Brexit is due to be enacted exactly a year today, on March 29, 2019, but Neil Monnery looks at a couple of big sticking points that could still halt or postpone the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union...
"One might argue that life is tough for Labour at the moment. They have two very distinct set of constituents. When push comes to shove, they will have to betray one of them. Until that day however, they can continue to look both in the eye and say they represent them."
The UK to leave the EU by the 29/03/2019? market on the Exchange is surprisingly competitive considering where things are at with our negotiations to withdraw from the European Union. We have a Prime Minister who is gung ho about forcing through a departure whatever the cost. The leader of the opposition has what can be called a 'having your cake and eating it' policy towards Brexit and the biggest factor of all, Leave did win the referendum.
So why are some people still thinking this might not happen at all?
The best place to start is hope that Labour may actually take a stand against Brexit in the form of voting down the EU Withdrawal Bill that is currently wending its way through Parliament.
Jeremy Corbyn spoke last month about finalising his party's position and it can be surmised as thus, they want to stay in 'a Customs Union' and have a seat at the table for EU led trade deals. So essentially they want what we have now regarding tariff free access to the Single Market along with a say in how its run but don't actually want to be a part of it. I'm not entirely sure that EU Leaders would go for that somehow.
My Betfair colleague Max Liu argued last month that this new position will go down well with Labour Remain voters and he's right, it will but only in the short-term.
This stance will placate Remainers in metropolitan areas which are going to vote Labour in great swathes come the local elections this May. In every competitive race in London bar a couple of Tory/Lib Dem battles in the south west of the capital, expect Labour to sweep into power in council chambers.
Having this position will also ease the fears of Leave voters who still want to go. Having a foot in both camps is tricky to do when in politics but as long as his party can walk that fine line, Jeremy Corbyn will continue to do well. When they have to put their money where their mouth is and actually vote on the record then that is when everything can fall apart.
Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Sir Kier Starmer has started to follow Jeremy Corbyn's lead, in that he wants to speak to both sides of the debate. In the past week he's spoken about how we have a duty to make Brexit work. He's also said touched upon the supposed hot topic of blue passports and stated they should be made in the UK. Both are big Leave issues.
Then Starmer made a speech on Monday saying Labour would table an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill to ensure Parliament has a meaningful vote that would force the government to go back to the negotiating table if they lost instead of a 'take it or leave it' position.
One might argue that life is tough for Labour at the moment. They have two very distinct set of constituents. When push comes to shove, they will have to betray one of them. Until that day however, they can continue to look both in the eye and say they represent them.
The Hard Border Issue
This might actually be the biggest sticking point still on the board. Can Northern Ireland and the Republic continue without a hard border if one of the two nations was in and the other outside the European Union?
The EU have proposed Northern Ireland remain in the Single Market or Customs Union as a backstop position if all else fails. David Davis doesn't believe that is acceptable so talks to find a solution have restarted this week in Brussels.
Neither Northern Ireland nor the Republic want a hard border but if both countries are living by two very different rules regarding free movement and trade, someone along the line with have to find a solution. If they don't then people and goods can move freely in and out the UK by coming in via Northern Ireland.
The EU have made it clear that until this issue is resolved to their satisfaction then no transition deal can be implemented. When that deal was announced last week, Yes in the leaving the EU by March 29, 2019 market went odds on for the first time since last May.
How to Bet
This all comes down to how you feel about the two issues above. Labour have the amount of MPs that can cause the government real trouble if they all stick together. People like Kate Hoey will vote for Brexit in any form but with the Conservatives having enough rebels, it is a question of whether Jeremy Corbyn really wants to halt Brexit. If he does, which would in all likelihood force yet another General Election then he probably has a path to that.
Personally I wouldn't expect the Labour leader to do such a thing as he's yet to say he wants to stop or even postpone leaving the EU. He just wants to do it all on his terms.
So it comes down to the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland border issue. If you believe in David Davis and the EU to find a solution that works for both parties then we are going to be out come March 29, 2019. That still seems an awfully long way away for me.
I don't think the Labour leadership want to stop it but at some point for Brexit to actually go forward, someone needs to fix the problem of free movement between Northern Ireland and the Republic and I'm not sure anyone can.