First Polish reactions to the Brexit vote

So she lost. May is over, it feels as if it was the longest month ever. Winter is coming.

Now, let’s get serious on the issue. The House of Commons voted down the Withdrawal Agreement tonight by a landslide, 432 against, 202 in favour. Will May finally end tomorrow with the Labour motion of no confidence?

What will happen next? Will Britain stay in the EU? Is the hard Brexit avoidable? Will the European Council postpone the 29 March deadline? Will the British government – led by whomever – call on the Second Referendum, or withdraw the notification on triggering Article 50 of the Union treaties? There are more questions than answers tonight and tomorrow morning. For now all we know is that a 585 pager is a no-go.

The Polish reactions

Poland was a partisan of the Withdrawal Agreement. It fully supported the late compromise negotiated by Michel Barnier. The most important issue for Poland in relation to Brexit are the citizens rights. Polish nationals are the largest group of EU nationals in the UK. Some 1 million of Poles reside in Britain. Ahead of the today’s vote, prime minister Morawiecki announced that the Warsaw government was ready “for the plan B of no-deal”.

Morawiecki in December 2018: “We have a bilateral agreement about mutual treatment of our citizens with full respect of their social and civil conditions”.

Plan B: The Ministry of Interior just laid out their proposal for a law which regulates the presence of British citizens in Poland. Some 6,000 people are concerned. They will have 12 months to legalise their presence in Poland.

The economic impact of hard Brexit on Poland could be big. In September there was a report about how much countries can lose due to Brexit. Impact on Poland is significant; only Ireland is expected to lose out more from among the EU-27. According to the Oxford Economics study from September 2018, the Polish economy could lose out even 0.8% of its GDP until 2020.

Prime minister Morawiecki tweeted: “Hard Brexit is a bad solution for the UK and the EU. Together with our EU partners we will react to the new British proposals. We will do everything possible to ensure maximum of predictability and security for our citizens and companies”.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council took to twitter, too:

Katarzyna Lubnauer, the leader of a small opposition party .Modern (.Nowoczesna, a member of ALDE) tweeted her letter to Jeremy Corbyn  from October backing the Second Referendum.

The Europe minister Konrad Szymański talked to the PAP press agency: “Ordered Brexit is the best solution for the UK and for the EU. After the lost vote in the House of Commons the British government should present a plan of the next steps. We await for the new British proposals on this issue. We will continue to work with the EU partners on the detailed and possibly constructive response to the proposals.”

Szymański outlined a constructive approach, but noted that first the British need to know what they want. The Polish government is preparing for the Plan B. Apart from the above-mentioned legal proposals a few more proposals are in the pipeline and shall be presented soon. Also, the customs and veterinary services receive reinforcements due to the potential hard Brexit.

Et alors?

Actually… we know not much more than before. Prime minister May may survive the no confidence vote tomorrow. Maybe out of three options (the deal, the hard Brexit, the second vote) two are remaining in the game, possibly there are more options and possibilities out there.

Hard Brexit is more likely by the day, but European politics is rich with experiences of last minute deals and twists. The ECJ awhile ago has paved the way for a simple trick: withdraw your notification of 29 March 2017 and consider having the second referendum!

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