Snake-Bit Government

9 July 2018


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Davis Quits as Brexit Secretary


The British Brexit Secretary David Davis quit late last night. His resignation follows a Cabinet agreement on Friday made at Chequers over the position Britain should take in its negotiations with the EU on Britain's departure from the group. He fears it has created a "weak negotiating position" and claims he would be a "reluctant conscript" in the negotiations under the agreed position. His successor is Dominic Raab, a leading Leave campaigner. His appointment is largely irrelevant at this stage as Prime Minister Theresa May will be running the negotiations that lie ahead. The main problem is that her government, while not dead, is snake-bit. A collapse is almost inevitable now.

The Chequers deal states Britain's position in 100-pages of mind-numbing detail. Boiled down to the basics, the agreement says Britain wants a common rule book with the EU covering all goods but services will be treated differently. A "joint institutional framework" will be created to interpret UK-EU agreements, and UK courts would involve "due regard paid to EU case law in areas where the UK continued to apply a common rulebook." According to the BBC, "The borders between the UK and EU will be treated as a 'combined customs territory'. The UK would apply domestic tariffs and trade policies for goods intended for the UK, but charge EU tariffs and their equivalents for goods which will end up heading into the EU." The free movement of people will also end.

Mr. Davis could not abide this, which seems to be a partial Brexit. The European Court of Justice would continue to influence British commerce. The UK would be a customs collector for the EU. The common rule book essentially means that the UK will follow EU regulations.

One is not clear on whether Mr. Raab can stomach these either, but his appointment suggests one of two things. Either he is OK with the Chequers deal or he doesn't think the EU will agree to some of the terms to which he objects.

Of course, getting 27 Tory politicians to agree on a Brexit policy is one thing. Getting agreement with the 27 other members of the EU is quite another. Later this week, the government will issue a white paper discussing its objectives. This is something that should have happened before the referendum. The white paper is not the final treaty with Brussels but rather is the starting point for the British government. Brexit Day is 263 days away. One does not see this getting done in a timely fashion.

Moreover, one is not convinced that the May government will survive until Brexit Day. The PM leads a minority government kept in office by the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland on a supply and confidence basis. If Boris Johnson or Michael Gove decided to lead a final charge for hard Brexit, it just might succeed.

This journal has always maintained that poor implementation of bad policy is the worst possible thing a government can do. The May government is doing exactly that. The chances of no Brexit deal at all are now about 50-50.

© Copyright 2018 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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