Thursday, October 13, 2016

Quentin Langley writes on involving Parliament in the Brexit process

My old friend Quentin Langley has an excellent post on his facebook wall about the arguments for involving parliament in setting the direction of the Brexit negotiations.

He makes some really excellent points. This is what he had to say about it:

"Involving Parliament in the Brexit process seems eminently sensible. The trouble is, there doesn't seem to be any mechanism for doing this.

"Government and Opposition have both accepted that the Government can't declare its position to Parliament as the negotiations progress. Theresa May can't tell Parliament that she has three twos and a couple jacks and then try to bluff in Brussels that she is holding a Royal Flush.

"But how can Parliament possibly vote on the outcome of a ...two-year negotiating process? It would be a Yes-Yes vote. Parliament can't reject Brexit without provoking a constitutional crisis and it cannot reject the terms of Brexit when there are no other terms on offer. The Government can't ask for more time to negotiate because the time period is set in the Treaty. It can't be varied without a Treaty amendment.

"Could the Government negotiate two alternative paths and let Parliament choose between them? That's a problem too. Our partners would not see this as negotiating in good faith. Furthermore, either the Government or our partners could seek to stack the deck by offering a false choice between a favoured option and something such as "invade Poland". (H/T "Yes, Prime Minister" for this old civil service technique). It is also likely that neither option would be as good as could be secured by focusing on a single set of terms."

2 comments:

Jim said...


"Government and Opposition have both accepted that the Government can't declare its position to Parliament as the negotiations progress. Theresa May can't tell Parliament that she has three twos and a couple jacks and then try to bluff in Brussels that she is holding a Royal Flush"

Thats the absolute wrong picture, it really is. Brussels know what she is holding, and she knows what they are holding as well. This is a trade deal, not a game of poker. That sort of thinking was exactly what cost Cameron his "reform" - go and see what you can get. rather than "We Want" - then laying the cards flat on the table, and saying and this is the deal or we leave.

Yes there is "negotiation" to be done, but that picture is totally wrong, it really is. The negotiation is more about, OK we will accept the EEA agreement (complete with article 112 and 113) fine, now then, we would like to continue to play a part in this, and for this we will pay £x into the budget, and we would like this, for which we will pay £x.

The EU then say, ok, so we will give you this for this much if you let us have this.

Etc.

its not about a game of poker, each side already knows the hand of the other, its about negotiating.

Chris Whiteside said...

Jim, I think you are underestimating the complexity of the problem of negotiating with a group of 27 nations, of which all 27 have a veto, and which have very diverse interests.

In my opinion Cameron was actually pretty clear about what he wanted from the other EU countries and he didn't get enough of what he asked for to be able to sell the deal to the electorate.

Theresa May understands that nobody going into an EU negotiation has ever got everything in their starting position - even Maggie Thatcher, who probably came closest.