The long, tortured story of Brexit truly appears to be drawing to a close, but not in the way the Brexiteers had hoped. As of today, there are 100 days remaining until the March 29, 2019 deadline under the provisions of Article 50 and any hope for a better “deal” with Europe have basically gone out the window. The No Deal Brexit was the last option nearly everyone in Great Britain had in mind, but the Europeans have steadfastly refused to consider any better terms. At this point, the remaining EU nations are preparing for a worst-case scenario. (Irish Times)
The EU has stepped up its planning for a no-deal Brexit scenario, with the European Commission on Wednesday publishing a schedule for temporary emergency legislation to manage and soften the break with the UK.
The 14 measures, in areas such as citizen rights, air landing rights and safety, and the free movement of animals, will be taken unilaterally by the EU on condition that the UK reciprocates fully, and will apply for a limited period only of up to nine months from Brexit day on March 29th, 2019. They cover only a small fraction of areas likely to be affected by British withdrawal.
Because of time constraints, the commission will immediately begin the process of putting legislation through the European Council and Parliament.
So what happens to the borders when the UK takes back its independence? That’s a rather tough question to answer because nobody is saying at this point. The Brits are insisting that “no new infrastructure” has to be built to control the borders and the EU seems to agree. But that flies in the face of some of the rules of the World Trade Organization. There are also nagging questions about both the border and the ongoing peace process in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
So can anything derail this divorce at this late stage? The Conservative Party can’t make another run at removing Theresa May from office prior to the deadline. There seems to be no appetite among the Labour Party for a full vote of no confidence in the House of Commons. And the Prime Minister hasn’t given the slightest hint that she’s considering backing down. The only other escape hatch would be a new vote, something which has seemed impossible. But is it?
Amazingly, there have been increasingly loud calls for a second referendum. Even former Prime Minister Tony Blair went out to publicly call for another vote. But Theresa May responded by saying that such a move would be a betrayal of democracy. (NPR)
“Our knowledge of the consequence is a world greater than when we took the decision,” said Blair, referring to the 2016 Brexit referendum. “In what other circumstances would we refuse the right to reconsider … indeed regard discussion of such a change as somehow a betrayal of principle?”
On Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May said taking the issue back to voters would indeed constitute a betrayal.
“Another vote … would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics,” said May, “because it would say to millions who trusted in democracy, that our democracy does not deliver.”
The idea of organizing and scheduling that sort of referendum in less than 100 days, not to mention giving the two sides sufficient time and resources to campaign on the question, seems unlikely in the extreme. As many of us have been predicting since the summer, the No Deal Brexit is looking more and more inevitable because as bad as it may appear, the UK and the EU are so far apart on the fundamental questions that no other deal is possible. And Theresa May is surviving all challenges to her leadership on the issue because, frankly, no sane person in Great Britain wants the job right about now.