With Labour, the DUP and the ERG set to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement, it looks to be going down to another hefty defeat.


Last night the EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and our Prime Minister came to an agreement to add this legal instrument in to the Withdrawal Agreement mix in order to attempt to solve the Irish border backstop issue.

The Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC, was asked to give his verdict on it and duly did so, by saying that nothing had really changed, which put the cat amongst Theresa May's pigeons.

Right now the house is engaged in heavy debate over it with another substantial defeat for Mrs May looking to be on the cards, as both the DUP and the Tory Party European Research Group have said they will vote against it.

Tory Brexiteer MP and ERG member Bill Cash, who was one of the lawyers asked to look at the additional documents said:

"In the light of our own legal analysis and others we do not recommend accepting the Government's motion today."

Now, I'm in a council meeting tonight so I won't know the results until after I come out, but I expect to see May's deal crushed.

One other point to note here is that the Remainers did put down a pile of amendments to this motion calling for the extension and/or revocation of Article 50. But the Speaker John Bercow, did not select any of them for debate or voting on tonight.

However, the related documents that our MPs are debating on and will be voting either for or against tonight, have actually yet to be endorsed by the EU Council.

In a letter sent yesterday evening to Donald Tusk, the EU Council President, Juncker said:

"I recommend that the European Council endorses these documents at its meeting of 21-22 March, subject to a prior positive vote in the House of Commons on the Withdrawal Agreement."

This presumably means that those extra documents should be agreed by the EU27 member council, only if the UK government agrees to them first.

But, very importantly for our MPs voting in the next couple of days on no deals and extending Article 50 and the like, Juncker's final paragraph says:

"Finally, I would like to stress, that the United Kingdom's withdrawal should be complete before the European elections that will take place between 23-26 May this year. If the United Kingdom has not left the European Union by then, it will be legally required to hold these elections, in line with the rights and obligations of all Member States as set out in the Treaties."

This gives no leeway for special deals to keep the current MEPs in place, or legal loopholes to get round UK MEP elections – those votes would have to take place.

So that means it's an extension of 54 days or fewer, or a hefty extension or even revocation to make it viable for the EU to allow the UK to stay in for one or two years.

If they vote May's deal down, then finding a credible reason behind such a short extension becomes a problem.

And going for a long extension is a problem for the EU, given they've already put in train the reallocation of UK seats, as well as having what would be for them the horrific thought of hordes of UKIP MEPs descending on Brussels.

It would also be a problem for our parliament trying to justify such a move to a Brexit weary public.

And try convincing the UK public that a last minute full on revocation was not a real anti-democratic sting job!

So, our MPs have a lot of thinking – and sweating – to do over the next 48 hours or so.

Now – much has been made of a drop in sterling just as the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC, dropped his bombshell report that the Irish border backstop remained fundamentally unchanged by the efforts of Theresa May over the last few weeks to broker some changes to it.

But even after it had settled back down, the rate of 1.162 euros to the pound is still higher than it was a month ago and a year ago.

Now too GDP. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports today that UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by 0.2% in the three months to January 2019.

But in January itself growth was 0.5%, which offset the -0.4% seen in December 2018.

With the ONS saying:

"Monthly gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 0.5% in January 2019, as the economy rebounded from the negative growth seen in December 2018. Services, production, manufacturing and construction all experienced positive month-on-month growth in January 2019 after contracting in December 2018."

So, the UK hasn't disappeared in a puff of Brexit smoke yet then. So much for all those dire predictions?





Comment Here!