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Understanding "Brexit"

Both UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU President Junker have announced that a revised deal has been done for the UK to withdraw from the European Union. But both accept that it's not a done deal. Junker has to go back to the European Commission and its 27 members some of whom are resistant to the principle of "Brexit." Johnson has to go back to the House of Commons where several party leaders are, in effect, filibustering to defeat the withdrawal on any terms. And in Brussels, in the EU Parliament, which also has to sign off on the deal, the UK's Brexit Party's leader, Nigel Farage, has already said he doesn't approve of it.

The UK's Department for International Trade has issued a new, contingency version of the Open General Export Licence (OGEL) for dual use goods exported to countries within the UK.

The bringing into force of the new licence is contingent upon the UK leaving the European Union without a deal. If there is a deal, the existing arrangements will continue at least during the transitional period. However, there is something odd going on..

Britons remain European. The deadline for the UK to leave the EU came and went amidst frantic media activity that was eclipsed only by the frantic Theresa May.

Seriously, it's becoming difficult to be serious about the farce that is "brexit." Last night, eight options for brexit were put before the UK House of Commons. The plan - it had one of those stupid names that the Blair government with its PR-driven actions would be proud of - was to put a series of "indicative votes" to the House and then, depending on what happened, to have a third "meaningful vote" which even has its own acronym: MV3. Behind the scenes (which is made of some kind of sheer fabric so we can all see what's happening) there is a backstage drama being played out with May's Faustian bargain with the EU being behind an Ides of March moment: so many members of her own party are being lined up to be Brutus to her Ceasar that there is a real prospect of an "I am Spartacus" moment. You think we're being too theatrical? Just wait until you read what happened last night. Carry on up the ...

The EU is quietly laughing up its sleeve at yet another example of how it exercises control over the UK's withdrawal process. While EU leaders are selling it as a concession, the extension that the 27 countries that will remain in the Union have told the UK it can have comes with strings that impose conditions on the UK Parliament.

Yesterday, the Speaker of the House of Commons made a ruling. In accordance with Parliamentary Rules dating back to the 17th Century, he said that a motion could not be put before the house over and over again in the hope that the Members would tire of saying no. There's uproar in some quarters, some saying he's sabotaging Brexit. He's doing nothing of the sort. He's just making sure that the Government doesn't drop the ball.

Parliament has recognised the will of the people and decided that, even if there is a referendum on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, such a referendum would not include a "Remain" option. It has also rejected the Prime Minister's motion to delay withdrawal.

Here's a good argument in favour of leaving the EU: last night the UK's House of Commons voted against leaving the European Union without a deal in place to ensure an orderly exit. But, they are impotent : whether the UK leaves on 29th March without a negotiated "divorce," is governed by the Lisbon Treaty. And the Lisbon Treaty is superior to British law and, even, the British Parliament.

As we noted yesterday, this newspaper's review of the so-called binding agreement reached with the EU, did not actually prevent the feared lock-in that Leavers want to ensure does not happen. The Attorney-General agreed and when his view was put before Parliament, MPs voted down the supposedly revised deal. Again. That leaves Mrs May to follow Plan X.

Today is a big day in the UK's parliament. It's a re-run of the so-called "meaningful vote" and it's pretty much the last chance for the UK to avoid leaving the EU without an exit strategy a.k.a. deal although there are plans X,Y and maybe Z to avoid that happening, at least one of which will rely on the co-operation of the EU - or might not, depending on how one views a particular part of the Lisbon Convention.

The EC has released a note on a meeting held last week between the EU's President Juncker and the UK's Prime Minister May. It's pathetic. Read it below. Then read on to find out why we say they are both right but they are both wrong.

More or less breaking news is that Theresa May is the ultimate cat lady. Not that she has cats but she does have nine lives and, amazingly, even though she occasionally loses one, like buses, there's another one along in a minute. One day she's getting a kicking like no other Prime Minster has ever had and the next she's laughing in the face of the Opposition as Corbyn's motion to unseat the government and force a general election came unstuck. It might all seem very random but there is a pattern emerging.

When historians look back on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, they will be focussed on whatever interests them: for some it will be the will of the people, for some it will be the choice of a "Remain" campaigner to lead the exit negotiations, for others it will focus on any one of dozens of politically motivated stands and rhetoric and for others it will focus on the drama that has surrounded attempts to do something mind-numbingly complicated that has never been done before under what turns out to be an arbitrary time-table. Then there will be the fact that partisan interests have taken over from the national interest. As T. May has long been diverted from the deal into fighting for her political life, one thing is clear; nothing is clear.

There is no fixed deadline for a deal to be done but there is, in principle, a date upon which the UK will no longer be part of the EU. That date, however, is not actually as fixed as it might appear and there is authority for saying that the UK could press reset and start the whole negotiation period afresh when the UK and the EU have got their acts together.

The UK, for some reason, has decided to call this an "implementation" period." Essentially, it's a period during which the UK will wean itself off EU law and regulation.

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