With both potential Tory leaders now committing to a no-deal Brexit if Theresa May’s deal cannot be renegotiated, we’re heading for the exit without an agreement on October 31, says Mike Hedges, Swansea East AM and chair of the CCERA committee.
I keep on expecting that when I write my next article on Brexit for Farmers Guardian, it will have become clear what our future trading agreement with the European Union will be.
Since I wrote my last article, we have had the European Elections, where the most seats were won by the pro-Brexit Brexit Party, but the four ‘remain parties’ - the Liberal Democrats, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru - polled more votes than the two leave parties of Brexit and UKIP.
We know Labour did very badly, the Conservatives disastrously, and the pro-second vote and pro-Brexit groupings both claimed the election was a success, endorsing their viewpoint.
The only thing I read from it was that the country was still badly divided over the issue.
Unfortunately, each time I write an article it seems to become less clear rather than more clear what is going to happen.
From what I am reading regarding the two potential future Conservative leaders, no deal is a definite possibility.
We have Boris Johnson, the favourite in the Tory leadership contest, saying negative claims about the impact of a no-deal Brexit have been ‘wildly over-done’.
These comments were seen as a reply to the chancellor, Philip Hammond, telling MPs that a no-deal Brexit would cost the Treasury £90bn.
The Hammond figure is from a chart in the Treasury’s assessment of the economic impact of Brexit published last year.
The other candidate, Jeremy Hunt, says a no-deal Brexit could inflict almost as much damage as the 2008 world economic recession, before vowing to crash out of Europe if necessary.
The admission is the starkest assessment yet of the impact of crashing out of the European Union, which both candidates say they are ready to do on October 31.
Mr Hunt further said the UK had to make that ‘choice’ to allow withdrawal to go ahead without an agreement, if the EU refused to renegotiate Theresa May’s divorce deal.
Two questions I pose are, firstly why would the EU offer a better deal to an incoming Conservative leader than they did to Theresa May, especially following the rhetoric of the leadership election.
Secondly, how can we get around the Irish border problem?
If we have no border checks, this will be a way for any country in the world which does not have a deal with the EU to export to Britain, then via the Irish border into the EU without tariffs and quotas.
With less than four months to go to October 31, we will be leaving with no deal unless an agreement can be reached and ratified, or the Government applies for and gets a further extension.
I can only see three ways out of the current impasse: accept the deal Theresa May got is the best we can get and ratify it, run the clock down until October 31 and have a no-deal Brexit by default, or have a second referendum choosing between what is the preferred option of the Conservative Government, which could be a no-deal Brexit or a variation on Theresa May’s agreement, and remain.
I hope things will be clearer in September.
Mike can be found tweeting @MikeHedgesAM