Whipping

by Harry on March 13, 2019

If you were an MP, and your party was in government, and it proposed a motion, but promised that you could have a free vote on that motion, but then at the last minute whipped you to vote against a slightly modified version of that same motion (the motion it, itself, had proposed, minus one statement of fact which, though removed, everyone knows still to be a fact), how long would it take you to get back to your constituency and prepare for a general election? And, more generally, what would you be thinking?

And, does this count as a victory for May? The motion she proposed passed, after all, despite her orders for her party to vote against it.

{ 83 comments }

1

J-D 03.14.19 at 12:58 am

If you were an MP, and if a motion was proposed which contained a statement of fact, what motive would you have for proposing (or supporting) an amendment to delete that statement of fact from the motion?

Also, if you were the Speaker of the UK House of Commons, with the freedom to choose which amendments to a motion would be considered and which would not, why would you select for consideration an amendment whose purpose was to delete from that motion a statement of fact?

No, this does not count as a victory for May. The thing she wanted to happen did not happen, and the thing she wanted not to happen did happen. That counts as a defeat.

Since we’re talking about facts, it’s evident to me that at least some MPs are still having difficulty coming to grips with the facts, and what makes that evident is the way some of them keep talking about ‘taking no-deal off the table’. There is no such table. Yes, I’m well aware that they are using figurative language, but figurative language, to be meaningful, still has to refer to something literal. Every metaphor is a metaphor for something. When Shakespeare wrote of ‘the morn, in russet mantle clad’, he was not referring to any literal mantle, but he was referring metaphorically to the red colour of the sky at dawn, which is, literally, real. There is no literally real phenomenon to which the expression ‘taking no-deal off the table’ refers, and the way some MPs keep talking about it indicates that they still haven’t figured out what’s going on.

I actually am thinking that, so I suppose that is, still, what I would be thinking if I were an MP. Also, if I were an MP, I would be thinking that it is within the power of the House of Commons to take action which guarantees that there will be no withdrawal without a withdrawal agreement, but that there is now no prospect of doing so without taking control of the business of the House out of the hands of the government, which is something that would normally be expected to result in the fall of the government. In fact, one of the government speakers in the debate said something to the general effect of ‘If you want to do this, the proper way is to move a motion of no-confidence’. That isn’t entirely fair, because a motion of no-confidence was moved recently, and it was defeated. If I were an MP, one of the things I would be thinking–and saying, explicitly and emphatically, to my parliamentary colleagues–is that so long as the House is not prepared to accept the prospect of ejecting the government from office, it must continue to suffer the effects of the government’s choices.

2

John Quiggin 03.14.19 at 7:23 am

Slightly off-topic, but if Jeremy Corbyn were secretly a fanatical remainer, would he have acted any differently to what he has done so far? It seems pretty clear that the only realistic route to stopping Brexit is

1. Kill off May’s deal
2. Rule out No Deal
3. Delay Article 50
4. Hold a second referendum

1 and 2 are now done (unless May manages yet another vote), 3 seems like a done deal and Corbyn is (reluctantly) supporting 4. Would a Labor Party led by an overt Remainer have done better?

3

Adam Roberts 03.14.19 at 7:46 am

J-D @1: “There is no literally real phenomenon to which the expression ‘taking no-deal off the table’ refers.”

Rescinding Article 50 would take No Deal off the table.

4

Dipper 03.14.19 at 8:03 am

“how long would it take you to get back to your constituency and prepare for a general election?”

Well, that depends a lot on whether I were a Leaver in a Remain constituency, a Remainer in a Leave constituency, a Corbynite Labour MP in a Corbynite constituency, a non-Corbynite Labour MP in a Corbynite constituency, a member of TIG etc etc. The answer for all those are different.

The problem with having a GE now is that there is no valid political reason for it. Both parties stood on a manifesto that honoured the referendum result, and parliament is collectively refusing to deliver it. A GE is not going to magically solve this collapse of the Parliamentary process and may throw up a lot of totally unexpected answers.

Personally, as a Leaver Tory, I think the house should vote for the deal. The deal is dreadful, testament to the fact that if you rule no deal out in negotiation you will get completely stuffed. It doesn’t even get us properly out of the EU, but pass it, get a new leader, paint a positive and ambitious picture of the UK out of the EU, and try and put right in the next negotiations what we got wrong in the previous ones.

@ John Quiggin “4. Hold a second referendum”

On what? Deal vs No Deal? Remain vs Deal? And given that the 17.4 million vote to leave was a high vote in UK terms, what if you only get, say 15 million to Remain? How is 15 million a mandate and 17.4 million not a mandate? And are you seriously suggesting we ask the electorate to vote on a binding 500+ page legal document? Where do I get my legal advice? And even if “Remain” wins, that leaves a large number of people in the UK who will believe they are governed without their consent.

No matter how bad things are now, they can get worse.

Just a reminder that despite all this, record jobs, public finances looking sound, and economic growth that is equal to or better than the Eurozone.

5

J-D 03.14.19 at 8:48 am

I think I can suggest an answer to the question ‘What more could Jeremy Corbyn do?’

At the following URL you should be able to see the parliamentary document setting out the order of business for the House of Commons on Thursday 14 March:
https://preview.tinyurl.com/y6p8kpr2

If you scroll down the page, you can find the exact wording of the motion about an extension of time for Brexit, prepared by the government and, I think it’s following official form to say, standing in the name of the Prime Minister. You can also see the wording of proposed amendments to that motion (so far). One of those amendments stands in the name of Jeremy Corbyn. I am not sure exactly how these things work, but I would hazard a guess that an amendment standing in the name of the Leader of the Opposition has a very high probability of being one of those selected by the Speaker for debate. It is a pity, therefore, that in this instance the position behind which he is evidently putting his weight is one which translates, approximately, into ‘We should ask the EU to give us more time to see whether we can come up with any other ideas’. My answer, therefore, to the question ‘What more could Jeremy Corbyn do?’ is ‘Put his official weight, and that of the Opposition which he leads, behind something approximating one of the other proposed amendments on the order paper and therefore less of a wishy-washy mealy-mouthed fatuity’.

That’s something else I would be thinking if I were an MP–and saying, explicitly and emphatically, to my parliamentary colleagues–and I think that it therefore comes within the scope of one of John Holbo’s questions and so is not off-topic. Rereading the original formulation, I think what I’m supposed to be doing is imagining myself specifically in the position of a Conservative MP, but being a Conservative MP is evidently compatible with a range of positions on Brexit, and the positions I’m staking out are ones which I think even some Conservative MPs would be capable of grasping.

Although another part of my mind is thinking that asking me what I would think if I were a Conservative is a bit like asking me what I would think if I were an octopus.

6

John Quiggin 03.14.19 at 9:01 am

@4 Remain vs Deal seems like the obvious choice. One side will lose and be unhappy, just as in every vote. At least the winning side will have received an actual majority of votes cast, unlike typical UK (and many US) elections.

7

Sean Purdy 03.14.19 at 9:41 am

@4 “… testament to the fact that if you rule no deal out in negotiation you will get completely stuffed.”

But Theresa May’s mantra “no deal is better than a bad deal” seems the exact opposite of what you describe. (Even if she does seem to have dropped that particular line recently.)

8

Dipper 03.14.19 at 9:44 am

@ John Quiggin “Remain vs Deal seems like the obvious choice”. That is the likeliest option, and I’d just repeat that many support No Deal so they would feel disenfranchised, the turnout is likely to be lower than in the original vote, and that the resulting mandate would be disputed by many. In a system of government based on consent, that isn’t a good outcome.

9

Faustusnotes 03.14.19 at 9:53 am

Dipper doesn’t want a second referendum because he knows he’ll lose. This is why his traitor hero moggy has also changed his mind on a referendum: he supported a second referendum during the campaign but has changed his mind now that everyone has clarified how bad leaving will be. Boris Johnson – another traitor, who promised that they would never do a no deal brexit – is scared of a second referendum for the same reason. They know that no deal these traitors and wreckers can negotiate would be as good as staying in, so they want to ram it down the voters’ throats before the next general election. They don’t have to care when it all goes wrong because they’ve hidden their money offshore and bought European passports. It’s the plebs they hate who will have no choice about the nature in which their nation is destroyed.

They won’t support a no confidence notion either because their electorate will shaft them, or because they want to shaft their electorate. So there’s nothing anyone can do but watch as the erg drags the country to ruin.

10

J-D 03.14.19 at 10:23 am

Adam Roberts

J-D @1: “There is no literally real phenomenon to which the expression ‘taking no-deal off the table’ refers.”

Rescinding Article 50 would take No Deal off the table.

Of course you are correct, and my analysis was a serious over-simplification. I accept the correction.

But after the correction, the essence of my point stands. Revoking the notice of withdrawal would, indeed, guarantee that withdrawal without a withdrawal agreement will not happen; but when MPs talk about ‘taking no-deal off the table’ they are not coming to grips with this fact, they are (with their woolly language) obscuring it.

I should stress that this is not true of all MPs. Many MPs have put their names to proposed amendments to the motion to be debated on Thursday 14 March which refer, clearly, to the possibility of revoking the notice of withdrawal or, equivalently, and with equal clarity, to the possibility of the UK remaining in the EU. My guess is that well over half the House of Commons understand what’s going on as well as I do or (in the case of a large number, I should think) better. What I fear is that the minority who have not sufficiently come to grips with the facts are, because of the balance of numbers in the Commons, strategically positioned to have a decisive influence over the corporate position of the House. What will the House do, as a body, if it votes tomorrow to direct the government to request an extension of time from the EU, and the EU then refuses the request? Freeze like deer in the headlights?

Dipper

“how long would it take you to get back to your constituency and prepare for a general election?”

Well, that depends a lot on whether I were a Leaver in a Remain constituency, a Remainer in a Leave constituency, a Corbynite Labour MP in a Corbynite constituency, a non-Corbynite Labour MP in a Corbynite constituency, a member of TIG etc etc. The answer for all those are different.

Harry (and not John Holbo, as I inexplicably and inexcusably wrote in an earlier comment which has not yet cleared moderation: I apologise to both) began by writing ‘If you were an MP, and your party was in government’, so the question, at least on the face of it, is about what you would think/expect/do if you were a Conservative MP. Also, we know you’re a Leaver, so to the extent that the question applies to you it’s about what a Leaver Conservative MP would think/expect/do.

Both parties stood on a manifesto that honoured the referendum result, and parliament is collectively refusing to deliver it.

That’s not true. Legislation to authorise the government to give notice of withdrawal from the EU was adopted with the support of both Labour and the Conservatives (I acknowledge that a significant minority of Labour MPs voted against it, but they were defying the party’s three-line whip when they did so): under that legislation, the government gave notice of withdrawal, and nothing Parliament has done since has had the effect of reversing or delaying the effect of that notice. At this stage, Parliamentary inaction–or Parliamentary fatuous footling around with gestures–will be sufficient to ensure delivery of the referendum result, and so far that’s all you’ve been getting.

And are you seriously suggesting we ask the electorate to vote on a binding 500+ page legal document? Where do I get my legal advice?

I’m not sure how much chance there is of such a referendum coming about, but it is within the range of possibilities, and if it does come about my guess is that the majority of voters will turn out for it, with or without legal advice. Of course if you’re not prepared to vote without your own personal legal advice you needn’t. My guess is that in the event of such a referendum there would be a lot of public comment from lawyers fairly readily available to anybody who wanted to seek it out. Wait a moment while I do a Web search. Yes, put the search terms ‘Brexit’ and ‘law’ into DuckDuckGo (or whatever your preferred search engine is) and lots of sites come up that appear helpful.

And even if “Remain” wins, that leaves a large number of people in the UK who will believe they are governed without their consent.

Most people in the UK are governed without their consent most of the time. That’s always been true, and it’s going to remain true in any one of the possible scenarios arising from the present imbroglio, Leave or Remain. So it’s not an argument against (or for) any particular course of action.

John Quiggin

Remain vs Deal seems like the obvious choice.

For what it’s worth (and it may not be worth much), that, or something approximating it, is what is contemplated by more than one of the amendments currently on the House of Commons order paper (which I linked to in an earlier comment which has not yet cleared moderation).

11

Dipper 03.14.19 at 10:39 am

@ Faustusnotes

1. Dipper doesn’t want a second referendum because he knows he’ll lose” How does someone who wants to Leave with no deal “win” a referendum when that option isn’t on the ballot paper? I’ve said if I were an MP I’d take the deal, but millions of people would prefer to leave with no deal.

2. “his traitor hero moggy”. Parliament voted 6:1 to have a referendum. I’m not looking to Rees-Mogg to implement the result anymore than I’m looking to Soubry, Lammy, Umunna, Heidi Allen, etc etc. They agreed to delegate the result to the people, they got a decision, I expect them all to implement it. I am not looking to Ken Clarke to implement it as he voted against the referendum and triggering A50. As for the argument that “we don’t know what the people voted for”, well, MPs chose the question, we answered it, and now they tell us they don’t understand what the answer to the question they chose to ask us means. This is well beyond any definition of farce.

12

KG 03.14.19 at 12:55 pm

I think the house should vote for the deal. The deal is dreadful – Dipper

And this tells us all we need to know about Brexiteers.

As for the 2016 referendum, we already know the Leave side cheated with regard to funding (as determined by the Electoral Commission). They also lied without restraint. But most of all, the vote matched a known status quo against a fantasy Brexit, which could mean whatever anyone wanted it to mean. Moreover, it was always and explicitly an advisory referendum: if MPs had wished to make it binding, they could have done so, but they didn’t. The plain truth that has emerged is that no Brexit matching the promises made could possibly be produced, and Brexiteers themselves have completely failed to agree on any version of it. There should be a binding referendum now we know what is actually on offer: May’s deal, no deal Brexit, or Remain, using an alternative vot system, so voters can specify their second choice. If no deal wins, the UK leaves immediately without a deal. If May’s deal wins, the UK asks the Eurpean Parliament to agree it. If Remain wins, the UK remains in the EU. That’s the only democratic approach, and the pretences of Brexiteers to be defending democracy are both laughable and revolting: part of democracy is the right to change your mind, another part is the right to be properly informed. They don’t want a new referendum because they know damn well they would lose. That’s all there is to it.

13

Hidari 03.14.19 at 1:07 pm

@2 No.
Corbyn has played a blinder, although it’s literally impossible to get anyone to admit it in the moral and political cesspool that Fleet Street has become. Literally the only reference I have seen to this objective fact (outside of Corbynistas) has been Martin Lewis, who works far from the commentariat.

https://twitter.com/MartinSLewis/status/1105921890277883909

As far as my own predictions are concerned, not that anyone cares, they are still looking pretty good, cf this:

http://crookedtimber.org/2018/12/29/if-brexit-goes-ahead-say-goodbye-to-radical-redistribution/#comment-742604

tl;dr

No Deal is simply not going to happen, and (despite what commentators have been shrieking for the last 6 months) was never going to happen. May’s deal is not going to happen either although it’s possible that a modified form of it (i.e. a form to make it ‘softer’) might scrape through, although there’s no sign of May showing the necessary willingness to compromise yet. I would say it’s 50/50 that either Britain doesn’t leave the EU either for the next 6 months, or possibly ever, or if it does leave it’s such a soft Brexit that it’s essentially unnoticeable (if memory serves, that’s John Quiggin’s prediction as well).

14

Scott P. 03.14.19 at 1:36 pm

3 seems like a done deal

Is it? The EU needs to approve any extension.

And given that the 17.4 million vote to leave was a high vote in UK terms, what if you only get, say 15 million to Remain? How is 15 million a mandate and 17.4 million not a mandate?

Given that 17.4 is itself a minority of UK eligible voters I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. In a democracy, all you need is a majority (and often, only a plurality) of those that turn out.

However, it also turns out that the “Leave” vote was itself split into several incompatible factions, masked by the simplicity of the question. Essentially Parliament, and the public, can’t muster a majority for any one option.

Personally, I think in a second referendum there ought to be 3 options with a ranked-choice vote: May’s deal, No deal, Remain. That at least puts all of the actually-obtainable options on the table.

15

Cian 03.14.19 at 1:39 pm

> Slightly off-topic, but if Jeremy Corbyn were secretly a fanatical remainer, would he have acted any differently to what he has done so far? It seems pretty clear that the only realistic route to stopping Brexit is

John,
I keep reading this kind of crap from smart people who really should know better. These are the facts:

Corbyn leads the opposition. He is not the leader of the government. He cannot negotiate on behalf of the UK (though he has held informal talks with the EU which seem to have gone very well), and he is unable to command a majority. Describe a strategy that you think is possible here, rather than engaging in remainer fantasy politics.

As opposition leader he, and his party (this was very much a team effort – Yvette Cooper deserves considerable credit) have managed to corral the Tories into a situation where they own their incompetence, and are trapped by their own indecision. They have also proposed an alternate deal (though if you relied on the UK media you wouldn’t know this), which the EU have informally backed and even praised. These are major achievements – though again you’d never know this if you relied upon the pathetic UK media for your information (FT excluded, which mostly still operates in the reality based community).

At this point the Tories are faced with either an extremely unpopular proposal that nobody wants and which may destroy them, the calamatous results of no deal which will almost certainly destroy them, or backing down and embracing a Labour deal that may destroy them. Yes it sucks that they may decide to bring the UK down with them – but the nature of British parliamentary politics is such that there’s not much the opposition can do to prevent this.

Corbyn’s strategy is the Labour party strategy, which was democratically voted on last year. They’ve stuck to it. It’s messy because the Labour party (like the UK populatio) is very divided on this topic. The media have mostly ignored the strategy’s existance, because it doesn’t fit their preconceived biases about Labour/Corbyn. If you paid attention to their strategy then nothing the Labour party has done has been particularly surprising. You might ask what is the point of British political journalists if they can’t get basic political facts correct – and you’d be right to ask that question.

The Labour party is split on this topic. There are a range of positions from Brexit, to soft remain but no referendum, to full remain. In general the position of the parliamentary party is that the people voted, and Labour would be insane to go back with a second referendum. I think this is known as political pragmatisim. Incidentally, one thing Corbyn has done is to unite the party around a position (largely) of free movement within the EU. Something that an awful lot of Labour MPs were will willing to dump (Chuka Umunna being but one example).

There is absolutely no reason to believe that a second referendum would result in a different answer a second time round. But it would be incredibly politically damaging to everybody involved (do we want the resurgency of UKIP?). Furthermore, designing a referendum that people could agree on would be very difficult. Is it a repeat? Do we give options on leaving? Will people understand those…

One part of the Brexit story which really needs to be told, is the total collapse in the UK’s media. Not it’s bias (which seems essentially Oxbridge establishment), but the way in which it is unable to accurately describe basic facts. Whether it’s the failure to report things that the EU has stated fairly clearly, or the total failure to accurately describe Labour party policy, their performance has been lamentable – from the Guardian to the Telegraph. All of them should just retire from public life.

16

Cian 03.14.19 at 1:41 pm

Rescinding Article 50 would take No Deal off the table.

Adam – this is only true if the EU agree. They’ve hinted pretty strongly they will if certain conditions are met – but you’d have to force May (or her successor) to agree to those conditions.

17

Cian 03.14.19 at 1:54 pm

Faustus said: Dipper doesn’t want a second referendum because he knows he’ll lose.

Don’t be silly. Nobody knows how a second referendum would go. This delusion of hard remainers that a referendum is a done result is just one example of their complete disassociation from political reality.

A referendum would be very messy, and even if brexit lost it wouldn’t be the mandate people want it to be unless there was a big margin. Instead we’d have ten years of the ‘Brexit Betrayal’ poisoning UK politics. Maybe there’s a political path to getting that margin, but nobody has identified one and the remain camp certainly don’t have the political skills to build it.

Maybe a referendum will turn out to be the only option – but nobody in the remain camp is being honest about the political difficulties, costs and risks that it entails. Nor do they seem to have much of a plan for what happens if they lose (which is as likely as a win).

They don’t have to care when it all goes wrong because they’ve hidden their money offshore and bought European passports.

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe they believe their political idiocy? This is a thing that happens – and none of them have ever struck me as particularly smart.

18

Faustusnotes 03.14.19 at 2:24 pm

Oh dipper, so cute how you skip the last half of that sentence about your traitor hero. Does the fact that he supported a second referendum bother you? Is it inconvenient that the traitor was for it before he was against it? Did you not know what your traitor heroes actually said back during the referendum? Does it bother you now to discover they were so feckless and easy with their lies? Remember moggy shifted all his business offshore, because he’s gonna make sure that he doesn’t suffer from brexit like the rest of you. Does that make you uncomfortable? Do you sometimes wonder if maybe you’ve been played for a fool? But you’re going to go down with the ship rather than admit you followed a crazy captain? Got to sneer at all the people who told you over and over that you were being lied to, and destroying your children’s future on the basis of lies from quislings? It’s got to be hard to accept that your movement is a movement of traitors and economic wreckers. Just don’t forget you were warned, and you chose over and over again to follow the traitors. Because the rest of us won’t forget what you did, or why.

19

Scott P. 03.14.19 at 2:34 pm

Meanwhile, I find it bizarre that Labour is opposing the idea of a second referendum today. Their specious argument is that today is about extending article 50, not a referendum, but the EU will only grant an extension if there is a very good reason, e.g. a referendum is planned. Voting for an extension without a rationale is insane.

20

William Timberman 03.14.19 at 3:02 pm

Having been ordered to defend the dumbest idea since the diesel toothbrush failed to meet its kickstarter goal, what’s a Dipper to do? Well, for one thing, he’d be well advised avoid any sudden movements, lest the jingling bells on his cap give away his true agenda, and he might also find it prudent to check the fine print on his deployment orders yet again, just to make sure that he hasn’t been mistakenly assigned the sort of thankless task normally reserved for troll novitiates.

21

Chris Bertram 03.14.19 at 3:20 pm

If leave voters “feel” disenfranchised then, frankly, I couldn’t give a stuff. Let them sit at home forever and not vote then, the quality of decision-making will be all the better for it. And demographics will reduce their proportion in the population soon enough anyway.

22

Pete 03.14.19 at 3:21 pm

Surely a referendum between No Deal and Remain is the best option, if only because it’s hard to see how leavers could credibly argue against it.

John Worth was good on this in a post a while back:

https://jonworth.eu/what-should-the-peoples-vote-brexit-referendum-question-be/

He wanted a two stage vote:

1. May’s Deal: Yes or No
2. No Deal or Remain

Given that we probably now know the answer to 1, we could probably move straight to 2. It seems easy to justify democratically on the basis that the first referendum was taken on the assumption that there would be a deal.

The problem is that the vote yesterday appears to have foreclosed that option. But it does seem like the only way you’d prevent a sizeable portion of the UK from feeling disenfranchised.

23

Dipper 03.14.19 at 4:07 pm

@ Chris Bertram “If leave voters “feel” disenfranchised then, frankly, I couldn’t give a stuff.”, @ JD “Most people in the UK are governed without their consent most of the time.”

You are missing the point here completely. Parliament promised to implement the result of the referendum. Leave then won that refrain dum. Overturning a referendum is not “disenfranchising” people, it is overturning democracy. People could be forgiven for wondering what the point of voting is. This is not a road we should go down.

Re the OP and ” how long would it take you to get back to your constituency and prepare for a general election?”, If I were a Leave-voting tory MP in a leave constituency, I would already have started this process. I would be thinking that the best thing is to get a new leader.

24

Cian 03.14.19 at 4:55 pm

If leave voters “feel” disenfranchised then, frankly, I couldn’t give a stuff. Let them sit at home forever and not vote then, the quality of decision-making will be all the better for it. And demographics will reduce their proportion in the population soon enough anyway.

You read the ‘Remain’ campaign for PV2 here first…

And people wonder why Remain lost the first time round…

25

Glen Tomkins 03.14.19 at 5:00 pm

@4

“Both parties stood on a manifesto that honoured the referendum result, and parliament is collectively refusing to deliver it.”

Well, at one time Parliament favored retaining the slave trade. They changed their minds on that — most of us would say to the better. What has happened with Leave is that greater experience of what it actually means in practice has convinced many in both of those parties that pledged to Leave at the last election that it isn’t possible on terms that either they or the electorate imagined were achievable. Isn’t it the duty of an elected representative to do exactly this, change policy direction if the experience of trying to implement the voters’ wishes proves impossible in practice? They have to change to keep faith with the entire basis of representative democracy.

To understand this change of heart on Leave as bad faith, you have to assert that the voters wanted Leave on any terms, no matter how disastrous in practice the actual deal implementing Leave would turn out. Imputing that intention to the majority of the voters doesn’t seem sound at all. Maybe you would prefer Leave with no deal, or Leave with the May deal, to any sort of even temporary Remain, but it doesn’t seem that most voters agree with you on that.

It is a fair point that honoring the promise to implement Leave does require representatives who have changed their minds on its practicability to acknowledge that in some form. Perhaps this issue is so important that inability to achieve a practical implementation of the Leave that was promised at the last election should be acknowledged as requiring the representatives to face another election. It’s hard to imagine a more valid reason to hold another election, at least if you believe that Leave vs Remain is an important issue. People seem to think it is pretty important, defining of the national identity, even.

People who do believe that Leave is such a defining, paramount, necessity, should be the first to insist on another election, and the abandonment of the traditional parties in fighting that parliamentary election. To those who believe that Leave is important, surely both parties have proven inadequate in the honest and zealous prosecution of that matter to its final resolution. People who believe that Leave is so important should be honest enough to stand by that conviction, and be willing to risk the future of their parties and their own political futures by voting the present govt out and then contesting the next election under a Leave manifesto as a new party, rather than under a Tory or a Labour manifesto.

26

Patrick 03.14.19 at 5:05 pm

I’m neither British nor an expert in British politics but from a political legitimacy perspective this isn’t that problematic.

Referendums can direct government action but not results. And political decision makers cannot use political tools to bind future political decision makers without doing so explicitly and through specific, rare, methods.

For example, a referendum ordering the government to end a war can direct the governments actions towards peace, but obviously it can’t force the other side to stop shooting.

Further, anything passed by referendum can by repealed by referendum. The only question is whether the government made a good faith effort in the interim.

It looks to me like EVEN BY THE CONTEMPORANEOUS STANDARDS OF LEAVERS (after the fact armchair negotiation advice doesn’t count), a good faith effort was made. And it looks like, even by the standards of the parties that supported leaving, it hasn’t worked.

At some point it becomes fair to hold another referendum, for the same reason it would be fair to hold a “re-join” referendum two seconds after leaving was completed.

If Leavers are unhappy with that they can take it up with their own politicians.

And if people are unhappy with a referendum to undo a referendum, welcome to democracy.

27

Curt Kastens 03.14.19 at 6:10 pm

As an American who has lived in Germany for 20 plus years I will be pissed in the UK does not leave the EU. Before I explain Why let me make a few things clear about where I am comming from. First of all I consider the USA to be the biggest Narco state on the planet.
The UK is the closet ally of that Narco state. The EU is also a continuing criminal enterprise. Whether or not it is a vassal state of USA or an independent ally of the US I can not say for sure. I suspect that it is a vassal state.
So one one hand the whole Brexit debate is a big to do about nothing. The UK will still be solidly in the world’s most powerful axis of evil in or out of the EU. The people will get some benifits of being residents of a core capitalist state either way. The masses of people will suffer some of the liabilities of being outside of the elite class either way.
But what has pissed me off for 20 years is the bad mouthing that so many political leaders in the UK have been giving the EU for the wrong reasons. They have bitched about immigrants and regulations strangling their productivity being imposed upon them by unelected officials in Brussles as if uniform regulations for Europe to protect consumers, workers and residents, is a bad idea. The country was never enthusiasitic about trying to build a united Europe in the first place. So they should never have come in to the EU in the first place. The United Kingdom should have also never been allowed to rob the Republic of Ireland of its northern counties either. OK I will grant you there is some sense in saying that if Ireland can leave the UK these 6 counties can leave Ireland. But if there was sense to that then there was sense to the Idea that the Catholic areas of Ulster could leave Ulster. That would have left Ulster econimically untenable. That would have meant a united Ireland. That would have meant no border problems for the residents of Ireland and northern Ireland when the UK leaves the EU.
I think that the Irish border should be moved to where it always should have been at the earliest possible time.
The USA would allow that because either way the people of northern Ireland will be stuck in a core capitalist country.

28

Dragon-King Wangchuck 03.14.19 at 6:15 pm

How does one have a “meaningful vote” when the thing you decide to reject (and by outrageous margins) comes back unchanged for a second “meaningful vote”? And now, possibly a third “meaningful vote”? What does “meaningful” actually mean in this circumstance?

How does a government get defeated on the single most important item in their mandate – and defeated by the largest margin that a government has been defeated in the entire history of parliament – and yet still retain the confidence of the members?

I guess the same way the UK can have full control over who can enter the country while still respecting the Good Friday Agreement. Once you decide that reality is not important, all sorts of things become reasonable to support.

29

Stephen 03.14.19 at 7:04 pm

CB: I can see how your post might be taken to mean (though I trust it does not) that you do not give a damn for the opinions of people who, for whatever reason, do not agree with you, and hope they die soon. Please assure me that is not so.

One of the great attractions of Crooked Timber, from my point of view, is that it sometimes exposes me to the opinions of people I do not agree with, and sometimes causes me to change my mind. Go thou and do thou likewise.

Best regards

Stephen

30

Curt Kastens 03.14.19 at 7:20 pm

31

Alex SL 03.14.19 at 8:54 pm

Dipper,

I don’t really understand how you can argue that Britain was stuffed in negotiations because it took no-deal off the table. To my understanding the British government has frequently threatened no-deal to increase their leverage in negotiations.

Also to my understanding, however, this didn’t work and cannot work because it is like a cyclist playing chicken with a forty ton truck. Britain has the weaker hand in a negotiation not because it has been insufficiently threatening regarding no-deal but because it (a) is the smaller side, (b) will suffer more from no-deal than the other side, (c) cannot internally agree what it wants in contrast to the other side’s clear and consistent position, and (d) attempts to obtain an outcome that is self-contradictory (for starters, leaving a club but keeping all the benefits of club membership).

It is plainly true that referendum voters did not vote “for” anything because they only voted *against* remaining in the EU. They were not asked what they were *for* instead, and it appears to have turned out that there is no majority for any one alternative solution, presumably neither in parliament nor among the general public, partly because the seemingly most attractive solutions are not realisable (as they include keeping all the benefits of membership while leaving the club). In that situation the reasonable thing to do is to maintain status quo, although it may now be too late for that.

One interpretation of that outcome is that it would be “overturning democracy”. Okay, so if 52% vote in a referendum that they want Britain to be situated off the coast of California, and parliament ultimately, after a lot of “but we have to respect the will of the people” style misgivings comes back saying that this is simple not within their abilities to deliver, has that turned the country into a dictatorship? Of course a good number of people would cry betrayal because their will to teleport a land mass to the other half of the planet wasn’t respected, but I don’t really know what to do about people who think like that either way.

32

Orange Watch 03.14.19 at 9:35 pm

Dipper@4:
And are you seriously suggesting we ask the electorate to vote on a binding 500+ page legal document? Where do I get my legal advice?

In what world is it worse to vote on a clear, explicit document available well in advance of a referendum that supporters and opponents can discuss and summarize in minute detail (there’s your legal advice), than to vote on a binding vague 1-sentence question that is open to almost limitless contradictory interpretations? I understand that a Leaver finds explicit details unpalatable because it makes clear the result of leaving rather than allowing Leavers to claim that all possible positive outcomes will come to pass and all negative ones will necessarily be avoided, but being honest – or at a minimum, unambiguous – in politics is desirable if you want to claim to have a mandate.

33

J-D 03.15.19 at 12:57 am

To respond more generally to the question of ‘how long would it take you to get back to your constituency and prepare for a general election’, I don’t think there’s any current prospect of a general election, beyond the background probability that always exists, particularly when the government does not have a parliamentary majority in its own right.

On the one hand, it’s unlikely that the government will push for a new general election, given that Theresa May tried that manoeuvre in 2017 and got burned. In this case, I think, once bitten, twice shy.

On the other hand, if the House of Commons wanted to push for a new general election against the will of the government, it could have carried the Opposition’s motion of no-confidence on 16 January: but that motion was not carried. Moreover, less than 24 hours ago the House had the opportunity to vote on a proposal which would have had the effect of taking control of business out of the hands of the government and instead voted it down, which suggests that it has no greater appetite now for carrying a motion of no-confidence than it did on 16 January.

34

J-D 03.15.19 at 1:20 am

Curt Kastens

… The United Kingdom should have also never been allowed to rob the Republic of Ireland of its northern counties either. … I think that the Irish border should be moved to where it always should have been at the earliest possible time.
The USA would allow that …

I have sad news for you. Just because the USA allows something doesn’t automatically make it happen, and just because the USA doesn’t allow something doesn’t automatically stop it from happening.

35

faustusnotes 03.15.19 at 1:33 am

Dipper is playing fast and loose with historical facts here. During the leave referendum the traitor Boris himself ruled out a no deal brexit. Back then he and his traitor mates were pretending that signing deals with the EU would be easy (“the easiest trade deal in history”) and that the UK would have all the negotiating power (“we hold all the cards”) so it was easy for them to say that no deal was off the table. This isn’t a fanciful notion of the People’s Vote movement: people voted for leave on the explicit assurance that there would be no consideration of no deal.

During the leave referendum leading brexiters also accepted the logic of a second referendum once the deal was decided. Traitor moggy himself advocated for this approach. So again, when people voted to leave they did so on the explicit understanding that there could be a second referendum.

So it is not ignoring “the will of the people” to suggest these things.

Of course since then we have discovered that no brexit traitor is willing to lead the country in negotiating “the easiest trade deal in history.” Instead we got May, a remainer, because the brexit traitors bottled it when given the chance to take responsibility for their project. We have also discovered that the guy who thought it would be “the easiest trade deal in history” couldn’t even be bothered to go to brussels for meetings. We’ve also discovered that another one of this claque of traitors (was it Hunt? I can’t recall) knew nothing about trade and was “surprised” to learn that the port of Dover is an important point of trade – it appears that this particular traitor knew so little about trade when he advocated leaving the UK’s largest trading bloc that he didn’t know it was the largest source of trade.

I would have thought that upon discovering that the people who demanded this process both lied to the public about what it would involve, refused to take responsibility for it once it was chosen, and are in any case incapable of doing anything remotely useful in support of it, the electorate might demand a second go at the decision. I would also think that the people who were 16 and 17 when the referendum was held, upon becoming eligible to vote and seeing that this grubby little club of traitors and restaurant wreckers and pig-fuckers are so incompetent and were responsible for screwing all their futures, might demand a chance to have a say in it.

Dipper, on the other hand, thinks everything’s just dandy!

36

Harry 03.15.19 at 2:43 am

A parliament authorized the referendum. May asked for that parliament to be dissolved, and a new one was elected. It is not bound by the decisions of the previous parliament, constitutionally. That’s just a feature of a sovereign parliamentary democracy.

37

JakeB 03.15.19 at 3:58 am

I don’t know, but I do know that I now have a Devo song going through my head.

38

J-D 03.15.19 at 4:38 am

Dipper

How does someone who wants to Leave with no deal “win” a referendum when that option isn’t on the ballot paper?

That’s a reasonable point, and there’s some merit to the argument that if another referendum were to be held that option should be available. There is a technical problem with how you arrange a referendum with more than two options available, but there are solutions, although all of them have imperfections.

Hidari
What’s the evidence that majority support can be found in the House of Commons for revoking the notice of withdrawal? As far as I can tell, there’s none.

Cian

Rescinding Article 50 would take No Deal off the table.

Adam – this is only true if the EU agree. They’ve hinted pretty strongly they will if certain conditions are met – but you’d have to force May (or her successor) to agree to those conditions.

No. In December the European Court of Justice ruled that there is a power for the country giving notice of withdrawal to revoke it, unilaterally, without requiring consent from the rest of the EU.

Dipper

You are missing the point here completely. Parliament promised to implement the result of the referendum.

So what are you criticising Parliament for? Parliament has done what you wanted and declined to do what you didn’t want. Parliament authorised the notification of withdrawal (which you wanted); Parliament has refused approval for a withdrawal agreement (which you didn’t want); Parliament has rejected a proposal for a second referendum (which you also didn’t want). Why are you not pleased?

faustusnotes

Of course since then we have discovered that no brexit traitor is willing to lead the country in negotiating “the easiest trade deal in history.” Instead we got May, a remainer, because the brexit traitors bottled it when given the chance to take responsibility for their project.

You are overstating your case. Three of the five candidates who stood in the leadership contest after David Cameron resigned were supporters of Leave.

Harry
Formally, under the UK system, any Parliament has the same power to reverse its own past decisions as it has to reverse the past decisions of previous Parliaments.

This feature is not unique to parliamentary systems. The Athenian Assembly voted for the destruction of Mitylene and the very next day voted to reverse that decision.

39

Keith 03.15.19 at 6:19 am

Responses to various points above:

1. The ECJ has rules that the Article 50 notification can be revoked unilaterally by the UK. The agreement of the 27 is not required.

2. No responsible parliament could allow ‘no deal’ as a proposition to be voted for by the electorate, even though they have voted on it themselves! Quite apart from its economic consequences, ‘no deal’ infringes the UK’s obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

3. It’s true that 80 per cent of voters in 2017 supported parties that endorsed the result of the 2016 referendum, but those parties’ platforms also offered to negotiate very different exits from the EU and May’s withdrawal agreement weakly approximates to only one of those exits. Labour MPs are not obliged to support that agreement. (And incidentally, I voted Labour not to support any type of Brexit, but in the hope that in time it would become the vehicle for stopping it. We’re getting there.)

4. At some point the mandate of the 2016 referendum must run out if it has not been accomplished, with or without a further referendum. I’m not sure we’re quite at its use-by date, but it can’t be too far off.

40

Niall McAuley 03.15.19 at 8:02 am

Dipper writes: The deal is dreadful, testament to the fact that if you rule no deal out in negotiation you will get completely stuffed.
May & Co. deliberately did not rule No Deal out during negotiations and still ended up with the deal back in November. Indeed, they went on and on about how No Deal is better than a Bad Deal.

The problem is not that they ruled it out, it is that No Deal would be extremely damaging for the UK and everyone knows it, so no-one took this threat of self-harm seriously.

41

Hidari 03.15.19 at 8:56 am

@37 ‘What’s the evidence that majority support can be found in the House of Commons for revoking the notice of withdrawal? As far as I can tell, there’s none.’

What a strange thing to say. As I have been pointing out for a few months now, not that anyone is listening, Labour is now, and always has been, a Remainer party (I know that’s not what the worthless British media says, but the British media is worse than that of any other country on Planet Earth, with the possible exception of North Korea cf @15). Just today Barry Gardiner clearly stated: ‘Labour will back a second referendum.

We in the Labour party lost the referendum, we campaigned to Remain.

“If it’s [second referendum] the only way to stop a no deal or a bad deal”.” (Note: this has always been the Labour position).

If Labour can’t stop Brexit, they will settle for a Brexit in Name Only (BINO) which Corbyn has been pushing for some time. This would have the support of the House were it not for the fact that May is too spineless and incompetent to face down the nutters of the ERG.

Following @35 Labour have also been pushing for a General Election. Given that the constitutional ‘defence’ of Brexit (given that the referendum was advisory) is the vote by the House to authorise Brexit, if there was a general election, and Labour won (or at least, the Tories clearly lost) then the House’s decision to authorise Brexit would be null and void and there would be no constitutional reason to pursue Brexit. I know Labour have said that if they win they will ‘respect the people’s will’ but politicians say a lot of things.

Jeremy Corbyn is weakly pro-Europe, so to speak, but the rest of the PLP are much more aggressively pro-Europe. Almost every other party in Westminster wants to say in Europe, e.g. the SNP, the Greens, etc. Even in the Tory party, support for leaving is weak: David Cameron only held the election because he wanted to crush, once and for all, the ERG, the only ‘sector’ of the Tories that is strongly ideologically committed to Brexit. Remember the Tories campaigned to remain, as did Theresa May. So with the exception of the ERG (and the DUP, perhaps), almost every politician in Westminster is either weakly or strongly pro-EU. And this is well known, so I have no idea why you are questioning it.

Incidentally I see that my response to @2 was ambiguous: I meant ‘no you’re right’, not ”no you’re wrong’.

42

Pete 03.15.19 at 10:19 am

No responsible parliament could allow ‘no deal’ as a proposition to be voted for by the electorate, even though they have voted on it themselves! Quite apart from its economic consequences, ‘no deal’ infringes the UK’s obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

This is actually a great point. I thought I was in favour of a No Deal v Remain referendum on the basis that this would conclusively demonstrate that there was no constituency for the supposed mandate of the referendum. But any solution to the GFA is going to be seen as unfairly prejudicial by Leavers.

43

Hidari 03.15.19 at 10:46 am

@38

point four: ‘At some point the mandate of the 2016 referendum must run out if it has not been accomplished, with or without a further referendum. I’m not sure we’re quite at its use-by date, but it can’t be too far off.’

This is self-evidently and obviously true, and this is proved by the fact that we have had various referenda more than once. If referenda are extant (so to speak) in perpetuity, why bother having them again? But we do. This is the second referendum we have had on whether or not the UK should be in the UK. Moreover we have had two referenda as to whether or not Scotland should stay in the UK.

So: at what point does the ‘remit’ of the referendum run out? It must run out at some point. This is obvious. It would be crazy to have a referendum in 2017 and then leave the EU in 2056 or 2045 or 2071. So there must be some kind of ‘cut off’. When? Who knows? But it must exist.

Therefore the longer we stay in the EU, the longer we are likely to stay in the EU.

As I have said before, anyone who thinks the UK staying in the EU will ‘solve this problem’ and indeed help to solve all the problems the EU is currently having (as opposed to making them all worse) need to wake up and smell the coffee. Blair and Clinton are gone and the ‘glory days’ of the 1990s are not coming back.

44

Barry 03.15.19 at 11:21 am

Dipper 03.14.19 at 9:44 am
“@ John Quiggin “Remain vs Deal seems like the obvious choice”. That is the likeliest option, and I’d just repeat that many support No Deal so they would feel disenfranchised, the turnout is likely to be lower than in the original vote, and that the resulting mandate would be disputed by many. In a system of government based on consent, that isn’t a good outcome.”

The turnout was already suppressed by (a) the referendum being non-binding on Parliament (until after, when it was) and (b) the Torries banning British citizens living abroad from voting on it.

45

Barry 03.15.19 at 11:24 am

Dipper:, concerining a second referendum: “On what? Deal vs No Deal? Remain vs Deal? And given that the 17.4 million vote to leave was a high vote in UK terms, what if you only get, say 15 million to Remain? How is 15 million a mandate and 17.4 million not a mandate? And are you seriously suggesting we ask the electorate to vote on a binding 500+ page legal document? Where do I get my legal advice? And even if “Remain” wins, that leaves a large number of people in the UK who will believe they are governed without their consent.”

First, there are always a large number of people in the UK who believe yada yada yada.
What was Thatcher’s peak percent of the vote – 40%? But with that the Torres made sweeping changes to the country.

Second, what is this concern with legal advice? The first referendum was an open-ended a ‘contract’. ‘Leaving the EU’ can mean many, many different things.

46

nastywoman 03.15.19 at 11:32 am

AND by the way Brexiters – ON 5 June 1975 there was this referendum about whether the UK should stay in the European Community and the answer was ”YES” –

Sooo – if there shouldn’t be ”any new referendum”?
WHEN should any ”new referendums” be allowed?

I mean people -(and even Brits) tend to change their minds?
Okay perhaps not as fast as other… people – but still probably faster than Germans –
(but NOT as fast as… as ”Italians”?)

OR in other words:
Is the British (Political) or Parliament system perhaps a bit too slow for our ”fast paced time”? – and wouldn’t IT be far better -(and faster) to decide such important… ”stuff” -(like staying connected to ”the relatives”) – by… by… just asking…
”the Queen”?

47

Stephen 03.15.19 at 12:51 pm

Barry@44: “The turnout was already suppressed by… the Torries banning British citizens living abroad from voting on it”.

Reality: British citizens resident abroad for 15 years or less were entitled to vote in the referendum, just as they are in general elections. The 15 year barrier was imposed by the government of Tony Blair who is at least arguably not a Tory. The reason for it was alleged to be that long-term expatriates were thought to be mostly Conservative sympathisers; but of course Blair may have had a more creditable motive.

48

Dipper 03.15.19 at 2:11 pm

@ Faustusnotes and others.

To be clear, this was a referendum which was on the constitutional arrangement between the UK and the EU. It wasn’t a proxy-quasi-parliamentary election. I didn’t vote for Boris Johnson, Farage, or Rees Mogg so you can say whatever you like about those folks it has no bearing on the vote. And @ Glen Tomkins ” Well, at one time Parliament favored retaining the slave trade. They changed their minds on that” typically if Parliament changes its mind on something they put it in a manifesto and stand on that.

@ Orange watch. ” to vote on a clear, explicit document“. If Parliament wants to enter into a 500 page legal treaty then they should agree it amongst themselves and vote on it. Agreeing the deal would, arguably (and I am simultaneously on both sides on this) fulfil the referendum commitment. Then we can carry on.

Many have argued that the referendum was not valid because of various infractions from various organisations, and because of things people said. Perhaps we should test that in the courts. Oh, we have!. And the referendum result was, according to men in wigs, valid.

@ Harry ” Formally, under the UK system, any Parliament has the same power to reverse its own past decisions as it has to reverse the past decisions of previous Parliaments.
. Well, they could. Parliamentary politics would be severely damaged, and then there is the reckoning at the next election.

@ Keith – ”  No responsible parliament could allow ‘no deal’ as a proposition to be voted for by the electorate“ . Well, I’d argue that the referendum implicitly had this s an option. I watched pretty carefully, and I cannot recall a single politician telling me that we are in fact unable to leave the EU without the EU dictating those terms. The time to decide that the UK cannot leave the EU with no deal is before you vote 6:1 to hold a referendum which arguably asks people if they want to do just that.

” At some point the mandate of the 2016 referendum must run out if it has not been accomplished, with or without a further referendum.”. Well, no. Otherwise no referendum ever need be implemented as the authorities could just run down the clock.

@ Barry ” Second, what is this concern with legal advice? The first referendum was an open-ended a ‘contract’. ‘Leaving the EU’ can mean many, many different things.
yes, but that is a weak excuse for Parliament who after all selected the question. Andrew Lilico has suggested that in future all referenda should be on status quo vs a proposal specifically agreed by Parliament. This sounds senible.

Just to revisit “lies of the referendum” one last time, constitutionally the post referendum period has validate the Leave argument. Far from being a club we are in out of choice, can leave any time and that does not in any way undermine sovereignty or dictate our laws, it is now clear that successive parliaments have made the UK largely dependent on the EU, that most of our laws are made in the EU, and that we have given up most of our sovereignty without any specific approval of the British people and the moment we were asked we said no. Those who think we should Remain now need to really ask themselves how the UK’s membership would play out. The rationale given by most Remainers is not that we should be in the EU because we share a common vision with the other members and want to work together to realise it, it is because we don’t share a common vision with the other members and want to veto that happening. I honestly see no reason why the other members, just having had a graphic demonstration that they can dictate terms to the UK, should not do just that and deliver further integration whether we vote for it or not.

And finally, those arguing about the inevitability of rule from Europe, including those Europeans relishing the prospect of dictating terms to the UK, should read the history of the British Empire or the British in Ireland. If there is one lesson that comes out loud and clear, it is that if you rule without the consent of the ruled you will eventually face an uprising. Quite why so many politicans here and in Europe seem to want to repeat this is beyond me.

49

Dipper 03.15.19 at 2:14 pm

should have mentioned @Hidari ” anyone who thinks the UK staying in the EU will ‘solve this problem’ and indeed help to solve all the problems the EU is currently having (as opposed to making them all worse) need to wake up and smell the coffee” is quite right.

50

Scott P. 03.15.19 at 2:57 pm

“If it’s [second referendum] the only way to stop a no deal or a bad deal”.” (Note: this has always been the Labour position).

And yet they did not support the pro-referendum amendment yesterday.

This feature is not unique to parliamentary systems. The Athenian Assembly voted for the destruction of Mitylene and the very next day voted to reverse that decision.

One of those was a sad day for democracy. There appears to be disagreement on which day that was.

51

Barry 03.15.19 at 3:27 pm

Accepted – on the other hand, it still violates the democracy purity flower of the referendum.

52

Barry 03.15.19 at 3:29 pm

One reason that I don’t accept the Brexiteers’ argument that Referendums are Forever is that I (probably like most others) have no delusions that if it had gone the other way, then UKIP, ERG, etc. would have closed up shop after decades of struggle.

53

Ogden Wernstrom 03.15.19 at 8:20 pm

As J-D points out @10, those who voted to leave are already on the way getting what they voted for. I hope they are ready to boast about their role in creating, um, whatever results.

The root of the Leavers’ current disappointment appears to be that Boris Johnson put visions of sugarplums into their heads, and Parliament/May are not delivering said sugarplums. But I am geographically far from the archipelago, and there may be some loss in translation. (I reside in a state where our Supreme Court found that referenda mean only that which is literally written on the ballot – no matter the stated intent, no matter the campaign promises. It is what it says, and nothing more. It may mean less, after unconstitutional portions have been invalidated.)

“A ddylai’r Deyrnas Unedig aros yn aelod o’r Undeb Ewropeaidd neu adael yr Undeb Ewropeaidd?” A simple binary choice, without anything about any ffin galed ag Iwerddon.

I would expect those-who-complain-that-the-details-are-not-as-they-expected-but-are-certain-they’re-the-majority to want another referendum to clarify their desires.

Dipper asked, in reference to the remote possibility of another, too-complex referendum, “Where do I get my legal advice?” I have no positive suggestion, only a negative one: I can suggest that the legal advice Dipper rec’d for the previous referendum was lacking – so, don’t believe that source.

Also, I agree with Stephen’s retort to Chris Bertram @29. I want the people who disagree with me and that I do not care about to live for a long time, so they can continue to provide amusement and I can continue to make sport of them.

54

Alex SL 03.15.19 at 9:38 pm

Dipper,

Far from being a club we are in out of choice, can leave any time and that does not in any way undermine sovereignty or dictate our laws, it is now clear that successive parliaments have made the UK largely dependent on the EU, that most of our laws are made in the EU, and that we have given up most of our sovereignty without any specific approval of the British people and the moment we were asked we said no.

You have a very interesting view of the world. Britain had a referendum before, and democratically elected governments decided to join the EU. You did not not lose sovereignty any more than I lose my freedom by becoming member of any club that requires me to pay a membership fee and follow its rules. The ‘dependency’ you speak of is having become used to the advantages of EU membership that, yes, will indeed be very damaging to lose in a world dominated by large economic blocs. But such are the trade-offs of living in the real world. You either unite to be stronger together or you boldly go your own way and find that you get steamrolled when negotiating with others who have united to be stronger together.

Really in my eyes if Brexit has shown anything it is that the frequently heard claims of ‘politicians ignore us and only do what they want anyway’, ‘elections don’t matter’, and ‘the EU is oppressing us’ are, and have always been, utter nonsense. Yes, there are incompetence and self-serving lies, as in any field of human endeavour, but it cannot seriously be doubted that the politicians of the UK have been making a bona fide effort to translate the referendum outcome into politics. It merely turned out to be more complex than promised by Leavers. And the last two years have demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that the UK (or any other country) is free to leave. Nobody on the EU side is forcing them to stay in; the problem is merely that the UK is by and large surprised that if they leave a club they will lose the benefits of membership, which are often not recognised as membership benefits but simply taken for ‘how things are these days, because it is not the 1950s anymore’.

Ogden Wernstrom,

Unlikely. There is always the option of claiming that any negative results are due to bad implementation, while the underlying idea was sound.

55

Collin Street 03.15.19 at 10:38 pm

The first referendum was an open-ended a ‘contract’. ‘Leaving the EU’ can mean many, many different things.

The thing you need to understand is that Dipper has some sort of theory-of-mind impairment and that means difficulties with understanding how ambiguity works: he sees the meaning he sees, and because he has diminished understanding of How Others Think, he doesn’t see the other potential meanings. People present him with other ways of reading the question, and his thought process basically runs, “I can see how you can ‘twist the words’ to mean that, but the real meaning is obvious”, where “obvious” means “obvious to dipper” or equivalently “what dipper thinks it means”.

Pretty fucking obviously, if you conflate “obvious meaning” with “meaning I ascribe” there’s not a lot of scope for reasoned discussion.

[this is actually arse-backwards: you can tell he has theory-of-mind impairment because of his linguistic problems; the linguistic problems are well-established, tho’, I’m just contextualising them]

Fundamentally, though, it’s not the neurology that’s the problem. It’s perfectly possible to have diminished insight into how others think and still consciously be aware that people’s inner lives and thoughts are as valid and genuine as your own. The lack of direct neurological support for that can cause glitches and delays while the conscious mind catches up, but over text — or even face-to-face — it’s not a major issue.

But that requires being aware of your shortcomings, which….

56

novakant 03.15.19 at 11:08 pm

Corbyn and his gang want Brexit, it’s clear to everyone except the diehards and the apparatchiks – likely to most of the latter as well, but they want you to believe otherwise.

This was a binary choice and roughly half of the country and the vast majority of the Labour membership and the PLP want to remain in the EU – refusing to represent them and instead pursuing the opposite path will have dire consequences for Labour.

A lot has been written about the anger of downtrodden Leave voters, but people severely underestimate the anger of the Remainers – many will never vote Labour again.

57

Scott P. 03.16.19 at 6:34 am

it is now clear that successive parliaments have made the UK largely dependent on the EU, that most of our laws are made in the EU, and that we have given up most of our sovereignty without any specific approval of the British people

Rather, the UK is finding it is much weaker and has much less say out of the EU than within it. It is finding that, as much as it disliked other EU countries’ insisting their voice be heard when it was in the EU, those voices will be louder, stronger, and less inclined to defer to UK interests when it is out of the EU.

You are correct that the UK is very dependent on the EU, but it is geography, history and the end of the Empire that made it so, and neither Parliament nor the EU itself can or could do much to alter that state of affairs.

58

Hidari 03.16.19 at 8:28 am

@50

‘Joker-in-batman-laughing-gif’

‘Labour sources immediately indicated, despite the party’s policy to back a second referendum, that it would instead order MPs to abstain because they disagreed with the timing of the vote.
Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, told the Commons: “We are supportive of the principle, but it’s a question of timing.”
Senior Labour sources said they were highly suspicious of the motives of TIG in putting their amendment to the vote, and said they believed some were backing it in order to expose Labour tensions.
Alastair Campbell, a leading figure in the People’s Vote campaign, said it was “wrong to press a people’s vote amendment today when the issue is [article 50] extension”.’

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/14/cross-party-group-submits-motion-to-take-parliamentary-control-of-brexit

For new CT readers, Novakant is a self-professed supporter of the LibDems, which has taken over from the Monster Raving Loony Party as the official joke party in the UK system since the death of ‘Screaming’ Lord Sutch, and, therefore, nothing he says is of any consequence.

Final point is that Corbyn Derangement Syndrome is very real and that most of the white Oxbridge educated males who work in the British media are given a Corbynoscope along with their first paycheque, the sole purpose of which is to work out, in any given situation why It’s All Really Corbyn’s Fault, and why all political events without any exceptions must lead to the conclusion Corbyn Must Go.

In the unlikely event that Bernie Sanders (or, even, pushing the probability envelope, Tulsi Gabbard) wins the Democratic nomination, rest assured that similar devices will be given to the American media.

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nastywoman 03.16.19 at 8:41 am

and may I repeat this from @54?

”You did not not lose sovereignty any more than I lose my freedom by becoming member of any club”

This major point – I always thought our ”EU British family members” – with their GREAT ”club culture” would understand best – and it would be most pervasive – until I found out that ”the family argument” works even better.

”Nobody lost -(or lose) sovereignty any more than I lose my freedom by becoming member of any family” – and after getting married -(to the EU) – and as mentioned having a referendum before, -(in the seventies) – and the democratically elected governments (THEN) decided to join – a divorce – any type of divorce is now just out of the question –

AS THERE ARE ALL THESE CHILDREN.

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Barry 03.17.19 at 12:05 pm

Dipper: “..it is now clear that successive parliaments have made the UK largely dependent on the EU, that most of our laws are made in the EU, and that we have given up most of our sovereignty without any specific approval of the British people and the moment we were asked we said no.”

At this point I’ve given up arguing with Brexiteers, at least until I meet an honest one.

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Barry 03.17.19 at 5:07 pm

Alex SL: “…but it cannot seriously be doubted that the politicians of the UK have been making a bona fide effort to translate the referendum outcome into politics. It merely turned out to be more complex than promised by Leavers. ”

I believe that the complexit is not the major issue. Parliament could easily sit on it’s hands for two weeks, and let the UK leave the EU. It would be very, very simple.

The *consequences* would be horrific (and horribly complicated).

The Brexit problem is that getting things down to merely bad is complicated.

I second your comment to Ogden. What I expect is that the Brexiteer reaction will be what is always was, to lie without shame. What I fear is that they’ll be successful at this, which is why I advised Maria to get out of England.

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Alex SL 03.18.19 at 1:57 am

Barry,

Sorry, I should have been clearer – what you say is more or less what I meant. Two catch-22s, essentially: First, not delivering Brexit will make people angry, but the consequences of delivering will also make people angry when they realise what it means for the economy and everyday life e.g. when going on holidays on the continent. No normal person, including MPs, will want lots of others to be angry at them, so what to do? Freezing in indecision is one possible reaction.

Second, from what I understand the commitment to having no physical border in Ireland, not having a border between NI and Britain, and ending free movement is a “you can pick any two, but not all three” situation, Although I really cannot claim to have a relevant perspective on that one, merely judging based on what others have written on that.

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J-D 03.18.19 at 3:41 am

JakeB
You are not alone.

Hidari
When I asked about evidence for the availability of a majority in the House of Commons in favour of revoking the notice of withdrawal, I was thinking of the present House of Commons. I could have made that clearer.

You may be right that a majority of members of the present House were personally supporters of Remain rather than of Leave. Nevertheless, a majority of members of the present House, whatever their personal views on the referendum question, voted in favour of enabling the notice of withdrawal to be given. That’s what makes me doubt that a majority can be found in the present House in favour of revoking that notice. There’s nothing in the voting in the House last week to suggest so: if anything, the reverse.

I am aware that the Labour Party favours an early general election. The Labour motion of no-confidence proposed in January might have precipitated an early general election, if the House had passed it; but a majority of members of the House opposed it. There’s nothing in last week’s voting to suggest that there is now a majority in the House favouring a general election. Anyway, there’s no evidence to suggest that a general election would produce a House in which a majority would vote to revoke the notice of withdrawal. Even if it did produce a House with a majority of Remain supporters, that’s not the same thing (as the evidence of the present House indicates) as a House with a majority for revoking the notice of withdrawal.

Dipper

Many have argued that the referendum was not valid because of various infractions from various organisations, and because of things people said. Perhaps we should test that in the courts. Oh, we have!. And the referendum result was, according to men in wigs, valid.

Well, if men in wigs say so, it must be true! After all, it’s never been known for men in wigs to make mistakes …

Actually, I agree that the judges have the final formal say on whether the referendum was formally valid: there’s no formal mechanism for overriding them. However (and your own later remarks make substantially the same point; see below), formal validity is not the only appropriate standard for evaluating decisions, whether they’re made by judges, administrators, ministers, Cabinets, legislatures, Presidents, monarchs, or anybody else.

@ Harry ” Formally, under the UK system, any Parliament has the same power to reverse its own past decisions as it has to reverse the past decisions of previous Parliaments.“. Well, they could. Parliamentary politics would be severely damaged, and then there is the reckoning at the next election.

You have mistakenly attributed my words to Harry. Harry made the technically correct point that a UK Parliament can reverse a decision of a previous UK Parliament, and I added the also technically correct point that a UK Parliament can reverse its own previous decision. Your response shows that you understand that both kinds of decision are formally valid but they are still open to evaluation by other standards than those of formal validity (see above). For example, although both kinds of reversal are equally formally valid, a reversal by the same Parliament is more open to question than a reversal by a subsequent Parliament. Parliaments have to be credited with a wider latitude in reversing (or varying) the decisions of previous Parliaments, and that (as I think Harry was suggesting) is a point that has to be borne in mind when evaluating the position of the present Parliament in relation to the decisions about the referendum, made by a previous Parliament.

Far from being a club we are in out of choice, can leave any time and that does not in any way undermine sovereignty or dictate our laws, it is now clear that successive parliaments have made the UK largely dependent on the EU, that most of our laws are made in the EU, and that we have given up most of our sovereignty without any specific approval of the British people and the moment we were asked we said no.

The freedom of action of any country’s government has a scope which is restricted to varying degrees by its international agreements, by its participation in international organisations, and by the power of other countries. The power of the United States gives its government greater scope to make its own decisions without reference to external considerations and it also limits the scope available to the governments of other countries, just as was true in the past for other great empires. Even the government of the greatest empire, however, is seldom or never in the position of being able to make its choices purely on internal consideration, without reference to external constraints. Some of the external constraints which affect national decision-making are involuntarily imposed, by the power of other countries; some of them are are voluntarily accepted, when a country chooses to join international organisations or enter into international agreements.

If anybody ever told you that being a member of the EU would have no effect on the decisions made by your national government, it would not have been true. Also, it would not have been a sensible thing to believe. If joining the EU made no difference and placed no limits on the members, what would be the point?

The sensible question when deciding whether to join the EU would not have been ‘Will this limit us in any way?’, to which the answer would have had to be ‘Yes, it will’, but rather something more like ‘Are there benefits we will gain from membership which will outweigh the costs, including the cost of the limits we will have to accept on our future choices?’ The sensible question when deciding whether to leave the EU would not have been ‘Does EU membership restrict what we do?’, to which the answer would have to be ‘Yes’ (and also not ‘Will leaving the EU cause disruption and dislocation?’, to which the answer would also have to be ‘Yes’) but rather something more like ‘Are there benefits to be gained from leaving the EU (including escaping the obligations and limitations of membership) which will outweigh the costs of leaving (including the inevitable disruption and dislocation)?’ In neither case would it have been sensible to try to reduce the combination of factors involved to a single binary variable.

Those who think we should Remain now need to really ask themselves how the UK’s membership would play out.

Change is a universal law, so we can be sure that the EU will continue to change, but there is no reason to think the change would have been as drastic and abrupt as the change caused by leaving the EU: in that sense, it’s fair to say that if the UK had not decided to leave the EU, things would have gone on pretty much the same (not exactly the same, but pretty much the same).

The rationale given by most Remainers is …

Pics or it didn’t happen.

I honestly see no reason why the other members, just having had a graphic demonstration that they can dictate terms to the UK …

They have had no such demonstration. On the contrary, they have spent significant effort on the negotiation of a proposal which the UK government was prepared to endorse and discovered that the endorsement of the UK parliament was not thereby guaranteed. If (which I doubt) there were people in the EU who thought they could dictate terms to the UK parliament, they have now had it demonstrated to them that they can’t.

And finally, those arguing about the inevitability of rule from Europe, including those Europeans relishing the prospect of dictating terms to the UK, should read the history of the British Empire or the British in Ireland. If there is one lesson that comes out loud and clear, it is that if you rule without the consent of the ruled you will eventually face an uprising. Quite why so many politicans here and in Europe seem to want to repeat this is beyond me.

I am sure the EU would prefer it if member countries did not leave, but it is accepted that membership is voluntary and cannot be compelled. I am sure the EU would prefer any member leaving the EU to remain in the single market and the customs union, but it’s accepted that cannot be dictated. I am sure the EU would prefer it if any departing member leaving the single market and the customs union still did so under the terms of a negotiated withdrawal agreement, but it’s accepted that cannot be dictated. So I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

Scott P.

This feature is not unique to parliamentary systems. The Athenian Assembly voted for the destruction of Mitylene and the very next day voted to reverse that decision.

One of those was a sad day for democracy.

The point, the way I understand it, is that you cannot tell which of two contradictory decisions is to be preferred by noting which came first. A change of mind can be either for the worse or for the better.

Ogden Wernstrom

Also, I agree with Stephen’s retort to Chris Bertram @29. I want the people who disagree with me and that I do not care about to live for a long time, so they can continue to provide amusement and I can continue to make sport of them.

If that’s your understanding of Stephen’s position, I think it’s a misunderstanding. Anyway, whatever Stephen’s position may be, what I desire for Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, et hoc genus omne, is every happiness in private life and the speediest possible return to it.

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Collin Street 03.18.19 at 9:41 am

Second, from what I understand the commitment to having no physical border in Ireland, not having a border between NI and Britain, and ending free movement is a “you can pick any two, but not all three” situation, Although I really cannot claim to have a relevant perspective on that one, merely judging based on what others have written on that.

Kinda. People are fungible and can be identified after crossing borders: border infrastructure would make it easier, but it’s not required.

The problem is stuff. The GFA requires — when you follow the consequences — that people in northern ireland be able to participate in community including economic life in the irish republic and in britain. Which means that goods need to be able to flow freely: the UK and ireland are stuck in a customs union.

The british government has some sort of idea it can avoid a formal customs union by some sort of sufficiently-advanced tracking technology; there’s been a lot of mocking of the technological aspects but the conceptual ones seem to me more telling.

Suppose I want to make artisan soap and ship it to my cousin in cork for the german tourists. If the super technological tracking system tells me I can’t do that because management of my oil suppliers got their most recent batch of coconut oil through bristol and so the soap can’t be shipped to Koln I’m going to be somewhat peeved. Even if the system works perfectly what it’s supposed to do will break the GFA worse than border fences.

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Collin Street 03.18.19 at 9:42 am

People are non-fungible.

66

Guano 03.18.19 at 5:56 pm

The reason why the courts said that the result of the referendum was valid is that legally the referendum was an advisory one. The decision to leave the EU was taken, in law, by sending the Article 50 letter and not by the referendum. A legal decision to invalidate the result of the referendum is irrelevant because it was advisory (in law). It appears that it would be quite legal to withdraw the Article 50 letter – parliament would be changing its mind (because, for example, it was found that there was no way of leaving the EU that without causing serious harm to the country).

Of course, Theresa May originally wanted to send the Article 50 without a vote in parliament, and it was only a private court action that forced her to have a vote in parliament. Most of our media/political class appeared to be quite happy for her to send the letter without a vote of parliament (implying that the PM has the right to decide on her own to terminate the UK’s membership of international institutions in which it has deeply integrated itself).

67

Guano 03.18.19 at 6:34 pm

I was at a talk by Stefaan de Rynck (one of Barnier’s assistants) in December 2017 at Chatham House, in which he explained the rationale of the EU’s negotiating position. His main point is that the EU is a set of institutions (with rules and procedures) that the UK has agreed to and has even helped to construct. Margaret Thatcher was one of the main leaders behind the creation of the Single Market. One of its main pillars is Freedom of Movement. Thus Freedom of Movement hasn’t been imposed on the UK by an unaccountable EU elite or by Blair/Brown opening our borders: it is the direct result of the Single Market that Conservative UK governments helped to create (and its scale is due to the accession of eastern and southern European countries, which Conservative UK governments very much wanted to join the EU).

Thus the EU’s starting point is that UK knows the rules of the various EU institutions and helped to create those institutions. If the UK wants to relate to the EU in a different way it should bear in mind that the EU is unwilling to get involved in a wholesale rewriting of the rules, which the UK helped to create in the first place.

The questions to his talk, and some of my conversations afterwards, made me realise that there are two different mind-sets in the UK. Some people understand what de Rynck was saying and agree with it. Some people appear not to comprehend what he was saying and just ignore it. Nobody asked a question that indicated an informed disagreement with his thesis. The second group has spent so much time repeating that the rules of the EU are an imposition that they have forgotten that they are rules that the UK helped to create. Their image of Thatcher goes no further than the achievement of a rebate on the UK’s contributions and her Bruges speech and doesn’t take in her many actions that built the institutions of Europe and integrated the UK in them.

For Dipper, the EU is imposing conditions on the UK. In my view, the EU is saying that these are the rules of the European institutions (that you helped to build) so how do you want to fit into them? The German car-makers haven’t come along and demanded that the EU create some special new rules for the UK, so the UK will have to decide which bits of Europe it wants to relate to and which it doesn’t (with the associated costs of sector transformation that this implies).

Vote Leave’s slogan “Europe: Yes – EU: No” is meaningless because Europe now has a dense web of institutions under the rubric of the EU and it is no longer possible to relate to Europe without going through those institutions. The UK was complicit in creating those institutions and there’s no going back to December 1972.

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Trader Joe 03.18.19 at 7:48 pm

Recently a group of colleagues were (semi-drunkenly) throwing around the notion of what the leavers actually should have done if they really wanted to leave on the best possible terms. The best idea we came up with is that on Day 1 of the May administration all energies should have been directed to passing laws/writing regulations aimed at being ready for a hard Brexit.

No doubt that would have been difficult and no doubt some stuff would have been missed, but it would have demonstrated unequivocally that the UK was prepared to leave on “no terms” and as hard as it would still have been, potentially wouldn’t have been an utter disaster. It would have also dealt with the details at a point when there was at least some mandate for them (though hardly a clear one) and before the shot clock of article 50 began.

Had that happened at some point, possibly, the EU might have actually come to May and said ‘we see you’re serious about this, how about we come up with terms so you can pay us our Billions and keep trading.’ Then maybe, just maybe there would have been the smallest amount of bargaining power to get a decent deal.

We figured this out by just assuming 100% the opposite of all of that occurred. At this point neither remain nor leave will be as good as Remain had been before the fact and no referendum or deal can change that, the well has already been poisoned.

69

nastywoman 03.18.19 at 11:49 pm

@
”The UK was complicit in creating those institutions and there’s no going back to December 1972”.

That’s the misunderstanding of our times – people ”create stuff” and then they try to divorce themselves from themselves.

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Barry 03.19.19 at 12:06 am

Trader Joe 03.18.19 at 7:48 pm

“Recently a group of colleagues were (semi-drunkenly) throwing around the notion of what the leavers actually should have done if they really wanted to leave on the best possible terms. The best idea we came up with is that on Day 1 of the May administration all energies should have been directed to passing laws/writing regulations aimed at being ready for a hard Brexit.”

Trader Joe, I don’t think that your strategy would have worked. Note that the UK is now on the edge of a cliff-edge Brexit, and the EU is sticking to its guns.

The problem is that Brexit was, is and always shall be a lie. It was sold under the lie that the UK could get better terms outside the EU than inside the EU. Remember ‘easiest trade deal ever’, ‘global Britain’, ‘day after we’ll be negotiating trade deals in Berlin’?

It’s stunning now that almost every Brexiteer, including Dipper, has abandoned the arguments which were used to sell Brexit (I’m assuming ‘A Sovereign Great Depression’ would not have carried the day). They’ve resorted to claiming that the other side actually bargaining hard is an unfair thing. It reminds me of some old gin-soaked bewhiskered Tory claiming that ‘a touch of the British saber will drive the Wogs back to their kennels!’.

The contradiction is simply that any achievable Brexit will hurt the UK enough that a lot of people will be very made, and any Brexit which won’t is not achievable.

71

Alex SL 03.19.19 at 1:07 am

Collin Street,

Thanks for the clarification.

Trader Joe,

It seems your colleagues would turn “give me what I want or I will punch myself” into “give me what I want or I will punch myself while wearing some padding”. Not sure how much more leverage that would provide.

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Bruce Baugh 03.19.19 at 3:17 am

“Freedom” is one of those terms that always needs the response “For whom?” Dipper’s obsession with it makes perfect sense when you realize he means it entirely and only for a particular population of reactionary hatemongers occupying particular bits of land, for instance. Like his chosen masters, he can’t really get his head around the idea that for other people, a larger fraction of humanity actually matters.

73

Zamfir 03.19.19 at 8:58 am

@Trader Joe says:
“The best idea we came up with is that on Day 1 of the May administration all energies should have been directed to passing laws/writing regulations aimed at being ready for a hard Brexit.”

I doubt that would have worked. Negotiations rarely go better if one party enters them in bad faith . Unwilling to share the zero-sum items, preparing and threatening to nix the negotations, being unclear about your goals, clear bluffing.

Those all have a role in negotiations, but you have to use them with restraint. Otherwise, your counterparty will decide that there is nothing to gain from negotiating, and they start working on their alternatives.

That goes doubly when you’re negotiating in public, with a party that has to consider the future beyond just this negotiation. Like the EU. If they give in to asshole tactics now, they’ll face more asshole tactics in the future.

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Dipper 03.19.19 at 10:07 am

@ Collin Street

@ Barry. Where was I lying? Just because you don’t agree with something doesn’t make it a lie. And “which is why I advised Maria to get out of England.” well its Maria’s decision and personally I hope she stays. Funny isn’t it that England, this hell-hole of xenophobic racists, continues to have overwhelming inward immigration and all those fantastic welcoming places like Scotland have a shortage of people willing to go there. Almost as if England was and continues to be a place that, on a practical everyday basis, welcomes immigrants and gives them opportunities not available in their own countries or almost anywhere else.

@J-D “If anybody ever told you that being a member of the EU would have no effect on the decisions made by your national government, it would not have been true.”. In 1973 we were told we were joining an economic block not a political one. And you are right, it wasn’t true.

@ Guano 67 – “Thus the EU’s starting point is that UK knows the rules of the various EU institutions and helped to create those institutions.”. Yes. Exactly. For a clear description of what remaining in the EU long-term means see Guy Verhofstadt’s explanation. To make clear, the EU keeps making it abundantly clear that there is no long-term membership off the EU that does not involve adopting the Euro. There is no formal long-term choice between full or associate membership, just full membership. I sourced the clip from Jeremy Vine’s tweet. His response indicates that he doesn’t really understand what is happening.

A positive step from here would be for the EU and the UK to sit down and hammer out what associate membership might look like. Depending on the arrangements, I’d probably vote for it.

“Europe now has a dense web of institutions under the rubric of the EU and it is no longer possible to relate to Europe without going through those institutions.” It really is not in the gift of nations in the EU to dictate to other European nations what constitutes being a European nation. They should stop. But they aren’t, they are doubling down on Switzerland”.

@ Trader Joe “The best idea we came up with is that on Day 1 of the May administration all energies should have been directed to passing laws/writing regulations aimed at being ready for a hard Brexit.” Yes. completely. What most Leavers have been saying since June 24th 2016. Instead we got a Remain government and a Remain civil service completely failing to understand what at least 17.4 million people had fully grasped.

As for what MP’s should now do following Bercow’s intervention , I think preparing for a GE would be top of the list.

Just to repeat to the point of hoarseness, I get that UK politics is a car crash that makes spectacular TV, but it’s a distraction and everyone is looking in the wrong direction. Its the EU that everyone needs to look at. It’s heading down a whirlpool of political intimidation and economic stagnation. Nothing economically or politically adds up. Poking fun at Leavers like Johnson, Farage, Rees-Mogg is like shooting fish in a barrel, but it is a distraction. The important stuff is happening on the continent. Where is it going? Where do you think this ends up? What happens when Macron’s pro-federal position collapses? What happens when populists constitute the majority in the Parliament? What happens when the EU’s eastward expansionist agenda runs into direct open military conflict with Russia?

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Barry 03.19.19 at 10:35 am

Trader Joe: “… the well has already been poisoned.”

I fear that it’s worse; at this point the leadership (political and non-) of the EU have been looking at the massive internal flustercluck of the UK, and are probably writing off any hope of sanity.

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Barry 03.19.19 at 1:49 pm

Dipper – I’m not going to debate with Brexiteers, because debating with liars is a waste of time.

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Dipper 03.19.19 at 2:14 pm

so, meanwhile in episode 378 of A Kinder Gentler Politics …

@ Bruce Baugh “only for a particular population of reactionary hatemongers occupying particular bits of land”

@ Collin Street “Dipper has some sort of theory-of-mind impairment and that means difficulties with understanding how ambiguity works”

This is just playground name-calling. No facts, no analysis, just making stuff up.

I comment on Brexit threads because its clear that people not in the UK or familiar with the history of the EU are spectacularly ill-informed. For instance, my British contact in Canada tells me that in the discussion there there isn’t any mention of the European Parliament that he can recall. How can you discuss Brexit and not mention that? It’s just dumb.

The world may seem an easier place if you just impute all sorts of bad qualities to people you disagree with, but it is simply a lie you tell to yourself that will ultimately rebound and damage you.

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Trader Joe 03.19.19 at 2:18 pm

@several

We kinda reached the conclusion it probably wouldn’t have made much difference in the end as well….but at least it would have looked like a government that had a goal and was working towards it rather than one that took 2 steps forward and 3 steps back at every turn.

Indeed neither the government nor the people are any more prepared for any sort of Brexit today than they were when the referendum passed. Its almost as if there was a thought that the EU would just say – ok, we like having you around so you can be “out” but we’ll treat you like you’re in.

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nastywoman 03.19.19 at 3:46 pm

@73 – just a small correction

”Funny isn’t it that England, this hell-hole of xenophobic racists, continues to have overwhelming inward immigration and all those fantastic welcoming places…

LONDON
right?

Almost as if LONDON was and continues to be a place that, on a practical everyday basis, welcomes immigrants and gives them opportunities not available in their own countries or almost anywhere else.

Which almost reminds me on reminding ”Leavers” that LONDON IS THE EU – and you can’t ”leave” what you are.

Right?

80

Barry 03.19.19 at 8:01 pm

Dipper: “Just to repeat to the point of hoarseness, I get that UK politics is a car crash that makes spectacular TV, but it’s a distraction and everyone is looking in the wrong direction. Its the EU that everyone needs to look at. It’s heading down a whirlpool of political intimidation and economic stagnation. Nothing economically or politically adds up. Poking fun at Leavers like Johnson, Farage, Rees-Mogg is like shooting fish in a barrel, but it is a distraction. The important stuff is happening on the continent. Where is it going? Where do you think this ends up? What happens when Macron’s pro-federal position collapses? What happens when populists constitute the majority in the Parliament? What happens when the EU’s eastward expansionist agenda runs into direct open military conflict with Russia?”

Ga-aw-wd. This is primo stuff.

81

politicalfootball 03.19.19 at 10:11 pm

The possibility of a “no deal” Brexit isn’t leverage for the UK in negotiations. It’s leverage for the EU. That’s one of the many, many basic realities that the Leavers can only grapple with through denial.

82

faustusnotes 03.20.19 at 1:39 am

As usual Dipper is lying. This time when he says “In 1973 we were told we were joining an economic block not a political one”. This isn’t true and it’s easy to see this. Here is the pamphlet the government delivered to every household in 1975 before the referendum on whether to stay in the common market. It makes explicitly clear that the bloc is political as well as economic, that these are tied, and explains how the decision-making process works.

This pamphlet was sent to every voter in the UK. It makes clear what the political cost of joining is and also states clearly that the UK can leave any time by its own authority. Either Dipper wasn’t around when the 1975 referendum happened or is lying about the debate that happened then.

83

J-D 03.20.19 at 2:23 am

Dipper

In 1973 we were told we were joining an economic block not a political one.

Pics or it didn’t happen.

For a clear description of what remaining in the EU long-term means see Guy Verhofstadt’s explanation.

What you refer to as an explanation is not an explanation, it is a whinge. Is it significant that you miss the distinction? The way things are is not the way Guy Verhofstadt would like it to be, and he is whinging about it. Guy Verhofstadt cannot change the way things are just by whinging about it. Is it significant that you do not grasp this point?

To make clear, the EU keeps making it abundantly clear that there is no long-term membership off the EU that does not involve adopting the Euro.

Pics or it didn’t happen.

There is no formal long-term choice between full or associate membership, just full membership. I sourced the clip from Jeremy Vine’s tweet. His response indicates that he doesn’t really understand what is happening.

A positive step from here would be for the EU and the UK to sit down and hammer out what associate membership might look like.

It’s possible that it would be good for the EU to have a status of associate membership and it’s legitimate for people to argue in favour of that concept, but it’s not a valid ground for complaint that it doesn’t already exist: nobody ever pretended that there was such a thing and it’s never been offered to anybody.

There is the European Economic Area (EEA), which members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are eligible to join without belonging to the EU: the rules of EFTA and of the EEA are not secret. EEA membership could be considered comparable to associate membership of the EU, although it’s not officially named that. What you desire may be different from what is offered by EEA membership and it’s legitimate for you to argue in favour of something different if that’s what you want, but it’s not a valid ground of complaint that the EEA is something different from what you want.

“The best idea we came up with is that on Day 1 of the May administration all energies should have been directed to passing laws/writing regulations aimed at being ready for a hard Brexit.” Yes. completely. What most Leavers have been saying since June 24th 2016. Instead we got a Remain government and a Remain civil service completely failing to understand what at least 17.4 million people had fully grasped.

I agree with you that the May government has handled the situation badly and made a terrible mess of it. However, there is no justification for your attempt to treat this as being somehow a score against Remain and for Leave. The people who are the strongest advocates for the UK remaining in the EU and the strongest critics of Leave are also in full agreement with you that the May government has handled the situation badly and made a terrible mess of it. You refer to what Leavers have been saying, and perhaps (should I repeat, however, ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’?) they have been saying such things, but what have they been doing? There’s always been the possibility of departure without a withdrawal agreement: the translation into action (at the national level, that is) of proposals for dealing with that situation depends on the government, but that doesn’t mean that nobody else could work on developing such proposals. As far as I can tell, the people with the knowledge and resources to develop such proposals include Leavers as well as Remainers. The European Research Group, for example, has ‘research’ in its very name: have they been doing any research into what sort of legislative and other preparations the UK would be best advised to make for departure from the EU (including departure without a withdrawal agreement)?

As for what MP’s should now do following Bercow’s intervention , I think preparing for a GE would be top of the list.

I know what I think an apostrophe is for, but what do you think an apostrophe is for?

I quote my own previous comment

I don’t think there’s any current prospect of a general election beyond the background probability that always exists (particularly when the government does not have a parliamentary majority in its own right).

I gave my reasons for thinking so at the time in that previous comment and nothing relevant has changed since then. So far there hasn’t been a majority in the Commons in favour of approving the withdrawal agreement as negotiated; if there is one now, it should be able to force that through even in the teeth of the Speaker’s ruling. The Speaker’s ruling makes it procedurally awkward, not impossible.

Its the EU that everyone needs to look at. It’s heading down a whirlpool of political intimidation and economic stagnation.

Pics or it didn’t happen.

The important stuff is happening on the continent. Where is it going? Where do you think this ends up?

The relevant questions aren’t about the ending but about what people do in the meantime. Regardless of what anybody does in the meantime, the ending is that everybody dies, the human race becomes extinct, and the planet becomes uninhabitable.

What happens when Macron’s pro-federal position collapses?

Macron has made some proposals for things he would like to have changed. If those things are not changed, they will remain as they are, although presumably Macron won’t like it.

What happens when populists constitute the majority in the Parliament?

You might just as well ask what happens when populists constitute the majority in the Parliament of the UK. Both things fall within the bounds of what may possibly happen at some time, but currently the prospect of either of those things happening is nil.

What happens when the EU’s eastward expansionist agenda runs into direct open military conflict with Russia?

Same again: current prospect of this happening, nil.

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