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Message Received, Theresa May?

by John Brian Shannon

It’s not you, Theresa May, it’s your draft Withdrawal Agreement that’s caused your problems!

That can’t be said enough, for it’s the only glaringly wrong thing that Theresa May has done throughout her premiership.

Perhaps ‘wrong’ is too strong a word as it’s more like an error of omission (but an ‘omission’ that has the potential to cost the country dearly!) and her brutal personal schedule, plus a lack of support from some in her party, added to the lonely battle of one human being against many in Brussels must have contributed to her failure to grasp the importance of the fourth and final piece of the Brexit puzzle.

It’s been pointed out many times that more people want you to fail, than want you to succeed, when you’re a British Prime Minister. The UK political system and certain media outlets are particularly harsh on British PM’s, but that’s the life those politicians chose, so there can be no complaining. Although we certainly understand she might experience a high level of frustration from time to time.


Theresa May Comments After the Conservative Party Confidence Vote

With characteristic class and resolve Theresa May stood outside 10 Downing St. last night after what was surely the most trying day of her premiership and spoke candidly about the result of the Conservative Party confidence vote — which she won — but not by the landslide predicted.

Some 117 Conservative MP’s voted against her staying on as leader and 200 voted for her to continue.

Though Theresa May won on the numbers, former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was forced out even though she survived a similar confidence vote with 4 more votes than Theresa May has just done for her to continue her premiership.

Which must send Theresa May a clear message. And that message must be that at least 17.4 million Britons and 117 Conservative Party members are very concerned about getting stuck in a permanent Customs Union/Single Market with the European Union — with no chance to leave it — ever!

That’s a bad deal by any standard, and I hope the Prime Minister recognizes that millions of Britons (and non-British, but significant stakeholders in the UK economy) are genuinely concerned, and it isn’t about political tub-thumping.


Britons Need Proof the Backstop Has Been Removed or a Firm End Date to Customs Union Membership Has Been Agreed

It’s of no use whatsoever if EC President Donald Tusk and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker tell Theresa May that the Irish backstop won’t ever be employed, so don’t worry about it. It’s equally of no use for a non-legally binding addition to the Political Declaration document. It’s not worth one penny.

Because neither Donald Tusk nor Jean-Claude Juncker will remain in their posts after the EU elections next year, and their successors won’t be obligated in any way to follow non legally binding agreements that were made prior to their swearing-in ceremony. Not only that, but unless these terms are written into the legally binding document (the draft Withdrawal Agreement) they aren’t binding, they’re just fluff.

The only way to solve this problem is for Theresa May to inform both the EC and EU presidents that her party will not vote up a draft Withdrawal Agreement in which there is an Irish backstop, or one that doesn’t have a firm end-date for Customs Union membership. And that is the end of that, as they say.

For as long as the existing Withdrawal Agreement continues to include a backstop clause and/or lacks a Customs Union automatic escape date, it will continue to not receive approval in the UK House of Commons, and if the EU wants to drive the UK into a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’ they’re on that trajectory with certainty.

Let me repeat this: As long as there is a backstop, the draft Withdrawal Agreement won’t pass in the UK House of Commons.

Alternatively: As long as there’s no automatic end date to Customs Union membership, the draft Withdrawal Agreement won’t pass in the UK House of Commons.

Like it or not, that’s where we are.


Is Theresa May Up For It?

Full marks for Theresa May for making it through another brutal day. Why anyone would want to be a British Prime Minister is quite beyond me — but more power to her! — especially if she gets that backstop removed from the draft Withdrawal Agreement, or if an automatic end-date to EU Customs Union membership gets added to the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

You’re becoming a better Prime Minister every month, Theresa May.

Now just meet this final challenge and you’ll be 4-out-of-4 and able to score high placement among British Prime Ministers throughout Britain’s history. Your country needs you to be that good, that dedicated, and that strong!

It’s Not You Theresa May… It’s Your Brexit Deal!

by John Brian Shannon

Very Important People said it would never happen.

They said it would be impossible for Britain’s 1922 Committee to gather enough votes to call for a leadership contest in the Conservative Party. They laughed, they wrote Op/Eds mocking the UK Conservatives, and they called the European Research Group (ERG) a paper tiger — because word on the street was — they couldn’t muster enough votes to challenge Theresa May’s premiership.

Yet, within one week of Theresa May bringing home a substandard draft Withdrawal Agreement, the ERG and its friends gathered enough votes to call for a leadership review and they made it look easy. Well done!

Tonight, between the hours of 6:00pm and 8:00pm London time, Theresa May will be reapplying for her job, and if she loses, she will remain Prime Minister until the Conservative Party chooses a new leader. If she wins, the Conservative Party won’t be able to contest her leadership for 12-months no matter what good or bad she does during those 12-months.

So it all comes down to this;

Do you trust Theresa May with the reins of power for the next 12-months leaving the Conservative Party as mere passengers (accomplices?) in the Brexit bus that Theresa May is driving?


Theresa May Has Nobody to Blame but Herself

It’s the Prime Minister who has created this situation. When you’re driving the car and you don’t like where you’ve ended-up, it’s 100% your fault.

Theresa May lollygagged her way through the first 2-years of her premiership, and then suddenly returned from Brussels 2-weeks ago with the ol’ hurry up and sign this draft Withdrawal Agreement before-the-ink-is-dry gambit.

Which seemed a bit off to say the least. Uh, can we read it first, or do we have to vote on it… unread? British MP’s seemed taken-aback by this approach and it took a few days for them to respond. And respond they have!

The Prime Minister is going to hear loud and clear from her party tonight, and by the end of it she may be a lame-duck Prime Minister or she’ll win them over and be free of leadership contests for the next year.

Either way, it’s on her.


It’s Not Her Leadership – It’s the Substandard Draft Withdrawal Agreement

Theresa May has said all along that she wanted a real Brexit and made sweeping statements like, “Brexit means Brexit” and “No Deal is better than a Bad Deal” and “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” and other, similar, strong statements which the UK public and media ate-up like chocolate. Oh, how we loved her!

But now that it’s time to deliver, the Prime Minister has fudged on one crucial part of Brexit and it’s arguably the most important part of all — the sudden appearance of a Northern Ireland ‘backstop’ — which could prevent the UK from ever arranging its own trade deals in the post-Brexit timeframe.

You can check for yourself, the words “Northern Ireland backstop” never appeared in the 2016 referendum on EU membership. And, as there wasn’t any other UK referendum on EU membership since the United Kingdom joined the European Union in 1993, that term never appeared anywhere else either.

It’s something that Brussels and Theresa May have dreamt-up because they weren’t committed enough to find a workable solution to an Irish border problem left over from a previous century. Disappointing to say the least — because to overcome political problems is what elected officials are paid to do and if they can’t do it, they don’t deserve their jobs.

The four pillars of Brexit were and are:

  1. Take back control of the UK’s borders and immigration
  2. Take back control of the UK legal system
  3. Take back control of the UK economy
  4. Take back control of UK trade

And Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement only succeeds on the first three due to the so-called ‘backstop’ clause in the draft Withdrawal Agreement. The backstop wouldn’t be required at all if a political solution had been found at any time over the past lollygagging 2-years.

Conceivably, the UK could lose all chance of ever making its own trade deals if the backstop kicks-in — which could easily happen if we are to judge it by the low-level of success we’ve seen so far in Brexit negotiations.

Therefore, having failed to agree an Irish border solution, the Prime Minister is asking for more time to arrange an Irish border solution — even though nothing on this brief has been resolved in over 2-years? Give me a break!

Rewarding mediocrity is not the way to deal with politicians.

Either Theresa May is complicit in trying to keep the UK (permanently) inside the EU Customs Union and Single Market against the instructions of 52% of UK voters (thereby giving up any chance of Britain ever signing its own trade deals, which strays dangerously close to becoming an act of treason for a sitting Prime Minister) or she is very naively gambling with the UK’s future by allowing the backstop to form part of a signed and therefore legal Withdrawal Agreement (thereby giving up any chance of Britain ever signing its own trade deals, which strays dangerously close to becoming an act of treason for a sitting Prime Minister).


Summary

If Theresa May continues to insist that the backstop must remain part of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, the Conservatives need to cut her loose, fast. The backstop clause is just too dangerous for the country and if it ever did kick-in, it would prevent the UK from seeking its own trade deals — thereby dramatically limiting economic growth in the UK for the next 100-years. That’s treason and tragedy in one dose.

If Theresa May says she can remove the backstop or add an addenda to her draft Withdrawal Agreement with a guaranteed end-date to the UK’s membership in the EU Customs Union, then I hope UK Conservatives vote to keep her on and give her every opportunity to succeed as Prime Minister and importantly, every opportunity to succeed as the Prime Minister responsible for the UK’s exit from the European Union.


Notes:

  1. Calls by anyone for a 2nd referendum are premature at best, dangerous at worst, and it adds to civil unrest with real consequences for the country and the economy — and the poor losers of the 2016 referendum should realize the country already had a ‘People’s Vote’ on June 23, 2016 — and the government still hasn’t gotten the job done from that referendum. Adding more work to the UK government when they haven’t even caught up with the last referendum result is lunacy.
  2. Theresa May threatening to cancel Brexit is undemocratic. The People voted to Leave and the government is to follow their instructions with no departing from those instructions. She hasn’t the right, short of nuclear war breaking out, to cancel what her employers have instructed her to do. If she’s complaining the government has run out of time, let’s remind her that she spent 2-years lollygagging around doing nothing productive with Brexit. Yes, it takes both sides to make a deal, but there is much that could’ve been done that wasn’t; Like formulating a ‘No Deal’ plan to help ease the country through the immediate post-Brexit period in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. If she persists with her threat to cancel Brexit, she should be removed as Prime Minister and forced to resign her Member of Parliament seat in Maidenhead. That’s just too undemocratic to tolerate — for backbenchers, let alone for a Minister of the Crown, or indeed the Prime Minister of the country.
  3. Theresa May threatening to ask for an Article 50 extension is also a case of her wasting the first 2-years of her premiership, and then, not being able to get the job done on time. Again, if she persists asking for an extension to do her job when she should’ve been doing it all along, Conservative MP’s need to remove her from the PM’s chair.
  4. Apocalyptic cries about a so-called ‘No Deal’ Brexit should be ignored. The UK will begin saving money right away in the event of a No Deal Brexit: £39 billion on account of walking away instead of paying the EU for an Implementation Period, also, £12.205 billion (net 2019) will be saved by no longer having to contribute to the EU budget and £10.05 billion (net 2020) will be saved in FY 2020. Also, the obscene trade surplus that the EU runs with the UK of £95 billion per year will wither, perhaps by 50% per year until it hits zero. And in other ways, the UK will SAVE, SAVE, SAVE, money — beginning in the very first year of a No Deal Brexit. That’s a lot of money that the UK could put to better use than sending it to Brussels and hoping for morsels in return as the UK has done for decades.

The Day After Theresa May’s Draft Withdrawal Agreement Fails…

by John Brian Shannon

Theresa May’s draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA) may be better than nothing but it isn’t the best possible deal for the UK, for British business, nor for British citizens. But a better deal may still be in the cards for the United Kingdom and the European Union.

The difference between a *somewhat better than a No Deal Brexit* and the *best possible Brexit* amounts to making three changes to the present draft Withdrawal Agreement:

  1. Remove the backstop
  2. Remove jurisdiction of the European Court (ECJ)
  3. Add a guaranteed end date to Customs Union membership

That’s the difference between Theresa May’s risky deal and a great deal for both sides.

With better negotiators the UK government would’ve succeeded on all counts, including the three mentioned above. That goes without saying.

If Theresa May had brought that deal home it would’ve been signed, sealed and delivered by now.

However, if Parliament rejects the present draft WA as it seems destined to do on December 11, 2018 — there’s another kick at the can which could happen on any given day right up until March 29th, 2018. And that’s exactly what needs to happen.

In the very few days after the present draft Withdrawal Agreement fails in the UK House of Commons, British MP’s should vote on and approve such changes to the draft as necessary and send Theresa May or her Brexit secretary back to the EU with the new offer that’s approved by Parliament. The moment the EU signs on the dotted line it’s binding on all concerned parties. That’s how to get this deal done.

Offer, then counter-offer. Repeat, until both sides are satisfied. That’s how negotiations work. Comprendi?


What’s the Deal With the Backstop?

The whole Northern Ireland border issue is a red herring.

First off, the situation between the people of Northern Ireland and the people of the Republic of Ireland has matured over many years to the point where a normal border (like every country in the world employs) could be created and there wouldn’t be a problem operating a normal, hard border.

Alternatively, if the situation between the two jurisdictions isn’t as mature as I suggest, technology could be employed to capture tariffs and ensure standards are met at the point of delivery in both jurisdictions.

And if the UK decides to utilize a zero-tariff economy post-Brexit, there’s no need for remote or in-transit tariff technology as there won’t be any need to capture tariffs.

With a little bit of creative thinking the wholly contrived ‘backstop issue’ goes away and most of the problems with Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement disappear!


Without the Backstop, the ECJ Doesn’t Need Jurisdiction in Any UK Territory – Devolved or Not

Once the backstop disappears there’s no longer any need for the ECJ to have jurisdiction anywhere in the UK.

Even if that means that Republic of Ireland exports destined for Northern Ireland must first be shipped to England, Scotland or Wales (to allow proper border checks to occur in England, Scotland or Wales) and then on to Northern Ireland in the normal manner.

The reverse is true for exports from Northern Ireland travelling to the Republic of Ireland. To satisfy all UK and EU regulations goods could be shipped from NI to England, Scotland or Wales ports, and after passing inspection, shipped on to the RoI.

Such trans-shipment procedures are quite normal in the 21st-century, but it might be a first for Europe. Can they handle it?


Negotiations 101

Only a fool accepts the first offer in any negotiation process — and that is doubly true when dealing with politicians who spend their entire careers negotiating one thing or another.

The problem is that Brexit negotiations are taking too long. The longer it takes to agree a Brexit deal, the more uncertainty for markets on both sides of the English Channel.

Only in Europe could Brexit take 3-years (we’re almost at 3-years now) and at present rates of progress it looks like it could drag on for another 3-years.

When Britons stop acting like they live in the 120th-largest economic power in the world instead of the 6th-largest the UK will finally live up to its full potential.

I exhort Prime Minister Theresa May and the rest of the UK government to; “Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions!”


The draft Withdrawal Agreement was Created to Prevent a Hard Brexit

However, it has significant deficiencies that need to be rectified before it can be approved by the House of Commons. Once those corrections are made it should be passed immediately by UK MP’s and sent on to the EU27 for their approval.

Draft Withdrawal Agreement was created to prevent a Hard Brexit

Summary

  • Theresa May should offer her draft Withdrawal Agreement up for vote in Parliament on December 11th as planned. Where it is likely to fail.
  • The PM should then offer the Political Declaration (only) up for vote on December 12th to demonstrate goodwill to the EU. Where it should pass easily.
  • Then the Prime Minister should consult with party leaders in the House of Commons and along with her Cabinet, create a counter-offer consisting of the existing draft WA, but with the backstop removed, any reference to the ECJ removed, and a firm end-date for leaving the so-called ‘temporary’ Customs Union with the EU. That date might be December 31, 2020, or it may be December 31, 2021.
  • And that new Withdrawal Agreement should be voted on and passed by the House of Commons if MP’s wish to honour the will of UK voters.
  • If the EU ratifies those changes, they get £39 billion on March 29, 2019 that Theresa May promised them in exchange for a signed Withdrawal Agreement — but if they don’t ratify it the UK owes (only) £9.65 billion (according to reliable sources) to the EU to pay expected future obligations to the EU.

On top of everything, everyone should stop panicking. We’re talking about a DRAFT Withdrawal Agreement, which by definition, means it’s still subject to negotiation no matter what EU negotiators or Theresa May say. It’s a DRAFT proposal. Get it?

It’s time for British MP’s to grab hold of this process; Let the deal fail in the House of Commons, then get the Political Declaration passed in the House, and then make the alterations to the draft Withdrawal Agreement that a majority of MP’s can support, then get that officially passed in the House — and then offer it to the EU by December 31, 2018. In that order. And that soon.

If the EU accepts the new Withdrawal Agreement proposal, everyone’s Brexit problems are solved, which allows the EU to be eligible to receive £39 billion on March 29, 2019.

If not, there’s plenty more time for negotiations no. matter. what. the. politicians. say.