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Brexit: The deal is done but not the deed

Boris can plead as vehemently as he well might for sanity and unity to return to the mother of all Parliaments so that Britain can march out of the Union with all its parts in perfect step.



By Bikram Vohra (Between the Lines)

Published: Thu 17 Oct 2019, 9:21 PM

Last updated: Thu 17 Oct 2019, 11:23 PM

Hold the applause, the curtain has not yet fallen on the Brexit circus even though the EU Commission and Britain announced that after an excruciating day of sculpting the deal they finally wrestled themselves onto the same page.
But any jubilation at this moment that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has brought the bacon home is premature. It is a fact that he has taken one giant step towards his commitment to the October 31 deadline but there are enough bouncing betties in the rest of the minefield still capable of blowing the limbs off the deal.
Just like the hidden betties that leapt up waist high before exploding during World War II, Boris has to take his chances with Parliament come the extraordinary session scheduled for Saturday. Seeing how sharp is the cleave of pro and anti-factions in the House over making a Brexit deal this is not going to be a romp.
Boris can plead as vehemently as he well might for sanity and unity to return to the mother of all Parliaments so that Britain can march out of the Union with all its parts in perfect step. But there is no guarantee of that yet.
And things are not getting any sunnier with Northern Ireland already expressing unhappiness over the tariff and trade elements ref its borders with Ireland as mentioned in the deal. This has been the biggest bone of contention and still is with Northern Ireland reiterating its resistance to this part of the deal. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is another viable threat and his rebel MP cohorts who held the House at ransom last month could come together to stymie any move to ratify the Johnson agreement.
It has to be remembered that this very house rejected three deals in recent times and there is no indication this weekend that the draft or outlined deal will pass muster much as Johnson can cross his fingers and threaten to 'die in a ditch' if it does not get the green signal. Corbyn went on record in the aftermath saying: "This sell-out deal won't bring the country together and should be rejected. The best way to get Brexit sorted is to give the people the final say in a public vote." He then indicated Labour will not support the Johnson deal which kind of makes the whole thing stillborn.
Scotland, too, is making negative sounds with Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon saying, "Scotland did not vote for Brexit in any form, and SNP MPs (lawmakers) will not vote for Brexit in any form."
While EU members express relief and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker echoes this glimmer of an end with a tweet in which he gleefully shouts, 'We have one! It's a fair and balanced agreement' Boris also struck a pleading note when he urged UK lawmakers to ratify his initiative. If it does go through not only does Boris survive a crisis but he becomes the curator of the open-ended departure phase and so totally strengthens his grip on the government that it does leave the Corbyn ambition out in the cold.
To be fair the EU as a bloc is not likely to create much trouble and would like to move on now. One can safely surmise that it will clear the details of the deal and it is only on the British side that things can get thorny. While Tory rival MP Jeremy Hunt has offered Johnson his unqualified support Brexit part boss Nigel Farage has gone thumbs down stating, '"It binds us into so many other commitments on foreign policy, military policy - a list as long as your arm, and I frankly think it should be rejected."
It also has to be seen if the Upper and Lower Houses are further intimidated by the collective 'rah rah rah' from EU frontline nations who have hailed the breakthrough and set its success too music. For now, the jury is not so much out, it hasn't yet been seated and Saturday could see a mistrial.
- bikram@khaleejtimes.com


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