Brexit Weekly: 5 Things

No-one expects a Spanish intervention

Theresa May proclaimed this week that a Brexit deal is “within the UK’s grasp” with member states expected to sign off the deal on Sunday afternoon. But Spain has thrown a spanner in the works late in the day with PM Pedro Sanchez making plain his opposition to the deal. The Spanish government wants the wording of the deal and the accompanying 26 page political declaration changed to make clear that negotiations on the future relationship between Gibraltar and the EU will be conducted separately to those between the UK and the EU, and that they can only proceed with the Spanish government’s approval. Last month Spain’s foreign minister said that the Brexit agreement would be signed and Gibraltar wasn’t a problem. But the Spanish government claims it was not aware of Article 184 which says the EU will “negotiate expeditiously the agreements governing their future relationship”. According to the BBC, Spain’s government now wants the words “This does not apply to Gibraltar, which will be subject to bilateral talks between the UK and Spain” added to the 585-page withdrawal agreement document. It remains to be seen what other EU members will make of Madrid’s late intervention and threat to topple the deal.

Former Brexit Secretary says we’d be better off in the EU

Meanwhile Dominic Raab, who quit as Brexit secretary last week, suggested Mrs May’s Brexit plan was worse than EU membership. “I’m not going to advocate staying in the EU,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “But if you just presented me with terms, this deal or EU membership, because we would effectively be bound by the same rules without control or a voice over them, then yes this would be even worse than that.” Even if the EU member states sign off on the deal this weekend it’s hard to see how Mrs May can secure sufficient backing in Westminster. The government has only stayed in office and been able to drive legislation through because of the support of 10 DUP MPs who are now ready to vote against the PM’s deal. 88 Tory backbenchers (from as diverse positions as Boris Johnson to Anna Sourbry) have declared their intention to join with Labour and go against it too.

It’s May Way or the Highway

Mrs May has asserted that if the deal is indeed rejected by Westminster then there is no hope of renegotiating a better deal. During her media rounds this week, used to ‘sell’ her deal to the public, she suggested that it would create ‘more division and uncertainty’ if Parliament voted against the deal next month. But she declined to say whether the UK would be better off outside the EU, saying only it would be “different”.

What a load of old Cod-lers

The government has insisted its Brexit deal will protect the fishing industry, after being accused of selling-out Britain’s fishermen. The draft agreement outlines that both sides will “use their best endeavours” to conclude talks in time for the UK to leave, and adds that they should cooperate on access to water and quotas. Scottish politicians were quick to pour scorn on the wording, with Nicola Sturgeon labelling the document “another Tory sell out of Scottish fishermen.” The situation was made worse this week by the EU who, in a leaked statement, said that any negotiations over fishing rights would build on the current arrangements, much disliked by the British fishing industry. The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy is deeply unpopular in UK fishing communities, with many seeing the EU as a bureaucratic imposer of restrictive rules which favour European fishermen over the UK’s domestic fleet. Many fishing communities would like to see Britain negotiate fishing rights as an independent coastal state by the end of 2020. Clearly, pressure is mounting on the government from fishing communities, calling on ministers to be more salmon-like and swim against the European stream.

Mr Bobby provides zero insight on Brexit

Last week BBC reporter Chris Mason went viral for replying “you might as well ask Mr Blobby “ when asked to explain what would happen next on Brexit. This week Mr Blobby was asked what would happen next on an episode of Loose Women. He too failed to provide any clarity.