Saturday , May 25 2024

Negotiating Brexit – the basics

Firstly, some health advice.  Everyone just calm down.  We have had a referendum. We, as the people of the United Kingdom, made a choice and we will live with it.

Also, let’s be very clear.  The United Kingdom is still a full and functioning member of the European Union.  We are still subject to all of the rules that membership imposes.  All those people who are accusing the Leave campaign of not fulfilling campaign promises need to understand that no substantive changes can occur while we remain a member of the EU.  Politicians and media commentators already know this and should think very carefully before they, for presumably personal gain, push and publish statements to the contrary.

And think back to last Friday.  Did the sun come up?  Did you go to work and do the same things that you did on Thursday and Wednesday? Was the price to fill-up you car or shopping trolley, the same as the previous time? Has the government suddenly declared we are on a war-footing?  Did Germany stop exporting cars to us and the French, wine?

Wasn’t there an old WW2 poster about Keep Calm and Carry On ?

OK, so may as well address the elephant in the room, at the outset.

Nigel Farage should almost certainly take no public part in the negotiation with our (still current) EU partners.  None.  He is far too divisive and incapable of not gloating.

These negotiations are the responsibility of the UK government.  That government is formed by the Conservative Party and currently led by David Cameron.  Cameron has made it clear that he wants someone else to lead his party and the negotiations and so any team-forming must await the outcome of the Tory leadership campaign.  That might frustrate the likes of Jean-Claude Juncker but that’s just tough.

I said, at the outset, that Farage should take no part.  Of course that is down to the new Conservative leader but I see no reason for Farage to be a member of the team.  The Conservative Party have a large number of very capable MPs who could participate and anyway, the bulk of the work needs to be carried out by the Civil Service, once they have been given their very clear, marching orders.   The latter point is critical, the Civil Service need to be told, in no uncertain terms that they are to broker a deal that is in the UK’s interest and that matches the democratic decision of the people of the UK – a departure (Leave if you will) from all of the institutions of the European Union.

Fundamentally though, it is the Conservative Party that must shoulder the bulk of the work.  They may bring in and take advice from non-Conservative Party advisers but it is the role of the Conservative government to lead and get the job done.

As regular readers would expect, I have a few opinions on the whole process.  Here goes.

Assuming that he isn’t chosen as the leader of the Conservative Party, I would propose David Davis, the MP for Haltemprice and Howden, as the leader of these negotiations.  Davis has been a long-time Euro-sceptic but is not so hide-bound that he cannot build bridges across the political spectrum – he was elevated in many people’s opinion with his principled opposition to increased detention periods.  He also has a good ‘back-story’ and has repeatedly shown that he is ‘no one’s fool’ and is not easily brow-beaten.  I would certainly trust him to represent Britain’s interests but to do so in a British manner – not rubbing the EU’s nose in it.

I believe that the negotiating team would benefit from cross-party participation – Kate Hoey and especially Gisela Stuart were very impressive during the campaign.  Jim Sellars from Scotland and Arlene Foster from Northern Ireland would also be great contributors.  As would Dan Hannan, who could bring his considerable inside knowledge to bear.  Douglas Carswell would also be a sound contributor as would be Suzanne Evans.

As you will note, all are Brexiteers.  It makes little to no sense to have people that passionately believed in Remain, sitting in the team and possibly thwarting the wishes and aims of the people of the UK.

The issues on which we need resolution are clear, and given the febrile atmosphere, now and here isn’t the place. to discuss them.

That said, one thing needs to be made crystal clear.  EU migrants, that are now in the UK, should be immediately reassured that there residence is not in jeopardy.  They must be allowed the comfort of knowing we welcomed them before and welcome them now.  This is something that David Cameron can and must state, immediately.

More to follow but for now, let us all remain calm and a British sense of perspective.

This post was originally published by the author 26 June 2016

About Tom O'Brien

Tom is an English Conservative Christian currently working as a Finance Manager in Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq. When not in Iraq, his home is in Grantham, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom; also the hometown of Margaret Thatcher.

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