Brexit Weekly: Five (and a half) things

By Isabella Sharp November 16, 2018 2:38 pm

Where do we start this week? The moment has come and it’s every bit as chaotic and dramatic as we dreamt it would be. I would advise that you read this quickly, as everything may change before Friday teatime.

We have a deal: but (of course) the government hangs in the balance

The government implosion that we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. There was the expected flurry of resignations including the Brexit Secretary himself and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey. But, despite his rejection of the perhaps poisoned chalice that is the position of Brexit Secretary, Michael Gove seems to be holding firm. Having said that, parliamentary wisdom is united in agreement that May will not win a parliament vote on this deal with Labour, the SNP, the DUP and 51 Tories saying that they will vote against it.

Cometh the hour…

The government’s quandary leaves everything to play for if you belong to either the arch Brexiteer or a People’s Vote camp. Jacob Rees-Mogg lost no time in showing off his No Confidence letter for the cameras – much to the consternation of his more remain-minded colleagues – and others on the Brexit-wing are following suit.  It’s absolutely clear that Theresa May’s position is on the line here. If Graham Brady as Chair of the 1922 Committee receives the necessary 48 letters, a vote of no confidence could be held as early as next week. The Prime Minister has expressed determination ‘with every fibre of her being’ to see the job through and took to the airwaves of LBC on Friday morning in an effort to garner support. I understand she is now embarking on a somewhat urgent wooing offensive of Tory party Brexiters.

Best resignation face

Goes to Dominic Raab.

When the going gets tough, TV gets silly

As the Brexit storm whirled around our heads, intrepid television reporters camped out steadfastly on College Green, providing us with up to date briefings on the parliamentary machinations. Sometimes it got too much for those on the front line: witness Chris Mason exclaiming live on air that Mr Blobby would have as much chance of predicting the outcome as any of the BBC’s finest. We also saw the resilience of Britain’s protesting elite; this Brexit protester caught the imagination of news sites across the Atlantic with his admirable dedication towards staying in camera shot.

There’s a world out there..

So that’s Westminster dealt with then, but what does everyone else think of it? Well, the markets felt the full force of the fall out – with sterling falling on Thursday and banking and housing stocks being sold steadily as concerns rose over the implications of a ‘disorderly Brexit’.

What are EU doing this weekend (geddit?)

Over the channel, the general mood post agreement can be said to be set at mild relief but overall half-heartedness.  President of the European Council Donald Tusk said on Thursday that, even with a deal, Brexit is a “lose-lose” situation, and President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, declared that “any outcome will be inferior to full membership”.

But while EU officials are closely following the drama unfolding in the UK, the Commission is refusing to comment on the UK’s internal quandary. A special European Council leaders’ summit, called in by Tusk, is scheduled for 25th November, to endorse the deal. First, EU leaders must go out and seek approval for the deal at national level. It is expected that members states will indeed back the agreement, but some have already expressed concerns about a possible UK competitive advantage as a result of the deal.  During a meeting on Wednesday with the European Commission, France, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands expressed their fears that the UK is being offered a customs union without enough guarantees for a level playing field. You can’t please anyone, can you?

By Isabella Sharp November 16, 2018 2:38 pm

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