Should Theresa May try to renegotiate her Brexit deal at the EU Summit this weekend?
Ruth Lea, economic adviser to the Arbuthnot Banking Group, says YES.
There is little doubt that the withdrawal agreement, including the egregious backstop and the backstop-based draft future relationship, would leave this country in the worst of all possible worlds if the Prime Minister proceeds. Britain would be subject to the EU’s customs rules and a wide range of “level playing field” regulations, but without any ability to influence them.
The potential “dividends” of a clean Brexit – out of the customs union and the Single Market – are clear. They include, above all, trade deals with fast-growing countries such as India and China, and the freedom to pursue business-friendly regulatory reform.
But the deal as it stands would severely curtail, if not extinguish, both these potential developments.
Putting aside sovereignty arguments, the deal simply fails to address the need for economic flexibility, domestically or externally, which is so essential to our future prosperity. For the sake of the country, of course the Prime Minister should seek to renegotiate the “deal”. However, I am not holding my breath.
David Waywell, author and political commentator, says NO.
Pragmatic Leavers already accept that Brexit was always going to be a negotiation full of compromises, but they should also see how politically astute it is to accept the current deal.
The Prime Minister has just ridden out a rebellion by the European Research Group of Conservative MPs, and to reopen discussions now would hand the impetus back to the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, who would see it as a sign that the battle for a harder Brexit is not yet over.
The deal as it stands is gaining support from moderates in the parliamentary party, as well as in that section of the electorate amenable to compromise. It also presents a notional stability at a time when business needs to see orderly progress. And it might just get through parliament.
Simply put: this is the best chance that Leavers have for any kind of Brexit. Remainers, on the other hand, are sensible to keep watching. If the current compromise fails, the balance tips decidedly in favour of another referendum.