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May's Brexit deal is worst of all possible worlds

Will Theresa May’s Brexit deal lead to us “taking back control”? asks Ipswich Borough Council Leader, David Ellesmere.

As things stand, when we “leave” the EU on 29th March there will be a “transition period” when we will still follow all EU rules, including any new ones that we won’t have had a say in making.

If we haven’t managed to negotiate a trade agreement with the EU by 31st December 2020 the transition period can be extended – possibly until 2099 according to the deal – with us paying money to the EU for the privilege.

If, after this, we still haven’t managed to agree on a deal we will move into a “customs union” where we will, again, obey all EU rules, including new ones that we won’t have had a say in making.

We can only leave this customs union if both we and the EU agree.

Both Brexiteers and Remainers think this is the worst of all possible worlds. Neither fully in, nor fully out of the EU. Not able to make our own rules, but not able to influence the EU rules either.

One thing is certain: far from “taking back control”, we would have much less control than we have now.

Even Theresa May won’t defend this. Her line is that we don’t need to worry about the extra transition period and customs union because she will have successfully negotiated a far better trade agreement by the end of 2020.

Whether you back Mrs May’s deal or not depends on how likely you think she is to achieve this. The way the negotiations have panned out so far doesn’t encourage optimism.

So, what happens next?

It’s a mess. I can’t see that there’s currently a majority in Parliament for any of the options – Theresa May’s deal, a no-deal Brexit, staying in the EU, a new referendum or a general election – but I can foresee the circumstances where any one of those could happen, probably by accident.

No one, least of all Theresa May, knows how this going to end up.

On the biggest issue to face our country in decades we haven’t taken back control.

No one is in control.

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