The question of whether the UK’s position of leaving the European Union will be honoured took a new turn this month via the chosen vehicle of Article 50.
To be clear from the beginning, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is a clause which if invoked by a member of the European Union signifies their wish to withdraw. After this negotiations can begin with all member states on a plan for vacating the EU.
Here is some back story to what has been happening recently:
On November 3rd 2016, the British government lost its case in London’s High Court for invoking article 50 without parliamentary approval. The court determined that Prime Minister Theresa May did not have the power to use the royal prerogative, meaning the House of Commons must now vote in favour of beginning the process of leaving the EU before any progress can be made.
Reaction to the court’s verdict was immediate. An official government spokesman said, ‘The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by Act of Parliament. And the Government is determined to respect the result of the referendum.’
The choice of wording here, as with the majority of figures within government, is important. ‘Determined to respect the result’ implies that every effort will be made to ensure the UK leaves the EU, rather than it being presented as a guarantee. That is important to remember for the rest of the article.
The government then immediately announced their right of appeal to the Supreme Court, which will be heard over four days starting December 5th with a decision due in early 2017.
A report by The Independent has suggested that Theresa May could attempt to overturn the high court ruling by arguing that triggering article 50 without the approval of parliament has no direct impact on British citizens rights. The report went on to say that, ‘If Ms May’s lawyers can convince judges that triggering Article 50 of the EU Treaty is purely an international affair, that in isolation does not directly impact on British law, they can claim it does not impinge on British citizens’ rights and so does not require an Act of Parliament.’
A seperate story published by The Guardian suggests that the government could attempt to get the judgement overturned by, ‘exploring the possibility of arguing that the article 50 process could be reversed by parliament at any time before the UK completes its exit from the European Union. If the government argued that MP’s could vote to revoke article 50 during the exit negotiation period, the outcome of the government’s appeal to the supreme court would be different, because it would imply that the sovereignty of parliament had not been removed.
David Davis, who is ‘Brexit’ Secretary for the government, said in The Guardian that, ‘The judges have laid out what we can’t do, and not exactly what we can do, but we’re presuming that it requires an act of parliament and therefore both Commons and Lords.’
Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats and a campaigner for remaining in the EU, said, ‘Ultimately, the British people voted for a departure but not for a destination, which is why what really matters is allowing them to vote again on the final deal, giving them the chance to say no to an irresponsible hard Brexit that risks our economy and our jobs.’
Farron later went on to tell Radio 4 that, ‘Article 50 would proceed but only if there is a referendum on the terms of the deal and if the British people are not respected then, yes, that is a red line and we would vote against the government.’
In contrast to Farron’s view is that of Nigel Farage. The interim leader of the UK Independence Party was reported in the Daily Telegraph as saying, ‘if people in this country think that they’re going to be cheated, they’re going to be betrayed, then we will see political anger the likes of which none of us in our lifetimes have ever witnessed in this country’.
When asked if that could result in ‘disturbances in the street‘, Farage replied, ‘Yeah, I think that’s right.‘
Which brings us to the response of the Labour party. During the referendum campaign, party leader Jeremy Corbyn came down on the side of remain, despite having taken a consistently critical stance on the EU throughout his thirty two years as a back bencher.
A growing number of Corbyn’s MP’s are openly stating that they intend to oppose triggering article 50 when it comes to parliament. These include David Lammy (MP for Tottenham) and Shadow Transport Minister Daniel Zeichner.
Then there is Shadow minister Catherine West, along with former leadership contender Owen Smith and south London MP Helen Hayes. All three have said they are likely to vote against Article 50 if a second referendum is not guaranteed by the government.
Whilst back bench protestations against article 50 gathers pace, deputy party leader Tom Watson sought to bring some clarity to Labour’s position. As reported in the Daily Telegraph, he said, ‘the people have spoken and Article 50 will be triggered when it gets to Westminster’.
Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, was not so clear. Speaking to The Sunday Mirror, Corbyn issued a set of ‘Brexit Bottom Lines‘ that if not complied with, could no longer ensure Labour’s support for invoking article 50. Discussing the referendum in general, Corbyn said, ‘We accept the result of the referendum. We are not challenging the referendum. We are not calling for a second referendum. We’re calling for market access for British industry to Europe.’
Corbyn then commented on the prospect of the fall out from article 50 prompting a snap general election. He said, ‘If the Government calls an election, we’re ready for it. We have the members, the organisation and the enthusiasm. We welcome the challenge. It would give us the chance to put before the British people an alternative economic strategy for this country.’
Following the Sunday Mirror article, Labour sought quickly to clarity Corbyn’s position. A source close to Corbyn told The Telegraph that, ‘We won’t be seeking to block Article 50, only amend or influence the government’s negotiating terms if they do not meet our red lines. Our support for invoking article 50 is unconditional, but we would seek to amend or influence the government’s negotiating terms.’
In other words, Labour will not make a resolute stand against article 50 purely for political gain, but will block its path should their ‘red lines’ not be met following negotiations. This way they can apportion blame away from themselves for not agreeing to trigger article 50.
However, in a video interview with The Telegraph, Corbyn stressed that article 50 would be triggered and that Labour respected the result of the June referendum. Asked whether he could envisage delaying approval of article 50 in the event of not getting concessions, he said, ‘We’re not looking to unduly delay anything’.
Merriam Webster’s definition of unduly reads as, ‘to an extreme, unreasonable, or unnecessary degree.’ Measured against Corbyn’s ‘Brexit Bottom Lines’, it seems likely that Corbyn would not consider opposition to invoking article 50 as either extreme, unreasonable or unnecessary.
Let’s quickly look at some of the mechanics of Article 50 before speculating on where this could be leading:
The time scale for triggering it was made clear before the High Court’s ruling. By the start of the new financial year in April 2017, the plan (if you believe it) is to have article 50 triggered, thus commencing the estimated two year process for Britain’s official withdrawal from the EU.
Assuming article 50 was successfully invoked next year, the terms of Britain’s exit must then be negotiated by all twenty seven members of the EU. Each member would have a veto over the conditions, with the final proposal then needing to be ratified in each national parliament. Any objections would delay Britain’s exit from the EU still further.
Whilst researching this article, I came across a piece by Business Insider which debated whether article 50, once triggered, is in fact reversible. In April 2016, The House Of Lords – which would need to ratify article 50 after parliamentary approval – took legal advice on the issue. This is what they were told:
It is absolutely clear that you cannot be forced to go through with it if you do not want to: for example, if there is a change of Government… Analysis of the text suggests that you are entitled to change your mind… There is nothing in Article 50 formally to prevent a Member State from reversing its decision…
Former Director-General of the Council of the European Union’s Legal Service Jean-Claude Piris affirmed this advice by saying, ‘Even after triggering Article 50 and notifying the EU of its intention to leave, there is no legal obstacle to the UK changing its mind, in accordance with its constitutional requirements.’
The subject of changing one’s mind on the vote to leave the European Union was also raised in July by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve. He said, ‘We have to accept that the referendum result represents, at the time it was held, a clear statement of a majority view that we should leave the EU. The Government and Parliament must treat it with respect. It is of course possible that it will become apparent with the passage of time that public opinion has shifted on the matter. If so a second referendum may be justified.’
The tactic used here by Dominic Grieve is synonymous throughout the political sphere. First, state how you fully accept the result of the referendum. Second, state how you respect the views of the majority. Thirdly, present a seed of doubt for exiting the European Union – under the ruse of protecting workers rights and having access to Europe’s single market – all whilst simultaneously remaining ‘supportive‘ of the original outcome of the referendum.
This degree of obfuscation and double speak is, I believe, not without reason, as I will now speculate.
Numerous variables are in play here. One event is the trial of Thomas Muir who is charged with murdering Labour MP Jo Cox before the referendum in June. This began on Monday November 14th, and sets the backdrop towards the government’s Supreme Court hearing on article 50 in December. The publicity of this case, and the persona of Muir as being a right wing extremist who killed Jo Cox for ‘political / ideological reasons‘, has the potential to influence public perception away from supporting ‘Brexit’.
Consider also that the trial is expected to last for three weeks. Its conclusion is likely to coincide with the Supreme Court hearing.
As well as this, Sky News published a story on November 15th about a leaked memo produced by an accountancy firm claiming that the government has ‘no common strategy’ for a ‘Brexit‘ and that there is division within the cabinet. One of their more interesting claims is that Chancellor Philip Hammond is not planning to provide funding for the civil service ‘to grow its Brexit capacity and capability’. A government spokeswoman has since responded by saying, ‘this unsolicited document has nothing to do with the Government at all. It was produced by an individual from an external accountancy firm. It has no authority and we don’t recognise any of the claims it makes. We are getting on with the job of delivering Brexit and making a success of it.’
Stories like this, whether true or unsubstantiated, will undoubtedly have an effect on the psyche of the electorate. The more uncertainty that is publicised through the mainstream media, the greater the amount of division and confusion on the issue. A perfect breeding ground for failing to gain a cross consensus on ‘Brexit‘.
Due consideration should also be given to Morgan Stanley, a global financial services corporation, who issued a note to its investors after the referendum illustrating, in their eyes, some of the pit falls for achieving a successful ‘Brexit‘. Here is some of what they said:
- Tories have small majority of 12 seats
- Prime minister Theresa May is pro-Remain
- Majority of MP’s are pro-Remain. Parliament had a clear pro-Remain bias since over 70% of all MP’s and over 50% of Conservative MP’s supported Remain
- Government faces election in 2020, right after UK in theory leaves the EU
- EU will not offer the UK a “special deal” featuring full access to the single market but control of UK borders because such a deal would encourage other nations to leave. Nationalist movements, and anti-EU sentiment, are on the rise across Europe
- Triggering Article 50 is reversible. The UK can formally trigger Article 50 request and then withdraw the request before Brexit takes place, if the country wants to
As for determining the likelihood of what will happen with article 50, it becomes necessary then to speculate on whether it has been designed to be triggered or if it has been designed to flounder.
Let’s now look at a couple of potential scenarios:
***For a third scenario involving UKIP, please take a look at a separate post I published in December 2016 – How the Perception of UKIP as a Party for the ‘Working Class’ Could Decimate Labour***
Article 50 Not Triggered / Britain Remains in the EU
- The government loses it’s Supreme Court appeal taking place in December, meaning article 50 must go to a vote in the Commons and House of Lords.
- The government loses the vote on triggering article 50. Labour, The Liberal Democrats, The Scottish National Party (SNP) and rebel Conservative MP’s reject the motion. Labour and the Liberals say their ‘red lines’ were not met.
- Following this are immediate calls for an early general election, under the perspective that Prime Minister Theresa May has no parliamentary mandate to govern Britain’s exit from the EU.
- Public discontent on the issue rises. Opinion polls show that growing numbers now support Britain remaining in the EU.
- Under increasing pressure, Theresa May calls an election. Labour pledge either a 2nd referendum on Britain leaving the EU or a referendum on the outcome of negotiations for a ‘Brexit’. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats pledge to remain in the EU.
- The election ends in a hung parliament. The Conservatives win the most seats but not enough for a majority.
- A coalition government is formed between Labour, The Liberal Democrats and the SNP. This forces Theresa May’s resignation. Jeremy Corbyn becomes the UK’s Prime Minister.
- As with every coalition government, concessions are made before it’s formation. The new coalition mandate agrees on ensuring Britain’s place in the EU, on the grounds of economic security and the protection of worker’s rights etc. As this is a new government, it is not obliged to carry forward the policy of a previous administration.
This scenario would represent a reversal of Britain’s turn to ‘nationalism’ following the original ‘Brexit’ vote, at a time when ‘nationalist’ governments potentially come to power throughout the EU. Britain’s position would now be one of ‘liberal’ – in opposition to the rise of ‘nationalism’ – and would create a divide between Donald Trump’s America and the UK.
Remember that the false left / right paradigm, which is a driving force behind the push for outright centralisation of world economic and political power, relies on conflict to function. As ‘nationalist’ governments come to prominence, it stands to reason that parts of the EU will be positioned to resist its rise and instead keep to a more ‘liberal’ orthodoxy. Thus this insures continued conflict on both a political and social level.
Also, Britain is a vital component in this false paradigm. A central figure of globalisation. Many see London as historically the financial heartland of the world. If the goal is for total globalisation, as I believe it is, London has a big role to play in that.
Now let’s look at a second scenario:
Article 50 Triggered / Negotiations Begin on Leaving the EU
- The government can either win or lose their appeal in the Supreme Court.
- If it wins, article 50 can be triggered and negotiations on leaving the EU can start.
- If it loses, article 50 must go to the Commons and House of Lords. It is passed by a narrow majority, but negotiations can now begin on the UK’s exit.
- During negotiations, a financial crisis emerges in Europe (possibly through Deutsche Bank or another chosen trigger) which take the urgency away from the UK leaving the EU.
- ‘Nationalist’ governments come to power in the EU (potentially in France, Germany, Italy, Holland and Austria).
- Negotiations for ‘Brexit’ come under increasing strain, with the announcement that an exit will not be finalised on the original time scale.
- Calls for article 50 to be revoked i.e. for the government to change its mind, and for a second referendum on the issue.
- Increasing socioeconomic problems in the EU.
- Opposition parties and sections of the media call for an early general election. As with the first scenario, Labour pledge either a 2nd referendum on Britain leaving the EU or a referendum on the outcome of negotiations for a ‘Brexit’. The Liberal Democrats pledge to remain in the EU.
- Under mounting pressure, Theresa May resigns as Prime Minister.
- The opening is now presented for Boris Johnson to lead the party. He will likely be unopposed and seen as a unifying candidate following his spell as Foreign Secretary. Boris pledges to either deliver ‘Brexit’ or to consult the public again in a second referendum.
- A general election is called. The next Prime Minister will be either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn.
- If the Conservatives gain a majority, Boris is Prime Minister. They will either push on with ‘Brexit’ or announce a second referendum.
- If the result is a hung parliament, there are two potential outcomes:
- A coalition between Labour, The Liberal Democrats and the SNP, with the UK remaining inside the EU.
- A coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, with concessions made on ‘Brexit’ – the final agreement must go to a public referendum.
This scenario plays towards the idea of Britain not leaving the EU whilst the union is in a state of crisis both politically and economically. As I stated earlier, the number of variables and possible outcomes are extensive.
It hinges on whether the plan from the outset was for Britain to officially leave the EU or to remain. The vote to leave sewed division throughout the country. And as I keep saying, division is necessary to advance an agenda.
Boris Johnson, who unexpectedly pulled out of the race to succeed David Cameron after the leave result, is a critical element to this potential variable. After the referendum, Johnson told a gaggle of reporters that, ‘in voting to leave the EU, it’s vital to stress that there’s no need for haste and, as the Prime Minister has just said, nothing will change in the short term except that work will begin on how to extricate this country from the supranational system.’
Johnson also has a history of not remaining consistent in his perspective on the EU. In 2015, the Guardian reported that he was ‘warming to the idea of voting no’ and interested in a ‘double referendum strategy with the aim of renegotiating a better deal for Britain before a second yes vote’.
In February 2016, the Independent ran a story saying that Johnson had ‘performed a U-turn on a contentious claim that a vote to leave the EU would force Brussels to give Britain a better deal and trigger a second referendum. He appeared to drop the idea of a ‘double referendum’ on Britain’s membership of the EU. “Out is out”, Mr Johnson said.
If Boris was to become Prime Minister amidst division over the ‘Brexit‘ process, his current stance of support for leaving the EU is far from certain.
On the flip side, if no more major obstacles are put before ‘Brexit’, and the UK is permitted to leave under Theresa May’s leadership (in other words, if this was the plan from the beginning), then on paper it would represent the UK as rejecting globalism for becoming an independent, sovereign nation. Clearly such a narrative does not square with the long term agenda of creating a world government, a world currency and a world army, as I have discussed in previous blog posts. Britain would obviously be part of a global government structure, not separate from it. For that reason, I consider this prospect highly unlikely. But it’s not impossible. If Britain were allowed to leave, I imagine the UK becoming a kind of social experiment demonstrating to others what happens when you defy the establishment. Britain would be manipulated into ruin economically before the ‘saving grace‘ of global unification was put forward as the solution to the world’s ills.
Don’t forget as well that a country having left the confines of the EU is permitted to change its mind. It can formally negotiate a re-entry if so desired. Provided the EU remained a going concern by that stage.
In closing, the scenario that plays on me the most is Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. A ridiculous proposition only 18 months ago. But since then he has twice been elected Labour party leader, Britain has voted to leave the EU and Donald Trump is to become the next US President. Very few predicted any of these outcomes would materialise. Yet they have all happened within a narrow time frame.
Corbyn’s rise to party leader could be coincidental. But I find it rather suspicious that right before the globalist elites move towards ‘nationalist’ sentiment in ‘Brexit’ and Trump, he became the leader of the opposition. Creating a much more prominent false left / right divide in the UK. He is either there to ultimately destroy the Labour party in its current guise by losing it the next election. Or he has been selected for higher office.
The prospect of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister is now not nearly as ludicrous as it would have been only five months ago. Article 50 will have a role to play in whether public perception of Corbyn turns to him being a figure of unity in a time of growing despair over Britain leaving the EU.
It comes down to this. Will Britain continue it’s ‘nationalist’ path through the vehicle of ‘Brexit’ – thus remaining under The Conservatives – or will it do an about face turn and move back towards a unified outlook of ‘liberalism’ through coalition?
The office of Prime Minister, I believe, will swing towards either Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson over the next six to eighteen months. The progress of article 50 in 2017 will give us a better indication of where this is heading and within what time scale.
What do you think? Can you see Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister?
Thank you for reading.