July has not been a good month for the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, who began the month with a meeting in Chequers with her top cabinet ministers to hash out a basic outline of the UK government’s position moving forward in the Brexit negotiations with Brussels. At the conclusion of the meeting on 6 July, a three-page statement was released detailing the position reached by the cabinet. May thought she finally had unified the Leave and Remain factions of her Conservative Party, yet, within 48 hours her government was on the brink of collapse, with Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, both Leavers, resigning from cabinet. The united front that May had erected was quickly proven to be nothing more than a dissolving façade.
Why? Because Brexit was no longer Brexit, and here’s why.
The Common Rulebook
According to the Chequers statement, the UK will be “making an upfront choice to commit by treaty to ongoing harmonisation with EU rules on goods”. In essence, the UK under this plan will not be regaining its sovereignty over business and trade regulations with the European Union (EU), which is one of the most important powers liberal Leavers wanted to regain from the heavy-handed regulators in Brussels.
To appease the Leave faction, the plan does state that Parliament “would have oversight of the incorporation of these rules into the UK’s legal order – with the ability to choose not to do so, recognising that this would have consequences.” Prominent Leavers such as Davis, the former Breixt Secretary, however, said in his resignation letter that such power was “illusory rather than real”.
The European Court of Justice
The Chequers statement also leaves the European Court of Justice, the high court with jurisdiction over most intra-EU squabbles, extremely influential over “independent” Britain. The UK government will allow “due regard paid to EU case law in areas where the UK continued to apply a common rulebook.” It only gets worse. According to section 6 of the European Withdrawal Act of 2018, “a court or tribunal may have regard to anything done on or after exit day by the European Court, another EU entity or the EU so far as it is relevant to any matter before the court or tribunal.”
So while the Chequers statement frames the narrative as the court only having limited influence over common rulebook trade policy, in practice British judges could use EU case law as justification for any of their rulings on any issue to come before their courts. So the UK, come March 2019, could still be indirectly subject to rulings of a foreign court on which they no longer have even marginal representation.
Well, so much for taking back sovereignty.
The Fix Is IN
With these developments, it is no wonder that hard-Brexit MPs have given up on Theresa May.
Hard-Brexiters have long been libeled and slandered as close-minded hermits. Yet, in reality many are anti-regulatory and free trade proponents who have championed the idea of post-Brexit Britain being a Singapore-on-Thames. Now Britain is heading down the path of Norway-model lite, which will leave Britain suffocating under EU regulatory power.
Brexit no longer means Brexit, with each passing day since the historic referendum of 23 June 2016 it increasingly amounts to nothing.
The British lion has become nothing more the Cowardly Lion trembling in fear of freedom.
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