There’s been quite a lot of comment around the last few days saying that May had the right idea a while ago when she said that ‘No Deal was better than a bad deal’, but that she’s now made the mistake of going back on that. For example, Ross Clark says:
At first, she seemed to have the right idea. In her Lancaster House speech of January 2017 she announced her intention to seek a free trade deal with the EU – rather than membership of the single market and customs union – and stated very clearly that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. She understood, so it seemed, that in order to get a good deal out of the EU it was necessary to make it clear that the government was serious about walking away from the negotiating table.
But it was obvious at the time that May was lying about that. It was obvious, at least to the EU negotiators if not to the British commentariat, that she was frightened to death of No Deal, and would do literally anything to avoid it. The fact that the government never undertook any serious preparation for a No Deal exit made it even more obvious that May would sign whatever the EU wanted her to sign, because having ruled out No Deal she had no alternative, and the EU knew it.
So she didn’t ‘inexplicably’ change her tactics. She had the same tactic all along, and lied through her teeth all along.
The other wrong idea that’s getting a new outing is the idea that we should have waited further to trigger Article 50. Dan Hannan has pushed this utterly mistaken idea for two years now, and he’s doing it again:
Every time Theresa May had to make a choice on Brexit, she picked the wrong option. There was the premature triggering of Article 50 – not only before she had carried out contingency preparations for no deal but, unbelievably, before she had a clear idea of what she wanted.
Ross Clark also says this:
She invoked Article 50 too soon, before any significant preparations for a ‘no deal’ scenario had been made.
Delaying the invocation of Article 50 would have been a big mistake. Even delaying it as long as the government did was a big mistake. A very big mistake. As I said at the time, the longer Brexit takes the more time the enemy has to gather its forces and work its propaganda, and overturn the referendum, or thwart it in some way. The longer we delayed Article 50, the more likely it was that it would never be invoked. The delay we did see allowed Gina Miller’s group to get to work and start drumming up support and getting a head of steam, and giving Remainers all over the country hope, whereas if we had invoked Article 50 the day after the referendum, that would never have happened (as the invocation would have been a fair accompli).
What should have happened was that the UK simply announced to the EU the day after the referendum that it was leaving the EU, leaving the Single Market, the Customs Union, the ECJ, etc., and that we had two years to iron out issues like aviation, shipping, tariffs, etc. We should then have got on with preparing for a Managed No Deal, which in that scenario would simply have been called Brexit. If a free trade deal agreement, or the beginnings of one, was negotiated during that period, then great, but that made no difference to our leaving thev EU and all its institutions. But the fact that the government dithered for so long gave the Remainers the chance to start all the bullshit talk about ‘soft Brexit’. It was initial delay that started the rot.
But I was pretty much alone in saying all this. The majority of even the most gung-ho Brexiteers were saying ‘Deal, deal deal’, like that was the most important thing. It never was. Leaving was. That’s what the vote was for. As I used to say — and this saying has now spread, although not enough — we didn’t vote for a deal, we voted to leave. We should have just said immediately that we were leaving everything, which would have prevented Remain from ever rising from the ashes.
While I’m on Ross Clark’s article , another thing needs to be said:
The ECJ’s judgment hands the government a lifeline. It provides the opportunity to rescind Britain’s notice to leave and to restart the process, this time without making the same mistakes. Here is how it could work: after losing the vote on her deal, Mrs May – or her successor, if she is minded to resign – withdraws our intention to leave the EU. It then begins a process of serious planning for a WTO scenario: thinking carefully of how and where customs checks could be carried out, how the issues of possible shortages of food and drugs and so could be resolved. Only then is Article 50 be re-invoked and negotiations with the EU re-started – this time with the EU knowing full-well that we were deadly serious about leaving on WTO terms.
As I understand it the ECJ’s judgement is that Article 50 can be revoked only in the circumstance that it is a genuine revocation, that is, if the UK genuinely intends to stay in the EU long-term, and aren’t just doing to it to gain time. So we can’t revoke it in order to make preparations to re-invoke it. (Apparently there’s also some question marks over the legal status of this judgement as well, but I’m not up to speed on that.)
I should also say that revoking Article 50, even if we were allowed to do it, would be utterly unacceptable to the people of the Britain, because in that scenario we all know that the traitors in Parliament would be fighting tooth and nail to make sure that it was never re-invoked, and there’s a good chance that they’d succeed. So that scenario should be a non-starter. A revocating of Article 50 guarantees only one thing, and that is an angry mob burning down the Houses of Parliament.