British Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks increasingly likely to win parliamentary approval for his Brexit deal.
If he does, he will have succeeded where Theresa May failed so miserably. And he will have put himself in a strong position to win a snap election by a wide margin. He will also have spared his country and the global economy the devastating economic consequences of the UK’s exit from Europe without a deal.
But before we prepare the champagne, one might want to reflect on the fact that the approval of any Brexit withdrawal agreement would only be the prelude to the long negotiations ahead of us on the UK’s future relationship with the European Union. One might also want to consider the long-term political and economic costs to his country of the compromises Johnson had to make to get his Brexit deal done.
Boris Johnson’s narrow defeat in parliament on Saturday has definitely delayed its efforts to push through its Brexit plan by the end of October. But he did not definitively put an end to this objective.
In fact, all Johnson needs to do is change the minds of nine parliamentarians to finally get his Brexit plan approved. This seems within reach given that more than enough parliamentarians have indicated they would be willing to vote for his plan after the enabling legislation is passed by parliament.
Johnson is succeeding where May failed due to two major concessions he made to hardline Brexiteers in the backseats of his government.
The first of these compromises was to cross his red line of not accepting the different treatment of Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK in any Brexit deal. By accepting now that the border between Europe and Great Britain will be in the Irish Sea and that, for practical reasons, Northern Ireland will remain in the European single market, he has succeeded in that Europe abandon the so-called Irish backstop as a condition for a Brexit deal. This Irish safety net had remained stuck in the throats of many members of the Conservative Party who saw it as a sneaky way for the Europeans to keep the United Kingdom in the European customs union indefinitely.
The second major concession was to better define the UK’s final destination with Europe in the next stage of the Brexit negotiations. He has now pledged to seek only a soft free trade agreement with Europe modeled on the Canada-EU free trade agreement rather than seeking a narrow customs union-style agreement.
These compromises will likely prove sufficient to take the UK out of Europe in an orderly fashion by the end of October. But they will have done so at considerable long-term political and economic cost to the UK.
By having effectively thrown Northern Ireland under the bus by treating it differently from the rest of the UK, Johnson was bound to give impetus to calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence from the UK. -United. Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to stay in Europe, will certainly wonder why, like Northern Ireland, it cannot remain in the European single market.
Johnson’s commitment to seek a looser economic relationship with Europe is also likely to have long-term economic costs for the UK. Indeed, the government itself has estimated that a free trade agreement along the lines proposed by Johnson would probably cost the UK almost 7% loss of GDP over a period of 15 years.
On a more positive note, if Johnson does win approval for his flawed Brexit deal, he will have spared both his country and the world the devastating economic consequences of the UK’s collapse outside Europe without OK. He would also have prepared for a landslide victory in any early parliamentary election in the UK. This, in turn, will have spared the UK a return to the failed economic policies of the 1960s under the far-left leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
Desmond Lachman is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He was previously Deputy Director of the Policy Development and Review Department at the International Monetary Fund and Chief Emerging Markets Economic Strategist at Salomon Smith Barney.
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