Since attending the talk by Professor Michael Dougan last Wednesday there is something that I have been thinking about a lot.
He reminded us that the signing of Article 50 and the two-year negotiation period that follows this deals ONLY with our terms of exit of the EU. There is NO provision for discussion or agreement on our future trading arrangements, our membership or not of the single market, whether we wish to be a Norway, a Switzerland, a Canada (or most likely a Total Disaster). These secondary discussions can and will only start after we have exited the EU.
This is a terrifying reality. It means we will be leaving the EU (our current membership of which is of course the very best deal we could ever hope to get) without any guarantee of what our final position will be. We may of course have an idea of what our desires are for the outcome, but if we look at the hopeless team of ideologues in charge of Brexit, these will be delusional and totally unachievable and of course kept secret.
Therefore, when we call for parliamentary approval, all that can possibly approved is whether Article 50 should be signed or not, or if it is signed, then approval of our exit terms. By the time parliament would be in the position to debate or vote on our final deal with the EU we will already be out! We will therefore be leaving the EU completely blind to our future.
There seems to be very little discussion on this, and I fear many people (including some politicians who really should know the full implications) are often combining these two completely separate aspects of our leaving into one.
There is a huge desire amongst those of us who would like to remain in the EU for parliamentary discussion and approval of the Brexit deal before it’s too late. This desire is often mentioned in our groups, by some politicians and commentators in the media.
But there is a point that Michael Dougan made that really struck home to me, and it appears that many of us haven’t yet appreciated the full consequences of, and that is if we leave, it is highly unlikely we will ever re-join, or at least not for a very long time. This is because we would never have a chance to renegotiate a deal as sweet as the one we have now, as on applying for membership we would be considered a new member, and therefore would have no opt outs, no chance to keep the £ and we would be part of the Schengen zone. This would be unpalatable to many in this country, even some of those that voted remain.
It is therefore imperative that we do not leave the EU, our current deal is the very best there is, and cannot be beaten by any other possible deal or combination of deals.