“We’re just going to wing it really; there’s not much more we can do.”
February 18, 2019 2:00 AM   Subscribe

As captain May eats jam, ignores charts and monsters, and steers the 'good ship Brexit' downriver, a few Labour MPs might jump ship, possibly copied by a few Conservatives. Airbus, via Politico: “...we will have to look at future investments” and the Bank of America and German companies also paddle away (not on FlyBMI), as does Ratcliffe but not the wannabe captain. But people coming aboard may include expats with complex healthcare needs needing the NHS. A national humbling? Back on the high and ferry-free seas, Gavin's latest has displeased China and Gibralter is tense. Choppy waters, no investigation, only storm forecasts for Northern Ireland, and for Porsche-desiring MeFites. Irish Times: “...we can also glimpse an image of ourselves no longer ruling the waves.” (title) posted by Wordshore (546 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
Guardian Liveblog of the Labour splitters(?) press conference.
posted by PenDevil at 2:11 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


I bought triple the dried pasta and canned tomatoes during the food shop Sunday morning, as much because I expect others will be doing the same as we head into March and I don't want to be left behind as because I actually fear food shortages.

It's Britain in 2019 and I'm stockpiling. I cannot put into words my disgust at the ill-considered, frivolous, and egotistical decisions taken to bring us here, from Cameron to Johnson to May to Rees-fucking-Mogg.
posted by humuhumu at 2:17 AM on February 18 [52 favorites]


Seven ex-Labour MPs have formed a new organisation - The Independent Group.
posted by PenDevil at 2:18 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


It's Britain in 2019 and I'm stockpiling.

I totally know how you feel. A few weeks ago, for the first time, I said to my husband "I think we seriously need to start stocking up on tinned food." Not in a hahaha or an eye-rolly or a crazed endtimes way, but in a matter-of-fact way, and that was what made it feel so scary.
posted by billiebee at 2:21 AM on February 18 [16 favorites]


The Independent Group:

- Chuka Umunna (Streatham)
- Mike Gapes (Ilford South)
- Luciana Berger (Liverpool Wavertree)
- Ann Coffey (Stockport)
- Chris Leslie (Nottingham East)
- Gavin Shuker (Luton South)
- Angela Smith (Penistone & Stocksbridge)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:22 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


David Lammy must really be hoping that Corbyn is going to cave in on that 2nd referendum.
posted by PenDevil at 2:28 AM on February 18


Honestly every time I turn on the radio these days it’s like some kind of waking nightmare. What the hell is even happening?
posted by Happy Dave at 2:33 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


🎵 39 Days until Brexit! 😬
posted by adrianhon at 2:41 AM on February 18 [8 favorites]


From the wing it title article:

That said, U.K. exporters face a potentially significant benefit in a no-deal Brexit scenario if the pound depreciates further, which would make their goods more attractive for foreign buyers, said Sean Ramsden, chief executive of Ramsden International, which wholesales British products worldwide.

“There’s an element of insurance there,” Ramsden said. “While some markets may be slightly more challenging, it could be more than offset by our products being cheaper around the world.”


Pretty cold comfort there. Exporters counting on a crash of the pound to help them out once the dust settles. Who knows how long that settling will take after a hard Brexit? Really reconsidering my planned (first! it's been something I've been waiting for for a long time) trip to the UK in late July.
posted by Gotanda at 2:41 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


People have said the falling pound would be a benefit of Brexit, but it went from about $1.50 to $1.30 and I don't believe that an export-related boom occurred. I believe a part of the problem is that much of our exports require a lot of imports, so it's more of a wash than you'd think. Perhaps it's different with services and tourism.
posted by adrianhon at 2:45 AM on February 18 [13 favorites]


I've just looked up the ones I didn't know, so for anyone else, Wikipedia links:

Mike Gapes - very experienced MP, lots of international work, apparently did a speech about Baileys and Brexit which I missed.

Gavin Shuker - 2010 vintage, Christian, abstained from voting on same-sex marriage, believes in faith healing, has been no-confidenced by his CLP, also has some international experience.

And the others

Angela Smith
Ann Coffey
Chris Leslie
Chuka Umunna
Luciana Berger
posted by paduasoy at 2:49 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


The collapse of BMI is a huge blow to the East Midlands (regional Leave vote: almost 59%). Its hub airport had just announced an expansion, which must now be in doubt.

A webcomic response to Brexit.

#PutItToThePeople March, Saturday March 23rd, London.
posted by rory at 2:51 AM on February 18 [10 favorites]


@jimwaterson [media editor @ the grauniad]: The BBC News feed of the Labour splitter press conference seems to have someone on the audio track mumbling commentary over the top. Someone just said "this is mad" and added "not going to lie, between this and Brexit we're fucked."
posted by Buntix at 3:14 AM on February 18 [17 favorites]


I missed this too:

"Some in Labour appear to be goading the grouping to split. On Thursday, Momentum released a spoof Valentine’s Day video aimed at Umunna, set to the song Please Don’t Go. It urged him to stay in the party, but concluded: “If you go we’re keeping the house xxx.”"

Guardian

Where are the adults who are supposed to be in charge?
posted by paduasoy at 3:15 AM on February 18 [18 favorites]


Politico.eu: Theresa May Sets Course for Brexit Disaster—The UK prime minister appears to be betting on a deal at the very last minute.
One senior Conservative MP said the PM is walking into the same trap she set for herself at the Salzburg meeting, and that colleagues have learned the wrong lesson from the euro crisis and the EU's treatment of Greece.

“There’s a constant theme here,” the MP said. “Every single Brexiteer says the same thing — 'the EU bailed out the Greeks, they will move at the death.' But, no, they f**king didn’t move for the Greeks. The Greeks got an even worse deal. There’s a real danger here that we are going to walk into the room with the same demands and get the same result.”
Someone on the internets neatly described May’s negotiation tactics with the EU as someone trying play chicken with a parked car.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:18 AM on February 18 [59 favorites]


(FPP theme inspired by the deluded wetherspoonist on a radio call-in show this morning who insisted that "Britannia still rules the waves")
posted by Wordshore at 3:26 AM on February 18 [10 favorites]


"Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, we’ll keep the red flag flying here."
Young Labour

Honestly, how did things get this shit?
posted by vacapinta at 3:27 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


"Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, we’ll keep the red flag flying here."
Young Labour


"Come join us in a rousing chorus of the Internationale!"
posted by Dysk at 3:33 AM on February 18 [39 favorites]


Some in Labour appear to be goading the grouping to split.

ah yes, the time-honoured approach of "fall into line or fuck off, you traitor, you Blairite, you right-winger, you don't belong in Labour anyway, you're not really one of us, we won't miss you, just fuck off now - HEY WAIT A MINUTE HOW DARE YOU LEAVE?"
posted by Catseye at 3:50 AM on February 18 [32 favorites]


Laurie Penny explains Brexit in just one sentence:

"The Tories sold out the British people and then made the mistake of giving them one real chance to make their feelings known – and, well, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like David Cameron’s face."

Read the whole article here.
posted by Termite at 4:08 AM on February 18 [39 favorites]


That explains how it got tabled in the first place. Doesn't explain why Labour decided they'd jump on that bandwagon with gleeful abandon, despite the obvious issues. The Tories being craven and insane is not sufficient explanation for how we reached this point. Labour have been the same.
posted by Dysk at 4:11 AM on February 18 [10 favorites]


The public explanation is that Labour is worried about leave voting Labour constituencies in the north, although with the continued Brexit omnishambles whether those constituencies would continue to vote leave is up for vigorous debate.

Privately,it's because Corbyn is as much a Brexiter as Rees-Mogg.
posted by PenDevil at 4:16 AM on February 18 [16 favorites]


The public explanation is that Labour is worried about leave voting Labour constituencies in the north,

This explanation doesn't really hold - they're unconcerned by remain voting Labour constituencies in the south and Scotland, but for some reason the concerns in the north are sacrosanct?

Privately,it's because Corbyn is as much a Brexiter as Rees-Mogg.

This at least makes sense.
posted by Dysk at 4:22 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


The Independent Group's twitter account
Their website is down at the moment - obviously didn't tell their hoster to expect some hammer this morning.
The press conference was odd - no Gang of Four / Limehouse Declaration that's for certain - lots of talk of personal values and history but nothing on actual concrete plans - it was 'We have a website! Send us money, policies and a party structure, please!'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:31 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


I feel sorry for Luciana Berger, who clearly wanted to make a principled point, because many of the other quotes from that press conference ("We back well-regulated business", "not every problem in the world has been created by the West", "oppressor and oppressed, class enemies [...] The modern world is more complicated") demonstrate that a lot of this is just Blairites hooking their bruised egos to whatever bandwagon they can find (remember when Chuka Umunna said Labour needed to be on the side of those who were "creating wealth and doing the right thing"?).

He and Chris Leslie at least were likely to be (democractically) deselected by their constituency parties at the next election, so I guess they figured jumping would get them more attention than being pushed.
posted by aihal at 4:33 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


I've relatives who have filled all the kitchen cupboards and are currently clearing out the under the stairs for the food storage overflow.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:34 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


ill-considered, frivolous, and egotistical decisions taken to bring us here, from Cameron to Johnson to May to Rees-fucking-Mogg

Rees-Fucking-Mogg's decisions are hardly frivolous or ill-considered. He's going to make an absolute bomb, come April.
posted by pompomtom at 4:35 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Mike Gapes - Most well know for being wined and dined by Saudi Arabia.
Gavin Shuker - Threatened to quite if Labour whipped pro-Gay Marriage
Angela Smith - Opposed to water nationalisation. Also, works for private water companies.
Ann Coffey - Seems pretty decent from what I can tell.
Chris Leslie - Lost a no confidence vote by his CLP
Chuka Umunna - "We should sacrifice single market membership in order to end freedom of movement"
Luciana Berger - Local CLP claim she was parachuted in as candidate against their wishes.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:38 AM on February 18 [13 favorites]


Also worth noting that "The Independent Group" are not a political party. They're a company which appears to be (at least 75% if not more) owned by Gavin Shuker according to companies house.
They are supposedly an organisation to support independent MPs.
They are not required to disclose funding in the same way a political party would be.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:41 AM on February 18 [11 favorites]


Berger has also been the recipient of some amazingly vicious antisemitic attacks, including from people associated with her own CLP IIRC.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:43 AM on February 18 [12 favorites]


"Ideology: Centerism... Colours: Grey" The Independent Group on wikipedia
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:45 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


I got an 800 word Twitter DM from my Constituency Labour Party which attempted to explain why they were totally behind Corbyn's Brexit, and it seemed to boil down to that. And there was a lot of stuff that felt pretty "Comrade Corbyn must be obeyed" about their justifications.

They'd entered into DMs with me because I was trying to critique their extremely urgent "Buses Must Be Nationalised" campaigning to the needs of Bath, where they are stirring up resentment of First Bus which, OK, but really the problem is that there's no appetite for any restrictions on car access.

Somewhere during that discussion, I asked if the person tweeting was even local, and they didn't deny it, but suddenly I started getting nasty arguments on a 3 day old tweet, and that's where I think they got rattled and

TL;DR - I think the local Labour parties have been completely taken over by Momentum where it comes to online presence.
posted by ambrosen at 4:46 AM on February 18 [14 favorites]


She has indeed.
She has extremely just reasons for not being a member of a party that would subject her to that, if she believes that it's institutional wthin the party.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:46 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


Berger has also been the recipient of some amazingly vicious antisemitic attacks, including from people associated with her own CLP IIRC.

You do recall correctly.

I'm hugely saddened by the Labour split in general, but Luciana Berger has put up with so much shit over so long that I would not have blamed her at all if her speech at the press conference had been limited to "fuck off the lot of you." Good for her for continuing to stand up for her principles, in the face of what she undoubtedly knows is going to be even more of this piled on in spades.
posted by Catseye at 4:48 AM on February 18 [14 favorites]


"The Tories sold out the British people and then made the mistake of giving them one real chance to make their feelings known"

Apart from every GE. She desperately wants it to be about Austerity, and I've no doubt that was another log on the fire, but she's not making a great case.
posted by Leon at 4:54 AM on February 18


Berger has been the subject of horrible anti-semitic attacks and she displayed a bizarre lack of knowledge about Liverpool when she came up in 2010. I'm from the Wirral, I didn't spend a lot of time in Liverpool, but it's pretty odd that she didn't know who Bill Shankly was. After the Beatles, it's hard to think of a more famous local.

However, MPs have been parachuted into seats since time immemorial and you've got to wonder (well, not really) why the reaction was so bad in her case.
posted by adrianhon at 4:58 AM on February 18 [7 favorites]


Not sure what I'm even allowed to say anymore, but as far as I can tell from the list of how Labour MPs voted on article 50: Chuka Umunna and Ann Coffey voted to issue it, Mike Gapes and Luciana Berger voted against it, and the other three were either absent or abstained.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:27 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


@jimwaterson [media editor @ the grauniad]: The BBC News feed of the Labour splitter press conference seems to have someone on the audio track mumbling commentary over the top. Someone just said "this is mad" and added "not going to lie, between this and Brexit we're fucked."


Waterson's got some more info on the unintended commentary here.
posted by Paul Slade at 5:39 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


As far as I can tell by looking at that list, Ann Coffey is listed under "against"?
posted by Dysk at 5:39 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Off to a great start with Angela Smith on TV this morning saying racism isn't "just about being black or a funny tin... Uh.. different uh from the bme community"
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:40 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


So, let’s say there’s a delay to Article 50 or the Withdrawal Agreement gets passed but without the ERG’s support. Do we think there’s any chance the ERG splits off to join the Brexit Party to force a harder Brexit, or will they forever be Tories?
posted by adrianhon at 5:45 AM on February 18


Do we think there’s any chance the ERG splits off to join the Brexit Party to force a harder Brexit, or will they forever be Tories?

May sure seems to be acting as if she thinks they will.
posted by Dysk at 5:46 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


There must be some good news somewhere, surely? How about trade talks with Japan, a major trading partner oh...
posted by Wordshore at 5:49 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


There are reportedly parties being formed to campaign for the European elections assuming the UK hasn't left by then. There seems to be some collaboration between the ERG and elements of the old UKIP party to form a Brexit campaign, and it wouldn't surprise me if they form a national party in the event of a snap election.

In short, cripes.
posted by Eleven at 5:51 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


Favourite tweet so far on this shitshow: Can I be the first person to name the new centrist party the Blair Rich Project?
posted by ellieBOA at 6:01 AM on February 18 [16 favorites]


The shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, posted on Facebook:

If you criticise or abuse these individuals, if you impugn their motives, and if you encourage any others to join them, you are helping them not hurting them, because you are taking your eyes off the prize and allowing our movement to be distracted and divided, which is exactly what they want.

The only thing that anyone should do in response to the action of these MPs today is to respectfully and politely ask them a simple question: Do they intend to put up candidates in Labour-Tory marginals, and split the Labour vote?
posted by lalochezia at 6:06 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Off to a great start with Angela Smith on TV this morning saying racism isn't "just about being black or a funny tin... Uh.. different uh from the bme community"
She was my MP for a few years and 'ineffectual' would be the kindest word to describe her approach to the job.

You'd never see her at local party meetings, local events, she never held a surgery. Her website was perpetually "last updated" around the time of the last election. She's one of those MPs you only ever hear from when she wants your vote so that she can carry on with her comfortable lifestyle. She employs her husband as an adviser on £40k.

In any case, her seat is about to be abolished in the latest round of boundary changes, so make of that what you will.
posted by winterhill at 6:08 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


I can see the headlines now, "Thrifty May Keeps Minifridge Full of Insulin, Scolds Others For Not Thinking Ahead".
posted by lucidium at 6:10 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Honda is closing Swindon.
posted by pharm at 6:16 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


Penistone and Stocksbridge never made any sense as a seat.

Penistone is a rural backwater, a one-horse town dominated by the grey vote and a rare Tory stronghold in South Yorkshire. Stocksbridge is a Labour town, a centre for steel making. It's slightly larger than Penistone which is why the seat is Labour.

There isn't even a direct road connection between the two towns, and one sits within Barnsley while the other is part of Sheffield. In four years living in Penistone I think I visited Stocksbridge once. I visited Leeds more often. They have little in common and it's a seat which is rightfully disappearing along with its pointless MP.
posted by winterhill at 6:18 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Honda is planning to close Swindon in 2022, which gives them plenty of time to grind out more concessions from whatever party is running Bartertown between now and then and cancel the closure. 'Taking back control' I think is what they called it.
posted by PenDevil at 6:21 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


Stages of Brexit consequences:
  1. Project Fear
  2. Nothing to do with Brexit <--- Honda is closing Swindon.
  3. A price worth paying
posted by Busy Old Fool at 6:25 AM on February 18 [13 favorites]




Meanwhile, in Scotland...

He admits that in their desire to create a broad new coalition of support they even entertained the idea of asking Ruth Davidson, the popular leader of the Scottish Tories, to lead the new movement. Davidson, who is on maternity leave, doesn’t look favorably on the suggestion.

There is no clear space for a new centrist party in Scotland
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:42 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


This is just coming from an American, but this entire thing just boggles me. Is there a reason why both parties seem to lack any kind of leadership? Everytime I hear them on the radio or see them nothing they say seems to match up to any type of coherent plan. I don't like Mitch McConnell, but he has (devious) plans. Every time someone asks a British politician what the plan is, they say the equivalent of "we're going to have rainbows and unicorns and eat ice cream for breakfast every day!". That's not a fucking plan! Even building a giant wall between the US and Mexico is a plan.

I keep looking around for the adults in the room.

Meanwhile the bureaucratic class is drawing up documents for x number of months of food and water stockpiles and using the army to enforce order.
posted by zabuni at 6:51 AM on February 18 [26 favorites]




This is just coming from an American, but this entire thing just boggles me. Is there a reason why both parties seem to lack any kind of leadership?
It's what you get in a culture that values class markers over talent. When the higher echelons of most fields - politics, media, business, the arts - are packed with people made 'successful' because they went to the right school or had the right parents, this is what you end up with.

The people deciding who gets to be successful tend to have that British habit of picking people who look and speak and act just like them. So you get the children of the privileged, the people whose parents can afford to have them do unpaid internships in London, the people whose main qualification is that they're loud and confident and posh rather than because they have any innate talent. That's basically what Oxbridge teaches you - the confidence to go into any room and bullshit your way in.

If one good thing is going to come out of this mess, it's the fact that people in Britain and overseas can now see our political and media and business elites for what they are - Tim Nice-But-Dim characters with no idea what they're doing but a lot of different ways of bullshitting and blagging it. By recognising that, we can start to work towards changing it.
posted by winterhill at 7:01 AM on February 18 [46 favorites]


Apart from every GE. She desperately wants it to be about Austerity, and I've no doubt that was another log on the fire, but she's not making a great case.

That’s an interesting point. How many GEs would you say were relevant? Since we’re talking about austerity, I’d say only two: 2010 and 2015.

2010: Austerity had just been started by Brown, in response to the GFC nearly sinking the British economy, the nationalisation of the banks etc. Labour had been in power for 13 years, with Blair clinging on to become the UK’s longest-serving PM by a significant margin, becoming increasingly odd at the same time. Two years into the previous term, he’d stepped down, eventually fulfilling his end of the Granita bargain and handing over power to the significantly less-charismatic Brown. The Tories had a new leader, Cameron, who was in looks, attitude and soft neoliberal policies, very similar to the young Blair. He’ll move his party to the centre! The heir to Blair! Etc. Even with Cameron at the helm and the Westminster system in place (expressly designed to award one party a majority and prevent hung parliaments), the result was a hung parliament. The Lib-Dems allied with the Tories, promising to get through proportional representation as part of their Faustian bargain (they didn’t). The coalition proceeded to enact a right-wing Tory agenda, including massively increased austerity under Osborne, wildly exceeding Thatcher’s attacks on the state.

2015: Austerity had been in place for about five years. Real wages and living standards had been in decline since the crisis, so more like seven or eight years. Labour was led by Ed Milliband, a thoughtful, likeable but underconfident politician who Britain’s broadly rightwing press absolutely monstered. Cameron expected another hung parliament and coalition, and was willing to write a hard-right fever dream of a manifesto to keep the eldritch horror wing of his party onside, in the expectation that it would be moderated by the eventual coalition partner. This included the referendum promise. In the event, the Lib-Dem vote collapsed and the party was all but wiped out, and Scotland went almost entirely for the SNP. This handed the Tories a respectable majority (the majority that May would squander a couple of years later). Cameron still thought that he could heal Tory party divisions while winning the referendum, and went ahead with the vote - the rest is [unpleasant, recent] history.

I should note that the Tories won the largest share of the popular vote in both of those elections. It’s instructive to look at the totals: In 2010, Tories 10.7m, Labour 8.6m, LD 6.8m. Whereas in 2015, Tories 11.3m, Labour 9.3m, LD 2.4, SNP 1.5.

So 2010-2015, the Tories increased their vote by 0.6m, and Labour increased theirs by 0.7m (a larger percentage swing, of course, as they were coming from behind). That resulted in a net gain of 24 seats for the Tories, and a net loss of 26 seats for Labour.

I’m very sympathetic to the austerity story, and I think that the Tories hold a lot of the blame for the result, as they enthusiatically implemented the policy for purely ideological reasons. I also don’t think that you can dismiss its effects just by pointing towards Tory election victories - this is our version of “what’s the matter with Kansas”, in that plenty of Tory voters have been conditioned to see their immiseration not as a consequence of the policies that they explicitly voted for, but rather because of the scourge of The Immigrants coming over and Taking The Jobs. As my use of the word “conditioned” implies, I also hold a lot of blame for the UK’s press - all of it, including the purportedly leftwing parts - and of course the elderly, poorly educated racists who cast their votes. They don’t get a pass on the individual level.

But I think that one very important and often-overlooked aspect of the Brexit vote is the lack of representative democracy in the UK: the rise of third-parties as a political force, the failure of the Lib-Dems to institute PR, the lack of meaningful opportunities for political participation between GEs, and the perception that the Westminster system, designed for another age and a relatively cosy elite consensus, is nowadays returning baffling and unjust results. If your vote means nothing outside of a swing constituency, your MP will ignore you 90% of the time, and the national vote will hand the winner of the popular vote a completely random amount of power, there’s a strong sense that your vote doesn’t really matter much, and that you may as well treat it with the seriousness it deserves. That “voting doesn’t change anything” attitude, alongside a slightly contradictory sense that this was a chance to wave an unambiguous two-fingers at those in power, all of whom came out for “more of the same”, alongside the laughable lack of rigour in the implementation of the vote itself, all probably contributed to the eventual result.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:10 AM on February 18 [44 favorites]


That's not a fucking plan! Even building a giant wall between the US and Mexico is a plan.

Any plan that has any chance of actually being delivered is going to either a) be Brexit-in-name-only or b) is going to shaft the UK economy for the next 5-10 years. Neither party is willing to be honest about this, because the population is pretty much split down the middle & remains so. Both parties are terrified that if they’re honest about the situation they will immediately alienate half their voters (which half depends on which direction). Hence the never ending sequence of promises of unicorns and rainbows - much easier to simply dissemble & not commit to anything specific if at all possible.

Of course, now the chickens are coming home to roost, this suspension of disbelief is getting a bit harder to maintain, even with the backing of the rabidly pro-Brexit press.
posted by pharm at 7:11 AM on February 18 [15 favorites]


Is there a reason why both parties seem to lack any kind of leadership?

There’s also a specific problem at the moment that the parliamentary Labour Party is out of sync with the membership. So the Labour members appointed Corbyn as leader, but most of the PLP are more centrist, which means a whole swathe of MPs are not leftist enough to be given important jobs in the opposition. I’m not sure how many of them are towering political talents, but it does reduce the talent pool.

And Theresa May has mainly appointed committed Leavers to deliver Brexit, for obvious reasons, and by definition they are a load of chancers and fantasists.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 7:17 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


I was just listening to an episode of The Kitchen Cabinet from Swindon that spent a big chunk of the episode talking about the Honda plant, and how both communities have come to learn about each other, Swindon was exposed to Japanese cuisine...it was a really nice story.
posted by PussKillian at 7:21 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Is there a reason why both parties seem to lack any kind of leadership?

to expand on what winterhill said above

PPE: the Oxford degree that runs Britain

An enormous number of MPs now, on either side, came up through the PPE, working in a think-tank / as an assistant to another to another MP, then become an MP themselves without having the life experience of working in local politics, business or other non-political organisations
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:28 AM on February 18 [16 favorites]


PPE: the Oxford degree that runs Britain

I read that as “PPE: the Oxford degree that ruins Britain” and was nodding along in agreement.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:37 AM on February 18 [31 favorites]


PPE is a disgrace.

This is also a relatively recent shift. Back in the 90s or earlier both major parties had large numbers of MPs with real-world experience of one form or another. In the Labour party they might have come up through the unions or local government. The Tories likewise had members who had actually run real companies. This domination by the Spads & lightweights is a something that started to become noteworthy in the 90s IIRC, but has got progressively worse over time.
posted by pharm at 7:38 AM on February 18 [10 favorites]


Who needs Honda anyway...

@RichChappo: I reckon that with enough jolly old British pluck and a stiff upper lip, you could resurrect the Austin Allegro.
posted by Wordshore at 7:48 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


This is also a relatively recent shift. Back in the 90s or earlier both major parties had large numbers of MPs with real-world experience of one form or another.

Reminder that John Major left school with three O-levels, never went to university, and worked in banking, insurance and local government before becoming a Tory MP. I may have mentioned this before, but it’s kind of amazing to me (a left-of-Labour voter) that he would turn out to have been the best prime minister of my lifetime.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:52 AM on February 18 [19 favorites]


> Even building a giant wall between the US and Mexico is a plan.

The wall is actually a perfect analogy for Brexit. Key parts of the plan were clearly fantasy from the beginning ("and Mexico will pay for it"). The people making the promises need cooperation from other groups to fulfill them, but lack the political acumen to make that happen. And anything that does get delivered will bear little resemblance to what was promised.

But it doesn't matter in either case, because neither campaign was actually pitching a plan. What they offered was a way for voters to blame all their problems on foreigners and non-white people.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:54 AM on February 18 [48 favorites]


Blair clinging on to become the UK’s longest-serving PM by a significant margin,

Longest serving Labour PM. He didn't even last as long as Thatcher.
posted by biffa at 8:04 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


The PPE is an interesting factor.

When I started uni, I was doing a degree called a Bachelor of Political Economic and Social Sciences, a BPESS. It was directly modeled on the world-famous PPE.

I dropped out after a year to a regular arts degree. I'm told that the BPESS is the second-most dropped degree at my uni.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 8:47 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


The intriguingly unusual structure of the Independent Group:
If you want an example of UK electoral law loopholes: The Independent Group, which looks/swims/quacks a lot like a political party and is asking for donations, is actually a private company. So it isn't subject to electoral law rules requiring them to declare financial backers.
posted by acb at 9:00 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Doesn't explain why Labour decided they'd jump on that bandwagon with gleeful abandon, despite the obvious issues.

Because, like every other political party they accepted the result of a democratically held referendum.

Labour has had a consistent line on brexit from the start: campaigned against it, but accepted the vote had gone for it, kept as its first priority to get the Tories out of power, because, well, the UK has had bigger problems than brexit (100,000 disabled people dying from lack of money frex), second priority only commit to a brexit that fits its six tests.

It shifted policy slightly at the last conference to accept a second referendum as an option if getting the Tories out of power wasn't feasible.

Labour has had some victories in parliament on Brexit, though these have been mostly tactical. Not helping is that the supposedly anti-brexit parties like the Libdems or some of Corbyn's critics have either abstained or voted against Labour proposals.

But the rock on which it has broken time and again is that Tories will always choose being in power over the good of the country, even if that means a no deal brexit if that palates the ERG swivel eyed wingnuts. There has been no significant Tory rebellion, no matter how much socalled moderate tories said all the right things, they still voted party first, country second.

Meanwhile most of the press is in the pocket of the same people who want brexit and even the supposed remainers are more interested in putting the boot into Jeremy Corbyn because anything even vaguely socialist is far more dangerous than allowing the tories to ruin the country.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:03 AM on February 18 [17 favorites]


> I’d say only two: 2010 and 2015.

chappell, ambrose: I'd say 2015 and 2017. As you point out, although there were plenty of op-eds in 2010 there wasn't enough time for it to have really bitten at a personal level. By 2015 many more people had Austerity Anecdotes.
posted by Leon at 9:12 AM on February 18


well, the UK has had bigger problems than brexit [...]

I think this part remains to be seen. I suspect Brexit will bring misery of a scale not yet seriously contemplated. Brexit is turning into the UK's miniature, fast-forward version of climate change.

Every step of the way, the reality has been even worse than the most pessimistic "reasonable" predictions.

Jeremy Corbyn continues to be Farage and Rees-Mogg's useful idiot. They want a whiter, more feudal Britain free from all that messy EU multiculturalism and regulation. He wants a glorious white-socialist Britain free from all that messy EU neoliberalism. 100,000 disabled people dying from lack of money? I got a fiver riding on the balkanization and privatization of the NHS, and the UK's glorious new American-style health extortion system, to the tune of millions dying and going into bankruptcy for lack of health care. For starters.
posted by tclark at 9:15 AM on February 18 [34 favorites]


Because, like every other political party they accepted the result of a democratically held referendum.

Sure, if you disregard the lies (how much to the NHS again?) and ongoing criminal convictions and investigations into the Leave campaign.
posted by PenDevil at 9:27 AM on February 18 [19 favorites]


Favourite tweet so far on this shitshow: Can I be the first person to name the new centrist party the Blair Rich Project?

ugh. Yes you can, 'Rachael' Swindon if this is indeed your real name, but could you and your Momentum buddies maybe at least consider just for a tiny minute here that effectively shouting "and STAY gone, traitors!" at the backs of any MP you consider insufficiently loyal to Corbyn is not what's going to win you hearts and minds in the wider electorate?

I am somewhere to the left of current Labour, politically (based on their last manifesto that is). I marched against the Iraq war, I still think Blair should be in the Hague. But FFS even I can see that making 'Blairite!' a synonym for 'enemy of us and all that we stand for' is stupid, because it means you can't point to your own party's track record in things like getting elected, or running a government at a vaguely acceptable level of competence, or having successful policies which delivered on things people cared about. The Labour activist WhatsApp group might not have the nuance to say "well, New Labour were kind of shit on PFI and illegal wars, but they were great at bringing down child poverty and homelessness and delivering devolution and Sure Start and improved NHS funding, so I'd take them over the current [government/opposition] any day", but the country does. And did, which is why New Labour actually won several elections.

Labour currently can't get ahead in the polls when facing the most incompetent Tory government of most people's lifetimes, possibly ever. It is facing one of the biggest challenges in recent political history and has spent two and a half years producing nothing more than waffle as a response. And now a number of its MPs have left, for reasons which may be good or may be ill but still as stated include problems which Labour actually has - incoherence on Brexit, not taking antisemitism seriously - and which a number of its past and potential voters are aware of and concerned about. If Labour can't come up with a response on this beyond "we must tighten up the ideological purity of the circular firing squads!" they're sunk.
posted by Catseye at 9:27 AM on February 18 [46 favorites]


From the US, the labor/left Brexit position seems really worrying because I don't see how it could work. In theory, it sounds pretty good, but with the actual alignment of forces I don't see how anyone is going to come out of this well except the Tories, and only the rich ones there.

There's obviously going to be a financial disaster post-Brexit (or at least, I haven't read anyone who has a plausible case for there not being a financial disaster) and even in the most optimistic scenario that will wildly limit what Labour can do - it seems pretty unlikely that everyone will just, eg, guillotine May and Rees-Mogg, take over the army and establish the soviets, and that seems like the only way to make sure that the hardship is, at least, shared out equally. (And substantial, immediate hardship but shared equally isn't actually that thrilling in any case.)

Left Brexit just seems like a fantasy to me - a nicer fantasy than most of the ones that are motivating everyone right now, but no more likely than "our problems are foreigners taking the jobs".

This whole era is one of fantasies being used to mobilize people because the actual problems we face are so large and terrifying. On the right, the fantasies are used to hide corruption and inequality; on the left, they're used to make things seem easy and likely when they're extraordinarily difficult and precarious.
posted by Frowner at 9:41 AM on February 18 [31 favorites]


Corbyn is fully expecting a Brexit disaster, he just believes that means he will win the next GE as people punish the Tories at the polls and can then build socialist Britain without any EU encumbrance.
posted by PenDevil at 9:57 AM on February 18 [11 favorites]


Disaster socialism!

For some reason that prospect doesn't fill me with hope.
posted by asok at 10:08 AM on February 18 [14 favorites]


Disaster socialism seems like a reasonable enough thing, as long as you're fairly sure that you'll actually get socialism and not just disaster. I know that government powers work differently in the US and the UK, but wasn't it pretty difficult to build the whole UK welfare state in the first place even right after the war, after mass mobilizations, after austerity v.1, after all the organizing in the thirties?

I'd always understood that a lot of the more conservative aspects of things like unemployment benefits and pensions had to be thrown in to get cooperation from the more conservative end of Labour and the opposition, right? And it always seemed like it wasn't just wartime austerity which gave rise to the welfare state; it was the long-time organizing and deep bench of radicals in Labour, plus the specific cultural climate of the war period and the fact that everyone was pretty used to the government assuming very large powers in re jobs and food and so on. I know that from the outside it's virtually impossible to judge stuff like that, but the conditions seem pretty different to me.
posted by Frowner at 10:13 AM on February 18 [13 favorites]


@TechnicallyRon:

The year is 2054. An A-Level politics class begin their new subject. British politics 2015-2019. The teacher starts downing vodka. The students begin to scream. One gets a nosebleed. Another hurls themselves out of the fire escape. One student calls 999.
posted by Wordshore at 10:17 AM on February 18 [23 favorites]


Not helping is that the supposedly anti-brexit parties like the Libdems or some of Corbyn's critics have either abstained or voted against Labour proposals.

For at least one of these votes, Labour announced they were going to abstain, then changed their minds at the last minute & decided to try and ambush the government. Which vote they naturally lost because various MPs (including a bunch of LibDems) had decided that since Labour weren’t going to do anything there really wasn't much point in sticking around when they had better things to do with their time than stay late in the Commons for yet another futile vote.

Naturally the Corbynites decided that this was yet another example of LibDem perfidity, rather than blame their own lack of competence.
posted by pharm at 10:22 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


Well, I am by no means an expert, but this cantankerous man makes a good case that the NHS would have been set up regardless of which party was in power after the war. It was a cross party project which started decades earlier. It was mentioned by Churchill in a speech in 1943, for example.
Make of that what you will, but it doesn't bode well for the socialist agenda.
So a labour party with a small majority would be unlikely to get anything through, while the country is falling apart around them. They would be in for one term.

Also, fuck them and their anti immigrant, anti EU citizen stance. They remind me of Bernie Sanders' lack of understanding of intersectionality. Using Brexit as a tool is as sociopathic as the ERG. Put Lammy at the helm and they have my attention.
posted by asok at 10:27 AM on February 18 [13 favorites]


Fucking hell. I helped build the Honda plant in Swindon, pouring concrete for the floors back in 1989.

The car industry then was just recovering from the 1970s and early 80s, back when British cars were a joke. Now it's one of the few successes in UK manufacturing, with high paid jobs and world-class products. Honda Swindon exported 90% of their output. Now they've been fucked, for no good reason.

3,600 jobs to be lost, all because the Tories decided to tear the country apart.
posted by happyinmotion at 10:42 AM on February 18 [44 favorites]


I don't see any way that the economy won't be damaged by Brexit, with zero deal being a total disaster. Any trade deals will be'an exercise in damage limitation'.

Expected to take 3-5 years per deal. That is the lowest estimate I have seen.

We have 90 new trade negotiators (trained at a cost of £2.6m by Deloitte). How many deals could we run concurrently?

Canada have 800, USA have 900, AFAIK. Trade organisations and countires send contingents that number in the hundreds to negotiations.

Their negotiators are seasoned professionals.

China and India have said they aren't interested.
posted by asok at 10:42 AM on February 18 [8 favorites]


It's telling that the very first tweet by Justin Tomlinson, Conservative MP for North Swindon, doesn't have a single word of sympathy for those losing their jobs. Nope, it's just arse-covering for Brexit:
@JustinTomlinson: Honda: @RobertBuckland & I have already spoken to the Business Secretary & Honda. They are clear this is based on global trends and not Brexit as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021.
Total job losses for car plant closures can be as high as four times the headline figure due to the impact on suppliers and contractors. It's not hard to imagine the knock-on effect to local businesses. 2021 is only two years away. Two years for a town of 180,000 to replace as many as 14,000 jobs.
posted by adrianhon at 10:52 AM on February 18 [13 favorites]


@JustinTomlinson: Honda: @RobertBuckland & I have already spoken to the Business Secretary & Honda. They are clear this is based on global trends and not Brexit as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021.

A little lie by omission here, this is because Swindon is Honda's only plant in the EU. Their other plants around the world will not consolidate back to Japan... for some reason.
posted by PenDevil at 11:04 AM on February 18 [14 favorites]




China and India have said they aren't interested.

As mentioned in the last thread, China broke off trade talks because the British defence secretary threatened to send an aircraft carrier to challenge Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

Quite apart from the impact on trade, British imperial fantasists seem unaware that gunboat diplomacy is ineffective against countries who have more gunboats than Britain does.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:13 AM on February 18 [16 favorites]


Disaster socialism seems like a reasonable enough thing, as long as you're fairly sure that you'll actually get socialism and not just disaster.

Dude. This is some callously sociopathic nonsense. No, the lives that will be lost and utterly changed and the trauma that will be experienced because of an unnecessary disaster are not reasonable, and positing that all of that very real human suffering, suffered, as always, by someone else, is a reasonable price to pay for socialism is really fucking wrong.

And if you follow that path, what you will wind up with will not be a socialism that actually cares about people, because the only people willing to actually do this will be ones who do not care about people.

If you get it at all, you will get the other kind.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:20 AM on February 18 [37 favorites]


Absolutely one of the weirdest facets of the US-centrism here is a bunch of non-uk residents having staggering, near-psychic levels or insight into whatever That Monster Corbyn is currently plotting. It's oddly exhausting and I'm beginning to dodge UK politics threads as a result.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:32 AM on February 18 [21 favorites]


Disaster socialism seems like a reasonable enough thing

If anti-Semitism is the Socialism of fools, then accelerationist ideology is the Socialism of barking mad lunatics.
posted by pharm at 11:37 AM on February 18 [12 favorites]


"...because of an unnecessary disaster are not reasonable"

It's "reasonable" (but very depressing) if the assumption is the disaster is inevitable, and this is the *least* damaging possibility. Not me but I can see people thinking this way. (Depresses the hell out of me sometimes).
posted by aleph at 11:43 AM on February 18


It's "reasonable" (but very depressing) if the assumption is the disaster is inevitable, and this is the *least* damaging possibility.

I think that's the assumption from many, and certainly a lot of Labour policy-makers seem to be looking to Attlee in 1945 as an example of how to build a great welfare state on the wreckage of any disaster, but I don't think it will shake out that way in practice. For one thing, 1940s Labour weren't standing for a "jobs-first Blitz".
posted by Catseye at 11:48 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


(the point I was going for was "I don't think 'disaster socialism' is even going to be possible under the best circumstances", not "this sounds great". For me, I find the whole Left Brexit thing really scary because I've really looked to UK Labour for a long time as sort of a political beacon, and it really frightens me to see people whose judgement I ordinarily would automatically trust doing something that seems absolutely impossible and irrational.)
posted by Frowner at 11:49 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


I think most people (including me) live in their own little version of Reality. And it only seems to get worse (accumulation of error?) over the years.
posted by aleph at 11:53 AM on February 18


Now [Honda]'s one of the few successes in UK manufacturing, with high paid jobs and world-class products

Up to a point. UK manufacturing was in very good health until 24th June 2016, and had been for a good 10 years or so. High skilled jobs and high quality product.
posted by ambrosen at 11:59 AM on February 18


...I picked a hell of a time to start reading JG Ballard’s High Rise, didn’t I?
posted by adrianhon at 12:07 PM on February 18 [8 favorites]


It's not the most uplifting book.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:12 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, it seems that Derek Hatton is back in the Labour Party. A boost for the minicab industry, if nothing else.
posted by Grangousier at 12:19 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


It's not the most uplifting book.

Full of useful life hacks though. You'll know how to roast a dog on your penthouse balcony at least.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 12:20 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


...I picked a hell of a time to start reading JG Ballard’s High Rise, didn’t I?

You picked a great time!

Because of the Spielberg film, Ballard’s most famous (and least Ballardian) work is “Empire of the Sun”, his mostly autobiographical novel about going from a childhood of comfortable UMC ex-pat prosperity to a life of war, loss, homelessness in the abandoned masions of a hostile foreign country, and eventual internment in a camp.

His insight from that experience - that civilisation is a sham, we’re all a gentle push from savagery, and some will enthusiastically welcome chaos and collapse - runs thickly throughout every book and story he’s ever written. There couldn’t be a better time to read a book about the British upper classes arbitrarily deciding to start murdering each other and destroying common amenities for no perceptible reason at all, while throwing any voice of reason to their death.

You ought to check out the Ben Wheatley / Amy Jump film as well, it’s really good.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 12:23 PM on February 18 [21 favorites]


Frowner - 'the whole Left Brexit thing really scary'

For me, it is the first time in my life that the prospect of a Labour government does not give me hope. How have they managed that?

Lexit never made any sense to me. There may well be a way to extract the UK from the EU, but in order to do it successfully there would need to be planning, preparation, coherence, humanity and vision. To hitch a left wing dream onto a racist, isolationalist, exceptionalist lame duck, and expect a golden egg is delusional.

I have friends (Economics graduates) who say that economics is all a fantasy and we don't need to worry about Brexit, we can just innovate some new ways to create income; crash, bubble, repeat. Not sure where people fit into that.

The Wheatley High Rise is a good crack at a Ballard adaptation. At the moment, any art I experience seems like a luxury out of sync with reality.
posted by asok at 12:40 PM on February 18 [14 favorites]


I have friends (Economics graduates) who say that economics is all a fantasy and we don't need to worry about Brexit, we can just innovate some new ways to create income; crash, bubble, repeat. Not sure where people fit into that.

It's a fairly concise definition of "technocrat," and I'm under the impression that this is still a cool thing among Econ/MBA people, and possibly STEM people as well. AKA people in the money these days.
posted by rhizome at 12:51 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


If we're talking about Ben Wheatley (and brexit), his recent bbc film "Happy New Year, Colin Burstead" (which seems to be indefinitely available on the iplayer) was pretty good, especially this exchange (at 41 minutes in) between a 40-something uncle and his teenage niece.

Uncle: What're you drinking?
Niece: Just a coke.
Uncle: Want a little bacardi in it?
Niece: Don't think dad would be very happy if you did that.
Uncle: Got yourself a boyfriend yet?
Niece: No
Uncle: No?
Niece: No
Uncle: How's school?
Niece: Brilliant. Really looking forward to the massive crash of the economy.
Uncle: Oh come on. You know I was always about... democracy. I'm the good brexit. The Tony Benn brexit.
Niece: Fuck labour and fuck the tories. Does that make it clearer for you?
posted by dng at 12:58 PM on February 18 [16 favorites]


Watson tells Corbyn he must change direction to stop Labour splitting: Deputy leader urges shadow cabinet reshuffle, saying he no longer recognises his own party
Even among those with no plans to quit, a string of Labour MPs from Yvette Cooper to Lisa Nandy publicly made clear that they wanted to see the leadership listen to the concerns raised. Watson led the campaign for a different direction, urging colleagues not to treat the departing MPs as traitors. He said Labour had been too slow to tackle complaints of antisemitism and warned that “time is short for us to confront the scale of the problem and meet the consequences, to keep others from leaving”.

“To put it mildly, we need to be kinder and gentler,” he said. “I love this party. But sometimes I no longer recognise it.”

In a fiery meeting of the parliamentary Labour party on Monday night, Ruth Smeeth, a Jewish Labour MP who intends to stay in the party, broke down in tears as she urged more action against antisemitism complaints. Lord Harris warned in the meeting that peers could also defect to the new Independent Group, which ultimately aims to become a new party.

MPs leaving the meeting said Ian Lavery, the party chair, had praised the manifesto and its popularity and vociferously denied the party was institutionally antisemitic.

Louise Ellman, another Jewish MP whose Liverpool Riverside constituency neighbours Berger’s, said the party had no comprehension of the “enormity of what has happened” on Monday. “I didn’t feel there was reflection or action at all … [Lavery] gave me no reassurance at all that the Labour party would deal with it in the proper way,” she said. “To me he [Lavery] made it worse, virtually everyone who spoke was outraged.”
posted by zachlipton at 1:15 PM on February 18 [12 favorites]


Absolutely one of the weirdest facets of the US-centrism here is a bunch of non-uk residents having staggering, near-psychic levels or insight into whatever That Monster Corbyn is currently plotting.

Some of us are from the EU and I believe we do have a right to comment on something that affects us deeply and I see no reason for this to be a UK-residents-only discussion. After all, it's my Eastern European friends and family who are often blamed for Brexit so you could say we were right there from the beginning.

Plus, a few of us have psychic powers.
posted by romanb at 1:21 PM on February 18 [28 favorites]


The Irish Times
Why is Britain turning blind eye to Leave side’s lawbreaking? Illegal fund activity linked to Brexit being ignored in belief ‘the people have spoken.
posted by adamvasco at 1:22 PM on February 18 [16 favorites]


Absolutely one of the weirdest facets of the US-centrism here is a bunch of non-uk residents having staggering, near-psychic levels or insight into whatever That Monster Corbyn is currently plotting.

It takes neither mind-reading nor clairvoyance to see that a pro-Brexit Labour leader who has decried the EU for its capitalist-friendly neoliberal tendencies and done nothing effective to rid the party of a viciously anti-semitic streak is at the same time still acting in concert, despite ideological differences, with those who put the 350 million pound per week NHS lie on the buses.

So he's either a secret collaborator or a useful idiot. Useful idiot is the kindest, most charitable interpretation of Corbyn's so-called "leadership" right now.
posted by tclark at 1:38 PM on February 18 [22 favorites]


Watson tells Corbyn he must change direction to stop Labour splitting

MeFi’s Own Tom Watson
posted by donatella at 1:46 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]




That YouTube link seems to be to some guy reading three star Yelp reviews from Boise Idaho.
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:28 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


If you mean the one just above, I got John Oliver?
posted by tavella at 6:48 PM on February 18


Geoblocked for me (Australia). Worked around via
youtube-dl --verbose --format 18 \
--proxy http://$ip:$port \
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaBQfSAVt0s
after setting ip and port from the first proxy on this list (top Google result for US proxy) with https support.
posted by flabdablet at 6:58 PM on February 18 [11 favorites]


Last Week Tonight often uses clips of Parliamentary sessions mockingly, which I understand to be against the law in the UK. Thus, for the UK market, the entire segment is often replaced by Gilbert Godfried reading something, often briefly introduced by John Oliver. .
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:02 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Seems to me that the UK Parliament has completely forfeited any justification it might once have had for the illegality of televised mockery.
posted by flabdablet at 7:06 PM on February 18 [9 favorites]


Thus, for the UK market, the entire segment is often replaced by Gilbert Godfried reading something,
This is totally awesome.
Could we take it further and suggest that the the unexpected implied space produced by the intersection of British law and a global video sharing system requires the existence of a Gilbert Godfried-like entity to fill it?
Is that the electrical feeling of a new conservation law being discovered I feel?
posted by thatwhichfalls at 7:20 PM on February 18 [8 favorites]


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXZS6glCt_o worked for me in the UK, where the original link was geo-blocked. Would have commented sooner but I was watching it.

He does a good job of setting the current situation out with a bit of humour, although I imagine an American viewer might still have to have some small familiarity with the subject (probably from watching him regularly). I liked the swears, mugs and abs, not so keen on the hole we're throwing ourselves into.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 7:23 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Honestly, I think the "best" edge case scenario I can even imagine playing out from this point is for May to pull a last-minute Cameron and quasi-legally revoke A50, kicking the ball to Someone Else's Problem for another two years of so-called Strong And Stable, but at least averting worse. Riots sure, but mostly those comfy, on-the-telly riots so easily handwaved away, as opposed to the middle classes eating their neighbours' rabbit riots otherwise. Still somehow the best case scenario, IMHO.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 7:45 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


Why is Britain turning blind eye to Leave side’s lawbreaking?

The thing is that these arguments aren't neccessarily that convincing to people outside the Remain filter bubble.

Yes, Leave did break electoral law. Remain also broke the law. In the frenzy of an election campaign, it's very common for electoral law to get broken: here's a big list from the electoral commission.

Moreover, even with the dodgy money, Remain still outspent Leave.

If you're not already a firm Remainer, the argument "Our spending advantage wasn't as massive as we deserved, and the same shit happened as every other election" isn't as persuasive as you might think.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:22 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


If you ignore the meat of the malfeasance, it is indeed quite simple to dismiss. Just like it's easy to dismiss the supply chain complications caused by a sudden departure from the single market if you point to other countries having functioning supply chains and dismiss the years of effort involved in making them operate with the speed and efficiency they have.

(The royal you, not the individual you)

The militantly nonplussed who insist that the country will be fine even if there is some temporary chaos strike me as being very much like the people who insist that climate change doesn't matter because the Earth will be fine. They may be technically correct, but they are ignoring the real harm that will come to real people in the meantime.

It's frankly quite amazing that we have managed to get to a point where the accelerationist pricks are going to get what they want without any active efforts on their own part. A bit more distraction and obstruction with a side of promoting no deal as unavoidable and they get what they think they want without having to take the blame.

Western society is being lost to trolling. This is the thing we can't figure out how to combat effectively. Trolls set the agenda and define the terms of debate. Trolls, for fuck's sake. Not the fucking bomb or terrorists or superintelligent AI, but trolls.
posted by wierdo at 10:41 PM on February 18 [52 favorites]


the Remain filter bubble

The difference between the Remain "filter bubble" and the Leave filter bubble is that, yes, FBPE people on Twitter are incredibly smug and everything, but there's barely any falsehoods you need to internalize in order to understand what's going on, so actually, it's not a filter bubble.

With Leave, it's a pure edifice of lies and wishful thinking, so that's why it feels like you have to buy into a perspective.

In terms of electoral malfeasance, Leave continually lied, and deliberately and carefully structured its spending in order to hide where its money was coming from and also to hide the lies it was telling to some people from any external media correction.

So yes, in an ideal acceptable world, Leave would have been properly prosecuted for their undermining of the democratic process. I agree that focusing too much on shutting that stable door after the horse has bolted is a tactical error, though.

But explaining this at length and both-sidesing it sounds a lot like concern trolling on behalf of Leave, and has been for a long while.

And I can't understand for a second why someone I've been acquainted with for such a long time and seems to think things through deeply and carefully would ever be pro Leave.
posted by ambrosen at 11:26 PM on February 18 [8 favorites]


Seems to me that the UK Parliament has completely forfeited any justification it might once have had for the illegality of televised mockery

Well, yes, but you can't start just ignoring laws when the rationale for creating them no longer applies. And it's not as if there's a great deal of time in the UK's legislative schedule for being a normal functioning country at the moment.
posted by ambrosen at 11:39 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Well, yes, but you can't start just ignoring laws when the rationale for creating them no longer applies.

I think that's pretty common, actually.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:48 PM on February 18


"So, you're pretty hacked off today," [SLbirbsite] and just a rant, but a pretty good one from a Honda worker.
posted by Gotanda at 11:54 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


The technical term is desuetude.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:58 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


I just watched the John Oliver bit on Brexit and he describes the backstop as creating a hard border between NI and the rest of the UK. That can’t be right, can it? I thought May insisted on a version that would keep the whole of the UK in regulatory alignment with the customs union, on the insistence of the DUP.
posted by Aravis76 at 12:01 AM on February 19


The backstop avoids a hard border between NI and Ireland, at the cost of essentially separating NI from the rest of the UK, which is why some conservatives prefer a no deal brexit which would keep NI “in” the UK and impose a hard border
posted by moorooka at 12:09 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


So Corbyn is supposed to “show leadership” by declaring that the brexit referendum voters got it wrong and so the result should be ignored. That seems to be the general consensus here, but surely the reasons he does not do this are obvious - even before taking account of the strong leave vote in the very districts that labor would need to win government.

Okay have another referendum then. Maybe remain will win 52% this time instead of the other way around. Okay this time the outcome was correct so unlike the first referendum this one will be final. Unless leave win again, in which case we keep holding referendums until they don’t. It’s not like the leave camp will also refuse to accept an outcome they don’t like, will they?

The outcome is a disaster and stripping people of their EU citizenship is obscene. But the toothpaste can’t be put back in the tube.
posted by moorooka at 12:25 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


I think that's pretty common, actually.

Yeah, it's more that I'm really tired of the amount that these threads turn into people from outside the EU being all LOL-UK about things that aren't even LOL-Brexit.

We need to modify Ring Theory* a little so that we can model what people should do when we've got a couple who share a bed and one of them shit the bed and won't clean it up, so that we realise that the bed-shitter should shut up, the bed-shitted should get space to think things through, the people who are sharing the bedroom and rest of the house should be decently heard, and the 80+% of people who aren't even in the house are pretty circumspect about what they say.

Because this thread's like waking up in shit again to lots of people shouting that the UK's shit the bed.

*source cited there is GDPR-blocked, unfortunately.
posted by ambrosen at 12:38 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


I've always been against a second referendum as I think referendums are the problem to begin with.

Things Corbyn could do now that would show he is a man of principle and cares for the country:

1) Support an amendment to Revoke Article 50 if there is not a deal in place. Yes, this would take courage. Yes, some voters might feel betrayed but a man of principle would put country before party.

2) Support May's Deal. Yes, its not his deal but it delivers Brexit which is what he is supposed to help do, right? Again, put country before party politics.

Things Corbyn appears to be doing instead:

- Allowing the country to crash out which is ok as long as the Tories get blamed for it.
posted by vacapinta at 12:51 AM on February 19 [18 favorites]


So Corbyn is supposed to “show leadership” by declaring that the brexit referendum voters got it wrong and so the result should be ignored. That seems to be the general consensus here, but surely the reasons he does not do this are obvious

No frankly I don't think they are. I simply don't see what's so hard about the idea that an opposition party doesn't have to take the view of the majority of the populace, but should simply take the view of the majority of its members.
posted by edd at 12:54 AM on February 19 [10 favorites]


No frankly I don’t think they are

well maybe imagine that Remain won the referendum but the Tory government decided to leave the EU anyway
posted by moorooka at 1:00 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I like John Oliver as a person (as far as I can tell from watching him on the TV), but seeing these things he does about the UK, replete with all the tired old cliches his audience associate with the country (which, being from here, he bolsters and lends credence to), I find myself reminded of the spectacle of Lenny Henry on the Black and White Minstrel Show in the mid-70s. The actual experience of Brexit, for me, is just grinding, tedious stupidity and I no longer really get why I'm trying to work round region blocking just to see someone taking the piss out of us in what seems to be the laziest, most stereotyping way possible.

It's a fucked up situation, involving a complacent, corrupt political establishment, chancers, fascists and lots and lots of money, predicated on the fact that most people don't really know or care much beyond their own prejudices, but love chanting slogans at each other. That the UK was the first country to succumb seemed surprising, but probably wasn't. Americans should have noticed that we weren't the last, and anyone from anywhere else who thinks it won't happen to them is just deluding themselves. Stupidity metastasises fast.
posted by Grangousier at 1:00 AM on February 19 [24 favorites]


I just watched the John Oliver bit on Brexit and he describes the backstop as creating a hard border between NI and the rest of the UK. That can’t be right, can it? I thought May insisted on a version that would keep the whole of the UK in regulatory alignment with the customs union, on the insistence of the DUP.

It's sort of both. In the event no alternatives are agreed (such as the ERG's fantasy future tech or a close trade deal in 18 months) to solve the problem, the whole UK would enter in a single customs territory for basically everything with the EU, along with a bunch of safeguards to prevent standards slashing by the UK, until such time as an agreement does happen. There would also be some non-customs checks on some goods between GB and NI, as there are already some bespoke rules for things like phytosanitary checks between NI and Ireland given the amount of food that crosses the border currently that wouldn't apply to the UK as a whole.

The objection by mainstream tories is that this would be a permanent position until something better would be agreed, thus preventing the UK doing a shit trade deal with the US to privatise the NHS and import chlorinated chicken, probably forever, as it's hard to see how a solution that keeps the NI border open doesn't involve some kind of customs union for NI specifically or the UK as a whole. The DUP only want NI to be different to GB when it's them calling the shots (e.g. abortion) so the non-customs checks are enough to get them to veto it.

The ERG just object because they want a crash-out Brexit by any means, so will torpedo any actual deal. Yet it looks like May is willing to try anything to avoid them splitting the party, so thus pretending she's having real discussions with the EU over changing the backstop, when in reality the UK is floating absolutely no actual ideas because they don't have any that haven't already been rejected a million times as unworkable bullshit and crash-out brexit is all that's left unless Parliament suddenly discovers a backbone in the next couple of weeks.

So Corbyn is supposed to “show leadership” by declaring that the brexit referendum voters got it wrong and so the result should be ignored.

It's hardly been ignored, we've spent nearly 3 tortuous years trying to come up with a Brexit that doesn't totally fuck Northern Ireland. The idea is that people couldn't possibly know what Brexit would actually look like until a deal had been done. Now we do, and the question is 'is this still what you want?' Democracy didn't end in 2016.

Regardless of anyone's personal position, it's Labour party policy as passed at conference to keep a 2nd referendum on the table when trying to get a GE has failed. 2/3 of labour voters supported remain, around 90% of members want to remain. The vast majority of the PLP want to remain. Polling shows facilitating Brexit will cause a huge loss of Labour voters, including the big wave of younger voters that backed Corbyn in the first place - leading to losing a lot more seats than they save from trying to be tory-lite on Brexit. Corbyn was all about representing what the membership want - except on Brexit, it appears.

I'm not a massive fan of a 2nd ref, but I simply do not see how May can be forced by Parliament to just revoke article 50 with the current arithmetic. Passing her deal but subject to a referendum is something that could pass.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 1:01 AM on February 19 [24 favorites]


well maybe imagine that Remain won the referendum but the Tory government decided to leave the EU anyway
The referendum and committing to follow the result were Tory policy. It's not a good analogy.
posted by edd at 1:03 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Western society is being lost to trolling. This is the thing we can't figure out how to combat effectively. Trolls set the agenda and define the terms of debate. Trolls, for fuck's sake. Not the fucking bomb or terrorists or superintelligent AI, but trolls.

There is a commonly accepted notion that democracy is superior to authoritarianism. The thinking is that democracy, with human rights, respect for the individual, free flow of ideas etc. leads to a stronger society, with a stronger economy. And there was ample evidence for this: Two world wars can be viewed as fights of democracies against authoritarianism (democracy won) - the USSR lost the cold war, because it could not keep up with capitalism - one Eastern European country after the other turned into a democracy (or at least something like it). That is in a nutshell the basic thesis of Fukuyama's "End of History" (although the unfortunate title has often be understood).

In fact, the commonly accepted wisdom was that it is just a matter of time until ALL authoritarian regimes turn into democracies. North Korea and Cuba are evidently on the brink of their demise. As for China, well, we'd just have to wait long enough until democracy wins there as well.

This notion is so strong, so ingrained in us all that we do not question the superiority of democracy. That is why the "will of the people" is regarded as sacrosanct. Because disregarding the "will of the people" is equivalent to denying the basic consensus on which Western society is built. If you go against the "will of the people", you are moving from the democracy camp to the authoritarian camp, you are going against human rights, rule of law etc.

But what we are seeing now is that this thesis of democracy's superiority may be incorrect. That is, maybe democracies aren't more stable after all, because, every once in a while, the people will vote for burning it all down, scrapping all international contracts, and going to war with reality. Whether they were goaded on by trolls or just for the lullz of it.

Meanwhle China is doing fine even without democracy, thank you very much. Singapore, which is hailed by some as a model for a UK, is governed by an authoritarian one-party regime and is closer to China than to Wetern-style democracies. (I don't know whether Fox etc. know this - I somehow doubt it in view of their general cluelessness.)

Or maybe the truth is that there is no ultimately stable political model. Democracies florish for a few hundred years and then are brought down by trolls, complacency or whatever. And authoritarian regimes florish until a Nero comes along who decides to burn it all down.
posted by sour cream at 1:03 AM on February 19 [7 favorites]


My counterclaim:

Democracies cannot rely on sane populations. Autocracies cannot rely on sane autocrats.

That said, statistically you are more likely to get an insane autocrat than an entire insane population, so democracies are more likely to correct themselves afterwards. Also, crucially, you can get rid of the government if/when things are clearly going terribly.
posted by jaduncan at 1:13 AM on February 19 [16 favorites]


imagine that Remain won the referendum but the Tory government decided to leave the EU anyway

Imagine the EU having requirements that a country can only leave by democratic consensus which would be pretty obviously not present. Or, if that's too real, imagine the Tories trying to agree on Brexit without even the fig leaf of "but we MUST follow the will of the people!".
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:16 AM on February 19


Imagine the EU having requirements that a country can only leave by democratic consensus which would be pretty obviously not present.
I'm aware I'm now arguing on the side of an analogy I've already said I hold as bad, but decisions by a democratically elected parliament are democratic decisions.
posted by edd at 1:19 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


Western society is being lost to trolling

As long as democracies of any form have existed, people have complained about the influence of Demagogues and Agitators and now Trolls who are leading the good-hearted but gullible masses to have incorrect opinions. It's easier to blame sinister figures with malevolent mind-bending powers than wonder why your campaign wasn't effective.

Since the Eastern European nations joined the EU, immigration has risen substantially. A majority of British voters want to reduce immigration and a large number consider it an important issue. You can say the public have the wrong goals, but given the goals that they actually have, Brexit was a logical way of achieving them.

The original Remain campaign made a big long-term mistake in predicting huge economic consequences immediately after the vote of an instant recession and massive rise in unemployment. Outside the Remain filter bubble those predictions were resoundingly mocked. As a result, lots of people outside the Remain filter bubble now don't believe the warnings about No Deal, even though this time the warnings are correct. They made the mistake of lying in a way that was bound to be caught out in a short, specific timeframe.

It's not necessary to posit any novel or sinister influences to understand what happened. Leave ran a better campaign than Remain, in order to deliver a goal that the majority of voters wanted.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:23 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


Leave also were very successful at working within the electoral constrains they had. They had a campaign which deliberately didn’t get into specific details, didn’t need to produce any kind of comprehensive plan for a post-Brexit U.K., didn’t have to tie anything to the legislature in any kind of binding way, didn’t get anywhere near the kind of media scrutiny that major constitutional changes really need, and ran the whole thing in an amazingly short space of time, even without saving up their big social media pushes for the end of the campaign.

I absolutely think that’s anti-democratic and shouldn’t be happening. But. None of it required breaking the law, all of it was achievable within the constraints already set for them. They can hardly be condemned for making full use of all tools at their disposal and doing a better job of it than Remain.

It’s the main reason that I don’t think another referendum is the way out of this mess. We don’t have the time, and we clearly don’t have the political will, to get through the legislative changes needed to make referendums actually work sensibly within the electoral system we’ve got. Plus, this particular issue is now so bogged down in Us vs Them that I don’t know how you even could drag it back into the land of boring detail; even May seemed to think she could run the whole EU negotiation process like she was trying to win over the Daily Mail letters page.
posted by Catseye at 1:54 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


Leave ran a better campaign than Remain, in order to deliver a goal that the majority of voters wanted.

Leave ran a better campaign than Remain in order to deliver a goal that the leaders of the Leave campaign wanted, which they achieved by deliberately misleading the voters regarding what leaving would achieve.

Remain failed miserably for a variety of reasons, but one of those reasons is that it’s genuinely hard to campaign against an opponent who has no long term skin in the game and doesn’t care whether they burn the polity down in order to get what they want.
posted by pharm at 2:00 AM on February 19 [24 favorites]


moorooka: If you think those are the arguments that groups like People's Vote are using for a second referendum then you're mistaken – especially now we've reached a stage of proceedings where Parliament, after over two years, can't agree on what path to take forever.

I'm not sure that another referendum is the answer, but there is an argument that once an actual solid deal is on the table, then it can be fairly compared against remaining in the EU.

More broadly, the problem here is that the result of the referendum was very close. If it was 65:35 then I think those who voted for remaining would realise their cause was lost for a generation, at least. But with 52:48, one can imagine an alternate history, one with far less heat, where the government and Parliament recognised how divided the country was and tried to reach a compromise that was some kind of "soft" Brexit. But that's not our reality.

I think a particular part of the despair I'm seeing from remainers is that this referendum feels irreversible. In normal general elections where, even if you lose narrowly and the other side (in your opinion) fucks things up, at least you have another go around in a few years. But we're being explicitly told there is no changing our minds, ever – and even if we did, re-entering the EU would be an incredibly lengthy process. So it's no wonder that people hold out hope for another vote before it's really too late.
posted by adrianhon at 2:02 AM on February 19 [6 favorites]


The original Remain campaign made a big long-term mistake in predicting huge economic consequences immediately after the vote

It didn't. I know a lot of people read predictions of "brexit will cause immediate misery" as meaning immediately after the vote, but that makes no fucking sense. It seems like a deliberate misread in order to say "haha look it didn't happen". Brexit hasn't happened yet. Don't laugh at the doomsayers prematurely.
posted by Dysk at 2:03 AM on February 19 [22 favorites]


I absolutely think that’s anti-democratic and shouldn’t be happening. But. None of it required breaking the law, all of it was achievable within the constraints already set for them. They can hardly be condemned for making full use of all tools at their disposal and doing a better job of it than Remain.

You can absolutely condemn them for doing the anti-democratic thing. If the best justification you can offer for something is "it wasn't literally illegal for me to do", then it isn't actually justified. It wasn't illegal, but it was anti-democratic, toxic to society itself, and an awful, wrong, evil thing to do.
posted by Dysk at 2:06 AM on February 19 [12 favorites]


...and it consequently undermines the legitimacy of the result. Not legally, I know, but in every other sense.
posted by Dysk at 2:07 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Those interested in the future of democracy and authoritarianism might enjoy How Democracy Ends by David Runciman (host of the Talking Politics podcast, amongst other things). It's a surprisingly wide-ranging and far-reaching book, and also very accessible.

His main thesis is that democracies have lost the capacity to reinvigorate themselves, to expand the franchise, and to expand the benefits they provide to citizens. Here's a good review on the Guardian.
posted by adrianhon at 2:07 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


One big reason a lot of people see immigration as a problem is agitation from the same idiots who sell Leave as a way of making the UK great again. Reality is that all of Europe needs immigration because the populations are getting smaller and older. The UK has a national health care service that can not run without immigrants. On the side of that infamous bus, it said Leave would bring new money to the NHS. That was more than a lie, it was a double lie, and what was needed was not only Cameron and Corbyn going out and saying loud and clear: there will not be more money for the NHS, there will be less. They should also have addressed the subtext of the whole leave campaign loud and clear and said: we cannot run the NHS or any other part of this country without immigrants. That would have been leadership, and it still can be today. But both May and Corbyn
#1 agree with the anti-immigration subtext (as if it is something one can agree or disagree with, that shows their ignorance)
#2 are cowards who could never show leadership regardless of circumstance, let alone now.

Many people who are scared of immigration and long for the old days will change their views if they learn the facts. Not all. Some are obviously hardened racists and resistent to fact. But if the majority goes for reality those people will be seen for what they are. My stepfather is learning this the hard way in his old age. He's been a casual racist for his whole life, and chosen friends to match. Now he has to hear his wife say "not you dear, you're one of the good ones", and live with it (hearing himself echoed, as that is something he has said to people tons of times). But it doesn't have to be that hard. I've attended a people's assembly on healthcare once, and it was an amazing experience. I think that would be a good way of getting on from here. But that would need leadership, and where can that be found?
posted by mumimor at 2:11 AM on February 19 [17 favorites]


But that would need leadership, and where can that be found?

Brussels.
posted by Dysk at 2:13 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


Brussels.
Well, as I read it, Barnier is trying to mediate between May and Corbyn as we speak (write), but the Tories aren't having it: Brexit: Labour rift proves it cannot be relied on, Hunt tells EU
posted by mumimor at 2:20 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


If a competent technocrat could actually take over, rather than be stuck trying to get a bunch of tantrum-prone three-year-olds masquerading as British politicians to cooperate, that'd be grand. As it stands, I can't see anyone having much success wrangling May or Corbyn.
posted by Dysk at 2:22 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I do believe that the government had to take the referendum result and make a good effort of implementing it. There shouldn't have been a referendum, but given that there was, and given the result, they had to try it.

The position now is like we took on a dare to dive off the highest springboard, and we're standing up there noticing the lack of water in the swimming pool, and some of our friends are saying "a dare's a dare!". Whether or not it seemed like a good idea at the time, it certainly does not seem like a good idea now. Theresa May is arguing that if we don't agree to go feet-first, it'll have to be head-first. Significantly, it appears to be the position of both major parties that no information that has come to light since 2016 can be allowed to affect the decision at all. In 2016, I imagine at least a few leave voters thought there was water in the pool.

However, if the government were to take the UK side in this and revoke A50, they would be accused of ignoring the will of the people. So we need a second referendum, where at least the voters are allowed to consider evidence introduced after 2016. And if that also says leave, then we're screwed, but at least we went in head first, eyes open.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 2:42 AM on February 19 [13 favorites]


It's a choice between two well-defined options. It gets Parliament off the hook by punting it back to the people, it gives the EU a good reason for an extension, and whichever way the vote goes, May's government can claim that it has been vindicated. If the vote is for Leave and the deal, then May has conducted a successful negotiation that satisfies the will of the people. If it's Remain, then the government can claim that it's done its best, but ultimately the people decided that the best deal on offer wasn't good enough. Either way, the government can bring this to an end with some honour. The ERG won't be happy, but they can go to hell.

As for Corbyn, a second referendum leaves him with his dick hanging out. What does he campaign for? A deal that he's desperately tried to have nothing to do with, or to Remain, which he clearly doesn't want, but which the majority of the Party and the PLP supports. I've been supportive of a second referendum, but it rather depends on some sanity at the top of the Labour Party. I'm horribly afraid that a second referendum could tear the Labour Party to pieces.
posted by daveje at 3:16 AM on February 19 [11 favorites]


Or maybe the truth is that there is no ultimately stable political model. Democracies florish for a few hundred years and then are brought down by trolls, complacency or whatever. And authoritarian regimes florish until a Nero comes along who decides to burn it all down.

Or you end up with an eternal blood-soaked crapsack tyranny, where everything is half-broken in the way things are when honest communication is impossible. There are rigid, dysfunctional bureaucracies everywhere. Nothing quite works correctly. From time to time, bridges fall down, or buildings explode or whatever, and the bureaucracy responds reflexively by rounding up some convenient scapegoats, torturing them until they confess to whatever the terrorism/witchcraft analogue of the era is and executing them very publicly. Think Terry Gilliam's Brazil meets the Empire of Man.

Such a system could be depressingly stable; it has been argued that kleptocracies are self-stabilising. The public would, over generations, have assumed that this is normal, and have a reverse-cargo-cult mindset: that there is no alternative, that the world is a crapsack, the powers that be are cruel and stupid and corrupt, and it cannot be any other way; you may be arbitrarily disappeared at any moment through no fault of your own, and your fate is in the hands of the gods, and their playthings, the corrupt princelings who toy with humans' lives. That has been the mindset throughout much of human civilisation; some refer to it as the politics of eternity.
posted by acb at 3:22 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


...because like every other political party [Labour] accepted the result of a democratically held referendum. [...] only commit to a brexit that fits its six tests.

The problem with 'accepting' the result is the lack of any specifics as to what 'leave' meant. Regular people can simply 'accept' the result, but if you aspire to run the country, you are expected to have a coherent plan about how you would implement that result. The six texts are, in the words of the Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, 'bollocks' and the rest of Labour's proposals (unicorn custom CU, SM access without FoM) are pure cakism.

So Corbyn is supposed to “show leadership” by declaring that the brexit referendum voters got it wrong and so the result should be ignored.

No, Corbyn could have shown leadership by
  • insisting on impact reports for different Brexits and refusing to vote for A50 until they were released
  • leading the conversation about the trade-offs of different Brexits, as well as the full timeframes involved
  • having a realistic alternative plan for Brexit with the option open to put it to the public before implementation
  • calling for an investigation of the role of foreign influence and misuse of personal data in the campaign
This is not 'putting the boot into Jeremy Corbyn' due to a fear of socialism. This is expecting Labour to be better than the Tories. Holding Labour to a higher standard - in this case, the standard of having sensible policies and demonstrating leadership at a time of crisis.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:31 AM on February 19 [44 favorites]


Besides, they're not respecting the result. The result was very nearly a 50-50 split, marginally tilting to one side. They're not respecting that result, they're behaving as though that tilt was much sharper. The wishes of half the electorate have been effectively ignored.
posted by Grangousier at 3:38 AM on February 19 [15 favorites]


Besides, they're not respecting the result. The result was very nearly a 50-50 split, marginally tilting to one side.

I wouldn't change the house rules of my DnD group on a 52/48 vote split.
posted by PenDevil at 3:48 AM on February 19 [29 favorites]


As long as democracies of any form have existed, people have complained about the influence of Demagogues and Agitators and now Trolls who are leading the good-hearted but gullible masses to have incorrect opinions. It's easier to blame sinister figures with malevolent mind-bending powers than wonder why your campaign wasn't effective.

I gave up on sinister figures with malevolent mind-bending powers in 2005, when a reputable newspaper poll revealed that the Howard Government's newly extended anti-terrorism laws - which allow ASIO to lock up anybody they deem to be a "terrorist suspect" without charging them with any crime, and make it technically illegal for anybody to report that this has happened, either to them personally or to anybody else - had the support of roughly two thirds of Australians of voting age.

Sinister figures with malevolent mind-bending powers can certainly tip the balance in a near contest as appears to have happened in the UK, but a two thirds majority for any measure so transparently authoritarian can really only be interpreted as an innate tendency for chickens to vote for Colonel Sanders the moment somebody says Boo.

The masses are not so much gullible as fundamentally and wilfully ignorant, and cannot be relied upon to be good-hearted. Representative democracy exists exactly because direct democracy is so subject to devolving into mob rule, large and complex policy considerations being of so little interest to the overwhelming majority of people. To the extent that we care about politics at all - and most people really, really don't - we pick a side, we pick a few slogans and we treat it like a spectator sport. Reasoned argument always and everywhere comes a distant, distant second to ideological allegiance.

And we now live in an era where polls set the agenda, and elected representatives spend their entire working lives frightened out of their wits that bad polling will see them off, and are consequently unable to operate as anti-mob-rule buffers. The Australian Parliament is every bit as craven in the face of bad polling as its UK counterpart, and it's only a matter of luck for us that the issue it can't bear to deal with in anything like an adult fashion involves destroying the lives only of helpless refugees rather than those of the entire body politic.

And this is why I am so heartened by the work of John Oliver. He's an avuncular figure with benevolent mind-bending powers, and the world needs more like him.
posted by flabdablet at 3:56 AM on February 19 [13 favorites]


The usual comparison here is that if Remainers behaved the same way as Leavers have after a 52:48 vote to remain, we'd be joining the Euro and the Schengen Area, creating an EU army, etc., because clearly we'd need to enact the "will of the people", in other words, not only remaining in the EU but leading it from the front.

Which, unsurprisingly, would result in Leavers completely losing their shit.
posted by adrianhon at 3:58 AM on February 19 [16 favorites]


'The wishes of half the electorate have been effectively ignored.'

Sorry to be pedantic, but I think this is an important semantic point. It wasn't half of the electorate, it was half of those who voted. As I am sure you are aware, around 37% of the electorate voted Leave in 2016, which was around 17m people. Around 16.5m voted Remain. A significant number of those were protest votes against Tory austerity, against Cameron, perceived London bias, and people voted for a change to the status quo. I know of people in the NHS who voted Leave because of the promise of money for the NHS. Also misinformation about migrant workers and innate fear of the other played a part. Leave promised that jobs would not be effected. They could say whatever they liked, because they had no plan.

I can't imagine many people who voted to 'take back control' are feeling reassured by the behaviour of our MPs.

There may have been a very small number of well informed Leave voters, but none of the issues that they claim motivated them to vote Leave were mentioned at the time. Also, on a personal note, none of the Leave voters that I have debated with that claim democracy was their motivation are campaigners for greater democracy within the UK system. They don't admit that allowing the ERG and DUP to dictate the future of the country is undemocratic. They don't seem to understand that legislation is created by Civil Servants, that government ministers are political appointees who lack expertise in their departmental area, or that the House of Lords is undemocratic.

TheophileEscargot - 'Yes, Leave did break electoral law. Remain also broke the law'

One of these things is not like the other, as pointed out by weirdo.

As I understand it, Remain were fined for incorrect expenses returns.

Leave broke the law, spending money on Facebook adverts, who broke the law giving private data to Cambridge Analytica, who broke the law.

It really is rather remarkable how many political campaigns used Aggregate IQ, considering their website wasn't indexed by Google at the time. It could all be a coincidence, but there seems to be a link, and that link is Russian.

The recent Parliamentary inquiry into fake news highlights the shortfall between current legislation and the types of electoral malfeasance that are now possible.
posted by asok at 4:19 AM on February 19 [16 favorites]


Leave funnelled money to Aggregate IQ via poorly disguised coordinated campaigns (that link goes into a lot of detail about the convoluted arrangements). That is why fall guy Darren Grimes has been fined £22,000. Leave refused to cooperate with the Electoral Commission, but in other countries witnesses are subpoenaed.
posted by asok at 4:38 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


It wasn't half of the electorate, it was half of those who voted.

Yeah, I know, I didn't have the time to type all that. Should have said "half the vote". Probably a good habit to get into.
posted by Grangousier at 5:02 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Trolls are not shadowy figures of conspiracies, aside from the ones the Russians are paying, but those are a symptom of the illness that is our increased weakness to the technique now that information spreads so much more quickly.

What I mean is that we're being led by the nose by people who behave in literally the same way I did when I was a teenager and the Internet was a much smaller place where a couple of barely veiled shitposting Kevin Mitnick wannabes could get TPTB to do crazy shit by doing no more than fanning the flames, making sure arguments could never die and keeping the tone of discussion negative by quickly jumping in to interpret people's words in the most extreme and least charitable way possible, influencing the people who had the power to do more than be a keyboard warrior to go to and remain war with each other.

The technique certainly wasn't new even then, but its effectiveness has grown into a bigger force than even the entrenched little c conservatism necessary for any civil society thus known to humans.
posted by wierdo at 5:34 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


The excellent Flip Chart Fairy Tales on Do people want a new centrist party?:
[A recent survey] found that support for Remain has increased among Labour voters from around two-thirds at the referendum to three-quarters now.

All of which suggests that a clearer Remain stance coupled with left-wing policies might just pull off a majority for Labour. It would keep the Remainers on side and get back enough of the voters in the top left box. Another Europe’s slogan, “Love Socialism, Hate Brexit” might be the way to go.
posted by adrianhon at 7:56 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


Jamie Susskind talks about the rate at which technology is changing, versus politics and legislation in his book Future Politics (which I think I heard about here).

Another article on the Parliamentary Inquiry with a nice diagram to link to Trump campaign.

I get that we should not be dwelling on the 2016 referendum's legality, but instead looking forward to a route out of this mess. The issues raised in the report do need addressing.

Also, can Remain, or whoever, please get their social media campaign sorted? Maybe even a video or two?
posted by asok at 8:09 AM on February 19


I can't vote (anywhere at all) but what I want isn't a centrist party, it's a left wing party without the little England racism and nationalism (or tendency to appease the same, if you're being generous). If I could vote, I'd vote for a centrist party if they were against brexit though. Fuck, I'd vote for a goddamn tory with a track record of voting against brexit if the alternative was a Labour brexiteer. I know for a fact that a fuck of a lot of people would do the same.
posted by Dysk at 8:17 AM on February 19 [24 favorites]


Not the fucking bomb or terrorists or superintelligent AI, but trolls.

Wait till we have AI griefers.
posted by tclark at 8:25 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


I agree with Dysk.
posted by pharm at 8:48 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Fuck, I'd vote for a goddamn tory with a track record of voting against brexit if the alternative was a Labour brexiteer.

In 2017 I voted in the Stroud constituency (disclosure: I voted Green). The MP was Neil Carmichael, a Tory but probably one of the most ardent pro-Europeans out there. His Twitter stream is still full of Pro-EU campaigning. He was a good guy, for a Tory.

But in 2017, Neil was booted out, by like 600 votes in favour of David Drew. Drew is a Corbynite, pretty much echoing the party line: Job-First, Tory mishandling of Brexit etc. Though you will find it hard to see a mention of Brexit on his timeline, really.

Stroud voted 54.6% to Remain in the Referendum. But, yeah, Drew shouldn't abandon those Leave constituencies up in the North.
posted by vacapinta at 9:01 AM on February 19 [7 favorites]


what I want isn't a centrist party

Quite, the traditional axis of left-right and the secondary related economic/social liberal-conservative axes don't seem to be quite right for the current situation here. Which is also indicative perhaps of how much political energy has been poured into this one question leaving other important issues by the wayside.

I'm not in favour of a description of the current pro-remain party rebels on both sides as centrist when it's perfectly possible to be either pretty left wing or right wing in certain senses and think this whole business is utterly mad.
posted by edd at 9:33 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


Fuck, I'd vote for a goddamn tory with a track record of voting against brexit if the alternative was a Labour brexiteer.

What about the libdems?
I have to admit that I don't know enough about UK politics so I might be missing something obvious, but I wonder why they are rarely if ever mentioned in these discussions. Or the media. It's always all about Tories and Labour. Labour and Tories. And sometimes about some idiot right-wing lunatics from outside of the Tories.

Heck, in the last general elections, about 80% of British voters voted for parties that are very clearly in favor of Brexit (e.g. Tories and Labour). As far as I can tell, the Libdems were most clearly opposed to Brexit. According to Wikipedia, other party goals include a change of the first-past-the-post system and drug decriminalization, among other liberal ideas, all of which sound pretty good to me.

So what unspeakable horrors and gruesome scandals have they committed that make them unmentionable, let alone unelectable in the UK?

Or in other words, if you're opposed to Brexit, why not vote for a party that is also opposed to Brexit, and not for one that is in favor of Brexit?
posted by sour cream at 9:47 AM on February 19


The Lib Dems got screwed out of political relevance in the vast majority of constituencies by their party leadership in 2010-2015. They then proceeded to get screwed even further by inept leadership after that (hint: when campaigning, don't bring up your religion during a TV interview and then refuse to say being gay isn't a sin). You might as well ask why American voters aren't voting for independent candidates for president. First past the post.
posted by Dysk at 9:52 AM on February 19 [8 favorites]


First past the post practically obliged tactical voting. In a lot of seats voting for the Lib Dems risks the Tories getting in.

Also some of us voted for Labour remain rebels and feel aggrieved at having our votes counted as pro-Brexit when our resulting MPs have fought tooth and nail against it.
posted by edd at 9:54 AM on February 19 [9 favorites]


They've also not been particularly good about actually opposing brexit in practice, nor showing up for several votes. Yes yes, Labour said they'd vote with the government so what was the point? To avoid the horrible look of not being there if and when your votes could've mattered even theoretically, and to be seen to be principled and actively fighting for your position rather than being a damp squib occasionally trying to surface and weakly shout "we exist! it's not fair!" which is the impression they give. They haven't been there to register their opposition in Parliament, and they aren't making serious efforts to work with other parties to stop the madness.
posted by Dysk at 9:56 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


(Oh and finally, one constituency of voters voted Lib Dem and ended up with an MP who left the party to vote with the Tories for Brexit. Hardly instills confidence that a vote for a person with an orange rosette is necessarily more of a vote against brexit than voting for a pro-EU Labour or Tory candidate.)
posted by Dysk at 10:00 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


Well yes. If you voted for Kate Hoey you voted for insane brexit. If you voted for Chuka Umunna, or my MP Ruth Cadbury for example you didn't.

Counting votes by party in a general election is a terrible way of assessing public demand for brexit. Even worse than holding a referendum in 2016 which is saying something.
posted by edd at 10:01 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


I have to admit that I don't know enough about UK politics

Maybe you should comment in these threads less, then.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:01 AM on February 19 [20 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted. Hey, sour cream, this is not the first time we've asked you, please cool it with the intensive "I don't know much about the UK but here's my obvious solution to your problems" commenting in these Brexit threads.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:02 AM on February 19 [14 favorites]


So what unspeakable horrors and gruesome scandals have they committed that make them unmentionable, let alone unelectable in the UK?

Carry on with that Wikipedia article until you get to the '2010 coalition government' section. They went from a 23% vote share to below 8% in a few years.
posted by Catseye at 10:21 AM on February 19 [10 favorites]


Yeah, if anyone else is wondering about the LibDems, the short version is that they historically did well among middle-class leftwingers, especially students. They became the “kingmaker” after the 2010 election and decided to go into coalition with the Tories because 1) the Tories had received more votes and seats, so it was “fairer” and 2) the LDs had a significant contigent of right-wing Tory-inclined “orange book” members, which they had hitherto kept very quiet about. They justified their decision to their supporters by suggesting that they would rein in the Tories’ worst instincts; and that they would reform the electoral system and break the Con-Lab two party stranglehold.

As an external observer, it was pretty obviously a suicide mission - betray their supporters’ trust, but open the door for a new era of third party politics. If they could have got proportional representation through, it would have been worthwhile as far as I was concerned. In the event, they didn’t restrain the Tories and they didn’t manage any electoral reform. Their supporters correctly felt that they’d been betrayed - especially over student tuition fees - and given how cravenly and embarrassingly they enabled the Tories worst instincts, they basically don’t exist anymore as a party. Good fucking riddance.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:13 AM on February 19 [14 favorites]


They didn't even trade it all for a shot at proportional representation. It was a referendum on single transferable vote.
posted by Dysk at 11:26 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, it was “AV” or something equally insipid. But they went into the coalition with a lot of big talk about proportional representation.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:29 AM on February 19


Overpromised, underdelivered, breaking their promises, and lying about all of it: the Lib Dems.
posted by Dysk at 11:43 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


It also I'm sure helped the Tories to believe that referendums were a nice neat totally winnable trick they could use to make messy party infighting go away without having to think too hard about it, so THANKS FOR THAT, LibDems.
posted by Catseye at 11:50 AM on February 19 [6 favorites]


There's little to be gained by kicking down at the LibDems at this point.

Back to basics: the Withdrawal Agreement was published over three months ago, we're now 38 days from Brexit, May has gone back to Brussels with no realistic proposals, and still no-one knows what's going to happen.
posted by daveje at 12:03 PM on February 19 [8 favorites]


Yeah, can we not re-litigate 2010 *again*?
posted by pharm at 12:22 PM on February 19 [12 favorites]


Sorry! [sweating emoji]
posted by chappell, ambrose at 1:28 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


John Major has been speaking tonight about the current state of UK politics.
posted by Catseye at 2:01 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Joan Ryan, MP for Enfield North has become the eighth Independent Group MP.
posted by edd at 2:19 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


It’ll be interesting to see if any Tories join. Various rumours there could be 1-3 MPs coming from the Conservatives tomorrow, including Soubry.
posted by adrianhon at 2:29 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


I take it the whole point of the new party is a sort of suicide mission of MPs sick of the whole boiling to make sure that there's at least one official anti-Brexit grouping in Parliament between now and armageddon in March. Or at least one that people pay more attention to than the LibDems (if only because they've got the publicity right now). I can't see any of them getting back in at the next election.

Then again, as British politics seems to have the switch set permanently to Insane perhaps they'll be forming the next government in six months' time.
posted by Grangousier at 2:36 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


There have been several comments about the ignorance of some comments on the UK. As an Irish person I'm sympathetic but feel like pointing out that half the Brexit mess is being caused by the UK as a country seeming not to understand anything about Ireland at all, and being unwilling to learn.

Here's an Irish Times piece that more or less sums that up for me: I'm exhausted explaining their own geography to British people
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:47 PM on February 19 [32 favorites]


The level of discourse around this on twitter is... not encouraging.
posted by Dysk at 3:24 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


To be fair, though, the level of discourse on Twitter around anything isn't encouraging.
posted by Grangousier at 3:27 PM on February 19 [10 favorites]


To be honest, you could probably say that "the Brexit mess is being caused by the UK as a country seeming not to understand anything about Ireland at all, and being unwilling to learn. "

Certainly, there's a very large percentage of brits that don't seem to quite grasp that Ireland is its own country, and has been for nearly a century now. But then, there's also a massive number that simply don't know the first thing about actual immigration - or anything at all about what the EU is, or does. 'What does it mean to leave the EU' and 'What is the EU' were google's top two UK searches that started trending *after* polling closed in 2016 FFS.

It took me a good long time to come to terms with the fact that so many people in my country are just shockingly pig ignorant about so many things and worse, just really don't care that they don't know. And it's far from limited to one particular group of voters. Every single conversation I've had with an EU citizen, their understanding about the implications of Brexit or even just what the EU even is has far surpassed every single brit I know. I know I'm a bit of a politics nerd, but even basic facts are just not there, it's just slogans regurgitated straight off Facebook.

But the more shocking thing for me is that most members of the cabinet who's actual job has been to deal with Brexit really don't know the first thing about any of these things either, yet are supremely confident that it doesn't matter, they can just blag their way through it. I knew they were mendacious, but I always assumed they at least partly listened to their civil service advisors who were actually competent. Boy, was I mistaken.

We are, in large part, literally the ignorant being lead by cretins. And I think crash-out brexit is near unavoidable at this point due to that, and I'm genuinely afraid for what happens when the government planning for no-deal turns out to be as incompetent as everything else they've done and people finally start to panic when it's far, far too late.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 3:31 PM on February 19 [26 favorites]


International markets have absolutely not priced crash-out into anything yet.

I’m not from the U.K., but I think the entire world is about to get fucked by Brexit. No one is ready for what this will do, and it will make Lehman Bros look like a walk in the park. It’s not just the British who should be stockpiling.
posted by weed donkey at 3:37 PM on February 19 [22 favorites]


It took me a good long time to come to terms with the fact that so many people in my country are just shockingly pig ignorant about so many things and worse, just really don't care that they don't know.

Same same. Here in Australia I grieve frequently for the very same reason.

I always assumed they at least partly listened to their civil service advisors who were actually competent

1980: Yes Minister first aired

1981-1989: Reagan Presidency in US
1979-1990: Thatcher Government in UK

Both these administrations were all about tearing down government and privatizing everything that could conceivably be privatized, and both of them reacted to reality having a left-wing bias by making a heavily politicized civil service the new normal, killing the old principle of "frank and fearless advice" stone dead. Which is why post-Thatcher political satire no longer resembles Yes Minister whatsoever.

Sir Humphrey just don't work there no more.
posted by flabdablet at 6:39 PM on February 19 [8 favorites]


The formation of the Independent Group was a flicker of hope. That’s not to say I support them (I’m waiting and seeing) but politics in the UK has been in complete stasis for 2 years as a result of the two main parties trying to pretend that their support is not split top to bottom on the issue of Brexit. At least now someone’s done something, even if it turns out to be pointless.

FPTP heavily favours parties with geographically broad, and locally deep support. If the UK had PR, the two main parties would have split into 3, 4 or 5 parties by now—but everyone in UK politics knows what happens to parties with broad but evenly spread support. In the 1983 election the SDP polled 25% of the vote and won 23 seats. The Labour party polled 28% of the vote and won 209 seats. Game Over.

Hence the rousing calls from both parties for their MPs to do…nothing. Steady as she goes. Don’t split. Don’t vote against the party line. Don’t rock the boat. It’s not the right time yet, wait a bit longer. Keep your nerve. Soon, but not now. It’s like Remains of the Day, but without the happy ending.

Politics in the UK has become corrupt. I’m not talking about claiming for a Duck House on your expenses, or employing your relatives on the government payroll. That’s distasteful, but won’t kill democracy, The corruption I’m talking about is the unwillingness in both main parties to stand for the interests of the people who elected them, and for the country as a whole. They are just not doing that, and that is corruption.
posted by dudleian at 12:25 AM on February 20 [20 favorites]


The Guardian today: Brexit backstop: Theresa May to put new proposals to EU
PM heads to Brussels as Philip Hammond declares ‘Malthouse compromise’ unviable

I don't know what is the most stupid for today, this:
EU sources expressed frustration that they were having to “re-educate” Cox, who is new to the talks, about the lack of realism in the central demands made by May. Sources said Barnier and his deputy, Sabine Weyand, had been “forensic” in their dismantling of the Malthouse compromise on Monday. Barnier told Barclay that suspending EU law on the border was not a viable solution to the problem. Weyand later privately lamented that the EU was having to repeat arguments to Cox first made in August 2017.

...or this:
Between talks with the German foreign and finance ministers, Heiko Maas and Peter Altmaier, Hunt is expected to warn that failure to ratify the withdrawal agreement will be “deeply damaging, economically and politically”.

“In the vital weeks ahead, standing back and hoping that Brexit solves itself will not be enough”, Hunt will say. “The stakes are just too high: we must all do what we can to ensure such a deal is reached. At this momentous time, a heavy responsibility falls upon all of us. We do not want historians in the future to puzzle over our actions and ask themselves how it was that Europe failed to achieve an amicable change in its relationship with Britain – a country that is not simply a partner but a friend and ally in every possible sense.”


It's like that stupid plan posted above where they deliberately want to make the EU look bad by making them choose between bad options. For whom will this work? I'm pretty sure the EU leaders can all handle looking bad to radical Brexiteers in England.
As EU specialist Marlene Wind here put it on the radio yesterday (paraphrasing): at this point, everyone in Brussels and in the 27 governments just want the UK to disappear so they can get on with their jobs. It's not just that Brexit is a mess, it's also that it's taking out all the air from the space, so the Council and the EU Parliament can't deal with the very big challenges ahead like implementing the Paris agreement, dealing with the huge banking scandals, with populism and inequality.
A person whose name I didn't hear added that agricultural reform in the EU needs to be tied up with more sustainable methods, I think he was referring to the report in this article.

There's stuff to do, and as Merkel said in another context: Wir schaffen das.
posted by mumimor at 12:43 AM on February 20 [10 favorites]


The other thing about the new party is that it's been noted a few times that the divide in the country is no longer left/right as such (that's to say the perceived divide, how people see themselves) but rather leave/remain. There wasn't a specifically remain party (the LibDems have failed to brand themselves that) and there is now. Just saying they're centrists is probably missing the point. I have no idea whether I'd vote for them. If they can get me larger bread rations, I might.
posted by Grangousier at 12:54 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Hmm, well I'm ever more impressed by Barnier and Weyand. Quite how you forensically dismantle something as completely ephemeral and insubstantial as the Malthouse Compromise is beyond me.
posted by edd at 2:33 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


Jeremy Hunt, before giving a speech in Berlin:
With vision and statesmanship on all sides, [a deal] can be done and I’m hopeful it will be.
So what you're saying is that we're fucked? Words cannot express how much I detest politicians like Hunt, who seem to inexorably spiral upwards and upwards in the government with no regard to actual accomplishments or skill.

Regarding FPTP, it's instructive to look at how the Scottish Parliament's mixed member proportional representation system. Because the SNP has been getting upwards of 45% of the vote recently, you'd expect them to have a supermajority under an FPTP system, but instead they usually need coalition parties to get stuff done – most recently, they did a deal with the Green Party to get their budget through.

I support the SNP, I would like Scotland to be independent, and while in the short term it may benefit the SNP to have an FPTP system, I don't see any push for that at all, since the MMPR seems far more suited to producing long-term consensus and stability rather than the wild see-sawing between parties that we have in Westminster.
posted by adrianhon at 2:35 AM on February 20 [10 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the EU leaders can all handle looking bad to radical Brexiteers in England.

As if they have any choice! Brexit didn't happen because the UK electorate as a whole had considered or sensible opinions of EU leaders to begin with. Not only is the way they're perceived in the UK irrelevant to them, it also can't get any worse really.
posted by Dysk at 2:59 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]




Looks like three Tories have left their party.
posted by edd at 3:16 AM on February 20


I note that if they've joined the Independent Group they'll need a website revision, as it refers explicitly to leaving Labour in their statement.
posted by edd at 3:17 AM on February 20


There are also reportedly ministers thinking about quitting.
posted by edd at 3:24 AM on February 20


From the BBC article:

they said the party was "in the grip" of the DUP and the European Research Group over Brexit.

And they claimed Brexit had "redefined the Conservative Party -undoing all the efforts to modernise it".


They're not wrong!

And in case anybody thought the antisemitism claims of the Labour defectors was bullshit, here's Ruth George to make sure you know it's not.
posted by Dysk at 3:30 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]


So ... what happens if the governing coalition stops being a majority?
posted by kyrademon at 3:35 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


In principle it'd open the door to a no confidence vote that could win and begin the process that could trigger a general election, but I think it might be premature right now to try to guess how those departing Tories and any future departing Tories might vote in such a motion?
posted by edd at 3:39 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


Shenanigans?
posted by Grangousier at 3:39 AM on February 20


The Independent Group now has more MPs than the DUP, and one less than the LibDems.
posted by daveje at 3:39 AM on February 20 [10 favorites]


In principle it'd open the door to a no confidence vote that could win and begin the process that could trigger a general election, but I think it might be premature right now to try to guess how those departing Tories and any future departing Tories might vote in such a motion?

I suspect there's a lot of political people looking into the hardcore semantics of confidence and supply arrangements right now.
posted by garius at 3:41 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


The anti semitism claim regarding Ruth George is that she has used an antisemitic trope in suggesting that Israel may provide financial support to the Independent Group:

Support from the State of Israel, which supports both Conservative and Labour ‘Friends of Israel of which Luciana was chair is possible and I would not condemn those who suggest it, especially when the group’s financial backers are not being revealed. It’s important for democracy to know the financial backers for any political group or policy."
posted by asok at 3:42 AM on February 20


If I'm doing my maths correctly, following these departures the Conservative Party now has 313 MPs + 10 DUP MPs, giving them 323 votes. They need 320 votes for a simple majority (see previous link).

So... assuming the DUP continues to support them, The Tories can withstand three more MPs leaving, but no more. I suppose it's possible that in a VONC some non-Tory MPs may, for whatever reason, choose to support the government so you'd probably want more than three additional Tories MPs to leave to be sure of winning.
posted by adrianhon at 3:46 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


And in case anybody thought the antisemitism claims of the Labour defectors was bullshit, here's Ruth George to make sure you know it's not.

Oh the activity of the official Young Labour account over the last 48hrs has done more than enough to prove that particular claim has legs.

We're well beyond the point of establishing that there is at the very least a culture of unwelcome zealotry and bullying in place within the party right now. Anyone who thinks there isn't is splitting hairs finer than you can split an atom.
posted by garius at 3:48 AM on February 20 [14 favorites]


Heya. I know I've somewhat advocated for Lexit before on here.

I now recognise that this was foolish at best. I'd cite both the MF discourse and comrades in person as factors explaining to me how there is no viable way to achieve a pro-immigration, anti-EU Brexit.

If it's any consolation, I'm quite confident that in this I swayed no-one who mattered's opinion. I opposed Brexit when it happened, became enamoured with the concept of a socialist Britain free of the EU's neoliberal influence and now believe that to not be achievable.

My apologies.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 3:49 AM on February 20 [22 favorites]


the State of Israel, which supports both Conservative and Labour ‘Friends of Israel

Evidence that Israel is financially backing (not just "supporting") LFI?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:51 AM on February 20


Ruth George has already apologised for that statement.
posted by daveje at 4:12 AM on February 20


Ruth George has already apologised for that statement.

But she didn't see the issue with making it in the first place, and in fact felt compelled to say it in defence of someone making more nakedly anti-semitic comments. But hey, there's none of that in the Labour Party!
posted by Dysk at 4:15 AM on February 20 [6 favorites]


That was a weird PMQs. The three ex-Tory's (ironically) turned right at the bar, met their new grouping colleagues and took their new seats.

And weren't really mentioned the entire session. The only comments about defections were in I think the Brighton council group. PMQs repeatedly deflected onto tributes for recently deceased people (Paul Flynn several times) and the same-old questions and non-responses on Brexit.

Anna contributes to one of the regular tea and cake events in the nearby village she lives in, and there is worried chatter on the WhatsApp group that this may disrupt her usual contribution of a Victoria Sponge Cake to the upcoming daffodil tea event.

(I currently live in a strange part of England, where there's four local and very active Conservative MPs. Three of these are ferocious Remainers - Anna, Ken Clarke, and Nicky Morgan, my local MP who I chat to regularly at village cake events, about baking. The fourth is one of the most extreme Brexiteers who was instrumental in the process of us getting to this ridiculous stage. He has a virulent hatred of David Cameron because of a comment the ex-PM made about Coalville on a visit years ago, which may have driven his swivel-headed rage into action. He probably doesn't like me either after our brief and ... negative ... encounter at a local steam fair rally, and I can't truthfully write on here what I think of him as the mods would quickly delete it.)
posted by Wordshore at 5:14 AM on February 20 [12 favorites]


YouGov

How people would vote if The Independent Group put up candidates:
Conservatives - 38%
Labour - 26%
The Independent Group - 14%
Lib Dems - 7%
Other - 15%
posted by vacapinta at 5:22 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


It feels like ice is slowly melting...
posted by dudleian at 5:24 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


They don't have any policies. That poll makes me despair of democracy.
posted by Leon at 5:26 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]


But she didn't see the issue with making it in the first place, and in fact felt compelled to say it in defence of someone making more nakedly anti-semitic comments. But hey, there's none of that in the Labour Party!

This.

It's happening in every Labour group I'm in right now - Facebook, WhatsApp whatever. Whenever the question of anti-semitism, or bullying or basically any suggestion that the culture is poisonous is made, one of three things happens:

1) Someone makes insinuations about Israeli dark money or influence in some way, and then excuses the comment as partly true so it doesn't matter anyway.
2) Someone says it's not true because they themselves haven't experienced it, and anyway even if it was true that doesn't matter because it's not Jeremy's fault, and then demands the exact names and exact places of everyone involved be made public.
3) Someone tells you that you're a secret Tory and that you should fuck off.

And then - in most cases - there's a polite slap on the wrist, at best, and lots of comments about how we all make mistakes and everyone should move on.

It's fucking bizarre. Honestly. I've never seen anything like it. I don't get how otherwise normal, rational, probably quite lovely people can turn into victim-blaming, whataboutist, bullies at the drop of a hat.

It utterly, utterly boggles my mind. I just cannot compute the number of mental hurdles people are having to jump through in these groups to defend everything. It's breaking my brain.
posted by garius at 5:30 AM on February 20 [15 favorites]


It's fucking bizarre. Honestly. I've never seen anything like it. I don't get how otherwise normal, rational, probably quite lovely people can turn into victim-blaming, whataboutist, bullies at the drop of a hat.

Antisemitism, like racism, is a hell of a drug.

Corbyn's refusal to deal with this poison in his own party is utterly repellent, and combined with his total lack of any coherent policy about Brexit (except for 'I'd have done better!' which is not a policy) is going to destroy the party as much as anything the Tories or the Independents do. And it should, really. Mind you, the Tories should also go into oblivion over Brexit and austerity, as well as a multitude of other things.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:38 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]


So I signed this petition and its already reached 130k votes in one day, enough to elicit a government response. Revoke Art.50 if there is no Brexit plan by the 25 of February

Government response:
Revoking Article 50 would not respect the vote of the British people in the 2016 referendum.
(full response at link above but its more of the same. I do appreciate the irony of a response to an enormous petition by people being that this is not what the people want.)
posted by vacapinta at 6:04 AM on February 20 [9 favorites]


I reiterate my point about them not respecting the vote by ignoring the almost-half of it that was to remain.

Does every department have a person specifically to write vapid, mendacious non-responses to things like this, or to go at the end of Guardian articles or do they outsource it to an agency?
posted by Grangousier at 6:11 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


I guess a career as an MP in Westminster just makes you utterly internalise the winner-takes-all nature of first past the post. It was the biggest election ever! Leave won! The margin doesn't matter because that's just how we think! Leave won!
posted by Dysk at 6:37 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]


They don't have any policies. That poll makes me despair of democracy.


They do - they've all said for what reasons they've left their parties, and centrist UK politics is fairly well defined. And the Tory party seems pretty policy-free at the moment, too. That poll should make you despair of pollsters, if anything.

The World at One was good today. One of the Swindon Tory Remain MPs, saying that while he's not joining the Indies right now but has a lot of sympathy, pointed out that "There's been a 14 percent swing to Remain in my constituency, and a 20 percent increase in party membership, but I don't think the latter is joining to pat me on the back. Whose interests should I represent?'- and for once, the ERG didn't want to put up a spokesghoul. Definitely a possibility that the UKIP/Banks driven local party Tory entryism could backfire.

May;s majority with the DUP is down into single digits...
posted by Devonian at 6:37 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


I eagerly await Jeremy Corbyn's announcement that, purged of its Blairite remainers, Labour is “tactically”, temporarily aligning itself with the (equally remainer-free) Tories and DUP to deliver a “people's Brexit”. I equally eagerly await the tweets from the hard-left true-believers denouncing anybody who stands against the Tory-Labour-DUP gammon-Voltron as a supporter of austerity and an enemy of economic justice for the left-behind.
posted by acb at 6:53 AM on February 20 [11 favorites]


Here's an Irish Times piece that more or less sums that up for me: I'm exhausted explaining their own geography to British people

The vagueness and inaccuracy with which terms relating to various parts of the British Isles are deployed - not just by our population - but also by business leaders, journalists, educators and politicians- is remarkable. I can think of no other country where the people seem to be so unsure of who they are.

But - to be fair, there is some degree of complexity and controversy in the history behind the ... thing ... being governed from Westminster: the country of England conquered the country of Wales way back in the 1200s, and it also conquered the country of Ireland in the 1500s (somewhat). The resulting kingdom of England then joined in a union with the kingdom of Scotland in 1707 to produce the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1801 a more formal agreement with Ireland gave us "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland". Finally - when Ireland became unambiguously independent in 1931 we got the modern label "The United Kingdom" or full and fancy "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" and gets printed on the front of the passports.

Saying exactly what the UK is is not so easy however: the nations (difference between a country and a nation) of Wales and England and Scotland plus the province of Northern Ireland - all united in a kingdom - and hence technically a realm. But that realm still involves the monarch reigning over the Scottish and non-Scottish elements which have different rules of sovereignty. The UK is a sovereign country in that it issues passports, controls a single military and so on. But it lacks a word that would accurately mean "A person from the United Kingdom" - and there are political anomalies such as different laws, regional parliaments and regional currencies. When we are completing the "Nationality" drop down on a form we maybe start off looking for "United Kingdom" - but sometimes it is also "British" or "Great Britain" or "England" or whatever.

In geographical terms, we live on the British Isles - comprising the big island (Great Britain) - the other biggish one to the west - Ireland - and many others (including places like the Isle of Man which share the monarch but not the control from Westminster). If we talk about the people from these islands then we might use the term "British" as an attempt at a universal label (although don't try this tactic when in the Irish Republic). We might also try to use it as a synonym for "Person from the UK" - but bear in mind that somebody in Douglas might consider themselves as British while somebody from Glasgow or Swansea might not. "Brexit" is derived from this shared label - and the decision to start the word out with a "Br..." should given people an insight into the problems it would cause right from the outset.

Tune into a random parliamentary debate from Westminster and you can hear "this nation", "these islands", "Britain", "Great Britain" and "England" all being used as inaccurate synonyms for the UK. You can also hear "this country" being used to express a sub-set of what is actually the UK. And this is use by the people who are supposed to be putting together our laws.
posted by rongorongo at 6:57 AM on February 20 [18 favorites]


I eagerly await Jeremy Corbyn's announcement that, purged of its Blairite remainers, Labour is “tactically”, temporarily aligning itself with the (equally remainer-free) Tories and DUP to deliver a “people's Brexit”.

Already been done, it was the three line whip on Labour MPs voting for Article 50.
posted by PenDevil at 6:59 AM on February 20 [8 favorites]


So... assuming the DUP continues to support them, The Tories can withstand three more MPs leaving, but no more. I suppose it's possible that in a VONC some non-Tory MPs may, for whatever reason, choose to support the government so you'd probably want more than three additional Tories MPs to leave to be sure of winning.

My abilities at basic counting displayed in this thread shouldn’t inspire anyone’s confidence, but I’m pretty sure that a simple majority isn’t how the win/lose calculation works in parliament, and that May would need to lose her working majority to lose the ability to pass legislation (including the confidence and supply stuff that she needs to stay in power as leader of a minority government - once that goes, a snap election would be needed, I believe).

Here’s an explanation of May’s then-majority from 2017.

Here’s the current state of play, which appears to have been updated since this morning. For posterity’s sake (since this could change in literally hours), the numbers are as follows:
  • Conservative 314
  • Labour 247
  • Scottish National Party 35
  • Independent 19 (11 in the newly formed “The Independent Group”, which is not a political party)
  • Liberal Democrat 11
  • Democratic Unionist Party 10
  • Sinn Féin 7
  • Plaid Cymru 4
  • Green Party 1
  • Speaker 1 (John Bercow, former Tory)
  • Vacant 1 (Paul Flynn of Labour just died)
Total number of seats 650

The ones in italics don’t vote. Three further MPs don’t vote: the Speaker’s deputies, who are currently Lindsay Hoyle (Labour), Eleanor Laing (Conservative) and Rosie Winterton (Labour). So mentally change the numbers above to “Conservative 313” and “Labour 245”.

The total number of voting seats is 638 (down from 639 after Flynn’s death). A simple majority is still 320. May’s working majority, however, is the difference between the number of votes that she can supposedly count on (because they’re a member of her party or the DUP) and the number of everyone else’s votes.

(I say “supposedly” because of course MPs can rebel against their parties, and the Tories who defected this morning were more likely than most to rebel against her on Brexit issues while inside the party.)

May has 313 + 10 = 323 MPs she can count on. The opposition parties have 245 + 35 + 19 + 11 + 4 + 1 = 315 MPs who might vote against. So her working majority is 323 - 315 = 8, in terms of getting legislation through parliament (and not being subject to a snap election).

I should note that I also found this quite confusing, and putting this comment together took a reasonable amount of work. To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t anywhere where this information is gathered and explained in one place, or at least nowhere with decent SEO. That’s a fairly major failure on behalf of the UK government and media, in my opinion. And it means that there’s plenty of confusion to go around! The Guardian and, for what it’s worth, The Sun both agree with me (without showing their working). Whereas RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster!!) gets to a majority of seven, not eight.

I feel pretty strongly that discovering the information “what is my government’s current majority” shouldn’t be this hard - I’d say it should be two clicks away from any decent search engine’s first page of results, at most.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:10 AM on February 20 [25 favorites]


I found Paul Mason's article in New Statesman to be quite well-considered, in terms of how Labour can survive all of this.
posted by pipeski at 7:23 AM on February 20


All that said, anybody who leaves the Tories and joins TIG doesn’t just vanish into thin air - they become part of the opposition. So you’re quite right to say that “the Tories can withstand three more MPs leaving, but no more” - if May loses four MPs, the opposition will have gained four, and her majority will be cut to zero.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:32 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


I should note that I also found this quite confusing, and putting this comment together took a reasonable amount of work

I hate to point out that you missed the one Labour MP who's in prison at the moment.
posted by ambrosen at 7:35 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]


I hate to point out that you missed the one Labour MP who's in prison at the moment.

[incoherent swearing]
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:37 AM on February 20 [20 favorites]


I think she's still an MP and thanks to the new proxy voting surely she can vote? Although she probably couldn't vote for herself in a general election. Although the EU think she ought to be able to.

It's mad, isn't it?
posted by Grangousier at 7:41 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


@nickeardleybbc
The Government's working majority is now nine
RTE: 7
Sun, Guardian: 8
BBC, current MeFi consensus (?): 9

Don’t miss the thread below that tweet - plenty of baffled and angry people like me counting on their fingers.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:42 AM on February 20 [4 favorites]


There's a reason I said "May's majority is down to single digits" and left it at that...
posted by Devonian at 7:43 AM on February 20 [15 favorites]


I hate to point out that you missed the one Labour MP who's in prison at the moment.

If you mean Fiona Onasanya, she's not a Labour MP.
She was expelled last year.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:49 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


I found Paul Mason's article in New Statesman to be quite well-considered, in terms of how Labour can survive all of this.

He has a good plan for how Labour can go forward, but wow does he read like a Momentum conspiracy nut with his constant "and the Blairites are only all about preventing left wing government at any cost!" stuff.
posted by Dysk at 7:51 AM on February 20 [4 favorites]


If you mean Fiona Onasanya, she's not a Labour MP.

And just as with Jared O'Mara, the leadership of the Labour Party have been swift and vigorous in calling for them both to resign and trigger a by-election.

Or not.

Funny how that doesn't matter until they suddenly really need it to matter...
posted by garius at 8:14 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


My satisfied glow following the Tory resignations today was abruptly extinguished when Soubry said she stands by the Tory austerity policy after 2010 and that it was the right thing to do for the country.

It really highlights the difficulties that TIG will face when coming together as a proper party with a manifesto. Surely all the Labour defectors aren't on board with Tory austerity?
posted by adrianhon at 8:16 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


Not sure what point you're making?
Labour did call on Fiona Onasanya to resign.
"Labour have called on Onasanya to “act honourably and resign.” A spokesman said “she should do this without delay and not take another penny in salary from the public purse.” They’ve also confirmed that they will support efforts to out her through a recall petition if she refuses to budge…"
That was in January.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:18 AM on February 20


Fair enough.

I think I'm just really salty that the Labour line today has so far been to double-down on the "these people must stand down now!!!!111" line.

Which, again, is just throwing food and fuel at the mobs shouting "TRAITOR!". And they know it.
posted by garius at 8:20 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


I suppose if the supporters of The Independent Group settle down to an identifiable group, we'll be able to call them Tiggers, which is quite endearing. In a way. Better than being Eeyores, anyway.
posted by Grangousier at 9:18 AM on February 20 [4 favorites]


It really highlights the difficulties that TIG will face when coming together as a proper party with a manifesto.

I'm not sure anyone's really going to try that past resolving the Brexit issue. It seems to me that the members so far recognise and respect their differences, but see the similarities right now as more important for the immediate political situation.
posted by edd at 9:32 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure anyone's really going to try that past resolving the Brexit issue.

Yes, which is why all of the calls for them to stand down to trigger by-elections are pointless posturing, even if they had any basis in convention (they don't).† By-elections wouldn't happen for months. Meanwhile, we're 37 days away from potential disaster, which will quickly lead either to the collapse of the Government, or to the collapse of government full stop. Save your by-election campaign for when you'll have to elect your local warlord by loud shouts of approval from within the angry mob.

†This "convention" seems to be based on the recent example of the two Tories who turned Kippers in 2014. Some have been saying that if it isn't the law that MPs should resign if they switch party, it should be, but that would achieve little: MPs would then just remain in their party in name only, ignoring the party whip and voting as they liked, perhaps jumping ship when a general election was in sight. Like, say, 37 days before an economic armageddon which would quickly lead to the collapse of the Government.
posted by rory at 9:58 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]


They don't have any policies. That poll makes me despair of democracy.

Well, they may not have a party manifesto, but surely "remain in the EU" is a policy?
posted by duffell at 10:34 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, it seems that Derek Hatton is back in the Labour Party. A boost for the minicab industry, if nothing else.

Now toggled back to Derek Hattoff as he's been suspended again.
posted by Buntix at 10:37 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]


Remain in EU doesn't seem to have actually been stated by any of them as a policy, even though it appears to be a unifying thread between them all (and anyone with a brain).
posted by ambrosen at 10:37 AM on February 20 [4 favorites]


Evergreen tweet that just keeps becoming truer even though it was posted way back in ...umm... 11 this morning.

@TechnicallyRon: "Welcome to Britain. What is happening? No one knows. What party does your MP belong to? Shut up. What does our future hold? Shut up again. Everything is fine."
posted by Buntix at 10:43 AM on February 20 [11 favorites]


I suppose if the supporters of The Independent Group settle down to an identifiable group, we'll be able to call them Tiggers, which is quite endearing. In a way. Better than being Eeyores, anyway.

How about "TIG? No ta! Oh, we don't have any other options". (I am playing shamelessly to the MeFi base here, or the MeFi ST: DISCO base anyway.)

I still can't believe the Labour shipjumpers think that staying in the EU somehow justifies turning their back on renationalisation of bus services. It defies analysis.
posted by biffa at 11:39 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


dudleian: "It’s like Remains of the Day, but without the happy ending."

I'm not sure the realization that you had lost your chance at happiness through your choice to devote your life to serving a fool is all that happy of an ending.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:47 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


In 1801 a more formal agreement with Ireland

Well that's one way to describe the Act of Union, I guess.

The conquest of Ireland took place in the 1200a, 1500s, and 1600a (let's not forget Cromwell) and not just the 1500s. I know this stuff doesn't matter to the UK but it would be nice sometimes if it was gotten right.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:22 PM on February 20 [17 favorites]


Yes, which is why all of the calls for them to stand down to trigger by-elections are pointless posturing, even if they had any basis in convention (they don't)

Amen. That you vote for the person but the party is the only way that first past the post makes any sense at all. If we were voting for parties we'd have proportional representation and party lists. A constituency vote being indivisible only makes sense because individuals are indivisible. Parties are not.
posted by Dysk at 12:26 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


But - to be fair, there is some degree of complexity and controversy in the history behind the ... thing ... being governed from Westminster

There is, but: Denmark, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands are in the same Crown Union. They have the same queen, and joint defense as well as foreign policy to a degree. Greenland and the Faeroe Islands have National Assemblies with budgets and administrations, but they also have members in the Danish parliament. They also receive substantial subsidies from Denmark. So not so different from the situation in the UK, albeit a smaller version. The thing is, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands are not members of the EU. Every now and then, there will be a problem with the fish deals, but there is a method to the madness and diplomatic experts who know how to do those deals. The union still holds.
I'm not saying it is an ideal situation, I only wanted to point to the fact that the complex legal construction under a divided Union can be done. And we don't really have a good name for ourselves either.
posted by mumimor at 2:07 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


… though things are slightly simplified by Denmark, Greenland and the Færøe Islands not having land borders.
posted by farlukar at 2:17 PM on February 20


Denmark hardly has any land borders.

But you are right. Still, it's more the separate but together legal framework that is interesting in this context, if for instance Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain, as they did.
posted by mumimor at 2:22 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


dudleian: "It’s like Remains of the Day, but without the happy ending."

I'm not sure the realization that you had lost your chance at happiness through your choice to devote your life to serving a fool is all that happy of an ending.


well, that's relative, isn't it

(i think was the joke)
posted by schadenfrau at 2:29 PM on February 20


well, that's relative, isn't it

(i think was the joke)


Yes. More gallows humour than a joke, I guess.
posted by dudleian at 2:56 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]


The conquest of Ireland took place in the 1200s, 1500s, and 1600s (let's not forget Cromwell) and not just the 1500s. I know this stuff doesn't matter to the UK but it would be nice sometimes if it was gotten right.

Although the 13th century version was part of the Norman conquest, so it’s probably the French who should care about it, if anyone.

And I have to admit that I’d be surprised if most British people could tell you anything about their own subjugation by the very same Normans, two centuries prior.

And I say “their own subjugation” but of course there’s no reason for a contemporary British person to identify with the Anglo-Saxon residents over the Norman invaders, since at this stage, one millennium later, they’re probably just as related to both, if they’re related to either group at all.

posted by chappell, ambrose at 3:05 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]


And I say “their own subjugation” but of course there’s no reason for a contemporary British person to identify with the Anglo-Saxon residents over the Norman invaders, since at this stage, one millennium later, they’re probably just as related to both, if they’re related to either group at all.


This study might surprise you.
posted by Leon at 3:19 PM on February 20 [9 favorites]


This study might surprise you.

I guess I’ll concede that anyone with a rare Norman surname (Bazalgette!) may in fact wish to identify with Team Normans and the dastardly French. That is, if their family doesn’t have any Anglo-Saxon relatives at any point on the maternal side.

(Also that study is legitimately very interesting.)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 3:40 PM on February 20


there’s no reason for a contemporary British person to identify with the Anglo-Saxon residents over the Norman invaders

I mentioned before on here that I had a very hungover breakfast with a strange crowd of people in a greasy caff in Kennington in about 1987. Their ringleader was holding forth on how, as far as he was concerned, the British population was still basically divided into Norman and Saxon. Last time I mentioned it I think there was a comment about how this excluded the different waves of people who've come to the country since 1066, so I want to make it clear that that's not what he meant - he was clear that the new arrivals sort of slot in on one side or other. Invariably the Saxon side. I mean he was mad, they were some kind of tribe of mad people, but it's a striking image - on the one hand the small group who own the land, on the other the mass of people who work the land (the land representing what Marx would call the means of production), and that's been the way since 1066. The actual composition of the Saxons has varied enormously, that of the Normans hardly at all.

That said, it's probably not historically accurate - we have a tendency to grab images from our history out of context and wave them around like flags. We've got the Brexit army who think they're Hereward the Wake, but they're under the sway of the loathsome Rees Mogg, who's as Norman as they come.
posted by Grangousier at 4:11 PM on February 20 [12 favorites]


Remain in EU doesn't seem to have actually been stated by any of them as a policy

I didn't even notice but it's true: the closest is:
In order to face the challenges and opportunities presented by globalisation, migration and technological advances, we believe the multilateral, international rules-based order must be strengthened and reformed. We believe in maintaining strong alliances with our closest European and international allies on trade, regulation, defence, security and counter-terrorism.
Maybe there's not much point having a policy that becomes obsolete in 36 days.

Chris Dillow: The Irrelevant Independent Group.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:11 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


A policy that may become obsolete in 36 days.
posted by ambrosen at 10:57 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


But you are right. Still, it's more the separate but together legal framework that is interesting in this context, if for instance Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain, as they did.

You might be interested in the proposal, as elaborated by Stuart Campbell's here, to put the hard border between Scotland and England. An idea which would allow those areas which had voted to leave to leave - and those which wanted to remain to remain. This would still allow the UK union to continue to operate (in the manner you have explained in regard to the Denmark/Greenland/Færøe crown union). The Scottish border is much shorter than the Irish one with fewer crossings and no recent history of conflicts. This solution appears to meet with Teresa May's red lines (at least with respect to England and Wales) and it would remove the need for a "backstop" as it would not threaten the GFA. It would probably be welcome by all, bar the DUP, in the North of Ireland as well as by those in the Irish Republic and in Scotland.

I don't remotely expect this solution to happen - particularly at this stage - because it would require a government willing to understand, listen, explain and work across party lines - but it is worth bearing in mind as a promising road not taken.
posted by rongorongo at 11:16 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]


You might be interested in the proposal, as elaborated by Stuart Campbell's here, to put the hard border between Scotland and England. An idea which would allow those areas which had voted to leave to leave - and those which wanted to remain to remain.
That is a good idea, not least because it would give a much stronger economic base to the remain countries.
posted by mumimor at 12:16 AM on February 21


It's still completely fucking insane, though.
posted by Grangousier at 1:07 AM on February 21 [11 favorites]


Yeah, it's a good idea... if you're Scottish or Irish. If you're English or Welsh, it doesn't look quite so tempting.
posted by Dysk at 1:45 AM on February 21 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it's a good idea... if you're Scottish or Irish. If you're English or Welsh, it doesn't look quite so tempting.

As I said on Twitter when someone mentioned this, only if London gets to declare itself some kind of 'free city' within the EU too.

Time to get all Holy Roman Empire on this shit.
posted by garius at 2:19 AM on February 21 [9 favorites]


I am not on board with this London exceptionalism bullshit. My constituency voted remain too. If you're going to divvy up England in any way, you're going to have to do it by how areas actually voted, not just "are you in London or not?"
posted by Dysk at 2:49 AM on February 21 [6 favorites]


It would probably be welcome by all, bar the DUP, in the North of Ireland as well as by those in the Irish Republic and in Scotland.

How is it different from the backstop then? The issue with the originally proposed backstop of keeping only NI in the customs union (to those who contend that there is an issue) was that internal UK borders threaten the union. I don't see how adding Scotland into the mix improves matters.
posted by the long dark teatime of the soul at 2:54 AM on February 21


It means you're bit splitting NI off from the rest of the Union - just splitting the Union in two. This means NI isn't being pushed away over to the Republic in the same way. It's also retaining full EU membership, not just customs union access.

No, it makes no more sense than the actual backstop. Less, in fact.
posted by Dysk at 2:56 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


I am not on board with this London exceptionalism bullshit. My constituency voted remain too. If you're going to divvy up England in any way, you're going to have to do it by how areas actually voted, not just "are you in London or not?"
Or don't divvy up England at all. I'm tired of this "Remain Constituencies" and "Leave Constituencies" stuff based on a single vote on a single day nearly three years ago. I don't live in a Remain area, I don't live in a Leave area, I live in a town which like every town in the whole country has lots of people with lots of different backgrounds and viewpoints, and people with changing views.

Especially annoying is the "Northern England = Hard Leave" nonsense which I've seen both in this thread and elsewhere. It feels a bit like having your home region written off as an irrelevance.
posted by winterhill at 2:56 AM on February 21 [22 favorites]


If you're going to divvy up England in any way, you're going to have to do it by how areas actually voted, not just "are you in London or not?
The Baarle-Nassau Compromise?
posted by edd at 2:57 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


And I'm just as tired as seeing everything outside of London dismissed. It's irrelevant anyway, nothing remotely like this will happen.
posted by Dysk at 2:58 AM on February 21 [5 favorites]


I think the idea that you can change something about Northern Ireland in order to fix something that is anything other than balancing its two major power blocs reads as insultingly naive to me.

I think it's very possible that after the dust settles, Northern Ireland will be in a very different situation and the next steps may be clear, and may well include breaking connections with London.

I feel safe in saying there's more than enough leadership in Holyrood to safely bring Scotland through an independence referendum and back into the EU, and I hope fantasies like that of Stuart Campbell (whose MP, to echo winterhill's statement above, is Jacob Rees-Mogg) don't muddy the water and make Scotland's future messier than it should be.
posted by ambrosen at 3:00 AM on February 21


Oh, and EU Free Town London will obviously not include Dagenham, Barking, Bexley, Sutton, Havering, or Hillingdon. It's not like big chunks of London didn't vote Leave.
posted by Dysk at 3:02 AM on February 21


It would be an absolute logistical nightmare to put a hard border between Scotland and England, although I suppose Brexit’s been at the pick-the-best-available-nightmare stage for a while now.

Interesting though that no politicians have even seriously suggested this. Because they know it would come across as sounding totally insane to the general population, even though this border has been in place* as a border between two separate countries for hundreds of years before the Union, whereas to a lot of the U.K. population the U.K. border in Ireland seems like a totally reasonable thing to build walls and checkpoints on.

*admittedly it has moved about a bit, and if it does end up as a hard border I suggest we decide on Berwick now. Paper-scissors-stone?
posted by Catseye at 3:24 AM on February 21 [7 favorites]


And I'm just as tired as seeing everything outside of London dismissed. It's irrelevant anyway, nothing remotely like this will happen.

One of the main reasons I bring it up is because it highlights - in the same way you and others have here - that the "well Scotland voted to stay so..." option is just as flawed as any other method that tries to make some remain voters more important than others . Because it assumes that the 3.9m voters in Scotland are then somehow more important than the 5.5m voters in London.

Anyway, completely agree that it's all a pointless debate, because nothing like this will ever seriously happen.
posted by garius at 3:49 AM on February 21 [3 favorites]


[I wrote and then deleted a comment about Scottish independence and remain/leave etc. As much as I love talking about this, I think we're getting into derail territory here, almost as if this thread were a runaway Brexit about to careen off a No Deal cliff.]
posted by adrianhon at 3:57 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


the "well Scotland voted to stay so..." option is just as flawed as any other method that tries to make some remain voters more important than others

There are constitutional reasons that looking at devolved nations having some degree of self-determination with respect to Brexit are more sensible than drawing arbitrary lines within England. Not least in the context of the way the Scottish independence referendum was argued.
posted by Dysk at 3:58 AM on February 21 [4 favorites]




Oh, and EU Free Town London will obviously not include Dagenham, Barking, Bexley, Sutton, Havering, or Hillingdon

Clearly the only solution is to divide the country individually and chronologically. If you voted Leave, exit your house only during the (coin toss) day, and if you voted Remain only go outside at night. Night Britain stays in the European Union. Everyone both gets what they want and can pretend their opponents don't exist.

If you could have voted in 2016 and chose not to, never go outside, shame on you.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:35 AM on February 21 [5 favorites]


“The City and The City” as Leave & Remain? Who gets to be the secretly corrupt sunlit uplands of progress & modernity though?
posted by pharm at 6:55 AM on February 21 [12 favorites]


Everything seems to be going swimmingly well.
Retailers warn of 40% tariffs on food in no-deal Brexit.
When will the people take to the streets?
Martial law - first pictures
Oh they have that covered as well: London mayor Saddiq Khan back in sept 2018
"Let me tell you the facts, which are that the police currently are preparing for the possibility of civil unrest"
Food Riots - wiki
posted by adamvasco at 6:55 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


Clearly the only solution is to divide the country individually and chronologically.

“The City and The City” as Leave & Remain?


Can I suggest, much like the “Malthouse Compromise”, that we consider using as-yet-unknown technology to implement this?

We are faced with three groups: Remainers, Leavers, and Undecideds. My suggestion is based on the proposal “Folding Beijing” by Chinese expert Hao Jingfang, which also involves three groups sharing the same space on a 48 hour cycle. Given the right technology (a simple matter, involving a mechanism no more complex than the London Eye, on a somewhat larger scale) we will be able to deliver a “rotating Brexit” with all the benefits of being within a Customs Union, outside a Customs Union, and unsure of what a Customs Union is, depending on the time of day.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:01 AM on February 21 [9 favorites]


“The City and The City” as Leave & Remain?

When in Britain, see Britain.
posted by flabdablet at 7:03 AM on February 21 [4 favorites]


“The City and The City” as Leave & Remain? Who gets to be the secretly corrupt sunlit uplands of progress & modernity though?

CHUKA UMUNNA: Hey everyone! I found our new party motto!
posted by garius at 7:04 AM on February 21 [3 favorites]


We are faced with three groups: Remainers, Leavers, and Undecideds.

Four groups. You forgot non-British, non-Irish EU citizens. It's alright, everyone does. I guess we'll be thrown out every so often, then allowed back?
posted by Dysk at 7:31 AM on February 21 [11 favorites]


Quick discussion of the latest events in the last ten minutes of today's Talking Politics podcast. Highlights include:
  • The Parliamentary arithmetic hasn't been changed by the formation of TIG as everyone will be voting in the same way they would have done before
  • Chuka left because he concluded the failure of the Cooper amendment meant a second referendum was off the table for Labour
  • ERG are probably happy because it makes it more likely the next Tory leader will come from their camp
  • TIG makes May's life easier but Corbyn's life harder
  • TIG will probably subsume Lib Dems rather than vice versa; take the Lib Dems' machinery, ditch the poisoned brand
posted by adrianhon at 7:40 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


You forgot non-British, non-Irish EU citizens.

Who at 3 million residents are approx. twice the population of NI and half the population of Scotland.
posted by Buntix at 7:44 AM on February 21 [9 favorites]


Four groups. You forgot non-British, non-Irish EU citizens. It's alright, everyone does. I guess we'll be thrown out every so often, then allowed back?

Huh, I guess my plan for a giant rotating country wasn’t as practical as I thought. But... maybe we could solve this with blockchain?
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:46 AM on February 21 [19 favorites]


We split up and turn to the pirate life, a la Mortal Engines. Much less engineering required.
posted by Leon at 7:49 AM on February 21


Who at 3 million residents are approx. twice the population of NI and half the population of Scotland.

Yeah, but we obviously don't matter. Either because we're not British (if you're a Brexiteer) or because we can't vote (if you're Labour or the Tories) or because we're just agents of the evil neoliberal EU, here to drive down wages by taking everyone's jobs (if you're a Corbynista).
posted by Dysk at 8:14 AM on February 21 [4 favorites]


maybe we could solve this with blockchain?

That could work! Blockchain is Technology!

Or perhaps what's required is a more ambitious plan.
posted by flabdablet at 8:36 AM on February 21


Also it's kinda weird to be living in a future dystopia that makes Philip José Farmer's look fairly pedestrian.

-- Martial law - first pictures --

Not to mention the potential re-invention of the fucking Peterloo Massacre.

Three or four weeks back I heard this bit on the radio (BBC, Scotland || 4) about the increasing threat far right terrorist groups in the UK. They had this guy on from some Uni, presented as an NPOV expert academic who essentially said their was no right wing extremist threat, it's all project fear, it's the brown terrorists we should all be scared of. He had one proviso, tho. If Brexit was cancelled then the streets would be chunnels of blood in revenge for the will of the insular being betrayed.

Because historically the biggest riots have been led by butthurt bougie bigots angered at having to share their privilege equitably.

Not, for e.g., by a general populace who have been screwed over big time and who have nothing left to lose and nothing left to eat and who are at the point where chucking a brick through a Tesco window to try and feed their family is actually the most rational option.

Yeah, but we obviously don't matter.

The UK is a so much better place for having an influx of people and freedom of movement. Particularly as it's not a good trade given some of the types from here who have taken advantage and moved to the Little-England enclaves in Spain to complain about people speaking Spanish.
posted by Buntix at 8:37 AM on February 21 [4 favorites]


> Huh, I guess my plan for a giant rotating country wasn’t as practical as I thought. But... maybe we could solve this with blockchain?
Oh, it's certainly been proposed (adhering to the principle that there is no opinion about Irish politics so stupid that somebody, somewhere isn't entertaining it; I guess something similar applies to blockchain).
posted by doop at 8:58 AM on February 21 [7 favorites]


Four groups. You forgot non-British, non-Irish EU citizens. It's alright, everyone does. I guess we'll be thrown out every so often, then allowed back?

I know this doesn't help, but I just want to apologise for how you've been treated. I wish that was not my country, but it is, and all of you deserved better after contributing (and continuing to contribute!) your efforts to our national life.
posted by jaduncan at 9:09 AM on February 21 [21 favorites]


Seconded.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:20 AM on February 21


Sorry about the derail everyone. My thoughts are that while Scottish Independence and Irish reunion are very vulnerable propositions when separate, they become far more realistic when thought together as a union. And then maybe some of the less crazy (not not crazy) Leavers might begin to worry. I'm not advocating for that thing to happen in real life, but for it to have more impact as an alternative.
posted by mumimor at 9:28 AM on February 21


My thoughts are that while Scottish Independence and Irish reunion are very vulnerable propositions when separate, they become far more realistic when thought together as a union.

...and then the Welsh will start making noises about wanting out, followed by the Cornish. Meanwhile, France casts a wary eye over its Bréton minority.
posted by acb at 9:36 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


Both Corbyn and May in Brussels. This is a good a summary as any:

This week in Brussels:
May has a meeting offering nothing new and nothing changes.
Corbyn has a meeting but says nothing could be progressed as he's not in Government.
A cynic might suggest they were both wasting time whilst trying to pretend they were doing something useful.

posted by vacapinta at 9:42 AM on February 21 [8 favorites]


... followed by the Cornish ...

Many people became versed in the local terminology for this about 15 or so years ago.
posted by Wordshore at 9:43 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


>Meanwhile, France casts a wary eye over its Bréton minority.
London, France's sixth biggest city
posted by farlukar at 9:57 AM on February 21 [3 favorites]


Honestly, I think we've gone too far for the less crazy Leavers to row back their contempt for Northern Ireland, Ireland, and Scotland. Independence and reunion is far from a sure thing but the last two years will only give more fuel to those who want to leave the UK. Even the architect of The Vow has said he now supports Scottish Independence:
The difficult decisions our independent nation would face and the sacrifices we may need to make do trouble me. But what troubles me more is the prospect of bequeathing to my daughters an isolated Britain governed indefinitely by the progeny of Rees-Mogg and their ilk. I have reconciled that independence would herald good and bad. I trust in us to solve the problems that will come our way. If so many other countries can, it is inconceivable that Scotland can’t.
posted by adrianhon at 9:58 AM on February 21 [6 favorites]


HuffPost, Exclusive: The Independent Group Could Prop Up Theresa May's Government In Return For A Referendum On Her Brexit Deal: Defecting Labour and Tory MPs could replace the DUP as confidence and supply partners.

Independence by, er, offering to support the government? May seems uninterested, so I'm not really sure what the point of any of this is.
posted by zachlipton at 1:28 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]


The idea of a second referendum involving a choice between Remain and whatever deal options are on the table has been floated in this thread before with some degree of approval as the only way around the (asinine) "Will of the People" argument for doing a crash-out Brexit.

As you say, May seems uninterested, so it's moot unless they can get more Tory MPs to defect, but I'm not sure I'd call it pointless if there's even a remote chance of bringing about a second referendum.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:48 PM on February 21 [9 favorites]


I think the point is that Corbyn who was lukewarm at best on the referendum and the government which was ice cold on the subject are making (relatively speaking) much more positive noises than previously. I’m not invested in the TIG but I’m convinced that their mere existence brought that about, and has the potential to force an end to the Brexit logjam. I’m not saying they’ll bring about a good outcome or that a referendum is a way out of this hell (though i’ve heard no better idea).
posted by dudleian at 1:51 PM on February 21 [5 favorites]


Good article here explaining that if the UK doesn't take part in the EU elections in May, any extension beyond July 1st (whether for a second referendum or anything else) is close to impossible.
posted by grahamparks at 3:24 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]


My thoughts are that while Scottish Independence and Irish reunion are very vulnerable propositions when separate, they become far more realistic when thought together as a union.

Call it Magna Dál Riata.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 6:08 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]


Good article here explaining that if the UK doesn't take part in the EU elections in May, any extension beyond July 1st (whether for a second referendum or anything else) is close to impossible.

Yep, that's why rory linked to that same article yesterday.
posted by Pendragon at 11:40 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


Another MP quits Labour. He's not joining the Independent Group, however. He's just an Independent.
posted by vacapinta at 1:36 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Just An Independent? Time for the JAI party.

Yes, I know it's not a party, also I was very disappointed I couldn't find an MP with the name "Alai".
posted by adrianhon at 1:39 AM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Alex Andreou on Twitter:

'Brexit is changing everything, and also any economic effect is fake news.

A weak EU is falling apart, and also has united to humiliate us.

The UK is powerful, it holds all the cards, and also is being bullied.

These narratives co-exist simultaneously for many. It must be hard.

I'm not being facetious, incidentally. It must be hard. I think it's the source of much of the aggression one faces for pointing out any fact which bring this cognitive dissonance to the fore.'

So, May is a pathological racist, but what's Corbyn's motivation?
They both, allegedly, voted Remain, so they have been able to square their personal morals with the UK being in the EU in the past.
posted by asok at 2:12 AM on February 22 [9 favorites]


Definitely have to add the Schrodinger's Immigrants to that list: simultaneously living off welfare while stealing all our jobs.
posted by adrianhon at 2:19 AM on February 22 [14 favorites]


I find it hard to believe that in the privacy of the polling booth, Corbyn voted to Remain.
posted by daveje at 2:28 AM on February 22 [4 favorites]


Given his voting record in Parliament, it would be an extreme volte face
posted by asok at 2:50 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Based on the conversation my husband had with his taxi driver this morning, I can confirm that some people really do believe "no deal" means "no Brexit." We are so hosed.
posted by skybluepink at 2:51 AM on February 22 [9 favorites]


Can I blame Noel Edmonds for that?
posted by asok at 2:59 AM on February 22 [4 favorites]


FT: Eurosceptic Tory MPs threaten to ‘end the government’ (screenshot of article)
...Some members of the ERG, which consists of as many as 90 Eurosceptic Tories, have warned that Mrs May can no longer count on them turning out to vote for government legislation if she delays Brexit.

“If she said she’d extend Article 50, there’d be 20-plus [ERG] MPs who would just take their bat and ball home: no domestic legislation, no Brexit legislation, they just wouldn’t be showing up any more,” said one MP who belongs to the ERG.

“It would effectively end the government . . . [Mrs May] has been absolutely firm for months and months we leave on the 29th [March] . . . If she went back on that . . . there would be carnage.”
Also, the FT puts May's working majority at nine.
posted by adrianhon at 3:24 AM on February 22


asok, you can blame Noel Edmonds for everything.
posted by biffa at 3:26 AM on February 22 [6 favorites]


Video from TLDR explaining why the logic of The Prisoners Dilemma makes No Deal very likely at this point. This is because:
1.Although few MPs want "no deal", both leavers and remainers are taking the strategy of rejecting May's deal in the hope that they can win concessions. At the same time they badly want the other side not to win concessions. This pushes the decision in the direction of the 3 "reject the deal" possibilities: GE, 2nd Ref or No Deal. Of this set No Deal is the default. In this case, May's Deal is like the PD outcome where both prisoners say silent and No Deal is the default condition where they both rat on each other.

2. MPs in leave voting constituencies, fear that going on the record to over-rule their voters will rapidly end their political career. They probably want no deal to be ruled out - but they would rather that this was achieved by the vote of another MP in a similar situation carrying the result over the line - rather than by their own. Voting to avoid a no deal might avert chaos - but many leave voters will be unconvinced that it would have happened anyway. So there is quite a high possibility that both the MPs in our scenario will vote for no deal - even when they did not want it to happen.
posted by rongorongo at 3:32 AM on February 22 [16 favorites]


Craven self interest wherever you look. Everyone wants to be king of the ashes instead of dealing with the fire.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:25 AM on February 22 [17 favorites]


Video from TLDR explaining why the logic of The Prisoners Dilemma makes No Deal very likely yt at this point.

Thank you. You don't know how many 'takes' I've read, especially in the financial press, that dismiss the possibility of no-deal because: There's no majority for it.

That sounds reassuring but completely misunderstands the dynamics of the situation.
posted by vacapinta at 5:57 AM on February 22 [14 favorites]


Quite. It also annoys me when I see efforts to 'take no deal off the table'.

You can't take it off the table without guaranteeing some other minimum arrangement.
posted by edd at 6:04 AM on February 22


Don't know whether it's been mentioned, but Garius' commentary is to be a book. Give him your money if you so wish.

TBH, I thought the Prisoner's Dilemma was "Do I tell Number 2 what he wants to know or fight with the big balloon again?" I'd give a lot of things for my biggest challenge to be an occasional fight with a big balloon.
posted by Grangousier at 6:04 AM on February 22 [18 favorites]


I'd give a lot of things for my biggest challenge to be an occasional fight with a big balloon.
Brexit: fighting a big balloon with another balloon instead of, you know, something like a pin.
posted by winterhill at 6:10 AM on February 22 [4 favorites]


Not just a repeated statement that we can all enjoy the benefits of the balloon not being there without popping it, followed by repeatedly complaining that the balloon is still blocking the sun?
posted by jaduncan at 6:40 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I've just realised that The Village probably isn't the best analogy for membership of the EU and (not for the first time, even today, sadly ) I've made a terrible mistake.

I think we all know what Number 6 would have voted, though.
posted by Grangousier at 6:57 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Story breaking in Italy: Putin agreed to a request from Lega Nord leader Matteo Salvini to covertly finance his Euro election campaign. The plan was to conceal the payment behind an apparently normal business deal. Sound familiar?

(For those not aware of the connection, there are significant questions around the funding that Arron Banks made to the Leave campaign.)

Carole Cardwalladr is particularly interested, since 'earlier this month Wired & LaStampa reported on secret meetings between Lega Nord's coalition partner, Italy's Five Star movement & @nigel_farage & @lizbilney of LeaveEU on how to run a web-based "democracy movement"'
posted by daveje at 7:14 AM on February 22 [12 favorites]


I’m probably not the first to make the comparison, but it does essentially seem like the West has been a testbed for what you need to do to DDOS democratic systems of governance.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:21 AM on February 22 [8 favorites]


My god. What if Corbyn is Number Two?

"Whose side are you on?"

"That would be telling."
posted by tobascodagama at 7:30 AM on February 22 [8 favorites]


(Anybody seeking a rabbit hole into which to descend to avoid Brexit news - and who is interested in the place that is supposed to have been the inspiration for The Prisoner - might want to read about Inverlair Lodge - genuine WW2 location to house those who “knew too much”. Probably not a big problem among the current crowd of our politicians).
posted by rongorongo at 8:17 AM on February 22 [11 favorites]


If we think back a couple of years, what happened was that Gina Miller won her legal challenge that Parliament should have a final say on Brexit. That led to Article 13 giving Parliament the power to approve or reject the deal.

At the time, a lot of Remainers applauded that, thinking that taking power away from Theresa May and giving it to Parliament would lead to a softer Brexit or no Brexit.

What's actually happening is the opposite. Terrified of their Leave voters, MPs are voting down every possible alternative, leaving us sliding towards the default option of No Deal.

Why that matters is that is that some people are still thinking on the same lines: take power away from Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn and give it to a new successor, or the people in a referendum, and Brexit will go away or be moderated.

But what if instead of acting from their hearts, both party leaders are actually responding to fundamantal political pressures, and whoever takes power after them is subject to the same political pressures?

Is it really the case that the major UK political parties have simultaneously been taken over by uniquely terrible individuals? Or are they fairly ordinary politicans who are responding to unique political circumstances?
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:29 AM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Do you genuinely want to argue that Theresa May isn't a uniquely terrible individual? After not just her premiership, but her stint in the home office?
posted by Dysk at 8:42 AM on February 22 [17 favorites]


I think Theresa May is morally a bit worse than the average Tory: John Major say would not have done the racist vans, or tolerated advisors insulting and humiliating people. In general administrative competence, she's better than the average Tory (compare Chris Grayling for instance). Her big weakness of effectiveness is a lack of personal charm or charisma. That's not a big problem in a cabinet minister who can just issue orders and get them obeyed. It's a big problem for a Prime Minister, especially one without a comfortable majority, because they exert power only through the Cabinet (20ish people) and their Parliamentary Party (300ish people) and badly need the ability to charm, cajole and bully those sizes of groups to get anything done. Economically she's more pragmatic than Cameron/Osborne: willing to moderate austerity and consider mild constraints on the market like energy price caps.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:56 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Theresa May must go in three months, cabinet ministers say

I wonder if she'll go quietly.
posted by Grangousier at 9:03 AM on February 22


Just politics-as-usual explanations for Brexit are deeply unsatisfying. The politicians rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic are not wrong because of the many reasons they're rearranging the deck chairs, they're wrong because they're rearranging deck chairs on a boat about to hit an iceberg.
posted by romanb at 10:21 AM on February 22 [17 favorites]


I think Theresa May is morally a bit worse than the average Tory: John Major say would not have done the racist vans, or tolerated advisors insulting and humiliating people.

Or rounded up black people and shipped them out of the country after her department had destroyed the proof that they had the right to live here? Sending them to countries with which they had little or no link and often effectively sentencing them to live, and sometimes die, in poverty? Would Major have done that? May is morally a bit worse than the average turd. She is an out-and-out racist and xenophobe.
posted by biffa at 6:01 AM on February 23 [22 favorites]


As far as I can tell, the only real passion May brings to politics is her racism and xenophobia, dating back at least as far as her tenure as Home Secretary. She very sincerely believes in her racist policies, considers them right and just, and isn't losing any sleep over the misery she causes.
posted by skybluepink at 7:01 AM on February 23 [5 favorites]


Is it really the case that the major UK political parties have simultaneously been taken over by uniquely terrible individuals? Or are they fairly ordinary politicans who are responding to unique political circumstances?

Everyone so far is quite reasonably focusing on May’s policies and morals and that fact that she’s a huge, huge piece of shit, but let’s not forget that she’s independently an extreme bad politician, in terms of the leadership required to implement policies that aren’t the kind of terrible racism that Tories will just wave through.

She just spent two years negotiating a deal with the EU and then suffered the largest parliamentary defeat in history when she tried to get her party to agree to it.

To answer the question fully, I’d note that Corbyn is (at least) equally ineffective at his job. Whatever the merits of his policies, he’s an extraordinary bad politician in terms of gaining and wielding power - even internally within his own party. So yes, I would argue that “the major UK political parties have simultaneously been taken over by uniquely terrible individuals”. They both just allowed their parties to split, if you’re stuck for further evidence.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:07 AM on February 23 [14 favorites]


She just spent two years negotiating a deal with the EU and then suffered the largest parliamentary defeat in history when she tried to get her party to agree to it.

And her next step was to keep re-presenting the same thing to all involved parties in the negotiation in the hope that eventually they would come round.
posted by biffa at 7:28 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


OK, you guys think Theresa May is exceptionally terrible by Tory standards. So you're optimistic that her successor in three months or whenever will be an improvement?
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:59 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


OK, you guys think Theresa May is exceptionally terrible by Tory standards
Yes
So you're optimistic that her successor in three months or whenever will be an improvement?
No
posted by doop at 8:22 AM on February 23 [13 favorites]


Despite my general feeling that being a Tory is a useful shorthand for being generally despicable there is clearly a range of despicableness. Rudd may have got the blame for windrush but I don't think she is as vile as May. Rees-Mogg may be worse, in being trapped in some sort of Victorian caste fantasy as well as being clueless at actually governing. There seems to be plenty of people at least as lacking in competence as May: Fox, Davis, etc. I could see someone like Gove actually being competent but still a shit.
posted by biffa at 8:30 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]


I think May is terrible by Tory standards, and I think the tiny handful of contenders in a hypothetical leadership election are as well. Many rank and file Tory MPs are less terrible.
posted by Dysk at 10:09 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


OK, you guys think Theresa May is exceptionally terrible by Tory standards. So you're optimistic that her successor in three months or whenever will be an improvement?

Ok - so your contention is that you got explosive diarrhea from eating at this sushi restaurant? And yet: I’m presuming that you’ll go back next week to order their jumbo sashimi platter. Care to explain why??
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:40 AM on February 23


I don’t think that’s a charitable question. Everyone agrees that May is explosive diarrhea. But Brexit is the Black Plague - it’s a uniquely traumatic event that will have consequences for generations. Brexit is at the nexus of a lot of things; the history of imperialism, meddling by foreign powers, the international frustration at income inequality, a domestic press owned by disaster capitalists... the list goes on. All of these things are part of the Black Plague that is Brexit.... the point is that Teresa May is just your standard, occasional, explosive diarrhea.
posted by weed donkey at 11:43 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


She not diarrhea, though, she's a politician.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:53 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]




She not diarrhea, though, she's a politician.

As we say in the U. S. megathreads, ¿Por que no los dos?
posted by Rat Spatula at 5:29 PM on February 23


The point being that sometimes metaphors can obfuscate more than elucidate.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:27 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


And my admittedly facile point was in opposition. But at some point the beanplating - "which Tory is there most racist," "how exactly should journalists have reported on Trump so that Consequences would Transpire," become tiresome.

I'm as guilty as anyone, in these threads I've linked Fintan O'Toole talks that fascinate me, but some days it really does feel like psychological scab-picking.

Sorry.
posted by Rat Spatula at 6:52 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


Is it really the case that the major UK political parties have simultaneously been taken over by uniquely terrible individuals? Or are they fairly ordinary politicians who are responding to unique political circumstances?

I wanted to respond to TheophileEscargot's original point, i.e. would we have ended up where we are with different party leaders?

Some things wouldn't have changed, certainly. A large majority of the english tory membership, and the ERG party-within-a-party want the hardest possible brexit; even if that includes crashing out, scottish independence and the end of the peace process.

Equally, a large majority of labour voters and even more labour members want to remain.

The options on offer from the EU would equally remain limited; a limited trade deal with a special deal for NI to keep the border open, remaining inside the single market along with the 4 freedoms similarish to Norway, or a customs union ala Turkey.

May's U-turn decision to hold the 2017 election after triggering article 50 was decisive in ensuring where we ended up, as she formed an alliance with the DUP, thus ruling out the first option. Neither she nor the ERG nor the membership would accept the 2nd because of immigration, so that leaves the 3rd, a whole UK customs union, which is the backstop. The problem is, that's not acceptable to the ERG, they'd rather a hard border and a crash out.

So roll back the clock; would a different leader have not held the 2017 election, and then wasted 6 months trying to square the circle? Without being in hock to the DUP, May would have been able to pursue her hard brexit unfettered by the whole-UK backstop; would the rest of the tories follow? Probably.

A less hardline tory leader could have looked at the narrow ref win, and decided to go with a soft brexit from the outset instead as best matching the result. Obviously that would have infuriated the ERG, but the bulk of the tory party and labour MPs would have gone for remaining in the single market ala Norway (though probably not via the EFTA) and a cross-party consensus would arguably have been relatively achievable with some ability to do a deal. Especially if parliamentary consensus was achieved before triggering article 50 and imposing the clock. Slap a referendum on there as a final check to ensure it's what the people want - remain vs soft leave - and you'd have the vast majority of MPs behind it.

So why did May trigger the early election, and point blank refuse to work with labour? Enter Corbyn. She hates him and everything he stands for, and is so at odds with his party on Brexit that he's no use to deliver any option. A soft brexit would have enticed enough labour MPs to vote for it, particularly since it was actual Labour policy, even if Corbyn wouldn't. A labour leader who was actually committed to a soft brexit at most and capable of crossing the aisle could have enticed enough tory MPs to back it and forced the PMs hand. Hell, a good Labour leader would have won the 2017 election outright.

We've seen a little bit of this this week, with MPs resigning because their own leaders are so dire. I think we're going to see much bigger splits as neither leader have the confidence of the majority of their own MPs. In an alternative world the ERG would have muttered and moaned, but mostly not split as they wouldn't want to hand control of the process over to Labour entirely. The DUP would continue being irrelevent.

And we'd have a managed process. Either a hard brexit under a somewhat united Tory party, or more likely a soft Brexit, probably with a referendum, with either leader caring more about the country than their own ideology. We wouldn't be faced with a crash-out brexit in 33 days with no plan of how to avoid it.

In short - both leaders are uniquely terrible. A harder brexiter tory would have given up quicker, then probably lost a general election. A softer brexit tory could have achieved it. A competent labour leader would have exploited tory divisions instead of ignoring the PLP and membership so long that it splits their own party and may well even have won a GE.

Yet here we are, with nobody able to maintain a consensus of what to do, hemmed in by their red lines and inability to change with the circumstances, or reach out. And crash out is the default option that hardly anybody wants but is now near certain unless parliament finally decides to ignore both leaders and act to prevent it despite them.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 1:06 AM on February 24 [17 favorites]


Yeah, posing the question as "so it would be better if we just dropped another tory in?" is misleading. May created the context she's operating from. A less terrible politician would have created a less stifling context. Where we are was not inevitable, even if it seems it now (which I'm also not convinced of - it just requires a willingness to work across the aisle).
posted by Dysk at 1:47 AM on February 24 [4 favorites]




Gove dodged the question on Marr this morning of whether the Government would announce a No Deal tariff schedule tomorrow. I can’t find any reporting of whether that is planned, has anyone seen any confirmation/rumours either way?
posted by toamouse at 3:34 AM on February 24


So why did May trigger the early election, and point blank refuse to work with labour? Enter Corbyn. She hates him and everything he stands for.

Thank you for giving me this tool for understanding. Everything's a tiny bit more comprehensible when you bring that in as a front-row motivation for May.

Her xenophobia always seemed to be about dehumanization to me, and Brexit to be much more personal, so seeing where the personal hatred comes in adds a missing piece to the puzzle.
posted by ambrosen at 4:14 AM on February 24


Guardian: "Breaking News: Theresa May postpones meaningful vote on final Brexit deal

I genuinely have no idea whether my browser is giving me today's news or some months old page from the cache these days.
posted by dng at 5:51 AM on February 24 [13 favorites]


Here’s a link to that Guardian article btw.
posted by adrianhon at 5:53 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


To elaborate, the meaningful vote will now be on March 12th, a mere 16 days before Brexit, which itself is only 33 days, or a terrifying 800 hours, from now.

Wonder if we’ll see more Tory walkouts next week as a result of this.
posted by adrianhon at 5:56 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Yeah, cheers, and sorry (I meant to link that article from the word "guardian").
posted by dng at 5:57 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]




Brexit could be delayed until 2021, EU sources reveal
I can't see how that could happen without the UK holding a EUP election. Which is hardly possible.
posted by mumimor at 11:00 AM on February 24


I can't see how that could happen without the UK holding a EUP election. Which is hardly possible.

I understand why you say that, but I think if Parliament voted emphatically to reject No Deal the EU would find a way to make it happen. Agreed, No Deal would hurt the UK far more than the EU, but it would still inflict substantial and needless damage to the EU—at a time when the world economy may be heading for a recession or a least a dip.

Combine this with the fact that the EU were never interested in administering punishment beatings (despite the way this idea seems to reverberate powerfully and disturbingly in the subconscious of members of the ERG) and I think they would find a fudge.

Reducing a country on your borders to the state of beggary is not a good look, even if the country concerned has repeatedly insisted that you do so.

I agree this would require the EU to act on the basis of logic, self interest and compassion, but that is something they show signs of being willing to do.

Of course, if you mean that the EU would offer an olive branch, but that the UK government would set fire to it—then sadly I have to agree you may have a point.
posted by dudleian at 12:16 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]



Of course, if you mean that the EU would offer an olive branch, but that the UK government would set fire to it


.. and then claim the EU was intent on arson because it proffered a non-flame retardent olive branch.
posted by Devonian at 1:18 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


UK Polling Report has new polls:
Deltapoll for the Mail on Sunday have standard voting intentions of CON 43%, LAB 36%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 5%. Respondents were then asked how they would vote if The Independent Group put up candidates at the next election – voting intention under those circumstances switches to CON 39% (four points lower), LAB 31%(five points lower), TIF 11%, LDEM 5%(one point lower)...

Opinium’s first polling figures with TIG included as an option are CON 40%(+3), LAB 32%(-5), LDEM 5%(-3), TIG 6%(+6), UKIP 7%(nc)....

There was also a YouGov poll midweek. That found standard topline figures of CON 41%, LAB 33%, LDEM 10% and hypothetical figures of CON 38%, LAB 26%, LDEM 7%, TIG 14%
On the other stuff: the thing is that you can't solve a systemic problem by replacing individuals at the top.

There are lots of levels involved. One level is in this House of Commons, the MPs are terrified of offending Leave voters. (There are levels below of why that is, but just look at that level for now). Because of that, Theresa May couldn't get even her hard-ish Brexit deal past her MPs. Jeremy Corbyn couldn't get a short extension to Brexit past his MPs.

As I said above, the Gina Miller / Article 13 attempt to soften or cancel Brexit by taking power from Theresa May and giving it to MPs actually backfired, because the MPs are primarily terrified of Leave voters. Similarly, replacing Theresa May with a successor in the current House of Commons won't improve things, because the Conservative MPs are the same. Similarly, if Jeremy Corbyn was replaced tomorrow, his successor would still have a party split into Leave and Remain factions, representing both the most pro-Remain and the most pro-Leave areas of the country.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:01 PM on February 24 [7 favorites]


and then claim the EU was intent on arson because it proffered a non-flame retardent olive branch

...even though flame resistance standards for olive branches had never even been a thing until EU regulations made them so.
posted by flabdablet at 11:20 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]


There are lots of levels involved. One level is in this House of Commons, the MPs are terrified of offending Leave voters.

This is a gross simplification at best. I'd agree that was probably true for a majority when article 50 was triggered, but I wouldn't now. For starters, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Lib Dems aren't, as they stood as pro-remain parties. the DUP aren't, because they represent leavers, and think sectarian concerns trump everything. And Labour and the tories both have splitters.

Parliament has coalesced into 4 groups; tory and labour loyalists who vote with their party whips; and pro and anti-european groups that vote a given way regardless of party affiliation.

If MPs as a whole were terrified of leave voters over everything else, May's deal would be done and dusted already and the TIG wouldn't even exist. The votes in the next few weeks could make the TIG quite a bit larger if both party leaders continue to ignore their own backbenchers.

MPs are a weird bunch not least as first past the post does force them into an adversarial position. Tribal loyalty is strong for people who've been part of a party for decades. The majority of both main parties follow the whip and do what the leadership wants, because that's how parties work. Their careers are tied to loyalty - you don't become a minister or get on any of the various committees if you're a rebel. Being selected as an MP still lies largely in the power of central office.

Yet mishandling by both leaders and their staff has put that system under serious strain, and MPs are bucking against it. Leaving your party is historically going to lose you your job at the next election and you're leaving behind long-term friends and the support structures and the very thing that's defined you your entire time as an MP, it's an absolutely massive step. Yet 11 MPs and counting have done that, because they simply cannot stand the failures at the top any longer.

As I said above, the Gina Miller / Article 13 attempt to soften or cancel Brexit by taking power from Theresa May and giving it to MPs actually backfired

Giving power to parliament over article 50 wasn't about stopping brexit, it was confirming parliament's existing constitutional role as sovereign. They would have had to have voted on May's Brexit legislation no matter what, that's how legislation passes. The government serves at the pleasure of parliament, not the other way round. It wasn't some coy plot about stopping Brexit that backfired. Party politics and that parties usually have a significant majority that always vote with the government position means that parliament hasn't been effective at holding the government to account for a long time - they might grumble and wriggle a bit, but the government almost always got its way. Yet finally, they are pushing back; in a hesitant manner, not quite yet in enough numbers to force May's hand to rethink her approach, but Parliament has been more involved in this process than they have in arguably decades.

because the MPs are primarily terrified of Leave voters.
If that were true, May's deal would have passed by a landslide, as it's about as hard a Brexit as May could get past the EU. The only harder one would have been having the customs union apply only to NI.

if Jeremy Corbyn was replaced tomorrow, his successor would still have a party split into Leave and Remain factions, representing both the most pro-Remain and the most pro-Leave areas of the country.

The pro-leave faction of his party is pretty damn small, only 14 voted against Cooper. Yet it's remainers who left the party because Corbyn let them do it without consequence - and the anti-semitism and bullying that's been allowed to fester uncontrolled. The pro-european tory rebellion against May looks set to be much larger than the 17 who voted for Cooper last time.

The rumbling of revolt has been going on so long now but not *quite* getting there I have stopped hoping for it personally, but they may yet surprise me as we come to the final crunch point.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 12:15 AM on February 25 [9 favorites]


Also, I really should remember to stop calling them 'the TIG', or 'the TIG group'. The sods just had to do a PIN number when they picked the name...
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 12:40 AM on February 25 [6 favorites]


So somehow the two major parties are both horribly split into pro-Leave and pro-Remain camps, but will also reliably vote Leave regardless of party whip or leadership. Uh-huh. Pointless taunting doom prophesising.
posted by Dysk at 12:44 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


Also, both major parties have now split. This was not inevitable, and is one thing that could easily have been avoided with a different party leader. Here's a plan to avoid your party splitting over Brexit in one (one!) easy step: give your MPs a free vote. Do not whip them on Brexit, but allow them to vote their conscience. Certainly the opposition have this luxury, and it's not like the Tories have been avoiding many defeats by not doing it either.
posted by Dysk at 12:50 AM on February 25 [6 favorites]


I understand why you say that, but I think if Parliament voted emphatically to reject No Deal the EU would find a way to make it happen. Agreed, No Deal would hurt the UK far more than the EU, but it would still inflict substantial and needless damage to the EU—at a time when the world economy may be heading for a recession or a least a dip.

Combine this with the fact that the EU were never interested in administering punishment beatings (despite the way this idea seems to reverberate powerfully and disturbingly in the subconscious of members of the ERG) and I think they would find a fudge.

Reducing a country on your borders to the state of beggary is not a good look, even if the country concerned has repeatedly insisted that you do so.

I agree this would require the EU to act on the basis of logic, self interest and compassion, but that is something they show signs of being willing to do.


I see you are in the bargaining stage of grief now. But you are bargaining with the wrong people. As you say, the EU are not into punishing anyone, and they aren't into reducing anyone either. It's just that their counterpart in negotiations, HMs Government, have nothing. No ideas, no plan, no preparation. Again and again we read that they show up to negotiations without a clue about the basic legal framework of the EU. The EU negotiators are being as compassionate as they can, but there's literally nothing they can do to help May and her merry band of fools.
Upthread there was a link to an Ian Dunt comment which described how the EU elections are the final deadline for constitutional reasons. I don't know wether there could be some legislation to circumvent that, somehow. However, two things speak against it: #1: at this point, I don't think anyone believes May will be any wiser or stronger give or take six months or even twelve months. #2: the EU elections are looking scary and/or disruptive even without Brexit, and the EU leadership are going to want to have a clean slate before going into that*. Fighting on two fronts is never a good idea.

I really understand why people in the UK see Brexit as the worst thing that ever happened. It truly is, for them. But the EU may be heading into a completely different crisis as the illiberal parties gang up in the EUP and their leaders do the same in the commission, all aided by Steve Bannon and his investors. This is a far bigger threat to EU than Brexit, and heading towards the elections, it will take first priority.

Of course, if you mean that the EU would offer an olive branch, but that the UK government would set fire to it—then sadly I have to agree you may have a point.

That, too.


*Additionally, while I think most EUP politicians would have preferred to keep the UK in, at this point, an EUP without members from UKIP and the English Conservatives looks like a bonus. Upper class bullies don't have quite the charm this side of the channel
posted by mumimor at 12:54 AM on February 25 [13 favorites]


Some important figures in a piece in the Guardian today:

Leave voters would not punish Labour at the next election anywhere near as badly as its remain base, according to polling from the TSSA transport workers’ union that has been presented to John McDonnell and others in the past three weeks. Just 36% of Labour leave voters rank Brexit in the top three topics they care about. For Labour remainers, that shoots up to 60%.
posted by rory at 3:02 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine in the City (and whose job recently moved to Dublin), made the following observation after May's announcement about the next meaningless meaningful vote:
Hundreds of financial services businesses with European branches are waiting to see whether these concerns need to be transferred to an EU parent to continue operation. The *absolutely last* date for a decision on this is about February 28th, as EU TUPE regulations require a month’s notice to employees that their employer is changing.

This now means that the political process has finally moved beyond the absolutely last go/no-go point. I suspect therefore that these operations will all have to be transferred to an EU parent regardless of the eventual deal/no-deal.
He also says that when he speaks to his competitors, they've gone already.

Another friend of mine says that his turnover started to dry up at the start of the current financial year, indicating that the process started covertly around then.
posted by daveje at 3:10 AM on February 25 [14 favorites]


Grim reading from James Patrick, who writes about the need for Britain to take one for the team:

If Britain did get an extension of 21 months, with full membership to continue until exit day, the Brexit Party would storm to seats in the EU Parliament at the spring elections and spend nearly two years working with the Putin-backed far-right to dismantle the project from the inside. In the end, there would be nothing left to remain in.
posted by rory at 3:12 AM on February 25 [11 favorites]


In actually good UK related news: Chago Islands: Britain's decolonisation 'unlawful' and it should get out immediately, UN court says
The UK's decolonisation of the Chagos Islands was “unlawful” it should immediately hand over the Indian Ocean archipelago that is now home to the Diego Garcia US military base, the International Court of Justice has ruled.
(The above is the entirety of the article so far, presumably to be filled out as story is written up).
posted by Buntix at 7:35 AM on February 25 [6 favorites]


In actually good UK related news: Chago Islands: Britain's decolonisation 'unlawful' and it should get out immediately, UN court says

This is wonderful news. The UK’s (and US’s) ethnic cleansing of the Chagossian people was and remains a complete disgrace. As the Wikileaks cables revealed, the UK and US even decided to establish a marine wildlife reserve [wikileaks] solely to prevent the islanders from returning. (The issue also merits very little coverage in the UK press, outside of Private Eye, which has been covering the islanders’ campaign for years.)

While we wait for more details, here is some context from last December, with an overview of the history of the islands. The question is urgent - some second-generation Chagossians face deportation from Britain, as a consequence of their parents’ unjust expulsion in the first place. And that last link is to the UK’s Chagos Support Association, which has details on the campaign and links for donations and other forms of support.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:26 AM on February 25 [9 favorites]


Funny Seaborne Freight update here, with Grayling being sued for his shitty procurement process and trying to hold the trial in secret to spare his own embarrassment. Here’s an important detail I hadn’t heard before:
Grayling cancelled the contract with Seaborne this month after it emerged that the company had no contract with the ports involved in the proposed new ferry route between Ramsgate and Ostend.
Between this and the weirdly hidden Irish backers, I do wonder if there was actual honest to goodness corruption involved somewhere, and not just stupidity and incompetence. I’m on record as saying that the lack of ferries, while a great hook for a story, isn’t necessarily totally disqualifying - the idea was to dredge a harbour to open a new route, and it’s reasonable to wait until you have a parking space for your ferry before buying it - but something does seem to be quite fishy about this story, and it does involve several million pounds of public money after all.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 9:31 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


All the links right now are just breaking news filler, but Labour will be backing a second referendum.
posted by skybluepink at 9:50 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Marie Le Conte @youngvulgarian
Today in Theresa May's Neverending Anxiety Dream Of A Premiership: playing pool! apparently for the first time and unexpectedly! in front of several cameras! with Gavin Barwell desperately trying to help!
[actually from yesterday, but I was surprised to note that nobody had posted it already]
posted by chappell, ambrose at 9:51 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Everybody make sure that you are registered to vote!!
posted by chappell, ambrose at 9:52 AM on February 25 [8 favorites]


Labour reportedly now backing amendment for second referendum.
posted by Devonian at 9:58 AM on February 25


Man, this is exhausting from over here, I can’t even imagine how tired you people are.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:00 AM on February 25 [23 favorites]


Between this and the weirdly hidden Irish backers, I do wonder if there was actual honest to goodness corruption involved somewhere, and not just stupidity and incompetence.


The hidden Irish backers at least give the fig leaf that the company might legitimately have been approached. Given approaches were selective, till that came out it was looking pretty dodgy as to how Seaborne could have known there were contracts to be had, given it wasn't an open bidding process.
posted by biffa at 10:08 AM on February 25


To be honest if you miss a development it doesn't really matter because the ERG will shut it down anyway, and if not then Theresa May will just ignore it. It looks fairly chaotic, but's it's just the steady progress of the rowboat towards the waterfall.
posted by Grangousier at 10:09 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


To echo Grangousier, I always check the live GBP/USD exchange rate graph when news like this breaks. In this case, traders seem distinctly unimpressed and the initial modest boost to the £ almost completely dissipated after an hour.

The market isn't always right, but I think the assumption here is that the Parliamentary math hasn't really changed.
posted by adrianhon at 10:14 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


Let's not get too excited yet - the referendum might just be between a Tory Brexit and Labour Brexit.
posted by daveje at 10:45 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Exactly, @jessicaelgot: Labour MPs in PLP getting anxious that Corbyn not committing to remain being on the ballot paper - though Starmer has previously been explicit

But see the next tweet, which would point toward remain being an option on the ballot.
posted by zachlipton at 11:09 AM on February 25


Ian Dunt's analysis: Labour backs second referendum: Is this really happening?
Advocates for a second referendum should not get over-excited just yet. There are still massive obstacles to securing it, let alone winning it. Labour support does not create a parliamentary majority. A chunk of Labour MPs - probably around 50 of them - would vote against any amendment on a People's Vote, regardless of whether the leadership backed it or not. This approach also involves backing for May's deal, albeit with a rather massive snarling caveat, which may make many opposition MPs queasy. That could worsen the numerical problem. And there are only about a dozen Tory MPs who are prepared to support such an idea right now. That means a lot of minds need changing to secure a Commons majority.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of time to change them. May has now delayed putting her deal in front of the Commons until May 12th. The Kyle-Wilson amendment won't therefore be voted on until then. That leaves just over two weeks before the cliff edge. These are very tight margins. They are especially tight because a first vote is likely to fail. It's only later, as the options whittle down to nothing, that the referendum option has any chance of success.
posted by zachlipton at 11:47 AM on February 25 [6 favorites]


> May has now delayed putting her deal in front of the Commons until May 12th

March 12th, surely?

I mean, given the shitshow on parade, I wouldn't put it past them to pull a stunt like scheduling a vote in Parliament after Brexit had already happened, but I didn't think they'd gone that far yet...
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:54 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


Emily Thornberry is being explicit that Remain will be on the ballot, on the radio right now. But there's still a lot of blethering nonsense coming out of the mouths of such as Stephen Kinnock.

Also, Bloomberg has just reported that May is warming to a delay on A50 with a Cabinet meeting tomorrow morning and an announcement tomorrow afternoon.
posted by Devonian at 2:23 PM on February 25 [4 favorites]


In Britain, Austerity Is Changing Everything
After eight years of budget cutting, Britain is looking less like the rest of Europe and more like the United States, with a shrinking welfare state and spreading poverty.
By Peter S. Goodman, The New York Times
It's a long-form descriptive article, so hard to sum up. But it paints a clear picture of the real problems in the UK, and how they reflect a broken political system. This type of class warfare couldn't happen in a truly representative democracy.
posted by mumimor at 1:12 AM on February 26 [7 favorites]


No-deal Brexit panic after ministers realise the UK doesn't have the right pallets for exporting to the EU
The UK government is due to hold emergency talks with industry leaders today after discovering that the country doesn't have the right pallets to continue exporting goods to the European Union if it leaves without a deal next month.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last week told business leaders that the UK will not have enough EU-approved pallets for exporting to the continent if it leaves without a Withdrawal Agreement next month.

This means that UK companies would be in competition for a small number of pallets which meet EU rules, while those that missed out would be forced to wait for new pallets, which could take weeks to be ready.


Why listen to experts, Michael Gove has it all up here *taps side of forehead*.
posted by PenDevil at 1:25 AM on February 26 [15 favorites]


The devil really is in the detail!
posted by mumimor at 1:47 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


If we’re heading for a hard Brexit, then we’re heading for a united Ireland by Patrick Kielty

Kielty is a comedian and starts off jokey in tone with an awesome bit of fantasy politics (PM Lammy with Deputy PM Sturgeon, oh god yes) but then gets into some really good analysis of the Irish situation
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:03 AM on February 26 [8 favorites]


Why listen to experts, Michael Gove has it all up here *makes small circles around right temple with forefinger*
posted by Grangousier at 2:07 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]


No-deal Brexit panic after ministers realise the UK doesn't have the right pallets for exporting to the EU

Here's a page from eighteen months ago flagging up this problem.
posted by rory at 2:10 AM on February 26 [13 favorites]


[A few deleted. Sour cream, please discontinue posting in this thread.]
posted by taz (staff) at 3:17 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


I understand that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom used the word 'simples' - yes, like that meerkat off those god awful insurance commercials - in the House of Commons. It was in response to the SNP's Ian Blackford and came after another of her bog-standard "the best way to avoid no deal is to vote for the deal" lectures.

I am getting very tired of her literally standing up and telling off opposition leaders for opposing and talking about alternatives to her plan. It'd be like Pep Guardiola telling Liverpool players off for trying to beat his Manchester City team.

I'm not the biggest fan of the SNP for a few reasons which are not relevant here. But their MPs were legitimately elected on a manifesto which included opposition to Brexit and support for single market membership at the very least. If Ian Blackford did not stand up in the House of Commons and make a case against Brexit, then he would be failing a majority of his constituents.

The job of the opposition parties is to oppose the Government, scrutinise and question its policies and proposals and offer debate and alternatives. The job of the opposition is not to vote with the Government and support its plans unquestioningly. The opposition are not on your side, Mrs May. That's 'Simples.'
posted by winterhill at 5:46 AM on February 26 [8 favorites]




The job of the opposition is not to vote with the Government and support its plans unquestioningly. The opposition are not on your side, Mrs May. That's 'Simples.'

Given Labour's behaviour, you can almost forgive her for being confused about it though.
posted by Dysk at 6:27 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]


> MPs will get vote in March on extending article 50 if no deal agreed, May announces

And the NYT: Theresa May Promises U.K. Parliament a Vote to Delay Brexit
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday bowed to overwhelming pressure to reduce the risk of a disorderly departure from the European Union, accepting that Parliament should have the chance to delay Britain’s exit if it rejects her withdrawal plans next month.

Mrs. May’s concession, in the face of an internal rebellion, was the latest in a long line of retreats as she has struggled to cajole her fractious party into supporting a revised version of the deal on withdrawal, or Brexit, that lawmakers threw out by a massive margin last month.
posted by RedOrGreen at 6:27 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


> MPs will get vote in March on extending article 50 if no deal agreed, May announces

But only up to three months in all likelihood.
posted by biffa at 6:55 AM on February 26


And only if the member states of the EU unanimously agree, and do so within the days left to them by British stalling.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:26 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]


Theresa May's word is worthless. She lies all the time. Her concessions are meaningless, since she has repeatedly proven herself willing to evade fulfilling them.
posted by skybluepink at 7:34 AM on February 26 [8 favorites]


Wait, something just sprang to mind.

So there are votes on three things and there's no clear majority for any of them except "no" to no deal. So let's have our three votes and assume they go as follows:

May's deal: no
No deal: no
Delay Brexit: no

What happens then? We can't have no deal, so we can't leave on 29 March. But we've also voted no to both the deal and to delaying Brexit. My brain hurts.
posted by winterhill at 7:35 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


The only remaining option is then to withdraw Article 50. You might've voted against delaying, but that technically doesn't say anything about cancelling altogether!

(In reality what happens is no deal, because that's what happens by default. The commons voting against that doesn't actually mean anything in itself, much like commons voting against the sun coming up on the 29th of March wouldn't actually stop it.)
posted by Dysk at 7:38 AM on February 26 [7 favorites]


Theresa May's word is worthless.

And she is a woman of her word.

Oh, and a Disorderly Exit is what happens if nothing else happens. It doesn't matter whether it's voted against or not. If we don't stop or turn, we go over the cliff, even if we've strenuously denied wanting to go over the cliff.
posted by Grangousier at 7:38 AM on February 26 [5 favorites]


No Deal is the default.
That's what happens if May's deal or extension/revocation don't happen.
posted by fullerine at 7:39 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


"We voted against using the parachute and the backup parachute, but don't worry, we definitely voted against landing."

Do I allow myself to feel a tiny ember of hope that our leaders are starting to realise they can't just make everything turn out fine in the end by having a sufficiently stiff upper lip?
posted by lucidium at 7:46 AM on February 26 [7 favorites]


It's the vote against no deal that is making my brain hurt.

You can't vote against not doing something, it's a double negative. It'd be like me thinking "what am I going to have for tea tonight? Definitely not nothing." That's taken an option off the table but it's a meaningless decision because I'm no closer to deciding what I actually will have for tea and if I don't decide by teatime then I will end up with no tea which is what I just decided not to do.

They can't keep voting against everything. At some point they will have to stop being contrary Marys and vote for something. My preference would be a cancellation of this whole sorry mess but even a vote in favour of the deal would be preferable to dragging it along indefinitely while they say "no, nope, no way, not on your life, hell no" to everything.
posted by winterhill at 7:49 AM on February 26 [9 favorites]


I've given up hoping for a positive resolution. Neither the electorate nor Parliament know what they want, they've just decided that whatever happens, they're going to get it good and hard.
posted by daveje at 7:54 AM on February 26 [5 favorites]


I think May's finally realised you can't play chicken if you're driving a go-kart and the other player is driving an articulated lorry... yeah crashing out would hurt Europe but it it would hurt us far far more and Europe ain't gonna give us any concessions over it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:07 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair Backs A New Brexit Referendum (Steve Inskeep, NPR)

Currently: 6:48 long audio interview with Tony Blair. Listened to it this morning; still mulling it over. Transcript usually published within a day of transmission, so hopefully by 2/27/2019.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:26 AM on February 26


I kind of wish Tony Blair would shut his war criminal pie hole and just go away. He is not forgiven.
posted by skybluepink at 8:30 AM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Jess Phillips is on fucking fire here (youtube link to guardian video): "I feel so enraged..."

I don't know how the ghoul that is our PM faces this and chooses to double down. Phillips is right -- it's May's "complete and utter lack of bravery" that has brought us to this point. It's tough to listen to her and not get choked up with rage and sorrow for all the suffering being caused.
posted by tractorfeed at 8:49 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]




Dysk: "The commons voting against that doesn't actually mean anything in itself, much like commons voting against the sun coming up on the 29th of March wouldn't actually stop it.)"

Surely this is a missed opportunity for a Canute reference.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:06 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Implications for Business and Trade of a No Deal Exit on 29 March 2019 (PDF)

A quick skim through and it's as horrific as you would imagine
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:24 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


> Ian Dunt: May's Article 50 extension is a trick to take us to the real cliff edge.

That's a really clear explainer for how the UK is going to get a short extension and then May's Brexit will happen after all.

And - since that strategy must be obvious to all the professional politicians - what are they going to do with the extra three months? What is the point of this charade?

Or is it a Hail Mary, "maybe the horse will sing" sort of gamble?
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:26 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]


We're not going to get such a short extension unless the EU agrees to it, and the last I'd heard was they were thinking more like a long extension of 21 months. I'm pretty sure they, at least, have seen straight through May's most recent lie.
posted by skybluepink at 9:43 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]


I heard short extension in order to implement May's deal, long extension in order to come up with a plan.
posted by ambrosen at 9:58 AM on February 26


Implications for Business and Trade of a No Deal Exit on 29 March 2019 (PDF)
That thing shows up on my browser as [Insert title of report] which is a good metaphor for where we're at.

I've only skimmed it, but what jumped out to me was the page about GATT Article 14 (page 4), which I'd never previously heard of but which I've now seen mentioned twice today.

Roger Bootle was bloviating loudly on BBC Radio earlier about how everything will be okay because we can just trade with the EU under GATT Article 14, which provides for ten years of trade under previous arrangements while new arrangements are sorted out.

The government's own assessment according to this document is that this is total bollocks. That doesn't stop these very loud, confident people with very posh voices from coming onto the BBC and telling us all otherwise at great length and volume.
posted by winterhill at 10:01 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Oh god, Liam Fox and Iain Duncan Smith were particularly unbearable on PM. I had to leave the room before I got more of the same on the 6 O'Clock News.
posted by skybluepink at 10:05 AM on February 26


It's nice for them they found another economist, though. Even they have to admit that producing Minford as a fig leaf every time was beginning to look a bit thin. Shame they had to get another one from a parallel universe where different natural laws apply, though.

When I was on the bus a couple of weeks ago, a woman got on, limping flamboyantly and shouting loudly. She took up a position where it was impossible for anyone to get anywhere except past her, then yelled about how disgusting it was that people thought they could just step over her, and didn't anyone have any respect and weren't people terrible.

That's us, is what I'm saying. The EU are just doing what the rest of the passengers did - keep such interactions as were unavoidable polite and to a minimum and otherwise pretend the difficult person doesn't exist.
posted by Grangousier at 10:09 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I read that the mood in the EU was that the last thing they were willing to accept was a series of short extensions. They don't want the crash-out, but the only extension they're interested in would be something like a 21-month one. I don't understand the stuff about how the EU elections fit into this, though.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:28 PM on February 26


I understand that there are concerns that assholes would challenge any decisions made by the European Parliament if Britain was still in the EU but didn't have any representation in Parliament.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:43 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Any kind of extension provides continuity throughout its lifetime, but guarantees nothing about the state at the end of it.

A 21 month extension means that the UK will be an EU member for the whole 21 months, therefore will participate in EU elections in June, and the EU Parliament can legally sit from the beginning of July.

But a three month extension only goes to the end of June. There's no guarantee that the UK will be an EU member at the start of July, so no-one knows whether or not the UK can take part in the EU elections.

The EU would prefer the longer extension, partly to give the UK more time to work out what the fuck it really wants, but also because it resolves the immediate EU elections issue. Hardcore Brexiteers hate the idea of a long extension, because of this lock-in. But they also really love the idea of the short extension, because it maximises their chances of a hard exit at the end of it. The logic is that a short extension will allow Theresa May to abandon UK participation in the EU elections, and by default that implies the UK not being a EU member at the start of July. It's equally illegal for the EU Parliament to sit without representation by a member state, as it is to sit with representation by a non-member, at least that's my understanding.

May's priorities are to keep the Tory Party together, and to deliver Brexit, in that order. She's trying to keep the ERG nutters on side by tempting them with the prospect of a default no-deal, and preventing the Tory Remainers from jumping ship by giving them the illusion of decision-making power. All the while running down the clock, because she knows that Parliament will give her her deal if the alternative is immediately going off the cliff in a no-deal scenario. It's horribly cynical politics, but she's getting away with it because Parliament is full of cowards. It's the worst government, the worst opposition, and the worst Parliament of my lifetime, all in one package.
posted by daveje at 1:27 PM on February 26 [14 favorites]


Just checking I understand what May's Deal is.

I believe it is the UK leaves the EU and enters a transition period. Everything stays exactly the same (single market, freedom of movement, everything). The transition period will last for two years which can be extended by both parties agreement to five. While the transition period is on going the UK and EU will attempt to negotiate a comprehensive free trade deal (which hasn't been defined at all) which aims to be the permanent relationship between the EU and UK. Finally if at the end of the transition period, if no agreement can be reached (unlikely but welcome to the worst timeline), the UK will enter a customs union with the EU in order to square the circle of the Good Friday Agreement.

If that's what we are really talking about, if you believe some sort of Brexit is required, what would a reasonable Withdrawal Agreement look like?
posted by DoveBrown at 2:48 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Broadly right - so, currently there is no May’s Deal (ie free trade deal etc), nor will there be for quite some time if ever. The big fuss right now is over May’s Withdrawal Agreement, which allows the UK to kind of pretend to be an EU member for a while, during which it negotiates the actual Deal: tariffs, immigration, standards, mutual recognition of certifications, the works.

The backstop is part of the WA and pretty much as you describe. Conceivably the EU would be happy for there to be a customs border in the Irish Sea, but this doesn’t play well with, eg, the DUP.

I think it’s pretty telling that there’s been a colossal effort on the part of the UK to weasel out of the backstop and pretty much no meaningful attempt to come to an arrangement to avoid needing to use it in the first place, save a bit of seriously wishful thinking about technological solutions. This would be amongst the principal things a Deal needs to do, because the Deal, being permanent, has no backstop.
posted by doop at 3:41 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Thanks Doop, yes when I said "May's Deal", I was talking about her Withdrawal Agreement.

Follow up question, how does this Withdrawal Agreement break Labour's Six Tests? All of them seem to be about the future permanent relationship, since the WA has the transition period which is same as EU, the entire transition period passes the Six Tests by default and it doesn't address what happens after except to produce a lower bound. Is Labour's.objection to the Withdrawal Agreement about the backstop state?
posted by DoveBrown at 10:44 PM on February 26


The intent of the 6 tests was to call the bluff of a Conservative party that claimed it was possible to have all the benefits of EU membership with few or none of the obligations (aka Cakeism). No Brexit deal could ever pass the tests. Logically the tests should have provided a loophole through which the Labour party could campaign to remain in the EU, however the leadership never had any desire to do that, so the tests simply became a stick to beat the Cons with. Their inherent contradiction with Labour policy (Brexit) meant they were used infrequently and unenthusiastically in debates, and have now been retired for another set of tests that are slightly more coherent with Labour policy. The new tests are still a piece of political rhetoric, rather than a practical negotiating position, and are similarly infrequently referenced.
​​
​​tl;dr the tests (old, new, newer) are merely a political device and not relevant to the practical evaluation of any deal, or of Labour policy.
posted by dudleian at 11:49 PM on February 26 [9 favorites]


The best Deal, of course, would be a deal that allowed the UK to participate fully in the single market, trade freely with its European partners, allowed it to cherry-pick and opt out of various EU laws (like the working time directive), didn't obligate it to join the Euro or pay its full share of the EU budget. Otherwise known as "EU membership on the UK's current terms".
posted by winterhill at 11:58 PM on February 26 [24 favorites]


So, a little over twenty years ago, the focus of the UK's Never Ending Argument About Europe was actually about whether or not it should (ha! ha!) join the Euro. Even stranger, a Labour government had just swept to power and had to make some sort of decision about this. Their approach (designed by Gordon Brown and Ed Balls of "Ed Balls" fame) was to set five economic tests which had to be passed before the UK would join the Euro. Depending on your perspective, this had the effect of: (1) making clear why we were/weren't going to join - in retrospect the first two criteria looked very reasonable given what happened during the eurozone crisis; (2) pushing the discussion off into the nerdy long grass where nobody cared; or (3) providing a fig leaf for a policy which had already been decided, viz, not to join, at least yet.

I'd always assumed that the "Six economic tests" for an EU deal were an obvious reference to this and came out of the same sort of thinking - you set down some reasonable-sounding policy objectives that can provide cover for where you actually want to go, or think you might wind up going.
posted by doop at 12:15 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


(Having typed that, I'm still kind of reeling from how strange and alien it feels to look back on the concept of approaching a major political decision by laying down some (largely economic) criteria and ostensibly making your decision based upon how it looks in the light of those criteria..)
posted by doop at 12:24 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]




I find O'Brien's prediction horribly plausible. Better than a full crash-out, I concede, but it's still the ghastly May's shitty deal.
posted by skybluepink at 2:58 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Faisal Islam reminds us:

Macron meeting Merkel: “We would agree to A50 extension only if it is justified by a new choice of the British”
“In no way accept an extension without a clear objective”.

- extension under A50.3 requires unanimity.

posted by vacapinta at 6:14 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Everybody knew that from the start. That politicians have been talking lately about an A50 extension as if they just have to chuck another couple of quid in the parking meter only proves how disingenuous UK politics has become.
posted by pipeski at 7:50 AM on February 27 [9 favorites]


An explanation of May's decision-making that I've seen is that she'll always choose being Prime Minister of a smoking crater over not being Prime Minister of not a smoking crater.
posted by acb at 8:25 AM on February 27 [15 favorites]




Despite Labour's change in position, without the wholehearted and passionate support of one of the major parties (which, to be clear, it absolutely does not have) a second referendum is very unlikely to happen, and even less likely to produce a decisive result which would get us out of this mess.

As per the article TheophileEscargot linked to, there is likewise insufficient support for an alternative and softer Brexit while Corbyn is Labour leader: he's just as temperamentally unwilling to parlay with his opponents as May, and just as polarising, but has the added disadvantage of not being able to offer laws and money (as May is doing) in return for votes. He's got nothing.

The only options with a chance of getting passed are May's deal and no deal, of which May's deal is the only one capable of getting positive assent, with no deal happening passively and by accident if that assent does not come.

Not all, but a lot, of the ERG are looking down from the very high horse they climbed onto like a cat up a tree wondering how the hell it got up there, and how the hell it is going to get down without looking like a fool.

Best guess is that a mix of ERG climb downers and Labour leavers get May's deal over the line at one minute to midnight.
posted by dudleian at 11:56 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Chris Grey finds some cause for (cautious) optimism, which paradoxically is cause for pessimism: if the analysis that another referendum is now much more likely is correct, then it is less likely to come true.
posted by rory at 4:00 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


one minute to midnight

Let's hope they remember that we're due to leave at 23:00, UK time, then.
posted by ambrosen at 4:20 AM on February 28 [11 favorites]


The worry in the EU27 is, now that Remain is beginning to look possible, that the UK will 'export their chaos to the rest of the EU' [Der Spiegel German language link]. If and when a large percentage of leavers vote for pro-Bexit politicians, the EU Parliament will not be a fun place to work, to put it mildly. A room full of Farages and Johnsons is a nightmare scenario that could be worse than Brexit for the EU.

The one positive aspect of Brexit, from a continental standpoint, is that we were beginning to discuss further integration. An EU army, an EU-wide social security scheme and so on have been put on the table and I believe they are popular ideas here. All of that may go up in smoke.
posted by romanb at 4:25 AM on February 28 [13 favorites]


In a few hours we'll be in the month when it all happens. We can start stockpiling yoghurt that expires after we crash out of the EU.
posted by rory at 11:41 AM on February 28 [5 favorites]


I'm stockpiling Ferrero Rochers.
posted by ZipRibbons at 12:21 PM on February 28 [9 favorites]


I have about a hundred bog rolls stuck on top of one of my wardrobes. I wish I were kidding.
posted by skybluepink at 12:38 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


I put up the Nigel Farage Commemoratory Shelving Unit in the garage in December. I keep meaning to adorn it with a little picture of the man himself and a quote about how wonderful this was all going to be, but I think the other occupants of the house would (quite justifiably) strangle me.
posted by doop at 1:17 PM on February 28 [18 favorites]


I'm stockpiling Ferrero Rochers.


1: There is no way your house is big enough to buy enough Ferrero Rocher that there will be any left on March 30th.

2: Would you mind adding more of your address to your profile?
posted by biffa at 3:25 AM on March 1 [6 favorites]


Now it's been (NSFW) announced, there's been some tweeting about the supposed walk from Sunderland to London later on this month, which should be interesting...

@Longechoes: If I don't see Jacob Rees Mog on a Penny farthing to the music of wacky races I'll be very disappointed. #GammonballRun

@Sarf_London: What the #GammonballRun really needs is a relay team of tuba players following them for 200 miles playing the Laurel and Hardy tune.

@alaaa99: #GammonballRun Keep imagining a convoy of mobility scooters engulfed in plumps of e cigarette vapour. Can't see it getting past the first spoons.

btw if you are in better shape than these and fancy it, then you have to sign up online and pay £50 to be a 'core marcher'.

(spoiler: they aren't walking the whole way)
posted by Wordshore at 3:40 AM on March 1 [6 favorites]


Its only £44 for an advance single, Sunderland to London.
posted by biffa at 4:06 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Are they walking from Sunderland to symbolise the lack of new cars being produced there in a future after Brexit?
posted by romanb at 4:06 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Otto_English: So Farage's March to Leave is bullshit: there are massive gaps, you have to pay, they cheat by getting bussed from one bit to another. At one point they perform a U turn. It's all utterly futile and it's a perfect Brexit metaphor

Oh guess what? Farage is only going to - "join it at several points as it makes its way to the capital" according to the Evening Standard. He's not even going to be marching.

posted by PenDevil at 4:13 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


1: There is no way your house is big enough to buy enough Ferrero Rocher that there will be any left on March 30th.

I have rented a warehouse outside Rotterdam to ensure my supply never runs out.

2: Would you mind adding more of your address to your profile?

The easiest way to find me is to come to the Ambassador's next reception.
posted by ZipRibbons at 4:28 AM on March 1 [12 favorites]




(not a spoof) @Ladies4Leave: Esther McVey and other female Brexiteers have come together to launch Ladies for Leave...
posted by Wordshore at 6:07 AM on March 1


Christ alive. I guess they were getting sick of feeling left out whenever people brought up gammons?
posted by Dysk at 6:14 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Jo Swinson @joswinson
Never thought I'd have to write to a Cab Minister to explain basic maths, but @SajidJavid plan is to give *unextendable* 3-year visas to EU students on 4-year courses. Disaster for Scottish Unis & shows Govt are utterly unprepared for no-deal #PeoplesVote
What a fucking stupid mess. Worth clicking through for the actual letter, which is funny in a brutal, despairing way.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 6:16 AM on March 1 [8 favorites]


(not a spoof) @Ladies4Leave: Esther McVey and other female Brexiteers have come together to launch Ladies for Leave...

Well, it has more of a ring to it than the Diana Mitford Society.
posted by duffell at 6:23 AM on March 1 [6 favorites]


There's plenty of people signing up for Farage's march, but I'm hoping for this one.
posted by Wordshore at 6:32 AM on March 1


Meanwhile, Grayling’s Department of Transport has reached a £33m settlement with Eurotunnel over the procurement process that led to the Seaborne Freight fiasco.

And the High Court has ruled the government’s “Right to Rent” scheme (part of the hostile environment) is discriminatory and breaches human rights laws. The judge appears to be touchingly naive, however:
The scheme, the judge said in his ruling, appeared to be having a "real effect" on people's ability to find accommodation and the MPs who voted for it "would be aghast" to see its consequences.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 6:53 AM on March 1 [7 favorites]


This week's Dunt. It's basically just therapeutic at this point, but don't we deserve a bit of therapeutic?
posted by Grangousier at 7:12 AM on March 1 [6 favorites]


Thanks Gangousier. I did like this bit:
The government simply has nothing to recommend it. The things it wants to do are immoral. The manner in which it pursues them is inept. And the people it charges with doing so are incompetent. It is a full-spectrum, alpha-and-omega, biblical-level shambles, in organisational form. If there was any justice in the world, the people involved would all lose their
posted by adamvasco at 4:37 PM on March 1


duffell: "Well, it has more of a ring to it than the Diana Mitford Society."

Never any love for Unity.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:31 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


If you need additional therapeutic, might I suggest Marina Hyde? Chris Grayling is the Berk du Soleil as Farage maps out a road to nowhere
posted by zachlipton at 11:31 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


We now know the great prize of Brexit: becoming Trump’s prey
Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
Shall we take a gentle amble down memory lane, a nostalgic trip back to the heady days of the referendum campaign of 2016? So many sweet promises were murmured into our ear, it can be hard to remember them all. No talk then of shelling out £33m to settle a legal case with Eurotunnel or ferry contracts for companies with no ferries, or spending billions to prepare for the cataclysm of a no-deal departure. No, back then it was all cash bonanzas of £350m a week and assurances that Brexit would be smooth and seamless – the Europeans needed us more than we needed them, after all – so that, by the time 23 June 2016 came around, voting leave seemed like a painless, risk-free option. Not only was there nothing to lose, there was so much to gain. And top of the list was a big, shiny trade deal with the United States of America.

“Within two years,” vowed the soon-to-be Brexit secretary, David Davis, a few short weeks after the vote, “we can negotiate a free trade area massively larger than the EU.” A deal with the US, along with China, would “give us a trade area almost twice the size of the EU”, he gushed, apparently unaware that, under European law, it was illegal for a Britain that had not formally exited the EU to so much as enter talks with those nations, let alone sign an agreement with them.

A mere detail, as far as Davis and the Brexiters were concerned. They were itching to shake off the shackles of Brussels and run into the embrace of the “Anglosphere”, where our chief trading partners would no longer be those countries on our doorstep, but the English speakers of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and, above all, the US. Who needed those minnow Europeans 22 miles across the Channel, when the largest economy in the world was there waiting for us, just 3,000 miles over the ocean?

Recall the fury of the leave crowd when Barack Obama dared puncture the Anglosphere fantasy by warning that a post-Brexit Britain would, in fact, be at “the back of the queue” for a trade agreement with the US, prompting Boris Johnson to reach for his racist dog-whistle and remind British voters that Obama was “part-Kenyan”. Recall too the needy relief of those same Brexiters when Michael Gove interviewed the newly elected Donald Trump and extracted a not-quite-promise that Britain and the US would “get something done very quickly”.
posted by mumimor at 10:57 AM on March 2 [15 favorites]


Why the UK Thinks the EU Will Surrender Over Brexit - YouTube (11:10)

A U.K. teacher explains to those of us outside the U.K.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:25 PM on March 2 [5 favorites]


Remember......
posted by lalochezia at 4:43 PM on March 2 [4 favorites]


Why the UK Thinks the EU Will Surrender Over Brexit - YouTube (11:10)

In Heroic Failure - The Politics of Pain, Fintan O Toole describes how some of this attitude of privileged exceptionalism goes back a long way with relation to Britain's conception of Europe. When the 6 countries of the Iron and Steel Community met at Messina in 1955 - a meeting which would lead to the signing of the Treaty of Rome and hence the EU - the UK was invited but sent only a minor official called Russell Bretherton. Bretherton listened in silence before standing to remark:
"Messieurs, I have followed your work with interest, and sympathetically. I have to tell you that the future Treaty which you are discussing a) has no chance of being agreed; b) if it were agreed, it would have no chance of being ratified; c) if it were ratified, it would have no chance of being applied. And please note that, if it were applied, it would be totally unacceptable to Britain. You speak of agriculture, which we don't like, of power over customs, which we take exception to, and of institutions, which horrifies us. Monsieur le president, messieurs, au revoir et bonne chance."
The French attendee who was present (and probably not a totally reliable witness as the link above explains) remarked "We carried on without him, rather missing him because he was such a good chap." I don't think things have changed an awful lot since then with regard to many in Westminster - or in the rest of the EU when it comes to coping with the UK's attitude.
posted by rongorongo at 1:47 AM on March 3 [7 favorites]






have you ever seen such perfidy
posted by flabdablet at 2:30 AM on March 3


Far Right Watch’s John O’Connell:
The problem with good sources is there's rarely any printable third party confirmation, but I'm putting this out there :

We hear, from a reliable source, that Nigel #Farage could be facing Criminal Charges within 6 weeks related to Money Laundering.
While this kind of unsourced and unsupported reporting is often too good to be true, this rumor may have some grounding in the news: Former Farage aide gave US information in plea deal, court files show—Files do not spell out nature of information George Cottrell handed federal agents after his arrest on money-laundering charges (Guardian)
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:19 AM on March 3 [5 favorites]


May’s hopes rise as senior Tory MPs soften opposition to Brexit deal
This is pretty much what I thought would happen months ago.

The ERG want Brexit. What kind of Brexit doesn't matter that much, because once Brexit has been pushed through, they can get rid of May, take control of the party and therefore the Government and enact whatever far-right isolationist legislative hellscape they want.

Pushing the country towards No Deal isn't working. There's enough of a majority in Parliament (and the country) against No Deal that a Brexit delay would be the likely outcome of a rejection of the May deal. There is the question of the July cliff-edge, but I think opinion against No Deal would push us into EU election participation if it was a choice between that or falling off the cliff.

So the choice for the ERG is between voting for May's deal and a definite Brexit, or voting against May's deal, a delay to Brexit, potential election participation, the potential of a second referendum and/or general election, and the very real possibility of no Brexit. They are going to claim that whatever comes back with May from Brussels is 'an acceptable compromise given the circumstances' and vote with the Government. Today's Sunday paper gossip is a softening-up exercise for that eventual outcome.

Friday's news on the new BBC Scotland TV channel also had an interesting piece as its lead story which doesn't seem to have been reported on much elsewhere. The SNP have started making indyref policy announcements again - Friday's was to do with a new currency in an independent Scotland. They are looking at the current situation, seeing a probable Brexit and finally getting ready for Indyref 2.
posted by winterhill at 3:30 AM on March 3 [10 favorites]


I don't even know what to believe. I feel like I am being gaslighted by the whole process.
posted by skybluepink at 3:40 AM on March 3 [4 favorites]


They are looking at the current situation, seeing a probable Brexit and finally getting ready for Indyref 2.

I pretty much think the assumption is that Sturgeon is finally to going to announce something significant at the SNP conference in April. Back in January she said she would reveal her intentions in a 'matter of weeks' but to be fair she has been waiting for things to become slightly clearer re Brexit. She had promised ages ago to say something last Autumn but Brexit kept getting pushed back.

Exactly what this announcement will be is still a bit unclear but again the assumption is that she'll issue another Section 30 letter ie a formal request for a referendum.

Now where things get interesting is what will be the response when May gives her inevitable 'Now it not the time' answer?

Will they hold an referendum anyway as some of their supporters want? (Unlikely) Will they wait for the next election and try and use that to force the issue? And which election? The next Scottish one (which is PR so harder to get a majority)? The next Westminster one? Some of the more conservative/gradualist supporters might want it even later, when the opinion polls hopefully say it's a certainty. Some other tactics to force the Tories give them what they want? It's all very much up in the air.

Another interesting thing is that support for Plaid Cymru has recently increased and I saw they are now a v close second to Labour in one opinion polls... and are now the lead party in all the age based polls up to 54s in Wales.

It was predicted that a no deal Brexit would lead to the break up of the UK... perhaps just an 'ordinary' one will do it
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:08 AM on March 3 [3 favorites]


Any kind of Brexit easily leads to the breakup of the UK.

Scottish and English politics were quite closely aligned until about 50 years ago, and now look totally different. Scotland being forced to exit the EU against its will and purely because of little Englander fantasies will be the final straw. The Brexit and Scottish indy referendums took place in the wrong order.

As for Ireland, a no-deal Brexit forces the return of border infrastructure, since there will be different regulatory frameworks on either side. There's only one viable solution that involves an 'ordinary' Brexit and the absence of border infrastructure, and that's a border at the Irish Sea. It's anathema to the regular Tories and the DUP, since they see it - rightly imo - as the thin end of a wedge that leads to Irish reunification.

The nutcase Brexiteers don't give a damn about any of this, of course. The loss of Scotland and NI, and the breakup of the UK, are acceptable prices to pay for freedom from EU tyranny.
posted by daveje at 7:20 AM on March 3 [10 favorites]


Why would I oppose the disintegration of the UK? Isn't the return of the occupied 6 counties integral to a global project of decolonisation?
posted by AnhydrousLove at 3:26 PM on March 3


Because people will get shot. The genius of the GFA was that through various means it made many aspects of whether you were northern or southern Irish irrelevant, or at least smoothed over the process of overlooking them.

The UK is not disintegrating because of an enlightened realisation that the remnants of colonialism and empire should be dismantled; it’s disintegrating because those in charge think that these are good things that ideally we should have more of.
posted by doop at 3:53 PM on March 3 [23 favorites]


Why would I oppose the disintegration of the UK?

Depends, I guess, on which you’d pick:

a) despite the utter hellscape that is U.K. politics at the moment, plus the power-sharing collapse that means there is no government in NI, plus the Brexit context of what a hard border would look like, plus the consequences of scrapping the GFA which the people of NI overwhelmingly voted for... despite all that, any future changes to the status of NI would be done peacefully, democratically, and with the support and agreement of the people who live there, and would not lead to e.g. another few decades of civil war.

Or:

b) that it would be done terribly and might well lead to another few decades of civil war, but that’s a price worth paying.

If it’s a) then I applaud your optimism but don’t remotely share it. If it’s b) then yikes.
posted by Catseye at 10:28 PM on March 3 [9 favorites]


It feels like it's waiting to kick off again in NI. I was in Derry last year and while I was there, it felt fairly ordinary like any other Irish city, cafés and restaurants and bars full of people, trying its best to attract tourists. The Bogside felt a little quiet and eerie like any estate anywhere in the UK, but nothing untoward. Then, a couple of days after I was there, it all kicked off.

In other areas, loyalists were building their bonfires which I didn't even know were a thing. They're made mostly of stacked-up pallets the size of 2-3 storey buildings and are covered in Irish flags and offensive, racist and often homophobic slogans ("KAT" is a common one, which stands for something vile that I cannot repeat here). There are tatty UK and loyalist flags hanging off lamp-posts and random villages have their kerb stones painted red, white and blue.

Outside of the tourist areas and the massive coaches making a bee line for the Giant's Causeway it really isn't a place at ease with itself, which feels like a huge shame because it's also one of the friendliest places I've been in Britain. I found it hard to reconcile the warm, chatty locals with the disgusting slogans and sectarian bullshit. I can't see the uneasy peace surviving a hard Brexit.

None of this, of course, is news to anyone who lives in or engages with NI, but that's not most English people. All English should visit NI for some time, look around, talk to people, listen to the political discussion on the local radio. It's a beautiful place for a holiday along with an educational experience. I think the lack of knowledge on the part of my people as to what's going on in part of our own isles is shameful and I include myself in that.
posted by winterhill at 11:32 PM on March 3 [12 favorites]


It's been waiting to kick off again in NI for 20 years. The hope was that if the GFA-induced peace lasted for a generation or so, it would break the cycle of retribution and the real healing could begin. That any modern politician has been willing to touch the GFA with a ten-foot pole, never mind decide to unilaterally tear it up and have the gall to blame the Republic for getting awkward about it, is a source of daily despair to me.
posted by doop at 11:46 PM on March 3 [30 favorites]


They are looking at the current situation, seeing a probable Brexit and finally getting ready for Indyref 2.
For an informed but partisan take on where this is going to go, I'd recommend The Wee Ginger Dugcast - conversation between blogger Paul Kavanagh and National newspaper editor Callum Baird (from about 12 mins in).

Their prediction is that the Scottish Government will apply for a section 30 order to request an indyRef in the next few weeks and that Theresa May's government will refuse it. The political mechanic here is that the more likely a "yes" outcome looks in the polls the stronger the Westminster government will look to prevent it. So the issue will go to the courts - who will mull over stuff like the Scottish Claim of Right. Politically the Scottish Government don't really have the option of not calling for an indyRef once the plan Brexit is known: the promise to do this is something which appeared in the SNP manifesto at the last election and which has been agreed by the Scottish Parliament. The impeding factor so far, has of course been that nobody knows how Brexit itself will play out.
posted by rongorongo at 11:51 PM on March 3 [5 favorites]


Why would I oppose the disintegration of the UK? Isn't the return of the occupied 6 counties integral to a global project of decolonisation?

Like with everything else about Brexit, you can project all kinds of wonderful warm fuzzy feelings onto what is fundamentally a right-wing project, but that doesn't reflect reality in any way. Brexit is not a decolonisation project. You seem blinded to the importance of process by your misplaced focus on the ends.
posted by Dysk at 3:00 AM on March 4 [26 favorites]


Ctrl F didn't show that anyone had posted Spiegel's latest interview with Ivan Rogers which is worth a look. He makes the obvious point that should May's deal pass we won't even be at the end of the beginning of the Brexit negotiations. How the "just get on with it" contingent will survive the next 10 years without medical intervention is unclear.

He also says:
The Europeans are saying: Until you tell us something more coherent and intelligent about where you want to go, we can't really have a debate with you. I understand that. But [...] the Europeans also need to tell us what kind of relationship they want. [...] watching until London has sorted out its chaos is an understandable reflex. But it's not the right one.

You've got to be foolhardy to disagree with someone as well informed as IR, but I don't see what on earth the EU could do. If they offered up even the vaguest plan it would be savaged as "interference" in a large part of the UK media. But the bigger problem is who would they offer it to? There is no functioning government in the UK at present, and no prospect of one. If May stands down shortly (as seems likely) she will be replaced by someone far more Eurosceptic than she. Even a plan that was brilliant, conciliatory and generous would simply be shredded. What incentive does the EU have to put in the huge effort needed?
posted by dudleian at 5:46 AM on March 4 [8 favorites]


I do feel like the EU has a explained what they want. They want the UK to slot into one of their previous models. There was an amazing set of slides the EU Commission published that showed the options. The EU doesn't care what the UKs relationship is going to be as long as the Good Friday Agreement is upheld. Either the island of Britain is inside or outside the Single Market is fine, or inside or outside the Customs Union is fine. There are a large range of things that the EU finds acceptable. Northern Ireland is a special place and everyone is more than happy to treat it that way ( including the DUP when it comes to gay marriage).
posted by DoveBrown at 7:20 AM on March 4 [6 favorites]


Why would I oppose the disintegration of the UK?

Oh, I don't know. Maybe because if/when the UK breaks up, it would generally be very much preferred to have people in charge of it who (e.g.) won't manage to give shipping contracts to companies with no ports or ferries, might not attempt to play chicken long enough to steer us into a near-certain hellscape of food and medicine shortages, and generally would possibly have any goddamned idea of what the absolute liquidy shitting fuck they're doing besides clinging to power?

Something like that?
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:23 AM on March 4 [11 favorites]


LeaveHQ, 7 June 2016: We will leave the EU and remain in the Single Market.

Ben Kelly, formerly of LeaveHQ, 4 March 2019: This is just masochism. I can’t endorse it. [thread]
posted by rory at 9:21 AM on March 4 [5 favorites]


Martin Rowson on May's Brexit 'bribe' for poorer towns – cartoon
The cartoon is fine, but I'm posting because of this comment below it:
Nine out of Ten of the poorest areas in Northern Europe are in England. Six of those are in the North.

Many of these poorest regions were receiving considerable EU subsidies that far out weigh May's contribution.

The EU has been helping prop up these areas for years as successive governments failed to adequately readdress the balance between London and the rest of the country. This support has now been taken away resulting in not just less subsidies, but less jobs - less pride.

These are the actions of a guilty government.

If we think it is bad now, just wait until after Brexit. Desperately sad. I feely genuinely sad for all the people that voted for Brexit hoping for a better outcome, a better life, a better community and this is what they have been shafted with.

These people that sold this fantasy are beneath contempt. As is every single MP that has enabled it.


I'm not certain the exact statement is true -- there must be areas in Romania and other places that are also desperately poor. But the general point is right: the EU regional funds helped areas in the UK that the current UK government doesn't care about at all.
posted by mumimor at 1:31 PM on March 4 [10 favorites]


I do feel like the EU has a explained what they want. They want the UK to slot into one of their previous models. There was an amazing set of slides the EU Commission published that showed the options. The EU doesn't care what the UKs relationship is going to be as long as the Good Friday Agreement is upheld.

I think this [PDF] is that slide, maybe?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:59 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


there must be areas in Romania and other places that are also desperately poor.

The statement is based on defining Northern Europe as Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, France, Germany, Austria and Ireland. So the UK is just under a quarter of the combined population (66 v 220M). Yet it gets 9 out of 10 of the poorest places in those countries, which is a pretty shit record.
posted by biffa at 3:40 PM on March 4 [14 favorites]


600 hours until Brexit, barring an Article 50 delay.
posted by adrianhon at 3:55 PM on March 4 [7 favorites]


> 600 hours until Brexit, barring an Article 50 delay.

I've been keeping track and it's still startling to see it put that way.
OMG, they're really going to drive the bus right off the cliff.
posted by RedOrGreen at 7:08 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


Martin Rowson on May's Brexit 'bribe' for poorer towns – cartoon
Potemkin villages turn out to be another of the colourful stories about Catherine The Great that disappointingly turn out to be apocryphal (Potemkin's reputation - he was actually a practical builder of stuff - is thus maligned). But, interestingly, that has not stopped some of her latter day compatriots from treating the idea seriously. And of course in Brexit-land, we have Potemkin traffic jams created by people affiliated with Potemkin departments.
posted by rongorongo at 9:48 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


Thanks Homeboy, that slide and the set it belongs to were exactly what I was referring to.

May's No Freedom of Movement and No ECJ Jurisdiction are the things that rule out most things and the ERG's independent trade policy requirement rules out the rest. All that is left is a Canada style free trade deal on Goods.
posted by DoveBrown at 12:56 AM on March 5


Tommy Robinson going full brownshirt...

Journalist calls police as Tommy Robinson makes video at his home -
Ukip adviser appears outside Mike Stuchbery’s address after legal letter delivered to him
In the footage, which was livestreamed online, Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, demanded to speak to Stuchbery and promised to return on other nights.

Robinson gave Stuchbery’s street address and threatened to give out the home addresses of other journalists, saying: “I’m going to make a documentary that exposes every single one of you, every single detail about every one of you. Where you live, where you work, everything about you is going to be exposed.”

...

Tasnime Akunjee, a solicitor, said Stuchbery was left shaken following the incident.

“Mr Lennon turned up at Mike Stuchbery’s home address at roughly 11pm and again at 5am. On both occasions, he violently banged on Mr Stuchbery’s doors and windows, causing alarm and distress to the occupants,” he said.
[Guardian]

The twitter thread posted by Mike Stuchbery at the time is here.
posted by Buntix at 6:58 AM on March 5 [7 favorites]


The videos are still on youtube. Comments are encouraging violence against Mike and others.

William Rees-Mogg is claiming that Britain will face the rise of the far-right if Brexit is delayed, so it's reassuring to see how quiet they are right now.
posted by daveje at 7:18 AM on March 5 [5 favorites]


William Rees-Mogg hasn't claimed anything for quite a while…
posted by farlukar at 7:56 AM on March 5 [6 favorites]


Your handy guide to the names of assorted Rees-Moggs
posted by flabdablet at 8:11 AM on March 5 [4 favorites]


*Reeses-Mogg
posted by persona at 8:17 AM on March 5 [26 favorites]


Has May's Brexit 'Bribe' Backfired? - Explaining Brexit - YouTube (5:16) TLDR News (tldr; Probably, as the sums are paltry and the intent is obvious.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:32 AM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the Brexit bribe is £33m for the entire SW, pop'n: 4.71m, which comes out to £6.03 each or slightly over £1 per year it is being doled out. My council tax is below average and still went up £64 this year and will likely go up another £68 next year. All in all the total increases in my council tax in the six years that £6 comes in will be about £1500, total council tax paid in the period will be about £10,500. So basically it's not going to go a long way.

Cornwall alone has had about €1.4bn from EU regeneration funds over the last 15 years and was on course for a further 500mn over the next five or so years.
posted by biffa at 10:09 AM on March 5 [6 favorites]


Looks like there's an interesting documentary coming up later on CH4,

The Banks Files: how Brexit “bad boy” Arron Banks was eyeing a massive Russian gold deal
Millionaire Brexit backer Arron Banks eagerly pursued a multibillion-pound gold deal brought to him by a Russian oligarch with links to the Kremlin just months before the EU referendum, Channel 4 News can reveal.

Business associates of the self-styled “bad boy of Brexit” offered to oversee a plan to create a massive new Russian gold company, and tried to arrange a personal meeting in Moscow with key players from a state-owned Russian bank.

Mr Banks has denied that he sought to pursue investments in Russia and played down his contacts with Russian officials.

MPs from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee said last year that he had given more than £8m to the Leave campaign – the biggest political donation in British history – but had “failed to satisfy us that his own donations had, in fact, come from sources within the UK”.
Although as @carolecadwalla points out, this isn't really new info
Looking forward to this. Though I think they mean "will reveal for the first time on TV". What's amazing is that @peterjukes & I have had these docs, as has @damiancollins' committee in UK & @adamschiff's in US for months...and no broadcaster touched it till now
It was something that (IIRC) was covered in the Gaslit Nation interview with Carole Cadwalladr. Which also had some interesting stuff on how Seumas Milne apparently played the role of Gríma Wormtongue/Steve Bannon with Corbyn, keeping him firmly on the Lexit railroad to nowhere.
posted by Buntix at 10:59 AM on March 5 [10 favorites]


*Reeses-Mogg

I think we can all agree those are the worst candy.
posted by jedicus at 11:25 AM on March 5 [15 favorites]


Yes. I hate those Reeses to pieces.
posted by Grangousier at 11:30 AM on March 5 [9 favorites]


Explosive devices found at Waterloo station, Heathrow and City airports
Irish police assist Met inquiry after Republic of Ireland stamps found on packages
A source added that, although the belief was that the packages were sent from Ireland, investigators were not jumping to the conclusion that the motive was to further the cause of Irish republican terrorists. Police believe whoever sent the packages did not mean to kill.

The A4-sized white postal bags containing yellow Jiffy bags were found to be capable of igniting a small fire when opened, the Met said.

They incidents are being treated as linked and the Met’s counter-terrorism command said it was keeping an “open mind regarding motives”. No arrests have been made and inquiries are continuing.
posted by mumimor at 1:41 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Not downplaying the explosive devices thing, but the piece I read about it (prob on the Beeb site) mentioned almost in passing that one possible theory was that it was done for attention. Chalk a big fat one up for common sense that it's seemingly being reported halfway down the news notwithstanding its seriousness, as opposed to the full-on The Day Today goes 24hr WAR style coverage that other attention-seeking violences always seem to receive.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 10:06 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


I had to turn Radio 4 off this morning after Humphries gave the US Ambassador the softest of softball interviews over possible trade deals - that access to UK healthcare and state procurement with arbitration by an 'independent' entity? Not mentioned. But I did hear the ambassador claim that the US has the lowest incidence of food poisoning - a claim which went unchallenged.

According to the CDC, 48 million Americans get food poisoning a year. The UK health ministry puts our level at around 1 million. That's about one in sixty, while the CDC figure is about one in six. Even given gross disparity in methodology and definition, the ambassador was way off beam - but then, that's standard, isn't it? Doesn't the Netherlands have a much higher murder rate than the US, in Ambassadorspracht, but hugely lower in the real world?

Crhist have mercy. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
posted by Devonian at 10:20 AM on March 6 [13 favorites]


The official US take on EU food regulations is that our dislike of GMO crops, chlorinated chickens, hormon-fed beef and penicillin pork are all un-scientific. I rest my case. I guess it's like climate science is up to debate. But would like to remind any Americans who are watching that is was the Obama Administration policy as well.

(And if the UK ends up having all the same consumer protections and workers rights that came with the EU, what's the point of leaving? I know, getting rid of the foreigners. But that comes with a steep price).
posted by mumimor at 12:07 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


I heard that depressing interview as well. The US Ambassador could only repeat how "clean" American meat was. Nothing at all — no questions from John Humphries either — about quality, nutrition, animal welfare standards, etc. etc. etc. FFS.
posted by ZipRibbons at 12:15 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Especially seeing as how Mad Cow Disease kept US beef off UK shelves for...years?
posted by rhizome at 12:29 PM on March 6


Crhist have mercy.

Crhist won't have mercy. He's a bastard. The other two are OK, though.

Today is weird. I gave it up over twenty-five years ago in favour of Radio 3, then my iTunes library and now blissful silence, but even then it was the Daily Mail of the air. I get the impression that since it's been edited by Sarah Sands (late of the Evening Standard, the Telegraph and, yes, the Mail) it's got a lot worse. It really is time for Humphries to go and live on a farm in Wales. Metaphorically speaking. Or in actual fact. I don't really mind.
posted by Grangousier at 12:52 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Supposedly Humphries is retiring this year. God only knows who they'll get to replace him, but at least he'll be gone. Between him and TERF Jenni Murray on Women's Hour there's really no point in turning on Radio 4 until the afternoon.
posted by skybluepink at 1:02 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


It really is time for Humphries to go and live on a farm in Wales.

Oh, that interview:

JH:What will the President be eating on his UK visit?
USAmbo: Definitely Welsh lamb
JH: Now you're appealing to a lot of people!

Beyond parody.
posted by Devonian at 1:07 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


What’s wrong with chlorinated chicken?
Chlorine gas doesn’t come into it. The meat isn’t bleached. Poultry carcasses are washed with dissolved antimicrobials such as sodium chlorite, chlorine dioxide and trisodium phosphate. The US calls the practice Pathogen Reduction Treatment (PRT). The EU banned it in 1997, not because the washes leave the meat dangerous to eat – the European Food Safety Authority has said that PRT poultry is safe – but because it might incentivise poultry producers and processors to give hygiene a lower priority. This argument was used in the 1930s by opponents of milk pasteurisation. Evidence supporting it is still lacking.

Also lacking is evidence that US food is less safe microbiologically than European. For some food poisoning bacteria, the converse could be true. Campylobacter infections have very strong links to poultry consumption. It contaminates the carcass surface and is one of the main targets of PRT. The most recent figures (2016) for England and Wales were 89.72 lab-confirmed cases per 100,000 population. In the EU as a whole it was 66.3/100,000; in the US it was 17.43/100,000.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:48 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'm more concerned by the antibiotic- and hormone-fed beef than the chlorinated chicken. I guess the latter sounds more immediately scary?
posted by Dysk at 10:49 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


It's the disgusting and inhumane practices that lead to the necessity of chlorinating chicken that concern me, and, as Dysk says above, the antibiotic- and hormone-fed beef.
posted by skybluepink at 11:48 PM on March 6 [6 favorites]


It's the disgusting and inhumane practices that lead to the necessity of chlorinating chicken that concern me, and, as Dysk says above, the antibiotic- and hormone-fed beef.

Which is also exactly what the EU says.
posted by mumimor at 12:35 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Food fight: doubts grow over post-Brexit standards
Soil Association raises concerns over chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef
Chlorinated chicken
In the US, farmers are allowed to use chlorine washes and other disinfectants to remove harmful bacteria that may have infected the birds during rearing and slaughter. The EU banned the practice 22 years ago, leading to a long-running dispute over imports of chicken from the US.

The US poultry sector has argued the ban in the EU is not based on science, but the EU is concerned that chlorine may compensate or mask poorer hygiene and animal welfare standards earlier in the food chain.

The European Food Safety Authority has concluded that “chemical substances found in poultry meat are unlikely to pose an immediate or acute health threat to consumers”, but a team of microbiologists from Southampton University found last year that some bacteria remained completely active after chlorine washing.

Antibiotics
The Soil Association report on risks to food in a US-UK trade deal says that the use of “antibiotics per animal in US farming is on average a shocking five times higher than in the UK”.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the gravest public health threats facing the world and investigations last year by the Food Safety and Inspection Service showed that powerful antibiotics were still being used despite new rules to curb their use and combat the spread of deadly superbugs.

Data from a US investigation seen by the Guardian showed that 13 separate antibiotics classed by the World Health Organization as “critically important” to human medicine were still being used in meat supply chains.

Hormone-fed beef
Cattle producers in the US and other countries use hormones to induce faster, bigger animal growth but they have been banned in the EU since 1989.

Australia and America are both pushing to have hormone-treated beef included in any future trade deal with the UK, arguing that the EU’s position on the subject is scientifically flawed.

The EU currently allows some imports of beef from the US but they are for high quality non-hormone treated meat.

American farmers have long complained that the EU quota was a bad deal for them because it was exactly the same as was made available to smaller WTO countries such as Australia and Uruguay.
Underlying all this is also an interesting dispute over what "science" is. "Are these foods dangerous for humans to ingest on an individual level here and now?" Science says no. But if science is asked different questions, such as: "can the use of chlorine in treatment of chickens lead to worse farming practices?", "can the extensive use of antibiotics in farming lead to the development of dangerous drug resistant bacteria?", or "are the consequences of the use of hormones in beef production fully known?", science will give a different set of answers, and these are the answers the EU are basing their policies on.

In Europe, there are very strong groups advocating for more humane and healthy farming practices, and during the last 40-something years, they have steadily gained power, not least because there are farmers and large farmers' organizations on the side of regulation. I've often noticed the difference when we discuss food politics here on the blue. Not saying that all is good at all, but it does make a difference when the industry is on the same side as the consumers to some extent. Which they are because there is a consensus across a lot of EU policies that transnational regulation ensures fair competition.

I'd better repeat: things are not perfect. Heck, they are not even good. But they are better than they would be under the US system.
posted by mumimor at 1:09 AM on March 7 [14 favorites]


The news today is that, shockingly, the EU is sticking to the stance it's had for more than two years, as it said it would and as it always has done.

This is apparently coming as a surprise to some.
posted by Devonian at 1:24 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


(Chlorine exposure is also not awesome for poultry workers)
posted by chiquitita at 1:35 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Jay Rayner (Observer food critic) on Twitter:
Source within one of big 4 supermarkets: if a no deal Brexit, they are sorted for meat, liquid milk and most tinned goods/ pasta etc. BUT... screwed when it comes to fresh fruit/vegetables/butter/cream. Have only 2 days stock in hand. Any panic buying: empty shelves in hours.
Is it me or are we blithely heading into doom once again? I feel like every time we have a "meaningful vote", nothing gets resolved other than the fact that Parliament can't agree on a single way forward, so the can gets kicked down the road a few days.

Except now we only have 22 days until Brexit and the end of the road and the abyss beyond is almost in sight...
posted by adrianhon at 2:23 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


My local Morrisons supermarket in a cynical bid to cash in on Brexit fears now has a STOCK UP AND SAVE aisle with big red urgent-looking signs, full of bulk quantities of tea bags, dried goods, tins. It's the usual seasonal aisle where they put their Christmas crap, Easter eggs, Halloween plastic junk etc.

I'm stocked up on tinned and dried goods, pasta and noodles, rice and so on. I've got loads of spices from the Asian supermarket, they keep forever. But I don't think I'll actually need them because there'll be a shortage, they're more of an insurance policy against opportunistic supermarket price hikes after Brexit day. If British capitalism is good at anything, it's cashing in.
posted by winterhill at 2:49 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Yeah, that's pretty much where I am, winterhill. I've stuffed my freezer full of frozen fruit and veg, although I get a Riverford box weekly -- and am very worried about what's going to happen to them when they lose their long-established supply chains, not so much for my own sake, but because they've gone employee-owned -- and stocked up on other things we regularly eat to avoid gouging more than anything else. Also, you can totally freeze butter and I have several blocks of Kerrygold on hand.

It's a real mark of our privilege that I can do this, and that I'm stocking to maintain our bougie foodie lifestyle. I console myself by thinking that if the shit hits the fan in a couple of weeks, people who don't have the luxury of stocking up will at least not have me for competition for what supplies there are.
posted by skybluepink at 2:55 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


William Rees-Mogg is claiming that Britain will face the rise of the far-right if Brexit is delayed, so it's reassuring to see how quiet they are right now.
I spotted this yesterday but didn't have time to respond as I was at my new job (which is mercifully part-time, so today is Saturday for me). This is pretty much standard Brexiter practice at this point - claiming that there'll be civil unrest, trouble in the streets, increased far-right activity if their particular preferred brand of Brexit is not 'delivered on time'.

Unlike Rees-Mogg and the other residents of the Westminster bubble, I actually live in the real Britain every single day and I'm not noticing a groundswell of opinion that would lead to riots if Brexit is delayed. Anyone would think that the right-wing are trying to encourage trouble and deliver a veiled threat.

Incidentally, this thread is getting a bit long in the tooth and my long suffering computer is struggling to cope with it. Perhaps with the votes next week, it'll be time for a new 'un?
posted by winterhill at 3:21 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


you can totally freeze butter
Worth highlighting because I think many Brits don't realise this. I certainly learned it from a foreigner at an embarrassingly late stage in life...
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:24 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Also, you can totally freeze butter and I have several blocks of Kerrygold on hand.
Totally off-topic, but I was back home in Cheshire last week and popped into Booths supermarket for some stuff you can't buy here. They sell tiny little 125g blocks of something called Cheshire Butter for 75p! I live on my own and don't use that much butter, so I struggle to get through a whole 250g block of butter on my own before it goes off. More tiny packs of things, please!
posted by winterhill at 3:25 AM on March 7


Here's a lovely example of the impact non-frictionless trade will have: a queue of trucks backed up 50 miles from Calais due to the A16 being closed for vehicle checks.

This before Brexit has even happened. But only because the French are making a point:
An ongoing protest by French customs officers, who say France isn't ready for Brexit, continued to cause major disruption around Calais on Wednesday. There were also delays to Eurostar services as officials launched similar protests at Gare du Nord.
posted by ZipRibbons at 3:45 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


“Just got through reading the Lisbon treaty! OMG!!!”: Polly Toynbee on some serious disinformation doing the rounds of social media. I had it parroted to me in real life a week ago.

This was a good piece: The endless Brexit lies have left us in an Orwellian nightmare.

What revoking Article 50 and staying in the EU would be like in practice. [Twitter thread]

Is it worth noting that May's government is considering messing about with the schedule of votes next week if her deal gets voted down again, delaying the votes on No Deal and extension even further? What an absolutely reprehensible bunch of chancers. No change there, then.

I struggle to get through a whole 250g block of butter on my own before it goes off. More tiny packs of things, please!

You could buy 250g blocks (cheaper per gram) and cut them into quarters before freezing individually-wrapped portions.

I always freeze butter to save endless runs to the corner shop (n.b.: raised in Australia, where leaving butter outside the fridge during summer means returning to a pool of ghee). The trouble is my freezer is three drawers at the bottom of the fridge, and needs more than butter stored in it. Still, I'll stock up a bit next supermarket shop to hedge against the expected post-crash inflation, same as with parmesan cheese. It's more the hedging than worrying about Adequate Food, though it's impossible to dismiss those worries too. We're going to have a glut of lamb when we can't export it to France easily. Sandwiches spread with mutton lard, anyone?

If trade routes really were to shut down, a hypothetical U.K. diet would leave a lot to be desired.

Incidentally, this thread is getting a bit long in the tooth and my long suffering computer is struggling to cope with it. Perhaps with the votes next week, it'll be time for a new 'un?

I might rejig some of the above to serve as one... should have a bit of time to today.
posted by rory at 3:47 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


New thread.
posted by rory at 5:00 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


What revoking Article 50 and staying in the EU would be like in practice. [Twitter thread]
This is an excellent piece in a terrible format. Why can't people just get a WordPress or similar blog to write long-form pieces like this and link to them from social media?

See you on the new thread!
posted by winterhill at 5:01 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Just on the off-chance that folks aren't thinking of it, as with the butter: you can also freeze cheese, including parmesan. I have evidence that you can also freeze soft cheeses, since I bought a frozen brie and it warmed up okay - I'd expect some loss of quality with nicer soft cheeses, though. My feeling is that you get some slight loss of texture with cheeses that are rubbery/melty rather than crumbly - ie I had some aged buttercase that froze and unfroze perfectly, but I felt that a melty cheese got a little drier.
posted by Frowner at 5:05 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Threadreader version of that thread Winterhill just complained about also available in PDF format.

Which seems a lot more passive-aggressive than I intended it to be. Which is not at all, by the way, I kind of agree, and would welcome some kind of automatic "open in Threadreader" as a compromise.
posted by Grangousier at 5:06 AM on March 7


If you run out of freezer space, you can always bury your Parmesan in the back yard.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:16 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


NEW THREAD
posted by lalochezia at 8:26 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


About 25 years ago, when Costco was new and shiny, a housemate and I went and got a 5lb block of cheddar with a plan to freeze it. It...did not turn out well. The cheese got all crumbly and with a weird texture when it thawed. Maybe it's a cheap cheese thing or a freezer that sucked more moisture out of things (freezer burn) than normal, but it was only a couple weeks between freezing and attempting to eat another hunk. Though it's almost certainly an overreaction, I've been afraid to freeze any dairy product since.
posted by rhizome at 3:04 PM on March 7


Did you put the cheese into an airtight freezer bag beforehand?
posted by acb at 2:25 AM on March 8


Probably not! Heck, I'm not even sure something like that was readily available in 1991 or whenever this was, but as sheltered burb-kids we would have had no idea to double-check anyway.
posted by rhizome at 4:49 PM on March 8


Though it's almost certainly an overreaction, I've been afraid to freeze any dairy product since.
Don't be! The results of freezing cheese are a matter of debate, but freezing butter is pretty much foolproof.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:40 AM on March 11


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