Last week, Boris Johnson came back from Brussels with his new Brexit deal, but he couldn’t win MPs vote as the House of Commons pushed on an amendment that delayed Brexit again. Why? What’s the reason why MPs keep on sabotaging Brexit?
“The first rule of politics is supposed to be – in the words of President Lyndon B. Johnson – learning to count”. BoJo has showed he perfectly knows that. Coming back from Brussels, end of last week, he was gathering the numbers of votes he needed to get Brexit done, but “Super Saturday” (Oct the19th) hid a trap. MPs voted for an amendment tabled by the Tory Oliver Letwin and in response, the government cancelled Saturday’s vote on the actual deal itself. A delay on Bojo’s plan…
Brexit Starts After Brexit
Brexit doesn’t mean only leaving the EU after a deal is voted in the UK’s parliament. This is just the beginning. The political debate, which started 1,200 days ago, is discussing the frame, the divorce starting point. What the separation between the UK and the EU means has yet to be established.
The deal and the bill that parliament is now debating on includes four clear issues; the new organization to monitor the right of EU citizens in UK, Northern Ireland, the supremacy of the European Court of Justice on UK law and the money UK has to pay to leave (Article 50).
When the Parliament approves a deal, all the uncertainty of these last three years will be overcome. But a new uncertainty will rise soon; the one related to the transition period which is supposed to last until January 2021. During this phase, the UK and EU will renegotiate the rules of the game. That means, for example, free trade deals between the UK and the rest of the world and a new Jumbo Free Trade Agreement with the EU, that still wants to be a special partner. Experts say that it will take another five years to work out what the new economic relationship with the EU will be like.
Economic Impact Analysis
40 months have passed since the referendum was voted and Boris Johnson is fighting in his political purgatory for 88 days. “Let’s get Brexit done and let’s move on,” and “this is the biggest democratic exercise in British history” are the strong claims he’s been using to win. His effective propaganda is disruptive and has been able to sell his project well. But the bill that the UK has to pay to leave is still too high.
Some MPs have asked the chancellor for an updated economic analysis of the consequences of Johnson’s deal on UK. The last government’s long-term economic analysis was published in November 2018. The Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) made a comparison between the rival Brexit scenarios designed by Theresa May’s and Boris Johnson’s deal using information from the Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority. The study showed that a deal akin to Johnson’s would cost the economy 6.7% of GDP over 15 years, which is equivalent to around £130 billion ($167.5 billion) in lost income by 2034. This amounts to people on average being £2,250 per year poorer 15 years from now. May’s deal was considered to have a much milder negative effect on the economy, with the report saying the cost would be nearer to 2.5% of GDP over the same period.
Asked about this numbers, PM has always answered that “democracy has a cost and this the bill UK has to pay to regain its sovereignty”.
The independent think tank called UK in a Changing Europe has also published an analysis comparing the Johnson and the May deals. It found the PM’s would be likely to reduce GDP per capita by between 2.3% and 7% over the next ten years, compared with remaining in the EU. That compares with 1,9% to 5,5% under May’s deal.
The lobby group for the engineering and manufacturing industries, Make UK, has also showed its concerns. Members are worried about the lack of commitments to maintaining the closest possible trading relationship with the European partners. Being excluded from EU regulatory institutions could reduce their influence and raising costs of manufacturers working in the aerospace, automotive, food and drink, chemicals and pharmaceuticals sectors.
And what about companies relying on immigrated workers? The Daily Mail published the concerns which emerged in a National Farmers’ Union survey showing that the shortfall, in part fueled by Brexit uncertainty, is striking the industry.
“A third of growers say they have been forced to leave 100 tons of fruit unpicked – around 16 million apples – because of a labour shortfall,” the newspaper said. The shortage of pickers and packers, most of them coming from East Europe, is also hitting vegetables growers ahead of the Christmas period, “with industry leaders fearing supplies of Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflowers, kale and mushrooms could be affected,” the newspaper concluded. (Immigration to the UK for work is fallen to its lowest level: -18% last August, -20% last September).
Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, shows optimism saying the UK is primed to rebound from uncertainty with higher level of investment and growth, though he alerts that lower levels of trade with the EU would restrict any recovery.
Great Britain Could Dwindle Becoming Britannia
Even some of Theresa May’s worst enemies tend to consider her deal better than Johnson’s one. She knows that and that’s the reason why she decided to speak in the House of Commons during the “Super Saturday” debate. “Standing here, I have a distinct sense of déjà vu,” she said, given that her deal had been rejected in the same chamber three times while Johnson’s was about to be killed for the first one.
There’s a big difference, though, between the two options and it is called “Northern Ireland”.
The Backstop issue wrecked May’s deal. Boris overcame it, but is this enough to win the Irish people doubts?
The bill that the Unionist Party has to pay looks too high at the moment; the DUP refused support to the PM’s deal feeling betrayed. Moving the Irish border into the sea to overcome the backstop as suggested by May’s deal wrecked the dream of the integrity of the UK (and betrays the spirit of the 1988 Good Friday Agreement).
“These proposals are not, in our view, beneficial to the economic well-being of Northern Ireland and they undermine the integrity of the Union,” DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said.
Experts think that Northern Ireland is on its way out from the UK feeling a semi-detached part of it. The softer Brexit envisaged only for Northern Ireland looks like a soft offer to stay in the EU. The EU is just waiting for that and the UK is risking to start losing pieces. The second piece to get lost soon could be Scotland, as Scottish people didn’t vote for leaving the EU in 2016 (62% wanted to remain). Scotland is threatening to leave the UK and is working on a new referendum.
The conclusion is: how much will it cost this democratic process called Brexit?