Another gloomy Brexit forecast has been leaked to the press. This time the “Brexit Impact Assessment” focuses on the potential post-Brexit economy slowdown and job losses under just three of the Brexit scenarios: -3% if UK remained in the Single Market, -11% in a Free Trade situation, and -16% if there was No Deal. The worst affected areas being the North East of UK and Northern Ireland.
The first report “EU Exit Analyses-Cross Whitehall Briefing” was leaked to Buzzfeed News last week and again only looked at the three existing scenarios; any new innovative or bespoke arrangements were overlooked in each report. Both reports explicitly undermined the EU negotiations and did not include a political overview. The inference is that there is not sufficient diligent and open analysis about Brexit. The Chancellor’s office has been accused of leaking both reports in a revival of George Osborne’s 2015 “Project Fear” over Brexit, which did not work QUED the Referendum Result. Charles Grant, Director of Centre for European Reform, is denying he has said the Treasury is pushing the British Government towards a softer Brexit, although this is how it appears to many Remainers. MPs have accused the Prime Minister of watering down Brexit. The question being asked is whether the UK is in The (Existing) Customs Union or in A (New) Customs Union? Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg are currently campaigning against 40 undesirable EU Directives that may be enforced during the two-year transition period. Furthermore, Michel Barnier has announced that Brussels still has problems understanding the position of the British Government and that time is short to agree the terms of the Transitional Period that UK requested. Sources say that the British-EU immigration rules may not be decided till after Brexit in March 2019, which could explain Barnier’s frustrations. On the other hand, Jeremy Corbyn has assured Barnier that he is open to keeping the Customs Union and he could offer a “unilateral guarantee” on the rights of EU citizens throughout the Transition Period.
Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary and premier Brexiteer is planning to make a speech on 14 February, dubbed the Cupid speech as it will be delivered on Valentine’s Day.But will he unify the rebellious Tory factions? Many MPs are supporting Johnson’s views—it is understood that Gavin Williamson, Defense Secretary, has switched to Johnson’s camp. This may have prompted Theresa May to appoint Leaver Karen Bradley, Northern Ireland Secretary, to her Brexit Cabinet Committee, a controversial move as MPs claim “scaremongering” over the Northern Ireland Border and the Peace Process are driving the PM towards a soft-Brexit.
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group (ERG) is the primary lobbying force for a hard-Brexit. Rees-Mogg is a daily candid presence challenging the Exchequer and the Department for Exiting the EU, to date no-one has discovered how manyERG members exist. Recently Buzzfeed News identified that 70 Tory MPs support the ERG, that is five times the Prime Minister’s working majority in the House of Commons.
One reason given for not challenging the Prime Minister’s leadership is simply that Conservatives hold too many marginal seats and there is not yet a full Candidates list and so far, no Candidates have been selected to fight seats lost in 2017.