Brexit: Half-baked potato
The humble jacket potato is the ultimate food that every Englishman is in love with. It’s a lunchtime dish and a suppertime side with its substantial and versatile character. The recipe is simple, put the potatoes in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for an hour. Also, don’t forget to pitchfork the spuds before cooking. That’s a simple recipe that I experienced through the years. Like the recipe, the analogy to the Brexit also straightforward.
The UK government negotiated with the EU for more than two years to outline a 550-page deal regarding Brexit in upcoming March. But the half-baked agreement has left the government and the British public in limbo regarding the issues over Northern Ireland and the Customs Union. A political declaration, the government acknowledged the end of free movement in the UK alongside consideration of technology to ensure frictionless borders in place of the current Northern Ireland backstop, it also cited a continuing role for the ECJ and a commitment to respect the indivisibility of the EU’s fundamental freedoms. A weeklong charm offensive by British PM Theresa May both in Brussels and London to sell the deal resulted in a bit of support on both sides.
As I was writing this column, news channels flashed that the withdrawal agreement was approved by the leaders of the EU in Brussels. Along with the withdrawal agreement, which is legally binding, the leaders ratified a statement setting out the parameters of future trading, economic and security relations between the EU and the UK.
With the agreement, Britain has agreed to pay around $50 billion to the EU, mainly to cover commitments it had made to the bloc’s budget. Also, the government will guarantee a broad swath of legal rights to the roughly three million EU citizens living in the UK and the EU will reciprocate concerning an estimated 1.3 million British citizens in its member states. The agreement also seeks to ensure that no physical border will reemerge between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member.
So, what to expect now? The real battle for Theresa May will be putting the deal to a Parliamentary vote. Getting a deal through the House of Commons would involve some serious political acrobatics, and political observers remain pessimistic that the current agreement can pass a Parliamentary vote. Even if the Brexit deal wins parliamentary approval, the UK will kick off negotiations next spring to hash out comprehensive new trade and security relations with the EU. That’s because when Britain voted to leave the EU, it effectively decided to unravel four decades of common decision making - on laws on regulations covering everything from sharing information on terrorists to food regulations to value-added taxes - that govern the UK’s relationship with its biggest trading partner.