New Brexit Secretary Dominic Rabb has already tried to pull the wool over the eyes of MPs by not giving them prior access to the governments white paper before he addressed parliament on it. Is this a sign of things to come?
In extraordinary scenes, no sooner than Dominic Rabb had started setting out the governments position, he was drowned out angry shouts by of MPs from all parties.
Speaker John Bercrow intervened early, asking Mr Rabb to confirm that it would be be immediately available to MPs so as they could read the document which he was addressing parliament on.
Mr Raab said the paper would be made available “as soon as is practicably possible”.
In a break from convention, Bercrow advised MPs that they may leave the chamber to collect a copy during the speech if they wish. The anger only grew and seconds later boxers of the white paper were seen being carried into the chamber.
In yet another extraordinary turn of events, Bercrow suspended the sitting for five minutes, so as MPs could receive the 98 page document.
So what does it actually say?
It sets out four areas of future co-operation:
- The economic partnership between the EU and the UK
- Security co-operation
- Future co-operation in areas like aviation and nuclear power
- The “institutional frameworks” that will enforce the agreement
Free movement remaining?
Despite saying free movement will end it then contradicts itself straight away by saying EU citizens will be allowed to visit the UK “visa free” and do “paid work in limited and clearly defined circumstances”.
This will anger Ress-Mogg and his gang ,who will now be piling the pressure onto the Prime Minister to abandon this plan. It also goes against comments made by Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Wednesday.
Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee, Javid said: “There will be no automatic right for anyone in the EU, or anyone else for that matter, to just make a unilateral decision that they can just hop on a plane or ferry and just come and work in the UK. That will end.”
Benefit entitlement to continue?
In another move that will anger Brexiteers, the paper states arrangements for the payment of certain benefits would be accommodated if the EU did the same for UK citizens living in member states. The government denied that this means there will be no change to the status quo but, it’s hard to see how it isn’t?
The also state that they want the health cover that UK citizens enjoy in the EU to continue. This is all free I suppose???
Customs, customs, customs
The part that will cause the most uproar by Tory backbenchers will be Theresa May’s customs plan for post Brexit UK. The government are aiming to set up frictionless trade with the EU by signing the UK up to single market regulations for goods and agricultural products, and adopting a new customs system. The system itself well nobody knows what that will be yet.
Cabinet members say this would remove the need for customs checks at the border and at ports which they are hoping will help solve the Northern Ireland problem. It also appears that by keeping the mainland UK in line with NI this will appease the DUP.
The EU has repeatedly said that frictionless trade can only happen if the UK signs up both to the single market AND customs union and that “cherry picking” will not be happening.
Ministers say the UK position has “evolved” and that they now hope the EU position will evolve in turn – meeting in the middle. I think the Tories are going to have trouble much closer to home before the EU can even look at it if I am honest.
Well it looks to me that they are attempting to do the one thing the EU has said won’t be happening; “cherry picking.” It has be a clear that this is a red line that the EU will not budge on. Why they think it will work now I do not know.
Leaving services out of the customs arrangement is their way of appeasing the Brexiteers as they can technically say they have left THE customs union and created another. This is the point that a Tory rebels are most upset at, so it appears that has failed too.
Theresa May is looking more and more like a lame duck and, a challenge to her leadership is expected. When, nobody will say, but with the “rebels promising a resignation a day,” except for yesterday of course …
Is there much hope left for her?
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