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Henry Newman @HenryNewman
, 11 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Thoughts on this afternoon’s Cabinet meeting and the possible Brexit deal.

The parameters for all this were set long time ago.

A thread 👇

[fuller thoughts to come once we see actual details]
1/ Article 50 is designed to penalise departing members. But more importantly, the UK triggered that exit mechanism without first deciding where it wanted to end up.
2/ May began with a slim Commons majority & a split party. She then called an election that lost that majority & weakened her authority at home and in Europe.
3/ Her divisive “citizens of nowhere” rhetoric & refusal to guarantee EU nationals’ rights, helped crystallise divisions rather than bring people together. Despite consistently claiming no deal would be better than a bad deal, she did too little too late to prepare for that.
4/ It wasn’t till two years after the referendum that cabinet actually agreed a vision of the post-Brexit relationship. Having been told by officials that this would unlock decisive progress, the main elements of Chequers were instead rejected by the EU at Salzburg.
5/ Meanwhile Brussels consistently offers UK a false choice for Brexit. Either a trade deal for just GB, dividing the UK & excluding NI, or a relationship closer than Norway, which would be politically unsustainable in medium term - membership’s obligations with fewer benefits.
6/ In December 2017, the UK reluctantly signed up to the concept of a backstop – an Irish-border insurance policy - so as to unlock the next phase of the negotiations.
7/ Since then, partly as a result of the EU’s one-sided interpretation of that joint text, but also because the UK inexplicably failed to articulate what it thought it had agreed, the backstop has become the key stumbling block.
8/ So this is a backstop-shaped Brexit. Unless the final text is very different from what is expected, the backstop will likely substantially limit the range of options for the UK.
9/ But what cabinet needs to decide is not whether it would have started from here, but whether it is willing to proceed, given we are where we are. This doesn’t look like a deal that will pass parliament easily, & although clock is ticking, we are not yet against a hard deadline
10/10 So my decision would be to thank the official negotiators for their work, and then send the Brexit secretary back to Brussels to get clearer safeguards for the UK in any deal.…
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