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...is scheduled as the guest speaker for the 306th meeting of the Karl Hess Club, to convene on October 21, 2019.

 

 

     Speaker TBA on "Brexit 2.0."

 

Is they is, or is they ain’t? Brexit may be the most fraught moment in British history, save perhaps for the Battle of Britain. As this is written on October 11, Parliament is once again prorogued, though this time not contested in the UK Supreme Court (itself a very recent invention in the long and storied tradition of English jurisprudence and not without controversy).

The earlier prorogation of Parliament was pronounced by the Chief Justice of the court, (Baroness) Lady Hale, illegal and a product of the Prime Minister misleading the Monarch on its merits. This time, the recess is of a more modest and traditional duration leading up to the Queen’s Speech and the ceremonial reopening of Parliament Monday October 14.

The projected date for Leaving is the appropriately mystical All Hallows’ Eve, Thursday October 31. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will need all the magic he can conjure to effect this result. Powerful forces, some seen and some unseen, are at work to militate against this aim. The man called “the British Donald Trump” has his work cut out. He is labouring furiously to fashion a withdrawal agreement that satisfies both a recalcitrant EU bureaucracy and a UK Parliament leaning toward a remain position.

A variety of scenarios present themselves, especially given all the many moving parts. While a General Election is increasingly imminent, there is even the prospect of a change of Government without the benefit of the popular franchise. As a matter of law, following the results of the Referendum of 2016 on the question of the disassociation of the UK from the European Union, Article 50 of the EU compact, which sets out how constituent states may secede, must be invoked, severing this union. Three years and two exhausted prime ministers later, this is yet undone, the will of the British people instill in doubt.

Even though BoJo is the man of the moment, or at least, the man on the spot, arguably the truly transformational figure in the midst of this crisis, perhaps looming in Churchillian stature, is the bully boy architect of Brexit himself, Nigel Farage. His Brexit Party has had an enormous effect on the British electorate, perhaps most notably on the Labour stronghold Midlands. Farage favors what he terms a “Clean Break” Brexit which would deliver Great Britain to the world economy on WTO terms, arguably preferable to edicts issued from Brussels.

For his part, and party, Farage leads a phalanx of MP candidates ready to stand constituencies across the Isles. They are ready to contest an election on their own which could conceivably split the Tory vote endangering their government and BoJo’s premiership, or as Farage has offered, protect Conservative Leave districts and combine with BoJo in what would become a Tory-Brexit coalition dedicated to a no ifs, no buts Brexit.

Ever present is the specter of a Labour (or Labour led coalition) government helmed by Jeremy Corbyn, a fate that would almost certainly scuttle Brexit altogether.

Corbin and the Remainers in Labour (and some Conservatives) favor a second referendum which Farage has disparaged as choosing between “Remain or Remain” and which Corbyn promises his regime would deliver. The deal that Johnson is shopping in Brussels is not given much more credence than that of former PM Teresa May, which failed three times to pass Parliament and was prevented from getting a fourth vote by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow.

What is ultimately at stake is the basic sovereignty of the British people, with the power to control their own borders, negotiate trade deals, protect their fishing rights and regulate their economy and society free from the oppressive strictures of the EU bureaucracy. To hard core Brexiteers, “leave means leave!”

Among the obstacles in the way is the Benn Bill, authored by Hilary Benn, Labour M.P., son of Labour Party icon Anthony Benn. This states that the UK may not exit the EU without an agreement. Also mandated is an extension to the date of Brexit (i.e., the date could be pushed into 2020 and beyond if there is no acceptable agreement.

According to BrexitCentral, “Benn’s Bill states that unless a deal is reached with the EU or Parliament approves a no-deal Brexit by October 19th, the Government would be required to write to the EU seeking an extension to the Article 50 period until January 31st 2020 – a further Brexit delay that would take us to a few months shy of four years since the referendum.”

BoJo has maintained that “Britain is leaving on October 31, no ifs or buts” suggesting a constitutional crisis in the absence of an agreement. A possible complication is that the UK has no written Constitution, but rather a raft of traditions. The weight and import of the relatively young Supreme Court is in doubt as to its efficacy in the face of a challenge by the Government benches.

If all of this were not enough there is the extremely knotty problem of the boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (Eire). Once Brexit happens, if it does, the Schengen Treaty will apply, making this a hard border between the EU (of which Republic of Ireland will still be a member) and Northern Ireland.

The so-called “Backstop” under the May deal was supposed to solve this issue but nobody on any side was satisfied, especially the Irish on both sides of the boundary. The best BoJo has offered so far is customs stations “far from the border” and no infrastructure.

On the bright side, there is late news that BoJo and the Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, had a positive meeting on the border question, so there is some optimism. Very late reportage has a productive meeting between EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and UK Secretary of State for Brexit Stephen Barclay, so that suggests some movement.

By the time of the eMinder, we will know more about the prospects of an on time Brexit, whether “orderly and in agreement” or “clean break.” If it seems that the saga will continue beyond the end of October, we will schedule another meeting dedicated to this subject at a suitable juncture. Questions to be answered include what economic ramifications Brexit will have on the economies of the UK, the EU, the US and the global economy. What political fallout might obtain for the Europeans Project if other countries consider divorce? Other concerns driving uncertainty include the issue of EU subjects residing in Britain and UK expats on the Continent. Disruptions expected on the trade front also have dampened markets.

In any case, Britain’s Brexit travail provides a cautionary tale for any state considering a supranational combine with other states, especially where affinities such as a common language, traditions, values, etc. are absent. It might be recalled too that the EU started as a simple “common market” trade agreement and grew into a leviathan that has greatly exceeded its original intent.


     About the Speaker

 

Efforts are underway to secure a speaker on this topic qualified by our standards. If such a person is not selected by the time of the eMinder, there still will be a meeting.

If there is no featured speaker, no dues will be collected.

Meanwhile, we commend to you Nigel Farage’s new YouTube program and many other videos devoted to the subject of Brexit. There also has been a boom in publication of books on the subject. Scroll down below to the email we received from the Brexit Party to easily access Nigel’s show.

Your humble Senior Facilitator, Mike Everling, as a United States citizen, can only be an interested observer of this process. While I am a supporter, in favor of a clean break Brexit, it is as a moral supporter only. I have not and will not contribute monetarily to the Brexit Party or to any other entity involved in a foreign political activity. However, the KHC is open to those with opposing views, even as invited speakers.