BIPP Insights

BIPP student intern Yiwei Wang ’19 and guest writer Mateo Garcia ’20 take an in-depth look at Brexit in the article below.

 Brexit Negotiation: A difficult journey from start

Tourists take pictures while standing atop from the London Eye, meanwhile, red double-deckers wiggle to different lanes to get ahead of the traffic. Things may seem calm and peaceful outside of the Westminster Hall. Meanwhile, there was a thunderstorm sweeping through the halls inside of the Westminster. The news of UK chief Brexit negotiator to European Union David Davis stepping down from the cabinet position sent shockwaves across the House of Commons. The leave of David Davis was immediately morphed into a firm attack on PM’s leadership from the leader of Labour party in a tweet. Jeremy Corbyn stated that “David Davis resigning at such a crucial time shows @Theresa_May has no authority left and is incapable of delivering Brexit,” “With her tumultuous Government, if she clings on, it’s clear she’s more interested in hanging on for her own sake than serving the people of our country.” The chaos escalated to a new level when the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson handed in his resignation to Prime Minister’s office overnight, in which his letter he states that ‘[Our opening bid] is as though we are sending our vanguard into battle with the white flags fluttering above them.’ It is clear that Boris’s letter sent a clear message that he believes May’s government is unable to deliver a Brexit deal that British people voted for, echoing David Davis’s similar remarks on Theresa May for making many unnecessary compromises and concessions during EU negotiations in a recent interview after resignation.

While cabinet members resigning is an alerting news, it seems that, however, Theresa May has already had major blowbacks to her government policy with the departure of her Home Secretary Amber Rudd in April. In the wake of Windrush scandal, which concerns for deportation of illegal immigrants, Ms Rudd inadvertently misled the House of Commons by saying that she didn’t know there is a removal target, however, The Guardian newspaper later revealed a letter that was sent to Theresa May by Ms Rudd saying she plans to deport 10% more illegal immigrants over the ‘next few years’. In the center of the scandal, the Windrush generation, particularly immigrants with Caribbean backgrounds, was unfortunately subjected to illegal detainment and deportation. Ms Rudd was unable to clang to her power under tremendous pressure from the media and the House of asking her to step down. Her resignation leaves the PM Theresa May one less strong ally in her cabinet. After stepping down from the cabinet, Ms Rudd will be seating on the backbenches in the Conservative party. And should she spill the beans and share intelligence with the rebels in the party, it would weaken the coalition government in a serious way.

On a party level, the loss of a majority position is an enormous setback for the Conservative party. To continue the governance, PM Theresa May offered Northern Ireland party Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) a deal that’s known as “confidence and supply” agreement, which means DUP will support the Conservative on key issues such as budget and confidence motion, but ‘support on other matters will be agreed on a case by case basis.’ However, having two parties working and supporting each other is not what the PM intended at first. In plain words, Theresa May hoped to call a snap election to win more seats in the parliament, but she tragically lost her majority in seats, giving the opposition party, the Labour party, a strong boost in its party representation. Bucknell student, Mateo Garcia ‘20 has been working at Parliament over the summer for Luke Pollard, a Labour Member of Parliament. Mateo believes that the environment surrounding the Labour Party is of enthusiasm and hope meanwhile the Tories are on the brink of being the opposite. Many conservative backbenchers were frustrated at May’s loss. In response to her failure to win majority seats, Theresa May apologized to her party for messing up the election. The unity of the conservative party was greatly challenged as Prime Minister’s leadership is questioned by her party backbenchers.

Moving forward in time, the divided Conservative party was able to agree on the vision of a future relationship between the UK and EU in unison at the recent Chequer’s congregation meeting, clearing much cloud on this issue for a long period of time. In the Brexit White Paper released by the UK government after the Chequer meeting, the government laid out its negotiation plan with the EU on several key issues such as on foods (including agri-foods), custom, and most followed issue—border control. By doing this, the government hopes to establish free-trade zone which allows goods (including agricultural goods) to trade under a frictionless environment. The government also hopes to push EU to adopt its Facilitated Customs Arrangement (FCA), meaning, that the UK would not only able to ‘apply the EU’s tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for the EU’ but also it is able to apply independent tariffs with trade deals that it signs with individual countries outside of EU. Lastly, the White Paper repeatedly states that the freedom of movement, one of EU’s four core freedom, will end as the UK will firmly restore its border control. Despite the UK’s clear stance on migration since the Brexit referendum, it will still cause strains to the overall negotiation with EU. That is because EU doesn’t want to deal with a major internal migration crisis while handling a much more serious external crisis with refugees who have fled from the Middle East.

According to the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, all Brexit negotiations must be concluded by the end of October 2018 to give EU-27 time to vote on the final deal. Besides, the UK government is preparing a no deal situation, claiming it should be ready for the worst scenario should it occur.  However, the new UK chief Brexit negotiator Dominic Raab suggested he has been trying to get other cabinet members on board with the plans listed in the White Paper, indicating the cabinet’s continuing ambiguous and desultory stance on the Prime Minister’s vision for a future UK and EU trade relationship. We are living in a world with populism on the rise. It is only fair to judge whether Brexit is worth its political sacrifice after it has left the EU. But for now, we see Brexit as a vexing political agenda driven by inconclusive, uncoordinated strategy plans and led by an unstable leadership scheme.

*The Bucknell Institute for Public Policy (BIPP) is a nonpartisan institute. Guest writers’ views on public policy are not endorsed by the Institute.

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