Brexit: When the music has to stop

9 October 2018
Andrew Duff (President of the Spinelli Group; Former Member of the European Parliament 1999-2014)

Andrew Duff assesses the domestic political situation in Britain after the Brexit- dominated party political conferences. He concludes that all parties are badly divided over what to do if and when Mrs May brings back to Westminster a Withdrawal Agreement plus Political Declaration. He judges that there is a Commons majority for the deal because the alternative is worse, and few MPs will run the risk of another referendum.

The Salzburg summit was an important moment of truth for all concerned. There is now scope for a compromise on temporary customs arrangements that will last until a new Association Agreement, which the UK has asked for, enters into force. The UK government should accept the Irish backstop and face down irrational opposition from the Ulster ‘loyalist’ DUP.

If the UK’s proposal of a common rulebook for goods is to be accepted by the EU, its scope must be widened. The UK must offer more on regulatory alignment in services, and use that as the pretext for allowing greater mobility of labour across the Channel. Britain’s domestic regulatory apparatus must be strengthened. In view of the lack of trust between the UK and the EU, much more attention must be paid to the governance of the new relationship, including the creation of a joint court.

The Political Declaration is critical. It should point the way clearly to a future dynamic relationship and must not be hidebound by ideology or legal orthodoxy on either side.

Click here to download the publication