May’s Brexit ‘backstop’ cheat is blown by Barnier – and it’s all her fault

Michel Barnier: He has the high ground and he knows it.

This is what happens when you have a referendum on a complicated issue and pretend it’s simple because you don’t understand it.

Nobody in the then-Conservative government understood the implications of Brexit when they called the referendum that happened in 2016; they thought they didn’t have to.

David Cameron thought the referendum was a sweet little dodge to get Tory Brexiteer backbenchers off his own back. The country would vote to stay in the EU and they would have to abide by the decision.

The only problem is the country didn’t vote to stay in the EU – partly because the implications were not explained to us properly and the Leave campaign exploited the lack with lies.

(£350 million a week for the NHS, anybody?)

And what did Mr Cameron do, when he realised he had painted himself into a corner? He quit. He ran away and left his Parliamentary colleagues to deal with the mess he created.

They have failed.

The farce over the Northern Irish border ‘backstop’ plan is just the biggest sign of this failure.

The EU27 have demanded that the UK agree a legally-binding fallback option to ensure there is no hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland after Brexit – but all Mrs May has managed to offer is a pathetic fudge.

She is suggesting that the whole of the UK should remain in the customs union for a limited period after the end of the transition period – so it would leave the EU in March 2019 and the single market in December 2020, but stay in the customs union for longer.

The arrangement “will only be in place until the future customs arrangement can be introduced”, which the government “expects” to be the end of December 2021 at the latest.

This is unacceptable to the EU27 because there is no set point at which this ‘backstop’ ends, and Mrs May’s offer makes it possible for the UK to declare it over before a solution is found to the Irish border question.

Not only that, but the UK undertook to maintain full alignment for Northern Ireland with the relevant rules of both the customs union and the single market, and this plan only addresses the former.

There is no agreement, either, on whether European Court of Justice jurisdiction will apply during the backstop period.

And the EU27 will not accept the whole of the UK remaining in the customs union and single market without the obligations of membership.

That is why Michel Barner rejected the UK’s proposals and demanded that Mrs May must “accept the consequences” of leaving the EU.

He told journalists: “Let me be very clear – our backstop cannot be extended to the whole UK.”

And he mocked Mrs May’s ‘Brexit means Brexit’ slogan, saying: “Is it a temporary backstop? No. Backstop means backstop.”

Now Mrs May must take this rejection back to her cabinet – a cabinet that was split bitterly over the proposals, almost to the point of rebellion against her. It seems unlikely that outright warfare between ministers can be avoided now.

In fact, Boris Johnson seems to have fired the first shots already.

And next week, Theresa May will try to reject the many amendments to her EU Withdrawal Bill that would cause even more splits in her party if they are voted through.

She can expect no help from any of the other parties in the Commons – except perhaps her bought-and-paid-for allies in the DUP, but even this is in doubt after her ‘backstop’ failure.

It is the DUP’s demand that there can be no border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK that has made the issue so difficult for her to solve.

Jeremy Corbyn, of course, can do and say anything he likes. All he has to do is keep the pressure on the Tories by demanding that they honour their pledge to uphold the referendum result.

That is the reason Labour continues to say it supports Brexit; it gives the Tories no room to move and pushes them toward self-destruction. Labour can sit and watch as internal tensions within the governing party boil over into internecine warfare.

Personally, I’m buying popcorn.

Source: EU chief Michel Barnier demolishes Theresa May’s Brexit customs plan declaring ‘we’re not going to be intimidated’ – Mirror Online

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7 thoughts on “May’s Brexit ‘backstop’ cheat is blown by Barnier – and it’s all her fault

  1. Barry Davies

    Barmier has done us a favour then, we should be getting out not letting remainers lie to us we are leaving but need a backstop so we can still be in, they lied in the referendum with their project fear against facts produced by leave, and are continuing to do so.

  2. rotzeichen

    I think it’s a mistake to imagine that this whole charade is down to incompetence, the main body of Tory opinion is to get out completely and blame the EU for any breakdown. So that May can do the real deal with Trump, the NHS is being carefully structured so that American companies can walk straight in and take whatever they want. Nothing is just happening by chance.

    The Neo-Liberal agenda is all going neatly to plan, they create chaos in order to confuse and hope that people get so fed up that when they do a deal with Trump – the masses will go to sleep again.

    The Tories are hell bent on handing our democracy, if there is such a thing, to American corporations and I have no doubt those corporations will look after anyone who has helped them out.

    Looking at the big picture Neo-Liberal Europe is no different to Neo-Liberal Britain, the idea we will be better off staying in is also a mirage, the sanist way to leave is by negotiating an agreement that does the least damage, allowing the Tories a free rein by conflating the nuances of pro and anti Europe campaigners is to let May off the hook. Whatever the short term outcomes will be on leaving, what is absolutely certain that with a radical left government in office, like that after the last war, we can transform our country into a dynamic economy that can as we did in the past transform world opinion to cooperate instead of competing against each other.

    There is a finite source of raw materials, and we are surely and steadily heading towards ecological disaster, we will not solve those problems through market dogma or any other form of capitalism, the new paradigm is for each country to become self sufficient, and to cooperate not free market trade.

    1. Zippi

      But who, in the political mainstream, is advocating that path? I have long said that we need a village mentality, instead of creating increasingly bigger entities. History has shown us that when things get too big they fail, be they empires, stars, or organisms.

  3. Zippi

    No, this is what happens when you have a referendum with no preparation for the result. The whole of Parliament, Commons and £ords, had the opportunity to sort this, BEFORE the Referendum was granted, when the Referendum Bill was debated. I still, for the life of me, cannot understand how this Bill was passed with absolutely NOTHING in place for the event of a leave vote. It appears that the possibility wasn’t even explored. This, in my opinion, was a gross dereliction of duty. It was more than a little late to worry about all of these things once the Referendum had been held. Now, they have to try to make the silk purse from a sow’s ear, when they could and should have, at the very least, sourced some silk! No one party, or individual is to blame. They were all complicit. Shame on them and a plague o’ both Houses!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      They did not prepare for the result because they did not understand the nature of the referendum. Your assertion and mine fit together perfectly well.

      1. Zippi

        More than 1,400 people(!) That is disgraceful. I believe that they held the electorate in such contempt that they didn’t even consider that we might vote to leave. The Irish boarder is possibly the most obvious issue and it needs to be sorted, whether we leave now, or wish to in the future.
        You are right, thinking about it. Do you remember that I said that I wrote to both Campaign groups, several M.P.s, £abour people and my M.P. who, at the time, was the Minister For Europe? I asked a series of specific questions to which I received no answer except from my local £abour person who confessed to not knowing. How could people be campaigning one way, or the other, if they didn’t know what they were campaigning for?

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