Lord O’Donnel, aka Baron Augustine Thomas O’Donnell, is taking media rounds, suggesting the UK could remain in a EU light version, stressing to not rush over getting out so soon, alluding to the great challenges and difficulties in achieving such a mammoth task. Moreover, he thinks England should wait for the people of Germany and France to choose their elected officials first, as that might have a profound effect on the negotiation process, before invoking article 50.
There isn’t a rush and leaving the EU would be arduous. Maybe public opinion will swing around, permitting the country to simply ignore the BREXIT vote and continue with the status quo?
Before his peerage, Sir Gus O’Donnell, as he was then known, was in charge of the Civil Service between 2005 and 2011 under three prime ministers – Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
The crossbench peer said: “Lots of people will say, ‘We’ve had the referendum, we’ve decided to go out, so that’s it, it’s all over’.
“But it very much depends what happens to public opinion and whether the EU changes before then.”
“It might be that the broader, more loosely aligned group, is something that the UK is happy being a member of.”
Before the referendum, Lord O’Donnell had warned that leaving the EU would be complicated and take “a very long time”.
He told The Times that leaving would mean “a huge administrative and legislative change” because of the vast amount of EU law that had been implemented in the last 40 years.
As a result, he thinks the UK will keep the body of laws in place even if it does officially leave the bloc.
Lord O’Donnell also warned against rushing to trigger Article 50, which starts a two-year countdown to Brexit.
“The key for Government is to have a strategic plan to say ‘what kind of UK do we want? What is our place in the world? What are we trying to achieve in these negotiations’?”he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“Once you have got those strategic decisions sorted out, then you can go about thinking about ‘so when should we implement Article 50?’ I wouldn’t be in a rush.”
He added that elections in France and Germany next year meant “it is not even clear which leaders our Prime Minister will be negotiating with, so I don’t think there’s any great rush to do it”.
Lord O’Donnell said that it was going to be a “tough ask” for the civil service to take the UK out of the EU because Britain was “very short” of trade negotiators.
He said: “It is a big task, an enormous task that will take up a lot of the time both of the Government and Parliament over the rest of this Parliament.”
I’ve suspected this might happen. The new British PM, Theresa May, was campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU. The markets have shrugged off the BREXIT vote and the pro-BREXIT crowd have regaled in the glory of their paper victory, declaring ‘see, I told you nothing would happen.’ But, maybe, just maybe, the fix is in and markets have been pricing in BREMAIN the whole time, confident that the bureaucrats in the UK wouldn’t adhere to the will of the people.
Food for thought.Comments »