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EU gives UK time to reject bad Brexit deal

by Hugo Dixon | 07.12.2016

Today’s debate in the House of Commons is about the start of the Brexit process. Now that the government has reluctantly agreed to produce a plan, attention will focus on how detailed a document it will publish and when it will arrive. It should produce a detailed Green Paper and do so in January – so MPs and the public can debate decisions that will change all our lives properly.

But it’s not just the start of the process that matters. Parliament and the people must be involved at the end too. The EU has just given us the chance to do just that – though few observers have noticed this.

Yesterday Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, said the Brexit talks need to finish by October 2018 so that the European Parliament can ratify deal. This means that we, too, will get time to examine the deal and reject it if we don’t like the look of it.

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If Barnier – and before him Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator – hadn’t said this, there would have been a risk that Theresa May could have bounced the UK into backing whatever deal she managed to negotiate. Say she triggered Article 50 as planned next March and had then come back with a miserable divorce arrangement in February 2019. We’d have been so close to the two-year deadline that MPs would have had little option but to grin and bear it.

But the prime minister won’t now be able to play such a trick. Even if she doesn’t formally put the Brexit deal to our parliament until after it has been ratified by the European Parliament, she won’t be able to stop MPs and peers debating the text in October 2018. If they don’t like it, they will then have time to ask the British people what they think in a new referendum. And if the voters don’t then want to quit, we’ll probably be able to cancel Brexit.

Edited by Sam Ashworth-Hayes

5 Responses to “EU gives UK time to reject bad Brexit deal”

  • Actually, your premise is wrong, at no stage was ‘re-negotiation’ mentioned, your ‘assumption’ is therefor false.

    It should be noted by you and others that 2 years after the initiation of article 50 should no agreement be reached then automatically WTO terms will immediately apply. In this instance, should article 50 have been submitted on 31st March 2017 then at midnight on 31st March 2019 WTO will automatically kick in between the UK and the remainder of the EU. Now the question is whether this would benefit either the UK or EU is open to debate – but that is the reality. This therefore leaves no time for ‘renegotiation’ as you seem so gleefully to imply would happen.

    • If no trade deal is agreed then WTO rules could be applied which is the most likely outcome. But WTO is not a simple set of regulations that just “kick in”. In fact WTO provides the rules to make trade agreements, they are not trade agreementd. Even WTO will take years to get agreed and impemented.
      Moreove, there would be no provisions for passporting or customs …. those will be lost. Mostly as they would not be in the EU interest to extend them to financial services (remember banks are already planning to move).

      How about we don’t invoke A50 (which is legal and democratic ) since there is no deal better than what we have or even close to what was promised?

    • Bill Roy,

      the UK is not part of the WTO as an autonomous country, but through its membership of the EU.
      when article 50 is over (whenever that is), the UK doesn’t have WTO status : it’s just in limbo.

      that means, nobody knows what will be the tariffs and terms of trade for each every products imported/exported by british firms all over the world.
      nobody knows either how trade disputes would be settled.

      these are critical elements.

      what the UK is part of is GATT pre-1973, which is the previous organisation now known as WTO.
      congratulations you now have terms of trade from the 70′ in an irrelevant international body of 1 member.

      and here is why the UK can’t do anything but BEG THE EU to be cooperative and forthcoming : other WTO members won’t start re-actualising the UK status until the EU has agreed to separate the UK share from its own trade arrangements, so that the rest of the world get a bit of clarity.

      does that put pressure on the EU ? not really, unless you start to awaken from all the jumbo-mumbo delusional fantasies of the brexiteers.

      so please, myself as a continental european, I BEG you : keep making wild, ignorant statements so that we are so pissed off at you johnnies (which is an idea you probably relish), that we gleefully negotiate in the most hard-nosed way possible instead of still trying to be cooperative.

    • Margot,

      I don’t get your “logic”
      what does having the EU (that is 28 other sovereign european member states) provide a “better deal” to one reckless, populist and navelgazing toff would have done to “prevent” Brexit.

      invent all the excuses that you want.
      no amount of rationalising and compromising is EVER gonna satisfy arsonists that it’s not a good idea to put the house on fire

      I wonder if you even realize just how ridiculous and pathetic watching that whole saga has been for outside observers, that is of english supremacism and sheer lack of democratic legitimacy of the UK political system.
      Brexiteers in particular, but the rot is much more widespread in England, has never been about “terms”, “EU”, “sovereignty of Parliament” : it’s all about power and who exercise it
      The UK has a class system that is meant to give political power to a few through a profoundly hyper-centralised and biased election system

      the failure is not about the “EU not giving better terms to Cameron”, but about a UK ruling elite that pretend to care about its people, but couldn’t give it a flying jolt

      keep looking for scapegoats. that’s what all populists and losers do, and make sure never to face reality or take your share of responsibility