Saturday, August 27, 2016

Owen Smith and the Brexit paradox

I'm going to take the comments on Brexit by Owen Smith MP, candidate for the Labour leadership, more seriously than they probably deserve and stop for a moment to analyse them.

He says that if he becomes Labour leader he will try to prevent invocation of Article 50 until Theresa May commits to a second referendum or a general election on whatever deal emerges from the Brexit process.

This form or words is meant to sound reasonable and to appear to give the electorate an attempt at more democratic oversight on what Brexit looks like. But it's a trick.

The first problem with this is that the overwhelming majority of legal advice is that the PM can trigger article 50 under the executive's prerogative without the need for a vote in parliament. (And I understand that is precisely what she intends to do at the appropriate moment in 2017 - probably after the French and German elections.)

The second problem is this - we can't know what the terms are going to be until we have negotiated them, and we can't get that process seriously under way until we have triggered article 50.

And once we trigger article 50 we have a two year deadline to negotiate a set of terms. Unless the EU states unanimously vote to extend the deadline, and frankly, they are unlikely to do that.

I don't think that the two-year timescale realistically allows both time to negotiate a decent deal and time to put it to the people.

Smith's comment that, whatever the deal, is he will campaign to stay in gives the game away. This is a backdoor attempt to sabotage the electorate's decision.

The EU referendum was in many ways the largest exercise in democracy this country has ever held. I said before the vote that whichever way it went we should all respect the result and I say the same thing now. If we don't implement the electorate's decision we will shatter, perhaps irreparably, any pretence that the British state respects the views and votes of British citizens.

You would not think it possible that a contender for the Labour leadership could be even more out of touch with the electorate, including many Labour voters, than the current leader but on this issue Owen Smith has managed it.

3 comments:

Jim said...

lets have a look

He says that if he becomes Labour leader he will try to block in invocation of Article 50 until Theresa May commits to a second referendum of a general election on whatever deal emerges from the Brexit process.

hmmm, no idea what a second referendum of a general election is, they are two different beasts really, you cant have a referendum on an election, at least not to my knowledge

This form or words is meant to sound reasonable and like it is giving the electorate an attempt at more democratic oversight on what Brexit looks like.

oh right, I thought it was just utter rubbish

The first problem with this is that the overwhelming majority of legal advice is that the PM can trigger article 50 under the executive's prerogative without the need for a vote in parliament.
well yeah, under article 50 of TEU to be precise, you know, EU law that still takes precedence until we actually leave

(And I understand that is precisely what she intends to do at the appropriate moment in 2017 - probably after the French and German elections.
yeah sounds pretty reasonable to me

The second problem is this - we can't know what the terms are going to be until we have negotiated them, and we can't get that process seriously under way until we have triggered article 50.
yes... this is what negotiations are

And once we trigger article 50 we have a two year deadline to negotiate a set of terms. Unless the EU states unanimously vote to extend the deadline, and frankly, they are not going to do that.
actually they may, you see whilst it does take a unanimous vote to extend there is nothing that stops the extension being the first thing that is negotiated and agreed, which it may be if we play this correctly

I don't think that the two-year timescale realistically allows both time to negotiate a decent deal and time to put it to the people.
you have lost me on what is to be put to the people and in what way, you either trigger art 50 or you don't, thats it, you cant sort of trigger it and then say "just kidding" at the end, you can leave the EU under article 50 and then rejoin under article 49, but you cant use it as a type of "Bluff"

Jim said...

so in the end really all that can be "put to the people" regardless of the post brexit deal we get is this:

"Should the UK Join the European Union?"

if the public vote Yes then we would do so under the procedure in article 49 TEU.

If the public vote no, then we would not.

It really is that simple.

Jim said...

So Mr Smith, to be honest the best thing you could ever do is do that thing that British Governments have historically been so bad at.

READ THE TREATIES.