There is a possibility the PM and Leader of the Opposition will reach a deal on Brexit, but it still may not get through the House of Commons, says Mike Hedges, Swansea East AM and chair of the CCERA committee.
In my last column for the Brexit hub, I opened by saying: “I do not know what the final outcome of the negotiations with the EU and the votes at Westminster will be, but I do not believe anyone does.
“While there appears to be a Commons majority against the Prime Minister’s deal, a hard Brexit, remaining in the European Union and another vote, there does not appear to be a majority in favour of any possible outcome.”
When I wrote that, I expected this article to be about how the post-Brexit Agriculture Bill was progressing and the short-term support for farming as we were leaving the EU.
The Agriculture Bill completed its House of Commons committee stage on 20 November 2018, and is due to have its report stage and third reading on a date still to be announced.
The Bill contains provisions which extend to Wales and require legislative consent from the National Assembly for Wales.
The Assembly’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs (CCERA) Committee, which I chair, is currently considering the supplementary Legislative Consent Memorandum (LCM).
One success in the Bill is a change to the red meat levy, which will enable those who invest in breeding and rearing livestock to benefit from the levy collected in relation to their livestock, even if it is collected by a slaughterhouse in another jurisdiction.
But returning to the bigger Brexit picture, I was correct in my statement that there was no majority for any proposal in the House of Commons.
I am concerned that although our possible leaving date has been put back to October 31, no progress appears to be being made in the House towards a majority view in favour of something (of course this could be wrong, but I doubt it).
We now know we will be holding European elections, and I predict hard leavers, soft leavers and remainers will all claim the result justifies their point of view as the ‘will of the people’.
Based on publicly-expressed positions, there is the possibility of a deal being done which combines guarantees on the customs union, regulatory alignment on goods and agri-food, European Economic Area (EEA) preference in migration and dynamic alignment of standards on workers and environmental rights, all underpinned by commitments in primary legislation.
But even if this was achieved and agreed by the Government and Opposition, would it carry enough support to pass through the House of Commons?
There are still two blocks of MPs who could stop it – those who want a hard Brexit and those who want a second vote to try and stop Brexit.
Mike can be found tweeting at @MikeHedgesAM