Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Brexit White Paper

Yesterday, David Davies, in Parliament, faced with increasing demands from Labour, and other MP's, to produce a White Paper, setting out the Government's proposals for Brexit, argued that it was not possible to do so in time for the deadline for triggering Article 50, at the end of March.

At the start of Prime Minister's Questions today, the Tories sought to put Jeremy Corbyn off-guard via a friendly opening question that allowed Theresa May to say that the Government would be publishing a Brexit White Paper.  All of the pundits on The Daily Politics etc. have interpreted this as a change of course by May, compared to the statement by Davis.  It has been seen as a strategic change so as to prevent opposition forces congregating around a Labour amendment calling for such a White paper, which looks likely to win a majority.

However, what all the pundits seemed to fail to notice was that Theresa May repeatedly failed to answer Corbyn's question about when this White Paper would be published.  Listen carefully, to what May did actually say, however, and you will hear that she talks about two separate processes - firstly, the process of triggering Article 50, and secondly the process of actually negotiating the terms of exit with the EU.

In other words, May can quite easily, and in my opinion is arguing consistently with what David Davies said yesterday that there is no time prior to triggering Article 50 for a White Paper to be produced.  She is saying we will produce a Bill triggering Article 50, which you Labour have foolishly agreed not to block under any circumstances, and only then after that Bill has passed through Parliament, and the negotiations begin will we publish a White Paper detailing the basis on which we will then conduct the actual negotiations, which will unfold over the next two years.

But, such a White Paper would then be as useful as a tissue paper condom.  Unless Parliament has a White Paper laid before it to discuss, setting out the government's actual plans for the Brexit negotiations, before discussing, amending, and passing a bill to trigger Article 50, there is no way that Parliament could dictate the terms of the future negotiations to be undertaken, or hold the government to account for them.

So, we now have another kind of Brexit we could call it a Dog's Brexit.

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