Brexit Briefing: Will there be a Referendum 2.0?
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The Chequers Agreement
Earlier this month, Theresa May convened her cabinet at Chequers to finally come to an agreement on what the UK would put on the Brexit negotiating table. The agreement is seen as more of a ‘soft’ Brexit, which reflects a Norway-style agreement. Some key points are:
- The UK will maintain a common rulebook for all goods with the EU, which includes agricultural products.
- A joint institutional framework will be established to interpret UK-EU courts. This would be done in the UK by UK courts and in the EU by EU courts.
- A facilitated customs arrangement. The UK would apply domestic tariffs and trade policies for goods intended for the UK, but charge EU tariffs and their equivalents for goods which are going to the EU.
- A mobility framework will be set up to allow UK and EU citizens to travel to each other’s territories to study and work. The government has maintained that they intend to take control of the UK’s borders.
The agreement has caused no end of headache for Mrs May, as it has resulted in no less than 8 resignations. These include the Secretary of State for the Department of Exiting the EU and the Foreign Secretary.
Will there be a Referendum 2.0?
Justine Greening, former education minister, has called for a second referendum. Ms Greening is the first Conservative to request a second referendum. She wishes to break the ‘stalemate’ that the Chequers agreement has wrought in the party.
The Conservative party is torn between Pro-EU ministers and Eurosceptic ministers. Parliament is fiercely debating the Chequers agreement with both factions expressing dissatisfaction with Theresa May’s plans. The agreement has been formally accepted but only narrowly avoided defeat after Mrs May granted some amendments put forward by the Eurosceptics.
Some MPs are calling for the referendum to be rerun after the Vote Leave campaign were found to have broken electoral rules. They have been issued with a fine and are being referred to the police. Downing Street has already rejected Ms Greening’s request for the second referendum, stating that it would not happen “in any circumstances”.
Brexodus: EU migrants leaving the UK
The Office for National Statistics has today announced that net migration from EU countries is at its lowest for four years. Significant drops in migration have come from eastern European countries where net migration was at 42,000 in 2015 to 6000 in 2017. From countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy and France, net migration has fallen from 84,000 in 2015/2016 to only 46,000 last year.
Whilst migration from EU countries has dropped, migration from outside the EU is the highest it has been since 2011. Overall, net migration for the past 12 months is 282,000, well above the government’s target of migration in the tens of thousands. The data is for the full calendar year since the Brexit vote and shows a clear shift of EU migrants leaving the UK following the referendum, which the newspapers have termed ‘Brexodus’.
Caroline Noakes, Immigration Minister, has stated that the figures show the people coming to the UK are coming for the reasons they want – to work or study.
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