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 (349 comments total) 59 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 [71 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 [3 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 [80 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 [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...

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 [21 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 [21 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 [16 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 [3 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 [43 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 [11 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 [26 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 [13 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 [11 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 [29 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 [13 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 [17 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 [28 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 [29 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 [38 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 [12 favorites]


Always lovely when Roderick Spode drops by a Brexit thread.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:49 PM on January 10 [18 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 [13 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 [7 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 [9 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 [23 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 [19 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 [21 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 [20 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 [19 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 [43 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 [10 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 [16 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 [11 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 [7 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 [1 favorite]


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 [10 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 [6 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 [25 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 [19 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 [5 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 [13 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 [23 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 [23 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 [4 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 [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?
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 [17 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 [6 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 [33 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 [3 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 [9 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 [34 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 [2 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 [5 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 [9 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 [18 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 [15 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 [17 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 [26 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 [27 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 [20 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 [19 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 [6 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 [29 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 [27 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 [3 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 [7 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 [19 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 [25 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 [10 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 [13 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 [19 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 [22 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 [24 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 [7 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 [1 favorite]


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 [7 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 [13 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 [1 favorite]


. 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 [10 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 [8 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 [4 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 [11 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 [21 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 [1 favorite]


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 [4 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 [2 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 [20 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 [16 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 [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.


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 [11 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 [1 favorite]


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 [8 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 [4 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 [3 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 [4 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 [2 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


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 [7 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 [7 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 [3 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 [12 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 [6 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 [3 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 [4 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 [1 favorite]


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 [5 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 [1 favorite]


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 [4 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 [4 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


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


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