Tag Archives: David Davis

Why hard Brexit is a damaging fantasy

Martin Woolf in yesterday’s online Financial Times https://www.ft.com/content/939c7ed0-8e32-11e6-a72e- hit the nail on the head:

“Formal sovereignty is not power. The UK government announces its intentions. The reaction of others determines results.

“By a thin margin the country voted for some kind of Brexit. But the government has no mandate for the rather extreme version it is choosing. Triggering Article 50 without parliamentary approval might be impossible. It surely ought to be impossible. Moreover, Brexiters insist that their goal is to restore parliamentary sovereignty. Why then does the government plan to ignore parliament when these decisions are taken?”

It’s actually worse than that since Government Ministers also seem to be ignoring their officials, taking the Leave side’s contempt for “experts” to a new low. Brexit Minister David Davis is now accusing Treasury civil servants of trying to undermine Brexit negotiations as part of a “desperate strategy” to keep Britain in the single market. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/11/david-davis-accuses-treasury-officials-of-trying-to-undermine-br/

 The redoubtable Mr Davis whose capacity for fantasy is on an exponentially upward leap, is understood to believe that the warning is part of a “succession of treasury briefings that are damaging negotiations”

Whatever Mr Davis thinks, the Treasury is not making this up. Why would they? Surely their lives would be easier if they went along with the Government and threw the well-being of Britain to the winds. Instead, the much derided officials are doing their duty, warning , amongst other things, that according to leaked draft Cabinet papers, if Britain leaves the Single Market without a new deal it will cost the Treasury £66billion in tax revenues.

Meanwhile the City of London, one time cheer-leaders for the Conservatives, are increasingly worried about the impact tougher immigration controls and departure from the single market could have on their revenues. Miles Celic, chief executive of the influential industry body TheCityUK is on record as saying: A “hard Brexit” that takes Britain clean out of the single market, and leaves the U.K. to trade with the EU under WTO rules, will do “significant” harm to the financial services sector.”

Back to Martin Woolf: “What drove Leavers was, we are also told, “the principle that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK”. The currency markets demonstrate the emptiness of that principle. Britain’s EU partners are about to do the same. The premise of the Leave campaign was false: a host of decisions that affect the UK will always be taken outside it.”

It would be comic if it wasn’t so serious. We are not talking about cosy sofa politics or even the Oxford Union debating society. This is about people’s lives, their quality of life, their health, their education and just about everything else which relies on government to deliver it. Ultimately, it’s about today’s young people and future generations.

 

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David Davis puts the Cat among the Pigeons

David Davis

It’s gratifying to be proved right, though rather less gratifying when it’s on such a fundamental subject as Britain in the EU.

Since I posted yesterday, David Cameron has been put in a very invidious position by the ex-Tory Shadow Home Secretary David Davis.  Davis has, in effect, issued a direct challenge to Cameron’s authority on Conservative policy towards Europe.

Writing here in the Daily Mail, Mr. Davis has called on the Tory leader to offer the public a referendum on the future of Britain’s relationship with the EU.  Davis’s challenge is, of course, a direct result of yesterday’s announcement that Cameron has abandoned his “cast iron” pledge that the Tories would hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Cameron and the Tories have consistently and constantly argued that the Labour Government should have held a referendum on Lisbon.  What price honesty now, Mr. Cameron?

As we all know, the Conservatives made their U-turn after the Czech government caved in and signed up to the Treaty yesterday, removing the final obstacle to its ratification.  I would have thought Cameron and co might have anticipated this happening and made their policy accordingly.

For David Davis all seems startlingly clear.  He proclaims today:

“What we should do is, in my view, clear. We should have a referendum, not on the treaty, but on the negotiating mandate that the British Government takes to the European Union.

“The question should contain four or five specific strategic aims which clearly summarise our objectives.

“The sort of things we might include are: recovering control over our criminal justice, asylum and immigration policies; a robust opt-out of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights; serious exemptions to the seemingly endless flood of European regulations which cost the UK economy billions of pounds each year; a recovery of our rights to negotiate on trade; exemption from European interference into trade in services and foreign direct investment rules; and an exemption from any restrictions on our foreign policy.

“The referendum should be the first piece of legislation in the new parliament, and should be held within three months of the election.

“Some fear this would become an ‘in or out’ referendum, a decision on whether to continue our membership of the European Union. It would be nothing of the sort. Killing this tired old canard is one of the reasons the referendum question has to be absolutely clear in language and intent.

“Of course it is possible that we will not achieve every change we want.

If that is the outcome, we should give the British people the right to accept or reject it in a further referendum.”

So that’s all right then Mr. D.  Hold a referendum which will have no status whatsoever with the EU Council of Ministers, the European Commission or even the European Parliament and then seek to impose Tory Party prejudices on the EU as a whole.  Wow, that’s one hell of a policy.  I’m glad you believe it Mr. Davis because I can assure you no-one in the EU will give it even the smallest chink of the light of day, your referendum notwithstanding.

This David Davis nonsense only serves to highlight Tory wrong headedness on Europe.  The Davis faction, which to an outside observer seems to be the Tory grassroots, most Conservative MPs and the majority of the Shadow Cabinet, are quite honestly living in la la land.  It will simply not be possible to do what they want.  It is not a credible policy.

Since the Lisbon Treaty for the first time allows existing EU member states to withdraw from the European Union, the only referendum which makes any sense at all is the one on whether the UK remains in the EU or comes out.    

 David Davis in his article rejects such a referendum on EU membership, presumably because he thinks the he and the anti-Europeans would lose.

 The views of the Tory Party, as opposed to those of David Cameron, on Europe obviously remain confused to put it mildly.  It will be interesting to see whether my hunch that Cameron will go with his Party turns out to be correct.

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