They say that it is always darkest before the dawn. Or in the case of Brexit, wildly unpredictable. Following two years of negotiations, the EU and the UK have finally reached a legally binding withdrawal agreement, and a political declaration outlining the future relationship between the two sides. As of writing this, the two documents have been endorsed by the 27 remaining EU member states signalling the end of the negotiation process. Rather than pause for a brief moment of celebration, the Prime Minister now faces the frankly herculean task of selling her deal to Parliament.[pullquote]students will probably be rejoicing at the prospect of a chance to overturn the 2016 result[/pullquote]
It is remarkable how many factions are so set against the Prime Minister’s deal. Brexiters and Remainers alike detest the deal, with the former camp complaining that it represents a betrayal of Brexit, whilst the latter argue that the deal is worse than a clean, hard Brexit. The main sticking point of the deal is the contentious issue of the Northern Irish boarder, and the contingencies put in place to prevent a hard boarder. Currently, the UK is set to remain in a Customs Union with Europe until the end of the implementation period which ends in December 2020. During this period the UK will still pay into the EU budget, and adhere to EU rules and regulations, whilst remaining under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. During this implementation period the EU and UK will attempt to negotiate a comprehensive trade agreement which will allow the frictionless free trade of goods between the two blocs. However, virtually nobody expects a free trade agreement to be successfully negotiated in such a narrow time frame. Enter the Backstop! The insurance policy which would see the UK remain in the customs union should no trade deal be reached, therefore preventing the erection of a hard boarder in Northern Ireland.
Confused? I don’t blame you, but this last issue is what everyone is so up in arms about. Whilst the backstop makes sense as a policy to prevent a hard-Irish border, it essentially binds the UK to the EU until Brussels- and not Westminster- decides Britain is ready to leave. This is why so many Brexiteers complain that Britain will become a vasal state since it confiscates our voice within Brussels, whilst keeping us subjugated to its rules. Essentially, for the first time in British history, the British people will be subject to laws which they have absolutely no say in.
As it stands roughly 90 Tory MPs, of Leave and Remain factions, have declared that they would vote down the deal, along with the DUP, Labour and virtually everyone else in Parliament. Instead of bringing Remainers and Brexiteers together the deal as antagonised everyone and pleased no one. As it stands however, the EU 27 will not reopen renegotiations, and with a clear parliamentary majority against No deal, the only two options left to MPs are Theresa May’s deal, or No Brexit (through a second referendum).
Whilst students will probably be rejoicing at the prospect of a chance to overturn the 2016 result, Brexiteers are understandably in despair given that their dream of a clean break from the EU looks to be in tatters. The brutal reality however is the fact that their vision of Brexit, which they sold in 2016, was never deliverable. The Prime Minister’s deal, however terrible they believe it is, is the only deliverable form of Brexit. Quite how the Brexiteers expected to secure frictionless trade, access to the single market, and maintain a soft border in Northern Ireland, alongside freedom from the ECJ, and European rules and regulations remains incomprehensible.
So what now? Despite the opposition the PM is sticking with her deal. Yet politicians, experts and journalists alike are struggling to understand how she will get it through the Parliamentary deadlock. Expect more updates, backtracking, and backstabbing from Westminster in the coming weeks. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that this psychodrama will seemingly never run out of steam.