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Tuesday, 11 December 2018

To Brexit or not to Brexit, that is the question

Yesterday, the European Court of Justice ruled that the "United Kingdom is free to revoke unilaterally the notification of its intention to withdraw from the EU". This creates a new scenario on top of Mrs May’s way - or the highway. That same day, Mrs May decided to postpone the Brexit vote in UK Parliament, which had long been scheduled for 11 December (eg, Politico).

One could argue that Mrs May’s negotiation result on Brexit is the cause for the delay. One could also argue that a parliamentary decision to leave or to stay presents a more clear choice than her negotiation result. Such a choice would also be preferential above a 2nd Brexit referendum. The outcome of any (further) referendum will always be contested by the other side.

In view of proper accountability and responsibility, Parliament (legislative body) should decide on Brexit. UK government (executive body) should implement such decision. UK courts (judicial body) should review whether decisions are in accordance with laws and regulations.

The new emerging situation results in a Shakespeare paraphrase: "to Brexit or not to Brexit, that is the question". Mrs May’s negotiation result is, however, a mix of both. Hence, a parliamentary majority appears to vote down her negotiation result.

One could argue that the (very) swift ECJ verdict could be seen as a last-minute effort to save the EU and/or the UK. One could also argue that its motto is: if you can't convince them, confuse them. It just depends on your mindset: positive versus negative.

The new scenario will force UK Labour making a choice rather than continue procrastinating and betting on new general elections. Mr Corbyn’s alleged pro-Russian views may hint at his support for Brexit. However, the Brexit debate has divided both main parties: Labour and Tories.

The question whether or not to Brexit is not a rational one as we would like to think in mainland Europe. It’s an emotional one and this mere observation makes its outcome (un)predictable. If rational arguments favour Remain than logic dictates that Brexit will succeed.

Whatever the Brexit outcome, any result is likely to be in the EU's long-term interest. Revoking the article 50 letter would show regret and remorse and would discourage future applicants. Pursuing leaving the EU would become a textbook case for decades to come.

I still expect that pursuing Brexit will ultimately tear the UK apart. The overall Brexit vote of 51.9% was (very) different per region: Scotland 38% and Northern Ireland 44.2% (BBC). Introducing emotional arguments in a complex debate is like opening Pandora’s Box.

Never Tear Us Apart (1988) by INXS


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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