Brexmas comes early!

Theresa May has served up a Brexit deal that she hopes to have wrapped up by Christmas – but is it the gift Brexiters always wanted, or is it a turkey?

I’m going to see this through.

In mid-November, after two and half years of uncertainty and endless negotiation, Theresa May finally announced that she had a draft Brexit deal that she would be presenting to her cabinet before seeking approval in parliament.

Complex issues such as the existence of a temporary UK-wide customs backstop arrangement have been addressed in the document, which May showed to cabinet members on the evening of 13th November.

But there’s a long way to go yet, and the presentation of the document is just the beginning. Although the deal was accepted by a majority of Cabinet members, two ministers – Dominic Raab and Esther McVey – promptly resigned, and back benchers proposed a no-confidence vote in May’s leadership.

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Nevertheless, the presentation of the draft agreement is a decisive step. Now, May’s opponents will have to take the consequences for rejecting the proposed deal. The ball is in their court, and prominent leave campaigners such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg have given every indication that they intend to smash it out of play.

By the time this magazine goes to print, it’s likely that May will have taken her draft to an EU summit for preliminary approval – EU member states will vote to accept any deal next year. But it is in December when May will have to sell the deal to her own country.

And that’s not going to be easy. 320 parliamentary votes will be required to approve the deal, and May currently seems a long way from gaining that majority. As well as a handful of Tory rebels, the DUP – whom May relies on for her parliamentary majority – have stated that they will reject the deal.

A defeat in parliament could easily be fatal to May’s leadership, and a third general election in three years could also be on the cards. Meanwhile, the UK would sail towards the deadline date of 29th March with a no-deal exit as an increasingly serious threat.

Meanwhile, there is increasing demand for a second referendum – or “Peoples Vote” to ratify any Brexit deal. While this would be opposed by many, it is not unprecedented – many countries, including Spain, require fundamental changes to the country’s constitutional laws to be approved by referendum.

On Lanzarote, the British Ambassador Simon Manley arrived on 30th November to address residents questions about Brexit. We’ll report on that in more depth in our next issue (and a summary will be posted on our Facebook page).