By Muhammad Mussa
Former senior bureaucrats and diplomats have warned that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal provides no clarity on the U.K.’s future relationship with the EU and will only ensure a "never-ending nightmare” for the country.
Speaking at a People’s Vote news conference on Friday, Lord Kerslake, former head of the Home Civil Service, and Lord Kerr, former head of the Diplomatic Service, have warned that the U.K. is heading for a ‘blindfold’ Brexit that will leave the economy weaker, less influential and prone to acts of crime and terror.
The news conference also saw the launch of a report by Lord Kerslake in which he calls for an extension of Article 50, which deals with withdrawal from the EU, and urges government ministers and MPs to be transparent and truthful to the public about the risks of leaving the EU.
“To leave on the basis of Mrs May’s deal would be a leap in the dark. No-one knows where we would end up,” said Lord Kerr.
“The next negotiation would take longer, and our hand would be weaker. The only certainty would be continuing uncertainty,” he added.
Lord Kerslake said that the hopes and dreams that proponents of Brexit promised were “wildly exaggerated” and that “it is now clear it will not be an awakening for our country. Instead, it threatens to turn into a never-ending nightmare with no clarity and no closure for a decade to come”.
The former head of the Civil Service warned that there are three “Brexit fallacies” being put out by the government; the first being that a no-deal Brexit is inevitable. Lord Kerslake argued that such a disaster can be easily prevented by the government as parliament and the EU have signalled they would support no such move.
The second “fallacy” is that the U.K. will be able to leave the EU on March 29. Lord Kerr argues that the delay in getting the deal agreed upon shows that the U.K. is not ready and does not have the time to approve such legislation before the exit date.
The third and final “fallacy” is that finalising a deal would unite the country around Brexit. In reality, however, this would open up more contentious negotiations on the future relationship between the U.K. and the EU and present a more wider issues.
“If the government aren’t willing to level with the British people on these issues, then others in authority must do so. There is precedent here. In these very dangerous times, it is not sufficient to just speak truth unto power. They also need to speak truth to the British people,” Lord Kerslake said.
The new report analyses nine aspects of the Political Declaration within the Withdrawal Agreement such as goods and services trade, security, foreign policy, immigration, citizens’ rights, global trade, fisheries and agriculture.
May is attempting to renegotiate her failed Brexit deal with the EU to ensure that it is approved by parliament. The EU, however, have stated that the deal is not up for renegotiation and will not revisit the backstop agreement.
May is to return to parliament later this month and make a statement to the House of Commons if she fails in formulating a new deal or renegotiating her failed one.
Through a series of votes earlier this month, MPs have signalled they are not in favour of a no-deal Brexit. Though, it is not clear what majority of Brexit, soft or hard, there is in parliament.
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