UK Politics - The Johnson Years. Or Weeks.
July 23, 2019 4:06 AM   Subscribe

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was born on 19 June 1964 in New York and is still known by his family as Al.. He will very shortly become the 16th Prime MInister of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the 77th overall, having been chosen over contender Jeremy Hunt by 92,153 of the 159,320 membership of the Tory Party as their leader.

Among the 99% of the UK's population who didn't get a say, and among the MPs who represent them, opinions are sharply divided. Johnson's pre-political career as a journalist saw him repeatedly sacked for making things up, a habit he has continued to demonstrate in his campaign to become PM. His most recent job as UK foreign minister was marked by gaffs and mishaps, and he is widely regarded as having a disdain for detail and preparation.

He has said that the UK will leave the EU on the 31st of October - just over 14 weeks away - whether there's a withdrawal deal ratified or not. With chancellor Philip Hammond among other cabinet members preemptively resigning in order to fight that alongside many other Tories, Johnson does not seem to have the numbers to get Parliamentary approval for a no-deal Brexit. He won't need the numbers if he can prevent Parliament from changing the law which will currently enact Brexit on that date. Or will there be a vote of no confidence and a snap general election? Nobody knows how this will pan out.

Johnson's victory comes the day after Jo Swinson became leader of the Liberal Democrats, the centrist party that's doing rather well in England out of Brexit at the moment. The first female leader of the Lib Dems, she was a junior business minister in the Cameron-Clegg coalition government, supporting zero-hours contracts, opposing raises in the minimum wage, and helped in removing financial support for employees in employment tribunals, taking them out of the reach of many.

In recent Labour developments, although support for a second referendum with a Remain option has been reiterated "in the case of a Tory Brexit deal,", Corbyn has not said what policy would be in the event of a general election - which is a very plausible outcome of the current Westminster party calculus. And, of course, there is no end to the anti-semitism row.

Finally, Scotland abides. A court case is being set in motion in Edinburgh with the aim of pronouncing any attempt by Johnson to suspend parliament illegal.

UK Politics - The Johnson Years. Or weeks. Who can tell.

(Historical note: On This Day in 1637, Jenny Geddes threw her prayer stool at the minister of St Giles' in Edinburgh, in protest at the imposition of a new prayer book by King Charles I. The incident is commonly regarded as the start of the political turmoil and constitutional crisis which led to the War of the Three Kingdoms - encompassing the English Civil War. Just saying.)
posted by Devonian (414 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
No-deal Brexit it is then.... My thoughts go out to all our mefites in the UK....
posted by Pendragon at 4:08 AM on July 23 [14 favorites]



FOR FUCK'S SAAAAAAAAKE

WE ARE ALL ENTIRELY FUCKED

I AM FEELING SO ANGRY AND DISENFRANCHISED RIGHT NOW FUCK FUCK FUCK
posted by mippy at 4:12 AM on July 23 [54 favorites]


On a completely Metropolitan Middle Class tip:

- I'm going on holiday in October (there's a feeling it will be the last one we can afford) and I am SO glad I booked everything in advance, because our currency is about to tank on this news
- I was eating some mango when it was announced, and while I realise I have Tory tastes in fruit, we're probably not going to be seeing much of THAT in the future for reasonable convenience store prices.
posted by mippy at 4:14 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Just to reiterate - 150,000 people chose the new PM. Meaning nobody outside the Tory party got any say in the matter whatsoever. Hence me throwing out three posts in a row here because there is, it seems, nothing ANY of us can do about anything.
posted by mippy at 4:15 AM on July 23 [13 favorites]


Wait 'til he runs for President.
posted by mippy at 4:17 AM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Fuck fuck fuck
posted by daybeforetheday at 4:20 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Thank god for Independence, says the citizen of a former colony.
posted by Mrs Potato at 4:27 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


When there are no colonies left to fuck up, the English fuck themselves.
posted by awfurby at 4:28 AM on July 23 [39 favorites]


Much as I completely empathise for those who feel the cold tentacles of despair grip even tighter around their souls - and Raab is now on the radio talking about Johnson's 'solid mandate' which is such utter bullshit no bull on earth could actually pass it - I would like to point out that Parliament does not want No Deal, and it doesn't want Johnson.

(He just gave a typically inchoate victory speech including "You don't look daunted? Are you daunted?" to the audience of MPs, who responded with a daunted, uncomfortable silence.)

Johnson is mulling over ways to turn Parliament off. Parliament is determined he won't be allowed to. Only one can win (but both can lose),

Anyway - tomorrow we can look forward to May's last PMQs and the helicopter shots of cars driving through London.
posted by Devonian at 4:31 AM on July 23 [23 favorites]


christ I wish he'd just fallen off that zip wire into the thames and drowned, would've improved things immeasurably

I was reading something by someone who went on that same zipline, and joked that they didn't want to end up stuck like Boris. The operators rolled their eyes and told her that it wasn't an accident - if the line had got stuck, the ride would be unsafe and would have been shut down. Boris *asked* for them to get him stuck.
posted by mippy at 4:32 AM on July 23 [62 favorites]


So, I guess Trump is now guaranteed an ally for the upcoming Iranian war?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:33 AM on July 23


Sadly, we're still attached. It's not just the English wrecking themselves, plenty of Welsh, Scots, Irish,Brits of all flavours looking to make their lives worse. On the very slim upside hopefully this is the end of the UK and we can get that final push for independence ourselves this time around.

If we have to burn it all down to start again and do things better, so be it.
posted by Leud at 4:34 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I would like to point out that Parliament does not want No Deal, and it doesn't want Johnson.

What can Parliament realistically do to prevent no-deal ?
posted by Pendragon at 4:35 AM on July 23


Boris *asked* for them to get him stuck.

What unflattering revelation about his person or career was that engineered to eclipse?
posted by acb at 4:35 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Oh, here we go, it was Popbitch:

> Wire framed <<
The dangling conversation

This time next week, it is highly likely that Boris Johnson will be Prime Minister of the UK – even after his prediction that nobody would ever "elect a prat who gets stuck on a zipwire".

One of our readers went on that same zipwire the day after that little photo opportunity. In the course of making small talk while she was being fastened into her harness, our reader made a passing joke to the two operators that she hoped she wouldn’t get stuck like Boris had – which caused the operators to roll their eyes.

They then explained that if Johnson really had got 'accidentally' stuck, then they would have had to shut the ride down immediately as it wouldn't have been safe. Confused, she asked why it had happened if it wasn't an accident, and they told her "because he asked us to do it".

She didn't get a chance to ask if it was Boris or someone from Boris's team who made the request before her descent – but she made it down the line without getting left to dangle. As did everybody else that day.
posted by mippy at 4:37 AM on July 23 [18 favorites]


What can Parliament realistically do to prevent no-deal ?

It has to change the law that sets the 31st October leave date, and it has to pass a law that forbids leaving on no-deal. To do that, it has to introduce legislation without the approval of the government, which it has done recently with the approval of the Speaker. It's highly non-standard, but doable.

The other thing it can do is vote no confidence in Boris, which will trigger a two-week period in which a new government can be formed: if that doesn't happen, there's a general election. I've seen one proposal that there be a Gnu - a Government of National Unity, made up of centrists of all parties, who'll do...

1. No confidence on Boris
2. Form GNU with pro-tem centrist PM
3. Pass the no-deal-outlawing legislation, possibly with 2nd Ref
4. No-confidence itself
5. Hand back to Boris.

Which sounds crazy to me, but these are crazy times.
posted by Devonian at 4:45 AM on July 23 [12 favorites]


What can Parliament realistically do to prevent no-deal ?

Agree on either a deal or a revocation or a new referendum, I suppose. None of which they seemed willing to do earlier this year so... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Maybe call a vote of no confidence? But I don't see that leading to anything conclusive at the moment either. The LibDems under Jo Swinson could take a lot of Tory voters and potentially a few MPs, but a LibDem government in the event of a GE still seems unlikely. If Labour replaces Corbyn then potentially a Lib/Lab coalition, with a new referendum and a new renegotiation of red lines for a deal if Brexit wins again. Seems like a fairly unlikely scenario, but then again so do all the rest.
posted by Catseye at 4:49 AM on July 23


What can Parliament realistically do to prevent no-deal ?

Literally anything it chooses to: Parliament is still sovereign. The issue is political will.
posted by howfar at 4:50 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


Boyf seems to think that Scotland is our best bet for a Brexit bugout country, but as I have nightmares about Brexit and import/export issues, I don't think moving to Scotland will necessarily make our lives any better, but then I don't know where else is feasible to move to so. .....

::Silently screams::
posted by Faintdreams at 4:53 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


i am reminded of this comment made by Falconetti 11 years ago (!):

If so, it doesn;t seem that big of a deal on a practical level although it might be disturbing on a symbolic level.

https://www.metafilter.com/71342/Boris-is-GEIL#2101482
posted by beshtya at 5:01 AM on July 23


No matter what, Scotland is getting burnt by Brexit hard too, maybe not as hard as NI will be, or Wales but still it's unlikely to be pretty. As a bug out option, well we're trying to be a sane country here so sure come on up if yer not a pair of bams. We're still the UK for now so it's not really a bug out really.

If we do manage to swing this to independence then it's still likely that things will get worse for quite a few years more.
posted by Leud at 5:03 AM on July 23 [7 favorites]


UK citizens have the right to live in Ireland. There is the possibility that post-No Deal Britain will regard Ireland the way that Russia regards former Soviet republics and will attempt to jockey it out of the EU, though the EU has made it clear that they will stand behind their member state.

Failing that, if there are shortages of food/medicine/clean water in Britain, British citizens in the EU may have a humanitarian case for not being deported.

Though if Scotland looks like gaining independence, moving there and trying to ride out the chaos could be worth it.
posted by acb at 5:07 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


[A few deleted. Yeah, "the writers" meme used as "this reality is too bizarre to be real" shorthand has been well and truly overused here on the site for some time now, and people are annoyed with it, so let's move on generally, and also move on specifically by not derailing this thread with meta-complaints and discussions about it. Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:31 AM on July 23 [18 favorites]


No-deal Brexit it is then.... My thoughts go out to all our mefites in the UK....

I'll leave it to @RussInCheshire to articulate a thread arguing that that this may not be the case.

But certainly: with the recent ascent of Jo Swinson to the leadership of the Lib Dems - we now have idiots in charge of all 3 main parties. So... hard to predict anything really.
posted by rongorongo at 5:34 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Boris is PM and it will be 39 degrees on Thursday.

"...and hell followed with him"

I'm curious to see what he does now that he has the job. Leave waited til the day after the referendum vote to start backing down on their campaign promises so I'm expecting the same any minute.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:40 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


It's also important to bear in mind that Ireland will be burnt by Brexit. A very significant amount of imports/exports to/from Ireland go via the UK, so any hit on moving from the EU/Rest of world into the UK and then back into the EU on entering Ireland is going to add extra delays and costs onto Ireland greater than the UK.

If this also triggers a re-igniting of tensions between unionists/republicans in NI then it'll be even worse.
posted by Leud at 5:41 AM on July 23 [12 favorites]


What can Parliament realistically do to prevent no-deal ?

The options are more limited than people seem willing to admit.

1. Agree to a deal. May's deal is the only one on the table. The EU has said repeatedly they aren't open to changing the withdrawal agreement, only the political declaration. It's been voted down repeatedly by parliament, but hey, maybe it's just pining for the fjords?

2. Withdraw article 50. This can be done unilaterally by the UK with a parliamentary majority. Brexiteers, both in and out of parliament, would certainly scream bloody murder. They're already throwing around words like "traitor". I doubt this would get a parliamentary majority, but with no-deal Brexit looming closer, who knows?

3. Extend article 50. Despite what some commentators seem to think, parliament voting to extend article 50 does NOT extend article 50. It requires unanimous approval of all EU member states, some of whom were reluctant to give the first extension and are probably quite annoyed with how we've wasted that time.

And that's pretty much it. Other options, like a second referendum or calling a general election, would NOT avoid no-deal Brexit unless it results in one of the other options listed above before the 31st of October. Simply calling an election or referendum does absolutely nothing about article 50, which parliament voted to invoke back in 2017.
posted by swr at 5:42 AM on July 23 [22 favorites]


He won't need the numbers if he can prevent Parliament from changing the law which will currently enact Brexit on that date.

Even if Parliament change this law, that will achieve nothing without either a revocation of article 50, or the agreement of the EU for an extension. The UK cannot make unilateral decisions on postponing brexit.
posted by Dysk at 5:47 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Christ. I was an exchange student at the University of Edinburgh in 2006 when Boris launched his bid to become the student-elected rector. He finished third--there was well-organized opposition that overwhelmed his attempt. The students knew then that he was unfit to run a chippy, let alone a university (let alone a country).
posted by sugar and confetti at 5:48 AM on July 23 [16 favorites]


There are exactly 💯 days until 31st October.
posted by humuhumu at 5:53 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Corbyn for Christmas please
posted by Chaffinch at 5:55 AM on July 23 [8 favorites]


UK citizens have the right to live in Ireland.

Really? I thought citizenship (which is what you'd need in terms of us losing the right to live and work in the EU) was not granted to all UK citizens, only those who were born in NI or who have Irish parents/grandparents. Is this something that's changed with negotiations?
posted by mippy at 5:57 AM on July 23


[Just as a quick reminder, we do have a general Brexit thread over here. Both these threads can co-exist, but for people who want to separate the streams a bit, in-depth Brexit heavy discussion can carry on there without being swamped by aarrgghhh Boris stuff.]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:59 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


It's still likely that the EU would extend the A50 deadline if Parliament wanted it. The perception, as I read it, is still that Brexit will be profoundly damaging to the EU - although ironically they're absolutely sticking to "No deal is better than a bad deal" from their point of view - and nobody wants to be seen as the EU entity which made it happen while there was a chance it might be avoided.

The major deadline is in the UK law, and the biggest danger is that Parliamentary chaos burns up the available time to change it. That RussinCheshire tweet thread is very clear how precarious the numbers are - there's every chance Johnson will lose any pretense of a majority soon, even if no Tories rebel.

UK citizens have the right to live in the Republic of Ireland due to Irish law (and reciprocal rights exist). We have almost all the rights of Irish citizens, except voting in presidential elections and referendums, and this is entirely independent of EU law.
posted by Devonian at 6:01 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


Boris Johnson, the prime minister? I’m sorry to say that I’m partly to blame
Matthew d’Ancona/Guardian opinion piece
How can this be happening?” I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked this question in the past few weeks.

What people want to know – and I mean people from across the political spectrum – is how Boris Johnson, barring a serious upset, is about to become prime minister, first lord of the Treasury, and generally in charge of everything. How?

One can easily construct a narrative of exogenous forces that have brought the former foreign secretary to the threshold of No 10: the patronage of one-time Telegraph owner Conrad Black, the lobbying of those who argued against John Major’s initial instinct that Johnson should be kept off the Tory candidates’ list, David Cameron’s decision to hold the EU referendum that turbocharged his claim to the top job. But I don’t think such an account gets us to the heart of the matter; in fact, it is essentially dishonest.

To understand how Johnson and the rest of us have reached this point, one has to understand the stage upon which he has strutted. One has to grasp both cultural context and collective complicity. First, one must acknowledge, without qualification or excuse, the huge role that the media – and not just the rightwing press – has played in Johnson’s rise. And this is a very English, and mostly male, story.
posted by mumimor at 6:03 AM on July 23 [10 favorites]


It's still likely that the EU would extend the A50 deadline if Parliament wanted it.

Macron gritted his teeth the last time an extension was granted. It seems very unlikely he agrees to another extension.
posted by Pendragon at 6:07 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]




Not much useful to say except for screaming incoherent fury that 140,000 nutters (aided by the entire UK press) have been allowed to put into power a cynical, sociopathic liar and embarrassment who intends to take Britain out if the EU on the most damaging possible terms basically for reasons of personal expediency.

The one bright spot in all this is that the Palace of Westminster is an old, badly designed building that’s quite prone to catching on fire, so there’s at least a chance that it’ll burn down in the next couple of months and roast all the Tory MPs alive.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 6:10 AM on July 23 [10 favorites]


Roast Tory does sound like one of those weird obscure English foods.
posted by sugar and confetti at 6:15 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry that the conservatives looked at us across the pond and decided they needed a leader clown just like ours. But I actually just gasped with horror to find that Boris Johnson and I were born on the same day in the same city. Now I'm searching my face for signs of ignorance and stupidity. I might have to lie down.
posted by ceejaytee at 6:21 AM on July 23 [10 favorites]


Apparently Ivanka Trump briefly congratulated him on becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingston.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:22 AM on July 23 [11 favorites]


Roast Tory does sound like one of those weird obscure English foods.

It does sound a bit like something from the sort of whimsical lets-not-take-things-too-seriously-chaps-pip-pip-what-ho routine that cunts like Johnson have been allowed to hide behind for years, yeah
posted by chappell, ambrose at 6:23 AM on July 23 [17 favorites]


“Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.”
― Franz Kafka
posted by robbyrobs at 6:24 AM on July 23 [12 favorites]


When he was Major of London, I thought he was probably intelligent, but lazy and full of himself.
During the last three years, I've understood he is not that bright. Anyone with a brain would avoid the premiership at this moment in time (unless they were elected by the people to stop the idiocy, which is not a likely scenario).
posted by mumimor at 6:30 AM on July 23


No matter what the outcome, I fear that English reactionary voters have permanently damaged their relationship with the other countries of the United Kingdom. PM Johnson is the literal manifestation of that.
posted by Automocar at 6:31 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Roast Tory does sound like one of those weird obscure English foods.

Eton Mess
posted by swr at 6:36 AM on July 23 [34 favorites]


My condolences from the US for anyone who wants them. I remember learning about Boris in the early aughts in world government class, I suppose because he was already an outsize character? Or maybe my teacher had a good eye for future political developments, I’m not quite sure.

I hope we see a new trend sweeping the world of low-drama, high-intelligence world leaders rather than high-drama, low-intelligence ones. We’re all pretty tired by now, I would guess.
posted by sallybrown at 6:49 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


The one bright spot in all this is that the Palace of Westminster is an old, badly designed building that’s quite prone to catching on fire, so there’s at least a chance that it’ll burn down in the next couple of months and roast all the Tory MPs alive.

Sadly I think that's not scheduled to happen until 5 days after the Brexit deadline.
posted by traveler_ at 6:51 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


The one bright spot in all this is that the Palace of Westminster is an old, badly designed building that’s quite prone to catching on fire...

Um...you might want to wiki the burning of the Reichstag and see how that worked out for Germany.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:08 AM on July 23 [16 favorites]


Wishing the UK and also the rest of the world good luck with this one. Going to be fascinating to see a worse PM than May.

Although his measured response to Sock Gate bodes well.
posted by dis_integration at 7:20 AM on July 23


I thought this Nicola Jennings cartoon got it about right.
posted by Paul Slade at 7:20 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


Macron gritted his teeth the last time an extension was granted. It seems very unlikely he agrees to another extension.

Not just Macron now either. However, the EU states have previously said they would offer an extension to allow time for a 'democratic event' - i.e. a referendum or general election, and the new EU leadership have recently offered a bit of extra time for no-deal planning. Pissing about trying to get rid of the backstop via threats* ala Johnson's supposed 'plan', not so much.

* Give me everything I want or I'm going to shoot myself in the face and you might get some blood on your shoes. See! I hold all the cards!
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 7:44 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


I, condolences.
posted by clavdivs at 8:01 AM on July 23 [28 favorites]


UK citizens have the right to live in Ireland. There is the possibility that post-No Deal Britain will regard Ireland the way that Russia regards former Soviet republics and will attempt to jockey it out of the EU, though the EU has made it clear that they will stand behind their member state.

Irexit is a thing that has been raised, but the fact that the Brexiters insist that they should turn up at these things and be on stage roaring about Irish freedom has meant that we get Farage et al trying to push it. Given the history between the two countries putting a set of unreformed colonialists up front to tell us that this thing will really free us is the surest way to ensure it doesn't happen.

I don't believe that Boris Johnson has the ability to sell Brexit to Ireland, no matter how far it drags us down. This is a man who thinks it is a funny quip to ask why our Taoiseach isn't "called Murphy like the rest of them' and, who, like Liam Fox, isn't probably all that sure that we really are an independent country. He is also likely to shut down the current prosecutions of British soldiers over murders in the North during the troubles among his first actions, and god knows what hideous things he will offer the DUP to stay in power, so for the moment I cannot see Ireland moving away from the EU no matter what happens.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:09 AM on July 23 [15 favorites]


"We have almost all the rights of Irish citizens, except voting in presidential elections and referendums, and this is entirely independent of EU law.
posted by Devonian at 2:01 PM on July 23 [1 favorite +] [!]"

OH I SEE

I was conflating the right to retain free movement with the right to live and work in Ireland *specifically*. Interesting to know.

"It does sound a bit like something from the sort of whimsical lets-not-take-things-too-seriously-chaps-pip-pip-what-ho routine that cunts like Johnson have been allowed to hide behind for years, yeah"

Hence all those 'hilarious' centrist dad swearwords like 'wankpuffin' and 'cockwomble', thrown out whilst we slowly whimsy ourselves to death.
posted by mippy at 8:09 AM on July 23 [6 favorites]


right to live and work in Ireland
This falls under what's called the Common Travel Area. There was a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the UK and Ireland in May to reconfirm it, and that it will still apply in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
posted by scorbet at 8:32 AM on July 23


Not to worry; after this period of history, performative Britishness (of the “tally ho, old chap!” variety, or the keep-calm-and-carry-on red-phone-box Royal-Baby-street-party-bunting variety) will be as popular as lederhosen and oompah bands were in 1946. Anything with a whiff of Britishness about it, be it old Blur records, Pimm's and lemonade, Hugh Grant movies, or indeed the the word ‘cockwomble’, will be toxic for a generation at least.

What will fill the vacuum? Possibly localisms. Scotland will continue to be as distinct from “Britain” as, say, Iceland is from Denmark, with Wales following close behind and Cornwall not far behind that. Beyond that, there may be regions. People and institutions will play down being British or English and play up being from, say, Manchester or Clapton or Lewes or wherever. Don't mention the war!
posted by acb at 8:36 AM on July 23 [8 favorites]


Devonian: I've seen one proposal that there be a Gnu - a Government of National Unity, made up of centrists of all parties....

An honest question, if I may: have enough politicians made public statements indicating/hinting that they would fall into a group like this, or is this an expression of hopefulness? (Either way, I would love to see a reassertion of good sense come to pass.)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:36 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


It's been interesting reading through the previouslies and seeing all the "well I think he's charming" and "finally someone who doesn't take politics so seriously" along with, admittedly, a fair few people who had him pegged as a nasty, albeit buffoonish egomaniac from the beginning.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:46 AM on July 23


> It's been interesting reading through the previouslies and seeing all the "well I think he's charming" and "finally someone who doesn't take politics so seriously" along with, admittedly, a fair few people who had him pegged as a nasty, albeit buffoonish egomaniac from the beginning.

the last decade has taught us is that sometimes people who appear merely gauche or maladroit are in fact completely sinister.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:59 AM on July 23 [60 favorites]


Cheers to the beginning of a great alliance, from your German friends:
We morphed Donald Trump and #BorisJohnson and accidentally created the next supervillain. #NextPrimeMinister
posted by bitteschoen at 9:04 AM on July 23 [7 favorites]


I wouldn't trust that guy to run a chook raffle.
posted by orrnyereg at 9:08 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I'm deeply sceptical of the idea that there will be a GNU. First past the post is designed to avoid coalitions, and there have been few in the past 60 years. There have been GNU, but it has taken a war which was an existential threat. Cross party collaboration for the good of the country just isn't in the UK political DNA. Hell, parties don't even seem able to collaborate within themselves these days. Add in the polarising effect of Brexit and the binary Marmite / Catnip response of voters to the party leaders Johnson and Corbyn, and I'm very pessimistic. I could happen, but it would require either a catastrophe, or a convulsive and revolutionary change in the way we do politics.

IMO one of the reasons the UK is in this mess is that our politics has an adversarial, non-cooperative, winner-takes-all mindset—which has made it impossible to come to any consensual solution to Brexit.
posted by dudleian at 9:12 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


An honest question, if I may: have enough politicians made public statements indicating/hinting that they would fall into a group like this, or is this an expression of hopefulness? (Either way, I would love to see a reassertion of good sense come to pass.)

Nobody knows. I think that a lot of potential rebels are waiting to see what sort of cabinet Johnson puts together before deciding what to do next, although TBH I don't really see what difference that makes. He's hardly going to have a balanced mix.

Regarding the probability of a GNU: at the moment, all possible outcomes are unlikely, and many promised outcomes are impossible.
posted by Devonian at 9:23 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


"How do you want your democracy? All right, good and hard it is!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:47 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


it's uncanny how much johnson and trump physically resemble each other. that heute-show morph just looks like johnson at the tail end of a bender.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:54 AM on July 23 [10 favorites]


An honest question, if I may: have enough politicians made public statements indicating/hinting that they would fall into a group like this, or is this an expression of hopefulness? (Either way, I would love to see a reassertion of good sense come to pass.)

Rumours are a rumouring, but not many have put their head above the parapet on it so far. Such an outcome would also mandate a pro tem leader who was neither Boris (obviously) or Corbyn as even the saner tories would rather have face cancer than put him in charge, even temporarily.

Boris promised many different things to different people. The 'don't-want-to-cripple-the-economy-and-break-up-the-union' tories (an ever shrinking group it seems) are kinda expecting Boris, once actually in office and faced by the phone-book sized briefings and irate calls from business-owning tory backers to actually go for the current deal by changing the font, sticking something waffly in the pre-amble about alternative solutions - but this time bring the ERG along because he's Boris, the True Brexiteer and they'll fall for it. So they're going to give him a chance to do that.

If, on the other hand, he stuffs his cabinets full of fruits and nuts, and goes full steam for no-deal after a minimalist attempt to squash the backstop, then quite a few more tories will be prepared to try and stop him with a vote of no confidence. And in that circumstance, a temporary GNU looks quite a bit more attractive to 'deal with Brexit' one way or another than an immediate GE where they'll all be slaughtered by a combination of the Brexit Party, their own local party membership and resurgent Lib Dems voters. The question, as always, will be if the saner tories sufficiently outnumber the 'brexit or bust' labour MPs. Up to now, it's mostly been 'no' - but Suicide Boris may well be enough to tip that balance. And then the pressure will be on Corbyn and coterie to allow anyone but him to be PM temporarily.

But hey, after the next couple of days they all toddle off on holidays until September so we can all have a quiet break. Not like there's a ticking clock or a risk of another Gulf War, eh.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 9:55 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


I think it's worth reflecting how this sorry state came to pass.
The short answer is Brexit and therein lies a huge turd of a problem as Carole Cadwalladr has ceaselessly tried to point out.
"Our new PM. A liar. And a cheat. Who we allowed to get away with it".
Meet *Cough* The Man behind the Muppet - Steve Bannon.
Throw in Cambridge Analitica and the sleezy millonaire Arron Banks now suing the makers of a film he hasn't seen and and also Carole for her TED talk.
She in turn counter-sues for harrassment.
Not to mention digital ganster Mark Zuckerberg who would not face Parliament.
Clusterfuck of a magnitude seldom if ever seen before.
posted by adamvasco at 10:09 AM on July 23 [8 favorites]


Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon: if you want more nightmares there’s also this and this . Oh, and there was this too...

On the cover of German magazine Spiegel.

And of course, the greatest endorsement ever. *sigh*
posted by bitteschoen at 10:12 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]




So I get that the British government is parliamentary & that means multiple parties & coalition governments at times. But still, England has 55 million people. How does such a party with such a small number of members take power? They're a fraction of a percent of the population. What am I missing here?
posted by scalefree at 10:25 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


It does seem that this long held idea that we should just accept the results of unlawful interference in an election simply because it would be too much bother to do something about it, whatever that something might be (and there are a range of possibilities), is not working very well for anyone but the cheaters.

What I can't quite figure out yet is how exactly we managed to make it through the entire Cold War without seeing anything on this great a scale, at least in the "developed" countries. Why now, at least twice, if not then? Were the clandestine services at work? (Not likely, given what else we now know they missed) Was it simply that nobody had the intestinal fortitude for a large scale attack on a target that could conceivably respond with force?
posted by wierdo at 10:27 AM on July 23 [7 favorites]


How does such a party with such a small number of members take power?

They get voted for by a lot of people who aren't members. You barely get over a million for members of all political parties combined across Britain. The membership number doesn't reflect their level of popular support.
posted by Dysk at 10:28 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


So I get that the British government is parliamentary & that means multiple parties & coalition governments at times. But still, England has 55 million people. How does such a party with such a small number of members take power? They're a fraction of a percent of the population. What am I missing here?


In the UK, unlike the US, there's a pretty strong distinction between party membership and just voting for that party. In the US, it's entirely reasonable for somebody to say "I'm a Republican" because they vote for Republicans every single time and are registered Republican, even if they've never given money to a GOP candidate or participated in the political process beyond general elections. In the UK, "just" voting consistently for a party doesn't make you a member of that party, formally or culturally.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:30 AM on July 23 [7 favorites]


OK, got it. So the population as a whole votes for the Party then the much much smaller Party's membership votes for the PM. Did not know that.
posted by scalefree at 10:33 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Just dipping in to say:
Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon: ... sometimes people who appear merely gauche or maladroit are in fact completely sinister.
Bravo! That's very dexterously done!

posted by RedOrGreen at 10:34 AM on July 23 [55 favorites]


OK, got it. So the population as a whole votes for the Party then the much much smaller Party's membership votes for the PM. Did not know that.

Leading up to an election, each party has a previously elected leader who is understood to be the PM-in-waiting should that party win. So for example right now Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of Labour and therefore should there be a general election, assuming Labour won a majority, Corbyn more-or-less automatically becomes PM. So normally, it's quite possible to say something like "I generally like Labour but I don't like Corbyn so I'm going to maybe not vote that way this time." A party picking a new PM without a general election also being called is not unheard of, but is... unusual.

(NB: I am not British, I'm just an American with a political science degree focused on electoral systems. So I'm pretty sure I know what I'm talking about but if anybody from the UK says I'm wrong, they're right, I'm a doofus.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:40 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


 If this also triggers a re-igniting of tensions between unionists/republicans in NI then it'll be even worse.
Sadly, tensions remain extremely high, but reporting restrictions appear to keep them off the front page.

Robert Florence summarized this event well on Twitter: “Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister is like you fell asleep at 2019's party and woke up to find it had shaved your eyebrows off and wrote "WANK" on your forehead with an inky.
posted by scruss at 10:42 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Angela Merkel is the leader of the free world and the UK has just gone all in joining the US with the bumbling blond fascist figurehead who trolls and is trolled by Russia. We do live in interesting times.
posted by Ruki at 10:46 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


A racist, an inveterate liar, a man who makes Machiavelli look misunderstood and Pinocchio button-nosed.
Boris Johnson: the clown is crowned as the country burns in hell
posted by adamvasco at 10:54 AM on July 23 [8 favorites]


"A party picking a new PM without a general election also being called is not unheard of, but is... unusual"


It's actually pretty common.
Brown, May, Major I think all become PM without being leader before a General Election.

It's because the PM isn't actually the leader of a party. That's convention, but not actually relevant.
The Prime Minister is anyone who can tell the queen that they can command a majority of the house.
This tends to be the leader of the party with the most MPs because it's assumed that an MP will back their party leader, but in fact you might face a scenario whereby the cabinet is made up of cross party MPs. A national government.

Because our big old mess of a constitution is a bunch of disparate rules and conventions and guidelines.
Also it gets a bit tricky with the Fixed Term Parliaments Act which is a law that sort of assumes a more rational system exists than actually does and draws lines in hard black pencil right over boundaries that used to be a bit more fuzzy and vague resulting in potential legal fidgywidginess that would normally be lost in the fog.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 11:02 AM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Also Johnson's official majority (even including the DUP) is... what? 2?
Because they won't win the Brecon by election and a Tory MP has recently been sentenced for sex offences.

There's also many rumours about various of the leftermost tories to cross the floor to Lib Dem or in one case Plaid Cymru.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 11:08 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Just dipping in to say:
Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon: ... sometimes people who appear merely gauche or maladroit are in fact completely sinister
Bravo! That's very dexterously done!


Indeed; after that, what's left to say?
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:19 AM on July 23 [16 favorites]


And right off the bat - Brussels greets Boris Johnson victory by rejecting Brexit plans: "Boris Johnson’s election as Conservative leader has been greeted in Brussels with a rejection of the incoming British prime minister’s Brexit demands"
posted by soundguy99 at 11:24 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


In the UK, "just" voting consistently for a party doesn't make you a member of that party, formally or culturally.

Eh, kinda. You definitely see people referred to as tories entirely based on how they vote and where their political sympathies lie, without them having to be dues-paying members of the party or anything. Similarly, I know many people who would describe themselves as Labour through and through who are not actually members of the party. I think it's just much more common not to have the paperwork (and expense) of membership even where you have some kind of cultural or identity affiliation with a party.
posted by Dysk at 11:25 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I'm still jealous of the UK system in that you're not necessarily locked to that fuckwit for the next four years.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 11:27 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I'm still jealous of the UK system in that you're not necessarily locked to that fuckwit for the next four years.

On the other hand, there's nothing to stop him standing for an indefinite number of terms.
posted by plonkee at 11:32 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Eton mess is actually the perfect metaphor for what those adorable boys have been doing for generations.
It's what you get when you drop your elaborate dessert on the floor, scoop up the bits and serve it to your guests as though nothing had happened.
It's like they couldn't get more explicit.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 11:34 AM on July 23 [11 favorites]


Really? I thought citizenship (which is what you'd need in terms of us losing the right to live and work in the EU) was not granted to all UK citizens, only those who were born in NI or who have Irish parents/grandparents. Is this something that's changed with negotiations?

The Common Travel Area allows free movement of people, and full reciprocal rights of residence, between the UK and Ireland and their citizens. This is different to (and superior to, the right of residence in the CTA being unconditional) the rights that EEA citizens enjoy in all other EEA states, and is not connected to EU membership.
posted by howfar at 11:59 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


a Tory MP has recently been sentenced for sex offences.

Charged rather than found guilty or sentenced if its the very recent one.
posted by biffa at 12:00 PM on July 23


You all have my sympathies. I can't help but think that Fabian Everyman (aka "The People's Mandate" (and also, admittedly, the Black Pharaoh, or, if you will, Nyarlathotep)) would have been the better choice. Sure, the UK would still leave the EU, but at least the reasoning behind would be solid.

It cannot be easy being cstross these days.
posted by bouvin at 12:11 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


people who appear merely gauche or maladroit are in fact completely sinister

I admire the wordplay, but want to emphasize the 'merely' - these people are incompetent in addition to being sinister.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:11 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Charged rather than found guilty or sentenced if its the very recent one.

That's the one. Thanks!
I was a bit vague on the current state of that. I know he had the whip withdrawn previously over the matter and then had it quietly reinstated when they desperately needed loyal votes.
So I assumed it was whatever the next step in the process was.

It's this dude.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 12:12 PM on July 23


it's uncanny how much johnson and trump physically resemble each other.
The Tories also have Michael Fabricant who already looks like a Boris clone gone wrong.
posted by randomonium at 12:20 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Oh Jesus his name is literally "Fabricant," like some terrible portmanteau of fabricated and replicant
posted by sugar and confetti at 12:38 PM on July 23 [20 favorites]


If you'd like a touch of schadenfreude to go with your existential despair, Jared O'Mara beat Nick Clegg at the 2017 election to become Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam - and then was suspended from the party only four months later after "a series of online posts featuring gay slurs as well as racist and sexist abuse" came to light.

His communications manager just quit and posted a blistering takedown on O'Mara's own Twitter account.

popcorn.gif
posted by aihal at 12:46 PM on July 23 [14 favorites]


What I can't quite figure out yet is how exactly we managed to make it through the entire Cold War without seeing anything on this great a scale, at least in the "developed" countries. Why now, at least twice, if not then? Were the clandestine services at work? (Not likely, given what else we now know they missed) Was it simply that nobody had the intestinal fortitude for a large scale attack on a target that could conceivably respond with force?

Am I missing something? Are you implying direct interference in election results? What propaganda and infiltration look like in 2019 is very different from what they look like in 1969, but there was plenty of that going on back then - that's almost inherent to what the Cold War was.

(And that's including the "developed countries" qualifier because otherwise...)
posted by atoxyl at 1:15 PM on July 23


Everybody's speculating on what Johnson, the bumbling floppy-haired upward-failing Dunning-Kruger exemplar, will do now that he has got his hands on the prize, and a lot of the thinking is that, presented with the responsibilities of office, he'll hem and haw and find some fudge for walking back from the precipice, either by reheating May's deal or going Nixon-to-China, calling the whole thing off and awaiting the applause for being The Man Who Saved Britain.

I suspect another option will happen: that as soon as he is in office, Johnson will move with blitzkrieg speed, carrying out a set of moves that were obviously not put together by a lazy, self-aggrandising posh boy who has never had to learn from his mistakes. Perhaps the gameplan was drawn up by Steve Bannon, perhaps by the Mercers, perhaps by Aleksandr Dugin and a group of Kremlin siloviki, though in either case it doesn't matter. Under Johnson, Britain will charge towards the precipice. Negotiations will be broken off with the EU, rash actions taken, bridges burnt; the anti-no-dealers who thought they had gotten things somewhat under control will be caught flat-footed; the BBC will air footage of moderate interviewees sputtering like landed fish. Trump's remark about Johnson working with Farage will turn out to not have been a random brainfart but rather a lapse of discretion, with the demagogue being promoted over the heads of more capable people. Very precisely articulated chaos—the classic Friedmanite short, sharp shock—will ensue, surprising everybody with the exception of a handful of players.
posted by acb at 2:26 PM on July 23 [15 favorites]


> "Very precisely articulated chaos—the classic Friedmanite short, sharp shock—will ensue"

I mean ... if this occurs, I think it'll be more likely because he bumbles his way off a cliff like a fainting goat startled by a loud noise, but if you want to believe that things happen for reasons, I can't disprove it.
posted by kyrademon at 2:37 PM on July 23


It would be nice to remember that many people in the UK and Ireland share family with each nation. We don't all hate each other, in fact a lot of us love each other and want the best for all of us.
posted by peepofgold at 2:51 PM on July 23 [13 favorites]


Johnson is very limited in what he can do, and no amount of evil genius aid from afar can change that. A rabbit-out-of-the-hat electoral deal with the Brexit Party would devastate his party and by no means guarantee a GE result of any use. He can't get No Deal through Parliament, he can't turn off Parliament, he can't steal an election. What can Bannon or whoever bring to the party?

If I'm being blazingly optimistic - and I do have those tendencies - the least-bad-out for Johnson is the People's Vote. If he's so fucking charismatic and motivating, he can spin that as a unifying move that will finally make the people's voice clear now that everything is known. After all. it's something that he can do without having to get his head around a brief. Poor chap.
posted by Devonian at 2:58 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


And this is a very English, and mostly male, story.

He'd already been at Balliol a couple of years, and moved in circles that mine were mostly just tangential to, but the diffuse consensus regarding his quite exceptional promise (especially given his theatrical bent) was already in place among the cohort of undergraduates, and never really wavered/faltered since then - in that very limited, but determing, arena of discourse, that is.

It's the predictability of it all that feels so dreary, and already did even then. A kind of locked-in syndrome, a grotesque, self-fulfilling prophecy. Sure, it was all good laughs at the time, and everybody fed on the phenomenon.

I'm sorry not enough of us had the wit to realise - nor the wherewithal to question or actually work against - what we were all chuckling ourselves (and most of all, you Britishers) into...
posted by progosk at 3:04 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


"What I can't quite figure out yet is how exactly we managed to make it through the entire Cold War without seeing anything on this great a scale, at least in the "developed" countries."
To put it bluntly: you were the ones doing it, and it didn't worry you then. Now you're having it done to you, you've suddenly developed a distaste for it.
posted by Pinback at 3:12 PM on July 23 [23 favorites]


Like 45, Johnson thinks he's smarter than he is; unlike 45, he's still quite smart anyway. He's a fantasist, a bully, an inveterate liar and assumes wit will always substitute for work, and shows no actual aptitude for strategy or planning, but he has a degree of self-awareness (and clearly disgust) and has the potential to be something else if he can be arsed.

He probably, almost certainly, can't be arsed.
posted by Devonian at 3:16 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Johnson is very limited in what he can do, and no amount of evil genius aid from afar can change that.

He may be limited, though he is also more capable than his cleverly-devised bumbling image makes him out to be. (I think the alt-right call it “hiding your power level” or something like that.) He's lazy and avaricious, and positioned in a place to be able to coast easily, though I don't think that following a carefully laid out plan that has been gone over with him by someone used to grooming operatives is beyond him.

If Carole Cadwalader's reportage has shown anything, Brexit is not just a random confluence of chancers, bigots and cursed fortune; there is some very clever deliberate plotting behind it. (Not necessarily one coördinated conspiracy, but perhaps a few groups riffing off each other semi-independently.) And it has been established that Johnson is connected to Bannon (and to various Russian oligarchs, though London's awash with those).
posted by acb at 3:18 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


He probably, almost certainly, can't be arsed.

The decision whether or not to be arsed might not be his. The likes of Mercer, Putin, and others yet unknown may have considerable motivational power they could bring to bear.
posted by acb at 3:20 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Now that Hunt is out, will the government continue his hawkish stance toward Iran? What (if anything) has BoJo had to say?
posted by CCBC at 3:29 PM on July 23


Stephen Collins has been appropriate about BJ¹ recently: 25 May 2019, 20 Jul 2019.
(Collins was spot-on about Gove back in 2012, too: 'Let me do it, David')

---
¹: I can't bring myself to use his first name. I have a very dear friend called Boris, and it grates to associate the name with that tosser.
posted by scruss at 5:21 PM on July 23


Now that Hunt is out, will the government continue his hawkish stance toward Iran? What (if anything) has BoJo had to say?

I haven’t seen anything that suggests Hunt is out. The Guardian’s what he said, what he meant on Boris Johnson's victory speech suggests Hunt will at least remain in cabinet.
posted by toamouse at 5:32 PM on July 23


It cannot be easy being cstross these days.

I think he writes somewhere that the recent pace of stupidity has left him struggling to keep up. I mean, the position of the Laundry series at present is that the remnants of legitimate human authority in conjunction with the President are presently struggling with an alien abomination that controls the East Coast and much of the Midwest through broadcast news. The UK was almost taken over by a smooth-talking, charismatic protrusion of this alien being, so its security forces invited a different abomination in to rule the UK as a sort of prophylactic measure. And worse things are on the way.

It would seem like a heavy-handed metaphor for the present State of the Atlantic powers except for the fact that it mostly predates the present situation and (which threatened to ruin my suspension of belief) the US President is sane, competent, loves his wife, and cares about other people.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:14 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Very short, pertinent editorial... The Irish Times view on Boris Johnson: Britain’s new nadir
For three years, the EU has negotiated with a shambolic, incoherent negotiating partner guided by no discernible strategy. Now, the British government’s last gambit is a threat to set itself on fire.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 6:29 PM on July 23 [12 favorites]


Cadwalladr a year back.
"Polite reminder. Trump & Brexit are not 2 different things. They are the same thing. Same companies. Same data. Same Facebook. Same Russians. Same Cambridge Analytica. Same Robert Mercer. Same Steve Bannon. Same Breitbart. Same Alexander Nix. Same Donald Trump. Same Nigel Farage".
More here than just another posh boy fighting to the top of the pile.
posted by adamvasco at 6:33 PM on July 23 [30 favorites]


I haven’t seen anything that suggests Hunt is out.
Saw mention on overnight press previews that The Times (maybe?) are reporting/speculating Hunt has been offered Defence and turned it down.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 6:48 PM on July 23


Laura Kuenssberg on Twitter: “As ever, it’s a risky jigsaw - can’t be resolved until Hunt’s position is - 2 men still talking, Foreign Sec doesn’t want demotion, would be happy to stay where he is - sources don’t deny he was offered Defence Sec and said no”
posted by toamouse at 7:01 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


A Reuters Special Report.
In British PM race, a former Russian tycoon quietly wields influence.
Temerko spoke warmly about his “friend” Johnson, telling how the two men sometimes call each other “Sasha,” the Russian diminutive for Alexander, which is Johnson’s real first name. He described how, at the beginning of Johnson’s tenure as Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018, they would often “plot” late into the evening over a bottle of wine on the balcony of Johnson’s office at parliament in Westminster.
posted by adamvasco at 7:31 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


He may be limited, though he is also more capable than his cleverly-devised bumbling image makes him out to be. (I think the alt-right call it “hiding your power level” or something like that.)

A bit of an aside, but "hiding your power level" isn't about a Johnsonian pretending to be an idiot when you're more calculated than that, it means pretending not to be a racist nazi shit lest it put the normies off. It's effectively the same as "stay crypto".
posted by Dysk at 8:32 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Quillette going literal Nazi to, uh, praise Boris's forehead.

There are so many disturbing things about 2019 that the return of phrenology is fairly low on the list, but, just, why?
posted by zachlipton at 10:10 PM on July 23 [8 favorites]


The Jared O'Mara takedown guy milkshake duck'd himself pretty quickly by taking the piss out of JOM's possible substance abuse issues, and others on Twitter are dubious he even worked for JOM.
posted by mippy at 10:40 PM on July 23


Various journos reporting that Dominic Cummings (of Vote Leave fame) is being appointed special advisor to the Prime Minister.

I can only imagine the looks on some ERG faces this morning. Cummings must be crowing. God knows what he actually has planned though - a GE run on the same basis as Vote Leave would be explosive.
posted by pharm at 2:15 AM on July 24


It feels like a good time to revisit my astoundingly prescient comment from July 2016 about how we wouldn't be hearing any more about Boris Johnson, and how bottling the leadership election then meant that he was finished in politics.
posted by Mocata at 2:16 AM on July 24 [13 favorites]


Not to worry; after this period of history, performative Britishness (of the “tally ho, old chap!” variety, or the keep-calm-and-carry-on red-phone-box Royal-Baby-street-party-bunting variety) will be as popular as lederhosen and oompah bands were in 1946....

I was living in France around the time of the 2012 Olympics. At this point it was easy to find Union Jack related t-shirts, etc in local markets. Even the "keep calm" related paraphernalia. London was the city with the 5th most French speakers in Europe and many young people had been lured there by the cities reputation for being more outward looking and cosmopolitan and less rigid than could be found in France. Strange to think that was only 7 years ago.

It was rather the same in Scotland at this point: Scots have a long history of being generally positive towards the union: sure it meant some loss of autonomy - but there would be pay-off in terms of being part of a bigger world: joint projects, bigger markets and a wider world. A building might fly a Union Jack, a Lion Rampant or a Saltire - and nobody would ascribe anything very much to that choice.

In neither case are things the same now: young French people would now think very seriously before considering a move to London - and the choice of flags to display has become a sensitive topic - witness the discussion about Tesco's decision to brand strawberries grown in Scotland as with a Union Jack and the label "British". Flying the wrong flag will not get you hurt - but it will get you noticed, possibly not in a good way.

What seems strange to me is that the term "British" technically should apply to people from the British Isles. The theory is that people from London, Lerwick, Llandudno or Limerick could all talk about some commonality based on language or climate or food preferences or sense of humour. I always like the Wiphala flag representing the assorted Native American people of South America: a flag of commonality and kinship rather than national affiliation - maybe one day we will have some way of looking at ourselves that is like that. But right now, we use "British" to talk about the political state on the United Kingdom - and ultimately that is represented by the Westminster parliament that is hell bound in a hand basket. As you say, there is a lot about that identity that looks set to be seen as increasingly toxic to many.

What will be most interesting to me is to see how this plays out in England. In England we see phrases such as "Britain", "Great Britain", "this Country", "the UK", "this nation" and "England" be used interchangeably by media, politicians and the general public (Johnson's acceptance speech yesterday used "Britain"). More than other nations, I think it is the English who need to consider who they are and where they want to go.
posted by rongorongo at 2:21 AM on July 24 [9 favorites]


What seems strange to me is that the term "British" technically should apply to people from the British Isles.

I heard from an Irish friend that, in Ireland, the term “British Isles” is not popular. Other than having the name of a former colonial power in it, the reasoning goes, why should the set of Great Britain and Ireland have a specific name any more than, say, the set of Great Britain and the Faroes or something?
posted by acb at 2:33 AM on July 24


I too think the Cummings appointment is by far the most significant announcement. The leave campaign ran rings round remain, and I agree that "a GE run on the same basis as Vote Leave would be explosive."

To counteract this, I don't see anyone on the Labour side with Johnson's "charisma" (and even if they did they would lack his cheerleaders in the media) or the strategic intelligence of Cummings. McDonnell is very bright. Starmer could be a force if Seamus Milne did not instantly undermine / neutralise him as soon as he says anything interesting. Corbyn is a good campaigner for any cause he believes in, but he is a failed (and unsackable) leader. The Conservatives could self destruct, but I don't see Labour taking them down.
posted by dudleian at 2:47 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


More than other nations, I think it is the English who need to consider who they are and where they want to go.

Johnson, and Brexit generally, is because of this. Generalising substantially, you have the older half of Gen X and the boomers look towards the future and don't like what they see - they want to return to an older version of England, where we were a 'great nation' and didn't need any of those foreigners and their differences, where people had decent jobs, affordable housing, a functioning NHS and schools etc. And since we've been part of the EU for 40+ years, they've been pointed at that for many years by the papers and journalists like Johnson - a 'flood' of immigrants, a sinister plot by Germany to conquer and control us by economics when they couldn't win the war, just straight up xenophobia (which often extends to the Irish and Scottish too) etc etc to blame for all our ills.

Meanwhile, you have the younger generations who see our future as multilateral, multicultural, that the only way to tackle massive problems like climate change, widespread inequality, workers rights etc is to work together as part of the larger EU project and fear of foreigners as outright stupid. The greatest generation also doesn't want to see no-deal Brexit.

Straight up neoliberalism has failed to deliver what people want from life, and the question is what we do next. A hard swing to the populist right as represented by Johnson and his sinister backers is one possibility, and an alliance between him and Farage could well delivery enough votes (35% ish) to win a General Election and bring about no-deal Brexit, even though support for it only rattles around 25% because the English have been fed a diet of xenophobia via the papers for decades.

Support for any kind of Brexit is falling as the older backers die off, so purely from demographics Remain would narrowly win a referendum today if nothing else had changed. With the dark arts of populist manipulation though, combined with the distorting effect of first-past-the-post, frankly no-one can say with any certainty what's actually going to happen in the next few months - and the outcome of that fight will likely determine the UK's future for quite some time, which will obviously have different impacts on each constituent nation.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 2:54 AM on July 24 [6 favorites]


I should point out something important about the younger generations - Gen X were the last people to have completely free university education in the UK*. They had no tuition fees to pay, and were given a full maintenance grant that didn't need to be repaid. They also graduated at a time when housing wasn't the 10x median salary it is today, but if you don't have £15k or so to pay back at the start of your professional life, it's a lot easier to get secure housing, or take the risks needed to get yourself started in certain careers.

Student fees have got a lot worse since I graduated in the early 00s, and now that route that traditionally allowed bright working-class kids to get out of home and crap small towns is closing. Some students would apply for courses at EU based institutions to offset cost of living - now so is that route closing.

None of the current cabinet had to pay for their higher education. Unless they have children the right age, they do not know what this is like.


*Scotland still doesn't charge tuition fees for Scottish students
posted by mippy at 4:25 AM on July 24 [12 favorites]


I can't bring myself to use his first name

His first name is Alexander. I personally will try to remember to call him Alexander Johnson (or Alexander "Dickhead" Johnson, or similar interposed epithet) wherever possible.

I think many more people know that it's an act now than did when he was mayor.

Something I keep repeating, but I think is useful, is that Intelligence and Cleverness are completely different things. Cleverness is the ability to manipulate data models of the world in your head and Intelligence is the ability to use those models to respond to the universe outside it.

(My use of the two words - not actual definitions).

AOC is obviously very intelligent, for example - whether or not I agree with her (though generally I do), it's evident in interviews that she acknowledges the existence of the world. She looks outward.

Johnson is really not very intelligent at all - possibly dog or horse level - but he's enormously clever (this is a trait he shares with a lot of his generation in the Tory party) - which means that he's constantly building these fantasy universes in his head, and because it's so easy for him, just moves from one to the next, and because he has almost always got away with it, there is no reason for him to believe the world is any other way.

I also have a personal definition for the word Madness: When the world outside one's head flatly contradicts the delusional model of the world inside one's head and one chooses delusion over reality. Everybody is deluded a lot of the time, but most people bump into reality and corrects course, redefines their delusion to fit reality. Some people refuse to do that, and demand that reality conform to their wishes.
posted by Grangousier at 4:28 AM on July 24 [10 favorites]


Rumour has Raab going to Foreign Sec - if Hunt is dislodged - which would be fun, as Raab expressed surprise at how close we are to France.

Patel as Home Secretary would be disastrous, especially as Johnson is highly likely to just leave his ministers of state alone to run their fiefdoms.
posted by Devonian at 4:54 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


New minister Dominic Cummings is more bizarre/disturbing than a mere hard-Brexiter: he seems to orbit in far-right Dark Enlightenment circles.

Perhaps, once Britain has no-dealed, closed its borders and expelled all industry dependent on trade with its neighbours, it can press its entire now-captive population into a death-march cadence to bring about general AI and build Roko's Basilisk. Sure, the humanitarian toll will dwarf Stalin and the Kim dynasty, but once all matter in the universe has been reconfigured into a godlike AI that will abolish death by keeping everyone alive in simulation, it will pale into insignificance.
posted by acb at 6:01 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


More about Cummings and his intellectual circles, and the beliefs common in them:
Pick-up artistry is an unalloyed good, and people should use its techniques more widely.

There are clear biological differences between the races which mean that black people are intellectually inferior to white people, East Asians, and Ashkenazi Jews.

Ends justify the means.

Any activity which brings profit is a good in itself.

It is likely that within the next century the entire human population will be replaced with digital clones of people’s brains, which will be bred to work until they break and then commit suicide, freeing up resources for more efficient worker-clone-brains. This is a good thing.

Men and women have evolved to have different skillsets, and the male one is better.

“Feminism is cancer”

Anyone who doesn’t give all their spare money to Eliezer Yudkowsky, a high-school dropout with no computer programming experience, so he can use it to write an artificial intelligence that will eventually become God and fix all our problems is objectively on the side of destroying humanity. If you spend money on malaria nets or vaccinations or cancer research instead you are doing harm.

There is no action that you can take in bringing about the computer-God, however immoral, that is not absolutely justified.

Spending money on cryogenics is good, though. Putting your spare money into making sure your corpse is frozen after your death is almost as good as giving it to Yudkowsky.

Men are owed sex by women. and a society that is set up to make it more easy for women to refuse men sex is a bad one.

It would be OK if Yudkowsky’s computer-God tortured a few people for trillions of years, if it would prevent people ever getting dust specks in their eyes again.

The single most moral thing you can do with your life is to become a billionaire by any means necessary, however unethical, and then give some of your money to Yudkowsky’s computer-God. You should also try to make yourself immortal.

Venture capitalists are the best people in the world to trust to make decisions about the future of humanity, as they’re much more intelligent than everyone else.

The rational discussion of politics is impossible, so politics should not be discussed. The evolutionary superiority of white men, the toxicity of feminism, the evils of “SJWs”, and the inarguable superiority of libertarian capitalism over all other forms of economic organisation are all not political, though.

The best way to push these ideas is through Harry Potter and My Little Pony fanfic.
posted by acb at 6:44 AM on July 24 [11 favorites]


Carole Cadwalladr's reaction to Cummings preferment:

YOU ARE KIDDING ME

BREAKING: electoral law. The fastest & surest route to power. Cummings masterminded the massive Vote Leave electoral fraud. Johnson headed the campaign & has *never* answered qs about his involvement. Cummings kept his silence. And is now rewarded with top job. Truly, I despair.
posted by Devonian at 7:17 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Yeah, Cumming’s blogroll suggests he has very poor bullshit-artist filters. When said bullshit artists are explicitly trying to immanentise the eschaton it’s definitely a bad sign.
posted by pharm at 7:47 AM on July 24


Fox and Mordaunt sacked. Looks like we're going full scorched-earth.

The latter is a disgrace, particularly if it lets Gavin the Wargamer back into Defence in the middle of a major crisis with Iran. I disagree with Mordaunt's politics, but she was a very good appointment for that role (a respected serving naval reservist etc.)
posted by garius at 9:10 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


 What seems strange to me is that the term "British" technically should apply to people from the British Isles

former mefite Emma Mae Smith wrote this in what seems a political lifetime ago, early 2017:
… an awful lot of professional commenters … need to understand that English and British are not the same thing. In short, British is the elite identity, English the common identity. Britishness was cultivated by the elite long before the 1700s in order to justify the conquest of Wales and reconquest of Ireland. Despite continued cultural imperialism it was only vaguely adopted by the majority of English people even at the height of the British Empire. Most English people were seemingly confused and more or less treated Irish, Scottish, and Welsh people as semi-foreigners. …
The full comment is worth a read. Essentially, "Britishness" to generations (almost) past was aspirational: work hard for king and country and you too could become British, no matter if you were English, Welsh or Scots-born. except it didn't quite work out that way: Britishness became seen as Englishness, and yet not quite.

I see perhaps the last of this elite/aspirational attitude in my octogenarian parents: dedicated europhiles yet ardent Scottish unionists who could never vote for anyone but the Conservatives even if it means Brexit and chancers like Johnson as PM. The alternatives are just too horrible: Labour, too common and talking all "I seen/I done", or SNP, who would naturally lynch my London-born mother at the first whiff of power …
posted by scruss at 9:21 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Grayling's stepped down!

It's OK, if they want him back they can just use the curse.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 9:21 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Here's what I don't get: why did Theresa May throw herself on the Brexit grenade for Johnson's benefit?

She had to know she couldn't get a Brexit deal through, she had to know that she'd go down hard if she couldn't, she had to know that whoever took over as PM after the disastrous Brexit vote would see their political career reduced to smouldering rubble from which it would never recover. But she did it.

Is she in line for a massive payout of some sort? Did she delude herself into thinking that somehow she could make it work and be remembered as awesome May who made Brexit work?

I'm not sure of the timing here on Johnson's part. It seems like Brexit is still going to be damaging to him even if he tries to blame it all on May, but she's clearly set up as the patsy for the failure of Brexit so I must ask why she took the job?
posted by sotonohito at 9:47 AM on July 24


14 gone so far.

Good luck controlling those backbenches, Mr J.
posted by garius at 10:00 AM on July 24


Hunt is out.
posted by pharm at 10:11 AM on July 24


This is the Night of the Long Knives on Red Bull.
posted by garius at 10:13 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


That's so creepy. Johnson advisor Dominic Cummings writes a blog about politics, policy, and science. But his idea of useful related links are strangely lacking in politics/policy. The closest they get are ZeroHedge, Star Slate Codex, Overcoming Bias (Rohin Hanson), and of course Eliezer Yudkowsky (who doesn't have a current blog). It's a cult!

For completeness, I should check what "InfoProc" is. <scrolls down>. It's Steve Hsu. As in "Corey and Steve talk with Joe Cesario about his recent work which argues that, contrary to activist claims and media reports, there is no widespread racial bias in police shootings."

At least that sounded more politics-adjacent... Oh. Oh no. Steve's there specifically because he generated fodder for the "IQ" tag, proudly showing in Cummings tag cloud.

Steve's on the blogroll for the scientific racism. The specific news story that you'd point to, as to why Cummings shouldn't be hired as a special advisor (again).
posted by sourcejedi at 10:17 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


why did Theresa May throw herself on the Brexit grenade for Johnson's benefit?

She had been told two things - first, she'd lost control of the party and that they'd find a way to get rid of her; second, if she went she'd get the numbers to get her deal through.

Which turned out to be an unkeepable promise, but that's pretty much the whole genius of Brexit.

Update - now the biggest change of government without a change of party in history. Forget the Red BUll, this is PCP frenzy.
posted by Devonian at 10:29 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


The Nazis always were into uppers.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:47 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


She had to know she couldn't get a Brexit deal through

When Theresa May took the job there was no requirement for the deal to be explicitly approved by parliament. Dominic Grieve got that added that as an amendment very late in the process. Even after that, she probably had some vague hope that party discipline would get it through anyway, because who's going to vote against Brexit?
posted by grahamparks at 10:49 AM on July 24


David Mundell's gone.

He wasn't much of a Scottish Secretary, but likely better than any available candidate.
posted by scruss at 10:55 AM on July 24


Quote from the PoliticalBetting commentariat:
Fuck me.

When Boris mentioned a Unity strategy, I didn’t think he meant Unity Mitford.
posted by pharm at 10:57 AM on July 24 [25 favorites]


Are we watching the opening moves of a blitzkrieg strategy drawn up somewhere in the Lubyanka or Steve Bannon's Italian gladiator seminary?
posted by acb at 10:59 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


I think the best explanation for Cummings is that Johnson's started planning his campaign for either an election or a second referendum. The man lied his way to victory once, why not again?

As for the rest... well, he likes his grand guignol and he hasn't got much actual talent to choose from. Not that he'd spot it, and not that if he did, he'd want it anywhere near him.
posted by Devonian at 11:13 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Essentially, "Britishness" to generations (almost) past was aspirational: work hard for king and country and you too could become British, no matter if you were English, Welsh or Scots-born. except it didn't quite work out that way: Britishness became seen as Englishness, and yet not quite.

The way I (a naturalised British citizen who arrived from Australia) see it, “British” is the legal designation, and what you fall into if you don't have any other identity. The Hufflepuff of the UK Sorting Hat, if you will. I've only lived in England, but Englishness sounds like something you have to be born into, sort of like being German or Japanese (except for the thin sliver of Englishness that's available to anybody anywhere who cultivates a particular sense of humour, though that's nowhere near sufficient to call oneself English, of course). From what I understand, Scottishness is more democratic (or social-democratic, if you will), with anyone who lives in Scotland being welcomed as a Scot, no tartanry involved. Welshness has the issues of language, though I've met Welsh-speaking Welsh people of South Asian and Afro-Caribbean heritage who would be considered Welsh. So I'm just British, or British/Australian.

If you think this definition of Englishness may have some racism in it, you'd be somewhat right. For a long time, polls showed that it was correlated with whiteness (and presumably having ancestry in the Domesday Book, though if your skin's the right colour, they may not check particularly carefully); usages like “Black British” and “British Asian”, drawing a distinction from “English”, probably don't help. Though recent polls show that this is changing, with a clear majority now considering anybody born in England to be English.
posted by acb at 11:13 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Dominic Cummings for Minister for the Singularity?
Since any technological Singularity would have to have an enormous coercive component that might work.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 11:46 AM on July 24


Well, if Britain is Shite America, it's only fair that we get Shite Elon Musk as a government advisor.
posted by acb at 11:57 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


former mefite Emma Mae Smith wrote this in what seems a political lifetime ago, early 2017:

Bloody hell, a bona-fide proud Lexiter. You don't get many of those around these days, just people who want to argue about how Corbyn will [insert good social-democratic policy] and demand you discuss that, but who shuffle their feet awkwardly when you ask why they're not opposed to Brexit.
posted by ambrosen at 12:42 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


It looks like he meant it when he said 'Fuck business', he's put Leadsom there. She's also in charge of making sure we spend fuck all on hitting climate change targets. That choice looks rational when you look at of the others however.

Priti Patel is now Home Secretary. Dominic Raab is Foreign Secretary. Sajid Javid is Chancellor.
posted by biffa at 1:02 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Am I right in thinking there's literally no attempt at all at representing even the breadth of opinion in the Tory party in this cabinet? All headbangers, all the time? Just one big psychotic echo chamber?

(Yes, I know, Metafilter: Just one big...)
posted by Grangousier at 1:07 PM on July 24 [9 favorites]


I'm trying to find the Marina Hyde column about Andrea Leadsom being the 'second worst Andrea in government' (or similar). Stumbled back upon this gem - The Tory leadership contest: your handy idiots guide. So prescient, or what have you.
posted by peepofgold at 1:16 PM on July 24


Larry the cat has started #kitileaks
posted by Mrs Potato at 1:17 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Grant Shapps?!
posted by peepofgold at 1:27 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


The bottom of the barrel has long since been scraped away. We've been digging so long the barrel itself is a distant memory, far above us through the wet loam.

On the upside, it looks like not having a pension isn't going to be the problem I was worried it might.

(I've been directing my attention towards electric guitars and away from grim reality more and more over the last few years. Recently I've been wondering whether I might have a nice telecaster assembled, registering that it would take three months or so, and thinking "but will I be alive by then?" No, really. I've also noticed that the emotion I feel when I scan the obituaries is envy.)
posted by Grangousier at 1:34 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


 Bloody hell, a bona-fide proud Lexiter.

Yep, that's what Emma May Smith was. I disagreed with almost everything else in their comments, but that reflection was spot-on
posted by scruss at 2:30 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


I think the collective noun everybody's looking for is “shower”.
posted by acb at 2:33 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Me: "Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons."
Husband: "Now they really are trolling."
posted by skybluepink at 2:49 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


This is how he's unifying and exciting the Remain half of the country? By a right-wing putsch run by blaggards?

On the other hand, something more calculated to provoke the less nutzoid Tories to form a coherent opposition is hard to imagine - so one must assume that's what Johnson wants, presumably to throw them to the Brexity wolves in the snap election that's coming up.
posted by Devonian at 2:54 PM on July 24


In isolation this cabinet would be a farce; in context, there are no words. I mean, he could have assigned worse people to more dangerous positions, but fuck me, this stinks. Digging up Priti Patel at all, let alone as Home Secretary?! Rees-Mogg, Son of William allowed near anything, let alone being Leadsom of the House Of Commons? Holy Christ! As mentioned above, not a fan politically either but Penny Mordaunt's an actual Brexiteer who's been rising up through the ranks at Defence yet gets pushed right out, presumably not Brextreme or Eton enough for these guys?

Accidentally touched on politics with someone at work yesterday and without either of us talking about our positions or leanings we came to a quick conclusion that the door of Number 10 is likely to be a revolving one for the near future. Next spin can't come soon enough, ironic twists notwithstanding.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 3:24 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Penny Mordaunt's an actual Brexiteer who's been rising up through the ranks at Defence yet gets pushed right out, presumably not Brextreme or Eton enough for these guys?

I don't think it's about Brextremity or Eton. It's about buying loyalty.

Many of these cabinet picks wouldn't have had a hope in hell of making it onto the front bench in a sane government, let alone in the top ranking positions they've been given. Having been given that opportunity, they will naturally be wary of upsetting Boris, and be incentivised to keep him in power.

Mordaunt has been quite successful in her own right and seems to be well respected in the party. She doesn't need Boris, and he wouldn't be able to bully her around. But at the same time, she isn't seen as enough of a threat to warrant a "keep your enemies closer" appointment. Hence, out she goes.
posted by automatronic at 5:57 PM on July 24 [7 favorites]


It's pretty telling that the only enemy Johnson is keeping closer in that Cabinet is Michael Gove. Apart from that, it's Gussie Thinknottles all the way down.
posted by garius at 11:02 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


I agree and with Roderick Spode as PM...
posted by dudleian at 11:44 PM on July 24


ConservativeHome reckons that "the most reliable key to promotion in this shuffle wasn’t having backed Leave in the referendum – it was supporting Johnson in the leadership election."

The composition of the cabinet, largely extremists and hard-Brexiters, isn't necessarily a sign of any coherent plan. It might be as simple as Johnson dishing out rewards for getting him elected.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:38 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Spode! "Footer bags?"

So: a new day, a new dawn, and word is that the Cabinet is meeting solely to rubber-stamp "the big EU offer" before Johnson makes his statement in the House. That offer may well be May's deal minus the backstop, which is odd as of course the technology exists to negate the reason for the backstop, and thus by its own terms the backstop no longer applies. All they have to do is demonstrate the technology.

Ah.
posted by Devonian at 12:42 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


If only there were a magic word like ‘Eulalie’ that could make Johnson go away
posted by scruss at 2:31 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Hoping that a no confidence vote could see Johnson's term ending very soon indeed? Labour aren't interested. Corbyn: never saw an opportunity to make a meaningful impact that he didn't categorically rule out preemptively.
posted by Dysk at 2:55 AM on July 25 [11 favorites]


… then again, if he had any sense of shame, The Perils of the Pushy Parents (previously) should.

The big EU offer minus the backstop means no deal, then. Brexit has always meant brexit.

Ah.
posted by scruss at 3:04 AM on July 25


Watching Rees-Mogg wanking verbally as Leader of the House is making me glad we have decent gun laws. Otherwise I'd be shooting myself in the face right now.
posted by garius at 3:05 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


According to Laura K,

So according to a source who knows their way around the machinations of Whitehall... if MPs want to be sure there is no chance of leaving without a deal they need to call and win a vote of no confidence today or the first day of recess

and she quotes chapter and verse in an indicative timetable for a General Election from the Commons Library.

So basically, Corbyn has one shot at this and he has to take it now.

In other madness -

In these mad times it's easy to miss details - the head of Number 10's policy unit is now Munira Mirza who was a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party in its dying years. Munira is (or certainly was) very pally indeed with the likes of Claire Fox - Brexit Party MEP.

Johnson's due in the House in the next hour or so.
posted by Devonian at 3:27 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


So basically, Corbyn has one shot at this and he has to take it now.

He's already rubbished the idea. Why? Because it came from the Lib Dems. And Corbyn is deathly allergic to co-operation or compromise, it seems.
posted by Dysk at 3:32 AM on July 25


Unless it's just that he's deathly allergic to the EU and to being honest with the general public or anyone else about his position. Either way.
posted by Dysk at 3:33 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


It is 39° in West London
and Johnson has appointed a raft of disgraced and unqualified fascist buffoons into his cabinet

the car's on fire and there's no driver at the wheel
and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides
and a dark wind blows

the government is corrupt
and we're on so many drugs
with the radio on and the curtains drawn

we're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
and the machine is bleeding to death

the sun has fallen down
and the billboards are all leering
and the flags are all dead at the top of their poles

it went like this:

the buildings tumbled in on themselves
mothers clutching babies picked through the rubble
and pulled out their hair

the skyline was beautiful on fire
all twisted metal stretching upwards
everything washed in a thin orange haze

i said: "kiss me, you're beautiful -
these are truly the last days"

you grabbed my hand and we fell into it
like a daydream or a fever

we woke up one morning and fell a little further down -
for sure it's the valley of death

i open up my wallet
and it's full of blood
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 3:46 AM on July 25 [12 favorites]


From his performance at the dispatch box, it's not unreasonable to wonder what would happen if the Prime Minister were to be caught using cocaine, is it?
posted by ambrosen at 4:18 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Jewish Chronicle: Boris Johnson's appointment sparks fears Labour MPs could step back from fighting party's antisemitism
[...] Mr Corbyn’s closest aides are understood to be convinced that a sizeable number of Labour MPs will now follow the lead of Ms Powell and prioritise the fight against Mr Johnson’s government over the fight against antisemitism.

Mr Johnson will be portrayed as an increasingly hard-right and divisive leader by the Labour leadership.

Labour also plans to circulate a message to all MPs that with under 100 days before the October 31 “do or die” Brexit deadline imposed by Mr Johnson, they should concentrate entirely on attacking the new Tory leader.
Labour is being investigated by the EHRC and it will almost inevitably be heavily criticised - or worse. Maybe this explains Corbyn's advisors don't want him to move a motion of no-confidence in Johnson: his presence lets them argue that we must all hang together, that we shouldn't change horses in midstream, that Corbyn has already seen off two Tory PMs, etc.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:24 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


If I was Boris Johnson, I would probably want Parliament to find a way to prevent No Deal, so that I can simultaneously avoid the blame for not doing it as well as the blame for the resultant hammering to the economy. But, Labour's going round in circles and he's stuffed his Cabinet with the kind of people who think this is actually a great idea, so this seems unlikely.

The appointment of Dominic Cummings plus that Cabinet plus typical Johnson cake-and-eat-it promises suggests that the goal here isn't finding a good solution, it's finding a way to convince the public that a terrible solution was the one they wanted all along. Has worked quite well with Brexit, after all - a lot of Leave voters are now firmly convinced that they voted for leaving the single market (despite Vote Leave's promises otherwise), for the absence of a trade deal (despite the Brexit big guns promising it'd be the easiest deal in history).

Brexit has become an ideology in itself, a substitution for an English national identity. The question has gone from "what's the best possible Brexit?" to "what's the Brexitiest possible Brexit?" A good chunk of the country would vote for No Deal, even if it meant rationing, because that's the most Brexity Brexit possible and rationing will restore us to our chipper Blitz spirit and show those Millennial snowflakes anyway. I don't think Johnson and his lot want to turn this tide in any direction any more, I think they're trying to ride it out while staying on top of it.
posted by Catseye at 4:26 AM on July 25 [15 favorites]


It's the dynamic of the spiral of radicalism, as seen in revolutions. Former hardliners are purged for being too moderate as participants jockey to out-extreme each other. Everybody else, of course, is the grass that gets trampled.
posted by acb at 4:28 AM on July 25 [8 favorites]


Corbyn has already seen off two Tory PMs

From where I'm sitting, which is a country where we've had Tory governments since before Corbyn took over, it looks a lot like two Tory PMs have seen off Corbyn, not the reverse.
posted by Dysk at 4:32 AM on July 25 [14 favorites]


If I was Boris Johnson, I would probably want Parliament to find a way to prevent No Deal, so that I can simultaneously avoid the blame for not doing it as well as the blame for the resultant hammering to the economy. But, Labour's going round in circles and he's stuffed his Cabinet with the kind of people who think this is actually a great idea, so this seems unlikely.

Yes, I think this is the plan. Go to the EU with lots of bluster + when they reject his advances, talk big about exiting on Oct 31st, betting that the cross party remain majority in parliament will (finally) unite to VONC him in order to force a GE. Then he can ask for a short delay from the EU & go to the country as the 'party of Brexit' whilst the Remain vote is split multiple ways between the other parties.

There’s some analysis on Twitter that suggests that this approach would give the Tories something like 400+ seats in the House, assuming the Remain vote is unable to unify itself to vote tactically or co-operate in any meaningful fashion. Those numbers would be fairly compelling & I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Cummings is behind this scheme - it’s the kind of approach he would take & that Boris would like. It’s bold + it takes the fight to the enemy + puts them on the back foot immediately.

It does rely on the EU not calling his bluff & refusing an extension of course. Seen in this light, Labour refusing to call for a VONC makes tactical sense. They’re not ready to fight on this basis at all & will probably get torn apart - from their POV it’s far better to let Brexit happen, stick the Tories with the outcome & then call a VONC immediately afterwards.
posted by pharm at 4:42 AM on July 25 [8 favorites]


Yes, I think this is the plan. Go to the EU with lots of bluster + when they reject his advances, talk big about exiting on Oct 31st, betting that the cross party remain majority in parliament will (finally) unite to VONC him in order to force a GE. Then he can ask for a short delay from the EU & go to the country as the 'party of Brexit' whilst the Remain vote is split multiple ways between the other parties.
The big issue there is, of course, Farage. He can point to things like Johnson previously voting for the backstop and paint himself as the Brexitiest of all the Brexity candidates. There's a good chance the Brexit Party could split the Conservative vote in the same way that the Remain vote is split between lots of different parties and factions. My prediction in the event of a GE this year is another hung Parliament with the Conservatives as the largest party, and we're back where we were.

Labour are nowhere near ready to fight a GE. They've been sending emails to members for the past couple of years claiming that they're in "election mode", but the combination of the anti-Semitism issue, Corbyn's lack of popularity outside London (and in London!) and the continued lack of a concrete policy on Brexit means they're likely to get squished at the polls.
posted by winterhill at 4:47 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


The big issue there is, of course, Farage. He can point to things like Johnson previously voting for the backstop and paint himself as the Brexitiest of all the Brexity candidates.

Yes, absolutely: This approach requires that the party effectively out Brexits the Brexit party - they have to completely occupy the 'we are Brexiting no matter what' space in order to squeeze out the Brexit party vote. Hence Boris’ requiring every cabinet minister to sign up to 'we are Brexiting on Oct 31st' if they want a cabinet post & other pieces of stage management.

Farage himself can probably be bought off with the US ambassadorship if he promises to stay out of the way of the Tories & without Farage the Brexit party collapses - he owns & controls every aspect of it. (UKIP is dead in the water & has no hope of recovery in time for a GE if Farage quits the Brexit party.)
posted by pharm at 4:52 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Note: this is of course only one possible scenario. Given the way things are in flux right now, you can see paths to the premiership for Farage, Swinson & Corbyn. All of them require things to go just right for them & for other groups to make certain choices that are outside their control, but each of them has a path to power if they make the right choices themselves & are lucky in their enemies.

We are at a turning point in the history of the UK.
posted by pharm at 4:56 AM on July 25


I find the Johnson version of the Conservative party very worrying. The top table looks unified, with the membership right behind them. They clearly intend to steal the BxP's clothes. The BxP polls well, but their ground game is almost non existent. The Cons ground game will help them make best use of what they claw back. Who cares if the BxP polls 15% so long as it gets no / few seats?

We've hashed out on these threads how the remain parties are in disarray. I got a consultation email from the Greens who are clearly open to some sort of electoral arrangement, but things need to happen much faster. Labour is still ambiguous. Only yesterday a Labour spokesman (hi Seamus!) was briefing the media that Labour were not a remain party. They need to clarify and simplify their policy as a matter of urgency, otherwise Corbyn will be bloviating like Lear on the stump ("I will do such things—What they are, yet I know not, but they shall be the terrors of the earth!"). Johnson isn't within miles of being a great politician, but he's clever and has the gift of the gab, and would play with that sort of incoherent Labour position like a cat with a mouse.

I agree that this could end up anywhere, but I wish it were the remain and Labour parties that were getting their houses in order rather than the Conservatives. If they don't, I think things will simplify very quickly indeed...
posted by dudleian at 5:26 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Then he can ask for a short delay from the EU

The EU isn't going to give an extension.
posted by Pendragon at 6:12 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Do you think you're fit, Boris?
I think I could probably lose a few pounds.

That is the great thing about Brexit: that after Brexit, I think we will all be losing many, many pounds.


Hang on, sorry—are you recording this? No, no, don't use that! Take that bit off!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 6:13 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


Who cares if the BxP polls 15% so long as it gets no / few seats?

It depends where those votes are coming form obviously. It they are coming from the conservatives entirely, then if we assume 15% of the votes are about 10,000 votes (which seems pretty typical based on votes cast in 2017), even if we allow that they pick up 2000 UKIP votes (and that's high and UKIP didn't stand in a lot of constituencies) then an 8,000 shift from Conservative to BxP would lose the Tories by my reckoning approaching 100 seats. Including Boris Johnson's seat as his majority is about 5000.

Now obviously the BxP will pick up votes from other places but 15% is a massive shift, much less could leave the Tories unable to form a government. Movement of 100 constituencies is a large number and offers the opportunity for a potentially massive majority for someone.
posted by biffa at 6:26 AM on July 25


I subscribe to the Conservative party newsletter. Here is what I got today:
Dear Richard,

No more delay. It’s time to get on with Brexit – and create a brighter future for the UK. If we don’t, we risk letting Corbyn into Downing Street.

We’ve delayed getting things done for too long.

Every delay makes it more likely that Jeremy Corbyn will get into power. And our economy can’t afford a Corbyn government.

So it’s time for change.

We’ll leave the EU by the 31st of October – whatever happens. That way, we can invest in our public services and put the UK on the road to a brighter future.

If you back what I’m doing, then help me do it. Chip in to the Conservative Party and we’ll keep Corbyn out of power together.

With your support, I’ll make sure the £20 billion investment in our NHS gets to GPs and hospitals. Invest in our schools. Give young people the chance to buy their own home. And get a grip on rising crime.

These are our priorities for Britain. Jeremy Corbyn just couldn’t deliver them.

A Corbyn government would be chaos. He’s got no plan for Brexit – so it would mean more indecision and more failure to invest.

The only plan he has is to raise your taxes and rack up more debt.

We can’t let that happen.

So let’s keep Corbyn out – and put the UK on the road to a brighter future. Chip in to the Conservative Party today.

Yours sincerely,
Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson
Prime Minister & Leader of the Conservative Party
posted by vacapinta at 8:58 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


Johnson seems to have broken his first promise as PM already. The promise that EU citizens will have their rights to stay, etc, guaranteed in law before any Brexit? Will not happen - Johnson has been advised that any legislation will be hijacked by Parliament and thus will bring no legislation before November. The official line is that no new law is actually needed - it can be done by dictat - but most legal advice seems to be contrary to this.

Vide Sam Coates of Sky News:

Costa says new law needed for reciprocal commitments in event of no deal in countries like Spain, which need statute (not verbal commitments) to trigger protections
posted by Devonian at 9:11 AM on July 25


And our economy can’t afford a Corbyn government.

I'm no fan of Corbyn but that's quite the misprioritising of threats to the economy isn't it?
posted by edd at 9:30 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]




Don't Johnson and Farage have the same paymasters? I don't expect that Farage is going to be an issue in a GE in that case.
posted by tavella at 9:47 AM on July 25


The EU will not renegotiate Brexit deal, Juncker tells Johnson

I'm wondering how many of the Brexit voters have the slightest idea of what they want from Brexit. Do they seriously have an opinion on the backstop? They want the NHS to work. They want poverty to end. They want to get rid of ice-bags with haddocks. And none of these things have anything to do with Brexit or the GFA. It's all so depressing.
posted by mumimor at 10:47 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


Corbyn is not going to call a VONC before November unless something happens to force his hand at conference. His logic is sound whether it is because he's a Lexit loving monster or because it's the surest way of stopping another 5 years of Tory Rule.
He's already rubbished the idea. Why? Because it came from the Lib Dems. And Corbyn is deathly allergic to co-operation or compromise, it seems.
Swinson tabled an Early Day Motion* calling for a VONC because her target is not Johnson or even Brexit but Corbyn and Labour. The yellow Tories are back. They've already ruled out working with a Corbyn led labour party even after Labour backed a second referendum and a post Brexit election removes their strongest chance at picking up seats.

*something which barely reaches the level of Symoblic in its utter pointlessness.
posted by fullerine at 10:48 AM on July 25


Corbyn is not going to call a VONC before November unless something happens to force his hand at conference. His logic is sound whether it is because he's a Lexit loving monster or because it's the surest way of stopping another 5 years of Tory Rule.

The logic is fucking unsound if you are or care about any EU citizens living in the UK, or if you happen to be more concerned with the country than the Labour Party.
posted by Dysk at 10:51 AM on July 25 [16 favorites]


Unless there’s a miracle it looks like we’re heading for an election. Johnson is road testing some of his some of his slogans. In the 2017 GE Labour were facing by far the worst political campaigner (May) in the last 50 years...
posted by dudleian at 12:27 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


If a GE is called before Brexit there is a much higher chance it will be a BXP/CON landslide and 5 years of Swivel-eyed loony government.
How do you think EU Citizens living in the UK are going to be treated by Farage's lot?

Brexit is bad, No-Deal Brexit is disastrous but a CON/BXP coalition with a decent majority is an existential threat for anyone not British, white and rich.

I wish there was another way but I can no longer see a way of stopping Brexit which doesn't immeditely play into the hands of the far right. An immediate VONC and General Elextion post Brexit will give us the best oppurtunity of stopping and reversing the damage before it is too late.

I would gladly welcome automatic UK citizenship or ILR for any EU national who wants it and the deceitful and disingenuous way they have been treated by the government is fucking vile. A future Tory government will make the current horrorshow look tame and fighting that is not putting the Labour party before the country.
posted by fullerine at 12:33 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


vacapinta's newsletter does sound much like an election statement or brief manifesto. Jeremy Corbyn would only get into power via an election; who cares otherwise?

Johnson is simply about his own interests, short and long term. So if it works for him he'll go for it, if not, not.

I think that he will say, do, act, pay homage, pledge, anything that keeps him in power. He's truly amoral.
posted by peepofgold at 12:34 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


An immediate VONC and General Elextion post Brexit will give us the best oppurtunity of stopping and reversing the damage before it is too late.

That's a strange conception of "before it's too late", being after the horse has bolted. At best this is accelerationism blind to the very real possibility that Labour will be just as useless in November as they have been for the last several years.
posted by Dysk at 2:29 PM on July 25 [7 favorites]


Seen in this light, Labour refusing to call for a VONC makes tactical sense. They’re not ready to fight on this basis at all & will probably get torn apart - from their POV it’s far better to let Brexit happen, stick the Tories with the outcome & then call a VONC immediately afterwards.

That is assuming that Brexit doesn't come with an Enabling Act (i.e., the Henry VIII powers which were already touted). If it does, Labour may not get to do anything again.
posted by acb at 2:35 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Boris Johnson says he has 'no idea' why he met with Cambridge Analytica
He met with then-CEO Alexander Nix in 2016 when he was Foreign Secretary.
posted by adamvasco at 3:44 PM on July 25 [6 favorites]


Bristol Uni EU law prof Phil Sypris outlines how Johnson could be intending to leverage Brexit to win a general election.

It’s more plausible than taking Johnson’s madness at face value (“The UK will leave the UK!”).
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:13 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


The Transatlantic Triumph of Trumpism: Boris Johnson – A Plan Years in the Making

Churchill College, Cambridge, 2013. A December weekend out of term time, and a hundred or so right-wing libertarians are gathered in a lecture hall to hear an American talk with two rising stars of the Young Britons Foundation (YBF) on its 10th anniversary.
Self-described as a ‘Conservative Madrasa’, the YBF was a youth insurgency movement within the Conservative Party and the right in general. 
posted by adamvasco at 5:47 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


The Ham of Fate
By Fintan O’Toole in the NY Review of Books
In his only novel, Seventy-Two Virgins, published in 2004, Boris Johnson uses a strange word. The hero, like Johnson himself at the time, is a backbench Conservative member of the House of Commons. Roger Barlow is, indeed, a somewhat unflattering self-portrait—he bicycles to Westminster, he is unfaithful to his wife, he is flippantly racist and politically opportunistic, and he is famously disheveled:

In the fond imagination of one Commons secretary who crossed his path he had the air of a man who had just burst through a hedge after running through a garden having climbed down a drainpipe on being surprised in the wrong marital bed.

Barlow, throughout the novel, is in constant fear that his political career is about to be ended by a tabloid scandal. In a moment of introspection, he reflects on this anxiety:

There was something prurient about the way he wanted to read about his own destruction, just as there was something weird about the way he had been impelled down the course he had followed. Maybe he wasn’t a genuine akratic. Maybe it would be more accurate to say he had a thanatos urge. [Emphases added]

The novel is a mass-market comic thriller about a terrorist plot to capture the US president while he is addressing Parliament in London. The Greek terms stand out. In part, they function as signifiers of social class within a long-established code of linguistic manners: a sprinkling of classical phrases marks one out as a product of an elite private school (in Johnson’s case, Eton) and therefore a proper toff. (Asked in June during the contest to replace Theresa May as Tory leader to name his political hero, Johnson chose Pericles of Athens.) The choice of thanatos is interesting, and the thought that he might have a death wish will ring bells for those who have followed the breathtaking recklessness of Johnson’s career. But it is akratic that intrigues.
posted by mumimor at 7:25 AM on July 26 [8 favorites]


I wish there was another way but I can no longer see a way of stopping Brexit which doesn't immeditely play into the hands of the far right. An immediate VONC and General Elextion post Brexit will give us the best oppurtunity of stopping and reversing the damage before it is too late.

Post-Brexit means you won't have stopped Brexit. The damage will have been done and no one really knows how that is going to play out, beyond that it is not going to go well. This isn't a strategy, it's just letting stuff happen and seeing if it might turn out well for Labour, even if parts of the country (Northern Ireland!) go on fire in the mean time. The Good Friday Agreement has always been fragile and peace in NI is not a thing that is guaranteed, at least not going by my relatives, all of whom are basically just waiting for the calm to break at the moment a border post goes up.

And that's without the harm this is causing to both EU citizens in the mainland (including the Irish - the uptick in shit people feel free to say to Irish people in England is depressingly predictable ) and the UK citizens in the EU. There isn't some point post Brexit where Labour can set it all right with a GE win, because too many people and other countries will have been damaged in the process.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:32 AM on July 26 [14 favorites]


> The Good Friday Agreement has always been fragile and peace in NI is not a thing that is guaranteed, at least not going by my relatives, all of whom are basically just waiting for the calm to break at the moment a border post goes up.

There's open talk of unity polls in NI now and even my coworkers who identify more closely with their Scottish/British history are of the mind that Dublin would respect their rights more as citizens than Westminster. That's something I wouldn't imagine happening two years ago.

Granted it's been over 900 days since they've had a government.

I'll be traveling back and forth between now and the end of the year landing in Dublin and driving north each time because that routes are so much easier. I'll get to see how quickly everything goes to shit.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:31 AM on July 26 [8 favorites]


Is "Bloaty McBloatface" an appropriate nickname for Boris Johnson?
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:11 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


In his only novel, Seventy-Two Virgins, published in 2004, Boris Johnson

Oh COME ON

From the same article:
It means literally “not being in command of oneself” and is translated variously as “weakness of will,” “incontinence,” and “loss of self-control.” To Aristotle, an akratic is a person who knows the right thing to do but can’t help doing the opposite. This is not just, as he himself seems to have intuited, Boris Johnson to a tee. It is also the reason why he embodies more than anyone else a Brexit project in which the very people who promised to take back control are utterly incapable of exercising it, even over themselves. “Oh God, oh Gawd,” asks Barlow in a question that now echoes through much of the British establishment, “why had he done it? Why had he put himself in this ludicrous position?”
I suppose Boris is great, in a way. His crimes are too large and too stupid and too plainly adolescent for the imaginations of normal adults.

Honestly, if these years of very public humiliation at the hands of men who are the very living manifestations of the inadequacies of aristocracy and oligarchy are not sufficient to inspire revolution, well... We are fucked, I suppose. We apparently need to suffer unto fucking death to see these moronic monsters for what they are.

Speaking as an American: at least your evil idiot can complete a complex sentence. So. You've got that going for you.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:56 AM on July 26 [12 favorites]


And Fintan O'Toole is an international treasure.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:57 AM on July 26 [4 favorites]


I think Johnson's a monster, but not moronic. He doesn't care if he appeals to 'moronic', in fact laugh if he does, laugh more if he doesn't. It's all the fun and challenge of 'winning' from his expensive schools and colleges. All the connections gifted his family, friends, networks. People like Johnson are joking because they cannot really 'fail'. They are always able to brush away 'failure', because to them the people who call them failures are, in themselves, failures - lower beings - the poorer ones, not part of the group.

He really isn't an idiot or a moron. He's clever because he's received years of very very good education. He's no genius, because, listen to his speeches.

He knows how to win a crowd tho - he did it in London.

Two things. Because he doesn't actually care about Brexit apart from being in power, perhaps he doesn't burn things to the ground - anything that keeps him PM.

Second thing is that - is the only person who can destroy Johnson is himself - that he can do enough/something that turns off the general public. Maybe like cowing too much to the US (cos the older Brits dislike the Americans, America, 'took too long to enter ww2'). Letting the French win?! Shown to be an absolutely ridiculous turd that even middle England turns off.

I don't know! I know a few middle-Englanders and have listened to them - but who knows what will happen.
posted by peepofgold at 2:27 PM on July 26 [3 favorites]


Boris Johnson, Britain's newly-crowned prime minister of the U.K., was born in New York City and only recently relinquished his American passport when the Internal Revenue Service chased him for unpaid taxes.
posted by adamvasco at 3:12 PM on July 26 [4 favorites]


Nigel Farage has launched a pro-Brexit group which can take anonymous US cash
World4Brexit, registered in Michigan for tax purposes, is reportedly expected to get "informal advice" from Steve Bannon.
posted by adamvasco at 5:48 PM on July 26 [9 favorites]


It seems to me the problem with Boris is that his policies are atrocious, not where he was born. More power to the UK for not having the stupid "native born" requirement the US does.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:35 PM on July 26 [6 favorites]


UK on course for no-deal Brexit as Johnson rejects EU agreement
There are so many absurdly stupid things in this article I can't find one in particular to quote. It's worth noting that Johnson as promised is trying to negotiate bilaterally with each member state, which they already tried two years ago and it didn't work then either!
But I have a question: if there is no deal by, say September, what can Parliament do? A vote of no confidence is fine and good, but will there even be time for a GE and a new vote for the Withdrawal Agreement before the 31st of October? And who would even be able to ask the EU for a new extension, since everything points towards a totally chaotic new Parliament after a GE?
posted by mumimor at 10:24 PM on July 26


if there is no deal by, say September, what can Parliament do? A vote of no confidence is fine and good, but will there even be time for a GE and a new vote for the Withdrawal Agreement before the 31st of October?

The fixed term parliament act changed the rules a bit. Assuming Parliament finds a way to block Johnson from going for no-deal (which will be tricky if the government doesn't put any bills forward before November, which it won't because they'll be hijacked) then Johnson can try for a GE vote which needs 2/3 of MPs backing - so Labour would have to agree, but given Corbyn has been calling for another GE since 2017, it's hard to refuse. Quickest time scale for that is 6 weeks, so if he waits until October then he can try and get no-deal by default while Parliament is suspended for the election campaign, with whoever wins getting to pick up the pieces afterwards. As seen above, lexiters would actually prefer this outcome.

If Parliament can't block no-deal, then they can call and win a VONC - there's two weeks for an alternative government to be formed which can win a vote of confidence in itself; which would have to have a number of tory defectors, plus labour and the SNP, probably the lib dems and possibly others - i.e. a government of national unity, which would then either revoke article 50 or more likely call a 2nd referendum and ask the EU for an extension to hold it.

If a government of national unity is not formed in two weeks, then it's definitely a general election after at least 6 weeks. Parliament would also have to find a a way to pass a law forcing Johnson to ask for an extension to hold a general election (this is how parliament forced May to ask for the last extension), and hope he doesn't just ignore it.

Clearly with the new cabinet and people like Cummings, Johnson is expecting a GE before brexit - and he's planning to out-hardline Farage and blame a traitorous parliament and inflexible EU-thats-punishing-us as to why he's got to have one to usher in our glorious post-brexit paradise. If he can finagle it so no-deal happens during the campaign, so much the better. He knows he's not going to get a changed deal, it's all positioning so he can blame the no-deal economic chaos on the EU and remoaners who never believed in Britain - the latter which he already did in his first speech outside number 10.

The nightmare prospect is it might just work, despite no-deal brexit supporters being a substantial minority in the country, because of FPTP voting; with remainers split 3 ways, labour a total mess and the brexit party nobbled or in alliance with Johnson, and people just fed up of brexit entirely and wanting it to be over, he could potentially win a majority with around 30% of the overall vote, or less if he ends up forming an alliance with the DUP and brexit party.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 11:15 PM on July 26 [13 favorites]


And behind the curtain: The special advisors.
Cummings, Elliott, Westley – Boris Johnson’s Game of Russian Roulette
posted by adamvasco at 5:23 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]




Nadine Dorries has been made a minister in the health department.

No words.
posted by Devonian at 9:26 AM on July 27 [2 favorites]


I've got a few.

But I should try to swear less. I'm sure I'll need swear words where we're currently heading, and I don't want to wear them out now.

But still...my god the contempt: the naked contempt they have for us. For literally everyone who isn't them, regardless of expertise or insight. The best anyone else hope for is to be Nadine Dorries, a favoured pet, kept for amusement and weaponisation.

Things are really bad. They're going to get worse before they get better. They're going to get better.

But Nadine Dorries...
posted by howfar at 11:21 AM on July 27 [8 favorites]


He might as well go the full Caligula and appoint a horse.
posted by daveje at 11:55 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


Brexit: government 'operating on assumption' of no deal, say Gove
The government is “operating on the assumption” that Britain will leave the European Union without a deal on 31 October, Michael Gove has said.

The new chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who is in charge of no-deal preparations in the Cabinet Office, said there was a “very real prospect”(£) that an agreement would not be struck with Brussels before that deadline.

Writing in the Sunday Times, he said that while the aim was still to leave with a deal, the government needed to prepare for every eventuality. “With a new prime minister, a new government, and a new clarity of mission, we will exit the EU on October 31. No ifs. No buts. No more delay. Brexit is happening,” he said.

“The EU’s leaders have, so far, said they will not change their approach – it’s the unreformed withdrawal agreement, take it or leave it,” he added. “We still hope they will change their minds, but we must operate on the assumption that they will not.”
posted by mumimor at 1:38 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


There's no question the Government wants everyone to believe it's deadly serious about no deal. They big question is what does the government believe? Gove has seen the papers, is bright, and was (before his preferment depended on it) a No No Dealer.

I want to believe that this is a high stakes games intended to force the EU into saying no new deal, and parliament into deny thing the government the ability to no deal, at which point its a GE.

You may say I'm an optimistic fool and the government is driving hard for no deal. But even my optimistic reading is a perilous plan whose wheels could fall off at any moment.
posted by dudleian at 3:40 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Gove has seen the papers, is bright, and was (before his preferment depended on it) a No No Dealer.
I think Gove wants the EU to say no so he can campaign in the GE on a "reluctant" No Deal and by the time the economy really starts to unravel they'll be 6 months into their 5-year term.
posted by fullerine at 3:57 AM on July 28


I don't think the not worth the paper it's printed on Fixed Term Parliaments Act is going to save any government from a general election pretty quickly after no deal. It has no constitutional effect, and won't even have any dubious "moral" authority it might lay claim to in more normal circumstances. The only thing that would protect a government in that case is a big majority. I don't see how anyone can get a big majority in this situation.

I very much think everyone is fucked.
posted by howfar at 4:21 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


I mean, apart from the fascists. They're not exactly winning yet, but they're currently the only group that seem to have some evident and plausible paths to actually improving their position.

Most of what we can measurably do is harm reduction. I think now is a good time to get more involved with projects based in our local communities. I think we're really going to need each other before this is through.
posted by howfar at 4:43 AM on July 28 [9 favorites]


I don't think the not worth the paper it's printed on Fixed Term Parliaments Act is going to save any government from a general election pretty quickly after no deal.

The main intent of the act was to make it harder for the lib dems or conservatives to bring down the 2010 coalition government suddenly. Previously, pretty much any signature legislation (such as the budget or queen's speech) could count as a confidence vote and bring down the government. What it did do in effect was prop up May's zombie government who had enough votes to pass an official confidence vote, just, but not to do anything else due to Brexiteer rebels etc, thus cementing the 'in office but not in power' problem. Under previous precedent, her first massive loss by 230 on the withdrawal agreement would normally have been enough to topple a government.

The idea that a government needs 2/3 of MPs to agree an early GE is kinda meaningless, because when are the opposition going to refuse to fight one? As seen in 2017. And even if they do refuse, a government can call - and deliberately lose - a vote of no confidence in itself.

What protects a government as before is a healthy majority, so the usual rebels (there's always some) can't hold the government to ransom; May tried to appease the DUP and brexiteers because she had to, and look how well that turned out for her, and the rest of us, and that lead directly to the currently radicalised tory party.

If we do have a GE before no deal, I think we probably won't have another one immediately afterwards unless the result is exceedingly close. It seems likely that the next election will result in another hung parliament resulting in at least a two-party coalition again, but probably a big enough one to survive a while at least. If we don't have one before though, we definitely will afterwards.

It will come down to how many anti-no deal tories facing deselection will decide to properly stick it to Johnson and the ERG, and whether Corbyn will work constructively with the other opposition parties as a progressive alliance. Given we've been waiting 3 years for either to significantly happen*, I'd like to believe the sharply growing likelihood of crashing out might finally prompt some actual backbone and less posturing, but I'm not holding my breath.

* what co-ordination has happened previously has been as a result of strong cross-party work by backbenchers, not least Dominic Grieve & Yvette Cooper - but it's going to need more than that this time.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 7:00 PM on July 28 [4 favorites]


I was going to post another article talking about how the government has been taken over by people who are imposed on instigating a no deal Brexit at all costs (like this one from from Michael d'Ancona - or this thread from Nicole Sykes - Head of EU negotiations at the CBI.)

Then I saw the cartoon "Dizzily Brexit" by Steve Cutts - can't improve on that - something about the way the unicorns are able to grasp the teacups with their hooves.
posted by rongorongo at 5:46 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]




The thread from Nicole Sykes is a bit easy to misinterpret - from what I understood she is looking at the impact of No Deal on the UK, and what the UK and EU have done to mitigate the effects on business in the UK. So that "the EU has done less than the UK to mitigate no deal disruption" doesn't mean that the EU27 is less prepared than the UK, just that they haven't decided to make a huge effort to solve the UK's problems for them. (Or make mini-deals).

It also now looks likely that there would have to be direct rule in NI with a No Deal Brexit. The NI civil service has only very limited powers without the Assembly in place, and considering that NI will be probably the worst hit in the UK, there will need to be flexibility there. On the other hand, direct rule with the DUP propping up the UK government is not a particularly good option. The third (ideal) solution of getting Stormont up and running again is made extremely difficult given the whole situation and the different aims of all concerned.
posted by scorbet at 9:13 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


It also now looks likely that there would have to be direct rule in NI with a No Deal Brexit.
I saw this somewhere today and was quite disturbed. It is a radical (if natural) development, and I don't think it will end well.
posted by mumimor at 9:20 AM on July 29






Ow, that refusal to meet EU leaders article's got some things to unpack:

* discussing no deal while touring nuclear subs is not the most subtle form of sabre-rattling.

* the “Ruth has been a fantastic leader of the Scottish Conservatives. I am lost in admiration for what she has achieved.” quote basically means she's out tomorrow. Maybe he can try to install another non-Scottish tory like the second-in-command at the Scottish Office?
posted by scruss at 10:58 AM on July 29


Grangousier: "Scotland gives the new Prime Minister a warm welcome!"

Looking forward to a 3 second, no-audio clip of that arrival appearing on the BBC.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:08 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]




Scotland gives the new Prime Minister a warm welcome!

I was saying "Booo-ris"!
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:03 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


Open letter from Alastair Campbell to Jeremy Corbyn.

I find it quite difficult to disagree with him.
posted by Grangousier at 5:43 AM on July 30 [18 favorites]


From Séamas O’Reilly in the Guardian, a look at the Irish Taoiseach:
Leo Varadkar looks like an adult because the UK is acting like a spoilt toddler
posted by scorbet at 1:15 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Boris got roundly booed in Wales, of course, and you can hear the catcalls from Dublin in Norfolk.

While we're waiting for those uppity Oirish to defer to their traditional colonial masters (I wonder why so many people in London think that this is a good attitude to publicly take?), I think the next few weeks will be most interesting for numerical reasons. I missed this Guardian story form last week -

Some economists believe the UK economy contracted in the three months to June, marking the first negative quarter in seven years, as a consequence of factory closures planned to avert any potential disruption around the original 29 March Brexit deadline. Official growth figures for the second quarter are due to be published next month.

All the indicators - and all the anecdotal chatter - is that things are going to reveal themselves as pretty putrid in every set of figures that comes out from hereon in. There have been some shocking inflationary pressures let loose in retail, we're more than a quarter into the post March 29 stasis that's really kiboshed any sort of normal business planning, and the main response of the new British prime minister has been to fondle a chicken.

Confidence is not high.
posted by Devonian at 5:51 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


Ooops! There goes the US as trading saviours

guardian
posted by couch at 1:36 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Phil - from channel "A Different Bias" discusses the question of "Would Boris Johnson Push a General Election?"
He is talking about the notion that Johnson and his advisors, knowing that that need for GE is looming whatever happens, will opt to (effectively) trigger one to take place before the October 31st deadline. Not a great option for him - but better than waiting to be forced into a no confidence vote or of delaying a GE until after the chaos of "no deal".

My guess is that this possibility will also be being war-gamed by the various opposition parties. The way that such a GE would play out in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are particularly interesting.
posted by rongorongo at 1:52 AM on July 31


“The American dimension to the Good Friday agreement is indispensable,” said Richard Neal, who is co-chair of the 54-strong Friends of Ireland caucus in Congress, and also chairs the powerful House ways and means committee, with the power to hold up a trade deal indefinitely.

Here's the thing. The UK also likes to characterize the US as an ex-colony, which is technically true but that was 250 years ago and it consisted of a few small states huddled against the east coast. Even then large parts such as New Amsterdam, I mean New York, were Dutch or French or Spanish or Native American. Then came waves of immigration: Chinese, Irish, Mexicans, Jewish and other refugees from the wars and the expansion of the US to several times its size while also continuing to absorb Mexicans and enslave Africans .

Sure, the countries share a common language but don't let others (especially those in power in the US and UK) use that in order to flatten the US into being some sort of naturally Anglo country that is culturally aligned with an Anglo United Kingdom.

The UK as well has rapidly become a European country. Waves of immigrants coming to work, to be British, to win gold medals and Nobel prizes for their newly adopted country.

The right-wing in power, in both countries, are representing countries that no longer exist and probably never existed and this is why they are so often both clashing hard against reality.
posted by vacapinta at 2:02 AM on July 31 [20 favorites]




Ooops! There goes the US as trading saviours


No US trade deal if there's a border in Ireland? That's been a thing for some time. The Tories have ignored it, of course, but it won't go away.

Which is Brexit through and through.

And this is quite something too -

Boris Johnson Senior Advisor Dominic Cummings: “I know a lot of Tory MPs and I am sad to say the public is basically correct. Tory MPs largely do not care about poorer people. They do not care about the NHS”
posted by Devonian at 3:23 AM on July 31 [8 favorites]


The NI parties are being quite frank about their meetings with Boris Johnson today:

Nichola Mallon, SDLP Deputy Leader:“We went into this meeting concerned that he would have a limited understanding of the complexities and fragility of this place and those concerns have been confirmed...”

Naomi Long, Alliance leader:“I don’t know if the prime minister has a plan; if he does he certainly disguises it well, but I hope that if he does not have a plan today that he goes home tonight fully aware of the need to get one, and get one fast...”
posted by scorbet at 5:54 AM on July 31 [7 favorites]


What does Dominic Cummings want?” in the New Statesman.

I wonder if he realises how quickly the toffs will throw him under the bus when he ceases to be useful to them.
posted by pharm at 11:07 AM on July 31


“What does Dominic Cummings want?” in the New Statesman.
I wonder if he realises how quickly the toffs will throw him under the bus when he ceases to be useful to them.


That is an interesting article. The implication is that Cummings is really somebody who would be more likely to side with remainers than leavers on many issues: not at all in terms of "leave things as they are" - but very possibly in terms of "any political system that can get us into this kind of mess is in bad need or reform". With Johnson and his ilk now coralled into the open and stuck in prominent leadership roles - he finds himself advising many of the sorts of people that I am sure he would probably like to get shot of. I am reminded of Douglas Adams' story of Golgafrincham - the planet that got rid of an entire class of unwanted managers by convincing them that their home was about to be destroyed by a mutant star goat and that they were the carefully ones who needed to to be sent away by spaceship as an advanced party of new-planet colonisation. "No Deal Brexit" certainly has mutant star goat qualities.

So - there is theory that it depends on whether the toffs wake up to what might be happening in time.
posted by rongorongo at 1:34 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Reformers who find themselves trapped in the service of the regressive sometimes turn into the most fearsome regressives themselves. Beware converts.

Cummings is by far the most interesting ferret in the sack. I would absolutely caution to judge him by what he does rather than what he says - what he's done is deliver Leave by lying, fraud and cynical manipulation. That he's capable of simultaneously making the cattle he's culling believe he's on their side is not in any way antithetical to this.

(On edit: it occurs to me that there may be more than one herd...)
posted by Devonian at 3:34 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


Cummings thinks that the right answer to difficult problems is revolution. Like many revolutionaries he fails to consider the likelihood that overthrowing the current power structure wont necessarily leave him in control afterwards. Revolutions eat their own.

It’s starting to look to me as if the goal of this administration is a chaotic No Deal Brexit which they can use to justify signing a take-no-prisoners FTA deal with the USA which essentially turns us into a vassal 51st state. Plenty of people are poised to make a massive amount of money out of such a deal & the US-facing part of the right wing in the Conservative party have been agitating for something like it for years. Cumming’s love-in with the tech-bro right in the US also points in this direction - the man stands around wearing OpenAI T-shirts as if they’re statements of intent - but I doubt he’ll be allowed to remain anywhere near the corridors of power once such a revolution has been forced through: there’s money to made & men like Cummings would just get in the way.
posted by pharm at 5:37 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


NB. Cummings makes some very weird claims for why leaving the EU was so important in the Q+A after this talk at Nudgestock (some kind of London advertising industry affair I think). Skip to around 25 minutes for his personal reasoning, which reads as a huge piece of projection to me, but the whole talk is worth watching.

Cummings put together a ruthlessly efficient organisation for winning Vote Leave & he’ll be just as effective campaigning for Boris because, like all revolutionaries, he does not care about burning the polity down in order to get what he wants. The other parties are going to be hamstrung because they’ll still be playing the usual iterative game where they have to come back to the same board next time around & that constrains how far they are willing to go. Cummings is happy to flip the board in order to be able to do whatever he wants with the pieces afterwards.
posted by pharm at 5:44 AM on August 1


Dominic Cummings is bringing a railgun to a fist fight with opponents who tied their arms behind their backs.
posted by dudleian at 6:58 AM on August 1


I've read a bit of Dominic Cumming's blog, and I've read Tim Shipman's books where he features quite heavily.

He's intelligent.
He works hard and long hours.
He's obsessive about data from polls and focus groups, but uses it objectively rather than looking to confirm his opinions.
He focuses on achieving his current task, not using the task to promote himself or his clique.

In the world of politics and media he's sometimes seen as having mysterious superpowers, but I think it's basically that he has those four qualities and nobody else seems to.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:31 AM on August 1 [8 favorites]


First comment (from one Kem Trayle) in this article:
Brits: We’re leaving the EU.
EU: Want the same trade terms?
Brits: No.
EU: You’ll need a border then.
Brits: No.
EU: Then you’ll need open borders with all WTO countries.
Brits: No.
EU: What about customs checks then?
Brits: They’re easy. Technology. Don’t need a border.
EU: How?
Brits: Trust us.
EU: Will it be in place by the time you leave?
Brits: No.
EU: Then you’ll need a border.
Brits: No.
EU: How about we keep the current agreement until you get your alternative in place?
Brits: No.
EU: Then you’ll need a border.
Brits: OMG WHY ARE YOU PERSECUTING ME THIS IS SO UNFAIR I HATE YOU!
posted by Grangousier at 7:44 AM on August 1 [29 favorites]


It'd be funny if it hadn't been government policy for three fucking years.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:06 PM on August 1 [8 favorites]


Brecon & Radnorshire by-election result:

LDEM: 43.5% (+14.3)
CON: 39.0% (-9.6)
BREX: 10.5% (+10.5)
LAB: 5.3% (-12.5)
MRLP: 1.0% (+1.0)
UKIP: 0.8% (-0.6)
posted by Chrysostom at 7:33 PM on August 1 [4 favorites]


MRLP: 1.0% (+1.0)
UKIP: 0.8% (-0.6)
Quoting for glorious emphasis!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:06 PM on August 1 [5 favorites]


That... that's the Monster Raving Loony Party?
posted by Justinian at 9:24 PM on August 1 [5 favorites]


UK Polling Report: The Boris-Bounce so far:
The trends across all these polls are very consistent – compared to pre-Johnson polling everyone shows the Conservatives gaining support (up 10 points in Deltapoll, 8 in MORI, 7 with Opinium, 6 or 7 in YouGov, and 3 with ComRes). In each case support for the Brexit party has dropped by a similar amount, while support for the other political parties remains broadly consistent... you can fairly characterise it as Johnson’s leadership immediately winning back a chunk of support from the Brexit party.

While The Conservatives will no doubt take some cheer from being ahead again in the polls, they should perhaps not take too much. The polls show them back at around 30% – where they were in March – as opposed to figures in the high 30s or low 40s that they recording at the tail end of last year. Boris Johnson has not magicaclly repaired all the damage they have suffered in the last few months – primarily it would seem because they are still losing a significant chunk of their 2017 support to the Brexit party. The fact they are ahead again is as much because of the splitting of the anti-Brexit vote between Labour and the Liberal Democrats. In the early months of this year Liberal Democrat support was around ten percent and Labour were mostly in the thirties; now the Liberal Democrats are typically in the high teens and Labour normally in the twenties.

Secondly, it is very much the norm for a new Prime Minister to receive a boost in the polls. They normally come to power with a flurry of announcements and activity (and that often contrasts with the drift of whatever moribund government they’ve just replaced), their natural supporters once again project all their hopes and dreams upon them, and a fair chunk of the media are normally treating them as the messiah. It happened with John Major, Gordon Brown, Theresa May and now Boris Johnson. Generally speaking those factors don’t last, and neither does the boost ...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:03 PM on August 1


The good news is that the Lib Dems win Brecon and Radnorshire byelection, cutting Johnson majority to one.
The bad news is that the UK less able to cope with hard Brexit than it was in spring, say officials
From the latter article:
The document also echoes specific warnings made to government earlier this year, including that “demonstrations are likely to take place across the UK and may absorb significant amounts of police resource. There may also be a rise in public disorder and community tensions.”

It reiterates the likelihood that “low income groups may be disproportionately affected by price rises in utilities and services” and by “price rises...including food and fuel”.

There is also concern that food banks may struggle for funding – a record 1.6m emergency food parcels were given out by the Trussell Trust food bank network last year – more than 500,000 of them to children.

Though ministers insist “worst-case scenarios” are not predictions, they are used by officials for planning purposes to help highlight and address problems.

The money announced on Thursday includes sums to pay for stockpiling medicines, though hospital heads have previously warned this might not be enough to stave off shortages.
posted by mumimor at 12:10 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]


That... that's the Monster Raving Loony Party?

I'm calling it now. By 2025, we will be voting in the MRLP as the safe, moderate option.
posted by automatronic at 2:42 AM on August 2 [5 favorites]


Say what you like about the MRLP, they’ve been consistent in their policies for many years. Unlike our current government and opposition.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:00 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]




Prepare your Maximum Surprise Reaction: just 16 percent of the first 50 prospective parliamentary candidates for the Brexit Party are women.

As yet, the percentage of shape-changing lizard-aliens is unknown.
posted by Devonian at 5:20 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


Re: the Brexit Impossibility Theorem - I struggle to think of any comparable issue or crisis in a modern or historical context that has so thoroughly and intractably paralysed a government and legislature. Are there any similar impasses that have lasted in such a prolonged, destructive way?
posted by Happy Dave at 5:27 AM on August 2


And if there are any, were there any such states not eventually broken by something super dramatic like a plague, war, economic collapse or revolution? Where the status quo was reasserted?

Put another way, how can Westminster continue to function after such a stark laying bare of its foundational weaknesses?
posted by Happy Dave at 5:30 AM on August 2


Hard Brexit happens by default unless the UK government keeps asking for extensions, and the EU member states keep unanimously voting to give the UK extensions.

So far, those things have kept happening. That doesn't mean they will keep happening forever.

I feel a bit like we're standing in a room that's ankle-deep in petrol, watching someone juggle flaming torches, listening to people explain the It's Impossible To Drop A Torch Theorem.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:41 AM on August 2 [13 favorites]


One thing it's struck me about both the UK and the US is that each of our constitutions (unwritten and set in stone respectively) seem not to be fit for purpose. Of course, that's what the radical types (Cummings, Bannon, etc) want - the only opportunity one has to completely rewrite a country to one's own wishes is when it suffers such a crisis. Revolution is one kind of crisis that a country can suffer, but not the only one.

That said, it remains to be seen how well the new regime's tear-everything-up approach will sit with people generally, especially those who have voted on such an instinct since 2015 (I'm including Corbyn in that, at least the first time). I'm convinced that most of them are heartily sick of things being torn up, and would rather have stability again. Not that they'll get it, but I think that's where their heads are at.
posted by Grangousier at 5:43 AM on August 2 [4 favorites]


Don't think these have been posted yet to this thread, so here are the three latest posts from always-worth-reading Brexit Blog by Chris Grey (Professor of Organization Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London): posted by Cantdosleepy at 7:27 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]


Fintan O'Toole has come up with an, um, interesting way for Ireland to stop a no deal Brexit.
posted by scorbet at 8:38 AM on August 2 [5 favorites]


I like how he points out that calling on Sinn Féin to take up their seats is pointless and will never happen, then suggests an even more unlikely and ridiculously tortured scheme as an alternative.
posted by Dysk at 8:49 AM on August 2 [8 favorites]


I think that he is accurate in his assessment of Sinn Féin ‘s frustration - representing the majority viewpoint in NI - on an issue of almost existential importance , elected on a mandate of absenteeism from Westminster, unable to make any impact at Stormont and faced with time running out. I think they will face pressure to try Finton’s wheeze - and I can’t see them being too frosty about it.
posted by rongorongo at 10:30 AM on August 2




I feel incredibly sorry for the MRLP. Their USP has been poached and more successfully put into practice by at least four other parties.
posted by reynir at 12:50 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


Who/what are the MRLP?
posted by DoveBrown at 1:12 PM on August 2


Monster Raving Loony Party.
posted by Dysk at 1:17 PM on August 2


I just realised it's the Monster Raving Looney Party. I guess that is the point at which you have made it as a political party is when people just use your initials and almost forget what it stood for.
posted by DoveBrown at 1:17 PM on August 2


It’s more that their full name is a pain in the arse to type repeatedly, on your phone, as you cling to MeFi threads through the long, long days as your single source of rationalism in the sea of blithering idiocy that a country you once sort of understood seems to have become.

Sorry, must use my inside voice.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:42 PM on August 2 [7 favorites]


In my defense I did try googling "MRLP politics UK" and nothing. This being Mefi I thought it might be a new leftist grouping, I hadn't heard of. My best guess was "Marxist Reform Labour Party". ^_^

On topic do people think the Conservatives getting 39%, does or does not contain the new PM bounce? If it does then Mr Johnson is going to have a tough time in the next election.
posted by DoveBrown at 3:05 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


From Sinn Féin’s perspective, I don’t see how this plan is in any way superior to sitting around with their feet up, maybe pointing and laughing a bit, until the inevitable border poll. Why on earth put so much time and effort into such a fiddly and risky scheme just to legitimise the old status quo, whose destruction is the entire point of your existence?
posted by doop at 11:13 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


Well, they're hardly going to be pointing and laughing if their constituencies are suffering economic collapse and violence...

That said tho trying to find ways to stop this that rely on SF giving up their seats so magically 7 new MPs from NI can perhaps save us all from the Brexiteers is nuts. It also relies on the belief that SF voters are entirely in their power to hand over to other parties. There is nothing to stop someone splitting and running on abstention and a traditional SF platform and by the time we get a few more weeks along Boris will no doubt have done something appalling to ensure nationalist voters to make that more viable.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:51 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


The Boris Bounce is comprised mainly of Brexit Party members coming home, apparently. I imagine that could help him retain seats in a GE, but doesn't bode well for getting a new majority.
posted by skybluepink at 12:00 AM on August 3


Well, they're hardly going to be pointing and laughing if their constituencies are suffering economic collapse and violence...

Doesn't seem to be bothering any other MPs, not sure why SF would feel more responsible than the MPs actually involved in voting this travesty of an idea (brexit) through Parliament.
posted by Dysk at 12:34 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Ok, so not literally pointing and laughing, but maybe pointing out repeatedly that the Brits are doing a terrible job and how’s about that border poll now, would solve an awful lot, wouldn’t it?

Both of these cases are substantially better than the current Tory approach of, when pointed at industries that are either collapsing or moving away (or indeed have done), either ignoring it or insisting that those involved should just industry harder. At least pointing and laughing is rooted in some acceptance of reality.
posted by doop at 1:27 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I have to admit, I’m still not entirely convinced that it’s a serious proposal and not some kind of payback for the various articles from the British press blaming Ireland for everything, or even suggesting "British Unification" as a consequence of no deal. I can’t really see Sinn Féin going for it in any case.
posted by scorbet at 3:28 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Doesn't seem to be bothering any other MPs

Come up to Scotland and say that.

There are large numbers of MPs profoundly bothered by Brexit. The numbers aren't right to make things happen, though. The point is that SF may, uniquely, be in a position where they can make a practical difference if they want to.
posted by Devonian at 5:59 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Many other MPs, my mistake.
posted by Dysk at 6:04 AM on August 3


Why would they want to make this practical difference? It will delay a united Ireland and it will avoid addressing the root cause, viz that this is a British problem caused by British votes in a British referendum with its roots in the myopically anglocentric colonial worldview of.. the British. The idea that they owe some duty to their constituents implicitly sees them as part of the British state apparatus, and the whole point of their existence is that that’s exactly what they are not. They are Irish. It is not even slightly in Sinn Féin’s long term interests to come riding to the rescue to save the British from their own stupidity here, and the idea that it could be just seems like yet more anglocentrism to me.
posted by doop at 6:48 AM on August 3 [10 favorites]


Because Brexit is profoundly damaging.

There's this "Oh, the SNP must LOVE Brexit because it's accelerationist for independence" trope that gets a lot of media time. It's not true. There may be some nationalists who think that way - I'm sure there are, it's a broad church with some real loonies - but if anyone cares to ask the grown-ups you'll get "No. Brexit is extremely harmful for everyone, and we need to stop it with urgency."

There's a cynical view that all politicians put their agenda first, while there are in fact plenty who are genuinely in it for public service and advancing the best interests of the people. Of course, they think their agenda does that the best - otherwise why have it? - but if something notionally advances that agenda at great cost, then they'll not do it.

I don't know SF very well, so I can't say where they are in such thinking, but it's not fair to assume they're insensible to the vast harm Brexit will do for everyone.
posted by Devonian at 8:40 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


I think perhaps it would be good if before people comment about SF they might read why it exists and what its aims are. It explains a lot about what they will and will not do.

Seriously though how do people from the UK have so little concept of SF? They were banned from the airways for years sure but they were reported on as terrorists for years so I would think something about them as a party dedicated to Irish freedom would have stuck.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:45 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


I mean they were the political wing of the IRA so that should be some clue as to their feelings about saving England from itself.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:56 AM on August 3 [6 favorites]


I may be lamentably uninformed about the specifics of Sinn Féin policy, but the current generation are different from that of Adams and McGuinness, and have twenty plus years of the GFA to inform them. Although they don't take their Westminster seats, I understand that they are active as local councillors (and at Stormont until relatively recently), a left-wing party rooted in their communities and just as keen to represent the interests of their constituents as any other left-wing party.

Which doesn't mean they've abandoned their principles, but at the same time they're more than merely the expression of a political ideal, and it's not impossible that this situation offers them a dilemma between that ideal and productively representing their constituents.
posted by Grangousier at 10:23 AM on August 3


Ithey were always active as councillors and MPs. That is not new. Not is their belief that the people of NI are better served by a government in Dublin than the UK.Present circumstances are proving that so not sure why they would ride to save the UK now.

They gave up guns not values.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:43 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


It would be an extraordinarily bad look for them to take up their seats or allow some proxy to do so - a complete 180 on decades of policy, comparable to, I dunno, the DUP accepting Dublin’s jurisdiction over 12th parades. In any case they cannot take up their seats without holding an Ard Fheis, so if it this gets even slightly close to happening it will be telegraphed well in advance. I would not expect such a proposal to go down well for the reasons lesbiassparrow describes above.

Besides, for anyone who likes the idea of Irish republicans who do actually take up their Westminster seats and/or participate in the British state apparatus, there’s always been the SDLP. They lost their last three seats in 2017. To Sinn Féin.
posted by doop at 11:00 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


It has been posted out often on these threads that is is v annoying to have people comment blithely on Brexit while knowing nothing about the UK and how badly it will affect people.

Just think about how unpleasant it might feel as an Irish person to see people from the mainland UK not bother to learn anything about Ireland and its parties and situation. Addmitedly I have two cousins who are SF councillors so I have a certain bias here, but still it would be nice if people just looked things up about Ireland once in a while. Don't be like the Tory pary!
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:19 PM on August 3 [21 favorites]


I think perhaps it would be good if before people comment about SF they might read why it exists and what its aims are. It explains a lot about what they will and will not do.

This is very good advice - especially with relation to NI politics, which are particularly different from those in the rest of the UK. The comments here were derived from a suggestion by Irish Times journalist Fintan O Toole. Mefi readers might consider him to know more about Irish politics than some random ignoramus from the Daily Express or Radio 4 - but he is also an outsider when it comes to what is happening in Northern Ireland. Following Fintan's Twitter feed we can see that SF have not exactly gone running to embrace his proposal. Also it should be noted that SF chairman, Declan Kearney, did talk about the importance of those parties which supported remain - including SF - working together - back in 2017 (scroll towards bottom of article for his quote). He almost certainly did not envisage the prospect of his party lending its seats to the cause - but there does seem to be evidence that SF are not simply content to watch the outcome of Brexit from the sidelines.
posted by rongorongo at 11:48 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]


At this point this might be better on metatalk, but my point was that if you are going to call other people out for ignorance then don't announce you know nothing about SF or something else and then argue based on that ignorance.

In this particular context, given the histories between the two countries and the current situation where the UK is being run by an old school imperialist I don't think it is unreasonable to ask people to look things up about Ireland once in a while. That is all.

And now I think I will step out of this thread for a bit becuase I am only repeating myself.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:42 AM on August 4 [9 favorites]


There's some pushback against Cummings's message that Brexit is a fait accompli.

BBC: Brexit: Still time to block no-deal on 31 October, Dominic Grieve says
There is still time to block a no-deal Brexit, despite claims to the contrary, senior Tory rebel Dominic Grieve says.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, top No 10 advisor Dominic Cummings has told MPs even losing a no-confidence vote could not stop Boris Johnson taking the UK out of the EU on 31 October. He reportedly said the PM could call an election for after the deadline, with Brexit taking place in the meantime.

But Mr Grieve told the BBC Mr Cummings was a "master of misinformation". He said that if Mr Johnson lost a no-confidence vote, MPs would have 14 days to form an alternative government. "[Mr Cummings] has a point, but he may also be missing the point," Mr Grieve - a former attorney general who has repeatedly called for a further referendum - told Radio 4's Broadcasting House programme.[…]

However, Catherine Haddon, from the Institute for Government think tank, said that while Mr Grieve's suggestion was possible, it would rely on Mr Johnson resigning as PM after losing a no-confidence vote - something he is not legally bound to do.
Nick Cohen, writing in the Guardian: Behind the Tory Claims of Bold Brexit Action Is Nothing But Empty Bravado
Like Jordan Peterson or Noam Chomsky, Dominic Cummings specialises in sweeping assertions that fall apart when you ask that simplest of questions: “So what should we do?” You won’t find coherent answers in the series of polemics he wrote before he joined Johnson in Downing Street. Thinkers in the Cummings style are performers who play to their audiences’ prejudices. They cover the play-acting with a cloak of learned references so their listeners can pretend they are hearing something more substantial than pub talk.

Cummings appeals to two Conservative prejudices: EU membership cripples Britain and the state bureaucracy is filled with incompetent time-servers. “Duff people are promoted to the most senior roles and the thousands of able people leave,” Cummings says of Whitehall. Although many find it possible to damn Brussels in one breath and the public sector in the next – indeed, if you add the damning of immigration, you have the sum of what passes for conversation in Tory circles – it is impossible for a serious man or woman to hold both beliefs simultaneously.
The Guardian also has dug up Cummings's cynical views about the Conservative Party from a 2017 conference: Dominic Cummings said Tory MPs do not care about poor people or NHS
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:18 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


However, Catherine Haddon, from the Institute for Government think tank, said that while Mr Grieve's suggestion was possible, it would rely on Mr Johnson resigning as PM after losing a no-confidence vote - something he is not legally bound to do.

I don’t believe that’s true: after VONCing the Conservative governent, the House has 14 days to confirm an alternative government. If the House gets its act together to vote in a GONU the day after a failed VONC, then the Queen can appoint a new PM on the spot. Johnson’s resignation is not required - he serves at the pleasure of the crown as directed by Parliament & the crown is free to dismiss the current PM if the House confirms its confidence in an alternative government.
posted by pharm at 10:29 AM on August 4 [7 favorites]


It's not practically possible to negotiate a new deal before 31st, so the likeliest outcome is Johnson losing an 11th hour VONC. What happens after that is very murky. As per the POLITICO London Playbook it looks like the Leavers would be happy to see the country and democracy burn and simply ignore the VONC: we would have left and it would be "irreversible"—they would have "won" for a couple of generations at least. They don't care that Johnson would have to fight an election in the ruins. Johnson probably does, but he seems to have painted himself into a corner where he can't back down.

There's precedent and good sense and constitutional arguments by the barrowload that mean that a PM who lost a VONC should hit the emergency brake rather than letting the country career off a cliff, but the past few years have convinced me that constitutions (whether written or unwritten) only work because people want them to: because they are rational actors who believe in decency and democracy and the rule of law. Absent that and your constitution isn't worth spit.
posted by dudleian at 2:20 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]


Johnson won’t do anything except delay if he loses a VONC - his whole plan is to go to the country on a 'we are the Brexit party, vote for us if you want Brexit' as far as I can tell. Which is why the only way to avoid crashing out at this point is a GONU that negotiates a delay to Brexit (or else revokes altogether) before calling for a GE.

The trouble is that the Labour leadership doesn’t want to be part of a GONU that delays Brexit, because they still think they can go to the country on their fence sitting platform. I think they’re deluded & Cummings et al will tear them apart if they take that line, but I could be wrong.
posted by pharm at 4:08 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]


David Howarth, Professor of Law and Public Policy writes in Democratic Audit: No Deal Brexit can be stopped - but only at a price. A job for Caroline Lucas, I think.
posted by rongorongo at 6:36 AM on August 5


Labour in general is probably not wrong that committing fully one way or the other would hurt them, given their split base. Allowing the Tories to take the hit for any Brexit issues while being able to pretend that they would have done it all better no doubt seemed attractive. It's just that years of dilly-dallying have also hurt them, and made it clear that a lot of the top leadership is Lexiters who hope to crash out of Europe and use the emergency to build their socialist dreams (and even those who highly approve of the dreams should be wary of the mechanism), while Brexiteers don't trust them either because the main Brexiteer dream is kicking all the dark skinned people out of the country and Labour doesn't buy into that.
posted by tavella at 9:48 AM on August 5


New trade minister Liz Truss had private talks in US with libertarian groups
The cabinet minister in charge of negotiating a new US trade deal met with a series of rightwing American thinktanks to discuss deregulation and the benefits of “Reaganomics”, new documents have revealed.

Truss met senior representatives from the Heritage Foundation, a thinktank committed to shrinking the state and cutting environmental regulation, to discuss “regulatory reform”. Also at the meeting was the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Truss also met the chief economist of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which involved a discussion of the success of Trump’s efforts to deregulate the US economy.
posted by lucidium at 9:54 AM on August 5 [4 favorites]


The latest polls from Lord Ashcroft puts Scottish independence at 52:48 (oh, that ratio), a majority for the first time in ten years.
posted by Devonian at 10:02 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]


the main Brexiteer dream is kicking all the dark skinned people out of the country

Anyone with the wrong skin colour or a funny accent - it's not like there isn't a strong anti Eastern European sentiment as well.
posted by Dysk at 10:36 AM on August 5 [8 favorites]


Anyone with the wrong skin colour or a funny accent - it's not like there isn't a strong anti Eastern European sentiment as well.

We don't need to start off that exotic; many of the British far right dislike the Irish. There is no end to this, because there will never be an end to the need to find a scapegoat.
posted by jaduncan at 5:04 AM on August 6 [4 favorites]


(For a lot of brexiteer Brits, Irish is indeed a funny accent, and so is already included in the category, intentionally.)
posted by Dysk at 5:07 AM on August 6


I mentioned Eastern Europe specifically because a lot of the most vitriolic and overt racism/xenophobia is directed their way, not to suggest it's an exhaustive list by any means.
posted by Dysk at 5:10 AM on August 6


Nicola Sturgeon: ‘If we crash out with no deal, Corbyn will be almost as responsible as May or Johnson’
It's a comprehensive interview, so there's much more in there than Corbyn-bashing.
posted by mumimor at 5:12 AM on August 6 [8 favorites]


Behind the curtain: Boris Johnson ushers in radical new era of special advisers.
Legatum has arrived in the form of Danny Kruger who thought there should be a “period of creative destruction in the public services”.
Legatum is a Dubai based hedge fund controlled by distaster capitalists Chis and Richard Chandler.
posted by adamvasco at 5:49 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Also from that link:
But one of the most radical appointments is Munira Mirza, who heads Johnson’s policy unit after serving as his deputy mayor for arts for eight years. Her appointment to such a senior job in charge of all policy was unexpected given her lack of experience in Westminster politics.

Her background is unusual: she has links to a circle of former Revolutionary Communist Party supporters who wrote for Living Marxism, then morphed into libertarian provocateurs involved with Spiked online magazine.
So Johnson is literally recruiting a Koch-funded troll from Spiked and putting them in charge of policy.
posted by jaduncan at 5:53 AM on August 6 [10 favorites]


So, three flat-out accelerationists as advisers (Mirza, Kruger and Cummings). One from that hotbed of UK accelerationists, the RCP.
It's getting a bit like a Ken MacLeod novel, isn't it?
posted by thatwhichfalls at 10:15 AM on August 6 [5 favorites]


Guardian: Brexit: Michael Gove Accuses 'Wrong And Sad' EU of Intransigence—Ireland warns on relations as Boris Johnson’s government seems intent on no-deal
Michael Gove has accused the EU of intransigence over Brexit talks, calling it “wrong and sad”, as divisions between the UK and Brussels became further entrenched with the government seemingly intent on a no-deal departure.

Gove, who is in charge of no-deal preparations, reiterated Boris Johnson’s position that the only route to progress would be the EU starting again with withdrawal negotiations, something Brussels has repeatedly and consistently ruled out.

Adding to the impression of Johnson’s hardening position, newly-released government readouts of the prime minister’s phone calls with a series of EU leaders over recent days showed he delivered the same uncompromising message to them.

While the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, insisted on Tuesday that a no-deal was not inevitable, both he and the country’s finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, warned of a significant and long-term change to relations between the countries if it did happen.[…]

The Guardian reported on Monday that Brussels diplomats briefed on a meeting between senior EU figures and Boris Johnson’s chief envoy had been told a no-deal Brexit was the UK’s “central scenario” and that Downing Street would not countenance any discussions involving the backstop.
Michael Gove (2016): "If we vote Leave then we're in a position to dictate the terms." versus Michael Gove (2019): "At the moment it's the EU that seems to be saying they're not interested. I think that's wrong and sad." (w/video)
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:54 PM on August 6 [7 favorites]


Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there
Séamas O’Reilly in The Guardian
Our brain has spent so many millions of years geared toward facial recognition, it takes even the most random nonsense and attempts to construct it into something meaningful.

My brain, it turns out, does a similar thing when I read the tweets of Brexit MEP Ben Habib. “I am on the border between NI and ROI,” he tweeted last week, above a video that depicted him and some colleagues wisely playing in the middle of the road. “Travelling in a straight line, one enters and exits the ROI a number of times. There could never be a hard border here. The UK has declared it would never seek to impose one. The whole thing is a red herring.”

Surely, I thought, this was a pleasing moment of candour from a man who had seen just how unworkable a border would be, who had stood where it once was, and realised that such a self-defeating arrangement must never be put in place again.

Alas, this hope was no more real than Auntie Maureen’s blotchy patch of Blessed-Virgin-shaped damp. Habib’s point was, astoundingly, that a no-deal Brexit was somehow incapable of causing a hard border because … it would be inconvenient to erect? Or because there isn’t one there currently? Perhaps Habib thinks the world is just full of things now, and new things can’t be built in spaces where those things don’t currently exist. One wonders what it would be like to watch Grand Designs with him, to feel his innocent thrill at the impossibility of these wondrous structures as they miraculously appear in places where once they weren’t. Of course, it’s hard to know exactly what he meant, or whence came the ebullience with which he meant it since, again, my brain is working overtime to ascribe sense where none exists.
posted by mumimor at 5:11 AM on August 7 [9 favorites]


I never believed in any plan based on a GONU. It would either require several parties to cooperate very closely, or for large numbers of MPs to break with their own parties and collaborate as independents. The biggest domestic political crisis in the last 50 years has (so far) put only a small dent in party loyalty. So a GONU hangs on the support (or absence of support) from the Labour party, and it is clear that they are in no mood for cooperation or compromise:

Both the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, and the shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, said they would reject any opportunity to form a cross-party unity government, with the aim of stopping a hard Brexit, and would instead push for a general election if Boris Johnson lost a vote of no confidence.

Although it would be constitutionally abominable, lots of non-crazy people seem to think that a GE on its own will not be enough to stop no deal if the headbangers in government hold their nerve. I hope the GE is part of a larger and more cunning plan, otherwise it's just a piece of hand washing.
posted by dudleian at 5:27 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Michael Gove has accused the EU of intransigence over Brexit talks, calling it “wrong and sad”,

If anyone needed a clear(er) indication that the current Tory party are justly trying to be knock-off Trumps, this is it. Like, Trump is unspeakably awful. A second-rate Trump is worse, never mind a whole government or party of them.

I hope the GE is part of a larger and more cunning plan, otherwise it's just a piece of hand washing.

It's hand washing. They're throwing rope at the Tories while they build a gallows, only they aren't going to hang themselves, but all of us, especially those of us who aren't British citizens subjects. Labour don't seem to care, they're happy to continue the policy that started with the three line whip to invoke Article 50 with no plan, and the Tories in charge - they're dedicated to enabling them.
posted by Dysk at 7:02 AM on August 7 [6 favorites]


This is interesting
Perhaps No Deal Brexit isn't the default position people think it is.
posted by fullerine at 8:31 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


This is interesting
Perhaps No Deal Brexit isn't the default position people think it is.

It is interesting, but how would it work out in practice, if everyone believes the UK crashes out on Halloween?
posted by mumimor at 8:47 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


The EU so far have been remarkably tolerant of missed deadlines. It's not certain, but not impossible, that in the scenario where an election is scheduled after the Halloween deadline, the EU would keep trading on previous terms in the hope of someone saner winning the election, rather than implement tariffs and border checks immediately.

This might be what Cummings & Johnson are counting on. While fighting the election they would maintain "Look, the Project Fear doomsters and gloomsters have been proved wrong again, we've actually left now and things are fine."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:57 AM on August 7


Parliament have authorised leaving, though - that is what invoking Article 50 represents. They haven't specifically authorised No Deal, no, but they authorised leaving, but further specified, which in any reasonable reading includes No Deal as an option, given that no conditions were set in the Article 50 vote.

At best, it assumes veritable oceans of goodwill that the current government are trying their damndest to burn through at the greatest rate possible.
posted by Dysk at 9:34 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


At this point I wonder if the EU negotiating team are quietly gaming the crash-out scenario. It's not a desirable situation, but what would happen?The ROI would need direct aid. Maybe Gibraltar would need some sort of humanitarian aid. I think the other countries that would be impacted are already on track to new sources of income (not least from businesses that are tired of waiting and have already moved away from the UK). The Netherlands, Germany and Ireland are getting new service-sector jobs already, and more will come after a crash. Same with manufacturing, so that's on the plus side. The costs for the EU would be considerable, but not unbearable, and unlike the UK, every EU country had been preparing for an eventual crash since 2016.

The US and Canada have already put out clear nos to trade agreements after a crash, each for their own reasons. Japan seem to be saying that their main interest in the UK is as a gateway to Europe. Former Commonwealth nations that are now much weaker than the UK will be stronger in comparison when the City is diminished, and some seem to remember the history of that Commonwealth. If the UK accelerates its shady dealings in tax avoidance and money laundry, there will be stiff penalties to dole out instead of deals from many places. So basically, the UK will be extremely isolated. Anyway, any trade agreement takes years to negotiate, and in the meantime, the UK economy will be in free fall. Horrible for 90 % of UK citizens but a good reminder of who is stronger.
Millions of people in the UK and in the EU will be insecure and angry because they won't know if they are bought or sold. This is again terrible but a good thing from the point of view of someone negotiating with a bully.
Scotland and NI will be much more interested in independence and the EU has already indicated support for this.
The NHS will be vulnerable, both because of lack of staff and because of lack of tax revenue.
Johnson has already indicated that he will borrow the money he plans to throw into the system to buy voters, but at what rates will he be able to borrow? The UK will almost certainly be downgraded.

Obviously, this will lead to Tories and Brexiteers blaming EU. But outside the UK, that has no effect at all at this point. The obnoxious behavior of all British leaders is putting even the far right in Europe off. Inside the UK, some of the significant Brexit voters will be hardest hit: the fishing industry, the Cornish farmers, pensioners who depend on a functioning NHS and fair pensions. Ideally, a Brexit crash-out would wipe out the Tories (and the Brexit Party) for a generation and force Labour to either find a new leadership or follow the Tories out.

If I were an EU negotiator, I'd be thinking that a crash might just be the thing that shocks UK leaders back to their senses. Also it would be nice to get rid of the Brexit Party MEPs. I would certainly welcome home a UK that changes its mind. But I wouldn't really worry about UK bullying and threats at all right now or up to the 31st of October.

If you listen to the Tories, within or out of the Government, and not least the ordinary people out there, they really, really don't understand what is going on. I have stopped thinking they are scheming or have secret plans. They may think they do, but they don't. The main indicator of this is that they imagine they can bully the EU into submission, or take Ireland hostage. It's evil, but mainly it's stupid. But it is also clear that they have no idea how to negotiate. They don't have plans, they don't have goals, they don't have basic communication skills. They are lying to their constituents about the EU, but I believe they are also lying to themselves.
posted by mumimor at 10:27 AM on August 7 [16 favorites]


The current leadership in the UK are "negotiating" like a poker player going all in on a shitty hand, hoping their unwavering bravado will scare the others into folding. Except they've publicly stated that that is what they're doing, and everyone else at the table has better cards.
posted by Dysk at 10:40 AM on August 7 [11 favorites]


UK train operators to pull out of Interrail
Industry will also leave Eurail scheme for non-EU visitors in 2020, in ‘shocking’ move
posted by mumimor at 11:11 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Although it would be constitutionally abominable, lots of non-crazy people seem to think that a GE on its own will not be enough to stop no deal if the headbangers in government hold their nerve. I hope the GE is part of a larger and more cunning plan, otherwise it's just a piece of hand washing.

It isn't. Cummings has laid out their plan - effectively ignore a vote of no confidence, stay in power and schedule the GE required by the FTPA after October 31st - or even on the day itself, as it's a Thursday, thus still taking us out without no-deal, but not actually having the big consequences until after the votes are tallied. The European Union Withdrawal Act is clear, it passed both houses in 2018, and is the current law - and it says we're leaving the end of October 31st, with no caveats.

There's only three ways I can see to prevent that.
1) GONU, with labour, formed within two weeks of a VONC. Just one problem is, there's nothing in law that actually requires Johnson to step down as PM - if he's determined to stay on for a few weeks to push a GE until after October 31st, it would literally take the Queen to sack him and appoint an alternative government.

2) Parliament hijack time, somehow, and amend the European Withdrawal Act to make the default option revoking Article 50 if a deal isn't signed. Seems unlikely to have the numbers, or the opportunity - this option lost badly, repeatedly previously.

3) Parliament hijack time to force Johnson to ask for an extension. Johnson may just refuse or at least try his best to sabotage it, and obviously the EU are not minded to grant one either, especially with no good reason. Doing the same to get time for a referendum seems very vulnerable to sabotage by Johnson if he's not toppled first.

So in conclusion, The GONU seems a massive stretch, and Corbyn and friends aren't interested. A General Election AFTER no-deal Brexit, so he can blame everything bad on the Tories and there'll be a sudden surge for Radical Socialism without remainers defecting to the LibDems probably sounds just perfect to him and coterie, and seems the most likely outcome now. The actual result of course, is unknowable.

Johnson can't avoid a GE forever, but he can very likely avoid election day until after no-deal Brexit. The EU have definitely seen this as the most likely outcome for some time, and no doubt are prepared - as is Johnson and cabal to blame everything on the undemocratic EU, and indeed anything other than absolute crisis on day 1 as just remoaners 'project fear' - despite the impact likely to be more slow growing, and catastrophic over the following months, the plan is he'll safely the other side of a GE by the time shortages and the sterling crisis really start to bite.

In other words, we're fucked, and I don't see how Parliament will realistically unfuck us when most of the power in the short term resides with Johnson and they've shown as much co-ordination so far as a sack of angry cats. The only brightside is we might eventually be shot of both sets of accelerationists if people actually wise up to the very real impact on their lives, but I don't even want to think about how much damage, and how many people will die from the consequences first.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 3:46 PM on August 7 [12 favorites]


In other words, we're fucked, and I don't see how Parliament will realistically unfuck us when most of the power in the short term resides with Johnson and they've shown as much co-ordination so far as a sack of angry cats.

I agree. I'm buckling up for no deal.
posted by dudleian at 12:58 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


I'm buckling up for no deal.

Same here. Permanent residence, then citizenship of the Netherlands. Aside from guaranteeing my continued residence here, I don't think I want to be a citizen of such a stupid and toxic little country any longer.
posted by daveje at 3:00 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


UK train operators to pull out of Interrail

Christ alive, they're charging more for their Britrail passes (unlimited rail travel in Britain for a month) than the cost of an Interrail pass (unlimited rail travel across Europe for a month - including the UK until now)!
posted by Dysk at 5:04 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


I agree no deal has become a lot more likely, but I think the legislative route to block no-deal is not as bleak as the historical picture suggests. It seems pretty likely to me that Bercow will allow some bill to be amended to give parliament the chance to take control if it wants it as he's done so before. MPs preferences, particularly on the Conservative side may move quite strongly when no-deal is literally right in front of them and they will then have to fight an election having failed to prevent it.

GoNU seems a lot less likely but again I wouldn't rule it out once the pressure on the parties is high enough - I wouldn't expect a deal to emerge before parliament returns though.
posted by crocomancer at 5:39 AM on August 8


UK train operators to pull out of Interrail

What is funny is they seem to be doing it out of spite, because EU membership is not required - Turkey is an Interrail participant.
posted by PenDevil at 6:34 AM on August 8 [5 favorites]


Christ alive, they're charging more for their Britrail passes (unlimited rail travel in Britain for a month) than the cost of an Interrail pass (unlimited rail travel across Europe for a month - including the UK until now)!
This is why they're pulling out.
It's got nothing to do with Brexit they're just greedy bastards.
posted by fullerine at 7:17 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I feel like greedy bastards is a not insubstantial factor in brexit as well. So not directly related.

How many Britrail passes do they envisage selling I wonder, when you can get an Interrail or EUrail pass for less money?
posted by Dysk at 7:22 AM on August 8


Is there nothing Brexit can’t fuck up?

Also, the U.K. thinking that it’s creaking, fragmented, strained-to-breaking-point yet more expensive rail service is worth more than all of Europe’s (way better and cheaper) rail services is such a perfect metaphor for the Brexiteer Juche spirit I can’t even.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:35 AM on August 8 [11 favorites]


Now it's the perfect metaphor for Brexit
UK to stay in Interrail scheme after U-turn
posted by fullerine at 7:59 AM on August 8 [13 favorites]


the perfect metaphor

Oh my god, they even blame the Europeans.

(nb: it may in fact be the fault of the Eurail Group, hell if I know, just saying OMG the symmetry did these idiots pay no attention to current affairs before doing their little thing?).
posted by aramaic at 8:47 AM on August 8


OMG the symmetry did these idiots pay no attention to current affairs before doing their little thing?

I think they probably did - can't entirely fault the logic that pulling out of existing agreements and blaming the other Europeans seems to be a workable strategy with the British public right now.
posted by Dysk at 8:53 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


LRB: How bad can it get? Reflections on the state we’re in.
posted by adamvasco at 9:39 AM on August 8 [6 favorites]




Tony Connolly from RTÉ had a twitter thread yesterday on the view from Dublin. They apparently think that No Deal is more likely, and that among other things, UK govt now rejecting the Joint Report’s commitment to the “all-island economy”, instead limiting the aim to nothing more than “no infrastructure at the border”.
posted by scorbet at 2:36 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I like one of the comments on the Connolly thread: Not so much Singapore-on-Thames as Puerto Rico-on-Thames?

In other news: Boris Johnson Plans to Make the UK a World Leader in Freeports, Building 10 State-of-the-Art Facilities for Collectors After Brexit
posted by mumimor at 3:35 AM on August 9


Current theory: the way to save the country for No Deal is to stop pitching it as No Deal. Entire country's understanding of the phrase 'No Deal' has been shaped by Noel Edmonds and that game show, and now at least half the population hears 'No Deal' and thinks 'we're going for the jackpot!' rather than 'oh fuck'.
posted by Catseye at 4:07 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


On top of which, I remember reading a link on here a while back mentioning the non-zero number of people who don't have time or inclination to follow the intricacies (fair enough) and think No Deal = call off Brexit.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 4:08 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I've read that about some people believing No Deal = No Brexit, as well. I also expect there will be a fair number of people who will be claiming they believed that when the shit hits the fan.
posted by skybluepink at 11:22 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


Ladies and gentlemen, your new UKIP leader is...

Dick Braine.
posted by Devonian at 9:29 AM on August 10 [15 favorites]


All those pushing for market deregulation and for the UK to enter into trade deals that could be catastrophic for the climate are connected.
More about the Tufton street network.
posted by adamvasco at 5:21 PM on August 10


The last two paragraphs of Chris Grey's latest post say what I wanted to better than I can.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:11 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]


A quick question for people more in the know. It's been discussed before, but:

No Deal Brexit - what would it be like?
Brexit in any form will be disruptive for airlines, but a failure by the UK and the EU to reach an agreement would leave the industry in chaos. There is no WTO safety net in aviation because the sector has its own system of regulation. ... The EU has also negotiated bilateral agreements with countries including the US and Canada, so the rights of UK airlines to serve these markets are regulated by EU agreements.
If flights between the US and the UK are governed by EU treaties, then does that mean that in a No-Deal scenario, there is no legal authority for transatlantic flights to land in / take off from the UK? Or is this only an issue for UK airlines, while foreign carriers are OK?
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:12 AM on August 12


No 10 expects rebel move against no-deal Brexit on 9 September (Rowena Mason, The Guardian)
Boris Johnson thinks EU will do nothing until it sees outcome of parliamentary battle
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:02 AM on August 12


So much going on this weekend, but one interesting thread by Harry Cole of the Mail on Sunday jas some details of what's going on within the No-Deal 'cabinet within a cabinet' that assembles every day at 10:30 in Cabinet Office Briefing Room F. This was before today's SpAd Jihad, but seems compatible with it - tl;dr, much feverish activity, protecting the economy is third on the agenda (security and 'flow' are first and second), and the Big Idea is to... er... not sure, really. Leave the doors open, I think.

And everyone's got to go looking for Black Swans.
posted by Devonian at 10:28 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


And everyone's got to go looking for Black Swans.

The defining thing about Cummings is that he has never met a Silicon Valley/TED popsci take he disliked. The depressing thing about UK journalism is that this still seems to make him better informed than most of the commentariat.
posted by jaduncan at 8:49 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


ITV News: Amber Rudd Backtracks On No Deal Economy Warnings But Says She's 'Not a Sellout'
Amber Rudd has backtracked on previous no-deal Brexit comments, saying it's "very difficult to tell" what effect it will have on the economy.

In March the work and pensions secretary had said no deal would cause "generational damage" to the economy, but she now appears to have softened her opinion after joining Boris Johnson's Cabinet.

The minister, who originally backed remain, said a "no-deal Brexit is definitely going to be a challenge to the economy" but did not repeat previous warnings.[…]

Ms Rudd, who served in Theresa May's government, denied accusations by colleagues that she had sold out her views to retain a Cabinet position.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:50 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Get ready to charge EU citizens under no-deal Brexit, NHS bosses told.

Get ready to make Windrush look like a blip once people with the "wrong" accent or skin colour start dying on gurneys because they don't carry proof of residency in their wallets and purses.
posted by rory at 2:46 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


Ian Dunt looks reviews the psychological warfare being waged over 'no deal' and highlights the current options open to parliament to oppose it.
posted by rongorongo at 3:11 AM on August 14 [3 favorites]


Labour's response to the healthcare charging plan is telling. They're effectively saying 'It's all well and good to boast that you'll be charging foreigners, but British people abroad might be charged! Heavens!'

No, fuck you Labour, the problem here isn't that the EU might reciprocate. Charging people for healthcare is not a good thing when the people in question aren't British.
posted by Dysk at 3:12 AM on August 14 [14 favorites]


The Independent’s John Rentoul has posted a catch-up thread about Brexit, Parliament, and how the No Deal debate has shifted. “Now we had to contend with Meatloaf Remainerism: Corbyn & Lib Dems claim to be willing to do anything to stop no-deal, but they won’t do anything that would actually work, such as (a) voting for a deal, or (b) uniting behind a single candidate for temporary PM”

CNN’s Luke MacGee: “I have written a thing about how the Boris Brexit strategy is going down in Brussels (sorry, thread I'm afraid). The view there is quite simple: He's trying to scare them into giving a better deal. The problem is, it isn't working.”—Europe isn't that scared of Boris Johnson
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:13 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Three ways Boris Johnson could become Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister (Karla Adam, Washington Post)
  • Johnson could lose a no-confidence vote and resign
  • Johnson could lose an election
  • Johnson could lose a no-confidence vote, refuse to resign and get sacked by the queen
  • If some combination of the above happened quickly enough, Brexit apparently would be thwarted. Seems unlikely though.
    posted by ZeusHumms at 7:22 AM on August 14


    Meanwhile the Sharks circle:
    John Bolton doesn’t want a trade deal with the UK – he wants to colonise us.
    John Bolton doesn’t do free trade. He does regime change. Midwest wheat and soya exports are not his thing. What Bolton really does care about is exploiting the UK’s recent governmental upheaval, which almost anywhere else would be described as a rightwing coup, to America’s, and Trump’s, advantage. In short, the former colonies are out to colonise the UK.
    posted by adamvasco at 8:18 AM on August 14 [3 favorites]


    Even if you lack the basic humanity to comprehend the inherent goodness in a free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare system, it remains a very efficient way to do things. Because you don't need to pay for the administrative framework for charging users, nor to support an entire branch of the insurance industry. (There are plenty of other reasons.)

    So there's only one reason to introduce both of those two things for millions of UK residents, and that's because you want huge new opportunities for profit to exist more than you want an efficient health system, and if you think that way you want to get rid of it for everyone

    You or I or the Vicar of Dibley could take that realisation and if we were in opposition use it to beat the hell out of the Johnson Squad...
    posted by Devonian at 9:42 AM on August 14 [14 favorites]


    God Damn it!

    Labour bloc plans 'radical' move to push through Brexit deal
    guardian
    posted by couch at 12:59 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


    Three ways Boris Johnson could become Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister

    If you didn't click through, the shortest term was 119 days (George Canning in 1827, who died in office).
    posted by Chrysostom at 1:20 PM on August 14


    Corbyn's sent a letter to other party leaders and prominent remainer MPs offering himself at the head of a time-limited alliance specifically for the purpose of requesting a Brexit extension from the EU to enable a general election in exchange for VONC support. No biters yet.

    Call me slow, but I'm starting to think for any such plan needs to coalesce around Ken Clarke or some equivalent. None of these buggers trust each other nor can be entirely trusted not to leverage the temporary platform into political capital (e.g Swinson, Benn, Cooper, Flint, Grieve, even a resurrected May if we're going mad). Clarke is Father of the House, he'll be standing down at the next election, his broad views are long held and well-known, he's a dead man walking politically barring doing his part in something like this.

    I am aware that Cosy Ken Clarke is as much A Thing as Boris Being Boris though.
    posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 4:09 PM on August 14 [4 favorites]


    The right wing coup continues:
    Leaked Doc Reveals Civil Servants Told To Report 'Unhelpful Narratives' On Brexit To No.10
    posted by adamvasco at 5:59 AM on August 17 [1 favorite]


    Leaked Doc Reveals Civil Servants Told To Report 'Unhelpful Narratives' On Brexit To No.10

    I remember when boring, passionless, apolitical bureaucrats were a staple of TV and stage comedy; you'd see them depicted in newspaper cartoons; and shows like Yes, Minister revolved around the idea that politicians (who come and go) aren't nearly as powerful as the upper echelons of the civil service.

    Like many things under the semi-mythical British Constitution it was always a question of balance, but there was a fundamental idea that the Ship of State was very large and its enormous inertia meant that things would keep going even if its captain was drunk or all its officers decided to go off and have a swim. And if the officers or indeed the captain forgot their place so much as to descend to the engine room and start interfering, why, they'd soon learn that it wasn't their place and that they'd be lucky to escape with their dignity intact.

    That belief seems almost mythical now. You can't rely on things going on as normal when there's a perpetual crisis and the looming deadline of Article 50. And the one power that civil servants had over their Ministers was that Ministers held their positions as long as they held the confidence of Parliament, and that they'd be replaced if their servants arranged for them to be embarrassed. That's a dead letter now; Parliament doesn't know what it wants and couldn't do it anyway; and Johnson doesn't even have the capacity of being embarrassed. The UK's government is all executive now: the Ship of State's officers are careening madly through its corridors with chainsaws and seeing how much they can cut off, while the captain has tied down the regulators, cut the cables, and made the engineers walk the plank. I've got no idea what's going to happen and nor does anyone else, because the very idea of a direction is meaningless now.
    posted by Joe in Australia at 4:49 PM on August 17 [24 favorites]


    Wow, that is such an evocative and excellent description Joe.
    posted by Meatbomb at 6:29 PM on August 17


    The Sunday Times has published a front-page leak of Operation Yellowhammer: “Operation Chaos: Whitehall’s secret no-deal plan leaked”. (Paywalled articles here and here.)

    The Guardian reports on this story: Brexit: Leaked Papers Predict Food Shortages and Port Delays—Medicines will also be subject to shortages in what Whitehall sources called ‘the most realistic assessment’
    The UK will be hit with a three-month meltdown at its ports, a hard Irish border and shortages of food and medicine if it leaves the EU without a deal, according to government documents on Operation Yellowhammer.[…]

    They suggest there has been a worsening of the risk since documents leaked to the Guardian showed some of the government’s “reasonable worst-case scenarios” (RWCS) involved risk to medicine supplies and disruption to food chains.

    Government also believes the return of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland will be likely as current plans to avoid widespread checks will prove unsustainable.

    A senior Whitehall source told the paper: “This is not Project Fear – this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios – not the worst case.”
    posted by Doktor Zed at 4:54 AM on August 18 [8 favorites]


    Freedom of movement to end on the 1st of November.

    I'm so incredibly tempted to go back to the old brexit threads and start linking to every comment telling me that it's not like there was any risk that anyone would get deported or thrown out, stop overreacting, Project Fear, etc, etc.
    posted by Dysk at 2:54 AM on August 19 [9 favorites]


    From Dysk's link:
    The government will not bring back the existing immigration bill because it fears it will be hijacked by MPs seeking to block a no-deal Brexit, who could table amendments.
    The government has lost control. It's too scared to move a vital motion because it knows it doesn't have the numbers. If there were ever a time that called for a motion of no-confidence it is now.
    posted by Joe in Australia at 4:12 AM on August 19 [4 favorites]


    The government is paranoid and the opposition can't agree on a single thing. It would be a good time to do something, yes. I don't see it happening though.
    posted by Dysk at 4:16 AM on August 19


    Like, I'm fully done with optimism and hope and what-ifs and all the rest of it at this point. Actual results - not the promise or potential of them in the future - or it's meaningless.
    posted by Dysk at 4:28 AM on August 19


    Dysk, you were the first person I thought of when I read the news this morning, this is bad. And I think you are right, no one is doing anything that could make any sense.

    No 10 furious at leak of paper predicting shortages after no-deal Brexit
    There are plenty of horrors inside that article, but this underlines their ignorance and malignant intention:
    Despite the document, leaked to the Sunday Times, being dated to earlier this month when Johnson was already in post, the senior No 10 source said: “This document is from when ministers were blocking what needed to be done to get ready to leave and the funds were not available. It has been deliberately leaked by a former minister in an attempt to influence discussions with EU leaders.

    “Those obstructing preparation are no longer in government, £2bn of extra funding has already been made available and Whitehall has been stood up to actually do the work through the daily ministerial meetings. The entire posture of government has changed.”

    Downing Street advisers are privately claiming that EU leaders will not offer any concessions towards a new deal unless they are sure that parliament is unable to block a no-deal Brexit. They are already setting the stage to blame former ministers working against no deal, such as Philip Hammond and Greg Clark, for any failure in EU negotiations.
    They are basically getting rid of anyone who tells them the truth, while blaming them for any failure. And failure it will be, since they still don't get what the EU is doing.
    posted by mumimor at 4:36 AM on August 19 [11 favorites]


    Thing is though, Corbyn is the duly elected Leader of the Opposition, so if Johnson loses a vote of no confidence, my understanding is that under the Fixed Term Parliament Act Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition then gets to try to form a government, and if he can’t win a vote of confidence, then we have a General Election.

    Alternative proposals like an all white, all middle class, government of national unity or something involving Ken Clarke aren’t available alternatives under that process surely?
    posted by Caractacus at 12:42 PM on August 19


    No one wants Corbyn as PM, at least half of Labour doesn't want him as PM. Ain't gonna happen.
    Literally, even staunch remainers would rather have a hard Brexit than Corbyn. Corbynistas think this shows how shallow and unprincipled everyone is. Everyone else thinks this shows how unreliable and ignorant Corbyn is.
    posted by mumimor at 12:47 PM on August 19


    Link to the latest piffle from Pfeffel.

    It’s his letter to Tusk about getting rid of the backstop. In a 4 page letter there’s 3.75 pages of proem leading to the detailed alternative proposal to the backstop consisting of 2 words (“alternative arrangements”) followed by a detumescent peroration. Alternative arrangements is literally synonymous with “not the backstop” in other words zero detail. Can’t see it winning any friends but then it’s probably not meant to. SMH.
    posted by dudleian at 12:48 PM on August 19 [3 favorites]


    Sure, I get that a lot of people don’t like Corbyn, but did I misunderstand how the Fixed Term Parliament Act works?
    posted by Caractacus at 12:52 PM on August 19


    The FTPA doesn't even mention the Leader of the Opposition. All that is required after a successful VONC is for the Commons to pass a motion of confidence in a government within fourteen days; it says nothing about who heads up that government. AIUI the convention is that the Leader of the Opposition gets first dibs; after that it's up to anyone who can herd enough cats into voting for them.
    posted by doop at 1:20 PM on August 19 [2 favorites]


    In the text of the Act itself, an early election comes if the House passes a no-confidence motion and 14 days pass without the House passing a confidence motion. Who would try to form a government in the interim isn’t covered.
    posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:20 PM on August 19



    Link to the latest piffle from Pfeffel.


    First I wanted to deconstruct every paragraph. Then I realized every reader here can do it as well or better than me. Then I wanted to scream, so I did that. Into a pillow, lest my neighbors think I am being attacked. All the evens
    posted by mumimor at 1:27 PM on August 19 [2 favorites]


    > Literally, even staunch remainers would rather have a hard Brexit than Corbyn

    I'm not sure this is completely true to a great degree, but I do think this is what it comes down to, ie: if it's Corbyn as PM or a no-deal Brexit, which will you take? Personally I'm no fan of Corbyn but I'll take him as PM any day over any Brexit. If you're a Tory MP then voting NC means shitcanning your career because you'll be seen as having voted for JC PM, so you'd need to be the sort of person with the integrity to stand up for your principles.

    I'll be seriously impressed if the Lib Dems manage to drive us towards a No-Deal Brexit just because they can't abide having Corbyn as PM - it will be the absolute crowning glory at the top of nine years of achieving the exact opposite of what they were supposed to be aiming for.
    posted by doop at 1:32 PM on August 19 [5 favorites]


    For one, Corbyn is a Lexiteer, so you cannot trust him to negotiate in good faith.
    Secondly, I think a lot of politicians in the UK and in the EU are reaching the point where they think a hard Brexit is the only way to get the UK back into the EU. If they can't think, they will have to feel. I still hope a better solution comes up, but for every day, I go a cm in that direction. I'm 55. In my entire life, I've never witnessed anything as stupid, and I am old enough to have seen Trump being elected.
    posted by mumimor at 1:47 PM on August 19 [7 favorites]


    I understood his offer to basically be: vote NC, make him a time-limited PM who will ask for an extension and call a GE. Negotiation with the EU (other than asking for an extension) doesn't really come into it here. I mean, fair enough, it's not a great option, but it might be the only option that isn't crashing out.
    posted by doop at 1:58 PM on August 19


    I’d be interested to understand the mindset of people who would rather have a no-deal Brexit than Corbyn.
    posted by Caractacus at 2:08 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


    I think it is the fear that they would elect him and then he'd go full lexit with demands that the EU wouldn't meet either.

    Also the labour party has been having heaping issues with anti-Semitism, not helped by Corbyn, to put it nicely, so there is that too making him toxic for some.
    posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:20 PM on August 19 [7 favorites]


    First I wanted to deconstruct every paragraph. Then I realized every reader here can do it as well or better than me.

    Well I can't, mumimor. It is beyond stupid and ventures into some unknowable epistemological universe. We are well and truly into some vast void that makes Alice in Wonderland look like logic and rationality personified. I don't understand it at all. I really don't. And it is maddening.
    posted by vac2003 at 2:21 PM on August 19 [2 favorites]


    Negotiation with the EU (other than asking for an extension) doesn't really come into it here.
    The EU negotiators have said that there needs to be a reasonable argument behind any further extensions. So even if he is head of a caretaker government, Corbyn has to put out some sort of idea. Since his Lexiteer ideas have no parliamentary backing, he can't credibly present them to the EU.
    posted by mumimor at 2:32 PM on August 19


    “it might be the only option that isn't crashing out.”

    Yep, very likely. Hence my question above.
    posted by Caractacus at 2:33 PM on August 19


    Another extension from the EU is a pipe dream. The last extension was granted with a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. For one, Macron isn't going to agree to an extension and it only takes 1 veto to deny an extension.
    posted by Pendragon at 3:03 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


    I’d be interested to understand the mindset of people who would rather have a no-deal Brexit than Corbyn.

    TJAllon1 on the Twitters reminds us that
    Corbyn is currently in contention for the role of PM precisely because he ignored the convention of resigning after losing a vote of no confidence.
    Which is true. It wasn't just that: he's utterly untrustworthy generally, he lies and lies and lies, and since he's committed to Lexit anyway he would undoubtedly use his new position to achieve it. Suggesting that he would be better than Johnson is like suggesting that Pence would be better than Trump. It's just replacing a known, obvious evil, with a less-known and more surreptitious one.
    posted by Joe in Australia at 3:33 PM on August 19 [3 favorites]


    John McDonnell tweeted this Today in interview after interview I made it clear yet again that I would campaign to Remain. Yet Polly Toynbee writes that I was “suggesting Labour take a neutral stand in a future referendum.” No I didn’t Polly. Correct your article please.

    So the shadow chancellor has made it clear that he'll campaign for Remain. And yes, the Labour offer for the no confidence vote is for there to be a second referendum.

    My feeling is strongly that the EU would offer an extension in order to run this referendum.
    posted by ambrosen at 3:40 PM on August 19 [7 favorites]


    Also, about the antisemitism thing: Corbyn is an antisemite and enabler of antisemitism in others. There will be people who suggest that it's better to have an antisemitic government than to have a no-deal Brexit with goodness knows how many people dying from a lack of food, fuel, and medicine. Maybe (in a strict utilitarian calculus) they're right, but what antisemites want is to force people to make that invidious choice. They win either way.
    posted by Joe in Australia at 3:42 PM on August 19 [2 favorites]


    I think there are four scenarios that follow a vote of no confidence. Someone please correct me if I’ve misunderstood something.

    1) Johnson wins, crashes us out of the EU and turns the UK into an oligarch-run dystopian hellscape.

    2) Johnson loses, Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition wins a vote and forms a government.

    3) Johnson and Corbyn lose, and someone (Clarke, Lucas, Chukka, or whoever) wins a vote and forms a Government.

    4) After 14 days with none of the above, we get a Johnson vs Corbyn General Election.

    It sounds like the people who don’t want Corbyn at any price must be talking about 3) but as there isn’t any kind of consensus about who would try to form a government if Corbyn can’t, I’m not seeing this as plausible right now.

    Of course a consensus might emerge yet.
    posted by Caractacus at 10:32 PM on August 19


    I've seen so much damnation of the Lib Dems for not taking the Corbyn offer. But at the same time, if this weren't about getting Corbyn to be PM, then why not let Harriet Harman or someone take that token position to get an extension and call an election. Like yeah, fuck the Lib Dems. But fuck Labour/Corbyn too, they're being just as inflexible.
    posted by Dysk at 10:39 PM on August 19 [4 favorites]


    What’s being suggested though? That he should step down as Leader of the Opposition?

    If he’s in that role, it’s his job to try to form a government after a vote of no confidence.
    posted by Caractacus at 12:19 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


    No, the suggestion is that he calls a VONC & then allows Parliament (ie doesn’t whip his MPs against) to indicate to the Crown & then VOC in a short term GONU administration led by someone acceptable to enough MPs to avoid a crash-out Brexit by whatever means & then call a GE. There’s nothing in any rule book that says the party that calls a VONC has to be the grouping of MPs that wins a subsequent VOC before a GE is forced under the FTPA.

    Such a government would rule only with Labour support, as the margins would be razor-thin, so if its chosen leaders tried to 'defect' in game-theoretic terms Corbyn could pull support on the spot.

    But this approach appears to be complete anathema to the Corbynites. They’re so /close/ to the permiership they can almost touch it & it’s clear that nothing, not even allowing the UK to crash out of the EU with all that follows from that, is going to be allowed to get in the way of that.
    posted by pharm at 12:54 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


    Yeah, Corbyn is leader of the Labour Party
    That means that he's leader of the Labour Party. That's it. It doesn't mean that it's the law that he has to be PM next, it doesn't mean it's impossible or unfair for anyone else to attempt to form government.

    If this isn't about getting Corbyn the premiership by the back door, then why not let someone else have the pointless title for a couple of weeks to call the election where Corbyn will still be leader of the Labour Party. Why is that in any way worse than having Corbyn sit there for two weeks? It makes no practical difference. Labour leadership is being just as obstructionist as anyone else - I'd argue more so, because "not him" is both less self-centered and leaves more options than "me me me or fuck off" does.
    posted by Dysk at 2:48 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


    Why not have Corbyn use the "pointless title" for a couple of weeks then?
    If it makes no practical difference why are we having this discussion?
    It does make a difference. Corbyn as PM even for a couple of weeks strengthens the Labour party for the GE and the Lib Dems know this.

    What they are asking is for Labour to give up their position as the largest opposition party and Corbyn to step down against the wishes of the vast majority of his party members. Hundreds of thousands of Labour Party members want Corbyn as PM. Labour won 40% of the vote in the last GE. Why would they do what the Lib Dems want from that position?

    If you mistrust Corbyn then all that needs to happen is the first sign of him not doing as he has said he would (Extend A50, Call a GE, manifesto pledge for a 2nd Referendum) then remove support and his super sekrit socialist plan will fail. Shit, if Corbyn rocked up at number 10 and didn't extend A50 he would be going against the wishes of the membership. Labour Party members are majority remain, they just want remain plus a socialist government. If Corbyn really did try to enact a secret Lexit plot then the members would desert him, you wouldn't need Jo Swinson.

    It is 2 weeks of Corbyn versus 2 years of Tories and No Deal Brexit

    Thats the choice.
    posted by fullerine at 4:12 AM on August 20 [5 favorites]


    Because it’s not a "pointless title" if Corbyn is PM. The Corbynites in the Labour party have been watching the Tories tear up the customary rulebook with great interest.

    It’s only a "pointless title" for a GONU that either the Tories or Labour can tear down in a VONC & trigger a GE.
    posted by pharm at 4:37 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


    Why not have Corbyn use the "pointless title" for a couple of weeks then?

    I agree - I just think both sides are as bad as each other in this, rather than it being Labour being reasonable and only the Lib Dems being idiots.
    posted by Dysk at 4:49 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


    Also, it would absolutely not require Corbyn to resign - temporarily declare anyone else from whatever party an independent, and have Labour back their coalition for a few weeks.
    posted by Dysk at 4:52 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


    Expecting the leader of the opposition, whose job is to become Prime Minister, to say "Duh, I'm too shit to be Prime Minister even for a few weeks, let a backbenchers do it" was never a serious proposal. It was only ever made to be rejected.

    Jeremy Corbyn is offering to cancel Hard Brexit, and then to hold a second referendum. This is allegedly what the Lib Dems have been asking for for years. The reason they're not grabbing that offer with both hands is that their leadership cares as much about stopping Brexit as they did about stopping tuition fees. Being anti-Brexit is a good way for them to peel off Labour Remain voters to their own party. If Remain wins a second referendum called by Corbyn, that strategy to get Labour Remain voters fails. So for the Lib Dems, it's better to let Brexit happen than allow Corbyn to get the credit for stopping it.
    posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:57 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]




    That speech is a general election manifesto. The Brexit claims are there precisely because Labour is haemorrhaging voters to the LibDems over this issue & Labour has to stop the rot if they want to survive. It’s irrelevant to questions about a GONU, because in the current Parliament, Labour does not have the MPs to pull off a VONC without the support of Tory MPs. The LibDems know this, which is why they’ve rejected Corbyn’s entirely self-serving claim to the Premiership - if Corbyn tries to VONC the government on this basis then on the current Parliamentary arithmetic he’s going to lose. The zeroth rule of politics is that its practitioners need to be able to count.

    The accusation over Brexit goes both ways - if Labour were serious about stopping a no-deal Brexit then they would be sitting down right now hammering out terms for a GONU that will get enough MPs over the line. The fact that they’re not doing so tells you everything that you need to know. Maybe they will come round once it becomes clear that they’re not going to be given the red carpet to government that they’re so convinced they deserve.
    posted by pharm at 7:22 AM on August 20 [7 favorites]


    Yeah, both the Lib Dems and Labour are being self-serving and not showing any particular principled opposition to Brexit by effectively saying "the way we want to do it, or no deal". It's stupid for the Lid Dems to be that dedicated to not having Corbyn lead a temporary GONU. It's stupid for Labour to be so dedicated to having Corbyn lead a temporary GONU. Either side could compromise to get us somewhere. You can get all high and mighty about why MY TEAM's red line is fine, and THEIR TEAM's red line is atrocious, but the fact remains: if either party really wants to stop the impending doom, it's within their grasp. Neither is doing any compromising, because it's "the way we want to do it, or no deal" for both sides of the negotiation. It's a refrain that's starting to be disappointingly familiar in UK politics...
    posted by Dysk at 8:04 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


    Expecting the leader of the opposition, whose job is to become Prime Minister, to say "Duh, I'm too shit to be Prime Minister even for a few weeks, let a backbenchers do it" was never a serious proposal.

    It isn't, it's expecting him to acknowledge that the people he's attempting to deal with think that. There's rather a difference, and it's tendentious to portray it the way you have.
    posted by Dysk at 8:05 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


    I was writing a longer comment, but this nails it: if Labour were serious about stopping a no-deal Brexit then they would be sitting down right now hammering out terms for a GONU that will get enough MPs over the line.

    Most of the Tory "rebels" have suffered horrific abuse including (I believe) death threats. They also know they'd be setting the controls of their political career for the heart of the sun. I believe they absolutely should do what's right for the country, but you have to accept that it's not a petty sacrifice for someone who is a career politician, and its a far greater sacrifice than any Labour or Lib Dem is proposing to make.

    If you want to win a VONC, you have to do something to get these Tories over the line and (in public at least) I'm not seeing it. Maybe the additional damage of putting Corbyn into No 10 is negligible in the balance of voting against your own government, but maybe not—in psychological terms, if not practical ones.
    posted by dudleian at 8:07 AM on August 20 [8 favorites]


    One detail I haven't seen well addressed by the reporting yet is the claim that the withdrawal agreement provides no mechanism for unilateral exit. If that's true, I'm not sure why the EU wouldn't allow one, or at least for a commitment to the possibility of one - A50 provided for unilateral exit from the EU. I can see why they would very much want to not have one given the UK's appalling behaviour trying to exit, but it seems like the one WA compromise that would address BJs claimed sticking points without making the situation markedly worse for the EU. That said, I can also see the argument that the backstop is an essential patch to the GFA, since it basically assumed EU membership to even make sense as an agreement. Still, ending up with a hard border because you can't get a commitment to a permanent absence of one. Although of course the GFA commits to that, so of course the EU can't commit to a method of essentially breaking that. Gaaah.
    posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:28 PM on August 20


    Accelerating developments (withdrawing early from all EU discussions, making nebulous / impossible renegotiation demands, ramping up the blame game etc) convince me that there’s no Nixon in China or even Trump strategy. The plan is to crash out, hold (or be forced into) an early election before reality bites and the Germans can still be portrayed as beastly, beat Labour and use the 5 years invulnerability provided by the FTPA to get things settled down before a giveaway budget and going to the country. Worst case Labour wins the election / poisoned chalice and are bounced into office with a divided party and no agreed post-Brexit policy, and act as an ablative shield for Brexit, with the Tories romping home in the subsequent election. A week is a long time in politics, but 5 years is the blink of an eye. Labour won’t be able to significantly alter the country’s course, in part because of its leave leadership and supporters (a minority but looming large with the leadership), and in part because the Tories poisoned the wells and salted the earth with EU, and that will take time to heal.

    Cummings isn’t a political genius but at least the Tories are thinking several moves deep, whereas Labour, shackled by their constructive ambiguity, aren’t able to think at all, which is why even if they win, I think they lose.
    posted by dudleian at 12:51 AM on August 21 [8 favorites]


    Still, ending up with a hard border because you can't get a commitment to a permanent absence of one. Although of course the GFA commits to that, so of course the EU can't commit to a method of essentially breaking that. Gaaah.

    Yep. What has been lost too is that the WA isn't really any sort of "deal" - that is supposed to come later. It is simply a withdrawal agreement. Money owed and citizen's rights are technically negotiable. The last point - assurances about the Irish border - are simply matters of law and so there is not a whole lot of room there for concessions.

    The UK is finding it logically cumbersome to extract itself from the EU but that is entirely based on agreements previously made. It can break those old agreements but if so then it is a pariah state. It cannot honor those agreements and fully leave the EU. It is a conundrum but one that many people recognized years ago and were naturally ignored.
    posted by vacapinta at 2:25 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


    From Politico:

    In the Sun Political Editor Tom Newton Dunn says the PM is ready to offer a short-term bilateral deal between London and Dublin which would see Ireland diverge from EU rules temporarily so it remains aligned to the U.K. In exchange, Britain would agree a common rulebook on goods and standards with the Republic. The whole thing would last until so-called alternative arrangements are in place.

    I can't believe that this would be treated with anything other than disdain by Dublin (and rightly so), and would surely lead to the electoral wipeout of any party that signed up to it, but that's just me.
    posted by dudleian at 2:42 AM on August 21 [7 favorites]


    It's not serious, it's just another version of the 'blame the foreigners' strategy: by proposing something so ridiculous that it won't be accepted, the UK government can pretend that it's making good faith offers, and they're continually being rejected by the nasty EU. The Tories simply don't care any longer about how these proposals are received in the EU, they're purely for domestic consumption. Nothing else matters except the Tory Party.

    I honestly can't see what the end game is here other than no deal. Such firm opposition to the backstop means that the current deal is politically unacceptable to the government and dead in the Commons. There's no other deal on offer. Remain/revoke won't happen because the Commons is too divided and cowardly. The current extension period has been completely wasted, and I strongly doubt another will be offered. It's a hard crash now.
    posted by daveje at 3:51 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


    One detail I haven't seen well addressed by the reporting yet is the claim that the withdrawal agreement provides no mechanism for unilateral exit. If that's true, I'm not sure why the EU wouldn't allow one, or at least for a commitment to the possibility of one - A50 provided for unilateral exit from the EU. I can see why they would very much want to not have one given the UK's appalling behaviour trying to exit, but it seems like the one WA compromise that would address BJs claimed sticking points without making the situation markedly worse for the EU.

    From the EU's perspective, an agreement with a mechanism for unilateral exit doesn't solve any problems, it only postpones them. The EU's highest priority during the negotiations has been to prevent a guarded border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which would become necessary if laws and regulations in NI diverge significantly from those in the RoI. The WA avoids this by keeping the UK in regulatory alignment with the EU until both the UK and the EU agree on another arrangement. (Of course, the important part is that NI is kept in alignment with the EU; having the rest of the UK diverge is far more manageable.) If the UK can withdraw unilaterally from the WA arrangement, the problem of regulatory divergence hasn't been solved; at any point in the future the UK might decide to drop the agreement, which would make a border necessary unless the EU and the UK come to some sort of agreement that prevents this. And the EU doesn't want to restart negotiations over the border from scratch every few years, it wants a permanent solution. (A time-limited WA, as some British politicians have suggested, has the same problem.)
    posted by Tau Wedel at 7:12 AM on August 21 [12 favorites]


    Chris Patten (Last British governor of Hong Kong, former EU commissioner for external affairs, Chancellor of the University of Oxford)
    Asks: Is Britain becoming a failed state?
    As Brexit looms ever closer, Britain’s institutions, economic prospects, constitution, and future are all at risk. But the reckless plunge into delusion and lies proceeds apace.
    posted by adamvasco at 10:02 AM on August 21 [7 favorites]


    Democratic Audit: Who is the Leader of the Opposition?

    I thought it was quite interesting.
    posted by Joe in Australia at 5:38 AM on August 22


    "If large numbers of Labour MPs, under the leadership perhaps of Tom Watson, were to declare themselves to be a separate parliamentary party, in numbers greater than those staying loyal to Corbyn, it would ultimately be for Bercow to decide whether Corbyn or Watson was the person entitled to have his motions of no confidence debated and voted on."

    Well... technically? I guess?
    And they're well within their rights to do that. Given the UK's convention that MPs are elected as individuals they would again technically retain their mandate. But in actual fact there is rather more to representing the party than that. How do you think that would go if they tried it?

    It's silliness of the highest order.
    posted by Just this guy, y'know at 9:36 AM on August 22 [3 favorites]


    The Independent, reporting on the Johnson-Macron meeting: 'Up to the Last Second': Macron Says UK Can Still Revoke Article 50 And Cancel Brexit
    Emmanuel Macron has insisted Article 50 can still be revoked "up to the last second", as he warned Boris Johnson a no-deal Brexit would be Britain's fault.

    As the two leaders prepared to hold their first face-to-face meeting in Paris, Mr Macron once again dismissed the prime minister's repeated demands to reopen the withdrawal agreement as "not an option".

    In highly-critical remarks on the eve of talks, the French president also said the UK would be the "main victim" of a hard Brexit, as he warned the cost would not be offset by a trade deal with the United States.

    Rejecting accusations the bloc would be at fault for a no-deal Brexit, he continued: "It will be the responsibility of the British government, always. Firstly it was the British people that decided Brexit, and the British government has the possibility up to the last second to revoke Article 50."
    Meanwhile at Merkel's press conference with Johnson during they discussed the possibility of a last-minute alternative to the backstop, he said, "You have set a very blistering timetable of 30 days - if I understood you correctly, I am more than happy with that"—which sounds like the exact opposite. He also said the UK must leave on 31 October "do or die", which sounds like a deliberately poor choice of words.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 12:17 PM on August 22 [4 favorites]


    Deutsche Welle: Did Merkel set a 30-day Irish backstop deadline?
    But Merkel, who was on a visit to the Netherlands on Thursday, clarified that she did not give any backstop deadline.

    "I said that what you want to do in three or two years, you can do in 30 days — or rather, you would have to say: you can do it by October 31," Merkel said at a press conference, referring to the scheduled Brexit date.

    "It's not about 30 days, but they were symbolic for the fact that you can do it in a short period of time," she explained...

    Mujtaba Rahman, a Europe analyst for the Eurasia Group consultancy, said the talks offer should be interpreted as a minor concession designed to avoid the EU being seen as responsible for a no-deal Brexit.

    "They're saying to Boris, you insist this can be done another way. You have 30 days to produce what you, the British, could not produce in two years,"
    The right-wing tabloids are going ape over this, the Daily Mail has a "Victory for Boris Johnson?" headline, but it's not really even a thing.
    posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:06 PM on August 22 [2 favorites]


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