Something a little bit different.

Generally I keep away from the great triple trip-ups on this blog: namely politics, religion and whether skinny jeans are fashion items or something to hold your varicose veins in place.

But one thing has been bugging me recently and I do want to get it off my (still somewhat lawyerly) chest. And yes it’s politics. And yes it’s Brexit.

See, there’s a lot of air, mostly hot, around British Politics at the present about the type of Brexit we should seek and whether and to what extent Parliament has a say in the terms on which we leave the EU. Parliament must have a say, runs the mantra.

There are 2 parts to this. Triggering the leave mechanism and the terms on which we leave. The mechanism is Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty

Ok, point 1. The referendum does not mean we have to trigger it or already have. It was ‘advisory’ only. So, yes, Parliament could decide if we are to trigger it. That point is in front of the Courts right now. If the Courts say it doesn’t need Parliament (the Government say they already have the power) then the PM can do it when she wants by a letter and no one can stop her. If the Court holds a Parliament vote is needed, it would be ‘interesting’ to say the least if they failed to give the government authority. There would be an election for sure and the biggest constitutional crisis in decades if Parliament blocked the decision. And the pound would tank further than it has in decades as would the economy. So, no I don’t think Parliament will stop the trigger.

But where it gets interesting is around the terms of our departure. MPs, commentators, all sorts want a say on the terms. They want to know the Government’s ‘broad strategy’. Which the Government doesn’t want to say as it might compromise its negotiating position.

But you know what, none of this matters. Really, because it’s pretty meaningless.

Have you read Article 50? It isn’t difficult. This is what the first three sections of Article 50 says:

Article 50

1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

I’ve highlighted 3 parts.

First as I said the PM gives notice. Second the State and the EU negotiate an agreement for the withdrawal. But three, and here’s the thing, even if we fail to negotiate an agreement the treaties that bind us to the EU cease to apply to us after two years unless everyone wants to drag it out and agree to an extension.

What this means is the EU get to say the terms they are happy with. If we don’t like it then Parliament, MPs, the SNP, uncle Tom Cobbly and all can say it’s not fair but either we take whatever it is or we go with no on-going relationship. And yep, the turmoil that follows uncertainty will be damaging all round.

And this weekend we’ve seen the future. A trade deal with Canada that’s been in negotiation for 8 years may well crater because it requires ratification by some small local Belgium parliament. 8 years. Imagine the parties agreeing to an extension? It would make the delays to decide on a second runway or to work out if Tony Blair was a war criminal simple. Frankly it’ll take all of that to unpick and restitch our relationship with  the EU which is well beyond the 2  year window.

What we can’t do is change our mind and say, erm, maybe we won’t go after all. Nope, we have to rejoin. And if we did that (assuming they’d have us) it would mean we’d join the Euro, we’d join Schengen (no border controls at all). A damn sight worse than now, anyway.

That is why the EU refuse to negotiate before we trigger. Why would they give away their control? Once we trigger we get their deal. Oh sure, they don’t want us to leave with no deal at all. There are things we have to offer. It would hurt them. The point is we have a lot more at risk than they do.

I fear I’ve gone on long enough and will resist the urge to try and explain the alternative which is to rejoin the the World Trade Organisation (this is critical – it’s the basis on which Canada trades right now and isn’t as favourable but is something).

So the current debate – that the Government must say how it will negotiate – misses the point. Let’s say the Government says ‘we will ensure our fish stocks are protected’. If the EU says, ‘we will give you this’ then we don’t have a choice but accept or we will have nothing beyond our 12 mile limits and a fight with the fishing fleets of all the EU nations plus the Russians.

After we have triggered, there can be no meaningful Parliamentary scrutiny of the terms of the exit agreement. It will be what it will be.

Will it be a hard Brexit, a clean break with little of the access we get now? My guess is yes.

Still it could be worse. At least we haven’t got Trump as President.

Ok that’s it. Back to flippancy.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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56 Responses to Something a little bit different.

  1. Ritu says:

    It’s way too confusing for me… even with your lovely colourful breakdown!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Al Lane says:

    I have to hide behind flippancy to avoid blowing my top even now at those who voted for this shitstorm… and years of it to come. Strange weather, what?

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Helen Jones says:

    Well, I would like to reply but I think my language might be a bit salty for the comments! Like Al says, I need to retreat behind humour to avoid screaming about all this. And all the empty promises made by the Leave campaign, none of which are going to be honoured. Hope everyone’s happy.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. BeckyB says:

    I think what is incredibly irritating is so many of those who voted leave were a) voting to send a message and didn’t believe the ‘leave campaign’ would actually win or b) were voting because they don’t like one aspect of the EU or worse c) believed the ‘leave campaign’ promises.

    Now we are in a right mess with no idea of the future . . . . . . .not exactly fair on the 48% who voted remain

    So so essential Parliament do get to debate and most importantly vote on whether to take not of the ‘advisory’ referendum especially given Parliament said itself a few years ago that ‘referendums’ were not binding. Grrr!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Autism Mom says:

    Very interesting, thank you for sharing this. It really does appear to be a kind of lose-lose scenario and not in Britain’s best interests. But laws and treaties can be changed – fingers crossed that a better solution becomes available.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Ah yes we all know that it’s not over until the tax return is due but it does seem difficult to see how we get out of this in a better position. Uncertainty has always been the killer.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. trifflepudling says:

    I’m still confused but even though I voted remain, I just wish they’d get it over with and out. It’s getting unbearable and I feel powerless.

    Blooming Walloons – I remember them and the Flemish from history of 19th century classes!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Allie P. says:

    I’ve been watching this developing closely as well. Although if the pound does continue to tank maybe then I might actually be able to afford to come over for a visit during the Bloggers Bash. Of course as much as I would love to make this all about me, I understand that my attendance at one single party might not be worth the cost to all those millions of people affected. Or would it… exactly how much fun was the Bloggers Bash last year anyway?

    Liked by 3 people

    • TanGental says:

      I’d say Brexit was nothing like as much fun. And we’d love you to make it. I managed to put up five people at my place for last years so I’m sure we can squeeze you in next time, just to save you some dosh. Mind you that will mean extra time with Sacha….

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I never knew you were an Online Bartender. I do stay away from politics, religion…and, now, skinny jeans. Nice add-on. Your last line is brutal. It could be worse. O_o

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a bloody mess. I would like to emigrate but who will have me? Perhaps my birth nation Singapore might, but its two hot and sweaty there for my hubby so we’re stuck with this shambles. Sigh. 😦


  10. jan says:

    Yes, all it takes is someone with an agenda and a bullhorn to really rile people into acting against their own best interests.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mary Smith says:

    This is why I can’t bear to hear Teresa May banging on about getting the best deal for Britain when she must know full well she can’t get what she wants. We’re stuffed.
    As for Trump becoming President – doesn’t bear thinking about. It’s not so long ago that we didn’t think he’d even become the Presidential cadidate.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rachel M says:

    I think Theresa May is making it worse by dragging it out and being so secretive. I like efficiency and transparency but all we’ve got is twiddling of thumbs and secrecy.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m terrible at these sorts of thing but I do believe it’s a sticky wicket. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Geoff Le Pard with the low down on Brexit…I have a foot in both camps.. Ireland which is EU and UK which won’t be.. it will be interesting to see a couple of years down the line….thanks Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Well done. Thanks for clarifying.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. dgkaye says:

    Such a brutal predicament Geoff. There’s an old saying, ‘be careful what you wish for;, it seems those who were in favour of breaking free are all rethinking their actions. It’s a mess alright. You guys with Brexit, the U.S. with Trumpeteers holding the power of the world, and believe me, it aint pretty here in Canada! Our dollar is a piece of shit because our government isn’t any better than anyone else’s it seems. Here the greed monster has taken over. The middle class has been wiped out practically, the government thinking they’ll lure American business here with our tempting toilet paper dollar, and the smart ones figured out that even with a tantalizing currency exchange, our cost of living and taxes on taxes are so high that it’s not even worth their while to keep investing here. It seems as though the world has gone mad and there’s no safe haven anywhere anymore. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  17. floridaborne says:

    Wasn’t Britain doing well for a very long time independent of the EU?

    Don’t you have lots of farmland so you won’t starve even if you can’t eat fish? 🙂

    All the points you make are educational. Many of us in the US do not want globalism because when you allow globalism to take over, you no longer have control over your own country. That’s the fastest way I know of to lose your culture.

    It seemed to me that it comes down to this worldwide: Which do you trust more; individuals with a stake in their community or a global government with all the power and none of the responsibility?


    • TanGental says:

      Yes you’re right about the food! And we won’t suddenly disappear for sure. If I’m honest the sorts of democracy we have is so far from making me feel my vote counts that I’m not sure I buy the fiction that we get a better deal when we have a say than not. In truth it worked better the EU when it was smaller but I don’t think any nation can ignore the rest of the world these days. Ah me. Soooo complex. Oh and just before we joined the EU in 1972 we were described as the sick man of Europe by the IMF and they weren’t far wrong


      • Geoff, didn’t we join in 73, (with Wilson’s remain/leave referendum two years later)?

        Smaller would have been better. It was all the rich countries banding together …

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        72. And yes Wilsons ref was 75. And indeed it did work better in many ways when smaller.


      • No Geoff. 1 Jan 73. We aren’t talking about the Treaty of Accession, or if you are you should make it clear. Join date was 1973.


      • TanGental says:

        mea culpa, one day out. How could I!


      • And I thought lawyers had attention to detail ? Trust a nitpicking journalist/historian/childofthetime 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Ha, that’s why I retired from it. Couldn’t stand the accuracy..


      • floridaborne says:

        Ignoring other nations is one thing. Ignoring the effect that no borders and unprecedented levels of immigration will do to your country is another.

        In 1972, the US was also in a recession. Economic feast and famine happens to countries in cycles.

        Like you, I can see there’s a problem but don’t have answers.

        Thanks for an insightful post.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Ah but here’s the thing. There are still borders. We aren’t part of the Schengen area. Also that immigration we have had so far has been vastly positive. And we can ill afford to turn off that tap, in my view. We also have a great advantage as an island so if we did want to put on a block it is easier.
        Also I would really suggest the US expereince since WW2 and the British ione was vastly different. Economically we had been overtaken by several countries whereas the US powered ahead. We were in a long term decline not just the boom and bust of normal recessions.
        By nature I’m optimistic so I’m prety sure we will be ok over the medium term but it will be painful before then. And we really wont have much of a say in what our departure form the EU looks like, which was my main point.
        Thanks for reading and commenting.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Ali Isaac says:

    A gloomy picture, whichever way we look at it then? And pardon me for my ignorance, I’m not very politically minded, but that suggests to me that UK was better off in. At least they were ‘in’ on more of their own terms

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I suppose the neutral point I’d make is that the uncertainty of the leaving process means we at least knew the devil we were living with whereas we are the test case for article 50 and there doesn’t appear to be any first mover advantage here. Maybe in 5 years we look back and say yes on balance it worked but right now no one knows.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ali Isaac says:

        Hmmm… certainly not a great place to be right now. But one way or another, it will work out. 😁 British leading the way! Well, sort of…

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Good post (although I wish I didn’t agree with you). I’ve been dipping in & out of your blog for a while now, having found it via Helen’s (Journey to Ambeth). There’s always something new and enjoyable to read – and look at. I’ve particularly enjoyed your family history pieces, and am doing something similar myself. Oh, and I used to work at your old firm, albeit in a different department and a much lowlier position. Happy memories!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Louise. Hope you enjoy it here and thank you for commenting. You must let Helen persuade you to come to our bloggers bash next summer in London. She’s a stalwart member


  20. Thanks very much more this good sense, Geoff

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I’ve heard a lot of reasons from people who said they voted out but I’ve not heard the remain voters saying why that was a better option. But I’ll give it a go. Why did you vote remain Geoff?

    And the appalling degree of condescension that comes across from remain voters is disgusting. A schoolfriend (well, someone I knew at school) emailed me to say out voters should all be hung from lamp posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Neither side, at the extremes comes out of it well but isn’t that always the case with controversial decisions?
      Why remain? Well many reasons really. I prefer the devil I know. I live in London which has had the greatest influx of migrants of the whole of the UK and we are a better city for it. We have an aging population too and need help with it. I see no evidence, from my experiences that the fears of a flood being well founded. We rely on the financial sectors access to Europe and whatever one may think of the wider financial service sector we would be foolish to put it at risk. We have undoubtedly benefited from some of the euro legislation on health and safety, the environment that I doubt we would have introduced on our own. There are many more. I fully accept the EU is far from perfect but British democracy that allows a majority government on less than 40% of the popular vote is hardly a paragon of fairness and the idea we are really taking back control is illusory frankly. I believe Europe has been peaceful and largely safe and sound because of the closeness of governments talking to each other over the last 60 years and I am old enough to recall who effing awful it was in the late 60s and 70s – the sick man of Europe often in hock to many an unelected elite in the guise of the unions – which changed during our membership. I know it was solely because of that but it played its part. And what are we leaving for? Apart from Greenland no one has left so who knows which circles back to why I preferred remain – I abhor the uncertainty. We are a resilient wealthy country. We will be fine in the long term I expect but why take the chance?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Flipping wp ate my comment. Not doing that again tonight. Hey ho. But thanks for your response. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow. Maybe.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Here you go …

        So, second try, and with hindsight drafted elsewhere.

        Sometimes extremists have a point and achieve change that otherwise wouldn’t happen. Suffragettes? Black rights in South Africa and America?

        Admittedly this isn’t a single cause but one look at the voting pattern identifies the issues.

        Other towns (not necessarily cities) are not the better for it at all. Depressed wages is a good thing? Maybe for employers but not for people who see migrants cutting wages by more than half.

        London was a big yes vote. Might as well be Scotland or NI. The rest of the country was different.

        How do immigrants help with an ageing population? Cheap (black, cash) labour for carers that the state won’t pay for?

        A flood? Of immigrants. How about a population of 53 mill when I was a kid and now it’s 65 mill. An approx 20 per cent increase.

        Of these 65 mill, some 13 mill (coincidentally also 20 per cent) are living below the poverty line. How many food banks in your neighbourhood?

        Do you really know how much the immigration rate has pushed down the going wage for the average worker in the street? Agriculture, construction. Why do you think Boston (Lincs) had the highest out vote? These people don’t have holiday homes in Europe, pensions, or little jaunts across the Channel. They are struggling to live.

        The financial services sector needs the proverbial boot.

        Health and Safety? You have read HSW Act (1974)? The mainstay of which is that everything should be reasonably practicable. Which translates to: doesn’t cost the employer too much money. I had the privilege of working on the Euro Noise Regs. Which also ended up as doesn’t cost the employer too much money. What about the EU Working Hours Directive? There’s a voluntary opt-out for employees who want to work over the hours. Do you know what that translates to? Work compulsory overtime, ten or twelve hour shifts or you are sacked.

        Many years ago, local councils were merged into large ones. Did it bring benefits? No. Not for anyone. Democracy? More power? No. We live in kakistocracies.

        You must remember butter mountains and milk lakes. Added value of that? People have elephant memories.

        What was awful about the 60s and 70s? Seriously. What. Was. Awful?

        I didn’t see anything awful until Thatcher destroyed the unions. Not the EU. Thatcher. When I came back from Australia in the mid 80s the local butchers’ shops had nothing n the window. I lived in a mining area and there was no money left.

        Why take the chance? I am guessing that the poorer people, on the dole, using food banks, think life can’t get any worse. Nothing to lose.

        FWIW, Brexit will cost us.

        Oh, and I read the other day, the UK standard of living will be hit. My heart bleeds about that. The UK is turning into America wanting everything for cheap cheap cheap. Despicable.


      • TanGental says:

        You make lots of interesting points Kate. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Preaching to the converted here, Geoff. Unfortunately, I can’t see that we have any alternative now other than to get on with it. The sad thing is that the people most likely to be the worst affected are probably a high proportion of those who voted for it, while the individuals who sold them all the lies are undoubtedly well enough off themselves that they can weather the storms to come.
    Ultimately, things will work out all right for the UK, but it’s going to take a while. In the mean time, our leaving has the potential to cause even greater damage to the EU itself, because it’ll add to the unrest there – and we really could do without an even more divided Europe right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Reblogged this on LibDem Fischer and commented:
    Wise words from my friend Geoff LePad

    Liked by 1 person

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