Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Brexit Train begins to move this week.

Important few days coming up for Brexit. We are expecting the Prime Minister to make a substantive speech on Tuesday outlining early thoughts on the challenge that lies ahead. Personally, I don't expect her to give too away much. I certainly hope not. I expect her to re-iterate her commitment to invoking Article 50 in March, and tell us that the Govt will bring forward a bill to take through the necessary statutory processes if the Supreme Court finds against the Government later this month. She may also give us some idea what her 'red lines ' are.

Don't know when the Supreme Court will inform us of its decision but I would expect it to be this week or next. There seems to be a general expectation that the Government will lose its case. However what may be more interesting will be whether it will be a unanimous vote, and if not what the balance of opinion will be. I sense that if three or four judges support the Govt position, it may be seen as a sort of success.  If a Bill is then brought before Parliament, there will be interesting debate. The people voted in favour of the UK leaving the European Union and I would expect only the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the SNP to refuse to accept the people's vote. I notice Plaid Cymru spokesman still banging the 'Project Fear' drum today. Is anyone listening?

Perhaps it's too much at this stage for the Prime Minister to say emphatically that if the UK cannot secure acceptable terms to leave, we should simply fall back on WTO rules. I do think that at some stage, the UK will have to take that position. There can be no compromise on leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. There can be no going back on securing control of who is allowed into the UK. If it's possible to retain access to the Single Market or remain within the Customs Union at the same time, that would be excellent.  At present can't see how we can.

Been also good to note that New Zealand is keen to agree a trade deal with the UK. NZ always been a good friend to UK. And Canada and Australia. But the big fish is the US. It's a massive market. And the new President seems well disposed towards the UK. Wonder how many people feel as I do - keen to start working on these trade deals across the 50 countries that Liam Fox is targeting. Pessimism and navel gazing creates negativity.

Inevitably there is a degree of nervousness amongst the sheep farmers in my constituency. I share it. We do not want to see any significant tariff on lamb exports. I don't expect that to happen under any circumstances. And I hope not. I would immediately have to stop consuming any imports from the EU, whether it be cars, wine or anything else. I see some media coverage today to comments by the Chancellor who is reported as having said that the UK will reset its economic strategy if the EU imposed conditions which would hurt the UK economy - that we would not take it lying down. Well that's how I feel, and I expect it will be how many others feel as well. It's very early days yet, but there will be significant developments over next few days.

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