexiteer on planet Earth has taken it as a threat that Theresa May intends to revoke Great Britain’s Article 50 notification to the European Union if she doesn’t get what she wants.
And extrapolating that for a moment, and as Theresa May is a self-confessed Remainer; Brexiteers must assume that Theresa May is aiming for a BRINO — a Brexit in Name Only agreement.
What other conclusion can be drawn?
The definition of BRINO varies widely depending upon whom you consult; For example, Brexiteers say that BRINO will create a situation whereby (via a weak Brexit agreement) the UK becomes worse-off than if it had stayed within the European Union — many orders of magnitude worse than a Hard Brexit which is what most Brexiteers favour — whereas BRINO to a Remainer means the only difference is that Britons continue to pay Europe’s bills but with less say in EU spending, less say in EU legislation that affects the UK, and Britons will enjoy a more arm’s length relationship with the EU.
Much worse than either of those two options is that Article 50 could be cancelled by Theresa May — especially if you’re the Conservative and Unionist Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland which would likely be removed from power at the next election and might not form a government for decades.
Smaller betrayals of the people’s trust have started civil wars and the Conservatives would roast themselves if they allowed Theresa May to revoke Article 50 thereby cancelling Brexit. Assuming it could be legally cancelled, and assuming that the EU would agree to the cancellation.
To be Fair to Theresa May…
To be fair to Prime Minister Theresa May, her comment might have been made in the heat of the moment. We all do that. Sometimes we say more than we mean to say especially when the pressure’s on. And if that’s the case, we must remember the sportsman’s rule of “No harm, no foul” and carry on without mentioning it further or using it to embarrass Ms. May.
But if Theresa May is using the threat of cancelling Brexit in order to force her Cabinet and her party into voting for her Brexit deal, Conservative MP’s will have two choices; Hold their noses and vote for the Theresa May deal and fire her shortly after the official Brexit date, or fire her now and replace her with an interim leader who will continue the Brexit process without resorting to such threats.
However, if Theresa May is to be fired by her party for threatening to undo the result of the democratically held EU referendum to get her chosen (some would say BRINO) Brexit deal approved, she deserves to know in advance. For Conservative MP’s to gather 48 or more members on the so-called 1922 Committee to overthrow her as party leader and Prime Minister (which is allowed in the Conservative Party constitution) without a warning or opportunity to retract part of her statement would be unseemly.
In such cases where the leader and 48 or more members disagree on an important policy or part of policy, or of conduct of a Prime Minister, the 1922 Committee members should appear at 10 Downing Street and sign-in at the guest register and inform the Prime Minister of their intentions to remove her from the position of Prime Minister unless she retracts that part of her speech, comments, or policy, that offends them.
Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, ERG, on Theresa May’s (Draft) Brexit Deal
If those 48 or more 1922 Committee members don’t appear at 10 Downing St. and forewarn the Prime Minister of their intentions, they risk becoming complicit in her error, or they are a ‘paper tiger’ political force powered by sound bites alone, or they’ve already made the decision to fire her at the first opportunity.
Perhaps by virtue of their appearance at 10 Downing Street to politely notify the Prime Minister of their intention, Theresa May will have the opportunity to explain to them that she hadn’t meant it the way they’ve taken it, or that she simply said it in the heat of the battle; In either case, no harm done.
At the very least, it might register with Theresa May that although she faces negative consequences in the EU as she arranges the best Brexit that she can, she and her party will also face negative consequences within the UK if she doesn’t practice the very best form of statecraft — both foreign and domestic.
Finally, I wouldn’t wish Theresa May’s job on anyone — not even my worst enemy — for the Brexit Prime Minister’s job has got to be one of the most under-appreciated jobs in the world — yet with all of that said, she and every subsequent Prime Minister must ‘get it right’ regardless of the challenges.
Here’s to a better level of understanding between Prime Minister Theresa May, her party, and to British citizens!
The Point of All This?
In Theresa May’s defence, the EU-approved Canada+++ proposal doesn’t solve the seemingly *highly contrived* (by the EU) or *vastly overstated* (by the UK) problem of a border in the Irish Sea and a hard land border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland — which is a problem that mere handfuls of politicians on both sides of the English Channel are concerned about.
I say highly contrived or vastly overstated because nowhere in the Belfast Agreement does it say there can’t be a Hard Border.
In Theresa May’s mind, she has delivered a 100% perfect deal that addresses every problem related to Brexit. And in the end, that may turn out to be 100% true.
That some of those problems may have been contrived or overstated by incredibly small numbers of politicians seems to have escaped her. Still, as long as the entire implementation period and/or temporary Customs Union membership has a firm end-date, that’s good enough for me.
*No end date* should equate to *no deal* IMHO.
- Theresa May’s Brexit statement in full (The Times)
- How to Create a ‘Win-Win’ Northern Ireland Agreement (LetterToBritain)
- In the Brexit Home Stretch there are Only Three Possibilities (LetterToBritain)
- Read the entire text of The Belfast Agreement in downloadable PDF form (gov.uk)
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Certain pro-EU commentators paint a picture of either a catastrophic Brexit crash-out (Hard Brexit) or a ‘non-Brexit’ where the UK would retain few of the rights gained by a full Brexit but would still be chained to the responsibilities of EU membership (Soft Brexit) whether via the so-called ‘Norway’ model or the ‘Norway-plus’ model, or via any other model such as the ‘Canada’ model.
Those same commentators excitedly cite potential UK manufacturing job losses in the post-Brexit timeframe even though the UK is primarily a service based economy (80.2% in 2014 and rising) and they forget to factor-in the astonishing changes occurring every day in Britain’s manufacturing sector.
UK Manufacturing = Less Than 10% of GDP
Manufacturing in the UK accounts for less than 10% of GDP (2016) and provides jobs for 3.2 million workers (2016) but a recent PwC report says that by 2030 half of all UK manufacturing jobs could be automated. That’s less than 12-years from now. And it could happen much faster and on a much larger scale than that.
Repeat; Up to half of all UK manufacturing jobs will be lost within 12-years. It’s uncertain whether British workers are aware of these looming changes.
What’s Great for UK Businesses Won’t be Great for Foreign Workers
In 2018, of the 3.1 million UK manufacturing workers (a stat that falls with each passing year as automation increases) we find that over half of manufacturing workers in the UK are citizens of other countries — primarily from eastern Europe, but also western Europe.
So, expect UK-based eastern European workers to be replaced by automation.
Increasing automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will cause UK companies to choose between UK-born workers and eastern European workers, and it’s likely that hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of eastern Europeans will be returning home with plenty of UK coin in their pocket. (And why not, they earned it)
I hope you didn’t expect the UK to lay-off its own British-born workers in order to protect the jobs of eastern European-born workers as automation proceeds, did you? Would EU companies show that level of courtesy to UK workers in the European Union, were the situation reversed?
Profits for UK manufacturing companies are projected to rise significantly as automation and AI become one with the system, while UK-born manufacturing workers should find themselves at 100% employment.
What’s not to like?
UK Manufacturing Job Losses Due to Automation – Not Brexit
If you’re one of the EU elites who fear that hundreds of thousands of eastern European workers in Britain will lose their UK manufacturing jobs due to Brexit you couldn’t be more wrong.
Let’s be perfectly clear; Half of all UK manufacturing jobs will be lost to automation by 2030 — and it won’t be on account of Brexit!
The narrative that says the UK economy will be severely damaged on account of manufacturing job losses due to a Hard Brexit is a complete and utter fantasy.
Every day from now until 2030, automation and AI will replace eastern European workers, Brexit or no Brexit. Meanwhile, British-born manufacturing workers will find themselves at full employment.
It’s all good!