The Neverending Brexit Endgame
January 9, 2019 6:35 PM   Subscribe

Britain's parliament is now at war with its government—and it's winning.

Now that Christmas is out of the way, Parliament's vote on the EU withdrawal agreement, delayed by Theresa May in December, is imminent. The ever-reliable Ian Dunt explains Wednesday's extraordinary events in the Commons, two days after a small group of Brexit supporters staged a yellow vest protest, and three days after the government staged a fake traffic jam intended to show that we could survive without a deal, so there.

Meanwhile, as real life that feels like fiction unfolds around us, a fictionalised version of the EU referendum campaign appears on our TV screens.

Previous Brexit thread.
posted by rory (579 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
 
The first article is fascinating! I love a suspenseful parliamentary maneuver story.

Not trying to be flip about a serious situation, just loved reading that article.
posted by medusa at 6:55 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Fucking A! This is awesome.
posted by evilDoug at 6:57 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Britain's parliament is now at war with its government—and it's winning.

Well, it did the last time.
posted by jb at 7:00 PM on January 9 [22 favorites]


In the UK, Parliament is sovereign. It's about time they act like it.
posted by tclark at 7:09 PM on January 9 [12 favorites]


It's kind of amazing that the maximum Remainer option on the table is "second referendum", when it should be "the first referendum was non-binding, if the exit deal gets voted down let's just revoke Article 50 and move on with our lives". Let the Leavers try to organize a second and binding referendum and see how that goes.
posted by allegedly at 7:22 PM on January 9 [74 favorites]


I can't help but think there's a lot of Tories or Tory supporters holding short positions on a bunch of asset classes that will tank if there's a no-deal Brexit, and stand to make a lot of money from it.
posted by SansPoint at 7:36 PM on January 9 [19 favorites]


Yes, the main article linked in the FPP, and indeed the whole http://www.politics.co.uk site is an excellent resource on the whole sorry mess that is Brexit. I had been struggling in my own mind to try to understand exactly what was going on, and what will happen after 29 March, but this article, Brexit A-Z: Your quick-and-easy guide to the most complicated debate in British politics, is especially useful in that regard.

I have been trying to figure out the most likely outcome and I can't see anything other than the exit deal being agreed to by Parliament. Any other option seems even worse to my mind. But then I didn't ever believe Brexit would win the popular vote, nor did I ever think Trump would end up President of the US so my track record on these things is bleak.
posted by vac2003 at 7:55 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


… and similarly, a lot of investments have been made to shore up GBP, as we've had months of extraordinarily terrible political decisions and yet the £ refuses to drop much below €1.10. I think it would be an almost war-declaring loss of face to Brexiters if GBP dropped below parity with the Euro.

It also amazes me that there are seemingly sentient UK politicians who think that further concessions are possible on the deal with the EU. I don't know how Barnier and others keep their cool while repeatedly saying "No, this is the deal; you can't get another one."

Today's change of heart in Parliament has made me think that May's cynical strategy of holding onto power until the UK leaves the EU may backfire. The way I saw it, the Tories wanted to stay in power until March solely to prevent another party/coalition gaining power (how, I'm not sure in such a short time) . It didn't matter if they left with a deal or no deal: they just wanted to stymie any other party from being able to keep the UK in Europe. I imagine the DUP are like Alice Beeblebrox guarding the true story of Zaphod on the Frogstar: they're waiting for what they like to call "the right price".
posted by scruss at 8:04 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


It also amazes me that there are seemingly sentient UK politicians who think that further concessions are possible on the deal with the EU.

It's completely bizarre. Talk about English exceptionalism. Talk about the wrong people being present at the wrong point in history. Corbyn/Labour appears to want a "no deal", too.

All I can say is that Theresa May deserves to be in this awful position. I have friends and acquaintances in Japan who have been separated from their spouses or forced to live away from the U.K. because of May's immigration policies as Home Secretary. A loathsome person.
posted by JamesBay at 8:12 PM on January 9 [30 favorites]


I can't help but think there's a lot of Tories or Tory supporters holding short positions on a bunch of asset classes that will tank if there's a no-deal Brexit, and stand to make a lot of money from it.

Sad but true...and so so very traitorous. Betting on your country's businesses to fail while holding the positions to make it actually happen. Ugh. Yuck.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:21 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


This is an encouraging sign, but I suspect it’s probably too little and too late. The horrifying thing is that No-Deal is the default choice and will happen automatically if nobody is able to get something approaching sane through parliament in the next eleven-and-a-half weeks.

The excellent Stephen Bush lays out the current state of play in the New Statesman.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:21 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


's kind of amazing that the maximum Remainer option on the table is "second referendum", when it should be "the first referendum was non-binding

To say that Cameron massively fucked up here is like saying the supermassive black hole in the centre of our galaxy sucks a bit. He assumed all the way through that Remain would win - because it was transparently the right outcome, and he always won anyway - so he didn't plan for what chaos would follow if he lost. He could have said that in the event of a Leave vote, there'd be a second referendum once the Leave deal had been decided. He could have set up a fucking commission on 'Our Future In The EU' and demanded some worked-out plans before even having a referendum. But no, he just wanted to kill UKIP with minimum effort. Which, I guess, he's done, much as you sort out pedestrian congestion in Camden by setting off a nuke in the tube station.

And then he ran away, when as the instigator of the horror he may have had some residual authority to defang it.

But no, he lost, he declared it The Will Of The People and fucked off. In more effective, muscular times, his head would be on a spike outside the Tower by now.
posted by Devonian at 8:31 PM on January 9 [83 favorites]


All I can say is that Theresa May deserves to be in this awful position.

But what about the British public? Do they deserve to be in this awful position? I get that Brexit represents a massive failure on so many levels, including by politicians on all sides of the political spectrum, some of whom will rightly go down in the annals of history as liars and cowards, if not downright traitors. Perfidous Albions indeed! But it is the public that will truly bear the brunt of this awfulness and even if some of them voted for this mess, they will still suffer as a result. The consequences of a "no deal" on food supply alone would be catastrophic and in very short order. Not sure what I am trying to say here, other than I really worried about what will happen.
posted by vac2003 at 8:38 PM on January 9 [10 favorites]


But what about the British public? Do they deserve to be in this awful position?

The British people are entitled to deliver a robust response any time they choose
posted by Merus at 8:48 PM on January 9 [10 favorites]


And by robust, I mean 'probably unlawful'
posted by Merus at 8:58 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


The horrifying thing is that No-Deal is the default choice and will happen automatically if nobody is able to get something approaching sane through parliament in the next eleven-and-a-half weeks.

The government is legally entitled to revoke Article 50 anytime it wants. There are political reasons why this cannot be done, mostly to do with the referendum result now being regarded as a "separate source of legitimate political power" as the Politcs.co.uk article states, but also for electoral reasons -- revoking Article 50 will mean the destruction of the Conservative party. It's going to happen anyway, but is it worth destroying an entire economy just to prevent that from happening?
posted by JamesBay at 9:09 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


>>All I can say is that Theresa May deserves to be in this awful position.

But what about the British public? Do they deserve to be in this awful position?


No, not at all, and that's not what I meant. There's some grudging admiration for May in some parts of the media for her sheer determination to keep going on in spite of setback after setback. But there is nothing admirable about that racist xenophobe at all.
posted by JamesBay at 9:11 PM on January 9 [8 favorites]


I would be genuinely interested in what others think will actually happen in the coming days and weeks. Not what we would like to see happen, or think should happen, but we think is the most likely outcome that will actually happen. Personally I think the current exit deal that May has negotiated will pass, eventually, and Britain will begin the long, slow and messy exit from the EU. There will be no second referendum, nor will there be a “no deal”.
posted by vac2003 at 10:04 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I think no deal is the likeliest option, with various routes to get there

...followed by May’s deal for the time being, with possible fudging and Norwaying later, especially if future administrations are more willing to bend on supposed red lines like FoM

... followed by aliens landing and declaring Britain the capital of their protectorate on earth

...followed by the obvious and rational course of action i.e. revoking A50.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:18 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Given that Bercow's decision to allow the vote made Nigel Farage vibrate with rage (LBC link)- I am going to consider that it was not altogether a poor choice.
posted by rongorongo at 10:19 PM on January 9 [8 favorites]


I think it’s true that the actual content of the vote isn’t significant. It requires her to announce a new plan within three days, but if she ignored that requirement or said ‘unfortunately we’re not ready’ I don’t know what the Commons could do except make farmyard noises. More likely she could say the plan was still the same, or announce a plan so vague it was meaningless, or an impossible plan, or a plan she dropped the next day.

The practical effect is just to damage May and her authority further. I think that takes us closer to Corbyn’s preferred option of a new election. In the end, whatever the result of the incredibly introverted Parliamentary debate, the real options are the same. The May deal, no deal - or reverse the whole thing.
posted by Segundus at 11:15 PM on January 9


No, not at all, and that's not what I meant.

I realise that I am close to the line of being an 'over-contributor' on this. And yes, I sorta know what you mean, and maybe I stretched your meaning somewhat. But I do think the issues facing Britain in the coming weeks are so existential, so far-reaching, that our opinions of individual politicians can be a distraction at this time. We are no doubt in violent agreement that Cameron, Johnson, Farage, et al. make pond scum seem appealing. History will deal with them appropriately - I hope. In the meantime, I just worry about how Brexit will impact the vast majority of people. Enough said from me on this.
posted by vac2003 at 11:26 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


It's kind of amazing that the maximum Remainer option on the table is "second referendum", when it should be "the first referendum was non-binding...

Agreed. Leavers think even a second referendum is a betrayal so why not go full betrayal: Revoke Article 50. To his credit, Ken Clarke is saying this.

Carole Cadwalladr has been trying to tell everyone that the first referendum was full of all sorts of shady dealings. And, in any case, the Facebook targeting is already stepping up for a second referendum. So it is not even outlandish to me that even 'No Deal' might win in a second referendum, given how it has become somehow normalized.
posted by vacapinta at 11:51 PM on January 9 [17 favorites]


the Facebook targeting is already stepping up for a second referendum

Yes, I noticed this a few months ago. I think we'll be in the same situation as last time. A second referendum is a dangerous option.
posted by popcassady at 12:51 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


"Brexiteer or Remainer, we're all Brits and we're in this together. Our mission is to
deliver a national campaign that brings Britain together around a simple, sensible idea."

Watch this trio of second referendum ads from Double Check, "a group of friends in the British creative industry": Plug | Passport | Straighteners.

Key message: "We double-check the little things in life, why wouldn’t we double-check the big things. Like leaving the EU?"

Heaven help us all.
posted by ZipRibbons at 1:12 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


A second referendum is a dangerous option.

I think it depends on how such a referendum was framed. The option of saying "lets ask to extend A50 so that we can have a hurried second referendum " is dangerous. However the option of saying "let's rescind A50 and then have a second referendum just as soon as the 'leave' side have submitted a white paper for their plans under terms which have been debated by parliament -and once we have settled on tightened campaigning laws" - less dangerous. As an example of this, consider the 2014 Scottish Indy vote - where the Scottish Government was obliged to submit such a paper, describing in detail how an independent country would work, back in 2011.
posted by rongorongo at 1:13 AM on January 10 [14 favorites]


Agreed, that should be the bare minimum. Plus the schadenfreude of picking apart such a white paper in the same way the 2014 paper was would be delightful. There was some wishful thinking and hand waving in the Scotland’s Future paper, but I’d imagine it will pale next to the kind of unicorn cake manual the current sack of ferrets that call themselves Brexiteers would produce.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:24 AM on January 10 [12 favorites]


I believe Article 50 will be 'rescheduled' if the deal is voted down and May is still in power.

In March, May will be at the cliffs edge. She will have two options: take a leap and suffer economic disaster (no deal), or take a step back and proclaim 'We will take the leap later, for the moment we demand more from the EU'. Done. Sure, some will be angry. But she can make the claim that Article 50 is just being temporarily put off until a better deal is in place. Everyone else will be relieved. After all, her job is to deliver the best possible Brexit and maybe that just takes more time.

In fact, she has already alluded to this plan by saying Brexit may never happen if her deal is voted down.

I believe this is the reason that Corbyn wants an election, because, unlike May, he actually wants Brexit. That's where it truly gets hilariously unpredictable; it may be Labour that forces a no deal Brexit.
posted by romanb at 1:37 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Will the EU agree though? May can't unilaterally delay article 50, only revoke it. At the cliff-edge, the EU may feel that unless the delay enables the UK to somehow converge on a decision, they'd rather have the certainty of no deal (and to some extent punish the government for its failure) in the hope that the bitter medicine would bring the UK to its senses.
posted by crocomancer at 1:42 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


"Rescheduling" Article 50 cannot be done unilaterally, and it's hard to see the EU agreeing to extend this dog and pony show without a damn good reason.
posted by Dysk at 1:43 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


I put 'rescheduling' in quotes because I believe this is how revoking it will be framed for public consumption. Sorry, that wasn't clear.

In plain English:
The UK can revoke A50 unilaterally. It can then call A50 again in the future. Thus 'rescheduling' it, and the EU cannot stop it even if they wanted to.
posted by romanb at 1:53 AM on January 10 [13 favorites]


It's kind of amazing that the maximum Remainer option on the table is "second referendum", when it should be "the first referendum was non-binding...

A second referendum risks being a disaster, given that it will just descend once again into you either "love your country or fuck off" type debate with no clear winner visible at this point.

And whilst plenty of remainers are highlighting the insanity of no-deal and the economic catastrophe that will befall us, there is nobody who is actually willing to present and promote the benefits of being / staying in the EU from a social, cultural, diplomatic and economic point of view. You know, actually push the idea that whilst not perfect, the people of this country need to be a part of the EU to thrive.

And the problem is, there has never been anybody willing to truly push this message - it's always been easier to paint the EU as a shadowy force of evil upon whom all domestic policy failings can be blamed.

And then you've still got fuckers like "disgraced former Defence Minister" Liam Fox unashamedly passing off EU trade deals as example of good old British drum-banging.
posted by jontyjago at 2:07 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


romanb - fair enough. I think the problem with that is the political optics. Revoking A50, even with fairly cast iron guarantees of another referendum in the future, would be seized on by Leavers as a betrayal of the referendum. I don't see any PM willingly grasping that nettle.
posted by crocomancer at 2:15 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


There is no second referendum necessary to call A50 again in the future, as far as I know. I imagine May's speech to be along the lines of "I have decided to revoke and renegotiate to get a Brexit deal that is acceptable to Britain. Then we will leave, as planned and promised."

Actually, this may be Corbyns plan as well, if he's elected (will time allow this?), since there clearly won't be time to renegotiate, which he said he'd do.
posted by romanb at 2:31 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


All I can say is that Theresa May deserves to be in this awful position.

I've said it before, so I'll just recycle an earlier comment of mine:
[...] as a horrible filthy foreigner who moved here not all that long before the whole "hostile environment" policy, the removal of post-study work visas, the exorbitant Home Office application fees that rise every year, etc.....

...I am beside myself with glee to see terrible things happening to Theresa May. She can fuck right off back to her haunted art gallery or orphan gruel factory or whatever it was she did before all this.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:38 AM on January 10 [22 favorites]


Practically, there is the EU election coming up. So even if the UK in theory can revoke A50, the closer we get to May, the more impossible that will be. This goes for Corbyn's dream of a general election, too. The UK will crash out long before he can theoretically be elected PM and negotiate a better deal. (Does anyone know what that would be?) I don't know what the EEA-people are thinking, in my opinion they are as delusional as all the rest: the EEA and EFTA are clubs, and they don't necessarily want to let the UK in. The UK can apply for entrance after leaving, but that isn't really relevant right now. So it's stay, May's deal or crash, and it is time to decide.
At this point I think it will be crash, and I blame Corbyn as much as the Tories. Actually, I blame everyone except the SNP. I've resigned to it. Almost everyone involved seems so delusional, each in their way cradling a fictional UK and talking up a fictional EU.
Meanwhile the new EP may take a hard right turn, in part because Labour will be out. This is all a pile of manure.
posted by mumimor at 2:38 AM on January 10 [11 favorites]


her job is to deliver the best possible Brexit

Not to have a go at you personally romanb, but this sort of line is part of what's got us to the cliff edge in the first place. Her job is to deliver the best possible outcome for Britain. Not the best Brexit. Not the best outcome for the Tories.

At this point I'm wary of making predictions, but the latest Grieve amendment opens up new possibilities. We need to get past the 15th and the withdrawal agreement being voted down, and see where we are. When the options are starkly no deal or a new referendum that promises to be every bit as awful as 2016's and might not resolve anything, we may see the Overton window shift again and bring outright revocation of A50 into clearer view. If May wants to save her own neck, and all her actions so far have suggested that this is high in her priorities, she'll want to avoid a fresh election at all costs. If she can deflect the blame by claiming that Parliament directed her to revoke A50, there's a chance she'll do it. A lot is going to depend on Corbyn's stance, and whether he splits his own party over this.

May can't unilaterally delay article 50, only revoke it. At the cliff-edge, the EU may feel that unless the delay enables the UK to somehow converge on a decision, they'd rather have the certainty of no deal (and to some extent punish the government for its failure) in the hope that the bitter medicine would bring the UK to its senses.

What the EU Commission or the EU27 may prefer is beside the point, as they're bound by the CJEU ruling. Look again at its press release from 10 December:

When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification. That possibility exists for as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force or, if no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU, and any possible extension, has not expired. The revocation must be decided following a democratic process in accordance with national constitutional requirements. This unequivocal and unconditional decision must be communicated in writing to the European Council. Such a revocation confirms the EU membership of the Member State concerned under terms that are unchanged as regards its status as a Member State and brings the withdrawal procedure to an end.

The key line here is "This unequivocal and unconditional decision must be communicated in writing to the European Council". If Parliament directed the government the UK to send the Council a letter saying simply, and only, "the UK withdraws its Article 50 notification", that would be both unequivocal and unconditional; and given that Parliament is sovereign in the UK, and that this Parliament was elected after the A50 notification was sent, would (I would argue) result from "a democratic process in accordance with national constitutional requirements". Any domestic rhetoric around having another go when we're ready would be irrelevant: what matters is what's in the letter.
posted by rory at 3:16 AM on January 10 [23 favorites]


chappell, ambrose: The horrifying thing is that No-Deal is the default choice and will happen automatically if nobody is able to get something approaching sane through parliament in the next eleven-and-a-half weeks.

If I understand correctly, No-Deal Brexit can’t happen without parliament weighing in somehow, if only by choosing to do nothing. Recent developments have shown that parliament isn’t likely to just shrug its shoulders and let it happen. There isn’t a majority in parliament for No-Deal.
posted by Kattullus at 3:17 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


If I understand correctly, No-Deal Brexit can’t happen without parliament weighing in somehow

It will happen by default in 78 days unless Article 50 is revoked or extended. Whether Parliament gets a chance to force a revocation (which is the UK's choice alone) or request an extension (which needs the EU27 to play along), in the face of the government's determination to ignore and sideline it, depends very much on the procedural back-and-forth taking place on the floor of the House of Commons. Which is why all the right-wing press are doing their damnedest to demonize John Bercow.
posted by rory at 3:23 AM on January 10 [17 favorites]


There isn’t a majority in parliament for No-Deal

No Deal is the default - it will happen without an alternative being drafted, agreed with the EU and achieving a majority in parliament. Article 50 is pretty simple and direct.

This is the whole point behind May's strategy - it's her deal or nothing (or we revoke/extend with the assent of the EU)
posted by brilliantmistake at 3:27 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Not to have a go at you personally romanb, but this sort of line is part of what's got us to the cliff edge in the first place. Her job is to deliver the best possible outcome for Britain

It's not how May sees her job, she's stated over and over that she is here to deliver Brexit. You have the prime minister you have, not the one you wish you had.

Otherwise I agree and should have prefaced my sentence with 'As Theresa May sees it, ...'
posted by romanb at 3:54 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


It's worth remembering that Labour's position, pre-referendum, was Remain-and-reform. Post-referendum, like the Tories, they decided to bang the same "will o' the people" drum and promised to leave should they regain power. But the parliamentary arithmetic, the public's backing for the various options, and indeed the emerging reality of the situation, are (bar the latter) very much in flux, so it's hard to guess what Labour's campaign position in a hypothetical election might be. I sense that Corbyn would prefer that an election be about anything but Brexit; he clearly wishes that the whole thing would quietly go away, because it's not his area of strength, one where he's able to articulate a convincing message. Add to that the fact that the party members on whom Corbyn relies to keep him in place are overwhelmingly pro-remain in one form or another. So Labour is still (probably) wise to keep as many cards on the table as they can while continuing to undermine the government at every opportunity. They run the risk of appearing not to have a position, hence the wishy-washy "we'd secure a better deal". Which, to be fair, is not entirely out of the question in you delete certain of the "red lines" imposed by May. Which doesn't mean I think we're due a Labour win at a general election this year, anyway. Another thin Tory majority, followed by a return to the exact same mess we're in now seems, depressingly, a possibility if we go down that route. I suppose it would at least force Corbyn to pick a side.
posted by pipeski at 4:03 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


Labour’s position would I guess by this point be “we can negotiate a better deal with the EU, do not ask us specifics of what this would look like or how renegotiation could be achieved on the current timeframe or which of May’s red lines we’d ditch to get it.”
posted by Catseye at 4:11 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


You have the prime minister you have, not the one you wish you had.

Sure, I know we're all captives of Theresa "Childcatcher in the Rye" May and her personal whims, and to a lesser extent Jeremy "1983" Corbyn and his, and I'd much rather that Ed Miliband had proven more electable in 2015 or Yvette Cooper had won the subsequent Labour leadership race and been up against May in 2017, but heigh-ho.

Nevertheless, a head of government ought to be concerned with the best interests of his or her country. Unfortunately, the Westminster system is an unreliable method of delivering one who is.
posted by rory at 4:13 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


In more effective, muscular times, [David Cameron's] head would be on a spike outside the Tower by now.

Unfortunately, EU regulations put strict limits on the fat content of heads to be displayed on spikes outside public monuments.
posted by flabdablet at 4:18 AM on January 10 [44 favorites]


From the first article: "Speaker John Bercow gave her fair warning at this stage. "Halting the debate after no fewer than 164 colleagues have taken the trouble to contribute," he told the prime minister, "will be thought by many members of this House to be deeply discourteous." (My emphasis)

I love this kind of language. It always makes me think back of the way an obviously shit-faced drunk man who couldn't get up anymore was described as a "gentleman in blue, reclining on the bitumen, reaching for a nearby beer".
posted by Captain Fetid at 4:32 AM on January 10 [11 favorites]




I'd much rather that Ed Miliband had proven more electable

I can't really see any alternative Labour leader ploughing a different path to what Corbyn has, the PLP is pretty split. Ed Miliband's current line is pretty similar to Corbyn and McDonnell. There is very little confidence that a second referendum could get through parliament or be anything other than a painful mess which might would end up with the same result. Hence what seems like a growing push for a Norwayesque deal

In all likelihood there wouldn't have been a 2017 general election with a Cooper Labour leadership and as a result May's deal would have flown through by now on her majority and there would now be no chance of any other outcome.
posted by brilliantmistake at 4:49 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I can't really see any alternative Labour leader ploughing a different path to what Corbyn has

If Miliband had been more electable, David Cameron wouldn't have been PM after 2015 and wouldn't have called the referendum as a sop to Euroskeptic Tories and an attempt to defuse UKIP. We wouldn't have followed this Brexit path. You may be right about the 2017 what-ifs.
posted by rory at 5:05 AM on January 10


I imagine May's speech to be along the lines of "I have decided to revoke and renegotiate to get a Brexit deal that is acceptable to Britain. Then we will leave, as planned and promised."

That might be possible, but there is one caveat in the ECJ's decision that also suggests it might not be constitutionally possible to revoke and retrigger, at least not immediately.

After affirming the UK's right to unilaterally revoke Article 50 the ECJ went on to say:

"The purpose of that revocation is to confirm the EU membership of the Member State concerned under terms that are unchanged as regards its status as a Member State, and that revocation brings the withdrawal procedure to an end."

The question is would the ECJ view an attempt to retrigger Article 50 in the short term as a new "withdrawal procedure" or an attempt to continue a previous "withdrawal procedure" that has already been terminated.

Smart lawyers could make a case for both interpretations.
posted by decent rooms and a bath at 5:38 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


It all feels so very 'Charge of the Not Very Bright Brigade'.
posted by srboisvert at 5:57 AM on January 10 [12 favorites]


The question is would the ECJ view an attempt to retrigger Article 50 in the short term as a new "withdrawal procedure" or an attempt to continue a previous "withdrawal procedure" that has already been terminated.

The CJEU (technically not the ECJ) would only be given an opportunity to offer its view if the EU brought a legal challenge against the UK's revocation of Article 50. The chances of that seem small, as the EU aren't the ones who've displayed irrationality and desperation in all of this. Many EU figures, in the Commission and the Council, have said they would welcome Britain canceling Brexit. Why would they want to revoke a revocation?

If the UK then turned around and actually retriggered A50 with indecent haste - within a few years, say, or even a decade - then you would expect the EU to say "we just went through all this, so here's the withdrawal agreement as previously negotiated, take it or leave it", and to be a lot less accommodating of UK attempts at a do-over. Businesses, and other countries we were hoping to do fabulous deals with, would know not to trust us. We would buy up to another two years in limbo while waiting for our new exit day, but that would be it. That's why Corbyn's "let Labour have a go" plan, at this stage of the game, is bollocks.

He had his chance to ask the UK people to let Labour have a go at his preferred Brexit in the 2017 election, when instead he maintained an air of ambiguity in the hope of wooing Remainers. Which worked, arguably, although not quite enough. I doubt it will again.

Meanwhile, in "Contempt of Parliament is a Way of Life" news: Downing Street has said that if Theresa May’s deal were voted down, any debate over a Brexit plan B would be 90 minutes long and only one amendment would be allowed.
posted by rory at 6:07 AM on January 10 [14 favorites]


It all feels so very 'Charge of the Not Very Bright Brigade'.

Charge of the Shite Brigade.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:17 AM on January 10 [28 favorites]


If Miliband had been more electable, David Cameron wouldn't have been PM after 2015 and wouldn't have called the referendum as a sop to Euroskeptic Tories and an attempt to defuse UKIP. We wouldn't have followed this Brexit path. You may be right about the 2017 what-ifs.

That's fair, also the unwarranted confidence of the Tory party leadership after that election which led to the shambles of the Remain campaign may well have been neutered if Miliband had put up more of a fight.

Meanwhile, in "Contempt of Parliament is a Way of Life" news: Downing Street has said that if Theresa May’s deal were voted down, any debate over a Brexit plan B would be 90 minutes long and only one amendment would be allowed.

Of course that would be up to Mr Bercow
posted by brilliantmistake at 6:22 AM on January 10




In more effective, muscular times, [David Cameron's] head would be on a spike outside the Tower by now.

Unfortunately, EU regulations put strict limits on the fat content of heads to be displayed on spikes outside public monuments.

posted by flabdablet at 4:18 AM

TAKE. BACK. CONTROL.
posted by lalochezia at 6:32 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


... it might not be constitutionally possible to revoke and retrigger, at least not immediately

No-deal is like a speeding truck that no politician with a survival instinct wants to stand in front of. Look at all the quitters (Boris, Davis, Farage & Co.) who got out of the way as soon as they saw it on the horizon. The difficulty of triggering Article 50 in the future is the least of their worries.
posted by romanb at 7:45 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Paddy Power is offering 11/1 on there being some sort of food rationing in the UK this year
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:59 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Paddy Power is offering 11/1 on there being some sort of food rationing in the UK this year

There has been since 2008. It's called austerity.
posted by popcassady at 8:09 AM on January 10 [16 favorites]


Paddy Power is offering 11/1 on there being some sort of food rationing in the UK this year

In 2017, I got to visit Havana just a couple of weeks after Hurricane Irma did. Eggs were still hard to come by because chickens had been blown away but otherwise city life seemed resiliently unaffected: if anybody really wanted - or needed - such hard to get items there were …ways. In the last couple of years there have been major UK media stories about supermarkets shortages of lettuces or milk - events lasting a few days and only affecting some chains. We are shocked if our local store doesn’t have 2 varieties of strawberry, in January. We are not like we were like in 1943 and we are not like Cubans. Serious food shortages and rationing in 2019 will not be easy going events.
posted by rongorongo at 8:48 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


People literally phoned the police because their KFC ran out of chicken.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:59 AM on January 10 [14 favorites]


As I understand it, there are three possible outcomes:

(a) May's deal
(b) No deal
(c) Remain

May's deal is deeply unpopular among MPs and therefore will (probably) not pass.
Remain is regarded as a betrayal of this ominous "will of the people" and a vote for it is even less likely to pass - noone wants to be a traitor.
Therefore, the most likely outcome at this point is no deal, which is what will happen if nothing else is decided - it's the default.

There's still one wild card brought into this by those recent parlamentary shenanigans, and that is that if May's deal fails to pass (as is likely), then, essentially, a new option could be brought to a vote by parliament (i.e. not the government), and that might be a vote on a second referendum.

If a vote on a second referendum passes (possibly the only way to avoid no deal at this point), then it might be possible to stall the exit process for a few months to sort it all out - the ECJ has stated that A50 can be revoked by the UK unilaterally if the same democratic principles are observed as after the first referendum (that would be the case) and I believe the commission (?) has already stated that another referendum would be one of the few scenarios where they would agree to delay the deadline.

At least, that's how I understand the situation, but it's really hard to keep up, so please someone enlighten me, if this is incorrect.
posted by sour cream at 9:57 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Tories considering moves to ban Bercow from joining any reindeer games.
posted by Catseye at 10:03 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Forecasts indicating that May’s deal is set for a 206/403 defeat. Which would make it the biggest parliamentary defeat on record.
posted by rongorongo at 10:28 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Remain is regarded as a betrayal of this ominous "will of the people"

Was. Big shifts have been happening the past couple of months, including in public opinion. The more polls that show that a solid majority of the country would now Remain, the less sustainable is the idea that we should be bound by what we said two and a half years ago. British Parliaments aren't bound by what they previously thought, so why should the people be? If it isn't enough to get Parliament to revoke A50 outright (and if evidence of illegality and Russian interference hasn't been enough, it probably isn't), it's at least enough to warrant another referendum.

the ECJ has stated that A50 can be revoked by the UK unilaterally if the same democratic principles are observed as after the first referendum

No, the CJEU has said that "the revocation must be decided following a democratic process in accordance with national constitutional requirements". Nothing about it being the same process as led to the invocation of A50. The fundamental principle of Britain's unwritten constitution is that Parliament gets to decide what our national constitutional requirements are. If Parliament decides that referendums are for the birds and it wants to stop Brexit once and for all, that's our democratic process.
posted by rory at 11:03 AM on January 10 [12 favorites]


No deal is looking increasingly like the only option to avoid civil unrest.

To deny Brexit is likely to make Gilet Jaunes look like a tea party.
posted by Middlemarch at 11:29 AM on January 10


No. Fuck that. Appeasing fascists has been tried before. It didn't work then, it won't work now.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 11:37 AM on January 10 [30 favorites]


Weren't Brexit voters, like Trump voters, mostly over 50?

Rioting is generally a young person's thing, no?
posted by schadenfrau at 11:51 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


Historically, appeasement is contraindicated.
posted by Devonian at 12:01 PM on January 10 [14 favorites]


 No deal is looking increasingly like the only option to avoid civil unrest.

Just wait and see what unrest no deal would bring. Summer of 2019 could be ugly and potentially lethal.
posted by scruss at 12:03 PM on January 10 [7 favorites]


You guys have a strange idea of “appeasement” not to mention “fascism”.

Brexit was the biggest democratic vote in British history. We vote to leave the EU completely and without reservation.

The Brexit “deal” is nothing of the sort, and is acknowledged as putting us in a worse position than actually remaining.

We voted to leave. We must leave. To do anything else is a betrayal of the British people and of the idea of British democracy.
posted by Middlemarch at 12:08 PM on January 10


Scruss, without Brexit it would be well over by then.

Look to Paris.
posted by Middlemarch at 12:12 PM on January 10


Middlemarch: All Brexits are worse than remaining, including and especially No Deal.

The rest of your premises are that this new power, as Ian Dunt says, trumps everything else including parliamentary sovereignty which is the acknowledged form of British democracy, not plebiscites.
posted by vacapinta at 12:19 PM on January 10 [15 favorites]


Let's see. Arguing that the threat of violence means we must follow a specific path despite the harm it will cause, because a small cadre of far-right wing assholes threaten said violence otherwise... yeah, that sounds like appeasement to me. Also the textbook definition of "terrorism" (c.f. using violence or threat of violence, especially against civilians, to affect political change).

The "fascists" point was specifically regarding the far-right politics of those threatening such action.

I'd also point out that there have been several major demonstrations in favour of Remain, the last one of which topped 700000 people, which have gone off without any violence or problems. The violent and troublesome protests have all been Leave ones, and those have been both much smaller, and dominated by the aforementioned far-right fuckheads.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 12:19 PM on January 10 [21 favorites]


To do anything else is a betrayal of the British people and of the idea of British democracy.

Uh huh. For a referendum that was very specifically advisory, not binding.
posted by tavella at 12:33 PM on January 10 [16 favorites]


You guys have a strange idea of “appeasement” not to mention “fascism”.

Brexit was the biggest democratic vote in British history. We vote to leave the EU completely and without reservation.

The Brexit “deal” is nothing of the sort, and is acknowledged as putting us in a worse position than actually remaining.

We voted to leave. We must leave. To do anything else is a betrayal of the British people and of the idea of British democracy.


Almost the entirety of Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against a non-binding agreement, in a result that had Leave and Remain separated by less than 4%. Leave supporters intimidated immigrants, PoC, Muslims, and other marginalized groups during the entire run-up to the vote. A pro-Remain MP was assassinated in broad daylight a week before the vote by a pro-Leave terrorist with ties to actual neo-Nazi parties. And, of course, the Leave campaign currently has at least two ongoing investigations into their activities and connections.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:37 PM on January 10 [30 favorites]


Who is the “we”, Middlemarch? I'm a UK-Canadian dual citizen, living in Canada. I didn't vote for it — I couldn't vote — even though it affects my family and livelihood.

In the UK, I'm from Scotland. Scotland didn't vote to leave. The major reason that IndyRef failed was of the promise of staying in the EU. So to have this thrust upon my family and friends seems like a particularly foul joke. Further insult is added by the Supreme Court’s decision essentially confirming that the UK Act stripped the devolved parliaments of all their power.

The UK's democracy is not founded upon referenda. Parliament is sovereign, no matter what the press or twitter says.
posted by scruss at 12:39 PM on January 10 [30 favorites]


We voted to leave. We must leave. To do anything else is a betrayal of the British people and of the idea of British democracy.

Fuck. That. Noise.

People voted in a nonbinding referendum for some bullshit Rule Britannia fantasy that was sold to them on the sides of buses. Two years later no one in government has any fucking clue what Brexit would actually look like, and the entire country is about to go over a cliff into Christ alone knows what kind of Mad Max-ian scenario where the best case is that somehow some last-ditch trade deals get negotiated before the entire fucking country runs out of things like food and prescription medicine.

Just pull the plug on the fucking thing and maybe try again later when someone who knows what the fuck they're doing is actually in charge.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:39 PM on January 10 [39 favorites]


> Brexit was the biggest democratic vote in British history. We vote to leave the EU completely and without reservation.

As an outsider (living in the US, not part of this mess), this is a bizarre statement to me, bordering on the surreal. "Completely and without reservation"? When no one can tell, even today, two years after the vote, what "Leave the EU" actually means?

That's not democracy, that's nihilism.

And I don't know what the "biggest democratic vote" means ... unless you'e talking about the fact that population growth means that there were more potential voters for this vote than for any election before it? I would think that the fraction of eligible voters who actually voted would be the right metric to use. And I say that with no idea where that would put the Brexit vote compared to any previous election... although I'm pretty sure that if there was another referendum next week, it would have a much bigger turnout, both in absolute numbers and in fractional terms.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:48 PM on January 10 [13 favorites]


Always lovely when Roderick Spode drops by a Brexit thread.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:49 PM on January 10 [19 favorites]


[Middlemarch, your position is clear, and it's time to let it drop. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:50 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Brexit has been and will remain a project backed heavily by the far right. It is a project that enables the government to terrify immigrants and wave flags. That's generally all that's required for far right support, but this also gifts them relevancy. They will never let this criminally conducted campaign win go, but that's not a reason to let fascist criminals win.
posted by jaduncan at 1:16 PM on January 10 [10 favorites]


The perfect visual metaphor for what the U.K.’s political class has done to the country.
posted by New Frontier at 1:43 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Something to cheer you all up: Where Is The Twat? Danny Dyer Remix (via)
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:44 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Appeasing fascists has been tried before.

That is exactly what the Brexiteers say about the EU. Many of them think that the EU is literally a dictatorship. In fact, the frigging foreign ministor of the UK himself likened the EU to the USSR. Did he lose his job over that? No. Was he reprimanded? No. Did he apologize? Of course not. Why would he? That the EU is a dictatorship has been repeated so any times by so many sources ad nauseam in the UK that it is absolutely mainstream common sense today and goes entirely unquestioned. Political points can only be scored by shitting on the EU. The British Government views the EU as "the enemy" - in fact, that is what it is openly called by some government ministers.

And this reflects the sentiment in much of the public. For much of the country, this is a fight for freedom. Losing this fight goes beyond caving in to economic reality and necessity, it means staying in chains. And what can be more noble than making a sacrifice for the freedom of the country? Brexit means independence. The best case that Remainers are currently making is that of economic necessity - basically, caving in to the evil empire because of your poor hand. So even if support for Brexit is dropping, that's not due to any changing attitudes towards the EU, which has certainly not gained much sympathy in the UK in the last two years.

So that's what you're up against, Remainers. Those stories about empty supermarkets won't scare anyone (at least not any real Brexiteers). If anything, it will just harden their resolve. And even if you win this round, the fight still won't be over.
posted by sour cream at 3:41 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


I wanted to post a link to the Brexit Dragon Energy with Tom Kibasi episode of the TRASHFUTURE podcast. I haven't listened to much else by them, but I found it really interesting and it made clearer to me how I'd let my vitriolic dislike of FBPE types lead me to a bad line on Brexit.

It also touched upon ideas of how a back-down can be managed without giving the fascists fuel. The argument is that it has to come from Labour - supporting a Tory remain project won't work, it has to be a Remain plan that addresses the issues that lead to the leave vote in the first place.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 4:06 PM on January 10


it has to be a Remain plan that addresses the issues that lead to the leave vote in the first place

But the main issue that led to the leave vote is all the rich Telegraph readers who are racist and hateful as fuck, while living wealthy lives in prosperous towns with good pensions after useless lives failing upwards in the city.

I'm not interested in hearing any more comments blaming bigotry on poor people. I can't stand that bullshit.
posted by ambrosen at 4:10 PM on January 10 [14 favorites]


That is exactly what the Brexiteers say about the EU. Many of them think that the EU is literally a dictatorship.

Yes, but they are delusional if they truly believe that, and manipulative liars if they don’t.

But point taken about the ferocity of their identification with Brexit. Please tell me to go away if this is not an appropriate question, but is anyone framing this as a Russian + oligarch attack on both the EU and the UK? It, uh, kind of was, wasn’t? In much the same way it was in the US?

So that’s not to say the fire wasn’t there beforehand, but the people throwing gasoline on it were definitely still attacking.
posted by schadenfrau at 4:23 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Yes, but they are delusional if they truly believe that, and manipulative liars if they don’t.

This is what makes me pretty grim about the prospects of either a second referendum or withdrawing A50. How do you deal with people who either don't understand or care what reality is? If the UK wanted to leave the EU, there's all sorts of models that could have been the goal, with accompanying costs and levels of disengagement. But that's not what was voted for, it was a fantasy version where Brexiteers kept every benefit but shed every cost and constraint. And because that fantasy version could never be negotiated, two years were wasted that could have been used to negotiate a reasonably smooth exit to a real world result.

And I am not convinced that anything but a small minority of Brexit voters have woken up to that reality, and I think the vast majority of them will vote for the same fantasy especially after a couple of months of targeted advertising and lies from Boris and other oligarchs. Plus I think there's a section of Remain voters who aren't much better informed and are tired of all this and will vote Brexit just to get it over with.
posted by tavella at 5:02 PM on January 10 [8 favorites]


There definitely was Russian interference, to a certain extent, but it wasn't simply that. It wasn't simply anything - it was a confluence of a number of separate things. In a lot of places it was a big red button that allowed people to vent their quite justified frustrations. Ultimately that that frustration had bubbled up so dangerously is testament to the failure not only of neoliberalism and austerity, but also the centralising technocracy of the 90s and 00s, the conservatism of the 80s and back and back. This has been building for a long, long time.

The problem is we tend to think that only the people who are suffering enough for our tastes have anything to complain about. But people who on the surface are doing fine will have fears for the future, for their children and grandchildren, who can't get steady jobs or a proper home. They'll remember a much more stable-seeming society in the 60s, 70s and 80s (I did say "-seeming"), and worry about the country falling to bits. And someone will come along and say - "Ah, it's Europe - vote to leave and we can go back to being prosperous again", and why wouldn't they believe it? Because a bunch of stuck-up politicians in suits tell them not to? They're wrong - this is really not the way to make the country more prosperous - but lecturing them about it won't help. And they're right to be afraid, and their misgivings about the way the country's being run are entirely justified. It's just that the focus of their attention is wrong, and that's because of misdirection.

I keep repeating: the Russian strategy is trolling, and that works by identifying fault-lines in a group, prising them open and accentuating them. But the fault lines need to be there already. Brexit is just going to blow them right open, because there is nothing on the cards to address any of these problems, and (even in a best case scenario of what happens next) a lot to amplify them hugely.

It's not a uniquely British problem, though - all the liberal democracies have these fault lines, and they'll all blow up in one way or another, and no one seems to have evolved political strategies to successfully address them.

But, no, even though Russian interference may have been extensive and possibly even decisive, a campaign to try to convince people that they were tricked by the evil Russkies is just going to make things worse.

Everything is just going to make things worse. It's probably going to be quite an impressive crash, you might want to pull up an armchair and get a ready supply of popcorn.

On the upside, no one has any guns to speak of.
posted by Grangousier at 5:03 PM on January 10 [12 favorites]


We voted to leave. We must leave. To do anything else is a betrayal of the British people and of the idea of British democracy.

Betray 'em. It's a betrayal to marry someone, promise to love and cherish them and then grab the kids and make a run for it when you realise that they only married you because they are pedophile and want access to those kids. Pragmatics says that when betraying someone will cause a whole lot less damage than honoring that person for a whole lot more people, you betray them like Admiral Canaris betrayed Hitler but hopefully survive and succeed.

You are allowed to withdraw consent. You are ALWAYS allowed to withdraw consent.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:06 PM on January 10 [24 favorites]


> Brexit was the biggest democratic vote in British history.

If you define "democratic" as ridden by lies and foreign interference, and also if you can't count.

Voter turnout was 72.2% for the advisory referendum of 2016, whereas in the 1992 GE, turnout was 77.7%. In 1987 it was 75.3%. It was 83.9% in 1950. Source.

The referendum is not even in the top 10 turnouts of the past century.

But don't let maths get in your way; all other forms of logic have clearly succumbed, after all.

> To do anything else is a betrayal of the British people and of the idea of British democracy.

Anyone who rests on any variety of this bullshit knows absolutely nothing about British democracy, which is representative - not direct. It would instead be a betrayal of British democracy to ignore the informed opinions of MPs, who were vastly in favour of remaining in the EU, until the referendum poisoned the well.
posted by Quagkapi at 5:14 PM on January 10 [19 favorites]


I should let the mods do this (even though I agree with your points!), but responding to an argument that has been shut down is not particularly fair to the poster.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:18 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Thank you, but RedOrGreen raised the question, and the false claim that Middlemarch made shouldn't go uncorrected.
posted by Quagkapi at 5:23 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


"I'm not interested in hearing any more comments blaming bigotry on poor people. I can't stand that bullshit."

Look I'm a big supporter of the idea that bigotry is fed by the ruling class because it serves their aims, but are we really pretending there are no economic factors that made it easier? No death of of the industrial north and change in Britain's economy to one based around high finance in London?

I'm certainly not an expert on any of that but my understanding is it made people vulnerable to claims that everything wrong with their lives - and things are wrong, is the fault of the EU and foreigners.

Not that Mitterrand and Kohl types aren't complicit, but the major focus should be on the local politicians who fell right in line with the neoliberal project.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 5:29 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


"It’s official: Brexit campaign broke the law — with social media’s help."
This is the argument that is being ignored.
This shitfest is due to illegal shenanigans by a bunch of wide boys backed by far right politicians and business tycoons many of whom are seeking to fill their pockets.
Britain needs its own Mueller investigation.
Carole Cadwalladr has been all over this but is mainly ignored in spite of winning the L' Esprit de RSF prize for her investigative journalism and is instead insulted and threatened probably because she is getting close to the truth..
posted by adamvasco at 5:46 PM on January 10 [17 favorites]


That this was acknowledged as the biggest vote in British history is a common claim. It’s certainly the defining vote of anyone’s lifetime regardless.
posted by Middlemarch at 6:32 PM on January 10


Maggots could be sent to Syria by UK to help clean wounds

The UK in 2030 - a constant flow of cargo ships carrying empty containers arrives at the robot operated ports. They leave hours later, each container filled to the top with fresh maggots, writhing in their juices. Nothing and no-one else arrives or leaves. The islands are radio silent and covered by a permanent blanket of smog.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 6:40 PM on January 10 [8 favorites]


what’s producing the maggots WHAT’S PRODUCING THE MAGGOTS
posted by um at 8:21 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


There definitely was Russian interference, to a certain extent, but it wasn't simply that. It wasn't simply anything - it was a confluence of a number of separate things. In a lot of places it was a big red button that allowed people to vent their quite justified frustrations.
What's increasingly evident, from what we know of current events in the US & UK (and what previously happened in several other places over the years) is that Russian interference doesn't need to have a specific goal. Their purposes are served well enough by simply encouraging people to push that big red button to vent their justified frustrations, and letting them do that.
posted by Pinback at 9:42 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


That this was acknowledged as the biggest vote in British history is a common claim.

And like almost every other claim that appears in the Tory papers, and like Trump's claim that his inauguration crowd was The Biggest Ever, that doesn't stop it from being out and out horseshit.

The only motivation I can see for continued support of Brexit at this point is the mistaken belief that stubborn refusal to admit you've been scammed when you have been scammed saves face. Because there is no argument for Brexit that doesn't rest, one way or another, on a premise falling somewhere along an axis from simple errors of fact through to flat lies.
posted by flabdablet at 10:37 PM on January 10 [9 favorites]


As someone who drops dead in fairly short order without insulin, I'll certainly grant that it's potentially the defining vote of my lifetime.
posted by edd at 10:47 PM on January 10 [18 favorites]


What's increasingly evident, from what we know of current events in the US & UK (and what previously happened in several other places over the years) is that Russian interference doesn't need to have a specific goal.

It's hard to believe that they might have supported the Remain campaign, surely?
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:54 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


"It’s official: Brexit campaign broke the law — with social media’s help."
This is the argument that is being ignored.


Of course they broke the law. They're freedom fighters. You can't topple a dictatorship without breaking a law or two. I'm sure the resistance in Vichy France broke a law or two. Who would hold it against them?

Now let's see what laws exactly they broke:
The Electoral Commission’s investigation found evidence that BeLeave spent more than £675,000 with AggregateIQ under a common arrangement with Vote Leave. Yet the two campaigns had failed to disclose on their referendum spending returns that they had a common plan. ... As the designated lead leave campaign, Vote Leave had a £7M spending limit under UK law. But via its joint spending with BeLeave the Commission determined it actually spent £7,449,079 — exceeding the legal spending limit by almost half a million pounds.

I'm sure that's illegal, but boy, congratulations if you can get through that entire article without falling asleep. So they cheated on some declarations. (Which were probably mandated by the EU to begin with). I guess that ranks right up there with cheating on your taxes. It's a technicality. Yes, definitely illegal, but not something that many people will get excited about. So it most certainly won't make a difference.

Remain needs a story. This is not a good story.
posted by sour cream at 11:25 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


"Not a single one of the things you're completely legitimately aggrieved by is made worse by EU membership, and many are made substantially better".

End of story.
posted by flabdablet at 11:28 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


That's an argument, not a story.
A story gets an emotional reaction.
posted by sour cream at 11:32 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Leavers/Trumpers/Whoever do not believe the stories.
Even in the face of evidence.
Even when it affects them.

It's not "I never realised the leopard would eat my face" it is "my face is not being eaten and the leopard sitting on me is Fake News!"
posted by fullerine at 11:40 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


I think it's exactly the other way around.

Leavers had the better story, namely the promise of a better future after slaying the common enemy (the EU).
Remainers were the ones who refused to believe that story.
posted by sour cream at 11:51 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I'm afraid sour cream is right. Leave has the best story and all the best lines. They've already got "tell them again" for the possible second ref. Remain have got, what...?

It was at least satisfying to see the Lady in Yellow calmly demolishing Theresa May on BBC Question Time last night.
posted by ZipRibbons at 12:20 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Is there a snappy way to sell "The people who sold Leave to you are only exceeded in their mendacity by their incompetence?"
posted by entity447b at 12:51 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


No - that will always be interpreted as being lectured to by posh people. The only thing that can be done effectively is to watch the whole thing fall to bits and then weaponise the new resentments that form in the population. What I find dispiriting is that there isn't a force for good capable of that. So more of the same for a bit, only with ration books.
posted by Grangousier at 1:04 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


That this was acknowledged as the biggest vote in British history is a common claim.

How much this has had to be weasel-worded is telling. It's not that it is the thing, it's that it's commonly claimed to be acknowledged as such.
posted by Dysk at 1:24 AM on January 11 [8 favorites]


George Monbiot
A major reason for the sharp decline in the quality of political debate in Britain is that the media rewards people for disgraceful behaviour. If you're caught lying on Wednesday, you'll be on Question Time on Thursday. Thread ...
billionaires seek to disrupt democracy and create chaos, allowing them to pursue their various shock doctrines
posted by adamvasco at 1:47 AM on January 11 [6 favorites]


Carole Cadwalladr has been all over this but is mainly ignored in spite of winning the L' Esprit de RSF prize for her investigative journalism and is instead insulted and threatened probably because she is getting close to the truth.

Thanks for this important reminder. If anyone hasn't had a look at the last of my links in the main post yet, about the Brexit: The Uncivil War TV movie, please do: it's Carol Cadwalladr in conversation with the screenwriter about what it got right and what it omitted. Also, it offers a bonus opportunity to complain/gush about Benedict Cumberbatch. (I liked Rory Kinnear's turn, myself. Eponysterical, I know.)

I'm sure that's illegal, but boy, congratulations if you can get through that entire article without falling asleep. So they cheated on some declarations.

So did Al Capone.

Vote Leave strategically overspent in the final days of a closely fought campaign, when many wavering voters normally make up their minds. There are spending limits for a reason, and the Leave campaigns did everything they could to undermine them. If those laws mean anything, they should mean that you don't get to claim victory off the back of flouting them.

Most of Vote Leave's spending was online, using targeted messages tailored to the specific interests and fears of traditional non-voters to turn them into Leave voters (Leave.eu did the same). It had nothing to do with whether those fears were justified or reflected reality: it was purely data-driven, to send the message that would land with each specific voter. This one gets an ad that suggests we should leave because the Spanish still allow bullfighting; that one gets a message that we should leave because Turkey is about to join the EU (any day now, just you see) and enable further migration to Britain. And they knew who would be receptive to which message because of furtive data-gathering on a scale previously unknown in British politics, using Facebook data in ways that few people could have imagined or would have been comfortable with.

Vote Leave sent out one billion targeted ads in the EU referendum campaign, all directed at three million previously hidden potential Leave voters. Leave.eu did much the same, with the help of a foreign billionaire who was using Britain as a test-bed for the Trump campaign. They were able to send whatever messages they liked, free from fact-checking or open debate; most of these ads only became more widely known long after the referendum. They broke the political system as it had been understood for decades in order to get across the line and win their precious Brexit.

That's the new political reality, and we'll all have to adjust somehow. The same way England's political reality had to adjust after William I turned up in 1066, and broke the political system as it had been understood for decades. That doesn't mean that the Anglo-Saxons had to like it, or "accept the result" as the pro-Brexit Twitter drones want us to now.

When post-Brexit Britain is dotted with new castles and anyone who doesn't speak the language of the victors is ground into the dirt, are we supposed to rest easy knowing that in a few hundred years it'll all be history and there'll still be British people on these islands, hurrah?

So that's what you're up against, Remainers. Those stories about empty supermarkets won't scare anyone (at least not any real Brexiteers). If anything, it will just harden their resolve. And even if you win this round, the fight still won't be over.

Those stories scare us, and for good reason. Why do you imagine that they're intended for obdurate Brexiters like your Raabs and your Redwoods? They aren't the only ones whose resolve has been hardened by the past few years.

If we do Leave, a lot of Remainers will immediately become Rejoiners. Stand by for forty years of complaint.
posted by rory at 2:10 AM on January 11 [23 favorites]


Those stories scare us, and for good reason.

It's worth remembering that for a lot of people in this thread, they don't care about whether Morrisons* or Waitrose or Iceland can actually stock their shelves, because they don't have to rely on UK supermarkets for their food.

I feel pretty insecure about it. The only bread I can eat comes from Germany, after all. I know how scary food precarity is because of my dietary needs. I wouldn't wish it on anyone else.

*especially the Gibraltar branch
posted by ambrosen at 2:31 AM on January 11


It's been said before in these threads, but I feel at this point it bears repeating: responsible politicians across the board set themselves up for this over the last 40 years by not owning the EEC/EU and by blaming the EU for decisions they actually made nationally. This has been happening all over Northern Europe, but the British have been the worst, literally speaking in two tongues: in the UK, they've been blaming the EU. In the EU they've been taking charge and shaping the union in their own image. So much of what Corbyn doesn't like about the EU comes primarily from the UK.

Now, the UK will no longer have acces to agriculture funds, to regional development funds, to infrastructure funds. How will that play off in the North, in Wales and Cornwall? Did they really think the Tories would replace those EU funds with National resources? Really?

A responsible politician would then and now have been out there, explaining what the EU has done for the UK throughout. Telling good stories about how the freedom of movement has kept the NHS going, and how millions of young Brits have been able to study abroad. They could explain the wonders of modern manufacturing and trade, depending on the open borders.
The thing is, neither big party could do this, because it would lead to questions; it would force them to take responsibility for their own actions. Lots of EU countries have functioning welfare states, fair minimum wages and regional development.
I think France has the best healthcare system in the world, by most accounts. They don't need Frexit to maintain that. Any responsible politician could have pointed that out during the debates before the referendum. Except then someone could have asked, then why can't we?. Sweden has regional development all the way up into the Arctic Circle with a tenth of the population of the UK, EU is not stopping them from that, contrariwise, a lot of the funding comes from the EU. Any responsible politician could have pointed that out during the debates before the referendum. Except then someone could have asked, then why can't we? You get the gist.
Fishing is a huge problem within the EU, because we are overfishing certain types of fish. It needs to be regulated. But the reason British fishermen are left behind is not that the EU is evil, but that UK politicians haven't prioritized them, and won't admit it. And it goes on and on. Personally, I've had a Greek student whose single mum was a working class woman with only basic school. I've never had a British student whose parents weren't well off. Is that the EU's fault? Hardly.

I suppose that even at this point, the decision could be reversed if enough responsible leaders stepped forward and told the truth directly to the people. And set in motion concrete actions that could eventually transform the UK into something more in accordance with the people's dreams and hopes. But how likely is that? As likely as a submarine made of cheese?
posted by mumimor at 2:58 AM on January 11 [21 favorites]


So, my parents are ardent Leavers. The last couple of years have been fun at family get togethers.

They're from Birmingham and working class so basically invisible and unrepresented in the media or political establishment of the UK. They're the children of immigrants, they've always voted and they've always voted for centre-left or left wing parties. During their lifetime they have personally witnessed the destruction of industrial Britain, the privatisation of the welfare state, the end of skilled jobs for life, shocking rises in inequality and the literal disintegration of the urban landscape around them. They see their children growing up poorer than they did despite doing everything the correct way. They believe the entire system is rigged, the establishment will only ever look out for their own and the system is becoming more unfair and insular with every successive neoliberal government of whichever party.

Their Leave vote was a vote for change - any change. It was a punishment vote for a working lifetime of being ignored. Here at last was a meaningful vote, two fingers up to the inbred British political/media scene of Oxbridge grads and inherited wealth. The Remain campaign itself was of course led by George (son of a Baronet) Osborne and Will (son of Jack) Straw.

I don't know how you change those minds - I've tried. It's a deepset failure of trust in democracy in the country. It does not help in changing hearts and minds for centrist politicians and broadsheet columnists declaring anywhere north of the M25 racist and/or economically ignorant and telling them they have to go back and vote again because they got it wrong the first time.
posted by brilliantmistake at 3:52 AM on January 11 [23 favorites]


And that was the brilliance (which is was) of the Leave campaign - to find those deeply disaffected sets of voters and ruthlessly A/B test messages until they found ones that worked and then hammer those relentlessly, regardless of whether they were true or not.

It’s a method of doing politics that has was in the air for a few years - the original Obama campaign did a lot of this kind of A/B targetting when fund-raising - but the Leave campaign took this combination of micro-targetting of individual groups with tailored messaging that no-one else sees to a new level. Because it was all hidden from view on social media platforms, it was difficult for their opponents to get any kind of handle on what was going on, let alone counter it.

It was both deeply impressive piece of electioneering and simultaneously a cynical exploitation of gaps in the regulation of electoral communications to hammer wedges into the fragile trust between different groups in society & we’re going to be dealing with the consequences for decades.
posted by pharm at 4:17 AM on January 11 [21 favorites]


They believe the entire system is rigged, the establishment will only ever look out for their own and the system is becoming more unfair and insular with every successive neoliberal government of whichever party.

And in this they are completely correct. But the idea that it doesn't actually matter at all who is in charge is simply not. The Beau Blair and his New Labour were clearly a pack of oleaginous glad-handing self-deluding arseholes, but most of what they got wrong boiled down to stealing managerialist Tory bullshit and claiming to have invented it themselves. But however bad things got for the little people under Blair, they were always only ever going to be worse under the Tories.

Their Leave vote was a vote for change - any change. It was a punishment vote for a working lifetime of being ignored.

Sickened by the persistent stench from the pet food factory, the local residents voted to pack it floor to ceiling with buckets of pigshit.
posted by flabdablet at 4:58 AM on January 11 [7 favorites]


That's an argument, not a story.
A story gets an emotional reaction.


Once upon a time, the countries of Europe had a Great War. They had been preparing for one for quite some time, and it seemed a shame to let all that hard work go to waste. The Great War was so successful at requiring extraordinary amounts of hard work that they decided to have an even greater one. This second war became known in Britain as the Good Old Days.

After the Good Old Days, some of the countries of Europe had their doubts that they were actually all that good, what with the bombing and slaughter and genocide and all, and noticed that some of the extraordinary amounts of hard work that the war had created involved rebuilding things people had worked extraordinarily hard at building before. They decided that rather than fighting each other and putting up barriers against one another, both key features of the Good Old Days, they might try cooperating a bit more and bringing some of the barriers down, and see how it went. They called this experiment the European Economic Community.

Britain, meanwhile, had found the Good Old Days so enjoyable that it spent decades thinking about them afterwards, even though the first couple of decades were largely spent cleaning up, as one does after a Big Party. Then Britain, too, looked around and realised that the place was still a bit of a mess after the Good Old Days, and there still wasn't much food in the fridge, and some people who had been at the party now wanted to be Just Friends instead of staying in a relationship, and some of the other guests from next door seemed to have got cleaned up more quickly and done the shopping and were already back at Work, and work that wasn't just about cleaning up the mess at that. So Britain popped next door to borrow a cup of sugar, or "join the EEC".

Although some grumblers insisted that Britain could look after our own sugar, thank you very much, not least because of our long colonial history of exploiting distant sugarcane workers (even if they now wanted to be Just Friends), most people in Britain came to enjoy their new arrangement of borrowing some of their neighbours' sugar and giving them a jar or two of jam in return. Before long, youngsters who barely remembered the Good Old Days looked around and realised that this new arrangement of everyone getting along with their neighbours was pretty good. They had a great time, popping into each other's houses, hanging out for a bit, maybe moving in, maybe not, learning new recipes for patisserie and sharing their grandmas' recipes for jam roly-poly. More people had sugar to eat, the mess from the Big Party was all tidied away, and life was - most of the time, on the whole, if not for everyone - good.

Grandma, though, didn't like sharing her old family recipe with strangers, thank you very much, and liked it more in the Good Old Days, when there was plenty of Woolton Pie and carrot cake, and all of that bombing just made you feel alive, didn't it? Unless you suffered a direct hit, in which case you weren't, but the dead can't vote, so who cares.

Meanwhile, some of the grumblers who hadn't wanted to borrow sugar in the first place, and had spent forty years complaining about it and pointing out how complicated some of these foreign recipes were, I mean, have you ever tried to make choux pastry, decided they would have their own Little Party, the entire point of which was Not to Invite the Neighbours. Their Little Party soon became so noisy that it pissed off some of their acquaintances, one of whom had the brilliant idea of enticing them to a bigger event so that they'd be satisified and pipe down. This event, or Referendum, was cleverly designed to undermine the grumblers by taking their complaints seriously and meeting them on their own turf, by asking people to decide Whether or Not to Invite the Neighbours. The genius part was that not only the grumblers and their acquaintances were invited: everyone was, and everyone would be bound by whatever the Referendum decided, except not really because it was non-binding, except yes, really.

A lot of people who had enjoyed their years of neighbourly life and hadn't taken the grumblers too seriously were caught out by this, and didn't think hard enough about what Deciding Whether or Not to Invite the Neighbours might mean for their entire recipe-sharing, popping-round-for-a-cup-of-sugar lifestyle. Their official representatives spent the Referendum arguing that sugar might get 10p a bag dearer if we don't invite the neighbours, and that demerara might not even be available, instead of arguing as they should have done that popping next door for a friendly chat is awesome, and beats the hell out of knocking ten bells out of each other like in the Good Old Days.

The disinviters, or "Leavers", secretly funded by Big Sugar, spent the entire campaign emailing Grandma about how the neighbours wanted to steal her recipes and make her bake profiteroles rather than Bramwell tarts. By forming an alliance between people who never liked foreign food, people who didn't like the idea of foreigners telling them what they should eat even though they did like foreign food, and people who wanted to buy foreign food even more cheaply than they could already, they quickly gained momentum. If they won, they said, our former colonial subjects, the ones who were now Just Friends, would surely fall over themselves to rekindle our previous relationship, a kind of "Relationship 2.0", and our neighbours, who would now become Just Friends, would still want to help us just as much as before even though they were No Longer Invited, because we're such fun at parties.

Some of the inviters, or "Remainers", couldn't even vote, thanks to a short-sided decision by some of their representatives a few years before to take away the votes of people who had lived too long with the neighbours. Any neighbours living with us (because they liked our recipes and liked sharing their own with us) weren't allowed to vote either, because British people never invited themselves to any parties, except for that whole sugarcane/slave-holding illegal rave we held on someone else's land back before the Good Old Days, which doesn't count.

Finally, on 23 June 2016, Britain voted to have its cake and it eat it, to Not Invite the Neighbours even though we have nothing against neighbours, and to Take Back Control of Grandma's recipe book, which turned out to have half the pages missing, was all yellowing and torn, and hadn't had any new ones added since 1973. The Good Old Days would return, complete with rationing and barbed wire on the beaches, the neighbours would go home, and Grandma's missing grandkids would come back to Blighty, surely grateful for the chance to eat crumble rather than Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, and her other grandkids who had never left would stay put and like it if they know what's good for them.

After an embarrassing conversation with the neighbours, in which we asked them to leave but to please leave behind their stuff and give us more stuff and buy our stuff, in which the neighbours' suggestions for a more equitable and neighbourly arrangement were stoutly rebuffed, Britain decided that it was better just to make a clean break of it, and slammed the door in their face. From now on we would make our own British sugar, and our own British cakes, and eat them all on our own, even if it's a bit hard to pop to the shops for ingredients when we've just locked the front door. When are you coming around to visit? Kids today, I don't know. Why isn't anyone responding to my alarm bracelet?

The End.

Or...

After an embarrassing conversation with the neighbours, in which we asked them to leave but to please leave behind their stuff and give us more stuff and buy our stuff, in which the neighbours' suggestions for a more equitable and neighbourly arrangement were met with arguments and confusion, the grandkids took Grandma aside and suggested that if we didn't agree to forget about all of this then they'd put her in a home, where there wouldn't be any carers because most of them were actually neighbours who had quit after getting sick of the old folks being rude about them. Grandma, after careful consideration, decided that she quite liked a nice éclair, and that she'd forgotten how awful some of the old recipes in her book were, and that it wasn't going to be just like the Good Old Days anyway because at least some of the neighbours were our friends then, and that maybe the Newer Days hadn't been so bad. So she told the neighbours that she'd changed her mind, and invited them around for a cuppa to make amends, and everyone agreed to pretend it had never happened. Oh, Grandma.

The End.
posted by rory at 5:00 AM on January 11 [48 favorites]




It's hard to believe that they might have supported the Remain campaign, surely?

I thought it had been well established that one of the methods used by the Russians (in the UK and the US) was to create ads and social media posts/comments staking out extreme positions and then feeding those to the opposite side to get folks all worked up and less likely to consider things rationally. Like, yeah, they would "support" Remain by throwing a "Shawarma shops on every corner, yay!" comment into the comments and Twitter feed of a pro-Leave article from a conservative paper. Which would inflame the xenophobes already reading said article and strengthen their belief that Remainers were out to lunch and had to be stopped.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:14 AM on January 11 [7 favorites]


That's a nice story, rory.

It's a shame it hasn't been told in the UK before.
As for the alternative ending of Grandma changing her mind, that bit is totally unrealistic. She's the sort of Grandma who, although she has her lucid days, sometimes forgets her own age and thinks that she's still 25 years young and perky, keeps forgetting the names of her own children and is often just totally disoriented.

UK foreign secretary: "Now there is another possibility coming into sight, which is actually no Brexit.
And why is that? We have a government that is committed to delivering Brexit. But it doesn’t have a majority."


I think that the tactic here is to try to scare those scared of no Brexit to vote for May's deal, and at the same time scare those scared of no deal to vote for May's deal. I don't see any middle ground there, so this tactic is bound to fail. Hunt is an idiot. Who thinks that the EU is the enemy.
posted by sour cream at 9:05 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


You hear a lot of "I think it's disgraceful how the EU are treating us" type remarks in the vox pop interviews (generally one or two middle-aged white people stopped in the street in Nuneaton or Hastings). People seem to genuinely believe that the fact that the UK hasn't been given the easy ride it was promised by Leave is somehow the dastardly EU's fault. It's going to take a long time to undo decades of that sort of "up yours, Delors" framing.
posted by pipeski at 9:39 AM on January 11 [11 favorites]


a shame it hasn't been told in the UK before.

I recall Gordon Brown attempting something of the sort (without the silly bits). Shame he was seen as yesterday's man by then.

A Twitter thread this evening by a researcher looking at Leave overspending shows how it made all the difference:

in all elections 20-30% of voters decide within 1 week of the vote, half of them on the LAST DAY ... Britain Stronger In Europe (offical Remain campaign), had ceased spending by polling day cuz it had reached its spending cap. ... VL was continuing to spend beyond its legally allowed budget. A chart from the VL website showed that on 23/6/16 that Facebook ‘impressions’ peaked that day with approx 45m impressions being served on that day alone. Over 40m impressions appear on 22nd and over 30m on 21st. ... By focusing solely on FB advertising (we have detailed data) Prof Howard calculated that, had VL respected the ref spending limits, 'it would have had to forego 10 days of FB advertising' [which] 'would have meant that VL’s FB ads would have had to stop on Monday, 13 June 2016, ten days before the Referendum vote.'

Illegal campaigning gives illegitimate results.
posted by rory at 10:43 AM on January 11 [13 favorites]




What's interesting now is that — after all the talks of Norway+, Canada+++, a Jobs-First-Brexit, and so on — after the winter break, it seems that the options for the UK have finally been whittled down to, I believe, 3. And if the deal is voted down, there will be 2.

I'm wondering, as an outsider, if it comes down to a no deal Brexit, which, if it's as bad as the Prime Minister of Japan, the rest of the civilised world and my fellow commentators on this site, fear it will be: will the Tories be able to survive? If the average person is angry now because the lack of manufacturing jobs, how will they react when, as Japan's ambassador has warned, and British business groups have warned, even more jobs head to mainland EU after a hard Brexit? It seems like it would be hard to deflect the reasons for the job losses and border traffic jams.
posted by romanb at 11:15 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


... how will they react when, as Japan's ambassador has warned, and British business groups have warned, even more jobs head to mainland EU after a hard Brexit?

Oh, that is easy to answer: They will blame the EU.
posted by sour cream at 12:02 PM on January 11 [18 favorites]


If the average person is angry now because the lack of manufacturing jobs, how will they react when, as Japan's ambassador has warned, and British business groups have warned, even more jobs head to mainland EU after a hard Brexit?

It's a ratchet. Anything that goes wrong is a sign that the belts haven't been tightened enough and that the borders aren't secure enough. Any time you let the ratchet crank to the right, things get worse, and the only solution to things getting worse is to move further to the right.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:05 PM on January 11 [12 favorites]


The Republic of Ireland will also be blamed for asking the UK to respect the Good Friday Agreement. At least by the Tories and DUP. And Germany of course.

This is not how anyone imagined the centenary of the War of Independence playing out.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:37 PM on January 11 [8 favorites]


I mean Germany will be singled out for blame too, not blame the Irish..

Bad phrasing up there.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:38 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


It's hard to believe that they might have supported the Remain campaign, surely?
Remain wasn't the Big Red Button though - Leave was/is.

My point was that, from the PoV of the outside antagonist, Brexit or not is neither here nor there - it literally doesn't matter to them. They'd have backed the 'Spurs over Arsenal if Tottenham winning would cause destabilising political havoc in the target country/organisation.
posted by Pinback at 2:42 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


It is a long term political goal of Russia to split the UK from Europe.
posted by jaduncan at 3:00 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


that is easy to answer: They will blame the EU

and Theresa May, and deliver the Tories a thumping majority provided only that they get rid of her. Boris for PM!

/tory fever dream
posted by flabdablet at 6:25 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Who said Brexit won't lead to more jobs?

UK police advise shops to hire extra security for no-deal Brexit

Maybe this is the Jobs First Brexit that Labour keeps rambling on about.
posted by sour cream at 12:44 AM on January 12 [5 favorites]




And his thread in reply to criticisms of that thread, which makes the point clearer.
The decision by the Speaker does not need to be justified by pointing to the government's many constitutional trespasses.

This is because the Speaker's decision can be justified entirely on its own terms.

It is a welcome and liberal decision.

3.
The Speaker's decision meant that it was MPs, and not the government, which have ultimate control over the business of the House of Commons.

There can be no good objection to this.

4.
To the extent it set a precedent, it is a welcome precedent.

To the extent it was novel, it was a welcome novelty.

5.
And even if it was against "advice", it was the Speaker's decision.

Advisers advise.

(And those asserting it was wrong for the Speaker to go against such advice usually are those who, without a second thought, elsewhere rail against "unelected bureaucrats". The irony.)
posted by Grangousier at 4:02 AM on January 12 [8 favorites]


Link to text of David Lammy's magnificent speech.
posted by adamvasco at 4:09 AM on January 12 [24 favorites]


Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer sheds some light on why the UK government are unable to solve the problem of Brexit in a meaningful way: Out of the Brexit nightmare must emerge a more robust democracy
The conventions and culture of parliament have deepened the nightmare. The British way of doing politics is founded in the idea that power is a binary contest between two big and tribal parties. It is expressed in the very architecture of the chamber of the House of Commons that sits the two sides confronting each other two swords’ length apart. It is incarnated in parliamentary rules that vest a large amount of power in the two tribal leaders – the prime minister and the leader of the official opposition. To compound the problem, it is a hung parliament in which the prime minister is a former Remainer trying to find a form of Brexit that can satisfy a majority and the opposition leader is a Brexiter leading a Remainer party who has little interest in trying to resolve the deadlock and lots of incentives to want it to end disastrously. The two of them have great sway over how parliamentary time is allocated and which motions MPs get to debate. This gives them the power to run down the clock – and both have been exploiting this for different reasons. Mrs May has taken Britain perilously close to the precipice of a crash-out Brexit on the gamble that, when MPs are staring into the abyss, they will finally succumb to her deal. This can be fairly called Blackmail Brexit. Even if she does ultimately prevail this way, forcing MPs to approve a plan they hate under the muzzle of the gun will guarantee further trouble and strife.

Parliamentary convention has it that only the leader of the official opposition can table a motion of no confidence in the government. This has given Mr Corbyn an extremely convenient hiding place from his own contradictions. He keeps calling for an election, but repeatedly refuses to trigger the one mechanism that could make that happen because this delays the day when he has to declare whether he is or is not in favour of another referendum. If he fails to table a confidence motion this week, it will become too late to hold an election before Britain is due to leave the EU.
(It does seem a bit optimistic to imagine that someone will do something about it, but his analysis is interesting).
posted by mumimor at 4:08 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


Some new polls:
BMG asked whether people would support or oppose various alternative Brexit options. By 46% to 28% people would support a second referendum. By 45% to 39% people would support reversing Brexit and just remaining. Further negotiations were supported by 45% to 34%. A “Norway-style deal” was supported by 40% to 36%. Leaving without a deal was opposed by 45% to 35%.

Survation’s poll included questions on how people would vote in various referendum scenarios – in a deal vs no deal referendum, 41% would prefer the deal, 32% no deal. In a referendum between no deal Brexit and remain, people prefer remain by 46% to 41%. A deal vs referendum vote would be neck-and-neck: 40% deal, 40% remain.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:38 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]


By 45% to 39% people would support reversing Brexit and just remaining.

A deal vs referendum vote would be neck-and-neck: 40% deal, 40% remain.

The cognitive dissonance, it burns.
posted by rory at 5:40 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]


How often do they drop in totally fictitious alternatives as a control? I no longer have any faith that anyone has any idea what they fuck they're talking about when they say they favour one alternative or another. Especially the people who disagree with me, obviously.
posted by Grangousier at 6:16 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]


45% supported Remaining but only if the EU is renamed the English Union versus 38% supported just demolishing the Chunnel and call it a day.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:41 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]


A “Norway-style deal” was supported by 40% to 36%

How many could describe what that was, though?

The impression I'm getting today from the Tory papers and the spox on the radio is that the right is thoroughly spooked. If Parliament turns on the party leaderships - I do mean plural, look at how many Labour MPs didn't want Corbyn last time they were asked, let alone now - then absolutely anything can happen. The Prime Minister goes from being an elected dictator to just another vote: the rules that give the PM and the Leader of the Opposition the right to control the agenda can be over-ridden.

Parliament is sovereign. For once, that word means what it says, and the implications are only just sinking in. Bercow sees himself as Cromwell? I doubt it, but he can certainly cosplay the part most effectively if he wishes.
posted by Devonian at 6:51 AM on January 13 [8 favorites]


There is no point holding any vote until people realize this is it. This is the deal the UK is getting if it leaves. No one is getting anything better until they give up on free movement of people and that’s not happening that I see. Otherwise all the other options are fantasies of various sorts.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:36 AM on January 13


It's funny because "Norway" is the exact opposite of "taking back control". "Norway" is accepting most EU rules and regulations without having any say at all. The only reason it works for Norway is their oil funds.
posted by mumimor at 9:55 AM on January 13 [9 favorites]


This seems unlikely to me, but the Guardian is reporting EU preparing to delay Brexit until at least July.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:47 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]


How about this compromise? Do May's deal Monday, Wednesday, Friday; Norway-style Tuesday, Thursday; Remain on weekends; No Deal on bank holidays. Everybody's happy!
posted by tobascodagama at 11:24 AM on January 13 [11 favorites]


How often do they drop in totally fictitious alternatives as a control?
  1. What kind of Brexit would you prefer?
    1. Hard
    2. Soft
    3. Firm
    4. Moist
  2. Would you rather...?
    1. Norway
    2. Canada+++
    3. Mongolia2
    4. (Norway/Canada) x π
  3. What colour Brexit would you like?
    1. Yellow
    2. Red
    3. Ultramarine
    4. Beige
posted by Grangousier at 1:56 PM on January 13 [22 favorites]


4. Moist

Please refrain from flushing your Brexit® Wet-Wipes, as these may contribute to obstructive fatbergs in our parliamentary drains.
posted by rory at 2:27 PM on January 13 [5 favorites]


(Norway/Canada) × π

because of proximity to the North Pole you can leave off the “× π” as long as you measure the economy in radians
posted by XMLicious at 2:32 PM on January 13 [10 favorites]


obstructive fatbergs in our parliamentary drains

Bit late for that I think
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:39 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


Another dull and uneventful week in Parliament beckons.

1. What kind of Brexit would you prefer?
- Hard
- Soft
- Firm
- Moist


"Please select which Brexit most closely resembles your Brexit from this chart."
posted by Wordshore at 2:43 PM on January 13 [11 favorites]


This thread is really something. If I'm understanding this correctly, May plans to give a speech invoking how much everyone respected the referendum result for the Welsh Assembly when, um, she herself voted against the the assembly after the referendum, along with other prominent Brexiteers. Same for setting up the Scottish parliament.
posted by zachlipton at 11:11 PM on January 13 [11 favorites]


That's breathtaking hypocrisy. Especially around the Scottish Parliament vote, in the face of a 74% result. But hey, let's all feel sorry for poor embattled Theresa May.
posted by rory at 1:59 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


As Stephen Bush puts it in today's Morning Call on the subject:
One of the neglected aspects of May's political style is that she is happy to say things that are untrue. Although there is a widespread belief that this is part of the average politician's toolkit, most politicians lie rarely and went they do, do it awkwardly.

But May does it frequently and with great ease. From the man who couldn't be deported because he had a cat, through to her frequent use of the term "implementation period" (there is nothing to implement and there may well have to be an implementation period after the transition period), the Prime Minister is a politician who is happy to say things that are demonstrably untrue.
posted by Grangousier at 2:02 AM on January 14 [7 favorites]


And here's Ian Dunt reporting on Theresa May's speech where she was meant to sell us on her deal by referring to the last time a marginal referendum was implemented - the Welsh Assembly government referendum. But she bottled it, because actually she'd been keen on overriding the referendum results.
Theresa May sounds completely defeated, running through her speech fast as possible.

Although she always sounds completely dreadful so admittedly it's hard to tell.

Think May has removed the section on Welsh parliament.

Yeah she has - here is the original text. She skipped the Welsh section.

Extraordinarily contorted argument from the prime minister: No-deal would be fine. But you think it would be bad and therefore it would be the "height of irresponsibility" to vote against my deal.

Once again, May strapped down by the lies and bullshit she once promoted.

Er... would any of the journalists there fancy asking her about the entire section of the speech she just deleted?

Four questions so far. No mention of the fact that whole pars of this speech, forming the evidential backbone to its central argument, were deleted because she had done exactly what she is saying is unacceptable.

Incredible. Not a single question.

Christ alive what a failure
She really has no integrity, and not just in a lazy "all politicians are liars" way, but actually blankly stating things which are trivially contradicted and make no strategic sense.
posted by ambrosen at 4:07 AM on January 14 [7 favorites]


It feels like a fractal moment, when all of Theresa May's bullshit of the past 2½ years is visible in this one act of omission. A Mandelbrot Set of hypocrisy and indifference.
posted by rory at 5:00 AM on January 14 [5 favorites]


Hang on, Dunt reports that she did actually include it; he had a brain freeze and missed it. To be fair, I deliberately miss every Theresa May speech that I can, to prevent mental frostbite.
posted by rory at 5:03 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


She reworded it. Coward.
posted by jaduncan at 5:16 AM on January 14


I love the way tweets read when you extract them and put them one to a line like that. I'd be in favour of Ian Dunt for the next Poet Laureate. And having Benedict Cumberbatch read his threads out, tremulous-voiced, on Radio 3.
posted by Grangousier at 6:07 AM on January 14


I think Dunt's own voice has enough straightforward anger in it while talking about a lot of this stuff that I'd be happy for him to read them himself.
(As heard on the Remainiacs podcast, as well as TV interviews often enough recently)
posted by edd at 7:07 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]




Looking at the records, it also appears that May voted against the Scottish parliament after a referendum that was 74.29% in favour of it. I really have quite a problem with her unending deceit and shameless double standards.
posted by jaduncan at 7:38 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]




Are there any voting number predictions being bandied about as regards tomorrow's vote? Worried by this rumour that the ERG may cave and vote with May.
posted by doornoise at 8:41 AM on January 14


France24 English of course practically playing on a loop the bit where May starts to say something about “when the history books are written” and the Parliamentary audience boos and jeers uproariously, after having been somewhat tame beforehand.
posted by XMLicious at 9:09 AM on January 14


Are there any voting number predictions being bandied about as regards tomorrow's vote? Worried by this rumour that the ERG may cave and vote with May.

Election Maps UK are predicting that May will lose by 200 votes
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:21 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Similar figures here

Latest reports is that the ERG are still going to vote against (and probably would not have enough people to change the vote anyway if those figures are anyway accurate)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:49 AM on January 14


Though given that they're as organised as a pack of rabid cats can be expected to be organised, who knows what will happen. Recent experience suggests thinking up a range of scenarios and picking the one that's simultaneously the stupidest and the most depressing. In this case I suspect that would be calling off the vote again to save democracy from itself.
posted by Grangousier at 10:52 AM on January 14 [9 favorites]


Simultaneously the stupidest and the most depressing, you say?

@AdamBienkov: Brexiteer Conservative MP Desmond Swayne calls on Theresa May to suspend parliament until April in order to "guarantee Brexit."
posted by zachlipton at 10:59 AM on January 14 [11 favorites]


We have a winner.
posted by Grangousier at 11:16 AM on January 14 [10 favorites]


is there a metafilter award for tragicomedy in the comments, or will we all just treasure the memory?
posted by schadenfrau at 11:18 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]




Since the shambling idiots can't grasp the concept of a situation not being zero-sum where one side must lose and the other must necessarily win, the EU saying "please stop this madness" looks rather different than it does to you or I.

I see it as an acknowledgement that everyone is better off with the status quo and everyone is going to get kicked in the teeth by a no deal/crash out scenario. May and her true believer enablers, on the other hand, see it as proof that the EU is somehow getting one over on them. Combine that with the mass of Tories and unaffiliated disaster capitalists that are poised to make billions and it's no wonder why a large swath of the UK (mainly English, really) political class are making weird mouth noises as if their tongues have been cut out rather than doing something about the mess.
posted by wierdo at 1:18 PM on January 14 [8 favorites]


And - this is very important - in order to get what they want, all they need to do is make sure nothing happens between now an March 29th.

Personally, I think if the EU really wanted to fuck them over, it would make a declaration that the UK could rejoin at any time on the same terms we left, but I realise for political reasons that's not going to happen.
posted by Grangousier at 1:53 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


@paulcoxon:

Is it possible for a nation to win a Darwin Award? Asking for a country.
posted by Wordshore at 2:36 PM on January 14 [26 favorites]


Only if it ceases to exist as a country. I don’t think England or Britain are at any risk of that, although I’m sure you could get Farage or some other idiots to argue that they are.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 4:37 PM on January 14


I'll be that idiot if you like. Britain (or, more accurately, the UK) could easily cease to exist as a country in the near future. Although I don't have the data to back it up, anecdotally I believe a lot of "No" voters were persuaded that an independent Scotland would automatically be excluded from the EU. Or at least they couldn't be sure they wouldn't, or they were worried that Spain would do everything in its power to punish Scotland for setting a bad example, including using its veto to keep Scotland out of the EU. There was also the general fear of the unknown.

Come IndyRef II, there'll be no such obstacle (except Madrid I suppose, but the Catalan analogy breaks down a bit). Indeed, it would be the most logical, reliable, and quickest way for Scots to get back into Europe. Further, the general fear of what uncertain chaos might be unleashed in the event of a "Yes" vote will diminish remarkably after a Brexit, whether no-deal or not.

The main obstacle to holding a second vote, the idea that only extraordinary circumstances would justify it, would likewise no longer apply.

In short, Scotland leaving the Union would seem somewhere between very likely and inevitable should there be a Brexit of any sort. There would still be a country called England. Grumbling from the Welsh would probably result in it being called something like "Britain" (realistically nobody would expect the English to trot out the extra two syllables for "England and Wales") , but it won't be the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for very long.

What about the "and Northern Ireland" part? A no-deal Brexit would mean a hard border in Ireland, in breach of the Good Friday agreement. A rump UK might well have enough of an inherent Tory majority that they could start ignoring the DUP and other Unionists, but who knows? The Conservative Party could finally split into the two parties it has really been since the end of WWII, and maybe they'd need the unionist support. If not though, it would probably be the closest we've been to the possibility of a united Ireland in either 100 or 400 years.

Any Brexit at all, even an amicable, meticulously planned, widely popular one, would pose an existential threat to the UK. We're not likely to get one that's any of those things and the nation is completely split not just into two camps, but at least three, all of them vociferously opposed to the alternatives.

The UK's days are numbered, unless there's a permanent revocation of the Article 50 declaration. Even then, I expect the SNP to push for IndyRef II anyway, and while the effect of a near Brexit won't be as strong as that of an actual Brexit, it will likely be enough to push the result over the line.
posted by GeckoDundee at 7:13 PM on January 14 [26 favorites]


Solid argument! I should have kept it to England :p
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:37 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


In short, Scotland leaving the Union would seem somewhere between very likely and inevitable should there be a Brexit of any sort.
If you would like to see an interesting political prediction, from a Scottish perspective, I'd recommend Lindsay Bruce writing "Out of the Quagmire" - this looks at the notion of what could happen should we end up with a National Unity government in Westminster in the next few days.

And if we are talking about the breakup of the UK - then the question of a re-unitied Ireland also appears as a distinct possibility.

And finally there is the question of the degree to which the left over-element of England and Wales would be united in their desire the remain isolated from the EU.

So - if a Darwin Award does indeed require annihilation of an entity - the UK - there is a pretty good chance Brexit could provide that.
posted by rongorongo at 9:51 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Well, Joanna Cherry certainly isn't stupid but, even if we're happy to reject the Bain Principle (I can't find a decent link - it essentially says Labour will never support anything proposed by the SNP), it still requires Corbyn to agree to a "People's Vote" (he won't), to revoke Article 50 (he won't), to agree to IndyRef II (he won't), and to call a General Election (he might) pretty much immediately after doing those first three things (he definitely won't). I think Ms Cherry is enjoying a bit of mischief. I'm sure she'd be happy to have Corbyn, or Scottish Labour, say out loud that they won't support any of those things.
posted by GeckoDundee at 10:41 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Scottish Labour is even more at sixes and sevens than the UK party. The leader of the Scottish Tories, Oor Ruthie, has very sensibly taken maternity leave for the duration, knowing as she does that nobody's coming out of this alive.

That Vote is due around seven PM, btw. Sanest estimate for the losing margin is 80 or so votes, with the 100-200 figure being put about by Number 10 to manage expectations, and lots of abstentions.
posted by Devonian at 11:15 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Marina Hyde draws attention to this spellbinding comment from David Davis in an interview with Der Spiegel published this week:

DER SPIEGEL: Do you not worry that future generations could hold you responsible for what may prove to be one of the biggest mistakes in British history?

Davis: Oh, I'm certain that Brexit will be a success. Remember, every single major issue in our history is one where you might be right or wrong. Appeasement before the Second World War, we might be right or wrong. Suez, we might be right or wrong. But big changes demand that you don't run away in fear from a decision. And, of course, in Brexit lies a risk as well. But I'm not remotely concerned that we are wrong.


I... I... sorry, my brain refuses to believe what it just read.
posted by rory at 2:09 AM on January 15 [20 favorites]


This is only the end of the beginning of our Brexit civil war
Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
An incredibly depressing read, but real
posted by mumimor at 2:10 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Fintan O'Toole: Today Britain discovers that it cannot escape history.

Someone's comment on his Twitter post about that article pointed out another from a year ago, which is fantastic: The problem with the English: England doesn’t want to be just another member of a team.
posted by rory at 3:06 AM on January 15 [11 favorites]


I'm starting to believe that remainers need to sell the idea of "staying in the EU means never having to hear about Brexit again". People are understandably tired of hearing about the contortions of a government intellectually and temperamentally unequipped to deliver what is, anyway, clearly not the utopia that was promised. In the rare times that I have the energy to debate with pro-Brexit acquaintances, I've drifted towards using that argument. We've seen the shift from Brexit-as-desirable to Brexit-as-survivable. And if it goes ahead in any but the mildest form, it's guaranteed to dominate news coverage for the next... 3-5 years? The alternative - staying in - offers a more staightforward way get to the point where we stop talking about Brexit, and actually address the real problems the UK faces. It's a hard pill to swallow if you're still an engaged pro-Brexiter, but all of that "just get on with it" has the potential to be turned into "scrap it, it was a bloody shambles". The right-wing press would kick up a lot of fake outrage initially, but once the thing was seen as decided and done, they could go back to news about straight bananas and terrorists' cats. Brexit is a turd and politicians are just vying to convince people of the best way to prepare and eat that turd. How hard can it be to sell the idea of not actually eating it?
posted by pipeski at 3:34 AM on January 15 [6 favorites]


The political editor of The Sun, Tom Newton Dunn, just tweeted: I hear the PM just told Cabinet she will push on with her Brexit deal, no matter the size of tonight's defeat, as "it’s the only option".

Surely it would then be incumbent on the EU to withdraw the deal, as not having been agreed by the United Kingdom in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. The overarching principle of the unwritten constitution of the UK, as established by a civil war, is that Parliament is sovereign. The constitution does not, it cannot let a minority government, let alone the prime minister of that government acting without even her own party's full support, enact such an agreement against the express wishes of Parliament.
posted by rory at 5:02 AM on January 15 [14 favorites]


At some point, what May intends to do won't matter that much.
posted by Devonian at 5:08 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


So we need to submit to the whims of a self-appointed dictator, barely in command of a party that's barely a majority, prosecuting aims only supported by a minority of the population based on a two-year-old vote (procured by sheer mendacity) which itself commanded a bare majority because to do otherwise would be to deny democracy?

Awesome.
posted by Grangousier at 5:19 AM on January 15 [24 favorites]


(a tweet from September 2016)

@JohnnyPixels:

EU lays down a royal flush. UK looks at own cards: Mr Bun the Baker, Pikachu, a Shadowmage, a fireball spell, and the Fool.
posted by Wordshore at 5:36 AM on January 15 [24 favorites]


barely in command of a party that's barely a majority

Barely in command of a coalition that's barely a majority. Without the DUP, the tories don't have a majority.
posted by Dysk at 5:46 AM on January 15 [5 favorites]


New hypothesis: Theresa May was made invulnerable as party leader for twelve months by December's leadership vote, but after spending Christmas blissfully running through wheatfields desperately wishes for the sweet release of political death. The only face-saving route left is a vote of no confidence and a General Election. This is the political equivalent of suicide by cop.
posted by rory at 5:49 AM on January 15 [5 favorites]


Barely in command of a coalition

Indeed. In coalition with a group of people whose only contact with reality is that they read about it tangentially mentioned in a newspaper once, didn't like the sound of it and have steered clear ever since.
posted by Grangousier at 5:54 AM on January 15 [11 favorites]


Quiz: how well have you been following Brexit?

I got 12 out of 15... which makes me an expert who should have been in charge of negotiations (I don't think I could have done a worst job tbh)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:46 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]


So we need to submit to the whims of a self-appointed dictator, barely in command of a party that's barely a majority, prosecuting aims only supported by a minority of the population based on a two-year-old vote (procured by sheer mendacity) which itself commanded a bare majority because to do otherwise would be to deny democracy?
Government attitude:

Second Parliamentary vote on the (presumably to be) defeated deal: necessary for the stability of our country, the deal is the only option, must happen repeatedly until the deal is voted through.

Second public vote on Brexit now that more facts are known: an affront to the Democratic Will of the People, likely to Erode Trust in Politicians, can never happen.

The hypocrisy barely needs pointing out, but I will do it anyway.
posted by winterhill at 7:01 AM on January 15 [5 favorites]


I got 12 out of 15...
Same score, but I was stymied by the questions with just faces instead of names. I'm terrible with faces. If they had listed the names of the people concerned, I'd have got 15. I still don't know who the right answer is on Question 1, although I did worryingly recognise Neil Warnock.
posted by winterhill at 7:03 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Was it Esther McVey and the swine regulations that tripped you up too, fearfulsymmetry? I also misremembered Liam Fox's idiotic comment as being one of Davis's. Ha! What a rookie mistake. Paying attention to the different shades of idiocy on offer in our government has been such a productive way to spend the past few years, in the face of the imminent demise of the entire country...
posted by rory at 7:04 AM on January 15


Just to miss with everyone's heads even further, if we do end up after today with a fresh referendum, there's the small matter that any voting system we choose could lead to entirely different outcomes in a three-way race.
posted by rory at 7:05 AM on January 15


I still don't know who the right answer is on Question 1.

I am pretty sure that's Disgraced Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox.
posted by erdferkel at 7:06 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


You can follow the Brexit debate here. There just was an interesting discussion about the difference between revoking and delaying Article 50:

The difference between revoking article 50 and extending it is important. The UK can revoke article 50 unilaterally. But to extend it it needs the unanimous support of the EU 27. [...] if the UK wants to revoke article 50, it would have to provide “satisfactory evidence to the EU that we are cancelling our departure form the EU”.

That, of course, is impossible at the moment. So in order to avoid no deal, the UK needs ask for a delay of A50. That requires the agreement of every single one of the EU 27 members. Good luck with that.
posted by sour cream at 7:19 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


I don't see any EU member blocking a delay, at least, I don't think it's likely. Even though many have lost patience with the ordeal, nobody here is under the illusion that the UK departing will give us an economic boost, especially with a disorderly Brexit. No country wants to see the mess of a hard Brexit and even if they did, they certainly do not want to be responsible for it if it occurs. No, that's for the UK to decide, if they want to go down that path. So they will accept a delay.
posted by romanb at 7:30 AM on January 15 [9 favorites]


Was it Esther McVey and the swine regulations that tripped you up too, fearfulsymmetry? I also misremembered Liam Fox's idiotic comment as being one of Davis's. Ha! What a rookie mistake.

I guess the swine flu one right as it was the most In The Thick Of It (I guessed McVey wrong)... and yeah mistook The Grande Negotiator for Fox. I got one of the numbers ones wrong.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:30 AM on January 15


So they will accept a delay.

I think the consensus in Brussels right now is that a delay will only be accepted for one of the following two reasons: another referendum and a general election.
I also wonder what "agreement by the EU27" means. Doesn't that mean a vote of the respective national parliaments? Which could take months.

But in any case, the delay cannot be any longer than the end of June. The reason is that a new EU parliament will be elected in May and then convenes at the beginning of July to e.g. elect a new commission president etc. It's inconceivable that they will let a departing member have a vote in these elections.
posted by sour cream at 7:45 AM on January 15


Why, sometimes we've believed as many as six inconceivable things before brexit.
posted by lucidium at 8:40 AM on January 15 [20 favorites]


Can you get May's Brexit deal through parliament?

(Yes, if the ERG change sides and Corbyn whips an abstention, which seems... unlikely)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:46 AM on January 15


There's one Richard Bacon, Tory MP for Norfolk South, on the telly at the moment, doing the "We don't need no stinking deal, we just need to leave" jig. And yes, he is large and of ruddy complexion. Never been quite sure when bacon becomes gammon.
posted by Devonian at 9:14 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


I flicked on the news a bit ago and it was live from parliament and a DUP MP was speaking and it gave me proper Rev Ian Paisley flashbacks with his calls for 'FREEEDOMMM!!!'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:29 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


This twitter thread from the BBC News Graphics team is the best explanation I’ve seen of the various options for what could come next. [via Guardian liveblog]
posted by Kattullus at 9:49 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


I noticed the absence of "Parliment votes to revoke Article 50" in that graphic, as noted by a couple of commenters in the thread. Unlikely? Maybe. But it's definitely possible. Funny that the BBC neglected to mention that, isn't it?

I'll be honest, when this whole shitstorm is finally sorted out, I want to see a full-blown public inquiry into the entirety of the Brexit mess, including full revelations of known lies and criminal charges for those found to have broken the law. All of those fuckers.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 9:56 AM on January 15 [7 favorites]


Oh, and to not abuse the edit window: I've seen a version of that graphic from the BBC before - one that did include Article 50 revocation (I specifically remember there being 6 potential outcomes of the vote failing, not 5). The fact that it's not in today's graphic is a result of a definite decision, not an oversight.

Which brings me back to my previous comment - the capture of the BBC News department(s) by pro-Brexit, pro-government factions needs to be seriously looked at.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 9:59 AM on January 15 [7 favorites]


Per Guardian liveblog:

Theresa May stands up, to loud and sustained applause from Conservative.
(Note to readers unfamiliar with the loyalty of British parliamentarians: this does not mean she is going to win the vote.)
posted by persona at 10:45 AM on January 15 [5 favorites]


rory: Someone's comment on his Twitter post about that article pointed out another from a year ago, which is fantastic: The problem with the English: England doesn’t want to be just another member of a team.

This brings to mind the internet-era aphorism: "To those accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression." Perhaps the nation-state version is something like "To those accustomed to empire, federalism feels like colonization."
posted by mhum at 10:51 AM on January 15 [35 favorites]


No amendments, apparently - straight to the main vote. Being covered on CSPAN, apparently, and BBC Parliament here.
posted by Devonian at 11:05 AM on January 15


Livestream of Commons on YouTube (via The Guardian) -- currently they're voting on an amendment so it's emptying but should refill shortly for the main event
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:09 AM on January 15


Hmm. The BBC says that they've dropped three amendments, but Baron's ("UK has unilateral right to terminate backstop") has been moved and will be voted on. Interesting, since I think that would force May to go back and renegotiate this deal with the EU if it were to pass the main vote (as the EU have already said "no" to that).
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 11:10 AM on January 15


Livestream of Commons on YouTube (via The Guardian) -- currently they're voting on an amendment so it's emptying but should refill shortly for the main event
Walking through the lobbies. The place is an outdated dump. Can't we have voting buttons like, you know, every other national Parliament? Enough seats for every member to get a seat would be nice, too.
posted by winterhill at 11:12 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Hmm. The BBC says that they've dropped three amendments, but Baron's ("UK has unilateral right to terminate backstop") has been moved and will be voted on. Interesting, since I think that would force May to go back and renegotiate this deal with the EU if it were to pass the main vote (as the EU have already said "no" to that).

At some point these people will wake up to reality. Today is not that day. For the EU to say yes, Ireland would have to say yes, and that isn't happening re a renegotiating on the border, given it's an impossibility for an Irish politician who wants his or her party not to be get wiped out in the next election.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:24 AM on January 15


On the amendment to demand a unilateral right to terminate the backstop:

@IanDunt: Ayes: 24 Nos: 600
Hilarious. What a waste of our fucking time.
posted by zachlipton at 11:24 AM on January 15 [11 favorites]


I suspect that, no matter how tonight's vote goes — that is, badly or very badly — May is going to pull a Cameron and resign afterwards. No-one would want to go back to the EU and try to renegotiate anything. Realistically, there's no time for a general election or plebiscite to be called and settled without an Article 50 extension. The Commons isn't in a fit state to agree on that extension, either. Now would be a very good (for Tory values of "very good"; that is, very bad for everyone else) time to leave: force the change, yet don't stick around to bear the consequences.
posted by scruss at 11:24 AM on January 15


That's the Amendment vote - didn't realise it would get spanked that hard. Looks like more MPs than I thought have at least a passing glimpse at reality.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 11:25 AM on January 15


Voting now.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:26 AM on January 15


A note on numbers:
Since 1924 no government has endured a defeat on the floor of the Commons of more than 100.

That doesn't apply to things like amendments, but 600 noes might be the most on a division ever.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 11:29 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]


Guardian notes that the 600 noes was more of a "get on with it" than a "we are opposed". I tend to agree.
posted by scruss at 11:36 AM on January 15


202 aye, 432 no.
posted by theodolite at 11:39 AM on January 15 [8 favorites]


230 defeat. that's massive.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 11:40 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]


Oof.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:40 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Baron's ("UK has unilateral right to terminate backstop") has been moved and will be voted on.

Next up: A vote on an amendment obligating the EU to build several unicorn farms in Kent, followed by a vote for world peace.

I think I have been vastly overestimating the intellectual facilities required to become an MP.
posted by sour cream at 11:41 AM on January 15 [8 favorites]


Thumped!
posted by Devonian at 11:41 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


I'm afraid Bercow's going to have a stroke from all this shouting.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:42 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Well, that was a good use of the last month.
posted by dng at 11:42 AM on January 15 [10 favorites]


>> 230 defeat. that's massive.
> Oof.

And ...? Now what? We're in fucking uncharted waters, yes?
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:42 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Time to debate a no confidence vote tomorrow.
I guess that's set up for an election?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 11:43 AM on January 15


We're in fucking uncharted waters, yes?

That suggests we've been in charted waters for the last two and a half years.
posted by Grangousier at 11:43 AM on January 15 [33 favorites]


Corbyn has tabled no confidence.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:46 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]


Kind of you to acknowledge that the government must respect Parliament, Theresa. You know, the agreement the entire unwritten constitution is built on.

If I understand her words correctly, she'll accept a motion of no confidence? God, she really is trying to suicide by Parliament.
posted by kalimac at 11:46 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Now she's going to talk to the other parties to sort it out... Should have done that two years ago.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:50 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]


The motion of no confidence. Short and sweet. I like it.
posted by jontyjago at 11:50 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]




Looks like 118 Tories voted No - a third of their MPs. Does make you wonder who the party as a whole will want to replace her.
posted by jontyjago at 11:59 AM on January 15


Not Matt Hancock, given his current performance on the BBC.
posted by Catseye at 12:01 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


As a USian not steeped in the subtleties of all of this, may I ask: what is the likelihood that this vote will lead to Brexit being called off? It certainly seems a lot of folks who may have voted in favor of Brexit early on are now experiencing buyer's remorse. Surely it would fail if another referendum were held? Does this vote today make it more likely that another referendum might be held?
posted by darkstar at 12:05 PM on January 15 [3 favorites]


jontyjago: "Looks like 118 Tories voted No - a third of their MPs. Does make you wonder who the party as a whole will want to replace her."

That's the problem. The Tories have been two parties barely stitched together by blind mutual hatred of everyone else for thirty years now.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:05 PM on January 15 [8 favorites]


BBC Parliament say that it's the biggest defeat of the ruling party ever and the biggest Tory rebellion ever... so May an historic PM, but perhaps not the way she would have wanted
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:06 PM on January 15 [6 favorites]


darkstar: "As a USian not steeped in the subtleties of all of this, may I ask: what is the likelihood that this vote will lead to Brexit being called off? It certainly seems a lot of folks who may have voted in favor of Brexit early on are now experiencing buyer's remorse. Surely it would fail if another referendum were held? Does this vote today make it more likely that another referendum might be held?"

It's made it marginally less unlikely, I suspect. All kinds of things might happen now, including but not limited to the government collapsing, a general election, Article 50 revocation or a no deal crash out.

As I said to my American wife, welcome to your first proper constitutional and governmental crisis!
posted by Happy Dave at 12:07 PM on January 15 [16 favorites]


Labour are also at least 2 parties.
Hell, even the Lib Dems are actually 2 separate parties and there's only 4 of them.

FPTP is a terrible system which leads to parties which pretty much hate each other, but kinda less than the other parties.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 12:07 PM on January 15 [10 favorites]


There's only one thing left for May to try. Steve Martin - the one thing that could've saved Nixon
posted by duffell at 12:07 PM on January 15 [6 favorites]


If you're just tuning into the livestream late, there's still a chance to hear someone complain about the train service in Newcastle to the virtually empty chamber.
posted by Copronymus at 12:09 PM on January 15 [10 favorites]


If you're just tuning into the livestream late, there's still a chance to hear someone complain about the train service in Newcastle to the virtually empty chamber.

Which is honestly my favourite part of British democracy.
posted by garius at 12:10 PM on January 15 [20 favorites]


I can't get over the fact that May will probably survive the confidence motion, what is wrong with these people? (i.e., the Tories & DUP) I'm just sputtering with incoherent rage that the government hasn't fallen yet and JESUS CHRIST call a new election, this is absurd.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:11 PM on January 15 [8 favorites]


Can we get A50 revoked first? (Just kidding, the govmt have said they Definitely, Absolutely Won't Do That. For what that's worth.)

Oh god, I'm so tired.
posted by Ilira at 12:12 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Is this like setting the dumpster fire on fire?
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:14 PM on January 15 [9 favorites]


From May's statement:
The second reassurance is to the British people, who voted to leave the European Union in the referendum two and a half years ago.
What about to the British people who didn't vote? Jesus Christ, when will this end?
posted by jontyjago at 12:15 PM on January 15 [16 favorites]


No, the British People are the ones who voted to leave. The rest of us aren't really British.
posted by Grangousier at 12:16 PM on January 15 [18 favorites]


This is my first exposure to UK parliamentary procedure, and I'm fascinated. First, let me say that the Speaker's job is simultaneously the best and worst job in the world, and that guy seems ideally suited to it.
But my question is: if division is only called after a vocal aye/nay call is deemed to close to call, how on earth was the 600 to 24 vote even allowed to happen? Were the 24 really that loud with their ayes?
posted by rocket88 at 12:16 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


DUP and ERG have both said they will vote with the government tomorrow, so unless something changes between now and then, May will survive.

At this point I'd welcome a general election just for a change of looping soundbite.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:16 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: what is wrong with these people? (i.e., the Tories & DUP)

The Tories rightly or wrongly fear that Labour will win the next election, so they’re unlikely to want to call for one. The DUP calculation is even simpler. Right now they have more power than they ever have had before in the UK parliament and another election will jeopardize that. Unless there are major defections by Conservatives, there is a majority in parliament to keep the current government.
posted by Kattullus at 12:17 PM on January 15 [3 favorites]




So can anyone explain the two-part tory thing. All I can read out from this thread is that it's an asshats vs. dimwits thing but I have no clue what the actual difference between the two sides are?
posted by uandt at 12:20 PM on January 15


Does make you wonder who the party as a whole will want to replace her

Before Christmas I put a tenner on Michael Gove at 12:1. If I win, I'll be in the money, and if I lose, we'll all be spared the horror of Michael Gove as PM, so basically it's a win either way.
posted by verstegan at 12:21 PM on January 15 [28 favorites]


As a USian not steeped in the subtleties of all of this, may I ask: what is the likelihood that this vote will lead to Brexit being called off? It certainly seems a lot of folks who may have voted in favor of Brexit early on are now experiencing buyer's remorse. Surely it would fail if another referendum were held? Does this vote today make it more likely that another referendum might be held?

Odds of half past Tuesday. In other words, no-one has the foggiest right now.

There's a majority in Parliament for blocking a no-deal exit. There's a massive majority against the deal May has spent two years negotiating. There's a vote of no confidence against the government tomorrow - this is where Parliament says whether the government should stay in place; the tories have almost a majority, so with the DUP backing them (which is expected) they have enough votes to win even if everyone else votes against, UNLESS enough tories vote to bring down their own government. Yesterday, I'd have said no chance, they loathe Corbyn. Losing this vote by the largest margin, ever? Who knows.

1) May loses, the government falls. 14 days for a new government to come together in the existing parliament (it would need to be some sort of coalition between Tory and Labour - unlikely) so then we have *another* General Election. May likely to be replaced by a swivel-eyed hard Brexit loon. An extension to Brexit day likely needed to hold one. Corbyn already said he'd want to fight GE on promising fantasy cake amazing Brexit, but the membership might block him. All bets off, basically.

2) May wins. May will go back to EU to negotiate (what exactly can be negotiated given EU says this deal is all there is seems... limited with May in charge). Labour leader will be under *massive* pressure from his own party to back 2nd referendum. Even assuming he does, it'll be a tight vote for one, and even then May would have to accede to hold one, you'd need to sort out the question, and extend leaving by a long time, which the EU may well not agree to.

Even if there's a referendum, there's still no guarantee Remain would win - Leave cheated massively with dark money last time and got away with it pretty much scot free, so it'll be even more 2nd time round.

Parliament won't call off Brexit without a 2nd referendum, they'd be murdered by Nazis - like Jo Cox was.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 12:22 PM on January 15 [26 favorites]


uandt: "So can anyone explain the two-part tory thing. All I can read out from this thread is that it's an asshats vs. dimwits thing but I have no clue what the actual difference between the two sides are?"

Broadly, Eurosceptic vs pro-European. Which roughly falls along the lines of those representing red-faced harrumphing retired colonels from the Home Counties who firmly believe the British Empire has a rum deal in history classes, versus the (arguably more dangerous) corporatist asset strippers who want to hollow out the British state and make lots of money dancing in the rubble. And the pro-Euro ones were mainly pro-Euro on business grounds, so a few of them have joined the reactionary Empire types because they think they can gain from the chaos.

I have friends who have voted and in some cases continue to vote Tory. I believe them to be basically good people whose sometimes valid concerns are wholly taken advantage of by the deeply unpleasant people who now populate the rotting husk of a once-principled Parliamentary party.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:28 PM on January 15 [11 favorites]


Corbyn has tabled no confidence.

Given the scale of the defeat, and the now-undeniable fact that the last two years have been utterly wasted to the massive detriment of the country, I’d personally have tabled a motion to exile her to that Scottish island that nobody can live on because it’s covered in anthrax. But baby steps, I suppose.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 12:33 PM on January 15 [21 favorites]


I'll come out and say it: All the true Brexiters are the ones who voted for May's deal. They want out of the EU and this is the ticket.

The ones who voted against are both Remainers and deluded Brexiters.

The Remainers do not want this deal because they do not want Brexit, in any form. Fair enough.

The deluded Brexiters (including the right-wing and members of the Labour party) believe there is some better deal out there, some wonderful land full of cupcakes and rainbows where Britain will get everything and give up nothing. The EU will not re-negotiate. This is Brexit. If you want Brexit, you want May's deal. If you voted against this deal, there is not a deal that will please you.
posted by vacapinta at 12:35 PM on January 15 [21 favorites]


- Leave cheated massively with dark money last time and got away with it pretty much scot free, so it'll be even more 2nd time round.

Really ? wouldn't there be more scrutiny the 2nd time ?
posted by Pendragon at 12:36 PM on January 15


wouldn't there be more scrutiny the 2nd time ?

It would certainly be a good idea if there was more scrutiny - and a clearer process, and an obligation to produce a white paper setting out exactly what Vote Leave are proposing actually happen, and a decent length of time for the country to properly debate it, and a national press looking at the substance of the issues rather than just wheeling out Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage again.

Alas, it being a good idea doesn't mean it will actually happen.

And leaving the EU without a deal is a horrifically bad idea, but could well end up happening anyway. Joy.
posted by Catseye at 12:42 PM on January 15 [8 favorites]


How much does dark money matter this time around? There's been years of non-stop Brexit coverage. The people who would have been swayed by targeted ads or misinformation have already been swayed.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:45 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Twitter right now is full of whingeing Leavers saying "we had a people’s vote in 2016 which has to be honoured". It's as if they voted to fly to Jupiter and are insisting that we keep preparing the rocket even though we now know that it's going to blow up on the launch pad.
posted by rory at 12:45 PM on January 15 [7 favorites]


Twitter right now is full of whingeing Leavers saying "we had a people’s vote in 2016 which has to be honoured". It's as if they voted to fly to Jupiter and are insisting that we keep preparing the rocket even though we now know that it's going to blow up on the launch pad.

They voted for a submarine made out of cheese, May just tossed a lump of Wensleydale in the Thames which promptly sank. Parliament now has to decide
1) do we have an election where different people promise a new type of cheese submarine that also flies and is extra fragrant
2) Try and come up with a better plan for a fromage-based fleet themselves
3) They try and agree to ask if the public _really_ want a cheese submarine, and risk riots by people who just want a HARD CHEESE SUBMARINE NOW, like they were promised.

Brexiteers wanted Parliamentary Sovereignty. That just now, that was Parliament, being Sovereign. And we didn't even need to leave the EU to get it! If only they'd put 'how about mob rule by fascists' on a bus, which is what they really meant.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 12:58 PM on January 15 [32 favorites]


If it is true that
"Parliament won't call off Brexit without a 2nd referendum, they'd be murdered by Nazis - like Jo Cox was."
then mob rule by fascists is already here.
posted by vacapinta at 1:03 PM on January 15 [10 favorites]


Unfortunate that the OBR chose today of all days to release this, but it’s important: Changes to disability benefits cost £4bn in extra welfare payments
Changes to the disability benefits system that has caused huge hardship to some of the country’s most vulnerable people has cost the government more than £4bn more in extra welfare payments than ministers estimated.
...
A saving of £2bn was expected by 2018, but that has since been revised to an over-spend by £1.5bn to £2bn, leaving an estimated £4.2bn gap in the public finances.
So the current shower of Tory bastards has paid 4 billion quid to immiserate disabled people and, in some cases, push them to suicide.

Always remember, the economic rationale is never the point, and is normally completely invented.

The cruelty is the point.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 1:10 PM on January 15 [32 favorites]


At least the numbers confirm the 120-ish hard Brexiters: 200 soft Tories: 300 2nd ref/Remainers ratio that was being talked about in December.

And it remains the fact that if nobody moves, then the puppy gets it. The amount of movement needed to 2nd Ref is far smaller than that needed to go for May's deal, which despite everything she says has to be considered dead now. And only 120 want to kill the puppy.

f it is true that
"Parliament won't call off Brexit without a 2nd referendum, they'd be murdered by Nazis - like Jo Cox was." then mob rule by fascists is already here.


It is true that nobody's calling for Brexit to be abandoned without a second referendum, but not because of the killed by Nazis bit. There was a referendum that did deliver a majority for Brexit. You can argue that it wasn't a fair fight, and I would absolutely agree, and that there are at least ten reasons rhe result was a wrong 'un. Quite so.

But the only way to unwind even a dodgy democratic decision is by another democratic decision. If there was sufficient nuanced awareness of the nature of representative versus direct democracy and the actual structure of sovereignty in the UK, then I'd be perfectly happy with a parliamentary annulment of the Brexit referendum. But there isn't. Second ref it has to be.

At this point I'd welcome a general election just for a change of looping soundbite.

Oh god, this. I am SO SICK of the broken record rhetoric coming out of the mouths of the roboquote androids.
posted by Devonian at 1:14 PM on January 15 [9 favorites]


If it is true that [...] then mob rule by fascists is already here.

It's not true at all. There are barely enough actual Nazis in England to fill a couple of coaches, judging by the scale of their protests. The threat has been used as a scare tactic to try to cow MPs into voting for the deal.
posted by pipeski at 1:16 PM on January 15 [3 favorites]


It's as if they voted to fly to Jupiter and are insisting that we keep preparing the rocket even though we now know that it's going to blow up on the launch pad.

A while ago in one of these threads Americans were asking "but why can't you just, like, NOT Brexit?" And a British person said something like "There was a mutiny, and the mutineers steered the ship in a different direction. And now we know that new course will leads to smashing up on some rocks. In theory we COULD just reset our course, but the mutineers are surrounding the wheel with cutlasses drawn to stop anyone from doing that. They'd rather smash up on the rocks than admit they steered us in the wrong direction, or give up on the glorious destination they told us they were steering for."

I dunno, that's probably a bad paraphrase. But it's an alternative metaphor that can be extended a bit further than the launchpad one, if that's helpful. And it means that every time I find myself wondering WHY I picture Theresa May with an eyepatch and cutlass.

Thanks, whichever MeFite gave me that mental image!
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:17 PM on January 15 [16 favorites]


I mean, it’s like people believe they voted “leave the EU by 2020”. No, they didn’t. Sure they voted for a stupidly impossible pile of lies, but the people who saw the results and ran screaming over the edge of the cliff immediately were idiots in chief May and Corbyn, and they should be destroyed for it.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:24 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Ian Dunt has already come out with his always-solid take:

...
It's a wierd state of affairs. No-deal and People's Vote are the two obvious options which hang over everything, but neither the prime minister nor the leader of the opposition are prepared to countenance either of them.
...
No-deal comes closer and closer. In the time remaining, May has promised amendable votes, MPs have shown every willingness to force her to hold them, and Bercow today reiterated that MPs will be able to debate and vote on whatever they want. So as the weeks pass, these options will be thrown forward as alternatives, as brake pads to prevent calamity. And eventually those options are likely to whittle down until only a People's Vote is left.

The question is whether enough MPs have the bravery and responsibility to prevent no-deal. We're about to find out.

posted by vacapinta at 1:39 PM on January 15 [8 favorites]


what is the likelihood that this vote will lead to Brexit being called off?

Opinion is divided. According to Theresa May yesterday, it's a good possibility. According to Theresa May today, it is the government's firm intention to Brexit it up no matter what.
posted by sfenders at 1:40 PM on January 15 [8 favorites]


Someone on twitter has pointed out this isn't quite the biggest defeat of our rulers by parliament... that would be Nasby.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:54 PM on January 15 [6 favorites]


The people voted to go skydiving for the thrill and adventure of it. Today, parliament voted against doing so with a parachute packed by a drunk monkey. Now the remaining options are jumping with no parachute, or jumping with a parachute packed by a different drunk monkey.

Staying on the ground is apparently not an option because democracy.
posted by rocket88 at 1:56 PM on January 15 [21 favorites]


About a 2nd referendum: today in the car I heard a radio program which was actually hilarious, though the situation is tragic. A young Brexiteer had recorded his family's Christmas conversations. Now this was on Danish radio, and luckily the young man cannot vote in the UK because he has immigrated to Denmark. So his brexiteering is hypothetical. Still, it is probably an echo of what his British friends are saying, and in that sense it was horrendous as well as hilarious.
Basically, this man's dad and grandma are smart people and remainers, who had anticipated the current situation and were obviously right. They had good arguments. When the discussion came to the role fear of immigrants had played in the pre-referendum debate, they pointed out that he is an immigrant to Denmark, and that they themselves were immigrants (grandparents and dad had immigrated to the UK).
All fun and good times. Then the radio host asked how he would vote if he could, and there was a second referendum. And he said he had understood that his family was right, and that Brexit is impossible and a mess, and that the Leave campaign had lied to the people, but still he would vote leave again if he could, out of spite.


I'll just let that stand there.
posted by mumimor at 2:00 PM on January 15 [31 favorites]


> Someone on twitter has pointed out this isn't quite the biggest defeat of our rulers by parliament... that would be Nasby.
Then again, the only thing stopping this from being a record defeat being something from over 350 years ago isn't much solace, innit?
posted by farlukar at 2:05 PM on January 15


"Leave cheated massively with dark money last time and got away with it pretty much scot free, so it'll be even more 2nd time round."

I understand why May's government doesn't want to look very closely into all that dark money and probable Russian influence, but don't the intelligence agencies operate at least somewhat independently (and couldn't they leak?)? Why isn't an opposition party screaming about this from the rafters until it becomes a point of embarrassment that has to be addressed? WHERE IS THE PRESS?

Honest question. It seems like the US and UK were fucked by the same people, and while Congress has been shamefully reticent in pursuing it, at least we have Mueller. Why isn't there a demand in the UK for an investigation of some kind by some entity?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:11 PM on January 15 [11 favorites]


The big problem is Corbyn, who is a Lexiteer, believing that EU is the reason that the UK can't have a true socialist government (somehow ignoring that plenty EU countries have had functioning socialist government during the last 40 years)
posted by mumimor at 2:22 PM on January 15 [12 favorites]


Why isn't there a demand in the UK for an investigation of some kind by some entity?

Personal suspicion: because the Tories have been taking money from some of the same sources & the last thing they want is for them to be closely investigated.

(I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Russians have in fact been gleefully funding every available side in this godawful mess.)
posted by pharm at 2:26 PM on January 15


Eyebrows: Unlike the US, in the UK both parties are ok with the result, or at least, believe they can leverage it to their own advantage.

WHERE IS THE PRESS?

The major/best-selling papers (Daily Mail, Sun, Telegraph, Times) are all for Brexit too. The Guardian is an outlier and Carole Cadwalladr has been doing her best and asking the same question as you.

Feels pretty hopeless, doesn't it?
posted by vacapinta at 2:28 PM on January 15 [8 favorites]


I’d personally have tabled a motion to exile her to that Scottish island that nobody can live on because it’s covered in anthrax.

Yeah, but to do that, you'd need to leave the ECHR, which, despite it being one of her most deeply held beliefs, May wasn't able to get within her withdrawal agreement.

As for what happens in a second referendum, the most important thing is that every single one of us takes to the streets to march and advocate for a Remain vote at every single opportunity. Frankly, the sheer relief and lack of hopelessness would mean that unlike between 24th June 2016 and now, I actually believe I'd have the energy to spend all my free time at vigils.
posted by ambrosen at 2:31 PM on January 15 [3 favorites]


Why isn't there a demand in the UK for an investigation of some kind by some entity?

The right wing press want Brexit. There isn't much of a left-wing press, and the Guardian (inasmuch as it is left wing) has been running this story, but it's a lone voice. Labour is being run by someone who wants Brexit, which dampens things down.

The BBC is terrified of upsetting anyone, except its audience. Channel 4 has touched on it, but it's not mainstream.

Carole Cadwalladr and Peter Geoghegen are the two most prominent journos pursuing the agenda of corruption and interference
posted by Devonian at 2:35 PM on January 15 [7 favorites]


About half a million pounds was funnelled through the DUP (the same tiny Unionist party keeping May in power and the likely reason she will survive the no confidence motion) to fund the leave campaign. This took advantage of the different rules for Irish parties in the UK. The Electoral Commission found there was nothing to see here.
posted by GeckoDundee at 2:39 PM on January 15 [7 favorites]


Britain Is a Nation in Desperate Need of a Driver, by Jenni Russell, NYTimes
LONDON — This week, as an anxious Britain prepared to witness Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan crashing to defeat, Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson, tweeted out one of his grandfather’s solemn warnings from the 1930s.

Mr. Soames, a Conservative politician, repeated lines from a poem, by Edwin J. Milliken, that his grandfather had quoted to express his despair at Britain’s political paralysis in the face of the Nazi threat: “Who is in charge of the clattering train? The axles creak, and the couplings strain. For the pace is hot and the points are near, and Sleep hath deadened the driver’s ear, and signals flash through the night in vain. Who is in charge of the clattering train?”

Nobody knows. With Mrs. May’s cabinet, the country, political parties and Parliament all hopelessly split over how or whether to carry out Brexit, Britain’s political universe is imploding and so are its political norms.
posted by mumimor at 2:43 PM on January 15


A variety of European politicos on the radio saying "Dear me, what a mess. But there is zero chance, under any circumstances, of reopening negotiations. None. Forget that shit. Ain't gonna happen, election or no." How clear is that? They're not even saying "Let me be perfectly clear", that's how clear it is.

But Boris is still braying that May has complete authority to go back and renegotiate, and Jezza is saying that after Labour wins the general election, he'd get a much better deal...

Christ.
posted by Devonian at 2:44 PM on January 15 [18 favorites]




The most important reason Corbyn is wrong is that he is clueless and literally has no idea what he is talking about. The second most important reason (which derives from the first) is that there is no time for him first winning an election and then negotiating another deal.
Boris actually knows better, and needs a spanking, but I guess that is what he wants.
posted by mumimor at 2:54 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


The leaders and candidates from all main parties are uninspiring at best and utterly soul-destroyingly dreadful at worst. I suspect that any general election would have a historically low turnout as people stay away from the polls, not wanting to bring themselves to vote for any of them.

As with any vote where the turnout is low, the result would be wildly up in the air and could land pretty much anywhere. A few votes in a few towns would swing it either way and we could see minor parties ending up in Parliament here and there.
posted by winterhill at 2:59 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


I think you're giving Boris a lot more credit than he deserves - he's a total fucking idiot.

When it was suggested that the head of Jaguar Land Rover knew more about car manufacturing than Boris, Boris said "I’m not certain he does".

That would be Ralf Speth, PhD - and yes, that doctorate is in Engineering.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 3:00 PM on January 15 [9 favorites]


I'm not saying that Boris is smart, but I do think he knows a great deal more than he pretends to know, specially concerning the EU. He was a journalist there for ages, and I think everyone who actually works in Bruxelles learns more than they want to learn (if they are against the EU). As a mayor of London, he must also have learnt something about the importance of EU for City.
posted by mumimor at 3:06 PM on January 15


My MP was due to give birth by caesarean today and still rocked up to vote against because her vote couldn't be paired off with an opposing MP - not because one couldn't be found, but because the last time someone trusted the opposition to do the right thing they "forgot".
posted by Molesome at 3:09 PM on January 15 [22 favorites]


The rest of the Boris Johnson car manufacturing quote isn't that terrible (if he didn't make the story up):

“I do not claim superior knowledge of every aspect of car manufacturing,” Johnson said on the radio programme, but claimed that, when he was mayor of London, Speth expressed scepticism about the future of electric vehicles. Johnson said: “I hesitate to say this, but I think events have vindicated me on that point rather than him.”
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:14 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


I can't remember who said it, but the best description of Boris I've heard is: "not half as stupid as he pretends to be, and not half as clever as he thinks he is"
posted by carsondial at 3:16 PM on January 15 [25 favorites]


It is true that nobody's calling for Brexit to be abandoned without a second referendum, but not because of the killed by Nazis bit. There was a referendum that did deliver a majority for Brexit. You can argue that it wasn't a fair fight, and I would absolutely agree, and that there are at least ten reasons rhe result was a wrong 'un. Quite so.

But the only way to unwind even a dodgy democratic decision is by another democratic decision. If there was sufficient nuanced awareness of the nature of representative versus direct democracy and the actual structure of sovereignty in the UK, then I'd be perfectly happy with a parliamentary annulment of the Brexit referendum. But there isn't. Second ref it has to be.


I actually concur, that even though we live in a representative democracy, and Parliament cannot bind its successors (the referendum and vote for article 50 were actually the previous Parliament) and the Leave campaign funding was as dodgy as a Trump property deal in Russia, and it was only an advisory vote by law - you can't promise to abide by the result and then just 'nah, it was too hard, we give up'. I'm sure there are plenty of MPs who feel the same way. What little legitimacy Parliament has left would be wiped out for at least half the country, who would be told the Brexit that would solve all their problems/stop the brown people coming here had been stolen by elitist remainers.

I'm also sure there's a bunch more who wouldn't fancy their chances at the next election with posters with their face on and 'Traitor' on them ala-Daily Mail. I was exaggerating for effect above, when I didn't mention those reasons for why Parliament won't just cancel Brexit.

But.

Jo Cox, a Labour MP who'd been campaigning for Remain, was shot three times and stabbed repeatedly while about to do a constituency surgery, a week before the referendum. Her murderer had links to a US Neo-Nazi group. He had a house full of nazi memorabilia and books on white supremacy, and in the days before his attack had researched the Ku Klux Klan, the Waffen SS, and the death of Ian Gow (the last MP to have been murdered, by the IRA). Witnesses testified that during the attack, Mair had cried out "This is for Britain", "keep Britain independent", and "Put Britain first". He was also a loner, that was not actively involved in any local far-right activism as far as could be determined. He was on no-one's radar.

Last week, Anna Soubry (Remainer Tory MP who's been arguing for a 2nd ref) was surrounded and barracked by far-right extremists outside Parliament, who amongst other things said “But we already had a vote. You lost the people’s vote. You are a traitor. You are a traitor to this country. You are on the side of Adolf Hitler." When Soubry tweeted that the protesters had expressed support for Hitler, Goddard replied to say: “Lying trollop, I personally told you that you’re doing the dirty work of Adolf Hitler, you morally repugnant scumbag.”

And don't forget the large rise in racist attacks and abuse reported in the weeks after the referendum.

Brexiteer MPs threatening riots on the streets if they don't get their car-crash no-deal Brexit have a lot less supporters than they say they do, but the threat to MPs from 'betrayed' white supremacists is very real. Backbenchers don't get bodyguards, they don't get police escorts, they work among the general public all the time. It's not some wild-eyed bullshit that a british nazi might kill a serving MP over Brexit 'betrayal'. One already did.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 3:31 PM on January 15 [29 favorites]


What little legitimacy Parliament has left would be wiped out for at least half the country...

It's not half the country. It's around a quarter of the country who actually voted for Brexit, around a quarter voted against it, and around half either didn't or couldn't vote. I doubt that many who didn't bother to vote have become seriously pro-Brexit in the intervening years, and around a million who couldn't vote for reasons of age now can - again, unlikely to be pro-Brexit.

The equations of disappointment are complicated.
posted by Devonian at 3:44 PM on January 15 [8 favorites]


Another USian question here, can Article 50 actually be revoked just by Parliament or May saying "oh wait, this was actually a bad idea after all, let's just go back and forget the last two years"? Or would the EU have to agree to let bygones be bygones? And would the EU have to vote on letting the UK take it all back? If so, is there any chance one country could just block revoking Art. 50 and tell the UK to lie in the bed it made?
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:49 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Also a US person, but I believe some European court decided the UK could retract Art50 unilaterally? But the EU would have to unanimously approve an extension. Hopefully while wearing those amazing wigs.
posted by schadenfrau at 3:51 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Wait now I have a question. If the UK revokes Art50 (retracts? I forget), is there anything stopping the UK from envoking it again the next time Brexiters get elected?
posted by schadenfrau at 3:54 PM on January 15


He was also a loner, that was not actively involved in any local far-right activism as far as could be determined. He was on no-one's radar.
I live a few streets from Mair's previous address and from the location where Jo Cox was murdered.

Prior to the events of 16 June 2016, racist Britain First stickers were to be seen on nearby street furniture on a regular basis. After these events, the stickers stopped appearing. Who could possibly have had the time and inclination to put up "Britain First, Repatriation Now" stickers within a mile radius of the Fieldhead estate in Birstall and then replace them when removed?

He may not have been on any national radar - things that happen outside London and Manchester bubbles tend not to be - but someone knew he was a far-right lunatic with weapons and failed to report it, perhaps because they were also a sympathiser.
posted by winterhill at 3:55 PM on January 15 [9 favorites]


Another USian question here, can Article 50 actually be revoked just by Parliament or May saying "oh wait, this was actually a bad idea after all, let's just go back and forget the last two years"? Or would the EU have to agree to let bygones be bygones? And would the EU have to vote on letting the UK take it all back? If so, is there any chance one country could just block revoking Art. 50 and tell the UK to lie in the bed it made?

There was an important court case recently at the European Court of Justice that ruled on this exact question. Short answer, yes, the UK can just withdraw the article 50 notification, before the two years are up, and say 'we changed our mind.' on the basis that otherwise the EU would be effectively kicking out a member that wanted to stay, which would be in breach of the EU's own law. The ruling was pretty open ended about how much in good faith the withdrawal (of art 50 notification) had to be, too.

Extending the process beyond 2 years after the initial notification requires the unanimous consent of the other 27 members though. They've indicated that a short extension of a few weeks likely wouldn't be a problem, but any substantial extension would need a better reason than 'we need more time to negotiate' by May; time to hold a 2nd referendum would likely qualify, especially since we could just withdraw our article 50 notification unilaterally and resubmit if the 2nd ref was actually lost.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 3:57 PM on January 15 [7 favorites]



Wait now I have a question. If the UK revokes Art50 (retracts? I forget), is there anything stopping the UK from envoking it again the next time Brexiters get elected?


Unknown - A50 was never supposed to be used, so a lot of how it works is being decided as we go along. I'd expect it was a one-shot deal; you retract/revoke it, and you can only put in another after a suitable democratic process has taken place. Which couldn't be anything less than another referendum, or the election of a party at a GE with a manifesto explicitly saying 'we'll leave'. Which could happen no matter what's gone before.
posted by Devonian at 4:07 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


I forgot to add, the EU wouldn't even be able to impose any changes on our EU membership or other preconditions either, if the UK just cancels article 50 before the 29th March. They'd probably even be somewhat relieved that sense had finally prevailed.

I suspect the UK representatives wouldn't be getting invited to any drinks parties any time soon though, after the shit we've put them through.

Extension though, that's a bit tricky - the EU, in theory, could impose additional conditions in order to give one as article 50 says very little about the whole process. So even if parliament wants article 50 extended for say, a referendum, and so do the EU members generally cos they think remain will win, we might still end up not getting one due to one EU country playing hardball, and crashing out anyway.

Last pleasant thought before I go to bed. May loses the confidence vote tomorrow, but in a fit of pique schedules the general election for April 4th - she still gets to pick the date, and refuses to table any further legislation, so there's nothing for Parliament to amend. Parliament is shut down 25 days before the vote, thus no-deal Brexit happens by default on 29th March. Pretty unlikely. Probably.

"Britain faces a simple and inescapable choice - stability and strong Government with me, or chaos with Ed Miliband" - May 4, 2015, David Cameron. Four days before his general election victory, and subsequent implementation of the tory party manifesto promise for a referendum on UK EU membership. Fuck you too, Dave.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 4:44 PM on January 15 [9 favorites]


Besides reluctance on the part of EU 27, little chance of Article 50 being canceled by either the Conservatives or Labour, because Article 50 represents the referendum result, and significant factions in both parties support some sort of Brexit.

Best that can be hoped for is an extension is granted on Article 50 to avoid crashing out. The problem is, EU 27 will not want to really alter the deal that just failed in the Commons.
posted by JamesBay at 4:59 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Would she get to decide the date of the election though? I don't know the FTPA, though I believe some of it is unclear as written anyway. There will only be an election if nobody can form an alternative government within 14 days. Doesn't that mean no date can be set until the 14 days have passed? I can't see May staying on as leader of the Tories for a day let alone 14 if they lose the confidence motion. Does the governing party get to provide the (acting? caretaker?) PM for those 14 days? Does the Act envisage the same person staying on as PM? That would be a bit naive surely? Is Parliament effectively suspended for those 14 days? Does anyone know how it works?

Personally I expect she will survive because the government will win the confidence motion, and will then continue to put ever so slightly different versions of the WA before Parliament until somebody blinks. It would be good to know what would happen if they lose though.
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:30 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


I don't have a clue either. I suspect that the answer to most of those questions is "convention", which doesn't help when we're talking about something so recent and untested. It's astonishing that such a fundamental change to how governments are formed got passed with relatively little pushback. I need to do some reading, I don't even know if it still has to be party leaders or if Gove, Rudd, Benn, Mann or any other four letter word can attempt to construct their own voting bloc to present to the Queen as a functional government (internal party rules might well be agin it, but "interesting times" and all that).
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 8:07 PM on January 15


what is the likelihood that this vote will lead to Brexit being called off?

Opinion is divided. According to Theresa May yesterday, it's a good possibility. According to Theresa May today, it is the government's firm intention to Brexit it up no matter what.


On a related note, Miles Jupp made a striking analogy on The News Quiz somewhat more than two years ago, when Theresa May offered two entirely opposed statements about an aspect of Brexit a few days apart. Jupp said something to the effect that “this leaves only two possibilities: either she has changed her mind or that there are two Theresa Mays — one who only speaks the truth and one who only lies. One of them guards the path to future prosperity and the other the path to stagnation and ruin, and you only get to ask one of them one question.”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:13 PM on January 15 [17 favorites]


chappell, ambrose: "I’d personally have tabled a motion to exile her to that Scottish island that nobody can live on because it’s covered in anthrax"

Gruinard Island. It was decontaminated in the 80s, although not everyone is convinced it was totally effective.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:41 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


One way to find out.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:50 PM on January 15 [4 favorites]


. According to Theresa May yesterday, it's a good possibility.

At least to this across-the-ponder, that speech in the factory looked a lot like a last-ditch attempt to scare the Brexiteers into voting for her plan. "Do it my way or you get no Brexit at all booga booga booga!" Obviously that didn't work.

The big problem is Corbyn, who is a Lexiteer, believing that EU is the reason that the UK can't have a true socialist government

I'm also under the impression that a lot of people suspect that he might currently be less a true Lexiteer and more a guy willing to play chicken with the UK economy as a way to land in the PM seat after May crashes and burns.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:52 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


"My MP was due to give birth by caesarean today and still rocked up to vote against because her vote couldn't be paired off with an opposing MP "

I did very much enjoy MP with an MD who gave the Speaker and the government an extremely impassioned what-for over forcing Tulip Siddiq to attend the vote today. (And as someone who had two scheduled followed by one emergency C-section, she is not fucking around. Postponing her C-section is a super-serious decision with super-serious consequences and the Tories should fuck right the fuck off for forcing her.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:58 PM on January 15 [16 favorites]


36 things that will happen if Britain crashes out of Europe with no deal (Jonathan Lis, Prospect)

Really scary stuff. The article notes at the end that they'll still be in Eurovision, though I'm not sure as what.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:34 PM on January 15 [10 favorites]


Besides reluctance on the part of EU 27, little chance of Article 50 being canceled by either the Conservatives or Labour, because Article 50 represents the referendum result, and significant factions in both parties support some sort of Brexit.

May's government actually fought against the prospect of the ECJ case for Article 50 rescinding to be heard at all: the whole idea was pushed primarily by SNP politicians and thus carries a "not invented here" label that makes it politically unattractive to government and opposition. At present.

Yet the idea of rescinding article 50 and then having a second referendum in the future - would be a very appealing sell at the moment: we step off the conveyor belt heading for the March 29th cliff, we retain all our pre-existing rights with the EU, we provide a mechanism for popular democracy to be respected via second vote, we buy time for that second vote to be properly organised and campaigned for, and finally we don't require consent of each EU27 member or any debate about the length of a deadline extension. The EU would probably be somewhat frustrated at the move - but would be likely to understand that rescinding A50 without a subsequent second referendum is politically impossible. It is a far better outcome for them than "no deal".
posted by rongorongo at 12:20 AM on January 16 [6 favorites]


Would she get to decide the date of the election though? I don't know the FTPA, though I believe some of it is unclear as written anyway. There will only be an election if nobody can form an alternative government within 14 days. Doesn't that mean no date can be set until the 14 days have passed? I can't see May staying on as leader of the Tories for a day let alone 14 if they lose the confidence motion. Does the governing party get to provide the (acting? caretaker?) PM for those 14 days? Does the Act envisage the same person staying on as PM? That would be a bit naive surely? Is Parliament effectively suspended for those 14 days? Does anyone know how it works?

Ah, the joy of parliamentary democracy. It used to be that the PM could ask the Queen to dissolve parliament at a time of their choosing before 5 years were up. the fixed term parliament act removed this, and made it that parliament could only be dissolved early if 2/3 of MPs voted for it, or a motion of no confidence in the government was passed. Previously, other votes would effectively count as a vote of no confidence by convention, such as failing to pass a budget, major plank of the manifesto etc. Pre the FTPA, losing yesterday's vote by 230 would have toppled any other government in minutes. If May (or strictly speaking, the government she leads) wins the confidence vote, she will most definitely be in office, but not in power. I still expect the no confidence vote to fail, just, but it's not quite as slam dunk as it might have been (2/3 of non-government payroll tories voting against her signature legislation. Wow).

Assuming the government lose tomorrow though, that's when things get kinda weird. The government will stay in place as a caretaker until replaced by a new one after a general election - which might be the tories, could be Labour or a Labour coalition, could be some weird new cross-party Remain group. We could even get a fully hung parliament that can't form a majority at all and we get to keep having general elections until one can actually happen. A government is a group of MPs which can win a confidence vote, how it's made up from MPs is entirely up them.

The PM, by convention, is the leader of the largest party that makes up the government. That is currently May. The hard right blew their shot at deposing May as leader of the tories back in December - she can't be challenged again for another 11 months by party rules. So in the short term, she gets to keep the job of leader of the Conservatives. And thus as leader of the current government, unless and until
a) Within 14 days of losing the no confidence vote, a group in parliament can pass a motion of confidence in themselves
b) a general election is held, and a group (such as a single party with a majority) in the new parliament can go to the Queen and try to form a new government.
c) The Queen decides she wants a different caretaker. This would be a Constitutional Crisis, and the outcome would be entirely unknown.
d) She resigns as PM and leader of the tories; though she'd stay in post until after a party election/other party wins and takes over.

If she loses, she may also not bother waiting the 14 days, but call a motion for a new election, which if passed by 2/3 (it would be) then dissolves parliament quicker.

25 days before the set polling date, parliament is dissolved, all current MPs cease to have a function and no legislation can be passed. As I understand it, power then effectively passes to the Crown until Parliament is seated again, at which point she gives it back. Even then, they're still acting in her name - the Queen's speech is where she lays out the plans for 'her' government for the following year, though it's actually written by the sitting PM. Constitutionally, the Queen could do pretty much anything, though I don't even want to imagine the political consequences if she actually did. See Civil War 1. QEII doesn't seem the type to try anything though, so for basic functions of government under current convention, it would be May in the hotseat until replaced.

If May loses tomorrow she'd then likely set a date for the GE before Brexit and resign (possibly securing a short extension to article 50 first), the tory party would try to hold a snap leadership election before the general election, and the whole steaming mess becomes someone else's problem.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 12:24 AM on January 16 [14 favorites]


...May likely to be replaced by a swivel-eyed hard Brexit loon.
It's worth remembering that May is a hard Brexiter, her red lines mean an end to freedom of movement and leaving the single market. Hardcore Brexiteers have (as I've written before here) gradually and quite successfully redefined that hard approach to leaving the EU, which was at the extremes during the referendum campaign to be a soft Brexit and now 'no Brexit at all'. Meanwhile, no deal Brexit, which wasn't even seriously proposed during the campaign, was re-labelled as hard Brexit and now 'the only real Brexit'.

Regarding Labour, I get that Lexiteers believe that the benefits of Corbyn-led wealth redistribution would outweigh the loss of prosperity from leaving the EU. I think that's economically and politically wrong-headed, but I can see how someone could arrive at that position. The part of Lexit I don't understand is believing that Labour will necessarily take and retain power for long enough to build that dream.

Let's imagine Labour get in and the UK leaves the EU. What next? There will be huge numbers of post-Brexit fires to fight, many of which will do serious damage to the country. Much fault for that will be with the failure of the May government to prepare, but the Labour government will still be associated with the chaos. Reinvestment in the NHS and schools will not bear immediate fruit and there will be little spare time and energy to implement major changes to welfare etc. because of all the trade deals etc. to be made. Meanwhile, much of the press will devote itself to tearing down the government using the post-Brexit downturn as a stick and the Tories will be delighted to have found something to unite over after their Brexit divisions.

Of course it might not work out that way, but my point is there's a very good chance that even if Labour get in post Brexit, it won't be for long. And then we'll have a hard right government entirely unrestrained by EU law ready to strike trade deals with the US and others which eviscerate worker's rights and consumer protections, plus the rest of the grim meathook future shopping list. Is that risk really worth it for the sake of not having (fairly mild and sensible afaics) anti-state aid regulations?
posted by Busy Old Fool at 12:28 AM on January 16 [26 favorites]


So, Article 50 created a ticking time bomb. If nothing is done, the bomb goes off at the end of March. With May's deal dead, any other option requires more time. So, Article 50 has to be extended or revoked.

As noted above, Article 50 can be revoked unilaterally. But even though this can technically be done, it does not sound as if this is politically viable. For an extension, the EU has to agree and I concur that they will agree to a short extension. Not a longer extension, though. That has just been made clear:

Guy Verhofstadt an hour ago:
What we will not let happen, deal or no deal, is that the mess in British politics is again imported into European politics. While we understand the UK could need more time, for us it is unthinkable that article 50 is prolonged beyond the European Elections.

So, the bomb is ticking. The bomb cannot be disabled unless you first ask permission (2nd referendum). But you need more time to ask permission. Luckily, you can pause the countdown briefly but only once and for a fixed amount of time.

If only it was obvious what needs to be done next...
posted by vacapinta at 2:22 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


The big problem is Corbyn, who is a Lexiteer.

People keep saying this, but I've yet to see any actual evidence of it.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:24 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


People keep saying this, but I've yet to see any actual evidence of it.
Wha?
Wiki
posted by mumimor at 2:35 AM on January 16 [6 favorites]


Corbyn has past history of being anti-EU as detailed at least partially on his political position Wikipedia page. He did campaign for Remain admittedly (although not strongly enough many of us would say) and his views could of course have changed, but there's justification for thinking he's still a Lexiteer.
posted by edd at 2:36 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the link.
This is what it says:

"In June 2016, in the run-up to the EU referendum, Corbyn said that there was an "overwhelming case" for staying in the EU. In a speech in London, Corbyn said "We, the Labour Party, are overwhelmingly for staying in, because we believe the European Union has brought investment, jobs and protection for workers, consumers and the environment"."

So you can see my confusion.
LIke, I acknowledge he has been opposed to the way the EU has done things. But he's never said anything about wanting to leave it.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:42 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


People keep saying this, but I've yet to see any actual evidence of it.

People keep saying this but the evidence is his actions for the last few months and beyond.

The only reason Labour's official policy right now isn't 'Second referendum' at least is because of the leadership. The party want it (see conference and regular polls) and the PLP want it.

If Corbyn wanted it, then it would have been party policy by now.

His defence is always 'pragmatic politics says we can't', but his whole schtick is that he stands up for ideas over pragmatic politics. This is the only area where, consistently, that rule doesn't seem to apply. That's not coincidental.

Look at the verbal rings the front bench have to leap through right now to not have a policy on Brexit. It's the one thing that May could - rightly - beat Corbyn with last night after the vote. Seriously - when the Lib Dems are trolling you via Parliamentary amendment, you need to have a long hard look at your policies.

I'm Labour until I die, but our EU stance is a fucking embarrassment right now.
posted by garius at 2:45 AM on January 16 [27 favorites]


LIke, I acknowledge he has been opposed to the way the EU has done things. But he's never said anything about wanting to leave it.

Did you forget everything that has happened after the referendum? Corbyn was the dickhead giving speeches to anyone who'd listen on the morning after the referendum saying the government had to invoke Article 50 immediately, the people had spoken, that was it, brexit right the fuck now. You know how we've all been criticising May for setting the clock ticking way prematurely? Corbyn would've, by his own word, been even hastier. He put a three line whip in place to get Labour MPs to vote with the Tory government to enable it. He has - in his position as leader of the opposition - consistently failed to oppose the government on Brexit. He has countenanced no policy that didn't involve Brexit, but Labour will negotiate a unicorn or something, you'll see, but the important bit is brexit, absolute brexit, yes.
posted by Dysk at 3:20 AM on January 16 [28 favorites]


At least to this across-the-ponder, that speech in the factory looked a lot like a last-ditch attempt to scare the Brexiteers into voting for her plan. "Do it my way or you get no Brexit at all booga booga booga!" Obviously that didn't work.
She was in the Portmeirion pottery factory in Stoke-on-Trent.

Someone less charitable than me might make a joke about talking bull in a china shop, but I'm not that mean.
posted by winterhill at 3:23 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


>>The big problem is Corbyn, who is a Lexiteer.
People keep saying this, but I've yet to see any actual evidence of it.


Umm. Interview last month with the Guardian.
---
The Labour leader insisted that even if his party won a snap general election in the new year, he would seek to go to Brussels and try to secure a better deal – if possible, in time to allow Brexit to go ahead on 29 March.

“You’d have to go back and negotiate, and see what the timetable would be,” he said.
...
But asked if he could imagine a referendum emerging as a solution if it becomes clear that parliament is deadlocked – as the work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd, mooted this week – he said: “I think we should vote down this deal; we should then go back to the EU with a discussion about a customs union.”
...
As to what stance Labour would take if a referendum were held, Corbyn said, “it would be a matter for the party to decide what the policy would be; but my proposal at this moment is that we go forward, trying to get a customs union with the EU, in which we would be able to be proper trading partners.”

And he struck a distinctly Eurosceptic note by again highlighting Labour’s concerns about the state aid rules that form part of the architecture of the single market.

“I think the state aid rules do need to be looked at again, because quite clearly, if you want to regenerate an economy, as we would want to do in government, then I don’t want to be told by somebody else that we can’t use state aid in order to be able to develop industry in this country,” he said.

---

Yes, he quietly, half-heartedly backed remain at the referendum. He would have been eviscerated by his own MPs (and Momentum, the Labour action group mostly made up of young people who are vehemently against Brexit) if he hadn't. But since the referendum, he's
- called on May to enact article 50 immediately
- whipped Labour MPs to back to government in enacting article 50 bill, even if amendments for a 'meaningful vote' didn't pass
- at every opportunity said he wants Brexit, but a proper Labour 'jobs first' Brexit
- that we have to respect the 1/3rd of Labour voters who backed Leave (as opposed to the 2/3rds that backed Remain)
- fought tooth and nail at conference last year to avoid any mention of a referendum being party policy, as opposed to general election and renegotiated Labour Brexit deal
- won't even say which he'd vote if there is a 2nd referendum

Come oooon.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 3:29 AM on January 16 [23 favorites]


He actually didn't say "the government had to invoke Article 50 immediately"
He said that article 50 has to be invoked now. As in, as a consequence of the referendum. Not as in "Right now"
A minor point I know, but there is a huge amount of disinformation being spread, so I tend to not trust anything about Corbyn unless Corbyn literally said it.
He's always always quoted as saying "Immediately". He didn't say that.

On the subject of him railroading Labour policy. Currently, it is labour policy to renew Trident. Like, ok, Corbyn doesn't like the EU but nuclear disarmament is like his main deal and has been since before the EU was even a thing. So if he's going to ride roughshod over conference why not that instead of this?

I think he gives too much credence to a stolen referendum.
I think he's following his lifelong approach of listening to both sides (when both sides really don't think anyone should listen to the other)
I can totally believe that he'd do a brexit. I don't think he's hugely against brexit. But this idea that he is an out and out no holds barred Lexiteer? I don't think it's true.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:50 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


Corbyn statement to the BBC, 24th June 2016, the day after the referendum.

"The British people have made their decision. We must respect that result and Article 50 has to be invoked now so that we negotiate an exit from European Union.
Obviously there has to be strategy but the whole point of the referendum was that the public would be asked their opinion. They’ve given their opinion. It is up for parliament to now act on that opinion."

If you interpret that to mean 'We need to do article 50 at some distant point of the future' instead of 'as soon as possible' then yes, you're reading it a very different way to the vast majority of people. I really don't care what he actually believes in his heart of hearts, no-one other than him can ever know that. For the last two and a half years every action and speech has been that of a Lexiteer who really wants Brexit. You asked for evidence, you've been given plenty including his own words, but don't think it's valid. If you don't want to believe that evidence that's entirely your prerogative.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 4:05 AM on January 16 [11 favorites]


Also, this state aid he is so hung up on is not a solution. As stated above, plenty of EU countries manage to run social democracies with generous welfare and regional development without it. Corbyn is stuck in the 70's, his mind hasn't moved a mm since then, and that is unfortunately our problem.
posted by mumimor at 4:14 AM on January 16 [6 favorites]


Maybot is still on autopilot at PMQs. Same points as last week, and the week before, and the week before, and and and...

What on earth will it take to shift her? The no confidence vote isn't going to succeed, so no General Election. She's not going to allow a People's Vote. Unless she can be moved then it's her deal or no deal, by default.

Is she preparing to run it down to the wire?

I feel like parliament will need to start tearing up convention in the face of such disregard for the welfare of this country.
posted by doornoise at 4:37 AM on January 16 [5 favorites]


Just This Guy Y'know, you're picking nits with one particular example. How exactly was the three line whip to vote with the Tories to enable a very premature Article 50 a misunderstanding of wording? Because his actual political actions align with my (and everyone else's) read of Corbyn's "Article 50 now" statement, and doesn't align with yours.
posted by Dysk at 4:47 AM on January 16 [7 favorites]


What on earth will it take to shift her?

I truly believe that Theresa May will still be PM this time next year, and not just because my predictions are universally wrong.
posted by threetwentytwo at 4:59 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


I may be wrong. (I'm usually wrong).
I am indeed picking nits with that example (though it was quoted twice as proof before I did).
Corbyn is so often misquoted and his speeches reported on with deliberate bad faith (by some, not by mefites.) that I'm pretty wary of folks telling me what they think he said rather than what he actually said.

Again, I'm not saying he's a secret staunch remainer or anything.
I think the article 50 vote and invokation was an incredibly dumb move even if you super love brexit.
I just think the Labour front bench motivations are more nuanced than "Jez loves lexit"
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:00 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Gruinard Island

Originally called Guardian Island until one of our leading newspapers misspelled it in an article.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:02 AM on January 16 [21 favorites]


What on earth will it take to shift her?

No one else wants this position in the Tory party. They are all waiting for this to crash and then appear to say 'I could have done better! Vote for me in the election because I could have got you a unicorn!" Sadly, at the moment this also includes Corbyn, whose Brexit/dealing with May strategy this also is.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:03 AM on January 16 [12 favorites]


I just think the Labour front bench motivations are more nuanced than "Jez loves lexit"

On the Article 50 vote they certainly weren't, unless you consider "Jez will bring disciplinary measures to bear and I'll have to resign my position in the shadow cabinet (if applicable)" to be more nuanced.
posted by Dysk at 5:05 AM on January 16 [4 favorites]


A minor point I know, but there is a huge amount of disinformation being spread, so I tend to not trust anything about Corbyn unless Corbyn literally said it.

I think this is the problem with the whole Corbyn situation. There has been enough - genuine - disinformation about his views and actions (particularly before the first election he was leader for) that many people's default position on anything to do with him is now locked in. That is, you either always give him the benefit of the doubt or you don't.

In that way, it's a weird inverting of the normal relationship people seem to have with politicians (or at the very least politicians of the opposite party to the one they normally identify with).

The problem is that Corbyn is a regular, nuanced human being - which means he's just as capable as being a bit obtuse and, well, wrong on stuff as any other Labour MP.

This is one of my biggest frustrations at local party level. For a lot of people, they're so wedded to the idea of Corbyn that they can't separate it from the man. It's like they need him to be a total reflection of their views rather than accepting he can be a partial one, because if they do that then that's a slippery slope towards being a 'Blairite'.

The anti-semitism thing is a lot of the same thing by the way - the idea that some of Corbyn (or his supporter's) actions can be anti-semitic, even if he himself isn't or doesn't think they are, is a level of nuance that just doesn't seem to be acceptable to many. You're either all in, or all out.

Essentially this is stuff that those of us in the centre of the party tend to dismissively refer to as the whole 'purity test' thing. Or make lots of jokes about the Life of Brian. Which isn't entirely fair, and doesn't exactly help, but there just comes a point where you have to either cry-laugh about it or leave the Party. And none of us want to do that. Because despite the mud-slinging and near-constant accusations of being some kind of shadow Tory, all of us want a better, more Socialist Britain too. We just disagree over the size of the steps that can be taken each time to get there.

Corbyn knows all this, by the way, because he is a battle-hardened and smart politician. He knows that as long as he avoids absolutes then, right now, the balance-of-doubt among his support will always fall his way. One day that will change, which will be both a dangerous and sad time. Dangerous because it will mean anger and a move away from Labour by a lot of recently energised and (generally) lovely and well meaning people. Sad because no one wants to see lovely and well meaning people disillusioned. We've all been there at some point politically, and it feels shit.

As a side note, this is why Corbyn has evolved into something of a silent, off-screen character in the "Brexit Adventures" stuff I've been doing on Twitter. It's more fun to play him as a silent guru, occasionally handing out beautiful fan art that everyone (including the Tories) then interpret differently, than as a beardy backwards politician.

I think that works better because it's less crude, dismissive and closer to the truth - that for a lot of people on the left (hard or otherwise) he has become a cipher - a sort of blank canvas which reflects their own subconscious back at themselves.

He's not the Messiah. He's just an (occasionally) Brexity boy.
posted by garius at 5:08 AM on January 16 [27 favorites]


Of course, Jezza himself doesn't have that excuse. It's either accelerationist brinkmanship, or genuine enthusiasm for Brexit that's motivating him. Either is despicable, and frankly, given the options, it's giving him the benefit of the doubt to say he's a Lexiter.
posted by Dysk at 5:09 AM on January 16 [10 favorites]


because he is a battle-hardened and smart politician
My bold. This is where I disagree. Though I don't expect we disagree that much at the end of the day. Maybe because I am old, and I have seen Corbyn and his like evolving from obnoxious stupid ideological know-it-alls into stupid stinky pompous old men who haven't learnt a tiny bit from experience. Excuse me for the crudeness here, but my dislike of Corbyn is visceral.
I truly get the national trauma of New Labour and Tony Blair. I can see how something else had to happen. But IMO you had to be either a mirror image of Corbyn or very young and naive to support him in the first place.
posted by mumimor at 5:24 AM on January 16 [7 favorites]


I've had three emails from Labour this morning asking me to "chip in" money for the general election campaign.

Win your confidence vote and then ask me for money for your election, champ.
posted by winterhill at 5:31 AM on January 16 [6 favorites]


In hospital waiting room yesterday, eavesdropping on older chap who was about to be admitted. Looked Old Labour type. "It wouldn't be fair if the Tories lost a general election, because Corbyn would have to sort out the mess May has left, and that's just not fair." Well, yes, I see the point, but I think it was possibly ideas about fairness and unfairness that got us into this in the first place.

Also, de-rail, but it makes me so angry all the resources that have gone on this and not on addressing the issues with the health service.* The registrar appeared drunk with tiredness. Said he'd had a long day. When I left, I said I hoped he'd finish soon and he said no, he was on all night. His pager was going off every minute or so and at one point he said "Sorry, I've lost my train of thought, I'll just pace around for a moment".

*Among other things.

posted by paduasoy at 5:36 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


If any of you haven't read garius's Brexit Adventures he links above, you are missing out.
posted by paduasoy at 5:44 AM on January 16 [12 favorites]


By the way, back on topic Corbyn did a pretty decent job nailing May to the wall over her 'we'll consult people' stuff earlier in PMQs, and Sturgeon's question about whether she was prepared to abandon her red lines was a killer.

Well worth catching up on those bits, if nothing else, on Parliament TV.
posted by garius at 5:54 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


The thing is that in normal times, Corbyn would be kind of ok. His comfort zone is campaigning about social policy, and in the absence of Brexit, that's the right thing to do given the impact of Tory austerity policy. Bear in mind that he was elected leader before the referendum vote, when austerity was hitting hardest. When public services are being stripped to the bone and the impact on the poor is intolerable, then a leader like Corbyn is completely reasonable.

But these aren't normal times, and what dismays me is his chronic inability to get out of his comfort zone, and his ineptitude in hammering the Government given how much it's screwing everything up. I find it utterly incomprehensible that the Labour leadership thinks it's worthwhile calling a no-confidence vote that it's probably going to lose, or trying to force a general election when it can't get a decent opinion poll lead against this shower of greasy little spivs.

The last couple of years have been about the gradual process of leading enough of the public and the Tory MPs to some understanding of reality. That process still has some way to go for the Labour leadership.
posted by daveje at 5:55 AM on January 16 [14 favorites]


The no-confidence vote is basically symbolic, and is intended to (a) highlight the lack of competence of the current government, and (b) make the government look bad when their MPs put party first and express confidence in a PM they themselves shot down in flames just the day before. The damage done to Labour by calling for a vote of no confidence it can't win is minor in comparison.

In effect, it's a measure meant to say to the electorate "we share your pain, and we've tried to evict these clowns, but there's nothing we can do".
posted by pipeski at 6:31 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


[A couple deleted. Let's not introduce a new, hot argument about the US democrats and their critics in here, or turn this into a throw down on Corbyn via rehashing old "is he/isn't he an antisemite" fights (and similar). This is about Brexit, so let's stick to discussion of his statements and actions (or non-actions) insofar as they concern Brexit.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:35 AM on January 16 [9 favorites]


In effect, it's a measure meant to say to the electorate "we share your pain, and we've tried to evict these clowns, but there's nothing we can do".

Except the obvious, which is calling for a second referendum. In the absence of that, it's just more time-wasting and running down the clock, ie, utterly irresponsible behaviour given the no-deal deadline.
posted by daveje at 6:41 AM on January 16 [6 favorites]


In effect, it's a measure meant to say to the electorate "we share your pain, and we've tried to evict these clowns, but there's nothing we can do".

Except the obvious, which is calling for a second referendum.


Just to be clear, is it your contention that by calling for a second referendum, Labour will actually get one?
posted by duffell at 6:45 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


I'm beginning to think that "PMQ's" should be re-acronymed to "PMAQ's", where the "A" stands for "avoidance of". How many times have MP's asked about a second referendum only to be told by May "we've already had a referendum". Does she not know what ordinal numbers are? If you're not going to have one then rule it out explicitly, stop faffing about, and say "There will not be a second referendum". We already know that MP's can and will go back on anything they say so what difference does it make?
posted by lawrencium at 6:56 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


No-deal, and May's deal, have been 100% proven to being unable to command a majority in the House. I don't see a change to May's deal that can be agreed in time, or an Article 50 delay that extends past the upcoming EU elections. The only other endpoint - Remain - will never be voted on by MPs without a change to the mandate provided by the public. Since a new general election probably isn't on the cards, the only way to get that mandate is to punt it back via a new referendum.

So yes, my contention is that the only option that can possibly get a majority in the House right now is a new referendum. Because the only other possibility I can see is no-deal by default, and the House will be happy to clutch at any straw that avoids that.
posted by daveje at 7:00 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


I'm beginning to think that "PMQ's" should be re-acronymed to "PMAQ's", where the "A" stands for "avoidance of".
It got to the point a few months ago where I was able to predict almost word-for-word TM's answer to any given PMQs question.

That's not a good-faith question-and-answer session, it's just a waste of everyone's time. She knows it and is quite happy to waste all of our time and public money.
posted by winterhill at 7:01 AM on January 16 [4 favorites]


Except the obvious, which is calling for a second referendum.

I've been strongly in favour of one, but the more you explore that avenue, the more knotty it becomes. What combination of questions would the current parliament be able to agree on, if any? What happens if Leave wins again, and the agreed questions don't indicate precisely what the terms of Brexit will be? Do we give the electorate a shopping list (customs union, single market, Irish border, freedom of movement) and then pursue a Brexit that satisfies the majority on each issue, even if it's a slim majority again, and even if such as deal is (again) unobtainable?

I have no confidence whatsoever in either party leader's ability to lead their way out of a paper bag at this point. Any way forward seems likely to come via the mechanisms of parliament itself, keeping us out of the 'no deal' pit by forcing an extension of A50. Theresa May needs to be locked in a cupboard while the adults talk. Jeremy Corbyn has done his job as a corrective to Labour's swing to the centre-right, and needs to be replaced with someone with a temperament more suited to the time. Put him in charge of the NHS or housing or something. He'd get on swimmingly.
posted by pipeski at 7:04 AM on January 16 [6 favorites]


I'm off to the broadcast of this week's Radio 4 Any Questions on Friday night. The confirmed panel so far is a little thin, perhaps because MPs other than the currently ubiquitous Layla Moran are unwilling to take time out of London to visit Huddersfield during this political week.

I wouldn't normally bother to attend such a thing but it should be an interesting evening after this week of politics.
posted by winterhill at 7:08 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


Welcome to the Westminster apocalypse. Have you thought about theocracy instead?

Marina Hyde, ever glorious, rises to the occasion again... It's so good - with jaw dropping bon mots throughout - that it's almost impossible to pick a quote but I'll go with...

... Theresa May, who rose to the occasion like a replicant Anglepoise lamp. Basic shambles mode
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:10 AM on January 16 [13 favorites]


She knows it and is quite happy to waste all of our time and public money

Which is exactly what the last two years have been. That's part two of a three part project. Part three will be "Two generations to recover" (and yes, winterhill, some of those locations are Huddersfield).
posted by lawrencium at 7:13 AM on January 16




Just to be clear, is it your contention that by calling for a second referendum, Labour will actually get one?

Yes, that's generally how politics works. The secret is deciding what you want and repeating the specific request enough times that you eventually get your yes answer. For some things it takes a very long time, but that didn't put off the people we used to call Eurosceptics.
posted by ambrosen at 7:28 AM on January 16 [8 favorites]


Welcome to the Westminster apocalypse. Have you thought about theocracy instead?, which includes:
And here comes the affectedly shambling figure of Boris Johnson – not so much a statesman as an Oxfam donation bag torn open by a fox – who could conceivably still end up prime minister of no-deal Britain.
You know, 25 years ago I enjoyed the style of Matthew Parris's columns in the London Times -- like a piece about the Queen's speech to Parliament which included, "...and then came a barbed, ungracious speech of welcome from a lady in a hat..." -- but Marina Hyde may have just shouldered him out of the way in my esteem.

Say, I wonder what we could do if Marina Hyde and Alexandra Petri could combine forces in some kind of Droll Voltron....
posted by wenestvedt at 7:29 AM on January 16 [13 favorites]


It's interesting that over the past few weeks certain politicians have regularly talking up the idea of civil unrest should Brexit not be 'delivered' at the end of March. David Davis is quoted saying as much today:
I think we will see quite visible anger from the public at large, and not just those who might be counted as leavers.
One might feel inclined to see such pronouncements almost as an incitement to the public, or a veiled threat to politicians. I haven't felt like it's about to kick off into riots if Brexit doesn't happen on time.
posted by winterhill at 8:01 AM on January 16 [12 favorites]


Spectator: Who can spare us from this Brexit disaster?

Spectator, June 2016: Out - and into the world: why The Spectator is for Leave.
posted by rocket88 at 8:22 AM on January 16 [14 favorites]


Go behind the scenes with three MPs caught up in Brexit vote chaos

Jess Phillips: "Theresa May knows only how to talk to people like herself"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:24 AM on January 16


Guy Verhofstadt an hour ago:
What we will not let happen, deal or no deal, is that the mess in British politics is again imported into European politics. While we understand the UK could need more time, for us it is unthinkable that article 50 is prolonged beyond the European Elections.


I think there might be a solution to that as well:
Art. 50 is put on hold, i.e. effectively extended - but on agreement between the UK and the EU27, the UK does not take part in the next election of the EU parliament, i.e. their seats are divvied up as planned. All existing treaties stay in place, and the UK effectively stays a member of the EU, except without voting rights. There are no more negotiations and the UK has the choice of coming back to the EU when its parliament has made a decision for one of the following (with or without a 2nd referendum):

a) no deal
b) TM's deal
c) "rejoin" at present terms (but no seats in EU parliament until next election)

Once it sinks in that there are no other options, a decision can be made. Make the f*ckers vote for it and take names.
posted by sour cream at 8:31 AM on January 16


Not having a voice in Euro Parliament (even short term) would make Brits less likely to vote to stay in a second referendum.
posted by rocket88 at 8:56 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Not having a voice in Euro Parliament (even short term) would make Brits less likely to vote to stay in a second referendum.

Not really. The same people who would get worked up about that are already worked up about the Euro Parliament taking away our sovrinty [sic]
posted by garius at 9:00 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Plus it seems unlikely that would make it past the EU high court, or that it should, really.
posted by tavella at 9:00 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


A quick clarification request, looking at the *sane* options before the UK now:
1. Ask for an extension on the Article 50 notification, or
2. Withdraw the Article 50 notification.

On (1) - which the EU has already indicated that they'd be happy to agree to, as long as it was not past June when the new EC parliamentary positions would be voted on - does invoking that option preclude option (2)?

Or could they invoke (1) for now, then come back in May (ha, I mean the month of May) and say "Never mind, we take the Article 50 notice back altogether"?

Because the current situation is literally insane, incredible - the country is going to break up with its close allies and trading partners with *no* plan in place in 10 weeks time.
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:10 AM on January 16 [5 favorites]


I believe you forgot ‘rage incoherently until the clock runs out’ as an option.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:23 AM on January 16 [7 favorites]


My understanding of the court ruling allowing unilateral withdrawal of A50 is that it can be done any time before A50 actually takes effect. The extension wouldn't preclude it.

From a realpolitik sense, it'd be bizarre for the EU to do anything otherwise. They want to give any other member country that loses its fucking mind from now on as many opportunities to say "wow, don't know what came over us, but we're all better now" as possible.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:24 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


Or could they invoke (1) for now, then come back in May (ha, I mean the month of May) and say "Never mind, we take the Article 50 notice back altogether"?

Yes as I understand it. The judgment says this (my bolding):
where a Member State has notified the European Council, in accordance with that article, of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, that article allows that Member State — for as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between that Member State and the European Union has not entered into force or, if no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period laid down in Article 50(3) TEU, possibly extended in accordance with that paragraph, has not expired — to revoke that notification unilaterally
posted by Catseye at 9:56 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


My understanding of the court ruling allowing unilateral withdrawal of A50 is that it can be done any time before A50 actually takes effect.

Yes, but not as a means to buy some time. The EU 27 have been very clear on this point. In other words, there has to be a parliamentary vote on cancelling Brexit at the very least. It doesn't look like such a vote will pass before March 29 (or June 30), so no deal is still the most likely option.
posted by sour cream at 10:24 AM on January 16


I don’t remember what his username is, and he hasn’t posted in gadzoinks, but Tom Watson is MeFi’s own. I realize that MetaFilter is a big enough community that MeFites are bound to show up randomly somewhere in high profile situation, but it still boggles my mind that the person giving the final speech arguing for a motion of no confidence in the UK government is a MeFite.
posted by Kattullus at 10:52 AM on January 16 [18 favorites]


I just hope he gets to change his username to BaggyPM
posted by fullerine at 11:01 AM on January 16 [9 favorites]


Sounds like the Nays have tonight's vote. What an utter waste of time.
posted by lawrencium at 11:04 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


May stays 325 to 306.
posted by lucidium at 11:18 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


I can't take any more bloviating. Someone wake me up if May actually acknowledges there was a vote yesterday which she lost by a historic margin, or that she doesn't in fact have an unassailable majority of loyal toadies in the House allowing her to do whatever she wants.

At least Corbyn might finally be forced to say something about Brexit other than he wants a General Election, though at this point after the complete waste of the last month by all involved, my hopes are not high that we're going to see anything in the near future bar May scurrying off to Brussels with her Boris approved 'massive mandate' which of course the EU will quail before at last.

headdesk.gif
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 11:26 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


I don’t remember what his username is, and he hasn’t posted in gadzoinks, but Tom Watson is MeFi’s own.

baggymp, appropriately enough.
posted by hangashore at 11:30 AM on January 16 [6 favorites]


May stays 325 to 306.

As I said, no surprise. I wonder how much more has been promised to the DUP?
posted by lawrencium at 11:31 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]




May now wants talks with all the other party leaders... all the other party leaders say she has rule out no deal
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:32 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


Where (a lot of) Tory MPs have voted both No to May's Brexit deal, and No to the No Confidence motion - is there any way in which these positions can be tenable together? Is it logically possible to be convinced both that the government's proposal on a key measure is unacceptable, and that the government should still be in place?
posted by paduasoy at 11:51 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]


It isn't about logic, at least not in the sense you're referring to. It's about maintaining a grip on power. All else is secondary.
posted by duffell at 11:55 AM on January 16 [8 favorites]


It's perfectly logical when what you want is a no-deal brexit and every time you vote you vote in such a way as to prevent any deal from happening (see also these same conservative MPs trying to oust May as prime minister so they could replace her with one of themselves last month).
posted by dng at 12:04 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


The face-saving dishonest answer is that they didn't like the offer on the table but have confidence in May's ability to get a better deal. Not sure where this confidence comes from but I'm not a Tory (or DUP) MP.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:05 PM on January 16


My sister, who’s a senior researcher for the SNP in the British parliament, was interviewed on Icelandic television after the no confidence vote. One of the points she made in the interview (I’m paraphrasing into English) is that the normal business of parliament is disrupted by all this. She had been preparing for a debate on immigration issues, but that was delayed. With all this chaos it’s not clear when that will be held. Also, she made the further point that the uncertainty itself makes for more chaos, and that MPs and staff don’t know at all what will happen next. In fact, no one knows, and she said that the one thing to be sure of is that if anyone claims to know what will happen next, they’re wrong.
posted by Kattullus at 12:06 PM on January 16 [10 favorites]


I think any Tories that voted against the government would automatically lose the whip (ie be chucked out of the party) and not be elected to stand in the next election. So not much chance of that.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:08 PM on January 16


Ian Dunt, No-confidence fails: Now Corbyn faces his Brexit judgement day
The Labour leader is now at exactly the point he wanted to avoid: the moment when he has to come up with a Brexit policy which does not involve him pretending that a general election would somehow magically fix everything.

Some senior Labour figures now insist that their policy is simply to keep firing off these confidence motions, pointlessly, only for the DUP to keep deflecting them away. That is not a policy. That is a continuation of a holding pattern, which they intend to pursue while the country falls apart.

The time for Corbyn's 'constructive ambiguity' over Brexit is over. The spotlight is now on him. There is no place left to hide.
...
No-deal happens automatically on March 29th, unless something stops it. Corbyn says he will not let that happen. So let's be clear what that entails. It is not a question of refusing to back a motion on no-deal. There is no motion to be delivered on it. It is the default eventuality. He has to back an alternate proposal to prevent it.
posted by zachlipton at 12:08 PM on January 16 [13 favorites]


It isn't about logic, at least not in the sense you're referring to. It's about maintaining a grip on power. All else is secondary.

I'm sure it is about power, but what struck me very strongly as I read that comment is that what really powers this is people desperately trying to maintain a grip on fantasies - or at least highly idealised views of the world: The fantasy about Great Britain and Empire; The fantasy about how True Socialism will save us all if only people are able to vote for the right candidate (which they will, spontaneously); The fantasy about how we just need to Get On With It; The fantasy about how we're all reasonable middle-class people really who just need to work it out over coffee; the fantasy about Evil Europe lording it over us; The fantasy about Global Britain, liberated to conquer the world through the power of unconstrained free trade... many, many fantasies. Europe has acted not so much as a block to them - reality itself would snuff them all out as soon as it touches them - but as an excuse for not making them happen. As the break with Europe looms, people are clutching their fantasies closer and closer, because the fantasies are, at least, familiar.

I think the commentators are right who say this is how Britain finds its true place in the world - a mean-spirited little island off the coast of Europe with few resources and a demoralised, under-prepared workforce whose social infrastructure has rotted away from within due to years of malign austerian policies verging on embezzlement.

Yes, I'm always this cheerful after work, why?
posted by Grangousier at 12:26 PM on January 16 [43 favorites]


Incidentally, strategically Corbyn is probably right, though I don't ascribe much strategic nous to him, really. The narratives about Brexit are so strong now that they can't be beaten, they can only fail. Letting that happen deliberately is unconscionable, but stopping it from happen is just setting yourself up for punishment for "disrespecting the referendum".
posted by Grangousier at 12:29 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


At least Corbyn might finally be forced to say something about Brexit

This could be exactly the opportunity he's been waiting for all this time. Now he can take bold, decisive action by throwing up his hands and saying "ah well, we tried. Whatever happens now it's clearly the fault of the other side."
posted by sfenders at 12:41 PM on January 16 [7 favorites]


Brave Sir Corbyn ran away
Bravely ran away away
When danger reared its ugly head
He bravely turned his tail and fled
Yes, brave Sir Corbyn turned about
And gallantly he chickened out

posted by Pendragon at 12:47 PM on January 16 [17 favorites]


it's always been easier to paint the EU as a shadowy force of evil upon whom all domestic policy failings can be blamed

You could use that sentence to could sum up the whole of "what the hell is going on" not just in the UK but in all of Europe...

To be fair, it’s always been also the EU’s fault, more precisely the fault of the EU overlords (Commission, Presidents, etc.) for being so unashamedly the elite that they are, that they made everyone forget that being ruled by elites is really not as bad after all. Especially after you’ve seen what being governed by the "populists" looks like. Or letting "the people" decide on major decisions in tricky and badly managed referendums.
Good luck to you all in the UK but most of all to the non-British in the UK, I hope some light is to be seen after all this mess. But good luck to us all in the rest of the EU too, it’s not looking too bright for us either.
posted by bitteschoen at 12:47 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


From the Guardian

>Labour is willing to support a Brexit deal if May will accept a customs union, a close relationship with the single market and enhanced protections for workers and consumers rights. However, this would represent a massive shift for the prime minister and risk splits in her own party, making it hard to see how a deal could be agreed. Corbyn’s spokesman acknowledged this, saying, “Any change in the government red lines will cause them internal splits.”

Seems to me that the Labour party want to engineer a split in the Conservative party which would allow them to win a confidence motion and thereby get a general election. Hope i’m being cynical...
posted by dudleian at 1:36 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


One thing I'm not understanding: how can Parliament have rejected's May's deal (aka the one deal, ain't-gonna-be-another-one, says the EU leaders) and yet also are confident that there won't be a no-deal exit? Unless the EU are bluffing (bureaucrats at that level aren't given to that), Parliament — as I understand it — just said they wanted no-deal.
posted by scruss at 1:52 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


May to give unexpected podium at 10pm - some initial excitement, but apparently it's going to be "I'm in charge, I'm going to deliver Brexit, fuck off the lot of yees".

She really does want us to hate her more than herpes.

(It may be a speech of unifying genius and incandescent hope, in which case I shall revise my opinion above.)

Scruss - the DUP was on the wireless today saying that the EU is bluffing and it'll come to the table at the last minute. Which is not how you set the fate of nations, unless they know they're lying.
posted by Devonian at 1:53 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


What a god damn mess. From afar, Brexit looks like the stupidest fuckup by voters and politicians working together in my lifetime. Not the worst (Trump) or the most evil (Trump, Bolsonaro or Duterte), but the stupidest.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:54 PM on January 16 [20 favorites]


It may not happen until later, because it was timed to appear on the BBC One news bulletin at 22:00. There's an FA Cup match on that channel which has gone to extra time and it seems that the May "keep calm, I'm still in charge" statement has been pushed back.

As is perfectly appropriate, of course. As the great Bill Shankly once said, football is a matter more important than life, death or Brexit.
posted by winterhill at 1:56 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Didn't she already pull this kind of shit stunt recently? I swear, it was only a few weeks ago where there was going to be some big dramatic announcement, and then she came out and robotically said the same fucking thing she always does.
posted by skybluepink at 1:57 PM on January 16


Didn't she already pull this kind of shit stunt recently? I swear, it was only a few weeks ago where there was going to be some big dramatic announcement, and then she came out and robotically said the same fucking thing she always does.
It's going to get on people's nerves if she keeps doing it. There is nothing at all reassuring about constant emergency statements outside Number 10 just to say "let me be clear, everything's okay".
posted by winterhill at 2:02 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Narrator: Devonian did not update his opinion, above.
posted by Devonian at 2:07 PM on January 16 [8 favorites]


"Let me be clear, nothing has changed. I am in charge of our strong and stable government, and as has been proven tonight Parliament has complete confidence that I will deliver the precise Brexit they particularly want.

The country voted for me to take back control, and I will deliver that, as we will take away your money, your ability to flee and any chance at passing any laws. I have offered tonight to be in the same room as any of the insignificant parties who pitifully try to stand in my way, and I will explain to them how my strong and stable approach means my red lines won't budge one inch because as has been clearly demonstrated I am entirely incapable of changing my mind or anyone else's for two so very long years.

Anything else risks the no brexit at all that the majority of the country now wants, so instead I will deliver the better-than-any-deal catastrophic no-deal that only a tiny majority who will make vast sums on the collapse of our austerity-ridden hollowed out farce of a country want, and once the food runs out I shall be found holding another meaningless vote in the burned out rubble once it's too late to matter, and we will stand proud on our own diseased, shoeless feet as Rees-Mogg revitalizes the economy by re-establishing the slave trade in small children."
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 2:23 PM on January 16 [10 favorites]


Parliament — as I understand it — just said they wanted no-deal.

No, they've already told us they don't want no deal. They also don't want this deal. They don't want a referendum. They don't want to cancel Brexit, or, I imagine, to delay it. They don't want a general election. Also they aren't going to want any other deal the Prime Minister is likely to come up with. But they certainly don't want no deal.

There should be just enough time for 8 weeks of new variations on the same old ideas proposed, decried, ignored, debated, fought about, propositioned, reported on, and occasionally voted down; two weeks of sheer panic; and then a day or two to rush through the motion to withdraw Article 50.
posted by sfenders at 3:28 PM on January 16 [18 favorites]


Phil Hammond apparently had a reassuring conference call with 300-odd business leaders last night, telling them that no-deal would be off the table within days, and that Article 50 may be rescinded based on a bill coming up next week.

Who knows whether this is wishful thinking or not? However, the transcript was leaked to the Torygraph.

I'm not going to give them my details, and I can't find a way around their paywall, but for the curious the transcript is here and the paper's reporting is here.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 3:35 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


It seems to me that what everybody except May herself wants is for Brexit to happen but in such a way that they take no blame for the horror and misery that result.

May differs primarily in that she appears willing to accept said blame, which I think explains why the Tories are so keen to keep her in power.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:35 PM on January 16 [9 favorites]


The Evening Standard has just nicked the story from the D. Tel...

[...] In the transcript, obtained by The Telegraph, the Chancellor said the EU would not consider extending Article 50 "unless or until we have a clear plan to go forward".

Mr Hammond referred to a cross-party Bill, from Tory MP Nick Boles, which aims to force the Government to extend Article 50 if a Brexit deal cannot be reached, according to The Telegraph.

On Monday, MPs will vote on an amendment that will "pave the way for the Bill", the paper said.

Mr Hammond said: "What this group of backbenchers has been doing is seeking to find a mechanism by which the House of Commons can express that view in a way which is binding and effective."

Theresa May says MPs must 'work together' to deliver Brexit
The business leaders sought assurances from Mr Hammond, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Business Secretary Greg Clark, who were also on the call, that a no-deal could be ruled out.

Doug Gurr, head of Amazon UK, reportedly said ruling out a no deal would give "comfort" to global boards.

But Mr Hammond said it would not be until next week that things became clearer.

John Allan, chairman of Tesco and president of the CBI, asked if taking a no-deal Brexit off the table reduced the UK's negotiating power with the EU.

Mr Hammond said removing options had consequences.

He added: "The Government is not in control of this. I am only telling you what information I have been able to glean.

"My understanding is that because the bill being brought forward will simply and solely rescind the Article 50 notice, the legal opinion that they have is that that will meet the test that the European Court of Justice has laid down for unilateral recision of an Article 50 notice.

"It is not within their power to mandate any future course of action, that would be for a Government to do."
[...].

posted by Devonian at 5:06 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


(MeFi's Own) Tom Watson MP's takedown of the PM (briefly noted upthread) at today's debate:

"I feel sorry for the Prime Minister." (SLYT, 10:22)
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:08 PM on January 16 [16 favorites]


Holy fucking shit that is an amazing takedown. Holy shit.

Proof that May is indeed a zombie. No living creature could have survived such burns.
posted by weed donkey at 8:48 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Holy fucking shit that is an amazing takedown. Holy shit.

It is indeed. The final act of "Groundhog Day", where Phil is starting to realise that he can only win approval of the one he loves and move on with life, is by reaching out to do something positive in the world in the world around him - is where we would like to be. However, with May, I fear we are still in Act 1 - where he keeps banging his head against the same obstacles because of his self-centred, cynical solipsism .

(Also, I went to bed last night pondering who it was the Jeremy Corbyn reminded me of, woke up with the delighted realisation that it was Albert Steptoe, and then had the disappointing realisation that every un-funny satirist had apparently seen this link ages ago)
posted by rongorongo at 11:19 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


Parliament — as I understand it — just said they wanted no-deal.

No, they've already told us they don't want no deal. They also don't want this deal. They don't want a referendum. They don't want to cancel Brexit, or, I imagine, to delay it. They don't want a general election. Also they aren't going to want any other deal the Prime Minister is likely to come up with. But they certainly don't want no deal.


(Channelling the spirit of Donald Tusk tweeting) You know what was a good deal? Come on say it... Come onnn we’re all waiting here... it’s on the tip of your collective tongue, Britain, just go ahead and say it... IF you say it, magical things will happen! Or not! hahaha too late for that [evil laugh] but oh the Schadenfreude here and in press rooms all across the continent!
posted by bitteschoen at 11:59 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


Weirdly, even I have to fight off pangs of sympathy for Theresa May sometimes.

Even though I know about the hostile enviroment policy, racist vans, the blatant xenophobic lies like the immigrant with the cat, the insistance on "tens of thousands" pledge. Even though I know about her watching passively while Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill humiliated and abused staff and underlings. Even though I know it's only her massive incompetence that stopped her fulfilling the manifesto pledges to abolish free school meals, bring back grammar schools, take away the homes of pensioners with dementia.

It's like she's a really crap serial killer, and after the latest time she trips over in her torture basement and gets her head stuck in the slops bucket, you start to think "There there Theresa, I'm sure you'll get to dismember a teenage hitchhiker next time."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:48 AM on January 17 [23 favorites]


Watson played a blinder in that speech to the House. Just look at May's laughter when he points out the impact of the past 30 months on EU27 citizens living in Britain. Nervous laughter, or laughter at the idea that she's failed to give them reassurance, or outright indifference: whichever it is, it's a terrible look.

"My understanding is that because the bill being brought forward will simply and solely rescind the Article 50 notice, the legal opinion that they have is that that will meet the test that the European Court of Justice has laid down for unilateral recision of an Article 50 notice."

Ha! Called it. (Wonder how many hundreds of pounds I should be charging MPs for my legal opinion... I'll even throw in a few political opinions for free.)

But now the worry is that the leak of Hammond's call (which was always going to leak, surely) will derail the attempt, once the braying right-wing press get started.

There should be just enough time for 8 weeks of new variations on the same old ideas proposed, decried, ignored, debated, fought about, propositioned, reported on, and occasionally voted down; two weeks of sheer panic; and then a day or two to rush through the motion to withdraw Article 50.

I think you've got it. My instinct is that this is what we're facing - instincts based on years of helping part-time postgraduate students get extensions when they run into trouble. They have other things going on in their lives, the task at hand is just too big to fit around them, but they really want to finish, and if only they just had more time they think they can... and if they get more time, in many cases it still isn't enough, and at the last minute they resign themselves to having to accept something less, and pull out. It's all very human, and all surely rooted in our underlying psychology, which is why readings like Fintan O'Toole's have been so convincing for me over this whole process.

Some people do pull it off once they get their extension. They burn the midnight oil, they find a way, they somehow get over the line and scrape a pass. But the task has to be one that lends itself to a desperate last-minute push. Some can write a 15,000-word masters dissertation in a week, if they've put in just enough work beforehand. Only a superhero could write a PhD in one. This government, as we all know all too well, contains no superheroes. And there's no such thing as a PhD in Unicorn Studies.
posted by rory at 2:05 AM on January 17 [19 favorites]


France has announced a group of legislative measures to be taken next week in the event of no-deal. It mostly look like guarantees for UK nationals in France, protection for French Nationals in the UK, and hire more customs officer and veterinarians in ports and airports (not a lot of details so far, but those are "ordonnances" so they wouldn't have to go through parliament to be put in effect).

I wonder how each non UK country is going to prepare, and how their various legislations will differ....
posted by motdiem2 at 3:07 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


I hope they send us a bill for it, whatever.
posted by pipeski at 3:12 AM on January 17


Ha! Called it. (Wonder how many hundreds of pounds I should be charging MPs for my legal opinion... I'll even throw in a few political opinions for free.)

Called it early December! Not even a single lonely star on that post, I demand pity! But to be fair, this has been a pretty standard opinion here on the mainland for years.
posted by romanb at 3:42 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


Ha! Called it
I will see your December 13th and raise you a December 6th
But happy to join in a party to share out our imaginary legal fees and to gloat should things go this way.
posted by rongorongo at 4:00 AM on January 17 [4 favorites]


Sure, but it isn't only that she'd revoke A50 to renegotiate, it's that it doesn't matter what her longer-term aim is provided that the letter rescinding A50 is simple and unadorned, i.e. without explicit conditions. A lot of people have been worrying that the EU somehow wouldn't allow us to revoke unilaterally if it was just to drag out the negotiations, but Hammond is alluding to advice that the underlying intent doesn't matter as long as the instruction is simple and straightforward.
posted by rory at 4:01 AM on January 17 [4 favorites]


I'm personally glad there's going to be no General Election. Right now doesn't feel like the right time, and I don't feel like Jeremy Corbyn would have been the right person to win it for the Labour party. The party itself is full of excellent people with good ideas and I want nothing more than to see a Labour government kick the current incompetent, entitled fuckers out of power, but Corbyn and McDonnell are 1970s London relics with far too much baggage to take the country forward, they are the wrong people to have at the top right now.

Quite aside from their swivel-eyed adherence to a mythical unicorn Lexit, they have an outdated view of the country, particularly the North of England, and want to take us back to a manufacturing heyday that just isn't coming back. We need fresh ideas for a socialist technological and AI future, not misty-eyed recollections of unionised, nationalised car factories. Outside of London, they're too often seen as out of touch and a general election next month would have doomed us to another five years of Conservative rule.
posted by winterhill at 4:01 AM on January 17 [12 favorites]


Been thinking this morning about what I'd say to Lexiters, and any other Brexiter who's willing to listen, that might get past the whole "will it/won't it be a disaster" debate with firmly held positions on both sides. Not sure it would help in most cases, but it might in some...

Here's the thing. Whether you prefer leaving with no deal or some other form of withdrawal agreement, and whether or not you believe that leaving with no deal would be as catastrophic as half the country is terrified it will be, whatever way we leave, we will be facing years of negotiations with the EU and every other country in the world to improve Britain's position and gain access to things we all want, like safe access to radioactive materials for cancer treatments, or cooperation with other countries' police forces to fight international crime, or trade deals that make us all rich, or at least not-poor.

On the basis of the past 30 months, do you honestly believe that this government, which barring political circumstances even worse than the past month will be in place for the next 40, is able to successfully conclude those negotiations in a way that most people would be happy with?

On the basis of the past 30 months, do you believe that the day that we leave the EU will be the last day of Brexit negotiations dominating our news, our government, and our everyday lives, when those look set to carry on for years?

On the basis of the past 30 months, do you believe that the people of Britain who disagree with the type of Brexit we get, which will include everyone who wanted to Remain and everyone who wanted a different type of Brexit to whatever we end up with, will just sit quietly in the corner and shut up about it?

On the basis of the past 30 months, do you honestly think you will be able to sit back and relax? That everything important in the lives right now of you and the people you care about will be preserved? I don't mean the people you don't care about, and I don't mean the things you hope to gain or regain from Brexit - I mean the things we will all lose, at least until those years of negotiations are complete, which will take a lot of work by people you don't think are up to the job. What do you personally not want to give up? What if you have to?

On the basis of the past 30 months, do you think Brexit will deliver you a quiet life? If you don't care about having a quiet life, what do you think are your personal chances of thriving if everyday life gets harder than it is now? Can you see that losing some of the things your life and work depend on will make life harder, until they're replaced? Didn't you vote to make things better, not harder?

Can you see why telling the government to "just get on with it" can't make all of this endless negotiation, news about Brexit and prolonged uncertainty go away? And that until it does go away, none of us can just get on with our lives?

Can you see that wanting to avoid years of negotiations, years of uncertainty, and years of having our futures shaped by politicians who have shown themselves to be not up to the job, was one reason many people voted to Remain? On the basis of the past 30 months, can you see why many would again?

Make all of this go away. Back a People's Vote, and vote to stay.
posted by rory at 4:28 AM on January 17 [30 favorites]


Make all of this go away. Back a People's Vote, and vote to stay.

look, I'm just a USian, but this seems...effective.

Good Lord, if we could just call an election and make the immediate crises just...go away? I mean, it even rhymes. IT RHYMES.

I'm going to fantasize about that for the rest of the day.
posted by schadenfrau at 4:41 AM on January 17 [4 favorites]


I'm personally glad there's going to be no General Election. Right now doesn't feel like the right time, and I don't feel like Jeremy Corbyn would have been the right person to win it for the Labour party.

Personally I think it's a shame that we don't get a chance to be lead into a bright new future by... *squints at poll results* "Not Sure".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:54 AM on January 17 [12 favorites]


France has announced a group of legislative measures to be taken next week in the event of no-deal...

I got a nice, welcoming letter this week from the Dutch authorities. It basically states that even if there is no-deal, the Dutch will still have a transition period from March 29, 2019 until July 1, 2020. And UK citizens will be issued a residence card if they meet the criteria already established for EU nationals.
posted by vacapinta at 4:56 AM on January 17 [14 favorites]


Personally I think it's a shame that we don't get a chance to be lead into a bright new future by... squints at poll results "Not Sure".
Those are awful numbers for Corbyn. Even up against one of the worst governments in living memory, after eight years of austerity, with homeless people and food banks in every town, he's still behind the robotic Theresa May in personal approval. There is a bloke living in a tent on a fucking grass verge at the end of my street. In a Western country. In 2019.

He really needs to go as a matter of urgency, because we need a Labour government and he's not the man to deliver it.
posted by winterhill at 5:02 AM on January 17 [19 favorites]


I will see your December 13th and raise you a December 6th
But happy to join in a party to share out our imaginary legal fees and to gloat should things go this way.


Yes I believe a full on gloat fest will be in order, heaps of praise all around and immense amounts of imaginary cash.

If we're all wrong though? I suppose we can just trade millions in worthless Pounds and euros.

Today I was surprised to see this underinformed piece in the NY Times by Paul Krugman:

But we should also note the fantasies of the Eurocrats, who have behaved at every step of this process as if Britain were Greece, and could be bullied into capitulation.
posted by romanb at 5:07 AM on January 17


According to the Guardian:
Downing Street has again insisted the prime minister is determined to stick to her Brexit “principles”, including rejecting a customs union and a second referendum, as she embarks on cross-party talks to try to salvage her Brexit deal.
So she continues to fail to grasp the distinction between having talks and just talking at people.

Also, another depressing thought I had is that the people who ought to be mortified by the fact that Brexit has made us a laughing stock throughout the world and particularly the rest of Europe instead consider it a point of honour to be an obstreperous, self-centred arsehole.
posted by Grangousier at 5:11 AM on January 17 [9 favorites]


I read the Krugman piece as well, romanb. This part jumped out to me:
We might also note that there would be some winners from Brexit, even within the U.K. The E.U. has been good for London’s role as a financial center, but this role has kept the pound high, hurting the industrial North. Brexit would mean a persistently weaker pound, which would mean a bigger manufacturing sector, which would be a benefit to industrial regions (although diluted by higher consumer prices). A significant number of people in Britain might consider this worth it.
Krugman is an economics professor, but I assume he has not visited the North of England since the late 1970s. We still make more stuff than people realise, but automation and technology means manufacturing is not the big employer it used to be and never will be again. The North is a services economy just like most other Western regions.

He also surprisingly seems not to grasp the fact that a weaker pound leads to higher fuel and energy prices, which is terrible for industry and transport. Fuel on the world markets is priced in US Dollars, and as any UK driver or gas bill payer over the past two years will confirm, a weaker pound means more expensive energy. You can't make stuff if the cost of electricity is going up 20% a year, and the cost of transporting it is on a similar trajectory. Nor can UK consumers buy stuff if all their money is going on increased basic bills.
posted by winterhill at 5:14 AM on January 17 [19 favorites]



From the Paul Krugman piece:

I might add that while I hope and expect that the British Civil Service has made contingency plans for a sudden hard Brexit, I’m far less sure that the E.U. has done the same.

This is the way a Nobel Prize goes to your head. Krugman obviously didn't bother to consult with...anybody.
posted by vacapinta at 5:16 AM on January 17 [32 favorites]


He really needs to go as a matter of urgency, because we need a Labour government and he's not the man to deliver it.

The last Labour leadership handover took 125 days, with a 27-day campaign and 2 days to return the result: Miliband resigned 8 May, Corbyn was elected 27 September. In 2010, similar deal: Brown resigned on 10 May, Miliband was elected 22 September. In 2007, Blair resigned on 10 May, and Brown was elected unopposed on 24 June: even that took 45 days. Even if Corbyn resigned today, what are the chances we'd have a new Labour leader in place in enough time to mount an effective opposition to May before 29 March?

Which is not to say that we won't need an effective opposition after 29 March as well. Just that we're stuck with Corbyn when it most counts, just as we're stuck with May.
posted by rory at 5:19 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


This is the way a Nobel Prize goes to your head. Krugman obviously didn't bother to consult with...anybody.

Or even read the damn news. The EU (and individual EU nations) have been making pronouncements on the transition procedures they'll unilaterally put in place in the event of a hard brexit, things like granting permission for British airlines to continue to be able to fly to and from the EU (though not within it) for a year or so, while proper arrangements are sorted out.

Meanwhile the UK government has demonstrated its preparedness and seriousness by bungling the staging of a fake traffic jam.

Admittedly, the Civil Service will probably have quietly done some real work in terms of contingency planning behind the government's back, but it isn't like the EU doesn't have quiet but competent bureaucrats as well.
posted by Dysk at 5:49 AM on January 17 [12 favorites]


Krugman: I hope and expect that the British Civil Service has made contingency plans for a sudden hard Brexit

14 million quid contract to some fly-by-night company that reckons it can run a few ferries, quick practice traffic jam to see how big the tailbacks will get, bung some medicine in the fridge, boom, sorted. #getonwithit #nodownsides #wtobrexit #leavemeansleave #fullbrexitpromptexit #adequatefood #enoughcalories

Less flippantly, I saw some insider tweet this morning that one part of the chaos overtaking not just Westminster but Whitehall is that the civil service is having to prepare for both a deal and no deal simultaneously. They can't both happen, so either way we're burning mounds of cash when it might be sensible to keep a bit in reserve.
posted by rory at 5:50 AM on January 17 [7 favorites]


But we should also note the fantasies of the Eurocrats, who have behaved at every step of this process as if Britain were Greece, and could be bullied into capitulation.

Honestly, this is nonsense. The EU is defending its interests, applying its rules, and limiting the damage to its members. It's the UK government who have caused problems by its own self-imposed red lines and self-imposed unrealistic deadlines.
posted by daveje at 6:07 AM on January 17 [31 favorites]




This is a really intriguing proposal but the massive heavy lifting that would be required on UK constitutional matters (and public education) makes it impossible before March. But I do wonder if, faced with the prospect of losing Northern Ireland and Scotland to independence after a "full Brexit," a more federated UK where parts of it remained in the EU might have some public support:
When all solutions are bad, it’s time to reinvent the problem. Is it still possible to honour the initial Brexit referendum without crossing the EU’s red lines? Yes – through semi-Brexit.

The UK is divided into four nations, two of which voted remain and two of which voted leave. The British government could honour those decisions and allow Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain in the EU as the successor state to the UK, while permitting England and Wales (if it still wants to) to exit.

Semi-Brexit does not mean breaking up the UK. Rather the reverse: semi-Brexit may be the only way to hold the UK together. If the UK drags Scotland and Northern Ireland out of the EU, the chances of a UK breakup are much higher. But if Scotland and Northern Ireland remain, then England and Wales would have more flexibility to negotiate a better deal. Third states – that is, states outside the EU – cannot cherry-pick the bits of the EU that they want and reject those bits they don’t. But parts of EU member states that are otherwise outside the EU can.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:16 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class.
With Brexit, the chumocrats who drew borders from India to Ireland are getting a taste of their own medicine.
posted by adamvasco at 7:18 AM on January 17 [8 favorites]


"But we should also note the fantasies of the Eurocrats, who have behaved at every step of this process as if Britain were Greece, and could be bullied into capitulation."

Honestly, this is nonsense.


Absolutely, daveje.
And not only is it total nonsense, but Krugman is adopting right-wing rhetoric and narrative.

1. "Eurocrats" is a not only a derogatory term that you'll usually see in the Daily Mail or the Sun, rather than the Guardian, it also reveals a lack of understanding of the entire mechanism. The negotiations were led by Barnier, who answers to the EU council, which in turn is comprised of the Head's of State of the EU 27 (i.e. Merkel, Macron, etc. etc.). In other words, the UK was negotiating with the Head's of State of the EU 27 who acted through Barnier as their proxy (and displayed remarkable unity throughout it). The negotiations were not done by faceless and arrogant "Eurocrats" as often portrayed in the British press.

2. What "bullying"? The EU 27 have laid out their red lines right from the beginning. Actually, there's just one: The four freedoms are indivisible, meaning there cannot be any cherry picking. THe problem was that the UK position was (and still is) in fantasy land. On the one hand the UK doesn't want to be part of a customs union (so that they can strike deals with India or New Zealand) but on the other hand they want no hard border in Ireland. These two positions are irreconcilable and it's not bullying to point that out.

3. "capitulation" is a wartime analogy that only works if you regard the EU as "the enemy". And if you regard the EU as "the enemy", then maybe your place isn't in the EU anyway.
posted by sour cream at 7:28 AM on January 17 [18 favorites]


Krugman is an economics professor, but I assume he has not visited the North of England since the late 1970s.

Agreed. I'm not sure he has visited other parts of the EU that are seeing growth in industry: Poland, Slovakia, Czechia ... it's because they joined the EU that has made them attractive for foreign investment from inside and outside the EU, and has given homegrown manufacturing businesses easier access to customers.
posted by romanb at 7:36 AM on January 17 [4 favorites]


If you look at the rest of Europe, it's hard to believe that a normal centre-left Labour leader would help at a time when the centre-left are being obliterated.

In Germany the SPD, Europe's oldest socialist party (personally slagged off by Marx himself in "Critique of the Gotha Programme"), are often polling behind the far-right AFD.
In France, Mitterand's Socialist party, once dominant, now has just 26 of 577 deputies in the national assembly
In Greece, PASOK who gave us the term Pasokification is down to 18 out of 300 in parliament despite Syriza's failures.

Trying to get rid of Corbyn in favour of a Nineties-style centrist moderate is a bit like saying "this lifeboat's too small and crowded, let's get back on the Titanic."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:07 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]


> "Trying to get rid of Corbyn in favour of a Nineties-style centrist moderate is a bit like saying 'this lifeboat's too small and crowded, let's get back on the Titanic.'"

Sure. The only problem is, on the single most important issue facing Britain at the moment, Corbyn is astonishingly, dazzlingly, catastrophically wrong. With the result that the most prominent alternative to the group which wants to drill a hole in the bottom of the lifeboat is the man saying that if we put him in charge, he will drill a much BETTER hole.
posted by kyrademon at 8:22 AM on January 17 [23 favorites]


Nobody wants to replace Corbyn with a center-left Blairite, they want to replace him with a Remainer.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:24 AM on January 17 [16 favorites]


Is there any sense of how Parliament might do something different for a change instead of just continuing to believe (collectively, and possibly individually) six impossible things before breakfast every day? Is there at least some sort of diagram or chart or pivot table of how much support there is for any given plan, or is that what the idea of having votes on literally everything is about? In other words, has there been any good Data Journalism™ that has surfaced some idea of an actual conclusion to this mess? Or is no-deal the inevitable result of a minority government with poor leadership and factions who can't or won't compromise, and we've just got ten more weeks of them failing to come to their collective senses?
posted by fedward at 8:26 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


The UK is divided into four nations, two of which voted remain and two of which voted leave. The British government could honour those decisions and allow Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain in the EU as the successor state to the UK, while permitting England and Wales (if it still wants to) to exit.

London would like a word.

Trying to remember if I still own the "London Independence Party" domain.
posted by garius at 8:27 AM on January 17 [7 favorites]


If you look at the rest of Europe, it's hard to believe that a normal centre-left Labour leader would help at a time when the centre-left are being obliterated.

This is some next-level missing be point. None of the rest of Europe is dealing with [appropriate leading initials]exit. The context is not the same.

Besides, not one person has argued for a centrist or Blairite. We just want someone competent. Someone who isn't Corbyn personally. Ideally someone who shares much of their politics, just with a sane and reasonable stance on Brexit.
posted by Dysk at 8:31 AM on January 17 [8 favorites]


"And not only is it total nonsense, but Krugman is adopting right-wing rhetoric and narrative."

No, he's just viewing this (inappropriately) through the lens of the Greece problem and the EU's austerity era. That was much more his bailiwick and his ire in that context is richly justified.

He should be assumed authoritative on the long-term trade/macro effects of Brexit, as that's his genuine expertise.

Otherwise, I agree that that op-ed indicates he's not paying close attention to this and it's a disregardable hot-take.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:35 AM on January 17 [8 favorites]


Also, if left and centre left parties are trading a beating throughout Europe (including Labour tanking in the polls) then I'm not sure how sticking with the left candidate currently seriously trailing the worst government in UK history is a winning strategy either. Maybe we should go for a right wing candidate? That seems to be where the votes are, after all!

...or we could decide based on policy and politics, not pure electioneering.
posted by Dysk at 8:42 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


 Semi-Brexit

Somewhat stymied by the tiny DUP who effectively own the May regime. Without the DUP, May has a minority, and can't govern. Not that there's any evidence of governing being done well at the moment, though.

The DUP wouldn't accept a union with only Scotland: we don't have the money to support the lifestyle they're accustomed to. They're not exactly a party of reality, either. Last year some of them were suggesting that Ireland just needed to come back to the UK.
posted by scruss at 8:52 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]


Look at those poll numbers you linked, TheophileEscargot - they're terrifying for Labour. Only 29% of 18-24s have Corbyn as their preferred PM vs. 25% for May! He's never appealed to many older voters, and his appeal among younger voters has collapsed. Wasn't his appeal to younger voters the entire point? His seven-nation army is looking pretty thin.
posted by rory at 8:53 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]


Left parties aren't taking a beating. The Greens in Germany, La France Insoumise in France, Syriza in Greece have advanced as the centre-left has declined.

When Tony Blair became Labour leader in 1994, he didn't say "To be electable, the Labour party must do whatever won us elections in the Seventies". The Third Way policies that won elections for Labour in the Nineties don't work in 2018. Labour has to be left of what Blair was to succeed.

Everyone's complaining about "unicorns" , but also seems to want a Labour leader with Corbyn's left-credibility and Miliband's moderation and who is a hard Remainer too...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:00 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


I don't think there's anyone here arguing that we want a Labour leader who isn't to the left of Blair. Corbyn is demonstrably not the leader to get us out of this mess, though, and that applies equally if you consider "this mess" to be brexit, tory government, or both.
posted by Dysk at 9:04 AM on January 17 [5 favorites]


If you look at the rest of Europe, it's hard to believe that a normal centre-left Labour leader would help at a time when the centre-left are being obliterated.

In Edinburgh, an eyebrow is arched quizzically.
posted by Devonian at 9:05 AM on January 17 [17 favorites]


Left parties aren't taking a beating. The Greens in Germany, La France Insoumise in France, Syriza in Greece have advanced as the centre-left has declined.

Yes, and all of them are against Brexit too. Why is it asking for unicorns to ask for a Left party that resembles the Left in other European states?
posted by vacapinta at 9:06 AM on January 17 [7 favorites]


Simon Hoggart used to have a line that the reason conflicts go on is that both sides want victory more than they want peace.

Britain is bitterly divided into Remain and Leave tribes.

You're not going to get peace if Britain has either a hard Brexit, or remains formally in the EU. It's not necessarily riots or extremist takeovers that are the problem, but endless simmering resentment, and endless attempts to reverse the decision. If you revoke Article 50, the campaign to invoke it again starts the next day.

At this point, the only way to get peace is some kind of soft Brexit that appeases at least some of the concerns of people on both sides.

Labour's policy of a Brexit that involves staying permanently in the customs union, or the Norway option that's being floated but has less support, seem like the most reasonable platforms towards peace on the table at the moment.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:35 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


That's quite insightful, Theo, although it is worth bearing in mind what mumimor said upthread:

It's funny because "Norway" is the exact opposite of "taking back control". "Norway" is accepting most EU rules and regulations without having any say at all.

In addition to that, as has been pointed out before, saying that the Norway option is better than May's deal is a bit of a category error. The deal that was voted on on Tuesday was about the terms for leaving the EU and not about the precise terms of the future relationship, such as Norway or not. That would have to be worked out during the transition period.

In other words, something like the Norway option might have been a possibility with May's deal, but that seems to be off the table for now. Of course, even crashing out with no deal does not preclude the possibility of a Norway-like cooperation at some point in the future - it would just take much longer to sort out and implement.
posted by sour cream at 9:58 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]


The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class.
With Brexit, the chumocrats who drew borders from India to Ireland are getting a taste of their own medicine.
These eternal schoolboys whose “weight is out of all proportion” to their numbers are certainly overrepresented among Tories. They have today plunged Britain into its worst crisis, exposing its incestuous and self-serving ruling class like never before.

From David Cameron, who recklessly gambled his country’s future on a referendum in order to isolate some whingers in his Conservative party, to the opportunistic Boris Johnson [...], the British political class has offered to the world an astounding spectacle of mendacious, intellectually limited hustlers.
This is even funnier and more brutal when you remember that the author, Pankaj Mishra, is married to Mary Mount. And that Mary Mount is David Cameron's cousin.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:02 AM on January 17 [10 favorites]


The way the vote in Parliament went, it's pretty clear that the Brexit hardliners have no interest in any kind of compromise. If we have a customs union brexit, the campaign will start the following day to get us out. Compromise with the uncompromising gets you nowhere. Let's not emulate the worst tactical actions of the US Democrats.
posted by Dysk at 10:02 AM on January 17 [14 favorites]


Simon Hoggart used to have a line that the reason conflicts go on is that both sides want victory more than they want peace.

That's true, but there's an addendum to that aphorism that often gets forgotten - it only holds true as long as the conflict is proportionately impacting both sides.

That is, as long as one side perceives attrition as hitting the other side harder, then they have no reason to come to the table, while that side have no reason not to try and push for victory while they still can.

That very much has a political impact here. Rightly or wrongly, there is a perception that demographics do not play out in Leave's favour. That Remain is a young person's game.

This is why second referendum is both popular with remainers and not an option for leavers. Because there is
already a perception that enough Boomers have died off, or enough young people can be motivated to come out to vote to change the result. Both sides talk about people changing their minds, but it's not true and everyone knows it. It's just not polite to say that this is (very generally) about one generation's obsession with a past they never lived through but perceive to be better.

Now I have some significant doubts about whether that demographic shift really has happened to the level that the most ardent backers of a second referendum think. But all the polls - by both sides - suggest that age demographics matter here.

For those in power pushing for Leave, this is about seizing the only moment they think they will ever have to push Brexit through, and they know they have to do it in such a way as to entrench it so thoroughly that it cannot be undone for at least a generation. It's a sort of right-wing inversion of Attlee and co entrenching the Welfare State.

For those in power pushing to remain, they know that they just have to stop that happening to eventually 'win'. And that's why this part of what you say is wrong (bolding mine):

At this point, the only way to get peace is some kind of soft Brexit that appeases at least some of the concerns of people on both sides.

If you believe in Remain, then no it isn't. There is another way to win, and it is the same way we beat these fascist bastards* last time:

Stay in the game long enough until you have more money, and manpower than they do, then grind the fuckers down.

And that's why there can't be a compromise here. It's not because this is a perpetual impasse. It's because both sides know that one of them will win. It's just going to come down to whether the Brexiteers can pull off this Blitzkreig they started back in 2016, or not.



*yes I know. #notallbrexiteers. But this was too good a metaphor to miss.
posted by garius at 10:19 AM on January 17 [21 favorites]


Left parties aren't taking a beating. The Greens in Germany, La France Insoumise in France, Syriza in Greece have advanced as the centre-left has declined.

...and in Germany, the SDP still have well over twice the vote share of the Greens federally, and a greater vote share in regional elections. The scale of the Greens' gains is smaller than the scale of SDP losses - the rest went to right wing parties. And that's before accounting for where CDU losses went. You're painting a misleading picture.

...and that's without considering all the countries in the EU where the shifts are much more straightforwardly away from the left,.
posted by Dysk at 10:23 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


Can someone please remind me what the problem was with Ed Miliband? Other than how he ate a bacon sandwich. He started the move leftward from New Labour. I remember thinking after he resigned that it would be back to Blairite Labour. He's been pretty sensible on Brexit and seems to do a good job as a backbencher.
posted by DoveBrown at 10:27 AM on January 17 [4 favorites]


Can someone please remind me what the problem was with Ed Miliband?

Right man, just (narrowly) not the right time. We'll never know of course, but it's hard to shake the suspicion that if he'd been up against this shower of shite at the last election then Labour may well have squeaked it. There's no doubt in my mind that Corbyn has helped reinvigorate various areas of the party where it desperately needed reinvigorating, but Corbyn -> Miliband would probably have been the perfect setup with hindsight rather than the other way around.

It's why I 100% agree with various people up thread. I don't want a return to the overly-centrist politics of Brown or Blair. I'm perfectly happy with someone from the soft-going-on-firm left who is part of the Corbyn setup.

But his part in this drama is done because - on Brexit - his views don't align with where the part needs (and indeed wants) to be. So if we're going to ride the wave he kicked off back into power we need a younger (or at least less baggage-carrying) person at the helm.

To go a bit football, Corbyn's done the Hodgson bit and stopped the rot, now Labour needs to offer the country a Southgate.
posted by garius at 10:37 AM on January 17 [4 favorites]


Can someone please remind me what the problem was with Ed Miliband?

The Edstone.
posted by Dysk at 10:37 AM on January 17 [6 favorites]


How does [Nicola Sturgeon] get on with May – who is formal and restrained, even off-camera – in their semi-regular meetings? Sturgeon starts laughing. “The Theresa May that the country ended up seeing in the election was the one I’ve been dealing with for however long she’s been Prime Minister. This is a woman who sits in meetings where it’s just the two of you and reads from a script. I found it very frustrating because David Cameron, whose politics and mine are very far apart, always managed to have a personal rapport. You could sit with David and have a fairly frank discussion, agree the things you could agree on and accept you disagree on everything else, and have a bit of banter as well.

“I remember just after May came back from America [in January], when she’d held Trump’s hand [Sturgeon starts laughing again], she’d also been to Turkey and somewhere else. This was the Monday morning. We sit down, it’s literally just the two of us, and I say, ‘You must be knackered.’ She said, ‘No! I’m fine!’ And it was as if I’d insulted her. It was just impossible to get any human connection." - Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish referendum dilemma - New Statesman
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:00 AM on January 17 [14 favorites]


It was just impossible to get any human connection.

They don't call he Maybot for nothing.
posted by PenDevil at 11:04 AM on January 17


Can someone please remind me what the problem was with Ed Miliband?

The Edstone.


Ah, innocent times....
posted by Pendragon at 11:53 AM on January 17


At this point, the only way to get peace is some kind of soft Brexit that appeases at least some of the concerns of people on both sides.

There's something that bears serious examination in this statement: for what definition of "peace" is this true? Is it more important that simmering resentment die down, or is it more important that economic devastation be avoided and state-enforced xenophobia be kept at bay? Is "peace" purely the absence of tension? Is it peaceful to have the social safety net shredded to tatters as long as we don't argue with one another on Facebook?
posted by duffell at 12:17 PM on January 17 [22 favorites]


The Last Gasp of Northern Ireland
A hard-line loyalist party has British politics in its death grip, because it knows that its cause is dying.
Richard Seymour / NYTimes
Mr. Seymour grew up in Northern Ireland and writes about British politics.

I did know that there is a border between Ireland and the UK, and I remember the troubles and the Good Friday Agreement. Some of my grandparents' friends were killed in a bomb attack. So there I'm already much ahead of May's cabinet. But there is also a lot I don't know, and this is very illuminating.
posted by mumimor at 2:11 PM on January 17 [6 favorites]


BTW, as I'm going through today's NYTimes, I can see how Krugman can be so clueless. Their reporting on Brexit today is really stupid. Amid Brexit Chaos, E.U. Sees a ‘Catastrophic Success’ Not linking, I've read it so you don't have to. It's the worst both-side-ism on this issue I've seen since before the referendum.
posted by mumimor at 2:22 PM on January 17 [7 favorites]


The way the vote in Parliament went, it's pretty clear that the Brexit hardliners have no interest in any kind of compromise. If we have a customs union brexit, the campaign will start the following day to get us out. Compromise with the uncompromising gets you nowhere.

What you're doing is conflating all members of a group with the most extreme members of a group. People already have Brexit fatigue. If there is some kind of technical Brexit, even a very soft one, the ERG are not going to be able to muster much support from the wider electorate. Not that many people want to go through all this twice.

When I look at the specific problems Remainers mention, I'd say about 90% fall under the categories:
  • Long term economic damage
  • Short term shortages
  • Existing EU residents worrying about being deported
Labour's proposal of a Brexit that keeps us in the customs union, and protects the rights of EU citizens in the UK, would seem to cover about 90% of Remainer worries.

But almost no Metafilter Remainers are interested in getting 90% of what they want, only the 100% victory of remaining fully in the EU. Why is that?

I don't think it's Remainers are what they see themselves as: figures of Spock-like rationality cooly committed to the objectively best course. It's because they're human beings who at this point are emotionally identified with the Remain tribe, and care about achieving a symbolic victory over the Leave tribe.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:18 PM on January 17


If there is some kind of technical Brexit, even a very soft one, the ERG are not going to be able to muster much support from the wider electorate.

That seems a bizarrely naive belief, unmoored from any of the demonstrated manipulation over the last decades, whether through the nearly entirely Tory-controlled press or through more modern social media sockpuppeting.
posted by tavella at 9:36 PM on January 17 [4 favorites]


But almost no Metafilter Remainers are interested in getting 90% of what they want, only the 100% victory of remaining fully in the EU. Why is that?

Because we're not delusional like the Brexit bunch, so we don't waste time getting attached to scenarios that have about as much likelihood as the DUP saying oh well a border in the Irish Sea sounds like a pretty good solution. You may remember the concept of a "soft Brexit" - that's what people were arguing for. Corbyn and May have pissed away that option. Move on.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 9:44 PM on January 17 [11 favorites]


But almost no Metafilter Remainers are interested in getting 90% of what they want, only the 100% victory of remaining fully in the EU. Why is that?

|Because if you think membership of the EU is a good thing, then you want, er, membership? It's not as if there's some sort of sweet spot outside where the benefits of a particular set of individual terms is somehow better than membership. The further out you get, the worse the deal. What do you get in exchange for stopping near Remain?

Plus, the Brexiteers can't agree what it is they want. There is no 'Brexit' position to compromise with. They can't agree what the meaning is of the terms they use, and they haven't demonstrated any competence in,er... well, anything.

Wha Brexiteer would be happy with a 90 percent Remain? What does that even mean?
posted by Devonian at 10:49 PM on January 17 [12 favorites]


Really, it's all about freedom of movement. It's what brexit was all about, and it's what a lot of us remainers are passionately attached to. Any compromise brexit will either curtail or end freedom of movement, or it will be no brexit at all in the eyes of the brexiteers. There can be no compromise here, it's either or.
posted by Dysk at 11:03 PM on January 17 [22 favorites]


having to prepare for both a deal and no deal simultaneously. They can't both happen, so either way we're burning mounds of cash

It’s worth keeping in mind that this is what individual European countries are doing too, burning mounds of cash and resources like passing emergency legislation, and trade and business and jobs are at stake, and the status of individual people - British citizens in Europe, European citizens in Britain... So please let’s keep that in mind, this affects so much more than the UK alone and its internal messy politics. I know everyone knows this! but it does tend to get lost in the current media debate and commentary that’s focusing so much on the internal battle. Or a lot of the time the media are still focusing almost exclusively on the EU leaders as a counterpart and who said what in a tweet as if that mattered more than all the above, as if it was still a case of Britain vs the Eurocrats. This is so not Greece, and no one ever pretended it was - sorry Krugman.
Sorry for any disjointed commentary, I’m a bit emotional, sad and furious at all this. It affects me and people I know personally and to see this treated as a sort of strategical game is sad and angering, it’s exactly what got the politicians and voters in the UK in trouble in the first place, the lack of vision into REAL practical consequences.
posted by bitteschoen at 11:07 PM on January 17 [10 favorites]


What you're doing is conflating all members of a group with the most extreme members of a group.

May's deal is hard Brexit. After the 2 year grace period, it ends freedom of movement and no budget contribution, exits all EU bodies, but leaves us in a partial customs union with some regulation to prevent lowering of standards until we come up with another solution. It's about as hard as you can go without a hard border in NI.

Around 30% of people depending on polling would rather have a no-deal Brexit than either remain, a softer deal, or May's hard brexit. They'd rather crash the economy and throw NI under a bus than keep *any* ties to the EU.

The deal gives Brexiteers 90% of what they want, and they largely hate it. Unsurprisingly, remainers hate it too, as it ends freedom of movement, and still substantially damages people's living standards, and leaves us still subject to some EU law with no say at all. The only good thing is it secures the rights of current residents.

A soft brexit, i.e. Norway, is a terrible idea. It keeps freedom of movement and saves the economy, but it leaves us still subject to all the EU regulation people are pissed off about with no say at all. Remainers are a diverse bunch, but I've yet to meet one in the UK or France who thinks EU lawmaking is great and sufficiently democratic. Brexiteers would never accept it, and we'd be fighting a rear guard defending action of it for decades, in defence of something even *we* don't believe in.

You either think the benefits of being in the EU are worth the trade off of pooled sovereignty, or you don't. You think freedom of movement is a good thing or a bad thing. There's no middle ground, no compromise position that both sides could live with. Soft brexit would be brexit in name only, and the brexiteers simply wouldn't accept it. Deal-brexit is nearly as bad as no-deal, and remainers wouldn't accept that either.

My wife is french, living in the UK. Any brexit that gives up freedom of movement means that if we leave the UK for any substantial period of time means we likely won't be able to come back (see how existing non-EU spouses of british citizens are treated by the Home Office). It also makes it substantially harder for me to qualify to live in France. I at least have a potential escape hatch through EU citizen family reunification.

If brexit is going to happen, it seems crash-out Brexit is the only option that's acceptable to most brexiteers - and the most extreme brexiteers are in the tory party membership, who would happily accept a resumption of the Troubles in order to get their no-deal brexit - something like 75% of them if I recall correctly. How do you compromise with that when they're driving government policy? Plus May is incapable of compromise and we're stuck with her, so it's a moot point anyway.

Demographics are not on the Brexiteers side. Even if literally no-one changed their mind or voted/didn't vote differently, AND you keep voting rate the same in the different age groups - simply due to old brexiteers dying and young people reaching voting age, tomorrow is remain-day - i.e. demographic shifts alone would result in a remain referendum victory under the 2016 conditions. They are determined to push through the hardest possible brexit now, as this is their only chance for a very long time, probably ever.

Compromising with the crash-out tories would be like the Democrats finding a compromise position with Trump on permanently closing the border to Mexico. Sometimes you just have to fight for what you believe in.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 12:06 AM on January 18 [26 favorites]


But almost no Metafilter Remainers are interested in getting 90% of what they want, only the 100% victory of remaining fully in the EU. Why is that?

I am a Brit who has lived on the European mainland for almost 20 years. Brexit threatens to take away the fundamental rights — like Freedom of Movement — that I've built my adult life on. Remaining wouldn't be a "victory", just business as usual. You know: normal, boring, everyday life.

I don't think it's Remainers are what they see themselves as: figures of Spock-like rationality cooly committed to the objectively best course. It's because they're human beings who at this point are emotionally identified with the Remain tribe, and care about achieving a symbolic victory over the Leave tribe.

My reaction to the idea of Brexit is 100% emotional. I've never pretended otherwise. But I don't give a fuck about "achieving victory" over anyone. I simply don't want to have the rug pulled out from under my life.

I don't want to have to deal with bullshit bureaucracy in 15 years time when my parents back in England are getting old and my kids are choosing which University to go to and dozens of other small practical life things, which — until Brexit — wouldn't have been an issue at all.

In short: I'm 100% emotionally and implacably opposed to Brexit because it fucks with my life and gives me precisely zero benefits.
posted by ZipRibbons at 12:40 AM on January 18 [35 favorites]


In short: I'm 100% emotionally and implacably opposed to Brexit because it fucks with my life and gives me precisely zero benefits.

This. It's not about Spock-like rationality. With respect, I'd suggest that the person who is (perhaps-unconsciously) trying to chart that path here is you.

For the overwhelming majority of people on both sides, this is and always has been about Freedom of Movement. Whether that's the personal economic and ease-of-life benefits that brings, or the 'damage' you believe it is doing to the country.

If it wasn't about Freedom of Movement then we'd already have had a Brexit deal go through. Because it is, quite literally, the only major blocker to everything thing else that the EU are prepared to negotiate on.

So yeah, that's why compromise would be as unacceptable to a common-or-garden Brexiteer as much as myself. Because the one thing we'd both have to compromise on is the one thing that matters to both of us, in different ways, more than anything else.
posted by garius at 12:55 AM on January 18 [11 favorites]


Oh, and just to add, one of the reasons it absolutely is an emotional thing for me is because I'm a military historian. If you're looking for emotional reasons to stay in Europe then there are over a million, tiny individual ones lying in fields of Belgium and France.

You don't walk around Europe or study WW1 and WW2 in any detail without coming out with an overwhelming belief that peace is preserved through closer ties (political and economic), not through weakened ones.

Basically my ideal is a socialist-leaning UK helping other European socialist-leaning parties shout for a fairer European society from inside the EU, not pissing about on the outside alone.
posted by garius at 1:02 AM on January 18 [31 favorites]


For the overwhelming majority of people on both sides, this is and always has been about Freedom of Movement.

I don't think that is true at all.
For most hard-core Brexiteers it is mostly about not taking orders from the EU. It's all about us vs. them. If the EU didn't have freedom of movement, then Brexiteers would be fighting for it.
posted by sour cream at 1:07 AM on January 18


For most hard-core Brexiteers it is mostly about not taking orders from the EU.

For most hard-core Brexiteers it is mostly about not taking orders from the EU about our borders.

That's nearly always the hidden - or mostly not-so-hidden - subtext.

"Control of our borders" is the go-to example in soundbites of 'Sovereignty' that has been lost. Your average Brexiteer isn't standing on the corner of the bar making comments about the complexity of state-aid arrangements or European banking regulations. At best, they'll mention something about fishing rights after they've covered the border thing.
posted by garius at 1:28 AM on January 18 [11 favorites]


The Brexiteer leadership was absolutely all about getting out of the EU. The voting masses cared about one thing above all else: immigration. Dominic Cummings talks about this in his blog post on the Vote Leave referendum campaign:
One of the key delusions that ‘the centre ground’ caused in SW1 concerned immigration. Most people convinced themselves that ‘swing voters’ must have a ‘moderate’ and ‘centre ground’ view between Farage and Corbyn. Wrong. About 80% of the country including almost all swing voters agreed with UKIP that immigration was out of control and something like an Australian points system was a good idea. This was true across party lines.

This was brought home to me very starkly one day. I was conducting focus groups of Conservative voters. I talked with them about immigration for 20 minutes (all focus groups now start with immigration and tend to revert to it within two minutes unless you stop them). We then moved onto the economy. After two minutes of listening I was puzzled and said – who did you vote for? Labour they all said. An admin error by the company meant that I had been talking to core Labour voters, not core Tory voters. On the subject of immigration, these working class / lower middle class people were practically indistinguishable from all the Tories and UKIP people I had been talking to.
posted by pharm at 1:33 AM on January 18 [7 favorites]


If anyone's got a few quid spare, there's a crowdfunding thing going on to get Brexit quotes and tweets pasted up on billboards all over Britain.

"This Brexit chaos is founded on the forgotten lies of our leaders. Let’s remind the country of them with giant billboards."
posted by ZipRibbons at 1:40 AM on January 18 [4 favorites]


But almost no Metafilter Remainers are interested in getting 90% of what they want, only the 100% victory of remaining fully in the EU. Why is that?

Because every Brexit makes us financially worse off, because May's Brexit or anything short of EEA kills the most important benefit of the EU for me personally, because May's WA and anything short of EU membership really does remove our sovereignty and that pisses me off just as much as the Leavers' imagined loss of sovereignty in the EU, because even crashing out effectively loses our sovereignty because we'll be at the mercy of every other country on earth, because the whole Brexit process has been marching towards this binary choice of crashing out and staying in because the hardcore Brexiters always want more, more, more, because the entire process has poisoned our relationships with our neighbours in Europe and our European neighbours living here in the UK and the only way to begin to repair those is to stay as close as possible (which if we don't want to lose actual sovereignty means staying in the EU), because a hard border threatens to reignite an awful decades-long civil war in Northern Ireland, because anything short of remaining at this point threatens to break up the UK, because Leave has been bankrolled and egged on from the start by the sort of shadowy rich bastards who represent everything I hate, because poll after poll shows that the young of Britain are overwhelmingly against Brexit and the future of the country depends on how they feel about the place and make life choices in response to those feelings, and because the actual conduct of the Referendum has broken British democracy.

That's a cry from the heart, and I'd never claim otherwise, but it's also a rational response to what we've already lived through - and if it isn't, do please point out the irrational parts. The past 30 months have destroyed half of what made me want to move to the UK and become a British citizen in the first place. I don't want a "symbolic victory", I want all of that damage halted.

The only possible path to that now is for the Leave side to see that they've lost the support of the British public as a whole, and the only thing that will do that at this point is a new referendum that they lose. I know there's a risk that Remain would lose a new referendum, but that would leave us no worse off than what we're facing now, which is either no-deal misery or grudging acceptance of a deal that very few people inside or outside Parliament actually want, which may not drive away investment and ambitious young people in the short term but absolutely will in the longer term, long after today's aging Leavers are gone.
posted by rory at 2:10 AM on January 18 [22 favorites]


"This Brexit chaos is founded on the forgotten lies of our leaders. Let’s remind the country of them with giant billboards."

A fine initiative, but something like the Davis quote ("no downside to Brexit, only a considerable upside") could just be taken at face-value by the sorts of people who continually turn up on BBC vox pops saying let's just get on with it. They should emphasise the fundamental connection between the sort of political chaos that people are witnessing and any attempt to continue with Brexit.
posted by rory at 2:25 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]


But almost no Metafilter Remainers are interested in getting 90% of what they want, only the 100% victory of remaining fully in the EU. Why is that?

You've gotten a lot of excellent responses to this. Just to add my own, I would say there are (broadly speaking) three kinds of things you can clash about in politics:

RESOURCES: There's one pie. We both want it. We can probably reach a compromise where we each get half.

VALUES: We have raw ingredients. I want to make pie, and you want to make pizza. We can probably reach a compromise where we make one smaller pie and one smaller pizza.

REALITY: We have raw ingredients. I want to bake a pie, and you want to flush all the ingredients down the toilet because the magic baker who lives inside it will send us back a hundred pies, but it only works if we flush all the ingredients. We can't compromise. All we can do is try to come up with some sort of mutually agreed upon test to find out which reality we're actually living in.

Before the referendum, the Leave camp made two assertions about reality:
1. Britain would hold all the cards in the Brexit negotiations, and would get everything we wanted out of the deal;
2. Britain will be better off if it leaves the EU

The past two years have been a test of assertion 1. Unfortunately, it has failed the test. Rather than accept that their beliefs about reality may have been flawed, the Brexit camp is insisting on testing assertion 2. It's really hard to know how to compromise with that.
posted by yankeefog at 2:32 AM on January 18 [31 favorites]


Apologies TheophileEscargot in advance for the slightly fisky and very lengthy reply, but this is a complex topic...
What you're doing is conflating all members of a group with the most extreme members of a group.
Given a choice between no-deal and May's deal, 64% of Conservative party members would choose no deal. 38% of the general public would choose no deal in another referendum with only 8% choosing a 'customs union deal'. I don't think we can safely assume that only the ERG hold extremist views. The question is how strongly held those views are and what happen as they encounter reality.
People already have Brexit fatigue.
I agree that a pretty large proportion of the electorate want this all to go away. But the only way to make that happen is to remain, as anything else means years more negotiations. We're only currently talking about the withdrawal agreement, remember.
If there is some kind of technical Brexit, even a very soft one, the ERG are not going to be able to muster much support from the wider electorate.
Possibly they would fade away, but I'm not convinced. Their comfort zone is aggrieved victimhood and I fully expect the inherent economic, cultural, strategic and practical negative effects to be blamed on any Brexit not being Brexity enough. They have proved themselves to be highly effective at taking an issue that most people don't care about, getting lots of media attention for their protest campaign and shifting the goalposts to whatever suits them.
Not that many people want to go through all this twice.
Yes - which in itself is a pretty good reason to fight for 100% remain! OK, you're saying that Brexit fatigue among the public would preclude the ERG from trying to harden a softer Brexit. But hardening wouldn't require another referendum. We have the future trade relationship to arrange and even if the WA includes, for example, something about being in a CU, Brexiter MPs have explicitly said they would be willing to walk away from any such commitment. There's every chance that May's replacement will be sympathetic to that view.
Labour's proposal of a Brexit that keeps us in the customs union, and protects the rights of EU citizens in the UK, would seem to cover about 90% of Remainer worries.
I don't blame you for missing this because it's easily overlooked, but Labour do not propose that the UK stay in the EU Customs Union. Instead they propose we negotiate a new customs union which would have no tariffs, which would allow the UK to negotiate its own trade deals with other countries and which would also give the UK a voice in EU trade deals. Labour also want full access to the single market without being in the single market and at the same time no freedom of movement. My polite judgement is that the EU seems unlikely to agree to this. My less polite judgement is that it's pure unicorn-shitting-unobtanium Brexit and Labour should be ashamed to have it as a policy. (And don't get me started on the six tests, accurately assessed by Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade as 'bollocks'.)

But getting back to your point that remaining in a/the Customs Union would avoid 'short term shortages and long term economic damage', I think that's not at all certain. The slide on page 4 of Michel Barnier's presentation(PDF) shows the advantages of remaining in a CU. The items in red are the customs controls which are eliminated by a CU. All the rest are only removed by a Single Market.

(That is also why a customs union does not solve the Good Friday problem as it doesn't by itself allow for an open land border between Ireland and NI. )
But almost no Metafilter Remainers are interested in getting 90% of what they want, only the 100% victory of remaining fully in the EU. Why is that?
Well, the snarky answer is how can a 17ker be surprised that Metafilter is not interested in calm compromise with political opponents? But to actually answer your question and speaking only for myself, I could live with a Norway-type deal. It would make my life more complicated and would be clearly worse than the UK's current situation, but I wouldn't actively oppose it. Pretty much any other Brexit model messes up the lives of my family and friends, particularly around freedom of movement and also risks serious economic consequences.
It's because they're human beings who at this point are emotionally identified with the Remain tribe, and care about achieving a symbolic victory over the Leave tribe.
Again speaking for myself, I do admit to enjoying the thought of gammon apoplexy should we remain in the EU. But what I actually hope for is not rubbing the faces of the 17 million in the dirt, but finding a way to make as many of them as possible feel that their vote was heard, that every effort was made to act on it and that we remained because on having gone as far as we could, keeping our existing membership terms was seen and voted on to be the best option.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:44 AM on January 18 [9 favorites]


Good piece in the LRB by William Davies on the Brexit mentality, which examines the appeal of "exit":

Hirschman noted that consumers or businessmen who become too accustomed to withdrawing can gradually forget how to assert themselves in any other way: ‘The presence of the exit alternative can therefore tend to atrophy the development of the art of voice.’ Perhaps the inverse is true in the democratic arena: where the art of voice has atrophied too much, there is an increasing appetite for the exit alternative.
posted by rory at 2:51 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]


Labour's proposal of a Brexit that keeps us in the customs union, and protects the rights of EU citizens in the UK, would seem to cover about 90% of Remainer worries

...and just like May's deal, it leaves the UK with less sovereignty than it currently has as an EU member, since it means that the UK would have agreed to comply with a pile of European regulations that it no longer has any say in formulating.

I'm not even a UK citizen and yes, I'm emotional about Brexit because the entire process is so completely fucking pointless and it really pisses me off to see public policy created by a willfully ignorant and/or mendacious rabble. It pisses me off in the same way and for the same reasons as current Australian policy on refugees arriving by boat does, and two thirds Australian popular support for laws that allow the security agencies to lock up "terrorist suspects" in secret does, and current Australian Government energy (lack of) policy does. Brexit pisses me off because the whole thing is horseshit and a complete waste of everybody's time and energy.

To the extent that it is about tribal identification, the tribal identification comes after the Brexit alignment, not before it. I prefer to identify with people who are not complete fucking dickheads and the simple fact Remains that there is not a single argument that's ever been put for Brexit that doesn't make the putter come across as one.
posted by flabdablet at 2:55 AM on January 18 [26 favorites]


Also, snark about Spock does not and cannot alter the objectively true fact that the UK is better off in the EU than out of it. There is no metric that supports any other conclusion. There is not one single thing that any Brexit booster has ever claimed that Brexit would fix that it actually would fix. Fact.
posted by flabdablet at 3:01 AM on January 18 [15 favorites]


And another thing. If the writers of this fucked-up century continue their twisted streak of purest sadism and fucking Boris ends up as UK PM, then every single fucking Brexiteer fully deserves to live in and with the resulting hopeless shitpile. But my heart will break for Remainers who can't or won't get out in time. Nobody sane deserves Boris.
posted by flabdablet at 3:12 AM on January 18 [5 favorites]


And another thing. If the writers of this fucked-up century continue their twisted streak of purest sadism and fucking Boris ends up as UK PM, then every single fucking Brexiteer fully deserves to live in and with the resulting hopeless shitpile. But my heart will break for Remainers who can't or won't get out in time. Nobody sane deserves Boris.

It's going to be Grayling.

Heed my words.
posted by garius at 3:18 AM on January 18 [4 favorites]


People already have Brexit fatigue.

They'd better get used to it. As a number of people have pointed out, Brexit is a process, not an event. Any form of resolution which doesn't involve Remain will take years and decades to fully play out, and even Remain has ramifications in the sense that Pandora's Box has been opened and Remain can't resolve the underlying issues that Brexit has revealed.
posted by daveje at 3:36 AM on January 18 [8 favorites]


In support of my (and others') comments above, Disgraced Former Defense Secretary Liam Fox has just said that a customs union brexit is no brexit at all. The position of mainstream brexiteers, and especially brexiteers in Parliament, precludes the possibility of any meaningful compromise.
posted by Dysk at 3:46 AM on January 18 [10 favorites]


From Cummings:

About 80% of the country including almost all swing voters agreed with UKIP that immigration was out of control and something like an Australian points system was a good idea. This was true across party lines.

80% of the country believed that immigration was out of control?
posted by entity447b at 3:58 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Cummings is a liar, so no real need to take that at face value.
posted by ambrosen at 4:00 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Remain can't resolve the underlying issues that Brexit has revealed

It's almost as if only well-informed political engagement within a democratic framework uncorrupted by a neverending spew of lies and horseshit from those parts of the press controlled by ultra-wealthy organized criminals and their assorted toadies and enablers could possibly do that.
posted by flabdablet at 4:00 AM on January 18 [10 favorites]


If any of it were about the facts, we wouldn't be where we are.

The number of people who are actually engaged in arguments that reference things like customs unions, the single market, the four freedoms of the EU, the ECJ, and so on, don't make up a significant part of the electorate. It's even clear that a number of government ministers also lacked (and maybe still lack) a basic understanding of any of those things.

Instead, people rely on the newspapers and other media, or (more likely) just take on broad views expressed by their peers. The media have been pushing emotional buttons for decades, and have a lot of experience in doing it. They know their demographic, and it's older, whiter people with a lot of nostalgia for a time when Britain felt like much more than just another middle-sized European country. As others have said, the 'taking rules from Brussels' line is almost always code for not being able to prevent the wrong people getting in, or not being able to easily get the wrong people out. A narrative emerged, just as it has about people claiming benefits, or people using the NHS, of foreigners/layabouts/terrorists/brown people cynically taking advantage of our good nature, which, needless to say, only the English possess in any significant amount. Then there's the deliberate blurring of migration, immigration and asylum into a single nebulous wave of people, and blaming the EU for preventing us from doing whatever it is we're supposed to do about it. It's a compelling story.

Sadly, you don't win people over by challenging any of this nonsense head on, unless you're content with merely being right. It takes a long time to turn the narrative around, to create a public affection for the EU and the benefits we collectively get from membership. If you want to turn people against Brexit, you can only win by establishing those feelings over a significant period of time. We don't have that time. Remain might be the right solution, but being right is only half the battle, and it's the easy half.
posted by pipeski at 4:04 AM on January 18 [6 favorites]


The media have been pushing emotional buttons for decades

Important not to tar all media with that brush. Specifically, the media that bear the bulk of the responsibility for the omnishambles currently enveloping Britain are those outlets controlled by the unscrupulous rich, most notably Rupert Murdoch (who, as an Australian, I continue to feel in some way bound to apologize to the world for). Same goes for Trump, obviously.
posted by flabdablet at 4:42 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]


Important not to tar all media with that brush. Specifically, the media that bear the bulk of the responsibility for the omnishambles currently enveloping Britain are those outlets controlled by the unscrupulous rich, most notably Rupert Murdoch
You weren't listening to the BBC, especially Radio 4, during the referendum campaign. They had a bad case of both-sides-ism and continually put sober economic analysis of the UK's reliance on the EU up on an equal footing against swivel-eyed ranting about a buccaneering global Britain.

There was never any attempt to balance the two arguments or talk about which one was more realistic, it was literally just equal airtime. They have form on this - until recently they had climate change deniers on the air regularly whenever there was a news item about the subject.
posted by winterhill at 4:56 AM on January 18 [19 favorites]


Blair going after the BBC during the war kicked open the door for the Tories to finish the job. Outside of its cultural programming, it's pretty much worthless.
posted by skybluepink at 4:59 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]


It's the UK media. Yes, I'm willing to tar them all with that brush, because the exceptions are very few indeed. The few outlets that have been pro-EU have not exactly been sober and serious in their coverage of Brexit either.
posted by Dysk at 5:00 AM on January 18 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Cummings is a liar, so no real need to take that at face value.

Maybe, but it tallies with what my family found when they were out canvassing during the last election in wards populated by the demographics that Cummings is talking about. It was immigration, immigration, immigration all the time.

Just because you don’t like the message, doesn’t mean it isn’t true :(
posted by pharm at 5:00 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]


It's the UK media. Yes, I'm willing to tar them all with that brush, because the exceptions are very few indeed. The few outlets that have been pro-EU have not exactly been sober and serious in their coverage of Brexit either.
Certainly in the radio broadcasting side, lack of plurality is the biggest issue. In most places in the UK, chances are that you're either listening to the BBC or a radio station operated by Global Radio. Global Radio is controlled by Monaco-based gambling billionaire Michael Tabor through his son Ashley. On their LBC talk station, they employ the likes of Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg to front programmes, as well as lesser-known idiots like Nick Ferrari.

Over the past year or so, Murdoch himself has started to get his claws into UK radio, buying the operator of the TalkSport and Virgin stations as well as a few local stations mostly around the North of England. One of those is my local station and every time you switch on, they're talking about something in the Sun.

Even radio stations that profess to be independent tend to obtain their national and international news content from a single source - Sky. It's not a healthy situation.
posted by winterhill at 5:31 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]


Yeah, as a British citizen married to an immigrant, I can tell you that "out of control" is the one thing that everyone knows about immigration. Like people are pretty sure that my partner has an easy life with government money coming in on the regular, they're pretty sure she was handed a British passport as she passed through the airport (and in any case, the government isn't allowed to remove her), and they know it was NBD to learn fluent English, because anyone who doesn't is just being rude. And this is from friends: it's just what they've always been told.

Meanwhile, back in reality, we're making sure to save every official letter in chronological order and double checking that we don't receive any undue benefits from anywhere because Theresa May's policies will destroy your family if you get the paperwork wrong.

I remember reading an article from someone on the pro-immigration side, talking about what people believed about it, and he said something that resonated: (from memory) "If I believed what they believe about the amount of immigration, I'd be protesting about it".

We are basically living through the breakdown of order in a bicameral society. There are different realities, and I'm not sure the testable one is winning.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 5:42 AM on January 18 [33 favorites]


But almost no Metafilter Remainers are interested in getting 90% of what they want, only the 100% victory of remaining fully in the EU. Why is that?

When was 90% of what Remainers what on the table? May's redlines (which I have found quite hard to find laid out in a simple to understand the implications form but try this) include:

Leave Single Market
Leave Customs Union
End Freedom of Movement

Has there been anything on the table which doesn't include these goals? Do you think that these represent somehow 10% or less of the changes which would come with a no deal?

At this stage I would be fairly happy with a Norway type set up, even though that is a pretty silly outcome against virtually any of the UK political groups with an interest on Brexit.
posted by biffa at 6:05 AM on January 18 [7 favorites]


And this is from friends: it's just what they've always been told.


That reminds me of years ago during a pub lunch with other Brits. Not quite friends, but friendly acquaintances.

Immigration came up and they asked us about the process. So, we did. Everything from the series of residence cards, the money spent, the arbitrary decisions we had to fight to overturn, the mountains of paperwork we kept in boxes in a closet because you know it would be required. Each new residence card involves documenting your life for the past 5 years (PR) or so. That means papers to prove where you lived at each moment, and every date you entered and exited the country. In addition, you have to have been showing continuous residence rights - so you can't have been out of a job or had a low bank balance for even one day. And you have to prove this with employment letters and mountains of bank statements.

Our friend's jaws literally dropped open. They knew we were professionals with decent wages and figured we had just waltzed right in. To this day, I am frightened of throwing away any official document received in the mail.
posted by vacapinta at 6:06 AM on January 18 [37 favorites]


Irish NHS worker so technically in a better situation than my German anaesthetist husband, son works also in the NHS, some of the 63,000 EU NHS workers.


When I arrived in the UK 16yrs ago I expected some anti-Irish sentiment, it being pre- GFA and all, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I got delighted engagement, ppl telling me of a beloved grandmother, or co-worker from Ireland ( Irish nurses are a force in the NHS I discovered)

That literally disappeared after the Brexit vote, I got my first anti-Irish comment 2 days later,’

you’ll have to go home now and there’ll be more promotions for us’


Ignorant Brexiteers don’t understand that the Irish in the UK have more rights than other E.U. citizens for historic reasons, but the fact that we still do not know if my husbands medical degree will be recognised on the 1st of April is bonkers. The entire health service will collapse without clear guidance on medical qualifications for example but the very fact that we have nothing stating that our qualifications will be recognised is deeply unsettling. Especially given the weird Home Office errors in the last year. I’ve moved into a management position so I’m not going to be impacted but we literally do not know if my hubby ( who is due to be on call on the night, a call which covers emergency C sections, ITU and cardiac arrests BTW) will have appropriate cover or have to declare himself an emergency Good Samaritan .....’.I just happened to be passing the hospital and I saw a man having a cadiac arrest officer, oh, why was I dressed in scrubs, you ask?? A stag party jape, officer...
posted by Wilder at 6:13 AM on January 18 [28 favorites]


At this stage I would be fairly happy with a Norway type set up, even though that is a pretty silly outcome against virtually any of the UK political groups with an interest on Brexit.
Sometimes I wonder if Norway would be better for UK citizens than what we already have. The UK has always been a sceptical voice in the European institutions, speaking up for big business and talking down workers' rights, environmental protections and other progressive policies.

Norway would keep freedom of movement, keep British access to the single market, keep the UK bound to the European courts and crucially keep the UK following European law, which without the UK's input would likely shift to a more progressive agenda and the UK would be able to do nothing about it other than enact what it's told to enact.

Not the most patriotic viewpoint, and on the balance of everything I'd rather stay in altogether, but if that can't happen then Norway would be a good starting point.
posted by winterhill at 6:16 AM on January 18 [8 favorites]


They knew we were professionals with decent wages and figured we had just waltzed right in.

I think it's quite difficult for people whose day-to-day dealings with governments are fairly minimal and who aren't terribly interested in politics in its own right to wrap their heads around just how completely insane it all gets when the self-styled "conservative" side has been given a decade or so to implement its platform, generally composed of equal parts magical thinking and nostalgia for a nonexistent Good Old Days.

What really grinds my gears is the widely held perception that conservatives are the more responsible economic managers. In my 50+ years on this planet I have yet to see an actual right wing government that could reasonably be held up as a factual example to support this view; not anywhere. Always and everywhere I see left-wing governments picking up the pieces after Tories have fucked the whole thing sideways yet again and then getting blamed for not having been able to put Humpty together quickly enough. It's maddening.
posted by flabdablet at 6:21 AM on January 18 [29 favorites]


Just a little comedy gold to brighten your day.
posted by pipeski at 7:23 AM on January 18 [4 favorites]


As an EU national living in London, it's been interesting to hear from people who voted for Brexit.

Of the 3 people who I count as my peers/friends:

1. A well-off private school dad of two who spent several years working in Spain and has now returned to the UK

2. A working single mum of two who decided on the day

3. A single seemingly liberal guy in his 20s who started posting far-right articles on Facebook and talked about "wanting to hear both sides". Described me as "one of the good ones" as it related to immigrants in the UK when I highlighted the opportunities that Britain's membership had provided me.

This and a million other anecdotes have shown me that it's impossible to summarise the reasons and profile of the people who voted for Brexit. Their reasons are as varied as they are. Which to me just proves that people were encouraged to put their fears and frustrations on the EU and then leaving the EU was pitched as a cure-all.

I can see how people could fall for that and since the people who did the lying have faced zero consequence, it's easy to double down on that way of thinking.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:28 AM on January 18 [14 favorites]




Chris Grey gets a point from me for teaching me a new word - spavined.
posted by winterhill at 9:19 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]


They know their demographic, and it's older, whiter people with a lot of nostalgia for a time when Britain felt like much more than just another middle-sized European country.

Maybe this is being too pedantic (since I agree with both the thrust of the sentence and the overall comment that it came from), but I've always understood "nostalgia" to relate to one's own experiences, especially given the human tendency to erase the bad and remember the good - a happy childhood, etc.

But there are few if any Britons alive who can truly be nostalgic for earlier times, before we joined the EU and its predecessor institutions.

A person born in 1950 will turn 69 years old this year. How could we describe the postwar Britain that they were born into?

India and Pakistan had gained independence in 1947, three years before they were born. The Irish Free State, which had won its independence in 1922, became a full republic in 1948, two years before they were born. The Suez Crisis happened when they were six. Petrol rationing was ended in the year of their birth. Meat rationing ended when they were four. It would be a stretch to say that they were born into the glory days of Empire.

In their teens and twenties, Britain was famously "The Sick Man of Europe", characterised by runaway inflation, civil unrest, and major shortages of basic goods and services:

The pound was devalued when they were 17 years old. The Troubles, essentially a low-level civil war in the UK, started around this time as well. They went through the Three Day Week at 23. (At 25, they may well have voted for Thatcher in the General Election, and they likely voted to stay within the European Communities during the referendum.) They were 26 when the IMF bailed the country out. The Winter of Discontent happened just before they turned 30, with its famously unburied bodies and rubbish on the streets.

So... What exactly are they nostalgic about, again? For the vast, vast majority of people in the UK, Britain has never not been more than "just another middle-sized European country" - and it's often been much less.

Epilogue: Ten years later, in 1990, they were 40 years old. If they lived in the South, they were probably quite well-off at this point. Anywhere else in the UK, and they probably weren't. In October, the UK joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. A month later, Thatcher resigned. Two years' later, in 1992, the UK crashed out of the ERM on Black Wednesday, in another embarrassing currency crisis. The next year, the European Communities became the European Union, with the UK as a founding member. (The UK Independence Party was established in response.) In 1997, our hypothetical person would have been 47, and seen a young politician called Tony Blair lead New Labour to power. Ten years' more and they would have gone through the financial crisis at 57, and seen the start of austerity policies under Blair's successor Gordon Brown, and then a further 10 years of austerity under the Tories, brought into power in 2010 under David Cameron.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:22 AM on January 18 [22 favorites]


You are pedantic, and you are also right. They are longing for an imagined past, not a real, experienced one.
But there are so many layers of deception. When I was in different English schools during the 60's and early 70's, we were taught a heroic history of "Britain", that was actually colonial England. In the country, where I lived, Sunday school at church was a given. Maybe because we were there while the adults where having Sunday lunches at the pub.
Since then most of the politicians and all of the media have perpetuated the myths we were taught at school, and I suspect many believe them still, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. I couldn't because I was from another country, and anyway we lived in Yorkshire when I grew old enough to think and understand that Scotland was not just a lot of sheep and people in kilts. But those myths about England are all over the place, a lot of Europeans believe them because they felt the UK was the only hope during WW2, Americans believe them because they are fascinating, some Indians believe them and I haven't figured out why yet. All of this contributes to English delusion. It's like a huge, institutional gaslighting. Your own eyes tell you that you are dirt poor and nothing is working and her majesty's government are a flock of self-important idiots. But your school and the media and those idiots are singing "Britannia rules the waves" so loud it's really hard to focus.
posted by mumimor at 10:45 AM on January 18 [18 favorites]


Not the most patriotic viewpoint, and on the balance of everything I'd rather stay in altogether, but if that can't happen then Norway would be a good starting point.

The reasons why it was the Norwegians who opted to “do a Norway “ with respect to the EU, are interesting when it comes to considering how problematic that approach might be for the UK. Norway was once an independent country. Then it spent centuries under rule by other parts of Scandinavia. The Germans occupied it - and finally it regained independence. It was quite a poor country in living memory- but now has a massive wealth fund and the world’s third largest per capita GDP. Yet it is also very well educated and very equal (world’s lowest Gini index). So they know what it means to suffer under the control of others.

So, while they do share the “go it alone” attitude of many Brexiteers - this is only because (it seems to me) the areas where they differ from the EU are in the direction of greater care for their citizens - a desire which they can back up with a big mound of their own cash if needs be.
posted by rongorongo at 3:48 PM on January 18 [6 favorites]


Plus the fish.
posted by biffa at 4:10 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


winterhill: "Chris Grey gets a point from me for teaching me a new word - spavined."

I learned it from James Herriot.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:52 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


If anyone fancies discussing Brexit: The Uncivil War, memebake has posted it to FanFare. I can hardly believe it was broadcast only ten days ago - it feels like it was a month.
posted by rory at 3:08 AM on January 19


We are running out of road very quickly, but honestly, it feels like time is barely moving at all. This is agony.
posted by skybluepink at 5:18 AM on January 19


Seems like the running out of road (at this point) is deliberate. Running out the clock...
posted by aleph at 5:22 AM on January 19 [4 favorites]


This made me smile this afternoon, during a radio discussion

Remainer: With 12 percent lead against a managed deal and 18 percent against no-deal Brexit, there's no doubt what people think now they've had a chance to see what's actually involved.
Leaver: Cameron thought that before he called the referendum.
Remainer: So let's have a referendum, then!

And yes, the polls do seem to be solid double-digit Remain and strengthening.
posted by Devonian at 8:23 AM on January 19 [8 favorites]


Unless someone assembles a majority to request an extension of Atticle 50 in enough time for the EU to agree everything else is a bit moot at this point.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:06 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]


And I don't see them getting out of this omnishambles/clusterbourach to extend Article 50 in time.

When I was in different English schools during the 60's and early 70's, we were taught a heroic history of "Britain", that was actually colonial England

Near the start of this Brexit mess, a mefite noted that the idea of "British" was aspirational, as opposed to the pedestrian national identities: Scottish, Welsh, etc. But "British" always was too much "English".
posted by scruss at 11:44 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


And yes, the polls do seem to be solid double-digit Remain and strengthening.
If supporters of Brexit were sure that they had the public on their side, they would be perfectly happy to put it to a second referendum. After all, if two referendums on the same issue both come out on the Leave side, particularly if Referendum 2 had a larger Leave majority than Referendum 1, then the subject is put to bed for a very long time and no one can argue that it's not what people want.

Instead, they are wailing and gnashing their teeth at the prospect, banging on about the Democratic Will of the People and making vague noises about civil unrest and public anger if their specific version of Brexit is not "delivered on time" because they know that the more the public know about their project, the faster the public support erodes away.
posted by winterhill at 12:32 PM on January 19 [10 favorites]


My opinion for some time is that a resolution needs to involve a new referendum or some other form of mandate, so that looks the likeliest path forward, driven by the backbench MPs rather than the front benches, since they're basically as useless as a chocolate fireguard at this point. The EU will grant an extension for a referendum or a new general election, but few other reasons. They just want this to be over.

The issue remains though, that whatever happens in a referendum will do nothing to resolve the fundamental divisions in the UK. I had a quick look at the last BBC Question Time, and the wall of gammon left me very despondent. My only hope is that a Remain majority is considerable.

On preview, I think there's going to be civil unrest this summer whatever happens.
posted by daveje at 1:06 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


I had a quick look at the last BBC Question Time, and the wall of gammon left me very despondent. My only hope is that a Remain majority is considerable.
I really hate the word 'gammon' in this context. We should look to be better than mocking people for their appearance - otherwise we're no better than the idiots who go around shouting 'snowflake!' at everything they don't like. My face goes pink and mottled in hot weather and I'm not a supporter of Brexit. It's a stupid term and makes it really easy for the 'other side' to throw stuff back in our faces. Let's be better than that.

As for audiences at political panel shows, I was at Radio 4's Any Questions last night and the largest applause came for a Liberal Democrat MP on the panel who suggested a second referendum. This is an area that voted 55-45 for Leave. Of course, the audience for a Radio 4 political discussion show is going to be self-selecting and made up of people with an interest in current affairs, but it seems a remarkable turnaround.
posted by winterhill at 1:14 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Ah ok, you have a point. Searching reveals that someone else previously raised issue with the word 'gammon' here, so in future I'll replace it with what was deemed acceptable the previous time, which is "aged 50ish middle class entitled racists".
posted by daveje at 2:03 PM on January 19 [8 favorites]


Rumour has it that the government is preparing for a general election.

We'll vote again. Don't know where. Don't know when.
posted by sour cream at 2:15 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


sour cream: "Rumour has it that the government is preparing for a general election.

We'll vote again. Don't know where. Don't know when.
"

Hmmm, Tory internal coup in the works? Didn't work last time.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:18 PM on January 19


What's puzzled me is that the press and others have ridiculed Jeremy Corbyn for demanding that a 'no deal' Brexit is ruled out. The argument goes that this is impossible, since it's the default in the absence of a deal, and therefore cannot be offered.

But are people saying this entirely correct? Surely there could be some mechanism whereby, if no solution arises within x days of the deadline, an application to extend A50 would be made, and some other action (referendum, election) would be triggered. Or indeed A50 could be revoked. The mechanism might even include both failsafes. This would presumably require legislation, but isn't that within the capability of parliament, given that there's a majority against 'no deal' that would presumably vote for it? Such legislation could then empower the government to revoke A50 without any further vote at the last minute, if necessary.
posted by pipeski at 2:46 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


If supporters of Brexit were sure that they had the public on their side, they would be perfectly happy to put it to a second referendum.

I actually stumbled across a young Brexit supporter's article in favour of a second referendum. He thinks failing to Brexit would be "a disaster", so I'm not entirely sure what degree of consensus reality we share, but it was an interesting angle to see.
posted by entity447b at 3:05 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


I actually stumbled across a young Brexit supporter's article in favour of a second referendum. He thinks failing to Brexit would be "a disaster", so I'm not entirely sure what degree of consensus reality we share, but it was an interesting angle to see.
I'm surprised more people haven't thought this way. If Brexit was confirmed by a second referendum and that referendum was run more fairly than the first one with greater oversight of funding and advertising in both camps, then I wouldn't like the result, I'd be worried about the result and its consequences, but I would shut up about the subject because it'd evidently be what the British people want, for good or ill.

As things stand, there are enough question-marks hanging over the 2016 referendum to keep people like me banging the drum for either a second vote or Remain. There was the dodgy Banks money, the racist and inaccurate scaremongering about Turkey's EU accession (as if that's going to happen under Erdogan), the out-and-out lying over NHS funding. I distinctly remember radio news bulletins during the 2016 campaign about specific policies (stuff to do with hospital parking charges and weekly bin collections!) that Vote Leave would bring in "should they win the referendum", as if they were a political party campaigning to form a government rather than a campaign on a single-issue vote. It was poorly planned and poorly run and a second vote would seem to be the best way to put it to bed one way or the other.

The problem with Brexit when compared to similar 'shock' votes for populists in other countries is that, for example, the 45th US President can be voted out after four years should the people of that country decide they've had enough of him and they can choose to take a different path going forward. With Brexit, once it's been pushed through it's very difficult to get back into the EU, we live with the consequences for the foreseeable future. Both are serious issues that are affecting people right now and into the future, but Brexit has lifelong consequences for an entire country. Brexit can't be voted out of office if we get fed up of it after a few years. That's why we need an emergency stop button should we wish, now that we know what Brexit really means.

When you delete a file on your computer, the computer asks if you're sure and to click OK if you still want to do it. If we're going to delete the future of millions of our young people, we should also have to click OK.
posted by winterhill at 2:28 AM on January 20 [14 favorites]


Having said all that, general election right now, no thanks.

Brexit is hanging like a fog over all British politics at present. Any general election in the next couple of months would be completely clouded by that single issue. We can't have an election to choose a government that's based on one issue when the government we elect will have to deal with many, many other issues that the country will continue to face long after Brexit is done with one way or the other.

Instead of a general election, let's have a single issue vote to put Brexit to bed and then, with Brexit out of the way, decide as a country what direction we want to go in with regard to all other social, economic and political issues. We cannot carry on defining ourselves as Remain or Leave for years to come. It's already gone on too long and we've already lost enough valuable time.
posted by winterhill at 4:11 AM on January 20 [6 favorites]


Having said all that, general election right now, no thanks.
At present No 10 seems to be saying to MPs "You had better not put forward a bill to extend or revoke Article 50".

Let's assume MPs pay no head to this warning and that an amendment to delay or cancel A50 gets proposed and approved. That seems pretty plausible on a current numbers game - then we would be left with a government which has no majority, which has had its flagship deal rejected and which has had its flagship event cancelled. That is the time to think about a general election.
posted by rongorongo at 5:38 AM on January 20 [2 favorites]


But what good does extending A50 do? Remember that this requires approval of the EU 27 (i.e. every single member state, not just the dictators at the EU commission.)
At the moment, it looks like the EU 27 might agree to extending it up to the end of June, but not any longer, because then the newly elected EU parliament will convene. Anything else will be extremely difficult to get through without a specific plan. So let's say, the EU 27 give you time until June 30 instead of March 29. THEN WHAT?

Also, I'm not sure that another referendum is a good idea. If we've learned one thing from this whole mess, it's that binding referendums are a really bad idea. The result we have here is a PM and a majority of government ministers that are forced to implement something that, deep in their heart, they are against (although they do a good job hiding that at the moment). No wonder, they bungled the whole thing. Instead, elect your representatives to decide these issues.

I think that's also the reason why TM is so vehemently against a second referendum - and I think in this particular case she's right.

So my prediction is TM calling a general election early next week, possibly together with asking the EU 27 to delay A50. That wouldn't lead to any new options for the UK - if Labour thinks they can negotiate a new deal that is substantially different from what's on the table, then they are deluded, which is of course entirely possible. So the options will still be (a) No deal, (b) TM's deal and (c) no Brexit. TM's deal was destroyed so utterly that it seems impossible to get through even on a second or third try. That leaves no deal and no Brexit on the table, and at this stage, my money is still on no deal.
THat's just a figure of speech - I haven't put any ACTUAL money on no deal.
posted by sour cream at 6:02 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that another referendum is a good idea.

Me either, but I think it is the least worst idea.

If there is an election before we leave the EU, it will be 90% about if / how to leave—in other words a proxy referendum. Except that both main parties will be trying to sell the electorate a pig in a poke. Labour will do everything they can to maintain the ambiguity of their policy so as to maximise their vote. The Conservatives will (I assume) offer May's plan, but voters will know that her plan has minority support even within her own party. May has also said publicly that she will step down as PM after she gets us out of the EU—so Conservatives would be asking people to vote for an unknown Prime Minister to negotiate out future relationship with the EU. Most of the likely replacements for May are professing very different views on that relationship to her.

How would a voter even indicate their preferred direction of travel (let alone a particular preferred outcome) when confronted with that nightmare choice?
posted by dudleian at 6:30 AM on January 20 [5 favorites]


I suspect there is no way May is going to call a general election. She already made that mistake once, she won't do it again. She is doomed in the medium term, and won't want to make the medium term even shorter.

A general election at this point will just lead to another hung parliament, which will either be the Conservatives getting back in bed with the DUP or Labour with the SNP + Lib Dems + other smaller parties / independents. If *that* happens May will probably have to resign. Both cases won't lead to progression in the Brexit deal stalemate as both major parties will spout the "we must honour the results of the referendum" line, but will be in a position where their confidence and supply / coalition partners will say "no, we don't agree to those terms".

In fact, it could lead to a much more varied distribution of seats as the SNP / Lib Dems are likely to campaign on a promise of "No, no Brexit" because they have nothing to lose and a lot of support to gain. The Conservatives will be "Yes, full Brexit", whereas Labour will be "Yes, but not full Brexit".

The only other alternative is no deal. The EU will absolutely not compromise on the freedom of movement issue, so any deal that affects that will not pass. The Swiss couldn't do it, the UK will not be able to either.

If there's one good thing to come out of this it is that the future of British politics is going to be massively fragmented, leading to more coalitions and an end to single party politics. A process that started with the 2010 election. That's a very good thing IMO.
posted by lawrencium at 6:38 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


A general election right now is almost the nightmare scenario. The timing is incredibly tight if Parliament is to decide anything before March 29th and prevent default no-deal Brexit, or Fuck Me Harder Brexit as I prefer to think of it. The true nightmare scenario is calling a general election where the election date is after March 29th, with no Article 50 extension.

On preview, sour cream, I'm going to have to disagree with your statement about binding referendums. You can't have binding referendums in the UK, for one thing. Parliament is always sovereign, and constitutionally it's impossible for a referendum result to bind or constrain the workings of Parliament.

The Brexit referendum was merely a political device that Cameron was forced into to prevent Tory voters migrating to UKIP, and hopefully getting the Tory Euroskeptics to shut up for another few years. There was never any serious consideration of the consequences of the referendum result being Leave, because it was thought to be impossible. The result is that there was no provision for a realistic threshold that would clearly indicate the settled will of the people, eg, the 40% electorate threshold in the 1979 Scottish Devolution Referendum. The entire thing was believed to be a risk-free device with no downsides. Of course, it's easy to play political games with the future of the UK and people's lives if you were born into immense wealth and privilege and there's no realistic personal impact. I don't think the lesson here is as simple as 'no referendums', perhaps it's that you need to be more grown-up about it.

On further preview, Brexit was already a proxy referendum.
posted by daveje at 6:40 AM on January 20 [6 favorites]


How would a voter even indicate their preferred direction of travel (let alone a particular preferred outcome) when confronted with that nightmare choice?

Voters could vote for parties and candidates that are clearly pro-Remain. If this issue is really regarded as so important as you say, then that should make a real difference. And if voters keep voting for pro-Brexit parties, well, then they cannot really complain if that’s what they‘re gonna get.

On preview: Yes, the referendum was not binding in theory, but all parties treat it as binding, so for all practical purposes it can be regraded as binding.
posted by sour cream at 7:00 AM on January 20


Interesting Twitter thread about Leave's dirty secret - that it was apparent since long before the referendum that as soon as you looked at the details of leaving, support shatters. Hence No Deal is the "this is too hard to think about" default, er, backstop...
posted by Devonian at 7:37 AM on January 20 [10 favorites]


if Labour thinks they can negotiate a new deal that is substantially different from what's on the table, then they are deluded, which is of course entirely possible

The potential for a different deal might arise from Labour not having May's red lines, opening up the possibility for staying in the customs union, etc.

The key problem with calling a GE seems to me to be that it would take us to within 2 weeks of the currently set date for Brexit.
posted by biffa at 7:43 AM on January 20


I'm not sure that another referendum is a good idea. If we've learned one thing from this whole mess, it's that binding referendums are a really bad idea. The result we have here is a PM and a majority of government ministers that are forced to implement something that, deep in their heart, they are against (although they do a good job hiding that at the moment).

If there is a 2nd referendum (and TM doesn't do a Cameron and just disappear leaving the mess behind) would she be back arguing for Remain? I hadn't thought of it in this way before but that in itself is a huge reason for the Tories not to have a 2nd referendum as they are all over the place on this.
posted by toamouse at 7:51 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Voters could vote for parties and candidates that are clearly pro-Remain. If this issue is really regarded as so important as you say, then that should make a real difference. And if voters keep voting for pro-Brexit parties, well, then they cannot really complain if that’s what they‘re gonna get.

In the last general election my constituency was faced with the choice of a pro-Brexit Labour MP or a Lib Dem who had some decent momentum. The Corbyn bounce right before the election meant that voting Labour was the only real option to try to contribute to removing the Tories from power.

This led to the pro-Brexit Labour MP being returned with a bigger majority than before and contributed to Theresa May being able to say '80% of the electorate voted for pro-Brexit parties'.

FPTP sucks as does Labour's non-position on Brexit.
posted by toamouse at 7:58 AM on January 20 [9 favorites]


I also voted Labour in the last GE as the best option to remove the sitting Tory. Failing a commitment to avoid Brexit it's not a mistake I will make a second time.
posted by biffa at 8:05 AM on January 20 [6 favorites]


Voters could vote for parties and candidates that are clearly pro-Remain

That's not how a first past the post Westminster style democracy works, and any reasonable person knows that. I have no idea what your agenda is, but it's clearly based around making us Brits understand how completely fucked we are. We already know that, though, and we'd quite like a rest from being told.
posted by ambrosen at 8:22 AM on January 20 [11 favorites]


[One deleted. Don't hang out here just to post little needling comments for no particular reason. This is a massively frustrating and painful issue and folks have been doing a good job of holding it together. Please respect that, and go elsewhere to be pointlessly snide.]
posted by taz (staff) at 10:55 AM on January 20 [10 favorites]


... and I have a Labour candidate who has been really pro-Remain, and I'm inclined to reward her having that good record even without the considerable risk of allowing a Brexiteer Tory in. The division along party lines is bad enough by seemingly barely existing on this issue, even without FPTP often necessitating tactical voting. There's even a small handful of Tory MPs I'd consider voting for if they were up against a pro-Brexit Labour MP in the right circumstances (or... wrong circumstances I guess) - and I'd never have thought a few years back I could have been in the position of contemplating that.

Voting intentions by party on a national scale mean very little as far as I'm concerned at the present time.
posted by edd at 11:19 AM on January 20


Ed Stern on Twitter: OK, I don't want to boast, but I've cracked it. Brexit. The whole thing We need a deal with the EU that respects the result of the first referendum and can secure enough votes from all parties to pass through both Houses of Parliament. And I've worked it all out. A sensible compromise. A way out of this mess. I call it #Brexitit. 1/n.
posted by Lanark at 12:32 PM on January 20 [11 favorites]


One problem with the original vote was the lack of any clarity on what voting for Brexit actually meant in practice because there wasn't any sort of clear plan associated with voting "leave", still less any thought-through details.

In effect we were offered a choice between "more of the same" vs some slick marketing and nationalist fantasies.

Even assuming a second vote were possible, which seems unlikely, it's not obvious that the choices would be any more attractive the second time round.
posted by Caractacus at 1:48 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]




Even assuming a second vote were possible, which seems unlikely, it's not obvious that the choices would be any more attractive the second time round.

Below is a summary of the options, but I don't see how they could be summarised into a Yes/No referendum:
                                           | Remaining in EU | Hard Brexit (no deal) | May's Deal | Norway type deal
Retain Freedom of Movement 1)              | Yes             | No                    | No         | Yes             
Remain in the customs union                | Yes             | No                    | No         | No              
Single Market 2)                           | Yes             | No                    | No         | Yes             
Independent World Trade agreements?        | No              | Yes                   | No         | Yes             
Hard border in Ireland                     | No              | Yes                   | No         | Yes             
Pay WTO import & export taxes (10%-35%)    | No              | Yes                   | No         | No              
1) FOM = free movement of goods, services, people and capital.
2) access to the single market requires freedom of movement.
posted by Lanark at 3:29 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


Every cloud has a silver lining, and it's an ill wind that blows nobody good. If there's something positive that can come out of this whole omnishambles, it's that the Tory Party simply can't continue in its current form. Never forget that Theresa May's prime objective, even more than delivering "the will of the people", is to prevent a split in her party. There's a fundamental divide between the pragmatic Tories who want to keep close ties with the EU, and the pack of insane nutters who want to burn the whole thing down. And whatever outcome is conjured up, there's no way to bridge the gap.
posted by daveje at 3:29 PM on January 20


One problem with the original vote was the lack of any clarity on what voting for Brexit actually meant in practice because there wasn't any sort of clear plan associated with voting "leave", still less any thought-through details.


This is by design, because any plausible Brexit plan is harmful or impossible once you look at the details. Therefore, to get through, details were scrupulously avoided. Any objections to Brexit practicalities were waved away as 'simple to fix' or 'missing the point', without specificity. Or a problem could be countered by saying, say, 'look at Norway', and when problems with Norway were brought up, saying 'Ah, but look at Canada'.

Such nonsense doesn't survive contact with reality, of course, which is where we're at now.
posted by Devonian at 4:11 PM on January 20 [9 favorites]


Even if the UK were able to get a "Canada"-style trade deal, there's a big difference between the two countries: Canada's one of the world's top 5 agri-food exporters. We've got resources that other countries want, and lots of them. The UK imports food, has virtually no lumber to export, and no minerals and precious metals.

So yeah, Canada might be kind of a resource-exploitation economy, but we got 'em.
posted by scruss at 6:25 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Any objections to Brexit practicalities were waved away as 'simple to fix' or 'missing the point', without specificity. Or a problem could be countered by saying, say, 'look at Norway', and when problems with Norway were brought up, saying 'Ah, but look at Canada'.

Most of the time, they didn't bother with anything as involved as that. They'd just chant "project fear" as is it were a prayer. Hell, people were doing it on mefi.
posted by Dysk at 6:28 PM on January 20 [13 favorites]


Below is a summary of the options

There is no Norway type option. No deal that the EU agrees to will have a hard border in Ireland.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:46 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


TBH it would just be easier for May to let NI go
posted by scruss at 9:12 PM on January 20


Isn't there a risk that abandoning NI would trigger renewed conflict? Let alone the fact that May would automatically lose her majority if she tried it, which makes the whole thing pointless from her perspective.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:09 PM on January 20


She can't "let NI go" as she is necessarily committed to the Union - any tiny hint that she was thinking of this and she'd be out of office faster than a banker on a Friday afternoon.

There is a chain of events where Brexit forces the change in circumstances which under the GFA trigger an all-Ireland referendum on reunification, and while the savvy Irish political types i know don't think there's much chance at the moment that there'd be a yes in NI for that, they also say the situation is so fucked up that who can tell what the precise circumstances would be.

Plus, the knock-on effect on Scottish indy would be dramatic.

Today's unicorns: there can be a bilateral agreement with Ireland (no there can't); there can be a change in the backstop conditions (there can't); the 'cross-party talks' which actually mean internal Tory party talks will move the needle because there might be a post-Withdrawal Bill political settlement that obviates the need for the backstop (the latter is true, but it doesn't mean the former)... and that's as far as May is going - ie, nowhere.
posted by Devonian at 11:50 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


>> if Labour thinks they can negotiate a new deal that is substantially different from what's on the table, then they are deluded, which is of course entirely possible

> The potential for a different deal might arise from Labour not having May's red lines, opening up the possibility for staying in the customs union, etc.


OK, I think there are so many misconceptions about May's deal that it's worth recapping what it's actually all about. To summarize, like the name says, it's a withdrawal agremment that lays down the terms on which the UK withdraws from the EU. But it doesn't make any (binding) commitments for the future. The main points are:

- Britain’s financial settlement with the EU to meet agreed commitments.
- The post-Brexit rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens on the continent.
- A transition period during which the future relationship can be negotiated.
- A mechanism to prevent a “hard border” on the island of Ireland.

The first three points are not really contentious (except among hard-core Brexiteers) and at least Labor is on board with them. The sticking point is the last one. What it boils down to is an agreement that there will never be a hard border in Ireland. Those who voted against it essentially said, no, we want to keep the option of a hard border in Ireland open. Now, Labor said that it voted against the deal because "it looks unlikely to support jobs and the economy or guarantee standards and protections." But that makes little sense if you think about it. If standards and protections ensured by the withdrawal agremment are insufficient, what's keeping the UK from implementing farther reaching standards and protections? As for supporting jobs and economy, that will depend mostly on the future relationship with the EU, which is not what this withdrawal agreement is about. (Yes, there are 7 pages withe general guidelines on the future relationship, but none of them binding.) As for staying in the customs union, that is not something that is taken off the table by the withdrawal agreement but subject to the negotiations during the transition period.

So again, what would Labor change about the withdrawal agreement if it could? I haven't heard any concrete proposals and if anything it is Jeremy Corbyn who should get the Nebulous Award, not May who is at least backing something specific.

It seems that Labor didn't back TM's deal for one reason only: To score petty party politics points.
posted by sour cream at 12:06 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


My recollection is that Labour put forward a whole series of quite specific parliamentary amendments to May's Brexit proposals, they've also been quite clear about why they're not accepting May's withdrawal agreement.

See e.g. Theresa May's Failed Brexit Deal - Labour statement (with references)
posted by Caractacus at 12:32 AM on January 21


If standards and protections ensured by the withdrawal agremment are insufficient, what's keeping the UK from implementing farther reaching standards and protections?

Yeah, for a single market across Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland, the standards need to be the same.

Not disputing that Corbyn's "reservations" about the EU are bullshit, though.
posted by ambrosen at 12:35 AM on January 21


See e.g. Theresa May's Failed Brexit Deal - Labour statement (with references)

I might be a little dense here, but all I see here is a list of what Labour doesn't want and why. More specifically, their unicornesque six tests that are simply irreconcilable with Brexit.

What do they actually want?
As in, proposals that can actually be voted for. "Exact same benefits as in the EU" or "Jobs First Brexit" are not proposals that you can have a meaningful vote on.
posted by sour cream at 12:44 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


She can't "let NI go" as she is necessarily committed to the Union

There is another solution - as described here - which would involve letting both NI and Scotland remain in the EU while England and Wales exits. The necessary hard border would then be between Scotland and England (much shorter, with many fewer crossing points and not a political time bomb). Scotland and Northern Ireland could both stay part of the UK (if they wished) but they would be part of a joint and separate trading agreement from the rest of the realm. The arrangement meets May's red lines, avoids breaking the GFA by putting a hard border in Ireland, provides better democratic representation to the nation and province that voted to remain and would - according to the polling cited in the linked article - be OK from the point of view of most Scots and English. It would even be a better deal for the DUP then May's current proposal.

It will, of course, never happen. But it is worth thinking about before claiming that there is no possible Brexit solution which meets May's red lines.
posted by rongorongo at 1:16 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


They'd just chant "project fear" as is it were a prayer.
Going back a bit (as is oft remarked here and in TrumpLand, months = years) but seeing Iain And Duncan Smith insist he'd never used the expression "No Deal" on the back of him himself plus his Breggles buddies spending years explicitly pushing the idea and phrase was quite honestly something else. Literally nothing that comes from these poor sad scared bastards is worth consideration.

Bill Cash probably said a thing once in 1992 maybe. He doubtless mouthed out approximately the exact same words in 2019 and it's a fair bet they were equally empty and worthless then.

Hey Redwood, tell me more about 1995 and Hootie And The Blowfish.

They all know they're yesterday's men twice over (both in the '90s and now) and that's why they're so keen to capitalise this pseudo-democratic fuckupportunity.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 1:21 AM on January 21


Just got sent this amusing column on the whole debacle.

Might be time for a new post, this thread's getting pretty big.
posted by rory at 2:09 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Hey Redwood, tell me more about 1995 and Hootie And The Blowfish.

I can tell you that Hootie And The Blowfish were never really significant in UK music, in 1995 or at any other time. Redwood was more of a Lightning Seeds man.
posted by biffa at 2:21 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


There is another solution - as described here - which would involve letting both NI and Scotland remain in the EU while England and Wales exits. The necessary hard border would then be between Scotland and England (much shorter, with many fewer crossing points and not a political time bomb). Scotland and Northern Ireland could both stay part of the UK (if they wished) but they would be part of a joint and separate trading agreement from the rest of the realm. The arrangement meets May's red lines, avoids breaking the GFA by putting a hard border in Ireland

This was sort of the EU and May's approach for NI pre Dec 2017. (but not Scotland, as she appears to think of Scotland as about as self-determining as an english county, and as unimportant as any other non-tory voting area).

Not that NI would remain fully part of the EU, but would retain the areas of the customs union and single market necessary for the GFA without wider free movement (Irish/UK citizens would continue to be able to move back and forth under the common travel area) which given it split up the 4 freedoms was a substantial concession from the EU's point of view. It would have meant a partial customs barrier in the Irish sea though (with checks taking place at warehouses pre shipping), along with NI under some different goods rules than the wider UK. The DUP threw a shitfit at that, and threatened to withdraw their confidence and supply arrangement with the tories. That would of course bring down the government - last week's confidence vote, if the DUP had voted the other way they would have lost by 1. The DUP simply will not accept anything that moves them away from the mainland and towards Ireland.

Most of 2018 was spent trying to find an alternative backstop solution that the DUP, May and EU could accept, with of course the crash-out brexit supporters not wanting any backstop at all, until they finally managed it with the withdrawal agreement. And here we are again, on the same battle we've spent 12 months on that the EU will categorically not shift any further on and won't even re-open discussion on. Yet of course, the suicide squad argue we just need to shout louder at the EU, or do a bilateral deal with Ireland (not even legally possible, even if Ireland were interested, which they aren't), or magic technology fairies, or whatever.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 2:21 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


@davidallengreen:
Downing St Plans
A. Win meaningful vote
B. Wooden rabbit
C. Wooden badger
D. A cunning one
E. Three tunnels, Tom, Dick and Harry
F. Under vaulting horse
G. Mary Poppins to keep on turning back Big Ben on 28 March
H. Hitch lift on passing Vogon spaceship
I. Go to The Winchester
Needless to say, these are all terrible plans.
posted by pharm at 2:41 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Downing St Plans
Ah yes - The Celestial Brexit of Benevolent Knowledge. But we must add mermaids!
posted by rongorongo at 2:49 AM on January 21


Concur with rory, good time for a new thread. New chapter is about to start today with May's alleged Plan B.
posted by daveje at 2:56 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


The potential for a different deal might arise from Labour not having May's red lines, opening up the possibility for staying in the customs union, etc.

OK, I think there are so many misconceptions about May's deal that it's worth recapping what it's actually all about. To summarize, like the name says, it's a withdrawal agremment that lays down the terms on which the UK withdraws from the EU. But it doesn't make any (binding) commitments for the future.
As per my previous comments, I'm not defending Labour's Brexit 'policy' and I agree that people do tend to unhelpfully conflate the Withdrawal Agreement with the future trading relationship. However, I think you've gone too far in the other direction; much of the scope and shape of the WA is a result of May's red lines and approach to the negotiations.

Remember that the EU only insisted that the withdrawal agreement be legally binding because the Minister for Brexit and chief UK negotiator described it as just a 'statement of intent'. Had freedom of movement not been ruled out in Lancaster House, we could be moving towards staying in the single market and customs union, removing the risk of a hard border and the need for a backstop. The splitting of goods and services for NI in the WA is also a very May-ish approach to delivering what she sees as Brexit. Hell, had Article 50 been invoked only when there was cabinet and government consensus on the direction of Brexit, the UK would have been able to speedily arrange a WA and make significant inroads into the trade negotiations before the end of the two years.

I'm not pretending May was temperamentally and politically able to behave other than she did. But where we are now with the WA is not an inevitable consequence of the Brexit vote, it's the result of unintelligible goals, myopic tactics and incompetent negotiation.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:00 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


Concur with rory, good time for a new thread. New chapter is about to start today with May's alleged Plan B.

I'm on it.
posted by rory at 3:24 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Corbyn made a huge tactical error in not accepting May's invitation to speak.

He could literally have gone over there, requested to her face that she rule out a no-deal outcome and then come away saying that he made a good-faith attempt to speak with her and put the case across but the talks were unsuccessful. That is pretty much what the Greens and Lib Dems did.

By refusing to talk with May, he's given the Conservatives a huge box of political ammunition. They can blame Labour for the failure of the cross-party Plan B approach and for any subsequent failure of the Brexit plan, be that no deal or no Brexit.

As a tactician, he would struggle to win a game of Mouse Trap.
posted by winterhill at 3:32 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I’m not really seeing what’s unrealistic about insisting on preserving our existing employment rights, human rights and environmental as a precondition for agreeing to a Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Refusing to legislate to that effect is May’s choice.

See e.g TUC on attempts to get agreement on employment law

Indy reporting May refusing Labour amendment to keep human rights laws
posted by Caractacus at 3:42 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I think demanding that no deal is ruled out is just another fantasy. It's a meaningless distraction.
Sounds good in theory but how is it supposed to work in practice?

Let's assume that May ceremoniously rules out no deal today. Then what?
No deal is still the default that will happen if parliament cannot agree on anything else.
As should be clear by now, parliament won't agree on anything to do with Brexit anytime soon.
"But May ruled it out!" isn't going to make any difference and the UK is still out on March 29, unless there a vote passes for something.

But maybe I'm missing something. How is ruling out no deal supposed to be a meaningful proposition? How is it actually supposed to prevent no deal?
posted by sour cream at 3:45 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


New thread.
posted by rory at 4:05 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Re "ruling out no deal" - perhaps the way to try to achieve this, would be for the government to agree to pre-test the level of support for various options within parliament. For example "If the only alternative was to head for a no deal scenario would you agree to 1) Rescind A50 and schedule a second referendum, 2)Request to postpone A50 so that a people's referendum could take place... and for them to agree to proceed with any option which showed the highest level of support - rather than accept no deal -once the required deadline had arrived.

That would not work if no possible solution that would command a majority in the event of a no-deal alternative could be found - but it would be effective if it could.
posted by rongorongo at 4:05 AM on January 21


But maybe I'm missing something. How is ruling out no deal supposed to be a meaningful proposition? How is it actually supposed to prevent no deal?

The power to seek an extension to article 50 is with May - she could promise to seek one with the EU to prevent no-deal on March 29th; and should the EU not agree to one, she could commit to place a vote before Parliament to withdraw article 50 to avoid no-deal Brexit, and only re-issue it once a consensus on Brexit has been agreed with Parliament.

She won't ever agree to do it willingly because she needs the threat of intentionally blowing up the economy to try and bully soft brexiteers and remainers to agreeing to the withdrawal agreement to avoid it. Keeping her party together is the only thing that appears to matter to her. Threatening to shoot the hostages - us - is literally her only visible gameplan at this point, despite the massive loss on the meaningful vote demonstrating the folly of that approach.

The government has the whiphand when it comes to scheduling parliamentary time, thus the extraordinary measures being considered by Parliament at the moment to try and force a binding vote in Parliament on delaying/withdrawing article 50 to avoid no deal.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 4:07 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Will there be the British equivalent of milk and cookies at the end of this thread?
Someone, before we head to the ===> NEW THREAD ===> ...?
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:08 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


There is another solution

This leaves the entire UK nuclear arsenal outside the country. I don't think that's a goer.
posted by scruss at 12:55 PM on January 21


They came up with a plan to move the nukes to Plymouth/Falmouth ahead of the Scottish independence referendum, they could always dig that back out.
posted by biffa at 5:29 PM on January 21


« Older Technology, Ranked   |   On The Missing and what we choose to ignore Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments