Sunday 31 March 2019

The fog in which we find ourselves grows even thicker. Sounds of pain from nearby.

Poor Christopher Booker, who has cancer, writes his farewell to his readers in today's 
Sunday Telegraph. He was anti-EEC and a Brexiteer  avant la lettre but is close to omniscient blogger Richard North, thinks only the Norway option would be practical form of Brexit and anything else disastrous. He might be right.

The first priority of all politicians, with a very few exceptions on a few occasions, unless they are about to retire, is the next election. Therefore talking about Brexit today should start there. 

Labour wants one though it would be split badly in an election. The Tories would have to be divided as the Liberals were in the 1918 Coupon Election when half received Prime Minister Lloyd George's coupon and half fought against his coalition government. Yet some Tory MPs say one is necessary.

The opinion poll I read today showed for the first time Labour in the lead by 5%, an understandable poll result after last week. 

There were only really ever four final outcomes: leaving with no deal; no Brexit; something rather like Mrs May's non-binding Political Agreement involving no free movement of people, not being part of the customs union or single market, with the inevitable Backstop to prevent a border in Ireland; and something like the Norway option.

The options today are as follows.
  1. Leaving with no deal. Today half the Tory MPs, 170, say in a letter to Mrs. May that they want to leave with no deal by May 22. I am in favour of this but I am fairly sure it will only happen if the EU gets fed up with us and I imagine they won't because they do not want no deal, partly for Ireland's sake;
  2. The Withdrawal Agreement, which could still pass the House on its fourth chance, if the Speaker gives it one;
  3. The Withdrawal Agreement and then the Norway option, which I would like, if the House and EU agree;
  4. Ken Clarke's plan for permanent membership of the customs union, if the House and the Government agree, which would be BRINO, Brexit in Name Only, otherwise known as Norway Plus or Common Market 2.0;
  5. Another referendum, which could go either way;
  6. A long delay, if the EU agrees, which they probably will but might not. This would probably lead to another referendum.

The Tories would own leaving with no deal or Mrs May's plan. All three would be very unpopular with many.

Labour and the Tory Remainers would own permanent membership of the customs union or a second referendum. They would have defied the people's will. They will not be easily forgiven for that.

Much will hinge on the political advantage politicians will get from the outcome but this is always mixed with genuine principle and the principles involved are deep and emotional. Internationalism and globalism are as emotional as patriotism and nationalism.

Meanwhile the divisions are deep. 20% of Leavers would not want a Remainer as a friend and 35% of Remainers reciprocate. 

Only the divisions over Home Rule in 1886, the Munich crisis in 1938 and Suez in 1956 were equally divisive and the fortunes of war healed the latter two splits quickly. The split over Home Rule kept the Liberals in opposition for 17 of the next twenty years, until the Tories split over Free Trade.

1 comment:

  1. The economic argument for staying in the EU is much weaker than the Remaniacs claim to believe, except that a few vested interests are more threatened than the rest of us, and the intelligent Remaniacs know that.

    At the end of the day, it comes down to whether people’s visceral loyalty is to Britain or Brussels, and most of the phoney Conservatives fall into the second camp.