The Labour party appears to be in a muddle over Brexit; their 2017 manifesto clearly states acceptance of the result of 2016 EU referendum and devotes a chapter to ‘Negotiating Brexit’. There is no mention of a second referendum.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said there will not be a second referendum on membership of the European Union. In Prime Minister’s Questions, May challenged Jeremy Corbyn to rule it out but he avoided a definitive answer. The Remainers in both Tory and Labour parties clamour for a people’s vote (PV) on the final Brexit deal. This week, GMB, the general trade union with 639,000 members, joined the throng for a PV. The GMB is a contributor to the Labour party and is the only British trade union with a permanent office in Brussels. Increasingly, it looks like the TUC (Trades Union Congress) with 5.6 million members is going to join the PV campaign, which will add more pressure on Corbyn. The Labour party appears to be in a muddle over Brexit; their 2017 manifesto clearly states acceptance of the result of the 2016 EU referendum and devotes a chapter to “Negotiating Brexit”. There is no mention of a second referendum or PV; yet many Labour MPs have joined the PV forum and this week, according to a Survation poll, Labour gained a four-point lead over the Conservatives.
The Chequers Plan for Brexit was already a disaster as it left Chequers in early July. On 3 August Theresa May sent a personalised but unpersuasive letter to all Conservative party members, communicating her vision for Brexit. One reply to the Prime Minister from Robert Cooper TD, a former captain of industry and pillar of society has reached The Sunday Guardian. The octogenarian Cooper articulates why he wants to chuck Chequers:
* The EU’s auditors quote “significant errors” in the EU’s accounts. An estimated up to 20% of UK’s annual £10billion payment of taxpayers’ money is being unidentifiably spent, which Cooper calls an “intolerable and grotesque misrepresentation of governance”.
* After the declaration of Article 50, UK negotiators have failed to achieve a fair disengagement. Now UK is facing a fine of £35 billion. Cooper suggests it is the UK who should be demanding the return of the total auditors’ estimate of tolerance costs at some £40billion, and not agree to a severance payment. Cooper even proposes reclaiming UK excess funding of European defence costs by NATO.
* Negotiators have failed to make the EU recognise that UK has “standing room only” due to an open immigration policy for refugees and immigrants since 1945. UK immigration constraints need to be stronger than Spain, France, Poland and West Germany who each have a similar population to that of the UK, but with a landmass of four times the size of England.
* The EU is no longer a common market free trade area of seven countries as it was in 1975. It is a federalisation of 28 countries run by unelected, ever increasingly paid bureaucrats requiring some 25 languages. Too many UK voters feel taxes are paid to the EU without sufficiently recognised representation, UK influence by vote being a minute 4%.
* All EU countries have a written Constitution, unlike UK’s, which is from Case Law. Whilst the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is not currently incorporated into the EU, its effect on EU law and rule is enormous. Almost certainly the ECJ will become fully integrated with the EU in the future. Cooper insists UK cannot risk the ECJ superimposing EU/EC or ECJ laws, rules or inferences over UK law which override or dilute UK’s Constitution, if not eradication then diluting sovereignty, taxation, national and local government.
After Cooper recommends some helpful negotiating factors, he proposes reinstating the English Bill of Rights 1689, released by John Major at Maastricht: “No foreign prince, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm.” Before signing politely off, Cooper lists the instability in several EU countries over the past 100 years.
By and large, Tory Brexiteer sentiment agrees with Cooper. The Chequers plan is flailing, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Chairman of the European Research Group, and European chief negotiator Michel Barnier from Brussels have both rejected May’s Chequers plan. The government’s plans for a Brexit No Deal contingency are called Operation Yellowhammer, revealing that in the event of No Deal the associated costs in 2019/20 would come from “internal prioritisation”. The WTO rules for open trading are still an option and a Canada style agreement is now back on the cards thanks to David Davis, former Brexit Secretary, who is backing a new and improved 140-page “Alternative Brexit Plan” to be published in September.
In the meantime, Boris Johnson is now topping the Conservative home polls for the next Conservative leader. Johnson has planned a spitfire visit to the Tory conference in October, on the eve of the Prime Minister’s keynote speech. In the same poll, the Prime Minister occupies an improved position, fourth from the bottom 26th out of 30.