Grybauskaite encouraged UK to leave with No Deal rather than delay any further.
LONDON: The conspiracy to stymie UK’s exit from the EU continues, as multiple Remainer amendments proliferate in the House of Commons. Calls for extending Article 50 beyond 29 March, indicative votes on a No Deal/New Deal/May’s Deal/No Brexit, a second referendum or a composite “Citizens Assembly” are all on the table. Some of these, although arguably legitimate, require controversial changes to the Constitution, such as HM The Queen being advised to withhold Royal Assent, a prerogative that has not been used for 300 years. Daniel Kawczynski, MP, announced he had formally asked the Polish government to veto any motions by EU to allow an extension of Article 50. Dalia Grybauskaite, president of Lithuania, encouraged UK to leave with No Deal rather than delay any further.
In Davos, old rivals and former politicians, including Tony Blair, combined to undermine negotiations by calling for a second referendum. Yet, a significant parliamentary section of the cross-party People’s Vote campaign announced they were withdrawing their amendment for second referendum, citing that they did not have Jeremy Corbyn’s backing; only 71 MPs were open about their backing for it.
Instead of being more amenable to Withdrawal Agreement renegotiations, Michel Barnier, the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit, has interpreted what Britain wants is a soft Brexit. He is playing on Tory and Labour in-party divisions. He suggested it is up to Theresa May to make positive proposals as the existing deal is the best for Britain, with the objective of an indefinite customs union. The issue of customs checks between the Republic of Ireland (RoI) and Northern Ireland and the substance of the Backstop are still fuzzy from the perspectives of Ireland, the EU and the UK. Leo Varadkar, the RoI Prime Minister, has surprisingly suggested border checks could be imposed in Calais-France, treating the UK and Ireland as “one bloc”, which would avoid the dreaded hard border.
The Sun newspaper published a warning from senior Conservative officials in conjunction with a poll by Onward, a centre right think-tank, against a snap election. The poll puts Jeremy Corbyn in No10 in a coalition with the SNP and the Liberal Democrats. Corbyn only needs 30 more seats to achieve a majority and the Conservatives have tight margins of 2.5% in 29 seats, Onward claimed, 46 out of 59 seats in Scotland are vulnerable to a 5% swing to Labour. The report gave Labour the election campaign advantage over the ill-prepared Conservatives. The latest poll results put Labour neck and neck or slightly ahead of the Conservatives.
Airbus executives have said a No Deal Brexit risks 14,000 UK jobs, and admitted that the government suggested they make public their view. Leavers now accuse Airbus in collaborating with Remainers’ “Project Fear”. Sir James Dyson is moving his Chief Legal and Chief Financial Officers and his HQ to Singapore, to competitively develop an entirely innovated by Dyson electric vehicle; contrary to Remainers’ cries of hypocrisy this does not dilute Sir James’ enthusiasm for investing in a post-Brexit UK.
Meanwhile, Alan Mendoza writes in Cityam that France and Germany’s deepening ties and EU integration, signed in Aachen this week, may backfire. Mendoza writes “Henceforth, France and Germany will seek to establish common positions on a range of internal and external issues, and to put out joint statements on major economic and political developments. Franco-German economic zone will drive economic integration, while a joint defence and security council will attempt to harmonise military relations and deployments and lead the push for a European army. The two powers will act in concert at the United Nations. Closer to home, bilingualism will be pushed, and cross-border links will be promoted in an attempt to foster a seamless transition between national territories.” He predicts a rise in Eurosceptic populist parties on the continent which may result in a split or total collapse of the Eurozone.