Brexit Compromises

Britain has a reputation for reaching pragmatic compromises on difficult issues, and hopefully this will become apparent as MPs debate options ahead of indicative votes on Brexit.  The government (with Theresa May’s ‘red lines’), Jeremy Corbyn (with his five demands), the DUP and the European Research Group have all been intractable.

There is a danger, though, that too many MPs subscribe to one or more of the ‘Brexit myths’ listed by this website on 13th March.  The futility of trying to bully the EU has become apparent, but many still seem to believe that the ‘Northern Irish backstop’ somehow locks Britain into an unfair deal from which there is no escape.  That is a myth.  The Northern Irish backstop merely insists upon harmony of regulations on the island of Ireland until and unless some other way can be found to allow divergence without creating border infrastructure.

The population of Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU and would be perfectly comfortable with continued harmonisation.  It already has a devolved government, and different trading relationships would not prevent it from continuing to belong to Britain in every other respect.

A suitable Brexit compromise would be to accept the government’s Withdrawal Agreement, subject to a confirmatory referendum and the amendment put forward by Labour MPs Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell, which has cross-party and Brexiteer support to guarantee parliament a say (and a vote) in any new relationship with the EU.  The other 27 EU members would presumably be prepared to hold open Britain’s seats in the European Parliament just in case the confirmatory referendum resulted in a vote to remain in the EU.

One comment

  • Hugh Winter

    Anthony Painter has just written a helpful article on compromise: WHY HAS BREXIT BROKEN BRITISH DEMOCRACY? It contains the following observation:
    “Why has Brexit caused us to get stuck like this? Because it’s a problem that requires a consensus approach, and British democracy is built on majorities. Until we can address that mis-match, we won’t be able to find a lasting way forward.” He refers to “the work of Arend Lijphart and his two types of democracies: majoritarian and consensus”.
    “Parliament is divided because the country is.”
    He points out that the polarisation in British politics is a consequence of our first-past-the-post voting system, leading to a habit of confrontation rather than negotiation.

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