From time to time a politician will make a remark contained in a speech that will become part of the political fabric. In doing so the politician will gain notoriety and in a manner of speaking a measure of political immortality.
A recent arrival to the ranks of these individuals is Claire Louise Perry the Member for Devizes, in Wiltshire.
In comparing some of her colleagues to jihadis, Claire was giving vent to a cri d’exaspération. Despite being on the other side of the poltical fence (she is a Reamianer) your Editor knows how she feels.
At this point we are going to make two assumptions about Claire:
1. That she intends to stand for re-election for Devizes in 2020.
2. She intends to try and succeed in that attempt and not to be just a paper candidate.
Given this, Claire will want to see the UK leave the EU successfully. That is to say a Brexit without a crashed economy, empty shelves in the supermarkets, lorries stacked up on the M2, the M25, the M6 and the M1, Sterling in free fall and the FTSE 100 through the floor! Claire knows that were this to happen her chances of re-election would be less than Donald Trump’s chances of being invited to address the next SNP annual conference! That she campaigned to remain in the EU and that the electors in Devizes voted 52% for Brexit will count for nothing!
Given the prospect of facing the political gallows, like Dr Johnson’s condemned man, Claire’s thoughts are probably concentrated most wonderfully!
Claire’s (and her party’s) problem of course is to carry out two conflicting tasks.
One is to deliver a successful Brexit. As has been pointed out repeatedly and at some considerable length there is only ONE practical, “do-able” Brexit strategy. This is commonly known and referred to as “the Norway Option”. It is of course outlined in detail in Doctor Richard North’s detailed 400 + page tome Flexcit – which can be downloaded from here:
For those readers who have not yet visited http://eureferendum.com/ we strongly advise that you do so.
Technically it means leaving the EU and the EEA and rejoining EFTA and the EEA at a specific time, say the stroke of midnight. It has to be understood that the UK cannot remain in the EEA whilst it leaves the EU and rejoins EFTA. This is because the UK is currently a member of the EEA by virtue of it’s EU membership and can only rejoin the EEA by virtue of being a member of EFTA.
The other task is to deliver on the variety of “promises” made by her opponents in the referendum campaign, many of which were nonsense! We would use a stronger word than “nonsense” but we are old fashioned and will not use “language” in the presence of a lady.
That some (and we assume Claire is amongst them) Tories are aware of the dangers posed by invoking Article 50 is evidenced by two, two word phrases. These are “cliff edge” as in avoiding going over it and “transitional arrangement”.
We earnestly hope that the “transitional arrangement” will be the “the Norway Option”. By stressing (over and over and over again – ad nauseam) that the negotiated Brexit settlement is “a transitional arrangement”, Claire and her fellow Tories will hope to square a particularly difficult circle of delivering a successful Brexit and avoiding a voter backlash of failing to deliver a Brexit according to the wishes of Claire’s colleagues she has labelled as jihadis!
Of course the Brexit desired by those “Tory jihadis” is like the fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It does not exist. True, a better settlement than the Norway Option MAY be possible but this could only be attempted from the vantage point of being in the Norway Option! But this could only be attempted after a number of years. Upon arrival in the new EFTA+EEA place the UK would have to stay there for a period. Since the 2020 election will arrive shortly after this, this is something for the future not the present.
The problem for the UK and Claire and her fellow Tories is that a successful Brexit is NOT guaranteed. This is because Article 50 was drafted to try and discourage a member state from doing what the UK is about to do! Far from being in a strong position, Article 50 places the UK in a very weak position! It is also a dangerous position as the consequences of failure – i.e. Brexit with no deal – aka “the cliff edge” – is a distinct possibility. It is clearly something to be avoided.
If Madam May kicks off the negotiations by setting out that she is looking for “the Norway Option” but for internal political reasons it must be referred to by all parties as “the transitional arrangement” – with no end date – then the dangers of “the cliff edge” will be reduced to a minimum. NB: the risk will not be eliminated. However any prevarication of delay in pursuing the Norway Option will increase the danger of going over “the cliff edge” hugely!
Getting the other EU member states to uniformly agree to call the UK’s own “Norway Option” “the transitional arrangement” will NOT be a problem. After all, they called the UK’s membership of the European Community in the 1970s “the Common Market” for precisely the same reasons!
OK then, let us assume that Madam May, like Claire is fully aware of the reality of the UK’s situation; that the UK goes for “the transitional arrangement” (with no use by date!)
What are the possibilities of “going over the cliff” ?
The question we must address is this: Do any of the 27 EU member states WANT to see the UK go over the cliff?
Common sense would suggest NOT! Let us however look at some of the reasons:
1. As some of Claire’s jihadi colleagues are so fond of pointing out, the UK is a large economy with close trade and commercial links to other EU member states. Were the UK economy to crash the economies of the other member states would be adversely affected.
2. Were the Eurozone economies healthy and were NOT burdened by sovereign debt and an insolvent banking system, a crashed UK would nevertheless be a problem. But as we all know, the Eurozone economies are NOT healthy and ARE burdened by sovereign debt AND an insolvent banking system!
The prudent and sensible course of action – for the EU – is to agree “the transitional arrangement” ASAP to allow as much time as possible in order to ratify the necessary treaty!
This is because both Claire and Madam May will be aware that TWO things have to be completed BEFORE the two year Article 50 time limit is up:
1. The “deal” has to be negotiated and agreed by ALL parties.
2. The “deal” has to be ratified by ALL the remaining 27 EU Member states!
Some states will have to take this to a referendum! Something Claire and Madam May know much about!
There is a distinct danger that the process will run out of time! NB: The time limit can be extended but requires all parties to agree. If the Brexit negotiations are not concluded expeditiously, then the prospect of this happening will occur. It is therefore quite likely that the time scale will be extended due to delays member states will experience getting the deal ratified.
We will now look at the what must be considered an outside possibility. A deliberate intention to bring about a no deal (or hard) Brexit. This because any politician seriously contemplating such a strategy is taking a huge risk – with his (or hers) own country’s economy! The danger (for the UK) however is that to enact such a policy would not require the agreement of other member states, only a preparedness and will to bring about the situation where any agreement fails to be ratified by dint of the two year time limit being exceeded.
Why should any member state (or group of politicians in that state) wish to deliberately engineer a “hard Brexit”?
The answer may seem as incredible as it is outrageous, but to a reckless gambler it may appear desirable!
It is to force the UK out of the EU with no deal in order to force it back in [to the EU] as a member of the Eurozone!
Now at this point many British Gazette readers will assume their Editor to have taken leave of his senses and is now completely insane. But bear with us please!
Consider for a moment, the political effects of the UK “going over the cliff”! – Empty shelves in the supermarkets, lorries stacked up on the M2, the M25, the M6 and the M1, Sterling in free fall and the FTSE 100 through the floor, workers put on short time and factories shut down.
Scotland of course would be in uproar. This would precipitate a No Confidence Motion in the Commons and notwithstanding the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (c. 14) it would likely succeed.
WE can expect an early General Election following a crash Brexit. The logistical effects would begin immediately, the economic effects very quickly after and the political effects shortly after. We would suggest that a NCM would be moved before a month after crash Brexit – probably after a fortnight. Within two months of crash Brexit there would be a new government. It would not be a Tory government! Claire will find herself looking for new employment opportunities!
The Tories would experience a defeat proportional to that experienced by Labour in Scotland in 2015. The chief beneficiaries in what once were the “Tory shires” would not be Labour but the Liberal Democrats. One could of course forget UKIP. It would likely cease to exist. Although there would be a slight possibility that the Lib-Dems could form a majority government (albeit small) the most likely scenario would be a Lib-Lab alliance – with the Lib-Dems the senior partner!
Now let us consider the situation that the new Prime Minister Tim Farron would find himself in! The UK would be in a slump even greater than the 1920/30s. There would be a Sterling crisis. The UK’s credit rating would be on a par with Greece! Importantly, the UK would be outside the EU.
At this point the EU may make the UK an offer: Rejoin the EU as a new member! This would mean joining the Euro! Naturally Mr Farron would put this to the voters in the form of a referendum!
This of course would be Paul Nuttal’s worst nightmare!
Of course here would be the supreme irony! By his own protestations, Mr Nuttal would have helped bring about that which he most fears! And he will have nobody else to blame!