All this fuss is just bluster by Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson. His efforts for achieving Brexit are merely a charade, masking deeper agendas. He claims that he would rather be ‘dead in a ditch’ than ask for a Brexit delay and promises that he will take the UK out of the European Union on 31 October 2019 – with or without a deal. These statements are merely a smokescreen to consolidate his power base and stay Prime Minister.
In fact, the situation is not complicated at all. The UK Government triggered article 50 on 29 March 2017, scheduling the withdrawal to occur on two years later. After multiple deals failed to pass Parliament, the UK was granted an extension to 31 October 2019. So, if Boris Johnson simply does nothing, despite him pretending to the contrary, a no-deal and hard Brexit will happen on 31 October 2019. Therefore, on 1 November 2019 the UK will be out of the EU and Boris will be able to claim he has delivered. And despite the introduction of the Parliamentary bill to stop a no deal, once the UK is out of the EU – out is out.
The Parliamentary bill in question ensures the UK would not leave the EU on 31 October 2019 without a withdrawal agreement, unless Parliament approves the action. But that means nothing in the context of the EU’s side. The EU’s position is very clear and not negotiable. Do this show a certain arrogance in the nostalgic mindset of the former imperial power – to take for granted that the EU will automatically give an extra extension period and renegotiate a more favourable deal for UK?
Would it not be better for the EU if the UK finally left? The EU would rid itself of the UK’s ‘Divide and Rule’ policy game that has become embedded inside its own institutions. The EU has made the choice is clear for the UK – 100 % in or 100 % out. Their present strategy of one foot in, one foot out has to stop.
The EU is in a very strong position now and can keep the UK in a stranglehold by allowing extension after extension, ensuring Brexit will become an exercise of “perpetual extension”. There will come a moment where people in Britain will become so “pissed off” at Brexit that PM Johnson will flipflop, latching on to the changing public mood, and say that as Prime Minister he will call off Brexit. This process is very simple. He only has to write to the EU, cancelling the letter that triggered article 50.
So it is nearly a certitude: Brexit will NOT happen.
In the meantime, this Brexit conundrum is nefast for attracting FDI in UK. Uncertainties are causing investors to be very wary in implementing their longterm strategic planning. Asian investors particularly once used the UK as an entry gate to the EU. They are now directing their investments directly to the EU. But on the other hand this could also create opportunities for daring Asian countries and smart investors to obtain better incentives from their British counterparts during negotiations, keeping in mind that the likely outcome is that Brexit will not happen. The UK is in such a dire position with this self inflicted Brexit mess that it is desperately seeking trade deals.
Author: Axel Goethals, CEO, European Institute for Asian Studies