Brexit means 184 pages

107776468_theresa-may-pmqs-brexit-news-large_transqvzuuqpflyliwib6ntmjwfsvwez_ven7c6bhu2jjnt8Over the Summer as Theresa May occasionally spoke up about how Brexit means Brexit from her Swiss chalet, researchers in the House of Commons were hard at work producing a 184 page document along with a much shorter summary which outlines the impact and the potential gains and losses of leaving the EU. In many respects it is what we as electors were entitled to but did not receive in the run up to the referendum. It does not contain any soundbites and is not intended as an dummies guide to Brexit, but as a reliable and honest document that helps to unpick our relationship with the EU it is very useful. It is not biased in favour of remain or leave, it does not attempt to exaggerate issues, nor does it down play them. Examples from the summary include

“Consumer protection in the UK is currently a complex combination of EU and national law. A huge amount of UK consumer protection regulation is derived from the EU. For example, directives implemented in the UK protect consumers from unsafe products, unfair practices, misleading marketing practices, distance selling etc. It is unclear whether any EU-derived consumer laws would need to be repealed or replaced on Brexit because that will depend to a considerable degree on what form Brexit takes.”

“The EU also has a significant role in ensuring a cross-border approach to important public health issues, such as preventing pandemics and anti-smoking measures.”

“A UK withdrawal from the EU would mean that the UK no longer has to comply with the human rights obligations of the EU Treaties. The controversial EU Charter of Fundamental Rights would not apply, and the EU Court of Justice would not have jurisdiction over the UK (except possibly for transitional cases that arose before withdrawal). Withdrawing from the EU does not mean withdrawing from the separate European Convention on Human Rights. The Government is planning a British Bill of Rights, but Theresa May has said that she does not intend to withdraw from the Convention.”

“The UK currently has an opt out arrangement with the EU on policing and criminal justice measures, whereby it can chose which measures to opt in to. The UK has chosen, with parliamentary approval, to opt in to a number of measures, the most significant of which is the European Arrest Warrant (EAW). Others relate to information sharing and participation in EU law enforcement agencies.”

“The UK will continue to be bound by the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees and related pieces of international law”

“EU farm subsidies currently make up to around 50-60% of UK farm income. The UK Government has guaranteed the current level of direct subsidies to 2020 “as part of the transition to new domestic arrangements”…However, it is not clear what levels of support the UK Government will be willing to provide beyond this, or whether it will target subsidies in a different way. Previous Government positions on CAP reform have indicated that the UK Government and Devolved Administrations would be unlikely to match the current levels of subsidy and would require more ‘public goods’ in return for any support, such as environmental protection, which the UK Government views as the overarching market failure in this sector.”

It is not a predictor of how the negotiations for our departure will be handled or what the priorities will be. In part this is because that is the domain of the politicians, and in part because that is almost certainly contained in a document being pulled together by Civil Servants that will not be published for at least 30 years due to its political toxicity as the politicians do begin to speak out and make decisions. The performance in the House of Commons this week suggests that they are a long way from agreeing among themselves, let alone clear as to how best to present their ideas to colleagues or to those of us who voted in the referendum, who elect them and who pay their wages. Yesterday afternoon The Telegraph reported:

“while Mrs May is getting an easy ride now, it surely can’t last. The Brexit negotiations will see to that. Today she was asked three times by the SNP’s Angus Robertson whether she wanted the UK to “remain fully within the European single market” – and each time she dodged the question. “She doesn’t know!” chorused the SNP. Firmly, Mrs May explained that she would not “reveal our hand”. In truth, though, it wouldn’t be possible for Mrs May to reveal her hand, because she hasn’t yet got one. This is because her Government’s most senior figures disagree on what Brexit should be like……As well as the one about not revealing her empty hand, the Prime Minister has devised another cunning line to help her dodge questions about what she wants from Brexit. “We will not,” she sniffed three times in the Commons, “provide a running commentary on every twist and turn of the negotiation.”

It is reasonable to avoid providing a commentary, but we are entitled to a clear and uncomplicated understanding of how the Tory Government plans to act. There is always a compromise to be struck between holding a strong negotiating hand and ignoring the people on whose behalf you claim to be working, leaving them feeling ignored and disrespected. As the Telegraph finished off:

“This, as it happens, was the approach David Cameron took to negotiating concessions from the EU last year, before the referendum. He too trumpeted relentlessly that he would get “the best deal for Britain”, while remaining as vague as he could about what the best deal would involve. The only thing we really knew he wanted was to stay in the EU. And he didn’t get it.”


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in EU Referendum, Parliament and Democracy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Brexit means 184 pages

  1. Peter Freeman says:

    Ian, this is not a government or civil service paper. It seems to be a briefing for MP’s produced by research staff in the House of Commons library. You are of course quite right that it (or something like it) should have been published before the referendum.

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