Simon Fawthrop is a councillor for Petts Wood and Knoll Ward in Bromley.
When I read the Surrender Bill promoted by Hilary Benn and continuity Remain, I noticed that the Bill didn’t specify how the letter has to be sent to Brussels. Nor does it specify what would happen if the EU does not get the letter by 31st October. The Bill only specifies that the letter has to be written, not that it has to get there or how it would get there. I also note that the Bill does not specify that any copies of the letter have to be made.
My assumption is that if the EU doesn’t get the letter by 31st October, the default remains that the UK leaves on 31st October. I’m sure ConservativeHome’s readers will no doubt be able to check this.
So I have set about looking at options as to how to send the letter so that it doesn’t reach the EU by 31st October. My first thought was that the Prime Minister could send the letter by carrier pigeon, but it occurred to me that it might be intercepted – and that is the last thing we want to happen, so that would be far to risky.
So my thoughts turned to how to ensure the security of the letter. This meant that it would have to be hand delivered, after all it is such an important document. So I suggest that on the 19th October we set a trusted person off with the letter (only one copy to be made) to walk to Brussels, I think they could reasonably walk ten miles a day (and certainly no more) and maybe cover 30 miles when they take the ferry to Calais (but they’d need a two day rest after such an arduous journey), but just to be sure the letter stays on British soil as long as possible I think they should really go via the Channel Islands, adding another 100+ miles to the 240-mile journey.
The person with the letter would have to be incognito, as we wouldn’t want them intercepted or attacked. They should also be given instructions that if they are attacked or intercepted they must immediately destroy the letter, in which case as the identity of the messenger would have been breached, another new and trusted messenger would have to start the whole process again. Now, knowing the Remainers, they will undoubtedly get up to some shenanigans, possibly by trying some sort of court case.
If a court case ensued then the trusted person with the letter would of course have to be immediately brought back to the UK to prove that a letter has been sent. Again, if the identity of the messenger is revealed that would compromise them and a new messenger would have to be assigned. One of the conditions of revealing the letter, which will be marked Top Secret, is that no copies can be made of the document.
Anyhow, my calculations show that under these conditions the letter will not get there until at least 9th November, which would be a great shame for the proponents of the Surrender Bill.
It also means the Prime Minister does not have to break the law. I think technically he could write the letter and then not send it, which would also be in keeping with the law, but just in case he should send it by the slowest method possible and by the least direct route.
In doing so, he would be literally following the letter of the law. This is my plea to the Government: play these Remainers at their own game, and bend every rule to suit the policy to leave on October 31st.