Sunday, December 16, 2018

Do the Tory Brexiteers care more about Brexit than they do about their own careers?

Reading the front page story in the Sunday Times today, I could for the first time just about start to see a semi-plausible scenario under which a "People's Vote" could take place on Theresa May's watch, leading potentially to the cancellation of Brexit.  If the government's own proposal for a referendum was for a straight choice between May's deal and No Deal, it could be argued that this is not a betrayal of any red line because either outcome would result in Britain leaving the EU.  And then when parliament amends the proposal against the government's wishes to add a Remain option to the ballot paper, May could just shrug her shoulders and say "nothing to do with me, guv".  That wouldn't wash with the ERG - they'd probably end up regarding May as a Ramsay MacDonald-type "traitor".  But we know from past experience that May doesn't fret that much if people can see straight through her, just so long as her excuse sounds defensible in her own head.

The odds are still against it, of course.  It's probably significant that the plan is reported to have the endorsement of "Theresa May's team" rather than May herself, and we know there are also strong forces in the Cabinet tugging her in completely the opposite direction, and towards an acceptance of No Deal.  Even if the plan was to be put into operation, there must at least be a question mark over whether the addition of a Remain option would command a majority in the Commons.  The assumption so far has been that the parliamentary arithmetic on a People's Vote would be very tight, and logically exactly the same ought to apply to any Remain amendment (although perhaps the government conceding the principle of a referendum would embolden more Tory Remainers to rebel).  And having repeatedly promised that Brexit will happen bang on schedule on 29th March, it would be hard for May to call a referendum on her deal knowing that a referendum campaign would eat up much of the remaining three months, and that she'd inevitably have to request an extension of Article 50 simply to have enough time to actually implement the deal if the public gave her the go-ahead.  But perhaps she could put on an indignant voice and blame a short delay on "saboteurs", or whatever.

Then there's the problem that the leaking of a plan like this can in itself make the whole thing less likely to happen.  Brexiteers now know where the danger lies, and May could find herself under intense pressure to explicitly rule out any Deal v No Deal referendum over the coming days.  If it ever looks like something might come of it, though, I do wonder if the hard-core Brexiteers could look towards the nuclear option of approaching Labour and indicating they might vote against the government on a motion of no confidence, or at least abstain.

A lot of people have asked why there would be any problem getting a no confidence motion passed, given that the number of Tory rebels required would be quite small.  The answer is simple - in most parliamentary votes, Tory MPs have the option of voting against the government without facing any terrible consequences, but confidence votes are completely different.  Even a non-authorised abstention on a confidence vote would lead to an automatic withdrawal of the whip, which in turn makes it impossible to stand as a Tory candidate at the next election.  So unless you're someone like Douglas Carswell, with enough of a personal vote that you could hold your seat regardless of party label, you'd be looking at career death.  That was why the Maastricht rebels in the 1990s all instantly fell into line as soon as the government tied the issue to a vote of confidence.  They of course justified it to themselves as a principled decision - Bill Cash said he was damned if he would hand the Maastricht ratification process over to a Labour government who would sign Britain up to a "federal superstate".  And there was a small grain of truth in that  - polling in 1993/4 left little room for doubt that Labour would win a snap election.

No such excuse is available this time, because it's anyone's guess who would come out on top in an election held over the next few weeks.  And in any case, is it just possible that the prospect of Brexit being cancelled is such a big deal for some MPs that they might, just this once, be prepared to put their careers second, and their principles first?

It might not seem immediately obvious what they would have to gain by triggering an election, given that there is so little to choose between May and Corbyn on Brexit.  But in fact there could be a few things -

* With parliament dissolved for several weeks, any attempt to legislate for a referendum could be severely interrupted, with the clock still ticking down towards the 29th March deadline.

* May and the rest of the Tory leadership would be forced to write a manifesto that appeals to the Leave vote that the party is now so heavily reliant on in elections.  They might find themselves making cast-iron promises that Brexit will definitely happen, and that it will happen on time, and that the backstop won't be permanent, etc, etc.  OK, they wouldn't be the first politicians to betray a promise within days or weeks of winning an election, but it's never a comfortable thing to do.

* Any substantial seat gains for the Tories would probably lead to an increase in the number of Leave-supporting MPs in the Commons (although they'd still be in the minority).

* There would be scope for a tactical voting drive, with websites directing Brexiteers towards the candidate in their constituency that is most likely to vote for a 'real' Brexit.  In some cases that will be a Tory, in a very few seats it might be a sitting Labour MP like Kate Hoey, and in others it could be a UKIP or Faragist candidate.  Usually that sort of targeting has only a very marginal effect, but given the passions that Brexit is arousing, it might just be different this time.

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28 comments:

  1. Wow, you should write a book. Love the depth and range of analysis. A book on contemporary Scottish and UKish politics would be fab and I reckon quite a few folks would buy it. You've got the writing chops too

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  2. Gavin Barwell has come on Twitter saying that he does not *want* a second ref. As was pointed out not wanting is not the same as preparing for one. I don't *want* a filling that does not mean i'm not planning to go to the dentist.

    Think there is very little doubt that someone somewere in Government is planning for a second ref. Its if those plans ever see the light of day that is the question.

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    1. There's no electoral mandate for one, particularly in Scotland. The last one should have been EVEL given that pro-EUref parties failed to win mandates outside of England. There's certainly no mandate for any new EUref based on 2017 manifestos.

      Certainly, if the UK government can hold a constitutional referendum without any electoral mandate, so can the Scottish / Welsh / N. Irish governments going forward. Would be another great British precedent (just as 50%+1 in an advisory only referendum with no turnout specified is fine for independence).

      Scottish government could of course support a 'People's vote', just refuse to hold it in Scotland due to the lack of a manadate, and because there's not a shred of evidence to suggest people would vote anything but 'Remain' again.

      So, let England vote (and Wales / N. Ireland if their parliaments pass bills) and if it votes Leave again, it can toddle off and do it's own thing. Scotland can start negotiations become an EFTA/EU member in its own right.

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    2. How dare you?

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    3. I saw a photo of Gavin Barwell. It looks like he first landed near Roswell.

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  3. Enjoy it while you can. The Nat sis and there Euro masters think they have licied the British. Think again, fools. We and conning you and lulling you in to a sensebofvfakce security. Then Mrs may and her team pounce.
    Ever heard of El Alamein?

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    1. Still as bonkers as ever, I see, GWC2! Love and kisses, and don't forget your meds.

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    2. Your a glittering nincompoop too. You can't even get through. Dope.

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  4. Britain has truly lost it. We have official ONS government figures showing mass net emigration of 132k EU workers year [1] and the government is talking about limiting net immigration to 10k of them [2]. This is utter madness. THEY'RE FKING LEAVING YOU IMBECILES!

    What sort of delusional world do you have to be in to come up with this sort of stuff? It really is like Hitler moving around imaginary armies in his bunker just days before the Russians knocked on the door. Totally and utterly lost it.

    The UK is fkd.

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    1. Figure 1. 132k EU workers have left the UK net to end september 2018
    https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/ukandnonukpeopleinthelabourmarket/november2018

    2. https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/home-affairs/immigration/news/100598/sajid-javid-plans-slash-eu-immigration-80-after-brexit

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    1. The fools don't even realize that when the Tories start preventing people coming in from the EU - the EU countries are going to start taking action against "British ex-pats". They are so stupid that they don't understand that the people they call "ex-pats" are what other people call "immigrants".

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    2. The Brexiteers have, at least, got their wish. No one wants to live in the UK anymore.

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    3. Except Beverley Callard and Princess Sparkle from Hollywood. They like being near me so they can feel my animal heat.

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  5. If there is to be another E.U. referendum then I don't think that May's Deal should be on the ballot paper as that doesn't have the backing of Parliament. Also why don't they just have a referendum for N.I and Scotland after all they were the remain voting Nations the question could be do you want to remain in the UK and therefore leave the E.U. with it or leave the UK become Independent states within the E.U.

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    1. Paul, how can Scotland be Independent in the EU where the EU will run our economy, dictate who comes into Scotland?

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    2. Tell me that, as Julie Walters said to the Rev Gonville Ffrench-Betah from South Africa

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  6. This will be needed to avert a potential economic, social and even humanitarian crisis. If we e.g. start running out of food, fuel, medicines etc due to the action/inaction / collapse of the UK government, people will die. Possibly tens of thousands, maybe more. That cannot be allowed to happen. The free flow of people and goods must be maintained by seeking to remain in the single market as an independent state, at least as a temporary measure. I imagine the EFTA and/or EU27 will be sympathetic in the circumstances.

    If necessary, at a later date, once the situation has stabilised, a referendum can be held to see if Scots want to hand control of their country back to London. Voters could e.g. seek a referendum for this in the next Holyrood election (assuming the rUK wants that too).

    This is getting serious folks.


    And before folks say 'But we need a Section 30!'; there may soon no longer be functioning government to obtain a section 30 from.


    History shows is how easily and quickly these situations arise, often because people don't really believe they can happen in their own country. Well they can, and do, and Britain is very, very close to precipice right now.

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    https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/need-to-ask-where-brexit-is-heading-you-haven-t-been-paying-attention-1.3733034

    Need to ask where Brexit is heading? You haven’t been paying attention

    Chris Johns: An economic, political and social catastrophe grows more likely by the day

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    1. Missed my first paragraph when pasting:

      I trust / hope that the Scottish government have contingency plans to repeal the treaty of union, even if temporarily in the first instance, and take full control of Scotland (as best they can) in the event of the political / constitutional collapse of the British state, i.e. a crash out hard brexit (the latter can only be the result of the former)...

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    2. Could you translate that into English. Many thanks.

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  7. Certainly, as it stands, it's looking like the only way the UK can avoid a catastrophic legal crash out will be to ask the EU27 for a delay to them 'fking off back to where they came from!'.

    The UK can for example say "Yous smelly furriners can come here for 6 months longer than we planned, then you can fk off back to where you came from. Unless you earn thirty grand. Then we might tolerate you. But only say 10k of you, and we might change that at a moments notice too mind."

    This is where we are with brexit. Literally.

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    1. Scotland has always survived on fish and chips an mince an tatties. It is worth leaving the EU political entity who are a bunch of pariah corrupt scumbags who threaten anyone who disagrees. AND wee Knickerless is crawlin up their erses. Do not come in my mouth Mounsuer Barnier.

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    2. Remember when I came in your mouth that night in the Waterloo,?

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    3. Barnier Ruler of ScotlandDecember 16, 2018 at 9:58 PM

      It was salty and not child bearing.

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    4. That was the guy after me.

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  8. Exactly. Our opportunity is on the horizon. When the soviet/Russian empire imploded they couldn't prevent the Baltic states striking out for their freedom. We have friends in the EU ready to welcome Scotland.
    We already meet the terms for membership. England's political control of Scotland has never been weaker.
    Stay united and keep the eyes on the prize.

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    1. Your friends are all opportunist middle class knobs who are money grabers and have no sense of nationality and Scotland just greed.

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    2. Yes and then I said it's all true and Iris McMurtrie in the shop said the same. They all like grabbing and grabing. They love it. Iris said three of them were on the bus from Dalmellington last TjursThu. They were being middle class and grabing a lot of opperunities till we reached Kilmarnock. Beat that, Hurlford pansies.

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    3. Rubbish. Iris McMurtrie never takes the bus. Correct me if I'm wrong but she hasn't been in Dalmellington for almost 4 years. Nobody is buying your lies. Nat si nob.

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