We also had the Queen’s speech last week – a bizarre event new to myself where the government’s legislative agenda for the next two years is set out in a highly ceremonial fashion. 8 of the 27 bills announced were in order to allow Brexit to happen, with the most interesting update being that the Repeal Bill will no longer do so greatly. More widely, the speech was an indication of just how much Brexit is going to consume administrative capacity over the coming years, with lots of good and bad things making no appearances at all. Things that could be dropped without a fuss, were – fox hunting, social care funding changes, but there was also no Local Finance bill, putting business rates devolution firmly into the ‘anybody’s guess’ pile. Whilst a government that doesn’t legislate much is not necessarily a bad thing, we should hope that dropping all the things businesses are asking for doesn’t become a habit.
There have been a bunch of other interesting murmurs and announcements, which all again point to there being compromise – something the government have up until now been denying the existence of. David Davis has said that he is willing to do a deal on the influence of the European Court of Justice; there has been the announcement of the new “settled status” that will allow Britain’s 3 million EU nationals to remain here (Great analysis tweet thread here); there is the assurance that Brits will continue to get free or subsidised healthcare when abroad, and apparently, the Tory cabinet is now arguing over how long the transition period should last, rather than if there should be one at all. There was also this interesting tweet from Alain de Botton, suggesting that ministers are willing to accept the EEA route as a transition, and that an offer may be made to us following the German elections. I have no idea if that will actually happen, or if such a route would be seen as acceptable from the EU’s side, but with Donald Tusk and the author of Article 50 both still suggesting we can stop this train altogether I think anything might just be possible.
Just on the ECJ point, the big issue comes down to the ongoing dispute settlement system between us and the EU, and as this tweet thread from lawyer Steve Peers attests, the only logical solution is the EFTA court, which adds weight to the EEA argument. Are the planets beginning to align? Or am I being much too optimistic in my post-holiday comedown? Check in next week to find out.