The EU is not prepared for a Brexit on 29 March. It is just not Brexiteer supporting sources confirming this -the largely anti-No Deal Politico and CapX have both recently written on this issue. Ireland especially is in danger of facing a calamitous Brexit – as the arrogant Leo Varadkar and his EU puppet masters have strongly overplayed their hand with respect to the Irish border.
The EU economies are not in good health. Germany, the EU’s most powerful nation, has entered recession. Belgium‘s economy is openly not ready for a Brexit on WTO terms. In contrast, in the event of No-Deal, Britain is no longer projected to enter recession – so admits the devoutly pro-Remain Financial Times. According to the IMF, Britain will be the fastest growing European G7 economy this year. The supposed biggest threat to Britain – queues at Dover due to French disruption at the Port of Calais – have been rubbished by the President of the Calais region and the Chief Executive of the port of Calais. Whichever way you look at it, Britain is in a stronger economic position than the European Union.
With the state of economies in mind, the article 50 deadline of 29 March 2019 is Britain’s best friend. It will force the European Union to stare a “No-Deal” situation in the face and make them decide whether they are economically prepared for the scenario in two months time. At the very least, it would pressure the EU to remove or significantly modify the backstop so that the British Parliament would pass a deal before the deadline. It could also pressure the EU to agree to continuing to freely trade with the UK after Brexit under WTO Article 24 of GATT to avoid disruption.
To their credit, the government seems to understand this. The Prime Minister and most of the cabinet (with the exception of Remainers such as Philip Hammond, Greg Clark and Amber Rudd) have made it clear that extending Article 50 weakens the UK’s negotiating position.
Unfortunately, Yvette Cooper has introduced an amendment to force the government to request to extend Article 50 if no deal has been agreed by the end of February. If passed, this amendment would provide an incentive to the EU to play hardball with the UK and not offer any concessions. Passing this amendment would only embolden the EU to continue with their goal of punishing Britain for leaving.
It is no surprise that Labour is likely to back Ms. Cooper’s amendment. Labour’s nonsensical Brexit position is to avoid “No-Deal” Brexit at any cost to appease their Remain-backing members, while avoiding making a decision on what type of Brexit (if any) they actually want so as not to alienate MPs representing leave voting constituencies. However, Conservatives supporting this amendment is outrageous and a clear breach of their manifesto commitments. ALL but one (Ken Clarke) Conservative MPs voted to trigger Article 50. It was the Conservative Party which passed the EU Withdrawal Act of 2018 which enshrined the date of EU departure as 29 March 2019. For Conservative MPs to now support the Cooper amendment (and other anti-Brexit amendments such as from Dominic Grieve and Nick Boles) would be a betrayal of their voters and more importantly the country.
Now that the Parliament has rejected the Prime Minister’s EU deal, it is imperative that the government either get a new deal or leave on WTO terms. Jacob Rees-Mogg is right to argue that if the Commons passes Ms. Cooper’s amendment, the Prime Minister should prorogue Parliament either until a new deal has been agreed with the EU or Brexit has happened. The stakes for the United Kingdom are too high to have the nation weakened by anti-Brexit MPs and a biased, self-important, and meddling Speaker.
A deal with the EU is preferable to no deal. In the event of a WTO Brexit there will likely be some hiccups in adjusting to the new trade regime. The EU may try to create mischief on the Irish border – though the UK and Ireland will not impose a hard border. However, when 17.4 million Britons, more Britons than have voted for anyone or anything else in British history, voted to Leave the EU, they did not vote on the condition the UK leaves with a deal with the EU. Hopefully, the EU comes to its senses and agrees to a deal that is acceptable to the British parliament and respects Brexit. But realistically, the only chance of the EU being reasonable is if there is a firm Brexit deadline that forces them to act. The 29 March deadline must remain in place.