Welcome to Britain Watch

All the signs are that the governance of Britain is spiralling out of control: record trade and budget deficits; a swollen bureaucracy; an inadequate but costly education system; a government incapable of providing for our future energy needs; record emigration of native Britons, unprecedented levels of immigration; a mind-set putting the non-citizen ahead of the British citizen.

Britain Watch has been set up to highlight key examples of these trends and to promote practical reforms to reverse the incompetence and loss of national self belief they engender. All readers are invited to participate.

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Short News

Don't Miss Clean Break - Fresh Start
Find the latest Technomica paper from Prof Bush, showing the advantages of “No Deal”.

Negotiating with the EU after we have left

The Times correspondent Simon Nixon’s quote from an EU official that “once the UK has left, we will be able to be much more flexible” (21 February)” is surely  right. It points the way to unblocking the present impasse.

Let the EU and the UK agree to postpone the leaving settlement until after the UK has left on March 29th together with an Agreement that both sides keep the existing tariff and customs regime for say 12 months, extendable by mutual agreement if a replacement regime has not been agreed.

Under GATT article 24 this would not require extending the EU’s common external tariff to third parties, as WTO would be informed that this “Tariff Standstill Agreement” was a precursor to a long-term Trade Agreement.

This way, everything becomes possible: Parliament would get a proper, considered say over the final  agreement, the European Research Group would be able to argue for low tariffs; Britain would be free at the end of the standstill period to conclude negotiations with other countries as well as the EU; new border arrangements could be properly trialled including those at the Irish border; Mrs May would fulfil her solemn declaration to take Britain out of the European Union according to the Withdrawal Act, on March 29th. and could retire with honour if she and her colleagues wished this. There would be no need to fiddle around with contentious Article 50 extensions.

 

 

Brexit Muddle
If anybody in the world is in doubt about the basic reason for the terrible muddle in Parliament and in the country over Brexit, consider this. On a visit to a school on January 25th, Theresa May (Prime Minister of the United Kingdom) was asked by a child what Brexit actually meant.  Mrs May reportedly answered: “That’s a difficult question to answer because every MP seems to have their own idea.” [more »]

Fear of Clean Break
Don’t Miss the excellent new paper by Lord Peter Lilley and Cllr Brendan Chilton “30 Truths About Leaving On WTO Terms”.

Don't Miss Technomica Papers
You will find papers 6 (Negotiation Brexit with the EU), 7 (Produce and Sustain3), and 9 (Future of UK-EU Trade: No need for elaborate new tracing systems – use existing Customs & VAT systems) on the European Union Page of this website. Paper 13, concentrating on the current options for Brexit Independence is now also downloadable.

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Royal Prerogative Powers

The Times editorial (Saturday 9th March) postulated that if, as happened, Mrs May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement were defeated by the Commons on Tuesday, 12th March, sundry MPs would try to push back the date of our leaving the EU on March 29th [as defined in section 20 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act (2018)].  This is seen by some Labour and Conservative MPs as a first step to “taking over the Brexit negotiation from Mrs May’s government”.

However, as any bill seeking to promote such a move clearly touches on one of the 15 Royal Prerogative powers (in this case the power to make international treaties) Mrs May, as Prime Minister, has sole power to advise Her Majesty the Queen to withhold her consent to allowing such a bill to proceed at 2nd or 3rd reading, which is plenty long enough for the 29th March to be reached and Britain therefore to leave the EU on time.

There have been three precedents during her reign for withholding consent to bills, of which the closest parallel is advice from Tony Blair to withhold consent at second reading for the “Action Against Iraq (Parliamentary Approval Bill) 1999”.  This provided for a parliamentary vote on going to war.

Alternatively, Mrs May can formally advise the Queen to prorogue Parliament anytime, certainly for a period long enough to get beyond March 29th.

There is an almost exact recent precedent, this time from Canada in 2008.  As a result of the General Election that year, the Conservatives led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper had to form a minority government, which was unable to pass its Budget after several attempts.  Harper formally advised the Queen’s Representative, the Governor-General Michaelle Jean, to prorogue the Canadian Parliament for about six weeks, which she agreed to do.  When Parliament reconvened on January 26th 2009, it passed the Budget with the support of the Liberal party.

Far from being a prisoner of the Commons, Mrs May as Prime Minister remains all-powerful on matters affecting the 15 Prerogatives after the vote on March 12th, as she is the only person who can give binding advice to the Queen.  Mrs May can also fire any of her Cabinet in a block who don’t agree and replace them, as Harold MacMillan did in 1962.  In short she can save herself, her party, and our country from her own disastrous agreement with the EU — if she has a mind to.