The in-out referendum has had seismic effects on British politics; we’ve seen a prime minister depart, an ultimately unsuccessful leadership challenge against the leader of the opposition, and talk of a second independence referendum in Scotland. The pound has dropped and EU residents worry about their future because, lets be honest, no one really knows what on Earth is going on.
Three months later, we are still yet to understand what Brexit actually means. This weekend at the Conservative party conference Theresa May confirmed that the much talked about Article 50 will actually be triggered by March 2017 and work will begin on a “great repeal bill” to incorporate EU law into UK law by 2019. But still, details are hazy.
Are we looking at a “soft Brexit” where we essentially have a similar relationship to the EU as Norway has – access to the single market and a protection of the “four freedoms” with maybe a departure from the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies? Or are we looking at a “hard Brexit” which leaves us in unchartered territory and according to the brazen David Davis could potentially see the UK revert to World Trade Organisations rules with tariffs on key exports.
One could view the fact that Theresa May installed the “three Brexiteers” in such key cabinet positions as either a shrewd move or (more likely) an extremely stupid one. Whilst some wish to spin this as May attempting to appease those who voted leave by allowing leave politicians to take the reins on Brexit, the reality is that this is too well thought through for a Prime Minister who debatably stil doesn’t have any idea what her actual strategy is.
May has delegated much of the task of leaving to three ministers, none of whom have a strong track record in policy or strategy. Davis has been a backbencher for almost a decade and, apart from some admittedly admirable work on the protection of civil liberties, is not well known. Fox was an undistinguished Defence Secretary who is lucky to still be an MP after he admitted to allowing a lobbyist friend of his access to the Ministry of Defence in a blatant breach of ethics. And the less said about Johnson the better; it’s the worst kept secret that he wanted to remain within the EU but only campaigned to leave thinking he’d lose but be seen as a “martyr”. His track record as Mayor of London leaves much to be desired.
The biggest question of all relates to Parliament. It is doubtful that Brexit can even go ahead without its consent as Parliament is sovereign. May argues that she can trigger Article 50 without it though strong legal opinion states otherwise. If she can’t even figure out whether Article 50 can legally be triggered, then what hope do we have in this “competent” figure and the future of Brexit?
Zaki Khaf Al-Ghazal
(Image courtesy of The Huffington Post)