As Politics Home reports, George Osborne has called for the triggering of Article 50 to be put off until at least next September.
His reasoning is that Europe will not be “able to negotiate” until after the upcoming general elections in France and Germany. As PH put it: “there could be no movement on the process while other leaders were engaged in domestic political battles.”
Coming as it does from one of the chief architects of the Remain campaign, and the Cameroon king-over-the-water, it’s not difficult to see why May might greet this advice with some scepticism. She would be right to.
The first, strictly domestic problem with the idea is that it would practically guarantee that Brexit either occurred very close to the 2020 general election or, worse, after it.
As the results of our own referendum have illustrated, the period prior to the vote is when every side is acting tough and trying to sound as scary as possible. The aftermath is when people like Chuka Umunna start agreeing that we need to scrap freedom of movement.
Suffice to say, if the Prime Minister doesn’t go to the country early she’ll want to face the voters in the “let’s all make this work” part of the process – i.e. after the negotiations.
This is notwithstanding how difficult the Prime Minister might find it to get anything else done if the Brexiteer lobby got the impression she was stalling.
But even setting aside all that, the real problem with the ex-Chancellor’s proposals is that one could use their underlying logic to delay Brexit indefinitely.
What if the French or German elections result in something other than stability? It’s perfectly possible that Germany could end up with a less-coherent coalition and France, possibly, a Front National presidency or at least a close shave with one.
Even then, it doesn’t seem likely that Europe will be otherwise free of crises a year hence. Waiting until EU leaders are ‘un-distracted’ seems to amount to waiting until the chain of crises which has wracked Europe for the better part of a decade has ended.
At which point, one suspects, certain Remainers might argue that the change in circumstances, and the time since the Brexit vote, meant a new one might be in order.
This intervention is just the latest signal Osborne has sent out that he intends to exploit May’s small majority, harrying her at the head of a band of Cameroon maquisards – she has sacked or demoted enough members of the ancien régime to give him the troops to do so.