It has been more than a year since Britain voted to leave the European Union via referendum, and as yet, it seems as though almost no progress has been made. Far from the close run of opinion in the initial vote of 52% vs. 48%, the public mood has now swung to over 70% of the British public wanting to “just get on with Brexit.” So why is there a delay and what is holding the UK government back from setting out the final terms of departure?
Recent events indicate that not only is the government uninterested in leaving the European Union, but that there is active opposition from present and former politicians working behind the scenes to ensure that Britain remains within the EU in all but name.
A Decapitation of Brexiteers
A series of scandals have arisen that is essentially removing all of the leading Brexit voices in Parliament from positions of authority. It began with Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, who was unceremoniously ousted for putting his hand on the knee of a reporter some years ago. Whether or not it was wrong, or just a clumsy pass, being one of the most powerful Brexiteers in the cabinet, his letting go is a hard strike to the Brexit cause.
And then comes junior minister Priti Patel, also a firm Brexiteer. She attended a meeting overseas while she was on holiday. On her return, she was “resigned” by Prime Minister Theresa May for not following ministerial conduct and meeting someone outside of her set appointments.
Finally, we have Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. He is presently embroiled in a scandal involving a dual British-Iranian citizen who has been arrested and imprisoned in Iran. She was sentenced to five years for “attempting to overthrow the Iranian government.” The reality appears to be that she was just visiting her mother, and while Johnson was attempting to bring light to this injustice, he said that she was imprisoned for teaching journalists. This turns out not to be the case. But where did he get this idea? Calls for his resignation are coming in from all areas.
The man in the EU responsible for negotiating Britain’s exit is Michel Barnier, who has proven time and time again that he intends for the UK to fail when it finally leaves. He was met by three former British politicians last week in a closed-room conference. Nick Clegg, Ken Clarke, and Lord Adonis, all of whom are devout Remainers determined to undo Brexit against the will of the British people. When asked if they were here to try and stop Brexit, Clegg replied: “If only it were that easy.”
The European Commission is in the process of demanding a minimum of a 20 billion GBP settlement before they will begin talks on trade and other areas of separation. Oddly enough, that happens to be the same amount as the hole in the EU’s budget (at which point they become debtors), and coincidently, the sum would be due on the same day their present budget falls short. It is clear to most that the EU is strong-arming the UK to make up a shortfall in their funding.
Prime Minister Theresa May, at a speech in Florence, called on the EU to accept a two-year transition period after the two-year limit of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty expires. This would mean that Britain wouldn’t leave the EU for five years since the Brexit vote took place. Coincidentally, it would also fall due just before the next British General Election.
The transition period would likely involve Britain continuing to pay money to the EU, still having to accept the free movement of people, and still be under the auspices of the European Courts. Many Brexiteers, including the ever more prominent Jacob Rees-Mogg, see this as a betrayal of Brexit. While Britain is answerable to EU courts, she has not left the EU.
The Future of Brexit
The future of Brexit negotiations looks grim. Not only does the Prime Minister seem determined to keep the UK under the flag of the EU for as long as possible (with a little rebadging), but all of the opposition parties are equally happy for the UK to remain a subservient state in the Federal EU system.
If Britain has not completely left the EU (including any and all transition deals) by the time the next General Election rolls around in 2022, it is possible that all of the main parties will be campaigning on staying in (or rejoining) the European Union. This would leave British voters with little choice.
However, there is still one party in the UK that is determined to see Brexit through to the end: UKIP. The party that Nigel Farage led to victory in the Brexit campaign and the winner of the 2014 British EU elections may well find themselves as the ONLY party committed to a full Brexit. If this happens, the British political landscape could be changed forever.