Westminster is in turmoil as the parliamentary machine churns over Brexit. The government has suffered defeats in the Lords over its Withdrawal Bill. The looming scrap in the Commons promises to be even more dramatic.
To make sense of the drama in Westminster—and the exit process more broadly—Prospect sat down with John Kerr, the author of the Article 50 exit clause. The discussion forms a new podcast out today.
Kerr argued that Brexit can still be stopped. “I don’t believe the die is irrevocably cast,” he said.
But if Britain is leaving it must address outstanding issues as a matter of urgency. Asked whether talks could still collapse, Kerr said “yes they could.” He added that any breakdown would likely come over the issue of Ireland.
Kerr tabled an amendment on the customs union which was carried in the Lords with a thumping majority. He said: “Without a customs union it is not possible to envisage avoiding a hard border.”
When it comes to finding a solution, “October is the deadline… Most cans get kicked down the road in Brussels negotiations but that one can’t be kicked very far.”
Kerr also said that a free trade deal with Europe was likely but that “there is no chance of securing that in the… transition period.”
The transition, he said, “will not be extended.”
We also discussed parliamentary mechanics. “The Lords are not going to block the Withdrawal Bill—the Lords are trying to improve this bill,” he argued.
The podcast featured trade expert and Brexiteer Victoria Hewson, who works at the Institute of Economic Affairs. You can listen to the full discussion here.