Vicky Spratt | Deputy Editor | Friday, 4 August 2017

WTF Is Going On With Brexit Right Now?

WTF Is Going On With Brexit Right Now?

The Debrief: We've looked into it so you don't have to...

Things move fast these days, don’t they? It feels like there’s more happening than ever that you really ought to keep up with; from podcasts to the latest series, domestic political disasters to Donald Trump and, of course, Brexit there’s a lot to get your head around on an hourly, if not a weekly basis. 

Well, guys, fear not. Here I am with my regular WTF is going on with Brexit need to know. This is brought to you by sheer political geekery, abject fear about our country’s future and a genuine feeling that a group of teenage girls would be better Brexit communicators than some of the politicians currently overseeing proceedings on our behalf (I’m looking at you, Michael Gove). 

So, what’s the 411? Where are we at with Brexit (or Brexshit as I’m currently calling it)? 

1.Freedom of Movement, Or Not  

The idea that people can move freely between EU member states is a founding principal of the whole thing. That’s why it was so debated during last year’s leave and remain campaigns.

The concept is still at once a giant sticking point and bargaining chip. It’s the source of a rift in the Labour party, between those who absolutely think freedom of movement has to end once we leave and those who’d like it to remain in place. Indeed, Corbyn is under pressure from within his own party (Clive Lewis and David Lammy) to make a commitment on this. 

Meanwhile, the latest from the Government, however, is that come March 2019 the free movement of people between the EU and the UK will end. Last week they announced that, from then on, EU workers moving to the UK would have to register until a permanent post-Brexit policy is put in place. 

‘Wait, what? You mean that isn’t the permanent Brexit policy?’ I hear you ask. You’re quite right, it’s summer which means Parliament has broken up for its summer holiday but, no, there still isn’t an official line on this. 

Shortly after the announcement the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, was very quick to reassure businesses who were, quite understandably, worried by the suggestion of a final cut off date for free movement and said there would be no ‘cliff edge’ in terms of employing foreign workers. Which is odd, because what was previously announced certainly sounded like one. 

It is, undoubtedly, also worrying for people with partners or loved ones who are also EU citizens and wondering what this all means for them.

The confusion comes from the fact that if history is anything to go by leaving or choosing not the join the EU hasn’t necessarily meant no freedom of movement. Norway, Switzerland and Iceland all currently have it. 

To conclude, we still don’t know, nobody knows and we’re getting mixed messages. It’s not clear exactly what either the Government or Labour’s actually post-Brexit policies on this are. But, unless there’s an early general election, it doesn’t really matter what Labour says because they won’t be directly involved in shaping policy. 

WATCH: The Debrief Speaks To Nick Clegg About The EU Referendum:

2.Titilating Trade Deals

The truth is that trade deals are not titillating at all. They're complicated and on paper very boring. But, in reality, they’re also very important, directly influence how much our food is going to cost and will form the backbone of Brexit negotiations. 

So, with this in mind, it’s not exactly a surprise that the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, is using his summer holiday to chat up officials in Argentina in order to ‘deepen the UK-Argentina economic partnership’. 

That sounds great doesn’t it, how proactive of him. Well, before we get too excited, it’s worth noting that UK exports to Argentina are worth around £289 million. Our exports to Latin America as a whole are worth £7 billion. And how much is our trade with the EU worth? Oh, only a cool £241 billion. 

Did someone say that voting to leave the EU would mean we got £350 million a week back to fund the NHS? Boris, is that you?

3.Fishing…but not for Compliments  

Michael Gove was the poster boy for ‘Vote Leave’ take back control. He’s now the Secretary of State for the Environment which means that, among other things, he’s the man in charge of fishing policy. 

This was another massive point of contention during the referendum campaigns because UKIPers have long argued that EU fishing rules and regulations hurt British fisherman. To make this point they sailed fishing boats along the Thames to Parliament, where they got into a fight with a flotilla of remainers led by Bob Geldof. 

Anyway, I digress. Michael Gove has previously said that Britain would be ‘taking back control’ of its fisheries by doing away with EU fishing policies. Now he seems to have changed direction somewhat and has said to Danish fishing industry leaders that EU fishing boats will still be able to fish in UK waters after Brexit. 


I guess ‘Vote Leave, Stay Pretty Much The Same’ wasn’t a catchy enough campaign slogan?

Seriously, though, this does matter because the price of your healthy salmon/cod/Pollock dinner depends on it. 

Alan Sugar, of all people, isn’t happy about any of this and has told BBC 5 Live’s Emma Barnett that Boris Johnson and Michael Gove should be in prison for ‘lies’. 

4.And, finally, there’s a man called Vernon Bognador and he’s got something to tell you

Bognador is pretty much THE expert on how our government works (he also taught David Cameron at university). Yesterday, writing in the Guardian, he said that ‘a second Brexit referendum is looking more likely by the day’

While both the Conservatives and Labour are deeply divided on Brexit, neither the Government nor the opposition is in favour of another referendum but, Bognador says ‘Brexit, after all, raises fundamental, indeed existential, issues for the future of the country. That is why the final deal needs the consent not only of Parliament but of a sovereign people.’

And that’s that. This was your Brexit update and we’ll no doubt be back soon with more exciting and important news. 

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Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt 


Tags: Politics, Pure Politics