Theresa May’s Brexit Speech 17th January 2017
Gerard Batten MEP
UKIP Spokesman on Brexit
On 17th January, seven long months after the Referendum result, Theresa May laid out her long awaited strategy for implementing the decision of the Referendum. At the very best it is Brexit in slow motion – if that at all.
Initially it was gratifying to hear her saying the kind of things that UKIP has been saying for many years. Theresa May is a thoroughly professional politician (which is not meant as a compliment) and she obviously set out to push some hot-buttons with UKIP voters.
Mrs May spoke of not being ‘part in or part out’ of the EU. She said she wants control of immigration, and not membership of the Single Market, which would of course put an end to freedom of movement of EU citizens to the UK, one of the key factors in the Referendum debate. We Leavers thought we had voted for these things on 23rd June, and we have been eagerly awaiting their implementation ever since.
But professional politicians are like professional conjurors, they distract your attention with what they say while hiding what they do. Mrs May says she respects the decision of the Referendum, and will implement it. But look closer at what she proposes.
She has done nothing for seven months. She will not trigger Article 50 until March, a full nine months after the Referendum. Then she will enter into two full years of negotiations with an EU that does not want to negotiate with her, nor which is willing to concede an inch. Why would they? If they give the UK a ‘good deal’, whatever that means, it will only encourage their other mutineers in the EU ship of state.
Let us look at the fundamentals of what she proposes. On the repeal of the European Communities Act (1972), she intend to convert into UK law all the EU’s ‘Acquis Communautaire (EU legislation). This will mean that every single scrap of EU law will become UK law. What about our existing opt-outs? Do we have to sift through all of that again first? Or does It will mean we will have to accept all new laws, including all those in the pipeline now that she could have just rejected after 23rd June?
Why would she choose to do this, given that all previous EU Directives have been transposed into Acts of Parliament, and all Regulations have been enacted by ceded powers? It is highly suspect, given that there is a much simpler path to Exit.
When the fabled ‘deal’ is reached, she will then put it to both Houses of Parliament for a vote. They may of course reject it. Then, like a game of snakes and ladders we go back to square one. Not to mention that the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union can also reject it if they wish.
Mrs May is giving the Remainers and the Remoaners in the Commons and the Lords the power to reject the ‘deal’ if they don’t think it good enough, and to argue afterwards that they did not vote against the decision of the Referendum as such – just the ‘deal’.
The straight and narrow path that leads to salvation is for Mrs May to immediately present to Parliament a Bill for the Repeal of the European Communities Act (1972). Parliament would then be faced with a simple choice: do they vote for it and respect and uphold the decision of the Referendum, or do they vote against it and put themselves in opposition to the people and precipitate a constitutional crisis.
When the European Communities Act is repealed, our Government and Parliament is free to repeal or amend all EU law previously made Acts of Parliament. They could take much needed emergency action on Immigration, Trade, Farming and Fishing. Then, we can ‘negotiate’ with the EU over those parts of EU legislation that we might want to keep in order to interact with the EU.
Mrs May is going to negotiate with an EU, which has no incentive to negotiate with her, and to which she has handed all the bargaining chips and the political high ground. Instead of negotiating from a position of strength she wants to negotiate from a position of weakness.
As it is, even if the fabled ‘good deal’ is rejected by the European Parliament and the Council in 2019, the negotiations can be extended indefinitely by mutual agreement of the UK and the member states. If the UK Parliament also rejects it, we could see matters go beyond the next general election in 2020. A new government and Parliament could claim a new mandate and overturn the Referendum decision itself.
The great danger from 23rd June onwards was always that Brexit would be betrayed. As with a great magician we must not pay attention to Mrs May’s distractions but pay close attention to what she actually does. How does she intend to make Brexit disappear before our very eyes?
There is only one sure way to leave the European Union, and that is to repeal the European Communities Act (1972) as a first step in the process, and thereby restore our Parliamentary sovereignty and freedom of action. Every Brexiteer should shout at every opportunity: Repeal the European Communities Act now!