By Campaign Agent George Royce
On Wednesday the Brexit deal was to be put forth to the cabinet. Leaks that were given to the Irish press had already shone a light on what the final legal wording would look like. For many in the Tory Party and DUP, their worst fears had been confirmed.
In the morning Prime Minister’s Questions saw many Tory MPs finally giving their real thoughts about the deal after much hush and speculation. One of them was Peter Bone, Tory MP, who stood up in front of the House of Commons, and said to the Prime Minister “You are not delivering the Brexit people voted for, and today lost the support of Conservative MPs and millions of voters around the country.” Standing opposite, Jeremy Corbyn proclaimed that her “botched deal” does not deliver on her own red lines.
A Cabinet meeting was held to finally agree on the full text of the deal. However, it went on for much longer than when it was said to conclude. At around 7:15 pm Theresa May came out of the Cabinet meeting and, standing in front of No.10, she declared that the majority of her Cabinet had agreed on her deal. The full text of the agreement amounting to 585 pages, was then released around 7:30pm.
The agreement’s most important parts were explored by lawyers, MPs, journalists and the common man and woman on social media. Northern Ireland is proposed to be kept within Customs Union full regulatory alignment with the Republic of Ireland. May has said this would only be temporary, yet in the detail it states both the UK and the EU have to agree in order to leave this arrangement in the future. It soon became apparent that this would mean the UK has no legal strength in any kind of future adjusting of the Customs Union which technically it would not be leaving.
One of the most damning parts of the deal was on page 148. A statement reads, “Judgments and orders of the ECJ handed down before the end of the transition period, as well as such judgments and orders handed down after the end of the transition period... shall have binding force in their entirety on and in the United Kingdom”. This would mean the UK is not supreme in making its own laws - or enforcing them, and instead still being overridden by the EU.
The ECJ is hooked to the Single Market, which means Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, may also in the future be subject to free movement. This also means that the UK would not be in full control of its own immigration policy either. Arlene Foster adamantly pushed back against the deal and said she could not support a deal that “casts Northern Ireland aside”.
On Thursday morning, the full realisation of what Theresa May had signed up to became palpable. After much rumour and discussion, those that disagree with the deal began to resign. At 7:37 in the morning, Northern Ireland Secretary Shailesh Vara resigned. Next and most shockingly Dominic Raab resigned as Brexit Secretary at 8:53. He revealed in a Sky News interview that he had been blindsided by the full text of the deal which showed the referendum result would not be honoured. Next At 9:58 Pensions Secretary Esther McVey resigned. Then at 10:18 Suella Braveman resigned as Brexit Minister. Following this at 10:22 Anne-Marie Trevelyan an aid to the Education Minister resigned. Lesser known MPs who held positions in the government also resigned, those being Ranil Jayawardena private secretary to the Minister of Justice at 12:34, and at 2:58pm in the form of Vice Chairman of the Conservatives, Rehman Chishti.
Theresa May informed the House of Commons later in the morning about the latest in the negotiations and put forth her deal. Many Tory MPs stood up and lambasted the Prime Minister’s performance and approach in the negotiations. Jacob Rees-Mogg stood up and openly asked Theresa May if he should put in his letter of no confidence.
At 12:45 ERG held a serious meeting and upon which Rees-Mogg sent in his letter of no confidence to Graham Brady. He commented “regrettably, the draft withdrawal agreement presented to Parliament has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the PM, either on her own account or on behalf of us all in the Tory manifesto.” This was the formal call to begin a leadership challenge. Rees-Mogg held a quick press conference in which he publicly declared that it was time for a new leader. When asked by journalists who should be the new leader, he said he was not vying for the job but that it should be a Brexiteer. He named Davis, Raab and McVey as possible candidates.
Currently, Tory MPs are putting in their letters of no confidence and others are seriously contemplating doing so too. As of yet the 48 number has not been reached but is apparently very close.
At 5:15pm Theresa May had a press conference in which she made a speech where she iterated she was still fully behind her deal and was not going to change it.
Sources and further reading
Tom Davidson, ‘Tory Peter Bone savages May's Brexit deal that will 'lose millions of votes’, The Mirror, ( 14 November 2018 )
Jason Farrell, ‘Brexit: What I've learned sifting through 585-page draft withdrawal agreement’, Sky News, ( 15 November 2018 )
Jim Brunsden and Alex Barker, ‘EU and UK to aim for post-Brexit ‘single customs territory’, Financial Times, ( 14 November 2018 )
BBC News Team, ‘Brexit: Will the UK leave the European Court's jurisdiction in 2019?’, BBC, ( 6 July 2018 )
Sky News, ‘Arlene Foster: We won't break up the union’, Sky News, ( 14 November 2018 )
Anna Mikhailova and Harry Yorke, ‘Resignation watch: Cabinet ministers who've resigned over the Brexit deal - and who could still go’, The Telegraph, ( 15 November 2018 )
Belfast Telegraph, ‘Jacob Rees-Mogg questions Theresa May's leadership in the Commons’, Belfast Telegraph, ( 15 November 2018 )
Telegraph Reporters, ‘Read Jacob Rees-Mogg's letter of no-confidence in Theresa May to the 1922 Committee - in full’, The Telegraph, ( 15 November 2018 )
Image: Number 10 @flickr