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Monday, December 11, 2017

Arrogance and bad faith: A Brexit Tale

Nobody needs me to elaborate on the vagueness and contradictions inherent in the deal that Theresa May has struck with the EU when it is set against her government's determination to leave that institution, whilst keeping the United Kingdom intact. Needless to say at some stage a decision will have to be made and stuck to.

However, for one Government Minister, the compromise half-agreement the Prime Minister signed off on last week is a sore he cannot help but keep picking. Brexit Secretary, David Davis seems determined to wreck any hope of agreement (and of a trade deal with Europe) even before the ink is dry on the paper.

As the Guardian reports, Davis has clashed with the Irish government after claiming that the Brexit divorce agreement between Britain and the EU was a “statement of intent” rather than something legally enforceable.

They add that the Brexit secretary’s crass comments came in the light of a missive from Downing Street advisers, which told cabinet ministers who campaigned to leave the EU, that promises around full regulatory alignment were “meaningless”.

In addition, Theresa May has also appeared to suggest there was still some flexibility in the deal reached at the end of last week, writing to all Tory MPs to set out the details of the agreement but promising that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

The Irish of course are incensed. They have issued a statement to the effect that “Both Ireland and the EU will be holding the UK to the phase one agreement.” In addition, the Irish deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, highlighted a line in the agreement that said commitments relating to Ireland would be “upheld in all circumstances, irrespective of the nature of any future agreement between the EU and UK”.

The point is of course that if the UK cannot bring itself to hold good faith over this fairly flimsy agreement of principle then how can anybody trust them on more substantive treaties, including on trade?

The arrogance, incompetence and stupidity of hard line Brexiteers in Theresa May's cabinet are threatening the very future of the UK economy. Their actions could torpedo any deal with Europe and leave the rest of the World wondering whether it is worth even talking to us.

The need for a second referendum on whatever emerges from these talks is becoming even more urgent. And it is crucial that the public have an 'exit from Brexit' option on that ballot paper.
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