Wednesday, 3 April 2019

No deal cannot be stopped

Twitter is an interesting place as I write this. The penny hasn't dropped for either side. The Brexiters are fuming and the remainers are celebrating, and neither has a clue what's actually going on. The Cooper bill, passed by one vote, cannot stop a no deal Brexit. The Bill requires the PM to ask the Council for an extension. It makes no provision for her failing to get one, other than for her to ask again.

The noises from the EU do seem to suggest a longer extension is on offer, but on the other hand May has ruled out a long extension and she is not planning on holding European elections. The EU is probably only making such noises because it knows it is not going to be asked and/or that the UK won't qualify. Juncker is saying that the Westminster parliament must ratify the deal by 12 April. Without that, the UK doesn't qualify for an extension. Accidental Brexit looks like a safe bet barring a miracle.

Course, there's no point trying to tell Brexiters this because they are in full flow outrage mode about the death of democracy and all that. This is the shtick they thrive on. It's like crack to them. It will take a couple of days before some of the brighter ones catch on. Meanwhile remainers will be making prats of themselves thinking their new heroine has bought them a reprieve. The only guaranteed way to avoid no deal is to ratify the withdrawal agreement and Cooper's efforts will give parliament to confidence to vote it down yet again - which all but guarantees no deal.

Though instructions have already been issues to returning officers in respect of euro-elections so they can be held, Mrs May will have to give a firm commitment to the EC that they will be held, yet she is saying in public that she doesn't want to hold them. If they take her at her word, then they won't go past 22 May, but then she is indicating that she only wants up to 22 May and then the second condition of the Council decision cuts in - she must have a "way forward" - which includes a cast-iron commitment to the withdrawal agreement - something she can hardly do if it's put to parliament again and it junks it.

Basically, unless parliament ratifies the withdrawal agreement by Monday it's game over - although they could extend it to the Friday with a conditional "written procedure", saying that the UK leaves on the Friday 12 April, unless parliament ratifies. Beyond that, it's going to take an almighty fudge to stop us crashing out.

Ordinarily you might wonder what induced parliament to waste time on such a fatuous exercise. But it's exactly what it looks like. In three years, they've learned nothing and, after all this time, still haven't worked out how Article 50 functions - much less the EU. They can't get it into their brains that Westminster can't tell Brussels what to do. No wonder they're so comfortable with the idea of staying in the EU. The idea of supremacy of EU law simply hasn't got through to them.

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