Before December, Theresa May’s Cabinet is going to have to agree to pay the EU around forty billion pounds – amount negotiable, but the UK government’s resistance to paying anything has meant they’re almost out of time to negotiate the amount.
Robert Halfon, Tory MP for Harlow since 2010, Chair of the Education Committee and former government minister under both David Cameron and Theresa May, says of this payment
with austerity on the agenda ahead of Wednesday’s Budget, “if we start saying that we’re going to give £40 to £50bn to the EU, I think the public will go bananas, absolutely spare”.
Mr Halfon said he had backed Remain in the EU referendum, but added “we voted to leave, the public want to leave, and I cannot believe that the public would accept such a huge amount when we need money for our schools, our hospitals, our housing, and many other things”.
EU Referendum Results Map
Last week, I wrote and posted a series about the four possible directions the UK can go from where we are.
- First, hard Brexit, which is catastrophic;
- second, soft Brexit, which is several different flavours of disaster;
- third, re-running the EU referendum, which would be expensive, time-consuming, and wouldn’t necessarily stop Brexit;
- fourth, Parliament voting to revoke the invocation of Article 50, which means an unprecedented rebellion of MPs in both Opposition and Government with unpredictable consequences.
From a worm’s-eye perspective, the fourth option is least-worst: but the people most likely to face negative consequences for carrying it out and saving the UK from catastrophe or disaster, are the same MPs who would have to vote for it.
And regardless of how bad it is for us in the lower income bands, MPs are all in the top ten percent by income just from their salary: they have a generous expenses system, heavily subsidised food and drink at work, complete job security until the next general election, and a nice golden parachute even if they lose their seats then: they will not directly suffer from the economic disaster of soft Brexit, and though the catastrophe of hard Brexit might hit them, they’re better insulated against it than most.
There are four ways the UK can go from here with regard to Brexit, and all of them are bad. We could go hard Brexit, or no deal – that’s catastrophic. We can accept the deal the EU is still prepared to offer us, soft Brexit, which may be only mildly disastrous but which won’t make anyone, Leaver or Remainer, happy: or the third direction, another EU referendum – which will inevitably stir up trouble, potentially very violent trouble, and there is no guarantee that a second referendum would arrive at the desired result; and time is running out.
The fourth, entirely constitutional option, is for the House of Commons to stop Brexit by a majority of MPs voting to revoke the UK’s invocation of Article 50 and remain in the EU.
There are four ways the UK can go from here with regard to Brexit, and all of them are bad. Read the first and second directions: hard Brexit, or no deal, soft Brexit, or the EU’s deal.
There is no good way to do Brexit: there is only a choice between catastrophe and different flavours of disaster.
Third: Another EU referendum
The consistent argument of MPs and others against stopping Brexit – even now when it’s clear that hard Brexit is catastrophic and soft Brexit is not going to benefit the UK in any measurable way – is that a majority who voted in the EU referendum, voted to Leave the EU, so they have no choice: the UK government must obey the will of the people and the UK must Brexit.
But what if the UK ran the EU referendum again?
There are four ways the UK can go from here with regard to Brexit, and all of them are bad. Read the first direction: hard Brexit, or no deal.
Second: soft Brexit, the EU’s deal
Hard Brexit will be unthinkable catastrophe for the UK, and cause some damage to each of the EU-27 countries. EU-27 are prepared and ready to offer a deal to the UK, but as EU-27 are better-prepared to negotiate, have better negotiators, and are in a stronger position (they can survive the damage done by no-deal Brexit; it is uncertain whether the UK can or not) the deal for the UK on leaving the EU will be set in terms that will favour the EU.
I was tweeting away on Brexit using the #bbcqt hashtag as usual on Thursday nights, when Will Harris, a freelance journalist making radio at @BBC5live, tweeted me asking for a DM. So I did… and not long after midnight, I was on BBC Radio Five live, giving whoever’s up after midnight five minutes of my views on Brexit. (If you want to listen to me, for the next 28 days you can find me on BBC iPlayer, Question Time Extra Time on Radio 5 Live, the 19/10/2017 show, 2 hours 26 minutes in.)
What I’d been asked to respond to was a question on the Dimbleby programme itself: is no deal better than a bad deal?