Cable: PM must stop threatening the country with no-deal Brexit

The leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable has slammed the Prime Minister for refusing to end the uncertainty and rule out a no-deal Brexit, despite her assertions that her deal is the only option. 

Challenging the Prime Minister at PMQs today, Vince Cable said there was “absolutely no reason why the public should be alarmed by continuing discussions about a chaotic no-deal.”

He added: “It is entirely within the power of the House and the Government to stop it. So will she reassure the public that under no circumstances this will happen?”

In response, the Prime Minister refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

Following the exchange, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said: 

“The Prime Minister must stop threatening the country with a scenario virtually nobody supports.

“This attempt to bamboozle businesses and backbenchers with the prospect of chaos lacks all credibility. The Commons will never support ‘no deal’, and Parliament has the power to stop it.

“If MPs vote down May’s deal in December, the real alternative will be a People’s Vote with the option to stay in the EU.”

* Tahir Maher is the Wednesday editor and a member of the LDV editorial team

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54 Comments

  • Err, if we want to avoid a no-deal then why not just vote for “May’s deal” ?
    Though, of course, it should be described more accurately as “the EU’s one and only final offer”.

  • marcstevens 28th Nov '18 - 9:55pm

    Why should we when a people’s vote on the deal and a referendum including the option of remain is very much a possibility just as Vince says.

  • Alan – the answer is if the Labour party and a number of Tories decide to back it. You might think that unlikely but look at what John McDonnell said today. And look at the fact that a year ago only the LibDems and Caroline Lucas were for a PV but today there are around 120 MPs openly backing it, 700,000 people marched for it in London and the opinion polls show it is the most popular option. It can happen. We need to keep up the pressure on Labour.

  • @Alan Jelfs

    The question is how does ANY option get passed before March 29th. I think the key point is that the Government can extend the Brexit leaving date. Obviously the thing is that May is saying that she isn’t willing to do so and is playing “chicken” with the country’s future. But I think Parliament will instruct her to do so – assuming she doesn’t get her deal or a very slightly tweaked deal through.

    If you want to do it before March 29th – a motion or I guess simple legislation could be passed saying 1. extend the date 2. pass legislation in the fullness of time to enable a referendum.

  • Arthur Bailey 29th Nov '18 - 12:25pm

    Vince cable should start looking at how he is going to find ways to improve our position in the opinion polls, as we are now virtually level with UKIP on 7%!!
    Does that not prove that the 48% who voted remain, and I am one, are not supporting his constant cal
    ling for another referendum.
    If we get one, the only question that Mrs May needs to ask is the choice between her plan or No Brexit. She has stated over and over again that she will not have another referendum, so she need not include it on the 2nd referendum choices!
    We could be soon facing another General Election, if Jeremy Corbin gets his way, and at 7% we will probably lose what few MPs we have now!
    For the sake of the Party Cable, please resign so we can replace you with someone who realises that without voter support, our Party is going down hill fast and we need to change the tune as quickly as possible

  • Yeovil Yokel 29th Nov '18 - 2:20pm

    Yes, Arthur Bailey, let’s have a Referendum amongst the membership on whether Vince should Remain or Leave the Party leadership. Most of us don’t want to be turkeys voting for Xmas, so the Remainers would win handsomely.

  • Alan Jeffs: if the will is there it can be passed in a week. Parliament can pass emergecy legislation in virtually a day, provisions in the event of strikes in the fuel sector for one, I well recall how quickly this was done when the striking electricty and mineworkers hit supplies. I expect the vote to be held early to mid February
    Regarding comments about the leadership, if we could attract the media a new leader would have to be something so, so different to what any party has created to date.
    Virtually an impossible task. .Agree VC was not particuarly impressive yesterday but we all have off days.
    Interestingly there are a number of by elections when a decade or so ago we might have been expected to almost sweep the board. Hardly likely today.
    Perhaps a good time for a new leader would be resignation over Xmas, an agreed candidate, or if there is a contest, temporary leader through to the contest, probably the present deputy.

  • Malcolm Todd 29th Nov '18 - 3:02pm

    Michael 1 28th Nov ’18 – 11:14pm
    “I think the key point is that the Government can extend the Brexit leaving date…
    “If you want to do it before March 29th – a motion or I guess simple legislation could be passed saying 1. extend the date 2. pass legislation in the fullness of time to enable a referendum.”

    You keep pushing the idea that A50 can be unilaterally extended or even cancelled by the government. Well, it can’t. I realise the question of whether the notification can be unilaterally withdrawn is about to be argued before the CJEU, but unless the court decides to torture the plain grammar of the Article and clear common sense they are bound to rule against. I don’t understand how anyone can read ambiguity into the treaty’s language on this point.
    As for extension, that explicitly requires the consent of all the EU27 as well as the withdrawing state. None of this is impossible – but we do need the consent, not just of the EU per se but of all its members in order to do it.

  • @Malcolm Todd
    The case was heard on the 27th. Formal judgement is due to be handed down before the vote on the 11th (7th or 9th as I remember). During the hearing the EU commission and council confirmed that the Article 50 notice could be withdrawn (have to look at the formal judgement for consent clarification). That would reset the clock, as against the provision in article 50 to have the period of 2 years extended by unanimous agreement of the other 27 sates.
    In short the government (with the permission of parliament) could actually stop this whole thing and remain in the EU any time up to 10.59 on 29th March.

  • Malcolm Todd 29th Nov '18 - 3:53pm

    P.J.
    That’s interesting – I missed that. Have you got a link? My Googling skills must be below par – I’ve found reports of the case being heard (I mistook a report of the arguments being given for a report of arguments in advance of the hearing) but nothing on a decision, formal or otherwise. This report by the BBC says:
    “Hubert Legal, the chief lawyer for the European Council, argued that allowing unilateral withdrawal could therefore lead to ‘disaster’, of which ‘the main victim could be the European project altogether’.

    “This was echoed by lawyers for the European Commission, who said states could act in an ‘abusive’ manner by stopping and restarting the countdown clock, creating ‘endless uncertainty’ – which the two-year time limit built into Article 50 was designed to guard against.
    (emphasis added)

    This seems directly opposite to what you claim: the Council and the Commission appear to be arguing that allowing unilateral withdrawal would be disastrous, not that it is actually permitted.

  • Malcolm Todd 29th Nov '18 - 3:57pm

    As a side note: “Hubert Legal”! Nominative determinism proves itself again… 😀

    Another side note: in the process of checking that M. Legal really does seem to go by that name, I’ve come across several other reports of the hearing, which all make clear that the Council and Commission were rejecting the idea that the notification can be withdrawn unilaterally. I think you must simply have misread that, P.J. – unless you have a contradictory source?

  • @Malcolm Todd
    Based on twitter feed from Jolyan Maugham QC (Good Law Project). I suspect he was reading into testimony given at the hearing but we’ll soon have a definitive judgement.

  • ~Malcolm Todd

    ““This was echoed by lawyers for the European Commission, who said states could act in an ‘abusive’ manner by stopping and restarting the countdown clock, creating ‘endless uncertainty’ – which the two-year time limit built into Article 50 was designed to guard against.””

    This is exactly the same sort of thing that I was saying on this site 12-18 months ago.
    I always said article 50 would not be allowed to be revoked unilaterally, as that was not how it was written and it would cause absolute chaos for the EU in the future when any member state, i.e Poland, Bulgaria etc, did not get something they wanted from the EU, or where be asking to sign up to something they did not agree with, they would be able to threaten to use article 50 as leverage against the EU. That puts far to much power in the hands of a member state (something the EU would never allow)

    I remember at the time, arguing with many people on this site, Arnold Kiel springs to mind, telling me and others who were making the same arguments that we’re wrong. Wonder when these people are going to put their hands up and admit they were wrong.

    This judgement can’t come soon enough, then hopefully we can put an end to all these silly calls for another “peoples vote” and get on with the one we had

  • David Allen 29th Nov '18 - 5:03pm

    I am fearful that Malcolm may have this right, see the below piece by Alastair Meeks. The EU, having faced prolonged torture from the Brexiteers for the last two years, have now finally got even. They have struck a deal which finally gets rid of their appalling Brit problem. They have barricaded us back into our box with their backstop. We are now a rule-taker. That’s it. The EU want this deal, which is very much in their favour. They wouldn’t want to renegotiate it now, even if the ghost of Roy Jenkins came and pleaded with them to let us back in.

    http://www2.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2018/11/29/the-terrible-truth-about-brexit/

  • Malcolm Todd 29th Nov '18 - 5:48pm

    I think some people may be misinterpreting my position a tad. That Article 50 can be extended if the EU agree is a given, and that in practice it can be cancelled if everyone agrees is I think certain. And unlike some, I believe that the EU would still much prefer us to stay – what they’re not interested in is helping us to prolong the agony. If the government were to about-face and support a referendum now, with Remain as an option, I think they’d be willing to give us a bit of time to do that; and unlike matt, I’ve never subscribed to the idea that you can’t undo a democratic vote with a democratic vote. I think the main stumbling block at this point is the pride of Theresa May and the internal politics of the Tory Party.

  • @Malcolm Todd: “ … the [EU] Council and Commission were rejecting the idea that the [Article 50] notification can be withdrawn unilaterally [by the UK]”.

    That was also my clear understanding from the reports that I saw – but I am not sure whether that argument would also apply to an extension of Article 50, e.g. for the purposes of holding a ‘People’s Vote’.

    We will obviously need to await the final judgment in due course, although it’s quite likely that this narrow issue will be merely of academic interest. Whether or not the UK is legally entitled to withdraw and/or extend Article 50 on a unilateral basis, I understood that political assurances have already been obtained that the EU27 would, in any case, most probably consent to any reasonable request by the UK for an Article 50 extension in order to hold a referendum on the TM “deal”, but almost certainly not for any renegotiation.

    The more serious difficulty, however, is whether and how a HofC majority can be mustered in support of a ‘People’s Vote’ and associated application to extend Article 50 – the numbers are obviously insufficient at present, but may grow as other possible Brexit options are defeated, especially if it becomes more widely accepted that this may be the only way to break the likely parliamentary deadlock. However, even assuming that such a majority can be secured in the parliamentary chaos that will probably follow the seemingly inevitable rejection of TM’s deal in the “meaningful vote” on 11 December, it will still also be necessary for the HofC to clearly instruct the current (or potentially any replacement) Government, if it’s then unwilling to do so voluntarily, to make an Article 50 extension application and to introduce the necessary referendum legislation. These major, but not necessarily insurmountable, political obstacles to a ‘People’s Vote’ and Article 50 extension would still need to be overcome whatever the outcome of the current ECJ proceedings.

  • David Allen 29th Nov '18 - 6:57pm

    Sorry Malcolm, it was your comments on the CJEU case which I commented were likely to be right. What I said after that was purely my own thoughts!

    We could, of course, both be partly right and partly wrong. There isn’t such a thing as “The EU” which would either prefer Britain to Remain, or which can’t wait to see the back of us. There are only individuals, reacting to events and reevaluating their positions, and perhaps not actually ready to agree how they might react, in the hypothetical event of a British second vote. I’m sure that two years ago, they would have bitten our hands off if we had asked to withdraw Article 50. I’m a lot less sure now.

    Barnier has played a blinder. Starting from the unarguable position that Ireland deserved to be protected from a kick in the teeth from the UK, he has conjured up the “Backstop”, which enforces UK compliance with EU trading rules. If we want to negotiate our way out of the Backstop, we will have to offer the EU an alternative arangement which is even more favourable to them than the Backstop. Otherwise they can insist on keeping the Backstop.

    Quite honestly, I can foresee comparisons being drawn with the Versailles Agreement after WW1, which imposed humiliating conditions on Germany, and arguably led to the eventual rise of Nazism. That will begin when Macron uses the leverage it provides to win back access to British waters for his fishing fleet. It will continue as the EU evolve their market regulations over the years and dictate British compliance. And what’s really humiliating is that it will all have been Britain’s own silly fault for starting the Brexit row!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 29th Nov '18 - 8:04pm

    Matt

    I am glad to have interaction with you old friend Matt.We missed you, those of us not convinced by the EU fan club we are members of but thought we were in a political party with a real philosophy and more than a single policy, and too often wonder why, and what can be the result of this nonsensical obsession?

    Then we read David Allen, who here might be the great man of comedy so loved at this festive season, the humour taken in his post, for if he is serious that our daft Brexit trio inflicted torture on the top elite of the EU, no wonder the club alluded to seems to those of us who yearn for a party, to be a cult .

  • @Lorenzo Cherin

    Thanks old friend, it’s good to be back. I’m a bit like Rheumatic Fever, once you had it once, it’s always lurking in the background and bound to come back lol. No Seriously, been off grid for a while through health. Haven’t felt like engaging, but always checked in from now and then to see what was going on in the world of LD’s.

    To be honest, will be glad when this Brexit is all over and done with and we can all start engaging again with other on more important matters that are affecting the world and society. Not long now 🙂

  • Nom de Plume 29th Nov '18 - 10:02pm

    @matt

    This Brexit is not going to be over and done with for a long time. The EU and the UK’s relationship to it is not going to go away. Not ever. The shortest route out is revoking Article 50 and winning a referendum to Remain. All other routes lead to years of difficult negotiations.

  • Nom de Plume

    Can’t agree, the easiest way out is a clean break WTO rules, works for 90% of the rest of the world fine., so dont see why the UK should be any different.

    We can negotiate on security. I am sure that the EU is not going to want to be seen on the world stage as being obstructive in this area.

    We Still need access to their flying space as well ours, that will be sorted out quickly with no disruptions at all.

    There are some EU projects that the EU will more than happily snap our money up for a contribution, as there member states do not want to have to cough up any more monies. We will still continue to work together in medicines and sciences etc

    Project fear failed last time, this time we seem to have Carney going on about Project Annihilation, it’s just much more the same old nonesense that has been proven wrong again and again.
    “The shortest route out is revoking Article 50 and winning a referendum to Remain. All other routes lead to years of difficult negotiations.”
    That maybe the shortest route for you remainers, but that is not what the country voted for at the last referendum. They voted to leave the EU Single Market and the Customs Union. It really was quite simple.
    If a free trade could be had then great, then if not WTO rules it would be. Since the EU have shown that they are completely incapable of coming up with a fair trade deal that benefits both parties, then WTO rules it has to be

  • @Malcolm Todd

    Thanks for your comment. As you note the CJEU is deciding about whether the UK can withdraw from A50 at the moment. But I rate the odds that we will be able to either unilaterally or with the unanimous support of EU27 at say 95%+.

    I went through this in some detail in a comment which you may or may not have seen with links at https://www.libdemvoice.org/dear-theresa-if-your-deal-is-so-great-why-not-let-the-people-vote-on-it-59237.html#comments (and there are links within the links). Suffice it to say that the best legal minds are divided as to whether we can withdraw unilaterally and you can plough through the links and make up your own mind. For me the clincher is that it is said the CJEU is said to be a court that deals in realpolitik and there is enough there for them to decide we can withdrawal unilaterally.

    The House of Lords report on Brexit said we could withdrawal from A50 unilaterally. But see http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/article-50-route-to-a-second-referendum/ and https://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/uktpo/2017/03/17/can-a-notification-under-article-50-teu-be-unilaterally-withdrawn/ for competing viewpoints.

    Eoin O’Dell, Fellow and Associate Professor at the School of Law, Trinity College Dublin states: “On a literal interpretation of the Article, it does not seem to provide for the suspension of the withdrawal process, but the CJEU has never tied itself to an exclusively literal approach to the European Treaties…I suspect that the CJEU would, on this basis, be able to find that the Article 50 process could be suspended or abandoned, but I would not wish to predict whether it would do so. It is a Court often noted for its realpolitik and pragmatism…”

    On withdrawing with unanimous agreement of the EU27 is specifically in Article 50. If the UK government went to the EU27 in March and said the British Parliament has failed to agree to any deal, it is highly, highly likely that the EU27 will agree.

    Manufacturers such as BMW will tell their Governments that they want to continue to trade with the UK. It is difficult to see why the EU27 should be happy with us a member on March 29th and not on March 30th.

  • @David Raw
    ” Matt Comforting to know you feel better qualified than the Governor of the Bank of England”
    Why thank you, I do feel better qualified, any fool can appear on TV and spout out a load of waffle about house prices dropping by a 1/3 gdp dropping 8% and unemployment rising to 7.5% then stating these are not “forecasts” just “scenarios” of what “could” happen….. I mean really, scenarios could be absolutely anything and as outrageous as you dare to be . (But then again, this is exactly the same sort of dribble that the BOE and the Government came out with last time and were proven wrong)
    If the best our Bank of England Governor can do is to come up with some imaginary scenarios , then surely he is in the wrong job

  • Malcolm Todd 30th Nov '18 - 9:42am

    Sean Hagan 29th Nov ’18 – 6:51pm
    “I am not sure whether that argument would also apply to an extension of Article 50, e.g. for the purposes of holding a ‘People’s Vote’.”
    On the contrary: Article 50 explicitly states that the 2-year period can only extended if all members states agree to it. There’s no way around that one. The only reason that there is this hint of ambiguity (which is about the most I can say for it) about unilateral revocation is that it isn’t explicitly mentioned in the treaty at all: it didn’t occur to the author of Article 50 (whatever he claims now) or to the countries that signed the treaty that a state might change its mind part way through the notice period.

  • Lorenzo Cherin,

    “Then we read David Allen, who here might be the great man of comedy so loved at this festive season, the humour taken in his post, for if he is serious that our daft Brexit trio inflicted torture on the top elite of the EU, no wonder the club alluded to seems to those of us who yearn for a party, to be a cult .”

    You’re hiding behind your broken English here, aren’t you? If you had just said “David Allen is a crazy clown”, which is clearly what you meant, your post would have got deleted, wouldn’t it?

    For two long years (and four more if May’s deal goes through), the EU leadership has been bombarded with fantasy thinking, quasi-racist insults from Boris, a British “war cabinet” to tackle Britain’s allies, a “Chequers Deal” presented as a fait accompli, I could go on. The EU have responded to it all with patience and good humour. But underneath it all is a very understandable cold fury. The Barnier-May deal, though the EU side won’t admit it, gives the EU their opportunity to take a belated revenge. That’s not funny, Lorenzo.

  • @Malcolm Todd – 9.42am
    Thanks for that clarification regarding Article 50 extension vs revocation. In any case, however, it seems to be generally accepted that the EU27 would most probably agree to a reasonable extension to allow the U.K. to hold a ‘People’s Vote’ – but, of course, the more pressing problem is how to secure a HoC majority to compel HMG to adopt that course of action as the best “escape route” from likely parliamentary deadlock.

  • The combination of the government using the fear of a no deal Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn still hedging his bets is leading to a terrible situation. By refusing to countenance a people’s vote, both are undermining our democracy. They share the blame equally for the completely predictable consequences of leaving the eu against the will of the people.

  • Arnold Kiel 30th Nov '18 - 1:53pm

    Sorry, gentlemen, I still insist that a unilateral Art. 50 revocation is possible. Just think practically: if the British Prime Minister asked for her letter back, what would rejection of that request mean? The EU can hardly insist on the May-deal to be ratified when it is clear that it has no majority in the HoCs. Consequently, challenging the revocation of the Art. 50 notification (“OF INTENT”!) would mean that the EU forces a no-deal outcome. Does any of you really believe that would happen?

    An agreed extension is the alternative, but would be IMO unavailable if no deal were an option. The separation agreement simply settles existing UK obligations towards the EU-budget, -citizens and NI. On the NI-question, the UK has all options: national or local alignment, as she wishes; and the transition-period was a UK request. Honouring those pre-existing commitments is a legal obligation, no deal would be a breach of contract for which the EU would not grant an extension.

    It is simply a fact that no MP who would contribute to a no-deal outcome has any chance to be ever returned. Moreover, the tremendous human cost of such an utterly irresponsible act would confront all of them with serious legal consequences.

  • Innocent Bystander 30th Nov '18 - 2:56pm

    “better qualified than the Governor of the Bank of England…”
    And which of his predictions have been right so far?
    In fact, explain what difference his presence has done for the nation in return for his mega salary.

  • Mick Taylor 30th Nov '18 - 3:56pm

    Slight problem with WTO rules. We have to be accepted by the WTO and Moldova has indicated it will veto any UK application. WTO is not an easy option and it may take years to reach an agreement with them. In the meantime we are stuffed.

  • Of interest Hilary Benn has put forward an amendment to BOTH reject May’s deal AND to disallow a no-deal Brexit.

    https://twitter.com/hilarybennmp/status/1068209119683928067

    I can see the DUP possibly voting for that. If Labour voted for it en masse, the key group would be Brexiteer Labour MPs – most of whom I believe are not ideological Brexiteers but want the referendum “to be honoured”. And it gets them out of a hole within the Labour party – seen to be voting with May against what they see has letting down their Brexit supporting voters.

    There are also about 7 Conservative People’s Vote supporters and one could also see a few Tory MPs like Ken Clarke supporting it.

  • marcstevens 30th Nov '18 - 7:43pm

    Arthur Bailey, the latest poll I’ve seen puts Lib Dem support at 10% so not as bad you’re making out.

  • Peter Martin 1st Dec '18 - 10:49am

    If you want the best deal, in anything, it could be taking a job, buying or selling a house , you have to let the other party believe that you’ll settle for no-deal.

    If you have any doubts try it the next time you’re buying a car. If you inform the seller that you won’t accept ‘no deal’ you won’t get any discount at all!

    It’s Game theory 101. But I’m sure you know this already. So why the silly headline?

  • @Peter Martin – “you have to let the other party believe that you’ll settle for no-deal.”

    But the unstated premise is that you can go next door and do a deal, with the EU things aren’t so simple, the UK has no option but to negotiate a deal; unless the UK does not wish to do business with the EU in future…

    In the case of the EU, I suggest the choice isn’t deal or no-deal but deal or remain. Remember with remain we keep our seat at the table, our vote and veto and the EU27 have to accommodate us…

    Whilst I think Farage (and UKIP) was stupid and has totally missed the opportunity he was given by being elected an MEP, he did give a practical demonstration of this.

  • Innocent Bystander 1st Dec '18 - 11:39am

    David, google Carney Eats Humble Pie. His salary would provide for 40 nurses any of whom would do a better job. You are too gullible. All the others you mentioned face a real test either in share price or goals scored. Carneys test is how shiny he can make the seat of his office chair with his backside.
    Personally, I would give Matt a try. He couldn’t do worse. At least just what has Carney done at all?

  • Peter Martin 1st Dec '18 - 11:43am

    @ Roland,

    You seem to be under the impression that no-deal will mean that ” UK does not wish to do business with the EU in future”.

    It won’t mean that at all. Trade largely is the result of individuals and companies doing deals. Possibly after Brexit the tariff on VW cars will be the same, ie 10%, as it is now on Honda cars. I0% doesn’t stop any of us buying a Honda now and 10% won’t stop us buying a VW in future. My expectation is that this will be very much a worst case scenario and that the matter will be speedily resolved with a trade deal once the EU start negotiating properly.

    They aren’t doing that at the moment. They’ve offered us a take-it-or-leave-it deal they know won’t be accepted in the hope of forcing a referendum and thereby ending up with a different result.

  • @Peter Martin – “the matter will be speedily resolved with a trade deal once the EU start negotiating properly.”

    Delusional!
    The UK may wish to do business, but will the EU27 make it easy, particularly if no deal means bills left owing…

  • paul barker 1st Dec '18 - 2:14pm

    The Political Betting site has an interesting article on the 4 possible results of the current crisis; it concludes that Remain is the hardest to get to from here & No Deal the easiest. Mays strategy is to let panic set in & keep putting her Deal to the Commons. There are no limits on how long she can keep that up (except March 29th of course) or on how many Votes the Commons must go through.
    Remain requires new Legislation & a Government willing to put it to the Commons, probably some sort of Coalition of National Unity.
    A Peoples Vote may be a useful step along the way but its not enough to get us Remain on its own.

  • @Paul Barker

    Um… I think that David Herdson on politicalbetting.com overestimates the power of the Executive and underestimates the power of Parliament – even if the Executive hold the upper hand. He is right to say that a Parliamentary motion and amendment such as Benn’s if passed in of itself does not do anything and legislation is required. AIUI that would have to be brought forward by the Government, as they are the only ones that can move “money bills” that have a financial implication.

    But… especially as it has been agreed that Parliament would have a “meaningful vote” – it would be perverse to say that vote has no meaning after all. And the Government would either have to bring forward the required legislation and do the other things such as tell the EU it wants an extension for Brexit OR face a constitutional crisis.

    Before the fixed term parliament act, such a key defeat would be seen as a matter of confidence but not now and as has been noted minority Governments – and this Government is a VERY minority government on this issue – are more stable. The most likely outcome assuming DUP continue to back her is that May will continue in office and do Parliament’s bidding if she doesn’t get her deal through.

  • Arnold Kiel 3rd Dec '18 - 1:38pm

    Peter Martin,

    the EU told the UK 20 months ago, which items need to be agreed concerning the separation. The list was entirely logical, as all three issues naturally outlive the UK’s membership. It was always clear what was fair and needed, and entirely the Tory’s fault that this was not settled in 2 months, as it should have been.

    For reasons entirely on the UK side, 18 months, in which a future relationship could have been negotiated were wasted. The EU was always ready and open for that.

  • Peter Martin 3rd Dec '18 - 2:33pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “For reasons entirely on the UK side, 18 months, in which a future relationship could have been negotiated were wasted”

    You’re possibly right. I suspect it will be some time before we fully learn just what went on in those negotiations will become known. From my reading of what’s happened, it looks like the focus of the UK negotiating effort has been to make it only appear that we’re leaving the EU. Leave certainly has not meant leave.

    Consequently we’ve ended up with a dog’s breakfast of a “deal” that is totally unacceptable to Remainers and Leavers alike. It looks to me that the choice has narrowed, whether or not we have a referendum to decide, to leaving with no deal or remaining. Either of which would be preferable to May’s disaster.

    I would have preferred a negotiated deal but that’s not going to happen now.

    From the EU’s POV I would say that they’d be better off without us anyway. The EU has to quickly become Europa to survive. A single government, a single currency, a single taxation system and a single system of Govt spending. There’s hardly any support in the UK for that and we’d just be a hindrance.

  • Malcolm Todd 4th Dec '18 - 10:00am

    Well, judging by this report, it appears I’m going to be wrong about unilateral revocation. I still don’t see how anyone can read the relevant article and come to the conclusion the advocate general has, but his opinion clearly matters a lot more than mine!
    So that’s one less obstacle than I thought…

  • Arnold Kiel 4th Dec '18 - 10:52am

    A quote from the EU Advocate General, which is entirely logical and extremely easy to understand:

    The Advocate General emphasises that withdrawal from an international treaty, which is the reverse of a treaty-making power, is by definition a unilateral act of a State party and a manifestation of its sovereignty. Unilateral revocation would also be a manifestation of the sovereignty of the departing Member State, which chooses to reverse its initial decision. The Advocate General deduces from his systematic analysis of Article 50 TEU various reasons in favour of the notification of the intention to withdraw being unilaterally revocable. First, the conclusion of an agreement is not a prerequisite for the withdrawal to be completed. Secondly, Article 50(2) TEU states that a Member State which decides to withdraw is to notify the European Council of ‘its intention’ — and not of its decision — to withdraw, and such an intention may change. Thirdly, the unilateral nature of the first phase of the procedure under Article 50 TEU, in which the Member State decides to withdraw from the EU in accordance with its own constitutional
    requirements, is projected onto the subsequent phase (of negotiating the terms of its withdrawal with the EU institutions), in such a way that if the withdrawal decision is revoked in accordance with the departing Member State’s constitutional procedures, its constitutional foundation will disappear. Lastly, the rejection of revocation would in practice entail the forced exit from the EU of a State which, according to the Court of Justice’s recent case-law,2 continues to be an EU Member State in all respects. It would be illogical to force that Member State to withdraw from the EU in order to then have to negotiate its accession.

  • Peter Martin 4th Dec '18 - 1:18pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    I don’t think that it was ever in doubt that the UK would be able to withdraw its Art50 notification unilaterally. The legal judgement is just an acceptance of the political reality. I’m not sure why everyone was previously so keen to refer to the process as a ‘trigger’. Do you have any theories on that?

    I agree that the passage you quote is, as legal judgements go, relatively comprehensible.

    For instance, this seems clear enough:

    “The Advocate General emphasises that withdrawal from an international treaty, which is the reverse of a treaty-making power, is by definition a unilateral act of a State party and a manifestation of its sovereignty.”

    This sentence also can be applied to show a large part of what’s wrong with the May so-called ‘agreement’. There can be no agreement on the backstop, or anything else, if no unilateral withdrawal is allowed under any circumstances. The EU, to use their own arguments, must know that it will never be accepted by Parliament.

    In other words they’ve deliberately set up Ms May to fail. Presumably the EU don’t want Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg in charge, so they must be playing an all or nothing game in the hope of keeping the UK in the EU.

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