20 Mar 2017

Weekly Brexit Miscellanea

Brexit is looking more and more like an iceberg whose real size and consequences are yet to be revealed.

The Legislation Obstacle

This morning the UK met the dawn with the news that the Parliament’s legislating machine will be slowed down with the resuming of 15 bills.

The bills currently apply to the country as an EU member but will be ineffective after Brexit. Those bills relate to important fields like customs, border control, trade, agriculture and immigration. According to the Institute for Government (IFG), they need to be passed before the UK leaves Europe and that will be a “huge burden” for the Parliament and “will leave very little space for non-Brexit related legislation”.  To illustrate the difficulties of the task IFG points out that usually during the Queen’s Speech only about 20 news pieces are listed for legislation for the new Parliament session. The new essential Brexit bills will have to go through all the documents signed in the 1972 European Communities Act, change them completely and add them to the Great Repeal Bill, which will define the UK legislation post-Brexit. “Making a success of it will require a large volume of bills and secondary legislation to be passed by Parliament against a hard deadline,” Hannah White, IFG’s director of research, said. Additionally, the authors of the report are warning for another possible difficulty – “the lack of clarity” about the role of delegated legislatures in the process. All the departments in the Parliament need “ruthlessly to prioritise” other legislation and the whole year “will be a challenge for both the government and Parliament to do all this while still ensuring full scrutiny and leaving room for the government’s domestic policy agenda,” IFG concluded.

Bitter Sweet Symphony

After the skirmish with Scotland’s First minister last week, over the announced intention of Nicola Sturgeon to call for a second referendum for independence, now Theresa May is trying to smooth the bitter pill of Brexit. Early this morning, she said she will sign off the Swansea Bay City Region deal which is expected to create more than 10,000 new jobs and attract almost £ 1.3 billion investments. According to Theresa May, that will “benefit the whole of Wales”. The deal was announced earlier this month and will involve ten councils from the Welsh capital of Cardiff and four from Swansea bay. The main focus will be transportation as Cardiff is set to be one of the UK’s fastest growing cities and modernising the road infrastructure is essential for future development. As for Swansea – the key point in the programme will be to focus on supporting the “next generation industries”. Putting a transatlantic fibre optic cable into Oxwich Bay is the first crucial step into this.

The visit in Wales is the beginning of Theresa May’s tour around the four nations in an attempt to calm the spirits and ensure that the government is “engaging and listening to people from right across the nation”. Still she will need more than words to guarantee the First Ministers of the three other nations in the UK that their word will be heard. Prior to the visit today, the Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said in an interview that Mrs May had a “tin ear” on issues of delegation and that the government need to stop managing voters’ affairs from afar and “giving the impression sometimes that they do not listen”

EU Citizenship by Request?

“Associate citizenship” is a term that first came up in November last year in a speech of by Charles Goerens, a liberal MEP from Luxembourg. He then introduced the idea that will allow Brits to remain EU citizens with guaranteed rights, such as residency, but with a small twist – to pay for it. A few months ago, that seemed quite vague and an unorthodox idea, but today in the light of many complications about the post-Brexit future of millions of people, is gaining popularity. Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian Politian who will represent the European Parliament in the Brexit talks, has already indicated his support. In the UK, the idea is supported by members of The Liberal Democrats. During their Spring conference, earlier on, Tom Brake, MP and Foreign affairs spokesman, said: “Associate citizenship could provide the hundreds of thousands of young people who voted to stay in the EU the opportunities they are going to be deprived of otherwise” and “offer as many of the benefits of EU citizenship to UK citizens as possible.”

However, the idea has its opponents, particularly in the face of the Conservatives. The Tory MP Andrew Bridgen stamped the plan as “an attempt to divide British people into two classes”. Still according to “voux populi” it is something to be considered. In a poll done by METRO 68% of 2000 participants said they would pay for having EU citizenship.

So, 9 months after the referendum, Brexit is officially about to take it’s “first breath” (the date of triggering Article 50 is set for 29th March). But it seems like the parents of that child still have no idea of what to do with it.