The latest issue of Monitor, the Constitution Unit’s regular newsletter, was published today. Since the last issue, the prospects of a Brexit deal occurring before March have oscillated, calls for a ‘people’s vote’ have increased in volume, and Brexit differences have led to relations between the UK government and politicians from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland (still without a government) becoming increasingly strained. Allegations of a bullying culture in the House of Commons have coincided with concerns about digital campaigning and the alleged malfeasance by key players in the Brexit referendum campaign, causing concern about the state of the UK’s democracy. This post is the opening article from Monitor 70, and you can download the full issue (as well as past editions) here.
Exit day – when the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union – is now little more than four months away. Yet all bets are still off as to what form it will take, or indeed whether it will even happen. This is partly because the UK–EU negotiations on a Brexit deal remain ongoing, and partly because how parliament will react to the outcome of those talks is far from clear.
Just as the last Monitor went to press, and after months of delay, the government finally published a white paper in July, setting out its proposals for Brexit and the UK’s future relationship with the EU – the so-called ‘Chequers plan’. Even before publication, two key cabinet ministers – Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson – had resigned, arguing that its proposals would bind the UK too closely to the EU yoke. Many Brexit supporters – both MPs and voters – agreed: polls found the plan’s opponents among the public outnumbered its backers by around three to one. European leaders were also critical, and finally killed off the plan at the disastrous Salzburg summit in September.
Since then, UK and EU negotiators have been working frantically to resolve the crucial blocking point, regarding the Irish border (see pages 2–3). Whether the mooted November summit to sign off a deal can be resurrected will be known by the time this edition of Monitor is published. If not, agreement could potentially still be reached in December or even January. Continue reading