Conservative Home: To ensure that Chequers is the end of the concessions, prepare swiftly and publicly for No Deal

Conservative Home: To ensure that Chequers is the end of the concessions, prepare swiftly and publicly for No Deal

In my latest Conservative Home article I argue that we should support the Chequers deal – but only if we simultaneously ramp up preparations for no deal, to ensure no more concessions. I also consider the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, to show just how swiftly a country can be separated if the political will to do so is there.

Read the full article here:

Iain Mansfield: To ensure that Chequers is the end of the concessions, prepare swiftly and publicly for No Deal

10 thoughts on “Conservative Home: To ensure that Chequers is the end of the concessions, prepare swiftly and publicly for No Deal

  1. Great to read, but I can’t help but think that the boat is far far away already. Not having a plan for no deal (the EU has one: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication-preparing-withdrawal-brexit-preparedness-web.pdf) considerably weakens UK’s hand. And your experience that the EU doesn’t negotiate bodes even less well – making “no more concessions” (were the concessions even made to the EU in the first place?) completely unrealistic. Having said that, a higher priority must surely be agreeing plan/vision for what a Brexit deal would look like, rather than planning for no deal.

    If Brexit fails, it will be because of the failure of the Eurosceptics (yourself excepted) to come up with anything constructive in over 25 years.

  2. The last simply isn’t true. Many Leave supporters have consistently supported an FTA arrangement. That would have advantages and disadvantages and it’s quite likely could have been negotiated. However, that option has been consistently blocked by Remain supporters in the UK, who don’t want to accept the disadvantages.

    (Equally, many Remain supporters – at least those who aren’t seeking to reverse the referendum – would have liked to have a Norway-type arrangement. That again would have advantages and disadvantages and could probably have been negotiated. However, that option has been consistently blocked by Leave supporters, who don’t want to accept the disadvantage).

    The trouble is that given the state of the Parliamentary arithmetic, neither side can win out – meaning we’ve tried to find compromises which have the advantages of both and none of the disadvantages, which naturally the EU won’t accept.

    It’s completely wrong though to say that Leave supporters don’t have a solution – they do, the FTA route, and given a free hand, could have gone for it. The fact that they don’t have a solution which the people who never wanted to leave would support is a bit like saying that Corbyn doesn’t have a way of nationalising the railways that the Conservatives would support. It’s trivially true, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t go ahead with their preferred route if given a free hand.

    1. This is why the referendum should have followed a debate and clear proposal for the model of Brexit: either (preferably) because the party proposing the election was advocating that outcome (so the Tories go into 2016 saying ‘we want an FTA Brexit, vote for us and we’ll run a referndum to get public permission to have one’) or failing that a cross-party select committee type organisation agreeing the broad terms of what the best form of Brexit is before the vote.

      1. Yes, that would have been ideal. Another alternative would have been Cameron resigning after the failed negotiation so a pro-Brexit leader would have led the Conservatives into the referendum.

        I’d also have liked to see a national unity government, with Leave supporting Labour MPs such as Gisela Stuart in Brexit-related Cabinet roles. Though I don’t know if any of these could have have overcome the pro-Remain majority in Parliament.

    2. Iain,
      Can you please send me an article by a leading Brexiteer advocating an FTA position explaining pros/cons and why they think this is the best route forward for Britain? I’ve tried and tried to find one without success – Boris Johnson did mention FTA in a brief paragraph on page 3 of his recent statement to the Commons, but that’s the closest I’ve got. Johnson doesn’t seem to have a website, neither does Carswell. Gove’s website doesn’t mention the word Brexit. Redwood’s blog (which I missed on first view) doesn’t have the words FTA or “free trade” mentioned anywhere in the past month. And Nigel Farage’s website still thinks he is the leader of UKIP. I’ve tried to find an essay by a leading Brexiteer with an outline of their vision for Britain, and failed. As a control, this is my local MP’s page – https://www.heidisouthcambs.co.uk/. It’s impossible to miss the section on Brexit, and there are several statements outlining her views on the subject.

      I’m struggling to find any Brexiteer with any clearly articulated view on what the UK should look like post-Brexit, let alone a view that is “consistently supported”. I’m sorry if it seems like I’m playing politics here – I really genuinely want to know what direction leading Brexiteers advocate, and I’m struggling to find any information at all.

      1. Steve, I appreciate that you are asking in good faith. Two points first; it’s quite hard for serving Cabinet Ministers to have personal views on Brexit on their websites given Cabinet solidarity (I appreciate Johnson is no longer serving, but still). Secondly, I do recognise that not all prominent Leave supporters think the same and that not all backed the FTA approach; however, I’d suggest a lot did (and that it was workable).

        The best thing I’d point you do was the Vote Leave roadmap published on 15 June 2016, endorsed by Gove, Johnson, Stuart, Grayling and the rest of the Vote Leave leadership.

        It uses the words free trade agreement and explicitly talks of leaving the customs union (‘common commercial policy’ is effectively a synonym – this is before everyone started talking about the customs union). It’s a campaigning document so they play up the benefits, but it very clearly sits in the ‘Canada’ spot of Barnier’s diagram and could have formed a clear basis for negotiation. We wouldn’t have got 100% tariff free (they don’t say we will), we’d probably have ended up in the 97% like Canada, but that’s how these things go. And we wouldn’t have got all services, but would have got some, just like Canada.
        https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/michel-barnier-killer-graphic-brexit-theresa-mays-red-lines-on-bespoke-model_uk_5a39497ce4b0fc99878f2058

        Here are some more articles referencing an FTA approach:
        Gove:
        http://www.knightfrank.co.uk/blog/2018/06/05/michael-gove-on-his-vision-for-a-brave-new-world-of-uk-food-and-farming
        https://ipolitics.ca/2017/12/10/brexit-uk-seeks-canada-plus-plus-plus-trade-deal-europe/

        Letter from lots of people calling for a Canada deal:
        https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/910902/Brexit-divorce-bill-EU-Brussels-divorce-bill-trade-agreement-Canada-style-deal (sorry, I can’t find the original letter).

        Pros and Cons of a Canada-style deal by Open Europe, a Eurosceptic think-tank:
        https://openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/what-could-the-eu-canada-free-trade-deal-tell-us-about-brexit/

        Boris:
        https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/mar/11/boris-johnson-on-brexit-we-can-be-like-canada
        https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/19/explained-boris-johnson-fighting-canada-inspired-brexit-instead/

        More broadly on Leave supporters proposing ways forward, more recently – when it was clear that an FTA was not on the table – Open Europe, published a 110 page report in early June that proposed a compromise agreement; essentially aligning to the Single Market in goods and diverging in services (not unlike the eventual Chequers agreement). Again, one can agree or disagree that it’s a good idea, but this is a comprehensive, detailed proposal which could form the clear basis for negotiation:
        https://openeurope.org.uk/intelligence/britain-and-the-eu/striking-a-balance-a-blueprint-for-the-future-uk-eu-economic-partnership/

        Things like this are why I don’t see a strong commitment to the truth as being a feature of many on the Remain side. Similarly, were you aware (genuine question, not intended to sound sarcastic) that the Good Friday Agreement doesn’t require there to be no border checks?

        1. That all sounds like an excellent idea – it satisfies the red lines of the Leave campaign, and the EU are on board with it. Why aren’t we doing that?

          And I’m not at all surprised that the GFA doesn’t mandate an open border – that would be an odd thing to promise in an international treaty. But the border controls were removed as part of the wider peace process as initiated by the GFA, so reinstating them would be a backward step. The GFA binds the UK “to develop consultation, co-operation and action within the island of Ireland – including through implementation on an all-island and cross-border basis – on matters of mutual interest within the competence of the Administrations, North and South” – I wouldn’t say this is incompatible with a closed border, but it’s hard to argue that the UK would be furthering this GFA obligation by taking this step. That said, I don’t remember anyone saying that closing borders was contrary to the text of the GFA, merely that closing borders would threaten the GFA (used here as a metonym for the Irish Question more widely).

          1. We’re not doing it because Leave and Remain supporters have put down mutually incompatible red lines (i.e. leave the Single Market and Customs Union AND have no hard border in Ireland AND end freedom of movement AND have access equal to that given in the Single Market) and Parliament is too deadlocked to go one way or the other.

            On people saying a hard border was forbidden by the GFA, I’ve heard lots of people saying the incorrect version on blogs/Twitter etc, sometimes in a matter of fact way, e.g. “I’m worried we’re not going to find a solution because a hard border breaks the GFA”. I’ve seen it less but sometimes from journalists, and much less but occasionally from politicians.

  3. One of the problems I have is that I don’t know what to believe at the moment. We’re not *quite* in the “post-truth” regime of Trump, for sure, but there are lots of smaller-scale examples.

    Your Good Friday Agreement example is one, though of course the “legality” of a border is a different issue from how a border would be implemented with minimal impact on the island of Ireland. The practical implementation is the issue that there seems to have been most political debate about (including within the cabinet, it would seem), and for which I’ve yet to see a full solution.

    I’m terms of another example, we also have things like the “Brexit Dividend” being promised by the government as a solution to the NHS funding crisis, only to have official bodies say that there won’t be a dividend, and that GDP will be down after Brexit. It really gives the impressions to “lay people” (like me) that no one knows what’s going on.

    I’m also keenly aware that I, and other readers/commenters, are in the privileged position of being able to have such debates, here and elsewhere. What about those without such access? People who rely on the hyperbole in the Mail, Sun etc. (or the various more extreme websites/blogs/forums that have sprung up recently – not including this one, of course). That’s one of the reasons that I don’t see how another *uninformed* referendum would help – it only makes sense if there’s a clear decision to make, and about which the pros and cons can be much more clearly determined.

    1. I’d draw a direct line between post-modernism, identity-based truth, liberal juristry and the current post-truth era.

      Are you familiar with the scene about ‘giving the Devil the benefit of law’ from A Man for All Season?
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUqytjlHNIM

      When many of the best minds of our civilisation have spent over half a century systematically dismantling and undermining the truth, even if it (sometimes) has been for worthy short-term aims, is it really any wonder that we’re all struggling to “stand upright in the winds that would blow then”?

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