15.11.2018 | Brussels Background Brexit Deal – Happy End in Sight?

Theresa May brauchte mindestens so viel Schwung für den Verkauf ihres Brexit-Deals, wie sie ihren Wahlkampf mit der These eines europäischen Komplotts angefeuert hat. Nun hat das Kabinett zugestimmt. Damit könnten sich die Briten 20 Monate Zeit für ein neues Referendum oder einen harten Brexit erkaufen, so die Einschätzung unseres Europa-Büros im Blog „Brussels Background“ (English).

 

Yesterday, the British cabinet took more than 5 hours to discuss a 500 page document which shall organize a structured separation between the UK and the EU. Final outcome: the cabinet supports the draft deal and all ministers, except for one, are on board – at least for now.  However, what seems to be glimpse of euphoria, is far from a happy end, since nothing has been decided yet! 

Even if Prime Minister Theresa May was able to sell the Brexit Deal to her cabinet members, the main hurdle lies within the British Parliament, with a vote scheduled for the 10th of December. As we are writing this blog, criticism of the deal is already growing. The opponents slam the deal concerning the Northern Irish border, which is not even a deal, but only postponing the problem to a much later date. In the meantime the UK becomes a pure rule taker who would have to accept all rules passed by the EU without a proper voice in its decision-making process. Not quite what Brexiteers wanted: an independent UK, able to struck its own trade deals and grow back to the ancient glory of the Commonwealth.    

May is prepared for several hardliners in her cabinet to resign in the aftermath of yesterday’s cabinet meeting. But the more important question is: can she unite a population that has always been divided on the issue of the European Union? To do so she needs 320 out of 638 eligible MPs. Remember: she is governing the country only with a working minority relying on a coalition with the northern Irish DUP (democratic unionist party), who will not accept a deal that threatens the integrity of the UK (which the proposed solution of a customs union effectively does). May cannot even rely on the full support of all 315 conservative MPs. Especially, since one particular MP is always good for a surprise. As a colleague in London told me on Monday: Never underestimate Boris Johnson. 

Undoubtedly, getting the cabinet´s support is a big achievement for May. However, hold your horses. As the details of the deal will become clearer on both sides of the channel, we are looking at different hurdles: the EU summit on the 25th of November – a test for the unity of the remaining 27 member states, the vote in the British parliament on the 10th of December, which equals a confidence vote on Theresa May, and last but not least, the vote in the European Parliament as early as February 2019!

Bottom line: Nothing is decided until everything is fully decided.