Brexit Bulletin: What a difference a week can make

Brexit Bulletin: What a difference a week can make

All men have secrets and here is mine so let it be known; For we have been through hell and high tide; I think I can rely on you……….


Well, well, well, who could have predicted the week we have had in Brexitland.

On Monday the Leader knew that the House was likely to vote down her proposed capitulation, and here we are in the self-same position; sounds boring same old, same old, but it was anything but.

Firstly, the Leader lost her moral compass and courage in cancelling the vote, this was swiftly followed by a party vote of confidence in her which she then won!

Armed with a sort of victory the Leader then flew to meet with other EU leaders in a futile attempt to win concessions. Predictably, none were forthcoming, and we are exactly where we started the week, waiting for the Sword of Damocles to finish off the Leaders capitulation.

However, this soap opera has bought forward some very significant move which are detrimental to the Hard Brexiteers, who instigated the failed leadership challenge. The result of which shows them to be well short of a Commons majority to force a no-deal Brexit.

The situation is thus; the decision to invoke Article 50, which was endorsed and legislated for by Parliament, means that Britain leaves the EU on March 29th. Unless a deal is agreed with Europe and ratified by then, we will leave with no transition period and trading on World Trade Organisation terms.

there is a possible majority for the softest Brexit

However, the parliamentary situation is different, and works against the Hard Brexiteers. Currently, whilst there appears to be no majority in the House for any one Brexit outcome, there is a possible majority for the softest Brexit,  and for Remainers’ the possibility of a second referendum.

The softest Brexit is the “Norwegian Option”, i.e. joining Norway in the European Economic Area and agreeing a customs union with the EU, which has support among some Tory and Labour MPs. This option means accepting European rules and regulations, free movement and paying into the EU budget; a softer Brexit than the deal negotiated by The Leader.

However, some previous Labour supporters of the Norwegian Option have changed tack, looking to a second referendum, and stopping Brexit altogether. They are adamant that the questions in another referendum, must include an option to remain, and many are determined to prevent no deal appearing on the ballot paper. Not what the Hard Brexiteers want, at all.

The Hard Brexiteers in rejecting The Leaders deal, and both Norway and a second referendum are now caught between a rock and hard-place. Whilst it appears that we will crash out of the EU with no deal in March, the majority of the House is determined that this will not happen, imposing either the softest possible form of Brexit on the Government, or second referendum, that could see us remain in the EU.

hard luck boys, whilst you little game may have damaged The Leader it failed

The last roll of the dice for the Hard Brexiteers was to install a new Prime Minister in the hope that their man / woman would prevail in the contest. With a Hard Brexiteer in Downing Street, they could then present the Europeans with an ultimatum: remove the backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement, or Britain will leave with no deal.

At the same time, they would ignore Parliament and impose “no deal” rather than the Norwegian Option or another referendum which members in-favour of. Well, hard luck boys, whilst you little game may have damaged The Leader it failed.

To paraphrase Nigel Farage, the man who started all this stupidity; “The people’s army of Parliament have spoken tonight and delivered just about the most extraordinary result that has been seen in British politics for 100 years.

The actual quote can be found at:

In summary, this week may have signalled the beginning of the end; whilst there is no majority for The Leaders deal, more importantly there is no majority for no deal.

Norway here we come………. Or, a second referendum. Of course, there is one thing that people seem to have missed, what happens if a second referendum endorses the first? Anyone for two more years of this!

Those seeking inspiration in nailing this week’s lyric need to consider the post-punk era when one of the UK’s most influential indie bands asked us ‘What difference does it make’; Morrissey concluded that ‘it makes none’, but never mind Harold Wilson’s ‘a week is a long time in politics’, on Tuesday, Michael ‘the vote is going ahead’ Gove, managed to cram in a volte face before lunch.

So, what difference DOES it make? No history book will provide the answer, that’s for sure; so enjoy The Smiths as we sail into uncharted territory towards a hard/soft/no Brexit.





Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

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