In a speech to the House of Commons this afternoon. the UK Prime Minister said that the Brexit negotiations were 95% complete.
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So, the UK Prime Minister, Theresa may, thinks that the Brexit negotiations are now 95% done and said in her statement to the House of Commons:
"the shape of the deal across the vast majority of the withdrawal agreement is now clear"
So why on earth did the EU rule last week that 'not enough progress' had been made and therefore cancelled the November EU summit on the issue?
Anyway, the PM went on to say that the real sticking point is the border in Ireland and said she had a four step plan to address it – don't you just love politicians' four step plans!
The first step is to commit to a temporary but legally binding UK-EU joint customs area. This will prevent Northern Ireland being separated from the UK.
The second step she said, was to "create an option to extend the Implementation Period as an alternative to the backstop". And she stressed that she had not made any commitment to this and does not want to do it, nor does she believe in it.
In the event of not reaching a solution by the end of the current implementation or transition period, the aim would be to give the UK the 'sovereign choice' between a short extension of the implementation period to sort things out or opting for a UK wide customs backstop.
The third step would then be to ensure that the UK was not trapped in either of these two indefinitely.
"We would not accept a position in which the UK, having negotiated in good faith an agreement which prevents a hard border in Northern Ireland, nonetheless finds itself locked into an alternative, inferior arrangement against our will." She said.
And the fourth step would be to guarantee continued access to the full UK market for all of the businesses in Northern Ireland.
However, these assurances may not be enough for the Tory Brexiteers who believe that the Chequers plan is just a form of Remain anyway.
As an example, in raising an urgent question of the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, earlier in proceedings today, John Redwood asked in a rather forceful way:
"When will this Government stand up to the EU? When will it say that it wants a free trade agreement and it doesn't see the need to pay for it? And when will it rule out signing a Withdrawal Agreement, which is a surrender document, which we cannot afford."
But the Remainers across the house are also getting very tetchy too.
All their questions to both the Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, and the Prime Minsister about listening to the voices of the supposedly 700,000 attendees at the weekend loser's rally fell on stony ground – with the answer that 17.4 million votes trumps them all.
But there was a also a lengthy debate during the period Dominic Raab was at the dispatch box about the 'meaningful vote', that parliament is going to be given on the deal if the PM is able to negotiate one.
The Remainers are desperate for that meaningful vote to include some means of forcing another referendum or even to keep the UK in the EU. And I've got to say that you can detect the Remainer desperation screech levels increasing their deciBel level by the day, can't you.
But Raab's answers were that, based on section 13 of the Withdrawal Act, they would be given a substantive vote of 'yes or no' on a clean motion, on that final deal with a 'no' vote leading to exiting the EU without a deal.
The basis of this he said, was that a no vote would not leave enough time for the UK to go back to the negotiating table with the EU.
Despite Remainer haranguing throughout, he put the case quite clearly near the end when he said in answer to one question:
"…there's nothing tokenistic about the meaningful vote set out under section 13, which will be on the deal that we do with the European Union, good for the UK – good for the EU and the alternative which is to leave the EU without that deal …."
So, the government is setting the skittles up to give Theresa May's Chequers based 'Brexit in name only' deal the best chance it can.
Between this and No deal, true Brexiteers will always opt for a no deal WTO exit. So I'm hoping the house end up voting the deal down whatever the threats and fear-mongering they are subjected to.
There is only one upside to this and that is at least the options of extending Article 50 or having a second referendum seem to be off the table – for now.
Finally, the boss of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, seems to have tempered his claims of planes being grounded post-Brexit by saying such a scenario was unlikely.
Last month, says the Express Mr O'Leary was saying that aircraft would have to be cancelled a month prior to Brexit Day.
Now he seems to be saying that even in the case of no deal disruption would be short and measured in days or weeks, if at all.
When will this Government stand up to the EU? When will it say that it wants a free trade agreement and it doesn't see the need to pay for it? And when will it rule out signing a Withdrawal Agreement, which is a surrender document, which we cannot afford. pic.twitter.com/pBljoNC8rp
— John Redwood (@johnredwood) October 22, 2018