Friday 29 March 2019

Is Brexit delayed Brexit denied?

Brexit Day is now two weeks away and will presumably be delayed for more than a year, by which time the referendum will have receded a long way into the past and will have lost its authority.

MPs defeated Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement for the third time this afternoon, as had seemed almost inevitable, despite leading Brexiteers Messrs Johnson, Rabb and Rees-Mogg changing their minds and reluctantly voting for it. 

The withdrawal agreement was defeated by a majority of 58 this time, a substantial majority, but much less than the defeat in January by a majority of 230 and earlier this month by a majority of 149.

The DUP voted against. They let the country down by making an agreement to govern Northern Ireland with IRA-Sinn Fein, but they are firm in defence of the Union (the UK not the European Union in case you wondered), despite many Northern Irish farmers liking the agreement.

My head thinks that perhaps this agreement was the best Brexit possible, but my heart is delighted by the defeat. If Brexit does not happen this time it will dominate and embitter British politics for the next ten or twenty years. Perhaps much longer. What the eventual outcome would be I do not know, nor what the outcome would be should the Withdrawal Agreement pass (yes pass in the present subjunctive tense, because Theresa May wants to bring it back a fourth time if she can).

The Prime Minister said a longer delay to Brexit was 'almost certain' and that 'we are reaching the limits of this process in this House' which sounds like another election to me - and maybe Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. 

Both parties are badly split over Brexit so it is not clear what the result of an election would be. It might mean  a seat for Nigel Farage and one for 'Tommy Robinson'.

Why was the vote even held, since the Government had little chance of winning?Newsnight’s Nick Watt quotes the answer of an unnamed Cabinet minister in this clip (strong language warning). When I worked in parliament in the early and mid 1980s swearing was rare but since Labour took office it has become ubiquitous.

Jacopo and and Lili Bayer report in this article in the FT that European Commission Secretary-General Martin Selmayr says that Britain would quickly be back at the negotiating table in the event that we leaves with no deal and will have to pay the same fee and agree to the Backstop. 

The FT has also has a piece saying that some European leaders still hope Brexit might be reversed, but others are now looking forward to getting Britain out and moving on.

Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Jeremy Hunt are the most likely to be the next leader of the British Tory Party and British Prime Minister. All four are Oxford-educated, which is good, and men which is fine too. Boris is part Turkish and the descendant of a real live (female) slave, Mr Gove was adopted as a baby by a fishmonger, Mr Raab's father came to England as a Jewish refugee and Mr Hunt is the son of an admiral.

Mr Gove would be the best choice, but any of these four would be fine except the last, who voted Remain and, when the result was announced, suggested holding a second referendum on the terms of any exit deal. He then reinvented himself as a Leaver. 

Fraser Nelson in his Telegraph column says:
"If Boris Johnson was even half as egotistical and calculating as his enemies say, things might not be in such a mess now. Had he not collapsed in a heap immediately after the referendum and slunk off to play cricket at Althorp, without anything resembling a leadership campaign, he might have won. 

Instead Theresa May, fresh from having sat out the referendum campaign, saw her chance and pounced. Mr Johnson failed to become leader because of a lack of basic organisation. This is not a mistake that anyone now eyeing No 10 intends to repeat."

Lord King, the last Governor of the Bank of England, says leaving the EU with no deal will be fine. I imagine so, but I do not see it happening, although some do. 

The ebullient Spectator journalist Isabel Hardman said:

"MPs I've spoken to recently are deeply concerned about either their own or their colleagues' mental health as a result of this prolonged chaotic crisis in Parliament. Tory MP Julian Lewis warned earlier this week that some had ended up in tears at the prospect of repeatedly voting on the same issues, which probably won't elicit much sympathy from the general public, who feel bored to tears by the whole process."


  1. it is not clear what the result of an election would be. It might mean a seat for Nigel Farage and one for 'Tommy Robinson'.

    The various pro-Brexit minor parties would need to win enough seats to hold the balance of power. That seems very very unlikely. I suspect that these parties won't win a single seat.

    The most they are likely to do is to split the Tory vote and ensure a Tory defeat. That in itself would be a good thing, since the Tory Party needs to die.

    I imagine the Tories will run an hysterical scare campaign - if you vote for a pro-Brexit minor party you'll just get Jeremy Corbyn elected and he'll establish a communist dictatorship and the world will end. Most so-called conservatives will therefore rally to the Tories. Whereupon the Tories will betray them, again.

    1. Your prediction sounds likely. Tommy Robinson won't win a seat - that is liberal scaremongering. Nigel Farage would be an asset in the House. I wonder if his new party has a reasonable chance of winning seats.

    2. Tommy Robinson won't win a seat - that is liberal scaremongering.

      I certainly hope he doesn't win a seat.

      Nigel Farage would be an asset in the House.

      Yeah, I'd like to see Nigel in Parliament. He might have a very very slim chance of winning a seat himself but I don't think his party will win any other seats.

  2. Brexit Day was supposed to be today but is now two weeks away and will presumably be delayed for more than a year, by which time the referendum will have receded a long way into the past and will have lost its authority.

    It now seems very very unlikely that Brexit will happen.

    If it does happen there's little doubt that the British government will still agree to pay the EU billions of dollars and will then go grovelling to the EU hoping for a post-Brexit deal.

    And if Brexit does happen the Remainers will instantly transform themselves into Rejoiners. They will immediately start campaigning for Britain to rejoin the EU. If Brexit happens I predict there will be a referendum within three or four years in which Britain will vote to rejoin the EU.

    The most amusing outcome would be if the EU then rejected Britain's application to rejoin!

    1. I predict the moronic No Dealers will look back 20 years from now wishing they had backed May’s Withdrawal Agreement and heeded Booker’s and North’s warnings about how calamitous a No Deal/WTO Brexit would be. Contrary to ERG propaganda the liberal media have consistently underplayed the impact a No Deal will have, largely out of ignorance, but at least partly out of a desire to see the populist and nationalist tide brought to a halt and totally discredited. A No Deal Brexit will virtually guarantee this.

      Globalists such as Verhofstadt are playing the long game and so have much longer time horizons than your average Conservative idiot who only looks ahead to the next year or so. Nothing would strengthen the EU more and make Britain’s re-entry into the EU more likely than No Deal. As Pete North has said extricating ourselves from the EU was supposed to be a very boring and pedestrian thing. A long slow process not an event.

    2. Indeed, a No-Deal would devastate the UK economy and would be great for the EU in the long run as it would scare other potential leavers. The UK would have to come back to the negotiating table very quickly and in a very weak position. Which is why the Brexiters with half a brain will not let No Deal happen.

  3. I have ever been of two minds on -xit, until this laborious, excruciatingly public play. In my humble opinion, it is more of a contribution to Europe than D Day: the continent needs some indecent exposure of democracy & couldn't possibly play it on itself.

    Else, proximity remains...