Sunday, January 13, 2019

Have the chances of a very early general election just increased?

By now you may have seen the front page story in the Sunday Times, claiming that anti-Brexit Tory MPs are plotting a "coup" in collusion with John Bercow to wrest control of parliamentary business away from the government, thus making it much easier to swiftly pass legislation to reverse or soften Brexit.  Now, a lot of the time newspaper stories of this sort turn out to be wildly exaggerated or over-dramatised, but let's say for the sake of argument that there's a 25% chance there's something in it.  If so, Theresa May would not be entirely powerless to resist the plot, but the only effective card she might have left to play would be the calling of an immediate general election, which the Tories would fight on a "last chance to save Brexit" platform.  Presumably if the Tories won a clear majority in such an election, the first thing they'd do afterwards is install a more Brexit-friendly Speaker who would help to restore the status quo ante in terms of government control over Commons business.

We're forever being told by one or two commentators (chiefly Mike "impartial Lib Dem election expert" Smithson) that the Fixed Term Parliaments Act makes an early election next-to-impossible, almost as if the 2017 election was a collective hallucination.  But the reality is that if May decides she wants an election, there'll be one.  She'd only need a two-thirds majority in the Commons, and with the support of Labour and the bulk of her own troops, that would be virtually assured.  Even if for some reason she fell short, there would be other ways of achieving the same effect - she could instruct Tory MPs to vote against her own government on a motion of no confidence, which would only require a simple majority to succeed, or she could even legislate to repeal the Fixed Term Parliaments Act itself.

Surely, you might think, May would never take the risk of an early election after what happened to her two years ago?  If the Sunday Times story is correct (and admittedly that's an extremely big 'if'), I'm not sure there'd be much risk left.  If May becomes the first Prime Minister to lose control of parliamentary business, her premiership would be effectively over bar the shouting, and the legacy she expected as the leader who delivered Brexit would be snatched away.  A 40% chance of success if she calls a general election would start to look like a better bet than a 100% chance of failure if she doesn't.

What would be the SNP's prospects in a very early, pre-Brexit election?  I'd imagine that would depend to a large extent on Labour's manifesto.  If, as Corbyn currently insists, Labour fight the election pledging to implement Brexit on the basis of a new fantasy deal with Brussels, I suspect the Scottish Labour vote would collapse and the SNP would be the most likely beneficiaries.  But there must be some kind of chance that Corbyn would give in to last-minute pressure to promise a "People's Vote".  A lifelong Eurosceptic he may be, but there have already been a number of occasions when he's set that to one side in pursuit of power.

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  1. But hasn't she promised not to lead the tories into the next GE?

    1. No, she hasn't. She was very careful with the way she phrased that promise: it only applied if the next election was in 2022.

  2. If the SNP don't use an early election as a free referendum, standing on a Westminster manifesto of "Independence, independence and only independence" then I don't know what I'll do.

    Westminster reserved the constitution, so a Westminster election is the best place to solve the issue of "never going to get a section 30 order".

    1. "If the SNP don't use an early election as a free referendum, standing on a Westminster manifesto of "Independence, independence and only independence" then I don't know what I'll do."

      I suspect they'd only consider doing that in the circumstances where Brexit was "resolved" (or at least considerably much clearer than it is now).

      But if we were having a snap election soon it would almost certainly be because Brexit hadn't been resolved, in which case the SNP's position on independence would probably be as clear as it is at the moment - which is to say not very, "we'll let you know soon" sort of thing.

      You have to say if there is going to be a snap GE soon most major parties including the SNP are going to have real difficulty deciding what their manifesto is, for various reasons all related to Brexit and their inability to decide which bits of the party they want to annoy the least.

    2. "Trust your Govt." Mike Russell said to me recently....

      I do..!

  3. The latest polling (Survation on Friday) suggests modest gains for the SNP if an election was held but as you say if Labour policy remains as it was for the 2017 election then then that in conjunction with Peter Leonard’s “inspired” leadership is likely to see their numbers crater.

    1. I won't hear a word said against Peter Leonard. His leadership is electrifying.

    2. Indeed, name recognition clearly through the roof!

    3. Maybe they'd be doing better if there was a Peter Leonard to lead them.

  4. So, Corybn doesn't like my wife. Apparently she's over here 'undercutting English wages', which is like 'queue jumping' for jobs etc.

    He also wants to restrict my free movement, limiting my ability to leave the UK to go and live/work overseas if I want.

    Furthermore, he wants voters to be offered the basic choice between brexit and brexit in any new general election. That's his version of democracy.

    To top it all off he's utterly delusional. Apparently, if we just elect Labour, the EU will delay brexit, reopen negotiations, and give the UK basically everything it wants, except we can keep their smelly furrin English job stealing citizens out of our green and pleasant greater Englandshire. They'll even throw in a free unicorn for every household.


    Incidentally, was chatting to the French side of the family. They've basically confirmed the feedback I'm getting from all my other EU friends and colleagues. The citizens of the 27+ don't really want the UK back any more. They're tired of being abused and insulted by England. Unless there is some magic turnaround where England really becomes a good friend and team player to its neighbours, then it can 'go whistle' as far as they're concerned. They've had enough. Scotland is, by contrast, totally welcome in the EU/EEA though.

  5. Enid Scatterpouch (deceased)January 13, 2019 at 1:16 PM

    Will the Royal Family be able to pop across to mainland Europe on holidays or shopping trips like now? Or will the Princes have to get a visa first? Will they charge the taxpayer extra for them? I am worried sick about our Royal influence on lesser nations.

  6. Other countries don't trust the UK because it seems it welches on the deals it makes. So don't expect any easy trade deals outside the EU. Because the UK can't be apparently be trusted, the concessions / legal backstops demanded by partners in any deals will be big.

    If the UK tries to get out of the N. Irish UN peace deal backstop, heavy economic sanctions, international isolation and pariah state status will be the result. That's why 'no deal' just isn't an option; it will mean losing N. Ireland almost immediately, and the Scottish domino will likely follow very shortly after that.

    "Unfortunately in Ireland we had no say in this [Brexit] - the British people decided on this freely. In so doing, they effectively negated a referendum we had in Ireland," Mr Bruton told BBC's Today programme.

    "Remember, we changed our constitution, took certain articles out of our constitution in return for an international commitment from Britain to the Belfast Agreement which guaranteed fair treatment of both communities in Northern Ireland, that neither community would be isolated.

    "We changed our constitution to make that deal and Britain then comes along unilaterally and essentially decides to tear that up by proceeding with Brexit… and that's why we have insisted on a backstop to protect the Good Friday Agreement, so that Britain can't do that."


    What the hell will a GE actually solve? The only way out of this mess is cancel brexit or break up the UK.

    As for the SNP. No mandate for a new iref needed. They have a majority in Scotland's parliament and that is all the matters. Let's not play into unionist hands by pretending we need mandate after mandate to get England's permission for democracy in Scotland.

    Sure we should elect the SNP for Westminster en masse. Certainly if you'd rather no brexit or we stay in the EEA at least then they are your only choice it seems. Likewise simply if you support indy. However, they are there to at best limit English government damage to Scotland and, if things get desperate, withdraw themselves - and so Scotland - from Westminster governance in the first instance.

    1. Sorry, pro indy parties have a majority in holyrood is what I meant.

  7. I would end the UK. England and Wales can leave the EU because that is what their residents voted for. Scotland and N.I stay in EU as that is what their residents voted for. Democracy is restored?

    1. Cordelia's drunk and ranting again.
      What a mess.

    2. Cordelia seems to be getting aggressive. Is there anything more distressing than an elderly sozzled soul getting shouty and angry. I'd say "Pour yourself another pint of Cairn O'Mohr cocktails and let the world pop off", but I dread to think of the state she'll get herself into by midnight.

    3. I know.
      Hilarious, isn't it?

  8. Both the N. Irish UN peace deal and Scottish devolution are wholly incompatible with brexit; at least any brexit that sees these exit the single market.

    As a result, the UK can't survive brexit, not unless it stays in the single market with full free movement.

    If we were looking at 30% Yes in Scotland and similar for reunification, well you could say the risk of break up was low and even if brexit pushed Yes close 50%, the UK could survive, at least for a while.

    However, polls have just shy of 50% Yes 'tomorrow morning no questions asked' and clear majorities in the event of brexit. Likewise reunification is into majority with any sort of harder brexit.

    That's before the full economic hit and total trashing of devolution as London takes back control of huge swaths of devolved powers; which it must do if it is to negotiate new trade deals for the whole UK.

    The UK can't survive English independence, which is what brexit ultimately is.

    1. Brexit is UK as the UK majority voted. Are you saying you would not want Scotland to engage with RUk in trade deals?

    2. If Scotland (and the other two home nations + N. Ireland) had a vote like countries in the EU do in trade deals, the UK would have a much better chance of surviving.

      That's not the case though, and Scotland's parliament is already being overruled on devolved matters by English MPs who have 'taken back control' of Scottish devolved areas without any electoral nor referendum mandate.

      This is now in the courts and will be in and out of that for years to come (unless devolution is ended); with England seen to be taking control of Scots fishers, agriculture, other resources each time, while enjoyed EVEL. What's just been done to get the brexit bill through is not a fix to the problem, it was just the beginnings of the constitutional crisis.

      With 3/4 for devo max yet England getting ready to roll it back so it can have its brexit and eat it, there's little hope for the union.

      Remember, 45% still voted for full independence when the offer was to stay in the EU with extra super devolution. There is little to no hope for unionists in #iref2.

      There will be no #bettertogether this time.

    3. England (and it would be England because for it to be 'Britain', Scotland needs to consent) could try and overrule democracy, saying it does not recognise Scottish indy.

      That won't save the UK though, just bring about it's demise more soundly. After all, that's exactly what has happened every time in the past when colonies sought independence but were initially refused. Furthermore, England was a powerful imperial force back then; now it is a small, weak remnant of one on the periphery of the international community with no allies.

      It's far to busy navel gazing / having an existential crisis to put up much of a fight.

      The UK's remaining time could be a matter of only a few months. At best a few years.

  9. If the UK leaves the EU, then the latter - and all its 27 other members - will not longer have any obligation to be impartial on the subject of Scottish indy / stay out of UK domestic affairs such as this.

    Nope, the 27 and the commission will be free to declare their openness to Scottish indy and the route it could take to becoming an independent EU state.

    The same will apply for EEA-EFTA members; they would be free to negotiate with Scotland and make an offer of membership should Scotland vote Yes.

    The UK is giving up the solidarity that Ireland is enjoying as part of the EU. It had that solidarity in 2014; the other members stayed well out of it and just quoted law if ask. Just as Cameron and co asked them to.

    Will all be so different going forward.

    But then this is what Brexiters wanted isn't it. After all; it's a very obvious outcome of brexit.

  10. From an influential member of a very powerful trade block to Johnny nae mates. That's what happens on March 29th.

    That's when the 27 can stop being polite in the face of being told their queue jumper citizens should go back to where they came from and they can go whistle. That's when any country with a bone to pick with Britain will pounce.

    All it would take is e.g. Ireland demanding an indy Scotland be recognised + accepted and the EU would take that position. It's either that, or Ireland uses it's veto to block all sorts of EU legislation and trade deals.

    So better not fuck with the backstop eh. Better kiss some Irish behind and quick.

    Ah but Britain can just use it's imperial might to...oh.

    Aye, when Britain joined the EU, it still had the remains of that extent. But the other side of the glorious exit gate is a very different place now.

    Thing is, everyone outside Britain understands all this. The brexit unicorns and fairies delusion fog is only on this side of the channel.

    But I'm sure the Italian prosecco producers and BMW will jump in and secure the UK a super trade deal in the next few weeks. Then we can start spending the billions from the side of the bus.

    1. Poor skier makes up his own stories on the hoof. You Nat sis are like the Cubans in 1902. They accepted independence and allowed the Yanks to dominate their country. In your case it is the EU. A false independence. The Yellow Vests in France are calling for withdrawal from the EU. The Yellow crawling Tory Nat sis in Scotland are traitors.

    2. Poor Cordelia. Hammered and rambling to itself again.
      The bizarre self-created Polari is funny, though.

    3. Och looks like Brexit's going to be called off anyway, so respecting the vote in Scotland and N. Ireland.

      What can then happen is England and Wales can push for new EUrefs under devolution/EVEL.

      If indyrefs in Scotland must be 'Scotland only', I don't see why England gets to make its own ones UK-wide. Should just be EVEL.

      Anyway, this would solve the democratic deficit, N. Ireland peace process problem etc.

      Everyone happy.

  11. Why are the UK government all stressed about overuling the brexit result? This is what they did to Scotland and the 52% Yes to devolution in 1979. Would just make the UK a union of equals (if say brexit was cancelled because Scotland wanted that).

    As I understand it, Theresa May even tried to overrule the 1997 Welsh Devolution result by voting against the associated bills afterwards.

    This from her on the BBC:

    "Imagine if an anti-devolution House of Commons had said to the people of Scotland or Wales that despite them voting for more devolution, Parliament knew better and would take back control of devolved powers against their will so that England could get a better brexit deal for itself. Or else force them to vote again.

    She really is a stinking sack of shit isn't she.

    And so is Corybn unless he promises to undo the brexit bill, giving Scotland complete control of devolved areas, and so a full veto over any new post-brexit trade deals for the UK.

    1. May is a remainer and the BBC are unashamedly pro EU. The Soubry heckling was further proof the BBC will drag up anything including Jo Cox to undermine the EU withdrawal.

    2. Another lunchtime of booze and lies from the Tories' pet Muppet.
      The angrier it gets, the funnier it is.