The ‘deal’ however falls very far short of what could constitute a reasonable outcome for that future relationship: it fails to conclude any sort of arrangement whereby the UK remains in or close to the customs union or the single market, and it fails to provide a satisfactory solution to the problem of trade and the Northern Ireland border. It is such a sketchy agreement that most areas of concern about future arrangements on trade, border issues, security, movement and many other issues remain to be negotiated AFTER the UK has left the EU. A ‘transitional period’ is envisaged while those negotiations take place during which the UK, even though it will have left the EU, will take whatever rules are imposed upon it by the EU without any say in the processes, and will be required to ‘negotiate’ on the basis of no position at all in relation to the EU.
This deal is so poor that I cannot seriously believe that many people, if they had known the outcome, would have voted for it as part of the referendum process. For that reason I cannot support it and will vote against it when Parliament has the opportunity to consider it on 11th December.
There is, of course a danger that, if the deal is voted down, and nothing else happens, the UK will leave the EU on 29th of March next year with no agreement at all, which would be an even more serious catastrophe for the Country than the difficulties presented by the governments deal. Indeed, Government figures suggest that a ‘no deal’ outcome would make the country far poorer than the deal as proposed at the moment – up to 9.5% smaller in fifteen years than now. That is why I will also be supporting motions that ensure that the Country does not exit the EU with no deal at all being agreed. It is however, as previous procedures agreed by Parliament establish, up to the Government to come to Parliament to tell it what they propose to do within 21 days of a ‘deal’ motion being defeated, and it is at this point that I will be watching carefully the sequence of events that might follow.
The first event in that sequence will probably be that the Government faces a ‘no confidence’ motion from us following its failure to win a majority in parliament for such a central piece of legislation. If that motion passes, and is confirmed with a second motion twelve days later, the Government will fall and there will be a General election. If the confidence motion does not succeed, we will be in the extraordinary position of a Government not able to govern, yet still in government. There is undoubtedly a large majority in Parliament against the idea that the UK should exit the EU with no deal, and a motion to that effect should have been passed at that point, in which case it is incumbent upon the Government to come forward with serious new proposals for negotiations on the UKs exit which should start with an extension to Article 50 to allow them to happen and would have to be based on fundamentally different premises than those of the (now) failed Theresa May ‘deal’.
I think it is unlikely that the Government will do this, at which point we will be faced with a failed ‘deal’ and no new deal to replace it – in other words a complete standoff between Government and Parliament.
If that is indeed the outcome of the rejection of the Government’s deal, then it will be vital that the public gets to adjudicate between Parliament and the Government. A ‘second referendum’ at that point looks to me to be the only way of resolving such a crisis. If there is no movement by the government following the defeat of their proposals, than I will certainly support a motion through Parliament that such a referendum should be held with a binary choice: support the May ‘deal’ or cancel the article 50 trigger letter informing the EU that we are leaving. The timetable of Article 50 would certainly have to be extended by the EU to allow this referendum to happen.
The logic of this position is of course that, faced with a choice of an unsupportable terrible deal to quit the EU that would be the only exit deal on the table, and pulling back from leaving the EU and in future negotiating the changes we want from within it, I would certainly back and campaign for the choice of staying in the EU.