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Tuesday 8 January 2019

Yvette Cooper has tabled an amendment to the Finance Bill that would limit the Treasury’s powers to raise emergency taxes in the event of a No Deal unless that is if Parliament passes a motion in favour of No Deal.

Labour are backing the amendment (see below), and according to reports, the Tories aren’t too worried. Why should they be? It is the Remainers who are constantly moaning about the apocalyptic impact of leaving the EU without terms. George Osborne’s threat of an emergency budget in the event of a Leave vote never materialised, instead, the Bank of England dropped interest rates, which it didn’t need to anyway, the economy performed well. Cooper’s amendment is no different, pure bluster.

Note point B on extending Article 50. This threat has finally surfaced, not at the hands of toothless Labour, but our own treasonous government. The Telegraph quote three separate EU sources claiming British officials have been “putting out feelers” and “testing the waters” on a possible extension.

Whether it’s for a second referendum, a renegotiation of Theresa May’s failing deal or a bipartisan rehaul, an extension to our already severely prolonged withdrawal from the EU would be an outright betrayal of the popular will. It can only be arranged with the unanimous approval of the EU27 and will, therefore, come with huge concessions.

Nothing would give Brussels greater pleasure than to keep Britain in the European Union, the pathway to that end will be a second referendum. May’s dislike for such a dreadful option seems genuine, but we all know how badly she performs when she selects an objective – case in point, the ruinous “implementation period” – and then gives up anything and everything to reach it.

Aside from all the threats from Brussels waiting to pounce the moment the prime minister makes a formal entreaty towards more negotiating time, she will face problems at home too, the opposition will be strengthened at the expense of her own already debilitated Party, and for what?

Well, we know what of course, May’s deal is on the rocks. For evidence of that, look no further than Jacob Rees-Mogg’s eviscerating op-ed in today’s Telegraph:

“The problems with the Agreement have not changed one iota. The potentially endless Customs Union, the separation between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and the risk of paying £39 billion for nothing are all still there,” writes the legend.

As conveyed in yesterday’s Brexit Brunch, Rees-Mogg reminds Downing Street that, “under parliamentary procedure, the same question may not normally be put twice in a session,” thus invalidating, “the Government’s new, although hardly credible, strategy to make the House of Commons vote again and again until eventually it tires of the issue and passes the agreement.” Quite so.

However, the Times reports the PM has other plans in mind, and they go beyond begging for “assurances” from Brussels that the Irish backstop will not last forever, although only slightly. However, the proposals do not make for reassuring reading, principally because they’ve already been tried, and denied. The prime minister will apparently confront her EU counterparts, demanding those assurances and threatening to stick in unilateral conditions to the meaningful vote and presumably the EU Withdrawal Bill that would enable Parliament to trigger an exit treaty after 12 months in the very likely event it is thought the EU plans to keep Britain stuck in the backstop interminably, for this is why May’s deal is unacceptable to even the most moderate Brexiteer.

We’ve “been listening to concerns on the backstop and we’re keen to put in measures specific to Northern Ireland… but also to look at legal and political assurances that colleagues have been seeking,” Stephen Barclay told Radio 4 listeners this morning.

Of course, a time limit on the backstop without losing Northern Ireland has been tried before, last month in fact, when the EU rejected May’s proposal at the final EU Council summit of the year. She is now dressing up the same pitch under the auspices of the follow-up trade deal – Britain would break off from the transition period on its own terms by 2021 if progress is not being made on the Irish border.

A worthy stance by the poor standards of contemporary politics, but if we are to go through all this “disruption” disgracefully exaggerated by the media, why not get through it in 2019 and save ourselves £39bn?