Brexiteers are hoping that the New Year will bring the end to Brexit chaos, as Boris Johnson secured an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons in December, meaning he will have much greater support in Parliament. He is gearing up to resume trade negotiations with the EU later this month – especially as the latest Brexit deadline is January 31. The Prime Minister aims to take the UK out of the transition period by 2021 too, so that the Brexit process is officially complete. The Brexit debate has raged on since the referendum of June 2016. While a majority voted to leave, resistance from Remainers in Parliament means the deadline has been pushed back three times already.
Although Mr Johnson now appears to have secured a definite withdrawal agreement, the negotiation of the UK’s future with the EU still remains.
In BBC Radio 4 podcast, ‘Brexit: The Leavocrats’, from August 2016, Gus O’Donnell interviewed Mr Redwood, Conservative MP for Wokingham, and picked his brains over how the UK can finally leave the EU.
Mr O’Donnell said that, like most hard Brexiteers, the exit process appeared to be “pretty straightforward” to Mr Redwood.
He summarised the Conservative’s belief: “[We] repeal the 1972 European Communities Act, which is the statutory basis for our relationship with Europe, activate article 50 and get on with the trade negotiations.”
The 1972 European Communities act integrate the UK into the EU, and gave EU law supremacy over UK national law. This will be repealed when the UK withdraws from the bloc.
Mr Redwood explained: “We will say, I hope, that we don’t want to change anything so there’s very little to talk about, but we are obviously willing to talk about it if you want to change something.
“They, the other 27, will have to go away having received that letter, and say well, this is a vey generous offer, that sounds fine to us.
“Or they will have to say, oh they’re not going to do that, we wish to actually impose barriers on trade.
“And at that point, if they’ve come up with an unhelpful list, presumably we will come up with an unhelpful list the other way. Then you have to sit down and discuss that, but I don’t think it’s worth spending two years on that.”
He concluded that a “short series” of meetings would decide how the two nations could move forward.
Mr O’Donnell pointed out that there were several issues that could take a while to sort, such as Spain’s problems with Gibraltar, Poland’s with access to free movement to Labour, which could make negotiations “quite lengthy”.
However, Mr Redwood shut him down: “Why would we want to talk about that?”
He added: “What is the point of negotiating about our borders? We don’t want to negotiate that. That is something we are going to do.”
“It’s called democracy.”
Mr O’Donnell said: “[So] in a sense, there will be nothing for us to talk about, and they would say, right in return, we will take a hardline with you as well.”
But Mr Redwood pointed out: “What is a hardline? You see, the only hardline I’ve heard about is withdrawing the passports that some of the companies use from London.”
He argued that this would not benefit the continent to take away such travel opportunities into the UK, and that new European Union legislation (called Mifid II) means any country that has equivalent levels of regulation qualifies for passports – and that includes Britain.
The Conservative is aiming to have no freedom of movement, but thinks the UK can obtain access to markets – not full access – but he said “sector by sector” deals can be negotiated.
Yet, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has expressed “serious concerns” over Mr Johnson’s timetable. She warned that he should reconsider his strict timeframe for completing the transition by period by 2021.
She said: “It’s not only about negotiating a free trade deal but many other subjects.
“It seems to me that on both sides we must ask ourselves seriously if all these negotiations are feasible in such a short time.
“I believe that it would be reasonable to review things in the middle of the year, if necessary to see if an extension is needed.”
Brexiteers are hoping that the New Year will bring the end to Brexit chaos, as Boris Johnson secured an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons in December, meaning he will have much greater support in Parliament. He is gearing up to resume trade negotiations with the EU later this month - especially as the latest Brexit deadline is January 31.