Have you, in fact, got any cheese here at all?
December 7, 2017 2:54 AM   Subscribe

In an extraordinary moment in a week full of them, it became clear yesterday that the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis has been bluffing on Brexit, and that the 58 (or 57, or 50-60) impact assessments he has alluded to for months, and which were requested by Parliament six weeks ago, do not, in fact, exist.

MP David Lammy has called on the speaker, John Bercow, to initiate contempt of Parliament proceedings, and Bercow is considering his options, after the Tory-stacked committee for exiting the EU voted along party lines not to recommend censuring Davis. (It's okay, apparently, not to provide impact assessments to Parliament if you never actually did any, so there.)

As professionals and bureaucrats of every stripe express amazement at the thought of undertaking system-wide change without any sort of impact assessment at all, lawyer David Allen Green points out that the UK's "silent loss of credibility as a serious negotiating party will have more long-term adverse consequences for [its] goals of post-Brexit trade agreements than anything which is positively agreed as part of the exit agreement".

Coming hard on the heels of the Northern Ireland border omnishambles, with little sign of acceptable progress on at least two and potentially any of the three conditions that have to be met in phase one of Brexit negotiations, prime minister Theresa May and her minority government have a week to achieve what they've failed to in 18 months if the European Council is to agree to move on to trade talks at its 15 December meeting.

Having conducted their own organisational impact assessments, big companies are stepping up their plans in case Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal. Some 10 percent have started implementing their plans for a no-deal scenario, a proportion that will rise to 60 percent by March. Perhaps they've read the Brexit impact studies commissioned by the European Parliament and published online between June 2016 and November 2017.

Previously (on Northern Ireland) and previouslier.
posted by rory (156 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
That contempt hearing is staggering.

"That, in view of the statement that no impact assessments have been undertaken, the Committee considers that the Government’s response to the resolution of the House of 1 November has complied with the terms of that resolution"

Seriously, there must be some kind of resolution. He has lied like... a lot about having done something that he didn't do. These should have been done before article 50. These should have been done before the referendum!
Anyone else anywhere, no matter how white and male, would lose their job for that level of staggering arrogance and ineptitude.

The most compelling argument I've heard is that had meetings with the big consultancies (your KPMGs, your PWCs etc) for someone to do consulting work, but stipulated that the result had to be positive, and no company wanted to take the reputational hit of producing an analysis that said it would be ok (because obviously, it won't be ok). Or at least weren't willing to do that without it being recorded in writing on their remit (in a way which would be instantly FOIed).

I can just picture the meeting with Davis et all over biscuits and coffee saying:
DD: "And of course, it should go without saying that the results of these analyses will be, in general positive for Britain"
Consultants: "Errr, I mean, obviously we can apply an aggressively optimistic assumption series, but even then I'm not sure how positive an outcome we can show. We'll need you to sign off on some of the underlying assumptions"
And they've just been going down the list of available consultants until they find one willing to flat out lie and say it will be fine.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:22 AM on December 7 [24 favorites]


...and in the end, they decided to cut out the middle man and do the lying to say it'll be fine themselves, no consultants or assessments needed!
posted by Dysk at 3:24 AM on December 7 [20 favorites]


It's amazing how he DD isn't somehow in contempt of parliament. Just as well the committee who ruled this is stacked in favour of the Conservatives, eh?

Rotten shit. I'd write to my tory MP about this (and to request Article 50 be revoked since the arseholes are making up the plan as they go along), but he's a lickspittle suck-up for May.
posted by bumcivilian at 3:37 AM on December 7 [7 favorites]


I know I'm not saying anything new or original here and there is so much shit it's difficult to express everything I'm feeling, but the whole situation and Brexit mindset just makes me so fucking sad. I studied French at university and benefited from EU programmes and funding in the early 90s. As a student, I worked, lived and studied in France, which directly led to my first job which allowed me to live in Paris for 2 years.

Speaking a foreign language, meeting and working with other Europeans and getting out of my little corner of Southern England in my early 20s has undoubtedly improved me as a person and my life as a whole. I'm not saying it wouldn't have happened without the EU, but its programmes, openness and freedom certainly made it easier.

I now look at my 12 year-old niece and her generation who will not have these opportunities simply because an older section of society has allowed themselves to be convinced that a country who won a war 70 years ago should not have their laws dictated to them by a bunch of Johnny Foreigners.

So I've been feeling this sadness for future generations since June 2016 and every day I look at what these spineless fucking cretins are doing and I just want to curl up in a corner and scream until it all goes away.
posted by jontyjago at 3:47 AM on December 7 [52 favorites]


Look, folks, when we said impact assessments, we meant documents that contain the word 'impact' somewhere in them. You can assess these documents and locate - see, right here! - the word impact. And look! I've got binders full of documents that have the word in them. Assess the binders. See the word. Ergo, impact assessments.

I also find it a little ridiculous that you think just because the UK is facing its biggest challenge since the second world war that we would willingly spend money on and time trying to determine what we should do and how our industries, people, livelihoods might be affected. It's quite clear what we do: we go in to negotiations and tell nobody, at any time, what we want, when we want it, or how we should get it. And if we do let on, then we change our mind immediately afterwards or run away very very quickly, the quickest, if someone expresses a contrary opinion.

Strong. In command. In a position of power.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 3:52 AM on December 7 [11 favorites]


"What Brexit impact papers? Take our quiz on what David Davis said"
posted by Mister Bijou at 3:54 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]


> So I've been feeling this sadness for future generations since June 2016 and every day I look at what these spineless fucking cretins are doing and I just want to curl up in a corner and scream until it all goes away.

You, me, and pretty much the entire population of the UK minus a few hundred Tory MPs.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 4:01 AM on December 7 [7 favorites]


It's grimly fascinating to watch my future unravel at the hands of some of the most spectacularly dishonest and incompetent fuckwits to have ever disgraced the halls of Westminster.
posted by Optamystic at 4:02 AM on December 7 [22 favorites]


rory, compliments on the post title.
posted by brainwane at 4:05 AM on December 7 [29 favorites]


The bookies have Jacob Rees-Mogg as favourite for next Conservative leader, though, so that’ll sort everything out.

[HOWLING INTENSIFIES]
posted by Catseye at 4:08 AM on December 7 [11 favorites]


> next Conservative leader, though

Which means next Prime Minister. Just to make sure the full impact of that sinks in.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 4:09 AM on December 7 [4 favorites]


Speaking a foreign language, meeting and working with other Europeans and getting out of my little corner of Southern England in my early 20s has undoubtedly improved me as a person and my life as a whole. I'm not saying it wouldn't have happened without the EU, but its programmes, openness and freedom certainly made it easier.
I'm not arguing with you here, or saying the current Brexit shambles is a good thing because it's unequivocally bad for the country, but I think this kind of anecdote spells out why we ended up with this almighty cock-up in the first place.

In a lot of areas outside the privileged South, there's been a perception that the EU benefits other people, people with the social and financial means to go to university, live abroad, and so on. In many working-class areas in the North, it wasn't just old folk who voted to leave, it was working-age people who've not had a pay rise beyond the minimum in a decade because the supply of labour, often from Eastern Europe, outstrips the demand and employers have been more than happy to use this as an excuse for their tight-fisted ways. Hearing about middle-class southern students on Erasmus programmes, tech professionals flitting between London and Berlin, and frictionless banking transactions simply doesn't chime with people.

Of course, being in the EU has certain benefits for these regions in other ways - not least the structural funding for improvements to local facilities and infrastructure. The quality of infrastructure in Brexit-leaning northern areas is already way behind that in the rich south-east, so this is likely to deteriorate further once less funding is available. If people here think the local NHS is overstretched and crap now, wait until more European staff leave. And so on.

Being in the EU is a good thing for this country. But the endless procession of relatively unpopular politicians and businessmen (who actually likes Richard Branson, for goodness sake?) wheeled out by the Remain campaign last year was a huge mistake and had no cut-through compared to the kerr-azy promises peddled by the pub bores of Leave. The EU was never the enemy here, but there was enough ammo to make it look like it was.
posted by winterhill at 4:10 AM on December 7 [33 favorites]


I'm frankly shocked that Dead Ringers' characterisation of David Davis as the "Brexit Bulldog" whose only two talents were contempt for foreigners and an ability to negotiate himself into increasingly dire situations ended up being completely accurate and not a comic exaggeration, except for the bit where he called Theresa May from Hell and left a message.
posted by Merus at 4:10 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]


Here he is chatting to Steve Bannon.

This really is looking like an international coup of some kind.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:11 AM on December 7 [17 favorites]


It's grimly fascinating to watch my future unravel at the hands of some of the most spectacularly dishonest and incompetent fuckwits to have ever disgraced the halls of Westminster.

As somebody currently enjoying the American version of this timeline, I hear you. Seems like so far the twenty-first century has been the punchline to "Wealthy white demagogues—what could go wrong?"
posted by Rykey at 4:14 AM on December 7 [23 favorites]


This crowdfunded legal action that aims to prove definitively that the UK can unilaterally withdraw Article 50 notification has been giving me a bit of hope for the last few days, I find it odd that it hasn’t had more coverage.

A big barrier to people changing their minds is the belief that Brexit is now irreversible, at least without loss of the rebate etc. If that changes, it’ll make a huge difference.
posted by tomcooke at 4:14 AM on December 7 [10 favorites]


For the last few Decembers there's been a spate of news stories where people have paid out a hefty sum to visit a Christmas wonderland which turns out to a muddy patch of a few trees with some lights in the trees, a couple of dogs with fake antlers on with some teenagers doing work experience dressed as elves and a 50 year old guy whose sick pay can't quite cover Xmas in a nylon santa suit sat in a hastily assembled garden shed handing out poundland presents.

Didn't expect it to be the whole country this year.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:19 AM on December 7 [25 favorites]


but I think this kind of anecdote spells out why we ended up with this almighty cock-up in the first place

That's fair - and I'm no doubt talking from a place of privilege - but it doesn't change the fact that these are my personal thoughts on my personal relationship with the EU.

Your point about the EU never being the enemy is really the crux of the matter here, because what the Remain campaign should have been telling people is that most of what you are feeling unsatisfied with has been caused by and could be fixed by Westminster-created policy so let's stay in a strong union and fix the problems at a national level. But that of course could never happen because Westminster was running the Remain campaign and therefore couldn't blame themselves and could only offer weak but (we are now seeing) ultimately truthful arguments.
posted by jontyjago at 4:22 AM on December 7 [10 favorites]


Which means next Prime Minister. Just to make sure the full impact of that sinks in

Would put the DUP in an interesting position, that. “The good news is that this one’s definitely an ultra-right religious Brexiteer! The bad news is, you’d be supporting the first Catholic PM.”

Not massively surprised JRM’s happy to pal around with Bannon. He’s done very well out of a certain media tendency to treat out-there types like him as a joke who don’t need to be treated seriously, while giving them enough visibility and gentle humouring that they do well out of the “he just says what he genuinely believes, at least he doesn’t play political games like the usual politicians” angle. Okay he’s got all these crazy ultra-right social views but LOL, he wears a funny hat, let’s get him on Have I Got News For You!
posted by Catseye at 4:26 AM on December 7 [10 favorites]


Which means next Prime Minister. Just to make sure the full impact of that sinks in
Personally, I can't see the current government surviving this. I despair whenever I look at them - not only are they far from the best the country has to offer, they aren't even the best the Conservative party has to offer. Most of the vaguely competent Tories got booted last year and this is very much a cabinet made up of the B-team and the leftovers, hamstrung by the ridiculous idea that it has to be made up of equal numbers of "Remainers" and "Leavers" rather than the best people for the posts. In normal circumstances, they'd be struggling to run Britain. In these exceptional circumstances, they are complete no-hopers.

Short of a complete no-deal, the DUP are likely to be disappointed by any eventual agreement on the Irish border. When that happens, are they likely to continue to vote with the government or withdraw their confidence-and-supply arrangement? My prediction, for what predictions are worth amid this chaos, is a new election sometime next year when it becomes clear that Brexit is a far tougher problem than anyone imagined and the talks collapse.
posted by winterhill at 4:50 AM on December 7 [4 favorites]


This always rubbed me the wrong way.
Jess Phillips palling around with Rees-Mogg.
I have great respect for a lot of the stuff she's done, but given how abhorrent JRM's views are, I was appalled.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:52 AM on December 7


I imagine that JRM and Bannon probably bonded over the writings of late-19th-century reactionary/proto-fascist intellectuals like Julius Evola. Rolling back the Enlightenment and “demotic” institutions in favour of the divine right of kings and a pyramid-shaped society seems to be a common project.
posted by acb at 4:56 AM on December 7 [6 favorites]


Among the many things the British government and Team Trump have in common is that both seem to expect the institutions and individuals of contemporary government* to keep on working after they have explicitly torn them down and derided them. The Trumps imagining that the White House would come with staff was an early indicator. Their failure to work even with a Republican with Congress spelled it out loud and clear.
The same is happening in London, and the missing assessments are the tragic-comic expression of it. Who knew Brexit would be this complicated? Just about every single person who was a supposed to know.

jontyjago: Your point about the EU never being the enemy is really the crux of the matter here, because what the Remain campaign should have been telling people is that most of what you are feeling unsatisfied with has been caused by and could be fixed by Westminster-created policy so let's stay in a strong union and fix the problems at a national level. But that of course could never happen because Westminster was running the Remain campaign and therefore couldn't blame themselves and could only offer weak but (we are now seeing) ultimately truthful arguments.

And this is why, among all of the people who knew how complicated Brexit would be, the ones who were actually responsible for preventing it (and that includes Corbyn) were near silent.

*meaning government as a practice in the age of multiple binding international agreements, not the specific administrations of Trump/May/Orban/Kaczynski etc.
posted by mumimor at 5:14 AM on December 7 [8 favorites]


As the editor of the FT noted today on Twitter, "There is no dog, no homework.". But that's OK, they can't fail the exam because it turns out they never took it.
posted by epo at 5:17 AM on December 7 [11 favorites]


MP friendships are weird and frequently surprising things, though; JRM and the SNP’s Mhairi Black get on fairly well too (or at least used to). Once heard from an MP (not one of these) that this is fairly common - they all live in this weird shared intense and insular world, they do a lot of collaborative cross-party work on committees outside the PMQ duelling for the cameras, so often there’s more warring with your own party’s MPs (who are after all your immediate rivals for promotion) than with the other lot (who are wrong and bad in many ways of course!... but in the meantime, since were all here together, someone who can show you how stuff works and who won’t tell the papers when you get drunk on a committee fact-finding mission is probably someone you can have a drink with).

Labour as a party, though - what the hell are you doing? Where are you? Why were you refusing to send spokespeople out on the news? You’re the Opposition, do some sodding opposing!
posted by Catseye at 5:18 AM on December 7 [8 favorites]


Old news: Liam Fox: EU trade deal after Brexit should be 'easiest in history' to get (From 20th July)
Just a reminder of their ignorant arrogance.
posted by mumimor at 5:33 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]


I think tearing down democratic institutions and replacing them with informal hierarchies cemented by loyalties that trickle down from a Hobbesian sovereign is the point. The idea that there is a commonwealth, a society in which all citizens are nominally equal, to which the powerful are beholden to pay taxes and the weakest are entitled to be supported by, is anathema to a certain mindset.

Russia (which has never not been Hobbesian, even when it was at the vanguard of that most modern of ideas, socialism) showed that it could be done; the brittle façade of Yeltsin-era democracy has been hollowed out and supplanted by that most traditional of patterns of social organisation, a service aristocracy of oligarchs who know that the difference between fabulous wealth and a miserable death is the caprice of the Czar. Now Russia is keen to export its model to the rest of the world and has found plenty of takers, people who regard the Enlightenment to have been a coup by undeserving peasantry against their rightful masters, and are eager to restore the divinely ordained order of things.
posted by acb at 5:46 AM on December 7 [26 favorites]


The vote by the select committee, that Mr DD had not been in contempt, is straight out of US Republican politics: blind political loyalty, and completely and utterly corrupt.

It's also worth noting that this only came to light because:
a) Labour managed to use some arcane bit of procedure to put some motion forward that forced DD to produce the non-existent assessments
b) Complacent Tories didn't think the motion meant v much so didn't vote it down

So, the arrogance and complacency of DD and his mates is one thing, the blatant corruption and attack on any sense of decency and integrity, is another.

All in all, pretty bleak.
posted by rolandroland at 5:58 AM on December 7 [8 favorites]


Labour as a party, though - what the hell are you doing? Where are you? Why were you refusing to send spokespeople out on the news? You’re the Opposition, do some sodding opposing!

Labour are keeping as far away from the trash fire as possible and running practice drills for a snap election which is tactically astute because there are seemingly as many opinions on Brexit in the party as there are MPs. When the Brexit talks fail it'd be an easy Tory soundbite to blame Labour wreckers who are subverting the will of the people.

In a practical sense there's not a lot they can do at the moment except shout on the sidelines, if Labour end up negotiating Brexit after a winter election then they have to be in a position where they haven't bound their hands with pointless rhetoric
posted by brilliantmistake at 6:00 AM on December 7 [11 favorites]


This is Baudrillardian. All the simulated effort to hide the report were there to hide the fact that there had been nothing to hide. Now the cttee basically said that there was no simulation to begin with.
posted by runcifex at 6:01 AM on December 7 [4 favorites]


I think tearing down democratic institutions and replacing them with informal hierarchies cemented by loyalties that trickle down from a Hobbesian sovereign is the point. The idea that there is a commonwealth, a society in which all citizens are nominally equal, to which the powerful are beholden to pay taxes and the weakest are entitled to be supported by, is anathema to a certain mindset.

I agree - what I find laughable is that these people are at the same time (naturally) so much a product of contemporary society that they think its functions are organic facts of life.
posted by mumimor at 6:07 AM on December 7 [4 favorites]


If he's not in contempt for saying there are no studies, how was he not misleading Parliament on the multiple occasions when he said there were?
posted by flabdablet at 6:09 AM on December 7 [1 favorite]


we meant documents that contain the word 'impact' somewhere in them

… Umm, we also spent time making cat memes, and we assessed all of the fonts and chose Impact. So we did, in fact, carry out an Impact assessment.
posted by scruss at 6:12 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]


Since I posted this we've had the official transcript of yesterday's Exiting the EU Committee meeting, just for the record...
posted by rory at 6:14 AM on December 7 [5 favorites]


Let’s not forget re Labour, though, that it has had plenty of choices along the way to this point. Could have refused to pass A50 without guarantee of the background work, didn’t. Could have attempted to avoid Irish border mess and wider economic meltdown by pushing for a commitment to stay in the single market back then, didn’t. And not only didn’t but whipped its MPs to vote with the government.

I dunno. I am still willing to believe that Labour are both trapped by circumstances and also playing a cunning long game where they’ll jump out at the last moment and stop the country plunging over a Brexit cliff-edge. But I think the reason I’ll believe this is because I want it to be true, rather than because of anything Labour’s said or done over the past eighteen months. We are heading for total fucking disaster over that cliff and so far Labour is if anything whistling happily away in the passenger seat, occasionally helping by putting more force on the accelerator. Yeah okay, maybe they believe they’ll rebuild something great from the wreckage, but I’d really prefer it if we didn’t end up with the wreckage in the first place.
posted by Catseye at 6:24 AM on December 7 [12 favorites]


I mean, what do people expect when they elect bouzouki players to govern?
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:33 AM on December 7 [1 favorite]


Catseye: I am trying to remember the source, but I recall reading that the 60 most deprived constituencies in England voted for Brexit by a landslide — and they're mostly Labour seats. If Corbyn comes out against Brexit he automatically loses the next general election, and the winner will probably be the most rabid hard-brexiteer Tory on offer.

Assuming he's awake and has seen the cliff-edge, rather than continuing with his principled opposition to neoliberal institutions like the EU, our best hope is that the Tories screw up irredeemably and hold a general election and lose around the time that it becomes glaringly obvious even to the protest-voting proles that something has gone horribly wrong. (I make that some time in the January-March time frame, when companies like Nissan and IBM start announcing that they're pulling out of the UK and will close factories — banks don't count).

Then we get the most leftwing Labour government since 1945. Corbyn and his successor (he'll be 73/74 in 2023) can declare his majority to be a mandate to Fix Everything, and have a clear five years to straighten the UK out before the Tories can get back in.

If they're prudent they'll continue negotiations but declare a referendum on Brexit in time to cancel A30 in February 2019, but we're rapidly running out of road ahead: referenda don't happen in a week.

One problem: fixing the UK within the EU is going to be problematic, because of the pro-business neoliberal bias of the institutions. On the other hand, UK governments have used "EU says no" as an excuse for right wing craziness for decades now. So there may be considerable wiggle-room for increasing public ownership, rebuilding the NHS and social services, and so on, that we've been told doesn't exist by the lying Tory liars in charge (and I include Tony Blair in this group).
posted by cstross at 6:35 AM on December 7 [21 favorites]


All parties are bound, by some degree by the referendum though.
Advisory though it was a majority of those who expressed an opinion wanted Brexit.

It's just not feasible to go from that to saying "Yeah, but it's dumb, so no"
You can't do that in a democracy. You need to build a mandate.
Article 50 was triggered way before it should have been because those in charge knew that the mandate they had would leak away the more any facts came to light.
A lot of remain supporters wanted parties to come out of the gate day one declaring that they wouldn't do Brexit, but that would entrench opinion. It has to be a nudge.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:37 AM on December 7 [1 favorite]


Scotland is another matter, by the way.

It's not obvious from overseas, but Scotland broke 60/40 for remain and public opinion is not happy about being dragged out of the EU by English nitwits. (Edinburgh, where I live, voted 74% for "remain".)

A lot of folks voted to remain in the UK during the IndyRef because it was spun as the only way to stay in the EU. My gut feeling is that if Brexit happens and the economic consequences are bad, support for Scottish independence will only rise ... from a current 47% in the polls to, well, time for a new flag and a national anthem (by, again, a 60/40 margin).

Yes, the economic consequences of Scottish independence from a post-Brexit UK will be horrible (imagine the UK/EU negotiations in miniature, with ill-will and little-Englander xenophobia laid on top by the larger negotiating party), but when the boat is sinking sometimes you gotta swim away.

Upshot: if Brexit goes ahead, it will lead to the breakup of the UK within a relatively short time span.
posted by cstross at 6:40 AM on December 7 [19 favorites]


> tactically astute

Fuck tactically astute. There will be no election until 2020 or so as the Tories will not be in any place to win one before then and have no need to call one. Labour should be pushing for a repeat of the referendum and leading the opposition - calling out, constantly, constantly, the ineptness of the government and proposing an alternative. Corbyn should be rallying people - MPs, the public, anyone - and convincing them of the one course back from the brink. But he's scared, doesn't believe, and is happy to dwell in some kind of popular honeymoon period (GQ covers, ffs). He's not the leader to do it and he's conflicted because Labour is as split by the Tories about it.

We are currently lost watching from the sidelines as the country is driven over a cliff and Labour are sat at the back of the bus, gossiping amongst themselves, saying "so when we crash into the rocks, no one can blame us!".
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 6:42 AM on December 7 [8 favorites]


> the Tories screw up irredeemably and hold a general election

But why? Why would they admit they fucked up and let the country kick them out of office?
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 6:43 AM on December 7


This really is looking like an international coup of some kind.

Or, a cyber war that has been in progress for the last decade.
"The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:51 AM on December 7 [13 favorites]


But why? Why would they admit they fucked up and let the country kick them out of office?

They wouldn’t need to. Under FTPA there are two ways for another election to happen before the term is up:
- more than 2/3 of the HoC vote to call an election (how the 2017 one happened)
- a motion of no confidence gets passed, and the Government can’t get a new vote of confidence passed in 14 days.

The second one is the only reasonable path to another election that the Tories feel they’ll lose, but it’s uncharted territory so it’s unclear how it’ll work out. We could potentially end up with a situation where we get a Labour government without an election depending on how the confidence votes go.
posted by Catseye at 6:51 AM on December 7


Labour should be pushing for a repeat of the referendum and leading the opposition

There will not be a repeat of the referendum, that's just how it is. Britain is leaving the EU. That's democracy for you.

We're in freefall off that cliff - the Tories drove us off and there is no way of getting back on to the land. We can only try and get a slightly less disastrous landing.

See the Lib Dems campaign in June for the popular support for that second referendum.
posted by brilliantmistake at 6:52 AM on December 7


Bear in mind that they are not a majority government.
If they upset the DUP (which they are doing a great job of right now) they can't necessarily pass a budget.
Tories plus DUP make up 325 / 650 MPs.
That's only a majority because 7 Sinn Fein's don't attend.

They are not a strong government.
Bookies have evens on a 2018 general election.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:53 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]


We could potentially end up with a situation where we get a Labour government without an election depending on how the confidence votes go.

oh, I should follow up to say that I don’t think this is at all likely, just that it’s technically possible under the system set out with FTPA, as many things are technically possible but practically very unlikely to happen under our constitution (Queen vetoing a bill, eg). But given the last few years who even knows what’s likely or not any more.
posted by Catseye at 6:58 AM on December 7


Ah, found the stats I was after.

The 1974 wilson government was weaker. (by 7 seats)
It lasted 9 months.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:59 AM on December 7 [1 favorite]


One problem: fixing the UK within the EU is going to be problematic, because of the pro-business neoliberal bias of the institutions.

There's an awful lot of room for the UK to move well to the left within the EU. Sweden is in the EU. Denmark is in the EU. Finland is in the EU. The EU is not forcing right wing policy on the UK. If anything, the reverse has been true.
posted by Dysk at 7:01 AM on December 7 [13 favorites]


A lot of remain supporters wanted parties to come out of the gate day one declaring that they wouldn't do Brexit

Sure, but that's because so many of them were experts, or were people who trusted the experts, and knew about Brexit's potential pitfalls in June 2016. They knew what others are only now coming to realise, that the whole thing was a disaster in the making. If you knew that on 24 June 2016, what else could you do but come out of the gate declaring that you wouldn't do Brexit?

I personally never bought into the whole "let's give it a chance, maybe Brexit will work out for the best" line, because I didn't believe it for a minute: the least-worst option is extra-soft-Brexit-in-name-only, which would still entail losing all influence over the EU regulations we would have to abide by to maintain access, and that really is losing our sovereignty, not like the leavers' suggestion that we lost sovereignty by pooling some of our powers with our neighbours in a wider body where we enjoyed disproportionate influence.

What I did maintain was the hope that the Brexit process would collapse under its own obvious contradictions and would eventually be stopped before it took place. That hope wavered when May triggered A50, then recovered; but now I'm worried that we'll end up getting most of the pain of an actual Brexit even if we do revoke A50 (which I still think is quite likely, one way or another), because this government's going to take us so close to the cliff-edge that everyone else will already have written us off for dead.
posted by rory at 7:02 AM on December 7 [5 favorites]


Just checking the political betting markets, always some fun figures in there.

JRM at 4/1 as next tory leader
By contrast Emily Thornberry is at 6/1 for Labour

On Leader set to resign first
Theresa May 1/12
Jeremy Corbyn 6/1
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:10 AM on December 7


One problem: fixing the UK within the EU is going to be problematic, because of the pro-business neoliberal bias of the institutions.

Ian Dunt's "Everything You Need to Know About Lexit in Five Minutes" is an entertaining rebuttal of the left wing case for Brexit.
posted by tomcooke at 7:11 AM on December 7 [9 favorites]


Just checking the political betting markets, always some fun figures in there.
Of course, the bookies also had Remain as big favourites.
posted by winterhill at 7:12 AM on December 7 [3 favorites]


Would there be any reason for Corbyn to resign or be deposed now? He seems to be leading Labour to a decisive victory, and one on its own terms rather than as a soft-Tory party.
posted by acb at 7:17 AM on December 7


A soft-tory party is the terms a lot of the parliamentary Labour Party seem to consider their own.
posted by Dysk at 7:23 AM on December 7


Would there be any reason for Corbyn to resign or be deposed now?

The only one I can think of is age. He's pushing 70; that would make him the oldest first-time prime minister for close to 200 years. Age on its own isn't a disqualifier, but it means he's at greater risk of serious illness than a younger leader.

Even if he makes it into Number Ten I can't see him staying there longer than a single five-year term. If he ran for a second time he'd be the oldest PM since Winston Churchill. More likely he'd use it to cement his legacy within the PLP and select a young protege to continue the fight.
posted by cstross at 7:46 AM on December 7 [3 favorites]


Mr Davis: I am really tight.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 8:05 AM on December 7


Even after watching and loving the original "House of Cards," I can't pretend to understand your Parliament, but I must say they seem to be as feckless and verging on crazy as our own Congress right now.
posted by twsf at 8:22 AM on December 7


As tight as an owl if recent performance is anything to go by.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:23 AM on December 7 [3 favorites]


Just reading the committee transcription.
Look at this snake.

"Q53. Mr Rees-Mogg: In a sense, you have looked at the wording of what turns
out to be an incompetent motion and the debate surrounding it, and tried to
fulfil the requirements of the House of Commons in spirit, even though, in
fact, you could have rejected it altogether."
(page 16)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:29 AM on December 7 [3 favorites]


I believe that these studies do exist, but because they paint such a damning (and accurate) picture of the impacts of Brexit it is more palatable for the government to say they've been lying to parliament (and us) about them than to actually let them see the light of day.

As I said in another recent Brexit post - I'm angry and it isn't going away.
posted by jonnyploy at 8:40 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]


Even after watching and loving the original "House of Cards," I can't pretend to understand your Parliament

One way to understand it is to think if it as stuffed with people who secretly think they’re Francis Urquhart, but in reality couldn’t manipulate their way out of a wet paper bag. See, the different stages of understanding Boris Johnson:
1) this man’s just an incompetent buffoon!
2) no, this man is a savvy Machiavellian operator masquerading as an incompetent buffoon.
3) no: this man is an incompetent buffoon, masquerading as a savvy Machiavellian operator who’s masquerading as an incompetent buffoon.
posted by Catseye at 8:43 AM on December 7 [31 favorites]


Would there be any reason for Corbyn to resign or be deposed now? He seems to be leading Labour to a decisive victory,

Do you really think, given the dangerous incompetents he's opposing, a 3 point lead heralds a "decisive victory"?
posted by Leon at 9:19 AM on December 7 [3 favorites]


If I understand it correctly, his argument is something like "We agreed to turn over all impact assessments in 58/50/60/whatever areas, but since we didn't do any impact assessments there is nothing to turn over".

Is that really it?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:32 AM on December 7


His argument is that impact assessment is a technical term and what they have is sectoral analyses.
DD In response to Q1: "There is a formal definition of impact assessments followed
by the Civil Service, published, I think, by the Better Regulation Executive,
which lays out what they are. That is not the form of the sectoral analyses. "


Since there are technically no impact analyses he is being exceedingly generous in giving them anything and you should be grateful for what you got.
"Q52 Mr Rees-Mogg: Therefore, in fact, you have responded—rather than meanly
and in a redacted sense—generously and fully to the requirements of the
humble Address by providing 800 pages of information that is not, in fact, an
impact assessment, because those do not exist, but is pulling together, as far
as possible, the sectoral assessments that have already been done."

posted by Just this guy, y'know at 10:44 AM on December 7


That pretty much sums it up.

But see this FT report on Oct 30 which basically says that the Brexit ministry refuses to release key details of 58 reports setting out the economic impact of Brexit on key industries, representing 88% of UK industry. The list of reports came from that ministry. It took action to stop them being published.

Parliament forced it to do so. In late November they issued redacted versions.

Today, they claim those reports don't exist.

The claim is that Impact Assessments are a specific thing. These don't fit that definition so their release can't be forced. What exists is sectoral analyses.

David Davis, Minister for the relevant ministry used to campaign for freedom of information.
posted by biffa at 10:50 AM on December 7 [1 favorite]


David Davis, Minister for the relevant ministry used to campaign for freedom of information.

Well, of course. When he didn't have access to info, it was important for it to be free! Now that he has it, that need has been covered, so there's no need for anyone else to get information.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:56 AM on December 7 [4 favorites]


He also argued for an informed electorate in the context of referenda, without which they were dangerous

"There is a proper role for referendums in constitutional change, but only if done properly. If it is not done properly, it can be a dangerous tool. The Chairman of the Public Administration Committee, who is no longer in the Chamber, said that Clement Attlee—who is, I think, one of the Deputy Prime Minister's heroes—famously described the referendum as the device of demagogues and dictators. We may not always go as far as he did, but what is certain is that pre-legislative referendums of the type the Deputy Prime Minister is proposing are the worst type of all.

Referendums should be held when the electorate are in the best possible position to make a judgment. They should be held when people can view all the arguments for and against and when those arguments have been rigorously tested. In short, referendums should be held when people know exactly what they are getting. So legislation should be debated by Members of Parliament on the Floor of the House, and then put to the electorate for the voters to judge.

We should not ask people to vote on a blank sheet of paper and tell them to trust us to fill in the details afterwards. For referendums to be fair and compatible with our parliamentary process, we need the electors to be as well informed as possible and to know exactly what they are voting for. Referendums need to be treated as an addition to the parliamentary process, not as a substitute for it."
posted by vbfg at 1:19 PM on December 7 [9 favorites]


There will not be a repeat of the referendum, that's just how it is. Britain is leaving the EU. That's democracy for you.

We're in freefall off that cliff - the Tories drove us off and there is no way of getting back on to the land.


I'm hugely against this kind of thing, because no matter how much it feels like this is a descriptive claim, it will still end up being normative. So because of a vote that was won through outright lying, for a party that has not stopped lying since, we have to lose our prosperity and our manufacturing industry and our standing in the world and our reputation as a well run country?

No! That's not acceptable. And we can create the facts on the (British psyche's) ground, because this is a shambles, and we must work together on behalf of the 70 million of us for whom there will be no (tangible) upside to leaving, and considerable downsides.

For the people who wanted to leave, we need to provide them with a country where they feel that they belong. And this is a country which hasn't provided that. We're down at what, 25th richest country in the world (per capita, because that's what matters on the individual level), and that's what matters. And if you take places like Dudley ($25,134) or Torbay ($25,842) or Barnsley ($25,724), they're all substantially poorer than Russia ($26,100) and Malaysia ($27,200), not to mention poorer than they were in 2006 (these are 2014 figures). And they all voted 2:1 to Leave (67.6%, 63.2% and 68.3%, respectively).

So yes, the UK has failed as a country. And it's been the Tories who've failed it. So they'll ride this scapegoat as far as it will take them. One more thing: the UK doesn't calculate GDP by region – those are EU figures. Because they're a far better run government than the one that's run by the twerps on some green benches in a palace next to a pretty clock tower and a bridge full of hucksters, just by the stripey Catholic cathedral.
posted by ambrosen at 2:28 PM on December 7 [12 favorites]


My sympathies to you all in the UK. Thought I’d offer my perspective from here in New Zealand.

In the 1950s and 60s, New Zealand enjoyed an easy prosperity, with an expansive welfare state providing 'cradle-to-grave' security, and supported by preferential trade access with the UK to whom we sent all our butter, cheese, lamb, and other commodities, as part of our role as ex-colony.

Britain joining the EEC shook New Zealand out of the security of our welfare state. This cartoon’s scenario reflects the distress and concern this caused.

To be fair, the separation from Great Britain was important in the development of a more distinct New Zealand identity. It could no longer be relied upon that New Zealanders would proudly declare Where she goes, we go. Where she stands, we stand.

Our trading position (combined with the oil shocks of the 70s and some poor choices by PM Robert Muldoon) deteriorated to the point that New Zealand was almost bankrupted, forcing us to go through a painful neo-liberal-centred conversion in the 80s and 90s.

Ironically, some are even arguing for New Zealand’s experience to be an example for the UK's trade practice post-brexit.

And so the UK comes back to us looking for trade deals. Now we’re in the enviable position of having both the UK and the EU simultaneously seeking to get Australia and New Zealand trade deals. How the UK Government expects to simultaneously negotiate brexit and these new trade deals I do not know.

And in New Zealand, some are using Brexit to argue for New Zealand Republicanism (although there are probably still enough monarchists around to prevent this for the moment.)

In the end though, I'm hoping you guys can stave off this man-made disaster. Good luck!
posted by Start with Dessert at 2:43 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


I just want to know what Davis has actually been doing every day since he was appointed head of department for exiting the EU. That was nearly 18 months ago, and he's got sweet fuck all to show for his time. In what other line of work would his catastrophic idleness be tolerated? 'Thick as mince, lazy as a toad, & vain as Narcissus'. (n.b. use of quotation does not imply agreement with anything else Dominic Cummings has said, ever).
posted by punilux at 3:29 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]


I just want to know what Davis has actually been doing every day since he was appointed head of department for exiting the EU. That was nearly 18 months ago, and he's got sweet fuck all to show for his time.

TCB, takin' care of business
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:48 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]




Brexit: 'Breakthrough' deal paves way for future trade talks.

So, based on a quick read, I'm not really seeing any great concessions gained. Are we basically saying that May has simply agreed to the EU's terms? Which she could have done 6 months ago?
posted by jontyjago at 12:28 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


No hard border for NI.... How's that going to work exactly ? And I bet Scotland wants the same soft border.
posted by Pendragon at 12:30 AM on December 8


On first assumption this is Norway+

Frankly we can set ourselves on fire now for all I care (I lie, circumstance has trained my petulance glands). This is what matters to me the most at this point:

'EU citizens in the UK "will be able to go on living as before"'
posted by vbfg at 12:33 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Is last night's deal agreed to stand by itself or as part of a large deal with trade?
Assume at some point parliament will have to vote for it?

I agree with the earlier comment on Davis what has he been doing all this time?
posted by 92_elements at 12:53 AM on December 8


The Joint Report (PDF file)
posted by vbfg at 12:58 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Also this,
Everyone born in Northern Ireland will retain their right to EU citizenship, he confirms.

Last Updated: 08:23
AdvertisementHide
46m ago
from the Guardian live stream has far reaching implications. I can imagine Scotland for instance asking for the same.
posted by 92_elements at 1:02 AM on December 8


Specifically:

"Both Parties acknowledge that the 1998 Agreement recognises the birth right of all the people of Northern Ireland to choose to be Irish or British or both and be accepted as such. The people of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens will continue to enjoy rights as EU citizens, including where they reside in Northern Ireland."

Step 1: Acquire Irish citizenship those in NI who currently haven't taken the option
Step 2: Full rights flow naturally
posted by vbfg at 1:04 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


"Breakthrough", my foot. They've just papered over the inherent contradictions of the border issue so that progress can be seen to be made, not actually made. You can't have no checks between NI and ROI and no checks between NI and mainland UK while maintaining that a hard border exists between the UK and the EU. This accepts FOM by default; in which case, what on earth is the point of maintaining that the UK needs to leave the SM/CU?

Unless... the UK plans to restrict FOM by requiring identity checks within the UK of anyone "foreign" whenever suspicion arises that they aren't in the UK legitimately. That would be in keeping with May's track record as Home Secretary and PM. So, if you look or sound "different": papers, please.

So much for EU27 citizens (or any other immigrants, or children of immigrants) now being able to feel secure here. Whether or not companies feel that this "breakthrough" gives them enough reason to pause their contingency plans, I doubt it will cause most affected individuals to do so.
posted by rory at 1:41 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Now the real negotiations can begin. I expect a lot more drama the coming months.
posted by Pendragon at 1:42 AM on December 8


Plus this news seems to have let Davis off the hook as far as the media are concerned, when the question should be how he can possibly be fit to lead the UK into phase two of negotiations after that ExEU Committee appearance. He needs to be sacked.

Gah. The useless Today programme on Radio 4 made it sound as if progress is being made, when the story of this week should be that we couldn't trust any of them to organise a piss-up in a Members' Lounge, let alone safely negotiate all of our futures.
posted by rory at 1:53 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


Point 49 of the report:
49.) The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom's intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the allisland economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.
Full alignment sounds suspiciously like staying in the SM / CU to me. So will this involve Freedom of Movement? Or just inclusion in both but with no say as to the regulations?
posted by jontyjago at 1:59 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, Leavers on Twitter are interpreting this as the government caving in to the EU and robbing them of their beloved swan-dive over the cliff, so they aren't happy either (see the comments below Boris Johnson's recent tweet). In which case, what on earth is the point? Just stay in the EU so that they can be unhappy about that instead (while still maintaining gainful employment, or a pension maintained by a vibrant economy) and the rest of us can let go of 2+ years of pent-up stress.
posted by rory at 2:14 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


The culture of the EU institutions is quite unlike its popular spendthrift image, and that is due in no small part to generations of British politicians and civil servants who have helped to shape Brussels in their own image. Or rather, what they project as their own image. How accurate that image is must be questioned when a senior government minister from the country synonymous with impact assessments tells his parliament that he is “not a fan”.
posted by rory at 2:18 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


This crowdfunded legal action that aims to prove definitively that the UK can unilaterally withdraw Article 50 notification has been giving me a bit of hope for the last few days, I find it odd that it hasn’t had more coverage.

Counterview from the Continent: I am totally against the UK withdrawing Article 50 at this point and I hope that this will not go through. If one thing is certain, then it's that the UK will blame all of its future problems on the EU, including all of its homemade ones. So there are two possible outcomes:
1) UK leaves the EU and every single one of its economic/social problems will be made out to be the EU's fault.
2) UK stays in the EU and every single one of its economic/social problems will be made out to be the EU's fault.

So since the UK will keep on thrashing and obstructing the EU anyway, they shouldn't have any say in it. And the EU should not have itself be held hostage by a hostile UK.

I wish the UK best of luck. I think they'll need it.
posted by sour cream at 2:23 AM on December 8 [8 favorites]


rory, thanks for the LSE/Brexit link
posted by Mister Bijou at 2:33 AM on December 8


Sour cream, it's hard for a Remainer who actually lives here and is actually grappling with the personal implications of it all to read that as much other than "ha, ha, sucks to be you", even if you don't intend it that way. But in any case, I think you're wrong about this:

2) UK stays in the EU and every single one of its economic/social problems will be made out to be the EU's fault.

That's the status quo ante. If Brexit is halted, we'll have a new status quo, in which a large number of UK people who were previously pro-Remain but relatively indifferent to the EU and its benefits are now passionately committed to the EU and its benefits. Meanwhile, a bunch of fence-sitters who might have voted soft Leave in 2016 will now be aware that they didn't think it through properly. Yes, the Brexit Ultras will be even more pissed off at being thwarted, but they won't have the floor to themselves any more. I would expect that UK elections of MEPs would no longer be some sort of afterthought with 34% turnout, returning a bunch of useless Kippers. A post-failed-Brexit UK would be an entirely different (chastened) animal from pre-referendum UK, in the same way that a bunch of other Euroskeptic movements in the EU27 have pulled their heads in lately.
posted by rory at 2:43 AM on December 8 [5 favorites]


On the NI issue:

The deal seems to be "regulatory alignment." This means that the UK will have to follow EU rules and regulations. So effectively, they are saying that they will STAY in the EU but will have no more say in the making of the rules, which is fine by me.

On the other hand, maybe the British government still hasn't understood that this is what it means. That wouldn't be too much of a surprise, actually. In that case, we might see a lot of "when we said regulatory alignment, we didn't actually mean that we will align our rules to those of the EU" or the even bolder "if you want regulatory alignment, you (EU) can align yourself to our (UK) rules." In fact, maybe that's what they were thinking when they agree to this. In that case, the whole thing will still blow up.
posted by sour cream at 2:48 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


And the EU should not have itself be held hostage by a hostile UK.

So... don't? I mean, even if the UK stays in the EU, surely its influence is dramatically reduced? Other than having a proportionate amount of MEPs, what influence do you see Britain having going forward that would allow it to hold anyone hostage to anything?
posted by Dysk at 3:13 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


Farage hates the latest developments, so that's a good thing.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:25 AM on December 8 [4 favorites]


what influence do you see Britain having going forward that would allow it to hold anyone hostage to anything?

If they stay in the EU, they'll have veto power on a lot of issues and can block almost anything.
posted by sour cream at 4:31 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


For the people who wanted to leave, we need to provide them with a country where they feel that they belong. And this is a country which hasn't provided that. We're down at what, 25th richest country in the world (per capita, because that's what matters on the individual level), and that's what matters. And if you take places like Dudley ($25,134) or Torbay ($25,842) or Barnsley ($25,724), they're all substantially poorer than Russia ($26,100) and Malaysia ($27,200), not to mention poorer than they were in 2006 (these are 2014 figures). And they all voted 2:1 to Leave (67.6%, 63.2% and 68.3%, respectively).
Excellent post, ambrosen. My thoughts exactly. Where did you get these figures? I'd be interested to compare the three places you mention to three similar sized places in the south-east. Let's say Reading, Maidstone and Crawley, just because I've never been to any of them.

I don't know what it's like in wealthier places, but in so much of the country it feels like the majority of people are struggling against the tide just to stand still in terms of quality of life and finances. But even in the likes of Barnsley, there are quite a few people driving around in brand new luxury cars while many have nothing. The inequality in these places is staggering and probably rivals the likes of Russia and I think that is partly where the resentment and anger lies. It's not in raw GDP, but in the income gap between rich and poor.

Everyone is getting used - or resigned - to the idea of consistently having less. Less reliable healthcare, less libraries and museums and theatres, overgrown parks, roads full of holes. Temporary zero-hour jobs, breadline 'self employment', commuting for hours on stopped roads to £7.50 an hour jobs in over-centralised cities 20+ miles away - Leeds, Manchester. We can't keep the basic fabric of society going without some fat, red-faced stuffed suit with an Audi in the car park shrugging and saying "we can't afford it any more" and the more you repeat such things, the more true they become and the more people stop expecting anything else. In many cases, it's become "we can't afford you any more".

If there is one thing that is categorically not the cause of this shit existence outwith the south-east, it's the EU. The EU didn't cause this. Britain's soulless, bean-counting, private equity-driven, miserly cost-cutting business culture caused this. We invest nothing in our people or our places or our technology. We invest nothing in our future and while we have a population resigned to rubbing their faces in shit every day just to survive we won't.

And while we have so much shit to deal with as a country, instead we have got our heads in the sand and we are looking solely at one issue, Brexit. I love this country, but I have less and less hope for its future well-being every day this nonsense goes on. What do we do next?
posted by winterhill at 4:47 AM on December 8 [21 favorites]


If they stay in the EU, they'll have veto power on a lot of issues and can block almost anything.

That's a bit vague. What are you concerned that the UK would veto, and is that actually an issue where it can? And what about the 27 other members, each with their own particular quirks? In an area such as taxation reform, for example, it's Luxembourg that's the sticking point, not the UK.

If the fear is that the UK would block the EU from becoming a federal state, a USE, there are other countries that would do the same. And what would stop any countries that want to become a federal state from becoming a federal state within the larger EU?
posted by rory at 4:59 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]




It is not the current crop of country crippling buffoons that I fear, really. They are making horrifying daily mistakes through sheer hubris and incompetence, sure. And they are aided by legions of short-sighted followers who have never lived through true tumult and see the institutions and systems that gave them such an incredible start in life as fripperies and entitlements that they can safely demolish. I’m angry with them and i am regularly stunned with how obtuse they are, but I don’t fear them.

The ones I fear are standing in the background, quietly learning that events, scandals and actions that have taken down governments for decades are now permissible. They’re learning that with enough brazenness and enough churn in the endless, decentralised, heavily siloed news cycle they can break any norm, ignore any guideline and in some cases ignore or rewrite the law.

Right now it’s the raging reactionary id of the harrumphing provincial colonels of Britain that is testing those boundaries in pursuit of a dream of Empire that never really existed.

But with a few more crises, a failing bank here, a terrorist attack there, a food shortage or an economic blockade, the ones standing in the background will step forward. And they will sound convincing from the depths of the chaos currently being sown. And they have learned that they can do what they want. And what they want will be truly terrible.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:10 AM on December 8 [5 favorites]


Counterview from the Continent

Also where exactly on "the continent" is this view coming from?
posted by Dysk at 5:15 AM on December 8


That's a bit vague. What are you concerned that the UK would veto, and is that actually an issue where it can? And what about the 27 other members, each with their own particular quirks? In an area such as taxation reform, for example, it's Luxembourg that's the sticking point, not the UK.

Look, due to incessant nagging by Thatcher, the UK got their rebate. They're not part of the Euro, and against more integration in numerous areas, from fiscal over security to political integration. The EU bent over backwards to accommodate the UK in every way imaginable, yet is still blamed for everything, from bendy bananas (or lack thereof, I forget) in supermarkets to the large number of foreigners in the country to unemployment to the economic hardship of those left behind by globalization. EU politicians are ridiculed DAILY in the British press, which is expecting the EU to disintegrate any day now and celebrating every piece of bad news from the EU.

That's OK. The UK can keep on bitching if they want to, but they will have to do it from the sidelines from now on.

As for the other 27, it's certainly not that they are perfect, none of them are. But they all seem to be more committed to the European project than the UK is. At least no other country has voted to leave yet.
posted by sour cream at 5:58 AM on December 8 [4 favorites]


Obviously the solution then is to fuck over all the EU27 citizens who made their lives in the UK in good faith, then. Because continued EU jurisdiction and pressure is the only way we'll continue to have rights at all. But Thatcher nagged decades ago, so I guess we can just get fucked.
posted by Dysk at 6:16 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


That's OK. The UK can keep on bitching if they want to, but they will have to do it from the sidelines from now on.
I genuinely don't know what you are whinging about at this point. "The UK" in this context is no more a cohesive, singular entity than "the EU". It feels like you're trying to sow division where there is none - is anyone in this thread "bitching" or arguing in favour of Brexit or in favour of the UK screwing the EU?
posted by winterhill at 6:20 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


Obviously the solution then is to fuck over all the EU27 citizens who made their lives in the UK in good faith

If I had to choose between a more unified EU without the UK and the EU27 citizens in the UK ? I'd choose a more unified EU every time, sorry.
posted by Pendragon at 6:24 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


So the UK promises not to do absolutely crazy stuff like torching the Anglo-Irish agreement or ruining the lives of millions, in exchange for staying in the negotiation. That's a fair exchange, but it costs so much.
posted by runcifex at 6:29 AM on December 8


Thatcher got that rebate 32 years ago, which is before something like 40% of the current UK population was even born. And the UK isn't the only EU member outside the euro - would you also eject the eight other countries that haven't adopted it? Euromyths like the bendy bananas are ridiculous, yes, and plenty of people here say so; also, plenty of people know the role of manipulators like Boris Johnson in fabricating them. Much of the British press is toxic, yes (though the British press also includes bulwarks of progressive politics like the Guardian), but its toxicity is being directly manipulated by a handful of unaccountable rich men, including one who isn't even British and is derailing most of the English-speaking world, not just the UK.

It might be fun to anthropomorphize a country of 65 million into a single voice, but it's a complete misrepresentation of the reality of the place. UK politics is broken because first-past-the-post distorts our elections and gives right-wing voices far more influence than they deserve. That doesn't mean that "the UK" is Euroskeptic any more than the election of Tony Blair meant that "the UK" was Britpop.

UK people have been intractably split down the middle over this issue since the referendum, with both sides becoming more entrenched in their views, so it's unfair to imply that we speak with one voice on this. Many of us are fighting a rearguard action here against emboldened racists and bigots to preserve the vision of the UK that we love, and many of us see the EU as an ally in that fight, so being written off as if we're all floppy-haired jingoistic buffoons is really unhelpful.
posted by rory at 6:32 AM on December 8 [13 favorites]


If I had to choose between a more unified EU without the UK and the EU27 citizens in the UK ? I'd choose a more unified EU every time, sorry.

The constant refrain of "you're just acceptable collateral damage, *shrug*" on this issue on mefi remains sickening. That it's just tolerated is disappointing to say the least.
posted by Dysk at 6:38 AM on December 8 [8 favorites]


Like, that amounts to saying "yeah, I'd throw you to the lions every time" but somehow that's just fine?
posted by Dysk at 6:39 AM on December 8


Yeah, somehow the solidarity we would expect in US politics threads evaporates here, because US electoral college something something something but the UK is a flawless democracy that couldn't possibly have been led into this mess by manipulators and fools, and therefore Brexit is exactly what we all wanted.

This is the UK too. I've thought about that clip many times since June 2016, because she spoke for so many of us. Try telling Beverly that she isn't committed to the European project.
posted by rory at 6:53 AM on December 8 [4 favorites]


As a - until this morning - still hopeful Remainer, I really think it is game over for that cause. The EU have everything they want and now can get rid of an unwilling, surly member without penalty to themselves. Revoking Article 50 is surely not an option any more, because why would they agree?

As for our negotiating prowess? Blustering, ill-prepared and duplicitous is probably being overly generous. The joke is that the UK capitulated on pretty much everything in order to start trade talks, and we will get nothing out of that process either. The national humiliation continues.
posted by epo at 7:00 AM on December 8


I wish the UK best of luck. I think they'll need it.

Man, I can totally understand everyone who's angry at the UK. But if you'd read the room even a tiny bit, you'd have noticed that every single UK resident in this thread is a varying amount of upset ranging from angrier than they've ever been about politics at the lower end, all the way up to absolutely heartbroken with their plans all smashed.

So a bit more tact than "a plague on both your houses" would be welcome.
posted by ambrosen at 7:00 AM on December 8 [17 favorites]


So a bit more tact than "a plague on both your houses" would be welcome.

Apologies for the tactlessness.

I don't wish a plague on your house. And if your house burns down, you're welcome to move in here.
posted by sour cream at 7:08 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


A bunch of people won't be welcome to move anywhere, actually. You know that whole Brexit thing? Kinda traps an awful lot of Brits here...
posted by Dysk at 7:13 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


UK people have been intractably split down the middle over this issue since the referendum, with both sides becoming more entrenched in their views

Is there genuinely less buyer's remorse on the Leave side than we're seeing from offshore? From outside the UK it looks as if another referendum held tomorrow would favour the Remain side of that split.
posted by flabdablet at 7:14 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Revoking Article 50 is surely not an option any more, because why would they agree?

They would agree because key EU figures and leaders of other EU countries have said that we can change our minds, and legal opinion appears to support them, that's why. There's nothing in Article 50 to say that the other 27 member states have to individually approve a revocation. "A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention." The Prime Minister could simply send the European Council a one-line letter: "It is no longer the intention of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union."

Obviously, our continued presence in the room afterwards would be akin to George Costanza's, at least for a while, but if the countries of Europe could move on from World War II and then the Cold War and work with their former enemies, they can cope with a failed Brexit. A bunch of rhetoric and timewasting from a divided Britain is small beer compared with carpet bombing and nuclear brinkmanship.
posted by rory at 7:34 AM on December 8 [6 favorites]


flabdablet: Oddly from my perspective its been quite difficult to tell from onshore. I work in a university so I guess that might strongly colour who I talk to but even outside the place its rare to meet leavers and have a conversation about it. I know there must be plenty around but it doesn't come up. The only person I know for sure voted Leave was my father and he just laughed when I pointed out my entire career has been built on teaching in EU funded buildings and researching around European policy. I don't think he has changed his opinion, I'm not sure how he logiced himself into it in the first place.
posted by biffa at 7:36 AM on December 8


Yes and no, flabdablet. Opinion polling on whether U.K. was right/wrong to leave has been slowly and gradually moving towards ‘wrong’, which has been ahead for the last few months. But there’s also a distinct lack of willingness to hold another referendum, plus a definite sense that it’d be unfair verging on ridiculous to hold another vote just because the government wasn’t expecting the first one. (Which is a fair point, and I say this as someone who thinks this Brexit a ridiculous self-harming thing for the country to do in the first place - you can’t just offer people a vote and then say “oops!”)
posted by Catseye at 7:41 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


You also can't just offer people a vote on fantasies and lies, but that's what was done. "Oops" seems like the much lesser of those two evils.
posted by Dysk at 7:45 AM on December 8 [10 favorites]


rory, that is a rose tinted view. Article 50 does not mention anything about changing your mind. The UK has decided to withdraw and the withdrawal process is in progress.

Article 50.5 says "5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49."

Article 49 begins "Any European State which respects the values referred to in Article 2 and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union."
posted by epo at 8:31 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


But the state in question has not withdrawn from the Union. It is still a member. If we got to the end of the two years and crashed out, then we would need to reapply for admission. No one is arguing about that. The question is whether we can go backsies on the 'triggering' of Article 50 before the time is up.
posted by winterhill at 8:35 AM on December 8 [5 favorites]


That is indeed the question. I'm sure the omission of any backsliding clause in Article 50 is quite deliberate and that (to my non-legal mind) surely means that any withdrawal letter from the UK has no validity.
posted by epo at 8:50 AM on December 8


But the state in question has not withdrawn from the Union.

Exactly. It ain't over till it's over. The UK has notified the Council of its intention to withdraw. That withdrawal is set for 29 March 2019. If the UK revokes its intention to withdraw before then, withdrawal will never have taken place, and none of the conditions about readmission will apply.

It's a bit like all those leavers saying that Project Fear was unfounded because none of the warnings about the effect of Brexit have come true. Brexit didn't happen on 23 June 2017, or on 29 March 2017. It's set for 29 March 2019, and it still might not happen.

If we do withdraw on 29 March 2019, then the campaign to rejoin the EU "subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49" begins.
posted by rory at 8:50 AM on December 8 [5 favorites]


surely means that any withdrawal letter from the UK has no validity.

No, it just means they left it vague, because Article 50 was never intended to be used. A notification of intention to withdraw just as plausibly implies the capacity to withdraw that notification.
posted by rory at 8:54 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


Article 50 is about a "decision" to withdraw, not an "intent". We have withdrawn and are now negotiating the details. The Guardian "The European parliament’s resolution subsequently made clear the withdrawal process could only be stopped with the consent of the other 27 member states.".
posted by epo at 8:56 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


That's not what article 50 says. It's true that it relates to deciding to withdraw, at which point you announce your intent, and then begin the process of negotiating a withdrawal. The withdrawal has not occurred. Specifically:

"The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2"

The notification (of intent) is the only thing that has happened.

At any rate, the man who wrote the bloody article reckons it's entirely reversible, and he likely has a reasonable idea of how to interpret the thing.
posted by Dysk at 9:05 AM on December 8 [4 favorites]


Apologies, I skipped the word "intention", however the EU parliament's resolution indicates their their stance quite clearly, the EU 27 need to agree any stoppage or change in timetable. (Will back off for a while now.)
posted by epo at 9:11 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Right, but that was related to Britain hypothetically using it as a loophole to extend the withdrawal process, not an outright good-faith cancellation.
posted by Dysk at 9:13 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


We have withdrawn and are now negotiating the details.

We have not yet withdrawn. We have decided to withdraw, we have announced our intention to withdraw, but we have not yet withdrawn. The same way a Texan court might find someone guilty of murder, and pass sentence of death on them, but they would remain alive for the time being, and might never actually be executed. We're on death row, but we might yet win an appeal, or get pardoned by the Governor.

Arron Banks and Nigel Farage have been foaming at the mouth on Twitter all day because they know the score: the direction of travel is now towards a Brexit in name only, but with collateral damage, like constraining resident EU27 citizens' rights, and the loss of any UK say in the rules we will have to abide by. Taking back control, eh. Hard Brexit is slipping from their grasp, and all that's left is Rubbish Brexit. And once the wider UK population realises that we'll be paying the same as if we were still in the EU, and having to abide by a swathe of EU rules, except without any say in what we're paying for, they might well swing solidly to remaining altogether. That's why they're so angry at May today.

If I had to choose between Rubbish Brexit and the cliff, obviously I'd choose Rubbish Brexit. But another, far superior choice is still on the table, if only the UK could swallow its pride and take it.
posted by rory at 10:38 AM on December 8 [10 favorites]


Yeah, the text of the agreements that gave emerged so far seem to suggest restoring rights to EU27 citizens that we've had taken away (such as out-of-work benefits) but the devil is in the details, and the UK has had no issue up to now hitting me with all the regulation and taxation that comes with being resident in the UK, while considering me not habitually resident in the UK for benefits purposes (I have lived nowhere else since I was 18, well over a decade ago).
posted by Dysk at 10:46 AM on December 8


And once the wider UK population realises that we'll be paying the same as if we were still in the EU, and having to abide by a swathe of EU rules, except without any say in what we're paying for, they might well swing solidly to remaining altogether.

I think this is sadly optimistic. I think, broadly, that people with remain sympathies are likely to feel that way, but I suspect a lot of brexiteers are more likely to feel betrayed by Westminster, and will be clamoring for something more akin to a Farage-esque "well two fingers up to the bally lot of 'em" style brexit.
posted by Dysk at 10:51 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I wouldn't want to guess the odds. Yesterday I might have said 25%; maybe now it's more like 35%. There's plenty of room for those odds to improve, though. I fear the biggest obstacle will be wounded pride.

If we end up leaving with no deal, though, we'll be spending euros on Oxford Street by 2035. And on Princes Street a lot sooner than that.
posted by rory at 11:00 AM on December 8


And once the wider UK population realises that we'll be paying the same as if we were still in the EU, and having to abide by a swathe of EU rules, except without any say in what we're paying for, they might well swing solidly to remaining altogether.

Either that, or they'll swing solidly to hating the EU even more. Probably the latter.
posted by sour cream at 2:26 PM on December 8


If you limit yourself to the set of actions and policies that don't upset the wingnuts you're already fucked. The last 50 years of US history is fairly illustrative of what happens when you try to appease them. We've never been a European social democracy, but in several important ways we've only gone backwards in the last generation for various reasons that are only now becoming similar over there. (Mainly a lack of direct experience of the hardship that is being in weapons range of a major war, though there are others)
posted by wierdo at 3:09 PM on December 8


Ain't too surprising Tory did not produce any impact assessment themselves. Isn't the whole point of Eton, etc. that you never need to work?

Instead, your question should be: Why didn't lobbyists adapt an impact assessment written by corporations like always happens for the GOP in the U.S.? Is it maybe that the corporations' employees who do such things were too busy planning for the actual impact to write up any bullshit?

In any case, it sounds like congratulations might be in order for all my British friends who opposed Brexit, although individuals might still get screwed on immigration.
British Deal With European Union Shatters Illusions of Pro-Brexit Extremists
posted by jeffburdges at 3:59 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


The question of whether we can rescind our Article 50 letter is moot - the EU has said repeatedly and emphatically that it wishes the UK to stay. It's easy for us in the UK to forget that the EU remembers why it exists, to strengthen Europe's guard against conflict and promote peace and stability, and having the UK in the club (pace de Gaulle) is a big part of that.

The only issue I can foresee is Spain getting antsy about not getting leverage over Gibraltar after all, and there's lots of things that the EU would like us to sign up to, such as Schengen and the Euro, but given the general shape of things a simple 'opps, sorry' should suffice. .

In any case, one of the infinite ironies of the situation is that if an actual Brexit can be delayed or fudged away for a few years, demographics suggest there'll be a solid pro-EU majority in the UK anyway. The Grim Reaper is preparing the final Brexit papers for a large cohort of Leavers even as I type.
posted by Devonian at 6:24 AM on December 9 [2 favorites]


A bunch of people won't be welcome to move anywhere, actually. You know that whole Brexit thing? Kinda traps an awful lot of Brits here...

I.e., a captive labour pool; also, one which will be competitive in labour costs and working conditions, as Britain doesn't have anything else it can compete with the EU, USA, China, &c. with. And making Britain's workforce competitive wouldn't work if they could just decamp and look for work abroad.
posted by acb at 6:25 AM on December 9


but given the general shape of things a simple 'opps, sorry' should suffice. .

No! I insist—insist!—that the EU requires Britain to join Schengen in return for unfucking itself.
posted by acb at 6:27 AM on December 9 [2 favorites]


A good game to play is - what happens, post soft borderless Brexit as currently envisaged - Ireland decides to join Schengen?
posted by Devonian at 6:30 AM on December 9 [1 favorite]


Devonian, surely the GFA means that the UK and Ireland would have to join Schengen at the same time. (And of course the UK having left the EU doesn't rule out its joining Schengen.)
posted by ambrosen at 11:43 AM on December 9


Could the UK theoretically join Schengen whilst still requiring new arrivals from the EU to obtain visas to work/to rent accommodation, or does Schengen require full freedom of movement?
posted by acb at 12:10 PM on December 9


I suspect a lot of brexiteers are more likely to feel betrayed by Westminster, and will be clamoring for something more akin to a Farage-esque "well two fingers up to the bally lot of 'em" style brexit.

If Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister, his first act will be to commission a New Spitfire For Britain, a heritage-styled fighter-bomber with “the latest high-tech weapons systems”—stealth, you name it, it's got it—to “put the fear of God up Johnny Foreigner”.
posted by acb at 4:07 PM on December 10


I think more accurately his first act would be to pretend to solicit bids for his New Spitfire For Britain before giving Thomas Heatherwick the job like always.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:40 AM on December 11 [1 favorite]


New Spitfire For Britain: the speed of the Brabazon, the airworthiness of the Comet 1, the longevity of the TSR-2

Poor old Boris J., born too late to be the brains behind the Suez Crisis.
posted by scruss at 6:57 AM on December 11 [2 favorites]


jeffburdges: "Isn't the whole point of Eton, etc. that you never need to work?"

I think they also came up with that collar.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:15 AM on December 11


I think they also came up with that collar.

And this mess.
posted by jontyjago at 8:19 AM on December 11 [5 favorites]


A great Twitter thread on the battles ahead for the Brexit deal-makers by Kirsty Hughes, Director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations.
posted by rory at 9:21 AM on December 11 [2 favorites]


Not looking forward to #3 playing out.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 4:26 PM on December 11


This is also a great twitter thread in defense of the opposition, by "Steve Analyst". Lots of historical clips and quotes.
posted by rollick at 2:21 AM on December 12 [2 favorites]




EU27 regard the UK government as untrustworthy.

David Davis. Unable to resist sticking his foot in it for one weekend. This is just sheer incompetence.

As to earlier discussion, there shouldn't be a re-run of the referendum on Brexit. There should be a referendum on the deal that has been negotiated rather than the fairytale bullshit promises and lies.

"Do you want this [steaming pile of shit/temporary blip on our way to freedom], or do you want to stay in the European Union?"
posted by MattWPBS at 11:02 AM on December 12 [4 favorites]




Brexit is undone, and the price is closer ties to the EU. In exchange, the electorate becomes uncomfortably aware that the Torries are made of smoke-rings puffed by the mega-rich and the muppets that amuse them. We all know where BoJo lives, and I think May is right there with him, but still thinks she's a smoke-ring worth the reckoning.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:30 PM on December 13


We all know where BoJo lives

Islington?
posted by Chrysostom at 10:49 PM on December 13


Government loses key Brexit bill vote after Tory rebellion

And the Daily Mail (predictably) loses their shit.

I can't remember where, but I saw a quote from one of these Tory MPs saying that being featured as one of the Mutineers on the recent front page of the Telegraph hardened their resolve to fight for a meaningful Brexit vote in Parliament so be careful what you wish for Mr Dacre.
posted by jontyjago at 1:46 AM on December 14 [1 favorite]


Can some explain this latest twist and the whole point of this "mutiny"?

As I understand it, the Tory remainer "traitors" have managed to enshrine in law that any Brexit agreement between the UK government and the EU27 needs to be run by the UK parliament before it is final. In other words, the UK government cannot decide the Brexit conditions (by agreeing to a deal with the EU) without asking the parliament, right? So the parliament has the option of not agreeing if the Brexit deal turns out to be "too hard".

But, let's say, the UK government hammer out a deal with the EU that is regarded as "too hard" by the UK parliament. The option is then not to agree to that deal, in which case the UK will drop out of the EU with no deal at all, no? In other words, the options that the parliament will have is "accept whatever deal the government negotiates with the EU" and "no deal at all = super-hard Brexit".
This sounds like something that the hardcore Brexiteers might want, but not a bunch of Tory remainers. So why are these Tory remainers beat up by the British pro-Brexit press?
Or am I missing something?
posted by sour cream at 2:28 AM on December 14


This is a synecdochical illustration to the government's handling of Brexit matters. [from Guardian live blog]
Sir Edward Leigh, a Conservative, says there are more than 42,000 bottles in the EU’s wine cellar. Will the UK gets fair share when it leaves the EU?

Robin Walker, a Brexit minister, says that is an interesting question. He says the deal agreed last week sets out how EU assets will be shared.
posted by runcifex at 3:07 AM on December 14


The option is then not to agree to that deal, in which case the UK will drop out of the EU with no deal at all, no?

Or they could renege on leaving the EU (provided it's either not yet March 2019, or the article 50 period has been extended by unanimous agreement by all EU member states, including Britain). I think we can all but take it as read that a government that loses an EU deal vote isn't going to last very long before a new election will be necessary, so the options for wilful "take this deal or we're out on our arse" obstructionism are going to be limited.
posted by Dysk at 4:00 AM on December 14


more than 42,000 bottles in the EU’s wine cellar. Will the UK gets fair share when it leaves the EU?

Yes, the UK can get all of the British Wine back from the EU. I suspect the EU sommeliers are quite looking forward to it.
posted by scruss at 5:34 AM on December 14 [1 favorite]


Well, it looks like the EU won't be having any of it: EU will not renegotiate Brexit deal if UK parliament rejects it, says Luxembourg PM. Luxembourg's Bettel: "I really believe that to think that Theresa May will negotiate something, we will negotiate something and then again Theresa May will go back to Westminster, is not good for the position of the negotiations."

I think he's absolutely right. The UK government is on its way to have even less credibility than a Tour de France cyclist.
posted by sour cream at 5:39 AM on December 14 [1 favorite]


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