The Draft Brexit Deal: Why were we expecting anything different?

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After spending the best part of 2 years negotiating Brexit, scores of UK Cabinet members have resigned – over the last year, but more dramatically within the last few hours – in protest at what they negotiated.

There’s little point going through the detail of what the draft Brexit deal contains because as it stands there’s no way Theresa May can get it through the UK Parliament; Brexiteer Tory MPs will vote against it, many Labour MPs will probably vote against it as well to try and force an election (though that could mean Labour taking ownership of the likely “No Deal Brexit” that will result).

There’s little chance of a second referendum because of the time it would take to get the required laws through the UK Parliament; it would probably require an emergency law and, again, it’ll be difficult to pass.

From what’s been revealed of the draft agreement’s content so far, it sounds about as good as it gets, but it seems there’s a fundamental misunderstanding amongst MPs and others alike that there’s no way for the UK to cherry pick some of the fundamentals of EU membership without facing any obligations as a result.

It’s worth pointing out that the Welsh Government, working with Plaid Cymru, set out its own vision for all of the main sticking points of Brexit and the future deal (apart from Northern Ireland – though the First Minister has mentioned it several times in the Senedd) as far back as January 2017.

While it’s true to say that it’s very different setting out your views when you don’t actually have to lead the negotiations, the civil service in Wales and Welsh Government have perhaps had more experience of dealing with the EU and its bureaucracy than anyone outside of Whitehall. They had valuable experience that wasn’t called upon.

The Welsh Government’s work was largely a wasted exercise, because – as Ifan Morgan Jones wrote yesterday – we were never at the table.

We also all have to remember that Wales voted for this (and it’s no good changing your mind after the fact), limiting the negotiating hand of the Welsh Government – assuming they would’ve used whatever cards they held in the first place, having long placed value in being “well-behaved” within the Union.

This deal (or no deal) could well have very serious “real world” implications. Whether any of us will have access to the right medicines, keep our jobs at foreign-owned factories or will end up with docks full of lorries laden with rotting food doesn’t appear to be on Westminster’s radar at all.

Theresa May has actually – through all of this and despite however little time she appears to have left – gone up in my estimations. That’s not necessarily for her record in office, but by being dealt the bum hand of having to be the responsible adult in a party and parliament full of clowns throwing custard pies at each other.

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