There is everything to pray for as her majesty’s ministers meet today and tomorrow to discuss what kind of Brexit they will propose to the European Union as negotiations move onto the UK’s trading relationship with the EU.
The BBC’s Norman Smith says some ministers, ‘like Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd’ want the UK to stick closely to the EU’s single market to preserve access for British firms.
Others, he says, ‘like Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Michael Gove’, want ‘more divergence so the UK has more freedom to strike its own trade deals with other countries’.
The United Kingdom is ripe for judgment. Indeed, the judgment is falling. We are becoming more secularist, more crass, less respectful, more immoral, more acquisitive and more brutal almost week by week, as our weekly news round-up shows. The prophet said:
Habakkuk 3:2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.
We should pray fervently for the Lord to grant national repentance in his mercy. Much of our society is in a state of disorder. British troops are still unnecessarily deployed abroad. We must also pray for peace:
Jer 29:7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
The Hebrew word ‘shalom’ also includes prosperity. Ours is historically a trading nation. Much of our economy depends on trade overseas. Which Brexit outcome will best help the sort of trade which assists peace and prosperity? What should we pray for?
Is reversing Brexit an option?
The arch-remoaners want the UK to stay in the EU. According to the Independent, Former Prime Minister Tony Blair says Labour should even prioritise stopping Brexit ahead of winning the next election.
Early last year, I made a video record of my travels around three European capitals. I came to the conclusion the European Union was deliberately conceived as a revived Roman Empire.
That means it is at war with Christ:
Rev 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
To have any chance of being on the right side in that battle, the Government must honour last year’s referendum result. We can see the June 2016 result as an answer to prayer.
However, so is the presence of Brexiteers (albeit of the closet variety) at the top of today’s Labour Party. Mr Blair’s calls will by the grace of God fall on deaf ears.
In another column in the Indy, Conservative MP Suella Fernandes remembers how much Tony Blair destroyed confidence in politics. We well remember the Iraq incursion.
But the MP also accuses Mr Blair of failing to give the British people a say on the EU’s proposed constitution. She says: ‘The electorate’s and Parliament’s clear will is to leave the EU. Reversing that now would be deeply divisive, fundamentally undemocratic and destroy the trust of the British people who now just want the government to get on with delivering Brexit.’
Remainers to be coordinated
And yet the Guardian reported over the weekend: ‘One of Britain’s most senior former diplomats, Lord Malloch-Brown, is to take a lead role in coordinating the pro-remain groups towards a more coherent campaign focused on shifting public opinion before MPs hold a “meaningful vote” next autumn on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.’
Lord Malloch-Brown is trying to coordinate his own Best for Britain, Open Britain and the European Movement. If they cannot actually reverse the Brexit decision, the groups will try to force a ‘soft Brexit.’ This would keep Britain in the Single Market and Customs Union.
But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says such an option would leave the UK as a ‘vassal state’ of the EU. We should be beholden to the bloc for our trade rules, unable to trade freely outside, but have no say in EU policy.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Mr Johnson said any deal must give Britain ‘that important freedom to decide our own regulatory framework, our own laws and do things in a distinctive way’.
He said if the UK was forced to mirror EU laws, many people ‘would say, “What is the point of what you have achieved?” because we would have gone from a member state to a vassal state.’
No Deal, Canada or Norway?
At the opposite end is the ‘no deal’ scenario, in which Britain leaves the EU with no agreement. The UK would rely on World Trade Organisation tariffs to trade with firms in the EU and elsewhere. We should also be totally free to strike trade deals around the world. But 25% of our financial services depend on EU trade. A last-minute collapse in negotiations would be the proverbial ‘cliff-edge’. No-one would be prepared.
Norway has an agreement with the EU which gives it membership of the European Economic Area, the EEA. This gives the country full access to the EU’s Single Maket. Fullfact.org said in August 2016 Norway was then paying the EU around £740 million compared to the UK’s £14,000 million a year to be a full member. They said ‘This translates to £140 per Norwegian, compared to £220 per Brit.’
A ‘Norway’ agreement would ensure virtually seamless trade with the EU. Nevertheless, it would be expensive and would constrain the UK in negotiating abroad. And Mrs May has ruled out staying in the Single Market.
Theresa May and David Davis appear to favour instead the ‘Canada’ model with additions. This is called ‘Canada-plus’ or even ‘plus-plus-plus’.
Negotiate free trade agreements
City AM says this: ‘Under this option, the UK would enter into a free trade agreement in goods with the EU along the lines of the agreement just concluded between the EU and Canada.
‘In addition, free trade in services and possibly in agriculture would ideally be agreed to as an add-on. At the same time, pursuing its broader Drakean strategy, the UK would negotiate free trade agreements with other, more economically vibrant, partners such as China, the US and India.’
But firstly, the EU insists free trade in services must be linked to freedom of movement of people. Secondly, ‘Canada-plus’ would take more time to negotiate than the fifteen months the two sides have left.
City AM even quotes scripture:
Eccl 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
From this scripture, it says slowing down the Brexit process was smart, but it is now to get on with negotiations.
Wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord
But another scripture now comes into play:
Prov 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
For prayer, our first objective must be for the Lord to safeguard the principle of Brexit. The spiritual dimension is vital. It says the UK cannot safely stay in a revived Roman Empire. Moving on from that, our prayer is for Her Majesty’s Government to seek a level of wisdom which only comes from the Lord himself. Which trade model will really be best for Britain? We will all have our own ideas. We cry to the Lord to have mercy, because unexpected things can happen:
Eccl 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Pray the Lord will at some stage make us stand, look up, and say: ‘How did you do that?’
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