Amidst the apparent never ending ‘noise’ surrounding Brexit – and as a Comment Central exclusive – The Freedom Association’s Rory Broomfield sets out the seven key milestones that will define the Brexit process over the next six months.
It hasn’t been an easy year for the government. A new Prime Minister, a court battle over Brexit, and a General Election has certainly made politics interesting again. But, there has been much speculation over the path that Brexit might take. A lot should, in my mind, have been clarified by the positions paper set out by the Brexit Department (DExEU). Nonetheless, here are seven key milestones that people should watch out for as negotiations, and Brexit plans, continue to become clear.
(1) The EU Withdrawal Bill
The bill introduced by the government is vitally important to the process of Brexit. In effect, it looks to transfer all aspects of EU law onto the UK’s statute books. Many have written about the need for sunset clauses and I have written for BrexitCentral about the need for a Royal Commission to be set-up to unwind much of the unwanted legislation. Nonetheless, for now the Government is pressing ahead with this bill that, if it goes through without substantial amendment, will allow the UK to proceed in negotiations with the EU in confidence. If, on the other hand, it is substantially amended and is not passed then those that voted against would have created a cliff-edge as the UK will be left languishing unable to continue with the negotiations and, post Brexit, will not have the laws that opponents of the bill say they wish to protect.
(2) Committee elections and workings
These will play a vital role in the process of defining what both the process and policies concerning Brexit look like both now and post March 2019. A milestone passed last week is the numerous Parliamentary committee elections, particularly that concerning the Brexit Committee (formerly known as the ‘Exiting the European Union Select Committee’). I’m delighted that so many members of The Freedom Association, and supporters of the Better Off Out campaign, were elected. Their role will be vital to ensuring legislation is scrutinised properly and delivered in the best interests – and according to the will of – the British people.
(3) Theresa May’s big speech
If the EU Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, is to be believed then 21 September this year is crucial day for the Prime Minister.
You’ve heard of the Lancaster House speech, now get ready for the Brussels Speech. According to reports by Bloomberg, the Prime Minister will try to “force the pace of Brexit negotiations as an October showdown with her European counterparts looms”
(4) German Elections
If the speech 21 September goes ahead, it will make the German Parliamentary election three days later on 24 September even more interesting. Although not directly related to the Brexit negotiations, it will have a significant indirect impact. You will see the favourite to win, current Chancellor and leader of the CDU party in Germany, Angela Merkel, pitted against former President of the EU Parliament and Euro-fanatic, Martin Schulz. If Merkel wins, it will be (broadly) more of the same in terms of the negotiations. If Schultz wins, then all bets are off. Schulz will be more hardline than Merkel in the Brexit negotiations if he wins, but that’s not to say he won’t have influence even if he loses. Over the past few years, the CDU has been in coalition with Schulz’s party, the SPD. If the same happens again, it’s possible Schulz will be Germany’s foreign secretary and gifted responsibility for Brexit negotiations on behalf of Germany after all.
(5) Government Bills
There are eight government bills due in this Parliament relating to Brexit. Parliamentary timetables are not yet unknown. But, they will be hotly contested as the different political parties try to figure out their vision for Britain post Brexit. They will include key pieces of legislation on immigration, farming, fishing, customs, trade and home affairs.
(6) Government Position Papers
Knowing what kind of future relationship the Government wants to have with the EU – above those set out during the negotiations – will be made clear in the coming weeks with more position papers setting out that vision for a “deep and special partnership” in the hope of achieving “frictionless free trade” between the two nations. Stay tuned for many more words to be exchanged about this vision as the EU tries to come to terms with the UK wishing to leave.
(7) Party Conferences
And then it’s conference season, with the Conservatives in Manchester and Labour in Brighton. I suspect both conferences will look to have narratives that are not directly Brexit related, however, given the ongoing negotiations with the EU and the ongoing Brexit flip-flopping within the Labour Party, I’m sure the media will make a lot out of what is said (and possibly not said) about the issue.
So those are seven milestones and challenges to look out for in the upcoming months. It’s sure to be an interesting few months ahead!