A guest post by Samuel Miller
Readers, I’m not entirely sure where to begin? We started the week with the fallout from the Chequers deal and some ministerial resignations. Then we had the EC’s ruling on the leave campaign’s alleged questionable shenanigans, cross party backstabbery over said Chequers deal and crucial Commons votes on the nature of Brexit UK (Now looking increasingly like a hard or no deal Brexit). A pairing scandal on those votes also reared its ugly head and the catastrophic failure of UK national government to keep its own house in order seemed to complete the picture. You’d think that’d be enough to be getting on with. Y’know, pretty much the collapse of politics in the UK’s big hoose.
The end of the week however? What can you say?
Then (Dec 2017) – conditions of Phase 1 agreement: Main points from agreement between UK and EU – ” It leaves unclear how an open border will be achieved but says in the absence of a later agreement, the UK will ensure “full alignment” with the rules of the customs union and single market that uphold the Belfast Agreement.” (My bold)
Now (July 2018) – Phase 2: “The economic and constitutional dislocation of a formal ‘third country’ customs border within our own country is something I will never accept, and I believe no British prime minister could ever accept,” Theresa May
Now presumably UK gov are aware of the four freedoms. They did spend some forty odd years helping create EU legislation and voting in the EU parliament after all. Clearly they’re well aware of the EU’s stated position since the referendum result.
Something I wrote in August of last year: “From the EU’s perspective, they aren’t going anywhere. They didn’t force anyone to do anything and didn’t kick anyone out, but they do have rules (as does any club). So far as they are concerned, those rules help ensure and facilitate peace, trade, access and rights between all of its member states. The remaining twenty seven nations agree to live by those rules and enshrined at the core are the four freedoms. They break those rules to accommodate the UK’s wish list and what point the EU?”
So mibbies not a good idea to have signed up to the conditions of the phase one agreement if honouring it was going to prove… problematic? Just a thought.
Mind you historically your average Conservative parliamentarian isn’t all that big on honouring their word, which is ironic for a group of folk who never tire of referring to each other as right honourable members. (cough)
Aaaanyway. Yesterday’s predictable response by Michel Barnier to the white paper? “There are some elements [of the white paper] which do seem to contradict the guidelines of the EU council, the heads of government and state, namely the indivisibility of the four freedoms and the integrity of the single market,”
Which is a pretty diplomatic and restrained way of saying ‘in your dreams’.
On Ms May’s statement? A cynical sort might suggest that Ms. May has apparently attempted to place blame for the endangerment of the Good Friday Agreement at the feet of the EU and partake in some maniacal political game of chicken. They might also suggest that Ms. May has thrown what’s left of the UK’s tattered political reputation onto a skip, poured petrol on the remains and then thrown a lit match onto the whole sorry mess.
Just to be clear. Any constitutional crisis which has arisen from the EU referendum’s result can surely be laid at only one door – the government of the United Kingdom. That would be your Conservative government. A government that was made fully aware of the endangerment of devolved settlements and standing national agreements before any ballot took place. They knew and apparently, they didn’t care. They were a bit busy sorting out their own party political pissing contest.
I mean, I think we’ve all seen some epically bad politics and political decisions over the years, but this from UKgov wins the prize. If people thought the beginning of the week was the culmination of two years of epic idiocy, then frankly I think we all need to start resetting our standards.
You know what is so depressing about all of this omnishambles? The predictability of the political spin and media coverage. The scapegoating and the insulting attempts to place blame at the feet of others. A government and party of government that refuses to accept responsibility for its own actions. A government that has taken nearly two years not to come up with a viable Brexit plan it should have had in place prior to an EU referendum. A referendum that arguably should never have taken place given standing national constitutional agreements, settlements and assurances. A government that then took time out to fight a leadership battle, two general elections and a court case in order to consolidate (badly) its own right to legislate without scrutiny. A government that was and is still, absent without leave on a voyage of self harm.
The general public? Confused, conflicted, concerned. Mushroom farmed*. (*Kept in the dark and fed on sh.. STUFF!)
This is maybe a good time to deliver your regular reminder that in Scotland you have a choice and a lifeboat. I’d say that’s worth some SERIOUS consideration about now.