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Better Late than Never...

February 28, 2019 10:00 PM

2 minutes to midnight Ryanicus GirraficusCC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain30 Days to Go - Better Late than Never...

By JON jAMES

Better late than Never - Pro Europe Tory and Labour MP's leave their Pro-Brexit led parties and their stubborn tribal leaders.

Better Late than Never - 'She of the red lines' and 'Brexit means Brexit' on March 29th, plans to leave a final decision to ask the EU to extend Article 50 until Tuesday 19th March.

Better Late than Never - Pro Brexit Jeremy Corbyn is forced off the fence and facing further desertions appears to say that he is willing to support a second vote.

Better Late than Never - the Government is forced to publish a sanitised summary of the impact of leaving the EU with No Deal on Business and Trade.

EU Remainer's Diary

So who are the Independent Group?

As someone who had been through the same journey from Labour after 22 years to the SDP in 1981 I am sure that I have experienced some of the same emotions as those felt by this group. Determined not to be defeated by a militant tendency, realising that it was an unwinnable battle and I finally threw in the towel and walked away from friends and what had become a second family. It felt like a bereavement.

Whilst I have every respect for the action that they have taken, I am not in the least convinced that their conversion to a new centre ground is solidly based on the same Liberal values that have brought me and thousands to the Lib Dem cause and stood consistently against Brexit from day one. Liberal Democrats have and will always have European and international cooperation in their DNA.

So who are the Independent Group? Well, there are three former Tory MP's, all of whom voted for the triggering of Article 50 but were then prepared to stand up to the far right ERG and now feel that they had no option but to walk away. Now the trio are being savaged by the Tory press as traitors while at the same time it is praising the actions of the brave former Labour MP's. The latter including four who have lost votes of no confidence and received a nudge by their local Labour parties and the brave Luciana Berger who has been treated with a level of anti-Semitic abuse that it beginning to define sections of the Labour Party. Hats off, however to messrs, Alexander, Berger, Coffey and Gapes all of whom voted against triggering Article 50, caps tipped slightly to Leslie, Shukor and Smith who half defied the Whip and abstained and as to Chuka Umunnna well he went into the lobby alongside Keir Starmer and the Labour Leader. Make what you will of this Group, I can see some merit in discussing tactics over by-elections but they have a very long road in front of them unless 100 or more of their colleagues join them very soon.

Leaving on March 29th?

What sort of Government drives its people to the very cliff edge just to appease its hard right minority? Having pursued a path illustrated on the side of a bus, the driver has from day one allowed every political misfit and blustering buffoon on board and passed every crossroads and caution sign saying slow or stop. A divided nation now stands at the brink with half saying turn back and the others either defying the odds against a catastrophic crash, telling everyone that that wont feel a thing or praying that something will turn up as the EU always give in at the last minute.

Well, the red lines are still there, the backstop wont be overturned and we are forced to watch the clock tick down as minister after minister resigns and the parliamentary troops play, pass the amendment. The country is hoping that at last they are about to suffer the final act of the tragedy to end all tragedies. I fear that the end is only just beginning and never doubt the ability of the British Civil Service, they are bound to have another ready. On or around March 19th the already carefully drafted letter will be presented to the EU by bag carrying Oliver Robbins, permanent Secretary begging for more time.

As President Macron has said on several occasions the EU must expect a sound reason for any delay. It is just possible that a couple of months of grinding the Tory MP's plus some Labour leavers and a weary Country down, that the P.M. may scrape a deal through. The EU must require a fundamental change to the red lines or a second vote.

100% Corbyn support for a second vote?

Jeremy Corbyn is being forced, defection by defection to weaken his long standing ambivalence to the Europe Union and to swing the Labour Party behind a second vote. There is much game playing still to go before the about-turn is complete and we will hear the mantra repeated many times that 'we respect the referendum result' in an attempt to placate 'their' Leave voters.

The Labour Party are like their Tory counterparts at a crossroads. Both will be defined by future generations for the parts that they played in this Brexit crisis. Neither will be able to claim that they did everything they could to prevent the country sliding down the economic league, losing international influence on the world stage and our talented and skilled young people to other more outward-looking countries.

Any hope of a cross party consensus was thrown away in 2016. One can but hope that either of the main party leaders starts to exhibit some semblance of statesmanship over the coming days and puts country before party. The nation is now battle weary and many have switched off altogether. History will tell us that it is at this point when the country is at its weakest that it is most vulnerable to listen to the voices from the extremes. The agony that is Brexit will not be ended by politicians but by those who felt that they had so little to lose that they sought change through Leave.

When the final Brexit accounts are audited what will they say?

In previous articles we have listed the growing loss of businesses and manpower and future tax revenues and assets flowing out of the UK coupled with costly contingencies, warehousing, shipping, lorries, increased stocks, armed personnel and border forces. Widespread predictions of traffic gridlock on key roads in southeast England due to customs checks on trucks trying to cross the English Channel at Dover, Europe's busiest ferry port are clearly in the government's sights.

The UK was once seen as the "springboard to Europe", but with Brexit looming, businesses have stepped up their planning to leave or have been relocating some of their business in the EU. According to the Bank of England Monetary Committee since the vote in June 2016, the economy had lost about 2% of GDP compared with a scenario where there had been no significant domestic economic events. The cost to Britain is currently £40bn a year, or about £800m a week of lost income. The weekly cost of Brexit so far is more than double the £350m the Leave campaign claimed could be saved on EU membership fees and instead spent on the NHS.

The recent document by the DExEU on the implications for business and trade play up the work that the Government has in place for a NO Deal, adding that there will be many temporary transitional arrangements in place to ensure Brexit Day passes smoothly. That business and finance have already made arrangements is about as far as it will admit to the hemorrhaging of business and trade related resources to Europe or plans by major corporations to transfer their manufacturing from the UK. Why when Japan has just negotiated a major trade deal with the EU would they wish to re-route via the UK? Already businesses have said that with then 50 days go they would be reluctant to ship goods to Japan or South Korea if it was unclear whether they would face WTO tariffs or long delays when they arrived.

With documents like this one and the previous series of impact statements the Party of business and trade appear to have given up on trying to retain that title in favour of damage limitation.

END

Implications for Business and Trade of a No Deal Exit on 29 March 2019