Downing Street has reported that it is “very likely” that MPs will be able to vote on the final Brexit agreement, which will be reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU).
During the High Court hearing, government lawyer James Eadie QC moved on to what was likely to happen at the end of the negotiations in 2019, stating: “The government view at the moment is it is very likely that any such agreement will be subject to ratification.” When asked about this, Downing Street stated that “it is the government view that is being represented.” Norman Smith has indicated that the latest government comments have raised the possibility that any deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May could be rejected by Parliament. The three-day High Court hearing is due to end on 19 October.
Sources however have disclosed that the government’s move to allow a vote after an agreement has been negotiated with the EU was unlikely to satisfy critics of Prime Minister May’s approach to Brexit. Many are pressing for a parliamentary vote before the prime minister begins negotiations next spring, however Mrs May opposes this, stating that ministers should decide when to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which officials begin the two years of talks. The government is currently fighting a legal case over whether parliament should have a vote before Article 50 is triggered.
The UK is expected to leave the EU in 2019 and the agreement reached is expected to deal with migration controls and whether the UK remains in the single market. In a referendum held in June, UK voters opted in favor of leaving the EU by 51.9% to 48.1%.
Downing Street reported on 31 August that the UK government will “push ahead” to triggering Brexit without Parliamentary approval.
In a statement released shortly after Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet gathered at Chequers, Number 10 disclosed that ministers had agreed on the need for a “unique” deal for the UK. Downing Street has reported that this includes controls on EU migration as well as a “positive outcome” on trade. Mrs May told cabinet colleagues that the UK would not stay in the EU “by the back door,” adding that official talks with th rest of the EU will not begin this year. Mrs May also told ministers that the government was clear that “Brexit means Brexit,” adding, “we will be looking at the next steps that we need to take and we will also be looking at the opportunities that are now open to us as we forge a new role for the UK in the world.”
The meeting at the PM’s country resident was billed as the most significant since the referendum vote on 23 June and came amidst reports of tensions and diverging priorities amongst key figures in the Cabinet who have been charged with implementing the UK’s exit from the EU. Prior to the summer break, Cabinet ministers had ben asked to identify what were described as the “opportunities’ for their departments.
The Prime Minister has already stated that the UK government will not trigger Article 50, which is the official mechanism for beginning the process of leaving the EU, until the start of 2017 at the earliest. However there are growing rumours that the UK may not trigger the article until late 2017, after France and Germany have held general elections. From the moment that it does trigger the article, discussions over the terms of the UK’s exit will conclude in two years, unless all 28 member states of the EU agree to extend them. The UK voted to leave the EU, by a margin of 51.9% to 48.1%, in a referendum on 23 June and Mrs May, who had backed staying in the EU, became prime minister after David Cameron resigned in its aftermath. Two months on from the vote, the relationship that the UK will have with the EU after its exit, in terms of access to the EU internal market and obligations in regards to the freedom of movement, remain unclear.
It has been announced that British politicians will debate holding a second EU referendum after a petition, which was set up by a Brexiter, triggered a Commons discussion. More than four million people have signed the petition.
The debate in the House of Commons has been scheduled for 5 September. While Incoming Prime Minister Theresa May has already insisted that “Brexit means Brexit,” the Petitions Committee has ruled that because of the number of people who have signed the petition, the issue should be discussed. The House of Commons has disclosed that “the Committee has decided that the huge number of people signing this petition means that it should be debated by MPs,” adding that “the Petitions Committee would like to make clear that, in scheduling this debate, they are not supporting the call for a second referendum…The debate will allow MPs to put forward a range of views on behalf of their constituents. At the end of the debate, a Government minister will respond to the points raised.”
The petition was set up by Brexiter Oliver Healey a month before the referendum took place, when he thought that his side was going to lose the vote. It states, “we the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based (on) a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum.”
8 July, 2016
Over 3000 migrants currently live in a make-shift camp near the French town of Calais. That camp and others across northern France have long been a source of tension between the French and UK Governments. Since the Sangatte Protocol came into effect in 1993, France and the UK have conducted Eurotunnel immigration checks at the point of origin instead of at the destination. In 2000, the immigration agreement was expanded to Belgium, allowing checkpoints to be established for the Eurostar and specific English Channel ferry crossings. In recent years, the United Kingdom has invested heavily in the northern France checkpoints due to migrants hiding in commercial trucks crossing the border and attempting to walk through the Eurotunnel. In 2014, the UK Government announced £12m over three years for increased security at Calais. This was followed by a further UK-France agreement in August 2015 to create a command-and-control centre and deploy hundreds more police officers.
The United Kingdom’s referendum on EU membership has placed new strains on the series of agreements with France. Before the vote, in May 2016, France’s Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron had warned that a victory for the leave campaign would threaten the immigration agreements between the 2 countries. This statement was later contradicted by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayraul. After the referendum occurred, he promised that there would be no sudden reversal of the current policy. However, many local politicians in northern France, specifically Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart, have argued that the current approach is no longer sustainable. There appears to be a growing movement of people along France’s north coast who believe the migrant camps should be officially moved to the UK. In a significant recent development, French presidential candidate Alain Juppé has been campaigning on an end to the treaty. Xavier Bertrand, president of the Hauts-de-France region, had argued that such a position could gain considerable support from centrist and centre-right voters.
It is unlikely that any change to the UK-France border agreements will happen in the short-term. France’s governing Socialist Party remains committed to the policy. But over the longer term, France’s 2017 Presidential elections are a reminder that this controversy is far from over.
As the result of the referendum regarding the UK’s membership in the EU begin to sink in it seems more and more people are now at first coming to terms with what it actually means to exit the union. It’s been reported from different sources that supporters of the leave campaign, the so called “Brexiters”, are starting to have regrets. Regarding the many millions of pounds that were said, in the campaign, could be allocated to the NHS instead of the EU in case of an exit it has become clear now that such promises cannot be made. This is just an example, but there are many things that, in light of the actual outcome of the vote, look slightly different from what was described in the campaign. It seems twisted facts, statistics and general numbers were used in campaigns on both sides and it should be no wonder if people feel misinformed or even set up to cast their vote in a certain way. The fact that some who did vote for a Brexit feel disappointed with the outcome of the vote all the same, motivating this with that they didn’t think it would come to this, really says something about the seriousness with which voters have approached the referendum. It almost seems it has been thought of as a trial or a test run, something in which one can cast a vote just for amusement, and which, after it’s clear that the UK has decided to leave the EU, has alarm bells ringing everywhere. It is fair to say that to hold a referendum on things like this, to let the people have a voice, is consonant with democratic values. Of course it is, but then people also need to understand the power of every vote. Or is it that people were fully aware that the economy would take a hit in case of a Brexit, but decided to cast their vote in favour all the same because they simply thought things couldn’t get any worse, and that while things get harder short-term the economic situation will improve in the long run. Many voters from economically depressed regions of the UK, who actually receive significant amounts of EU aid, voted, as it turns out, in favour of a Brexit. The fact that the economy would be negatively affected is no surprise either, the IMF predicted this way in advance of 23 June. The outcome of the referendum is indeed hard to analyse, trying to make sense of peoples’ motivation to vote in certain ways can be quite confusing. One of the most important drivers has been the question of migration, the general desire of decentralised power and for the UK to control its own borders. It seems many voters have focused hard on that, and by doing so all the other effects a Brexit would have on the country have been forgotten. The UK is not the only country where people feel this way, but over the last couple of years across the European Union there has been talks about how the increasingly centralised political power is damaging the sovereignty of nation states. Using this as an argument in a campaign to leave the EU is putting fuel on a fire that is already burning quite bright. The question about an EU membership has been an emotional one for many, and it’s likely that a fair share of the “Brexiters” just want to go back to the way things were before, a form of status quo. Whether or not there will actually be any “old ways” to go back to is questionable though, not only because globalisation is really only going in one direction and it is increasingly harder for nations to get by on their own, but also because the UK itself will likely see internal changes. The decision to leave the EU has sparked up conversation about referendums of independence here and there, causing the United Kingdom to resemble more a soon to be broken kingdom. Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, has said that it is highly likely a second referendum on independence for Scotland will be held amid the outcome of the Brexit referendum. Perhaps the result of such a vote would differ from the first one, held in 2014, as it was clear after 23 June that a majority of the Scottish voters were in favour of remaining in the EU. Sinn Fein also called for a referendum on independence form the UK for Northern Ireland, and a reunification with the 26 counties that make up the republic of Ireland. Considering all the potential negative consequences of the decision that may have been overlooked or at least given less consideration than necessary it is fair to expect that more and more people will have regrets in the near future. A petition to hold a second referendum had gathered millions of signatures in only a few days, and since it passed the minimum requirement of 100 000 signatures Parliament will consider it for debate. As David Cameron who promoted the stay campaign will step down as Prime Minister it will be his successor who will deal with the UK-EU divorce. In other words it will take time before article 50 will be applied and an application for an exit will officially be submitted. The question is whether there will be an opportunity in that time to grant the petitioners a second referendum. Perhaps the Britons will be offered a second chance at having a say in this since it is rather obvious many of the voter didn’t really know what it was exactly they were having a say in, or perhaps they have made their bed, so to speak, and now they’ll have to lie in it.