‘Let’s get Brexit done’ is being said everywhere, and the government is loudly proclaiming that the UK will leave the European Union on the 31st October with or without a deal. But there is a small problem, if not to say large, which seems to be coming to light. On one hand Boris Johnson has a legal mandate to request an extension from the European Union if an agreement hasn’t been reached by the 19th October. On the other hand, Parliament approved a law which prohibits the UK from leaving the Union without a deal.
The next few weeks leading up to the 31st October are certainly going to be full of surprises and discoveries if Boris Johnson is bluffing, or as they kindly say in French, ‘tu bluffes Martoni, il bluffe’.
There is no doubt that we are swimming in treacherous waters with a high degree of uncertainty; as there is no precedent for this situation in British history. In any case, and to shock many, the Prime Minister has already presented an agreement to the European Union. But that which should have disentangled the situation has only made it more complicated for many.
The agreement that the Prime Minister has offered the EU has some ‘ambiguities’, mainly those surrounding the theoretical and not physical border with the Republic of Ireland. For the Union it may not be enough of a border but for the Irish isles it goes against the 1998 Good Friday agreement. According to this agreement the parties involved committed to avoid a border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to end the hostilities from the Irish conflicts.
Therefore, the agreement proposed by the PM doesn’t clarify the Northern Irish situation with regards to the EU because it leaves it down to Northern Ireland to adhere to certain EU requirements with regards to the free market. This is not viewed in a good light by the Union because the situation allows Northern Ireland to ‘pick and choose’ which laws to adhere to. Also, ultimately, the UK must decide whether to agree or not once the EU has voiced its opinion.
Many in the UK are tired of so much confusion and meandering with regards to Brexit, and they want to see it finished. Others are still on guard because if the agreement isn’t sufficiently beneficial for the UK and it isn’t accepted then time will fly, attention will turn to other matters and on the 31st October the UK may find itself out of the European Union by default.
The Prime Minister has clearly and strongly expressed his wish to not ask for an extension. But without a deal what consequences will there be for him personally by not complying with the law? Will he dare to commit an offence and potentially be arrested? Will he step down as PM so as not to ask for an extension? There is now no time for a general election so the only alternative would be for him to resign, but what if he does so without allowing for time to build up a new government? The clock is ticking…