Plan B

TuskI have posted earlier today about the possibility that the Surrender Bill might not receive the Royal assent tomorrow. Such an event is not the only circumstance in which the democratic will of the British people – to leave the EU – might be achieved. It might also be achieved if the EU decline to grant any further extension, in which case the UK leaves the EU on 31st October.

The Surrender Bill contains the form of a draft letter which the Prime Minister is supposed to write to Donald Tusk by 19th October.[1]

The Surrender Bill does not prohibit the Prime Minister from other communications with Donald Tusk, and the prospect of EU declining to grant an extension (and thus seeing the back of the UK out of the EU at the end of October) might be enhanced if, in the meantime, the Prime Minister were to write to Donald Tusk along the following lines:

Dear Donald,

Since I have become Prime Minister, the nature of the negotiations between us have been marked by a new openness, in which we have been more honest than in previous times about what each of us require from our withdrawal negotiations, and also, I believe, by a common understanding that Brexit affects, not only the United Kingdom, but the whole of the European Community and that, so long as the United Kingdom remains a part of the European Union, there must be a commonality of purpose so that no nation, or group of nations, should take advantage of conditions applying to other nations. During this period, which I hope will be short, we must march together.

You will be aware, I am sure, that the Surrender Bill has been passed by the UK Houses of Parliament  (now formally known as European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019) will require this government to ask the European Council for an extension to the Brexit period. You will also be aware that the Bill is inconsistent with the wishes of the UK electorate, as expressed in the 2016 referendum, and contrary to the 2017 legislation, in which the Houses of Parliament endorsed that result with a very substantial majority, and contrary to the pre-election pledges of both major political parties. It is also contrary to the firm policy of this government, and accordingly this government will do everything within its power to ensure that the wishes of the British people – that the UK should leave the European Union on 31st October whether or not we have been able to negotiate a comprehensive withdrawal agreement – are respected.

It is of course for the European Council first to decide how to respond to this request. If the European Council were to accede to the request, then the matter would be put to all member states, each member state having a veto over any proposed extension. You should know that it is the intention of the government of the United Kingdom to exercise such veto.

Further, the practical effect of the Surrender Bill has been to paralyse the governance of the United Kingdom, and in accordance with the “all for one, one for all” approach noted above, it will be the intention of the government of the United Kingdom also to veto all EU business until such time as the UK leaves the EU. I appreciate, of course, that this policy will present challenges for the EU, and I regret that. I would much rather that we are able to negotiate a withdrawal agreement, between now and the end of October, which represents more fairly the balance of interests between the UK and the EU than the previous draft, which is repeatedly failed to gain support in the UK Parliament. We must, however, be realistic. The UK’s continuing membership of the EU beyond 31st October would put the UK into limbo, significantly damaging the UK economy in several ways. It causes damage to the UK in terms of the restrictions which the EU places on the freedom of the UK to set its own rules and regulations and make its own trade deals. It causes damage in terms of the considerable uncertainty which the present position engenders . And it also causes a direct loss in terms of the contributions which the UK is required to make to the EU budget. In order to mitigate this last category of damage, it is my duty to control, so far as it is in the power of my government to do so, every aspect of EU expenditure.

The Brexit saga has gone on far too long. I hope we may work together to get the job done, and to ensure that the UK leaves the EU on 31 October, whether or not we have managed by then to agree a comprehensive withdrawal agreement. If we have not, then we should move on as swiftly as possible to agree trading terms between the UK and the EU to our mutual benefit in the years ahead, and in the event of a “no deal” I will look forward to discussing such trading terms with your successor as and when he is willing meaningfully to engage.

I am well aware that two of the EU’s objectives in the withdrawal negotiations were to prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland and to protect the position of EU citizens living in the UK. I can assure you that it is not intention of this government to erect a hard border in Ireland, and we have already taken steps to protect the position of EU citizens in the UK. Those commitments apply regardless of whether we succeed in concluding a comprehensive withdrawal agreement. You would have liked also to have agreed the payment of a “divorce bill”, but that objective is contingent on a withdrawal agreement. Absent such an agreement, this issue will be the matter of an ongoing difference between us, and I will be happy to discuss with you or your successor whether we can agree some sort of independent mediation or arbitration process (not of course mediation or arbitration by an EU institution) with a view to resolving how much, if anything, the UK is obliged to pay to the EU as a consequence of its departure. To be clear, it will not be the intention of my government to agree to pay any sum which is not properly due.

My door, as always, is open for further discussion,

Yours sincerely

Boris Johnson

In fairness, it must be acknowledged that such a letter might cause some fur to fly, both among the Remainers in the UK and in the European Union. But the practical reality is that neither the Remainers nor the European Union are ever going to be particularly happy bunnies about Brexit, and the sooner the boil is lanced the better.




[1] “Dear Mr President,

The UK Parliament has passed the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. Its provisions now require Her Majesty’s Government to seek an extension of the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty, currently due to expire at 11.00pm GMT on 31 October 2019, until 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020.

I am writing therefore to inform the European Council that the United Kingdom is seeking a further extension to the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty. The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end at 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the Government proposes that the period should be terminated early.

Yours sincerely,

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”


Filed under Brexit, Politics, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Plan B

  1. Colin Jarry-Ryan

    Robert … I believe that Boris May well be following your blog! So long as it is not that weasel, (Short) Cummings!

  2. Pingback: Carrot, Sticks and Fish | phenell

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