Friday, March 22, 2019

Would Theresa May even respect an indicative vote in favour of a softer Brexit?

So there are basically five possible outcomes to the current crisis -

1) May's deal passes
2) No Deal
3) Softer Brexit
4) People's Vote
5) Revocation of Article 50 without a referendum

We can more or less rule out option 5 completely, because the Tory and Labour leaderships are both opposed to revocation.  (Admittedly a Labour spokesperson was very careful the other day not to explicitly exclude the possibility, but that was probably just to avoid a backlash from passionate Remainers in the PLP and the party's rank-and-file.)  Option 4 isn't totally impossible but looks extremely improbable in the wake of a recent vote in the Commons in which an absolute majority of MPs actively voted against a second referendum.  It appears that there are more than enough committed Labour opponents of a referendum to offset any Tory supporters.

So that leaves the first three options as the only credible ones.  It's still possible that May's deal will pass next week thanks to a sort of pincer movement of cliff-edges - Remainers might be spooked by the very real possibility of No Deal, while Brexiteer Tories might be spooked by the very real possibility of a softer Brexit.  But if the deal doesn't pass at the third and final attempt, which still seems to be the expectation, it's murderously hard to see whether option 2 or option 3 becomes the more likely outcome.    Presumably MPs will at last seize control of the parliamentary timetable from the government and will hold a series of indicative votes, in which they might vote for a softer Brexit along the lines proposed by Jeremy Corbyn.  But Stephen Bush of the New Statesman, who history has shown has uncanny seer-like powers on matters such as this, seems to think there would only be a 50/50 chance of a Corbyn-type plan passing (in fact reading between the lines I get the impression that he thinks the chances may be a little less than 50/50).

And even if MPs express a preference for a softer Brexit, such a vote would not in the first instance be legally binding, and Theresa May would surely regard it as inconsistent with her government's red lines.  She has proved herself to be perfectly capable of completely ignoring the wishes of parliament when they are not binding, and as incumbent Prime Minister there would be various options open to her for frustrating the watering down of Brexit.  Which I suppose leads me to conclude that the risk of No Deal should be taken very seriously indeed, even if it's hard to quantify in percentage terms.

*  *  *

Just a passing thought: hasn't the time come for the SNP and the wider Yes movement to start pointing out to the public that rather a long time has passed since the first independence referendum?  Up to now, we've tended to stress the point that a lot of water has passed under the bridge since September 2014, that there has been a material change in circumstances and so on.  But we've reached the stage where it's also fair to say that five years is in itself a long period of time, even regardless of the huge change in circumstances.  Nobody is pretending that five years constitutes the fabled "generation", but it is the maximum amount of time allowed from one general election to another, it's longer than the entire duration of the First World War, and it's almost as long as the entire duration of the Second World War.  If you listened to the unionist parties, you'd think we had a referendum last week.

31 comments:

  1. Has John McTernan given his analysis on this? Stephen Bush is uncannilly perceptive, but McTernan gets it wrong 100% of the time. He's the best barometer by far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always like to hear Mystic's predictions which are 100% reliable. Just make sure to do the direct opposite of what he says.

      Delete
  2. Important to remember that if MPs vote for 3 they will also have to vote for Mays deal (scheduled for next Thursday). Any change to a softer Brexit will only be amended in the Political Agreement, the withdrawal Agreement still needs to pass for the UK to leave with a deal. So if you go for number 3 its really just sugar coating for having to vote for Mays deal.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you don't want no deal and you don't want May's deal no matter what gets put in the PA then you have to vote for peoples vote, but, of course, that means having EU Elections. So if you don't want EU elections but don't want no deal then you have to vote for Mays deal. Very much going to be not what you want but what combination you dislike the least.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This article pretty much sums up the UK/brexit.

    https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/traitor-to-england-ian-blackford-harassed-by-brexit-supporters-in-london-1-4894412

    ‘Traitor to England’: Ian Blackford harassed by Brexit supporters in London

    The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford was harassed by a group of Brexit supporters who shouted abuse at him as he walked down Whitehall...

    ...A group of around a dozen people followed Mr Blackford, shouting “traitor to England” and “leave means leave”.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully they'll advise us on whether he's also a traitor to Moldova, Paraguay, and the various other countries he doesn't come from.

      Delete
    2. It all reminds me of the divisive and, frankly, vile referendum which tore Scotland apart in 2014. So similar.

      Delete
    3. "Democracy is divisive! You should all be obedient colonial servants like me! Strong and stable leadership! Brexit means Brexit!
      Waaaah!"

      Delete
    4. Dr Ernest FranriendMarch 24, 2019 at 11:30 AM

      Disgraceful traitor not only to England but to his Parliament and Sovereign. Shame on Blackford for his stab in the back behaviour. He is so fortunate he lives in a democracy. All though I hope that changes soon.

      Delete
    5. "I hate democracy! Everyone should adhere to the leader principle and be an obedient colonial subject! You're all Nazis and I hate you all! STOP LAUGHING AT ME!
      Waaaaah!"

      Delete
  5. Holding fire on iref2 has proven to be the wisest course of action. People are never going to forget what they've seen from WM this year. And if and when No Deal follows, they'll obviously never forget the bedlam/horror that follows (I can't remember a single No politician in 2014 promising Scotland a humanitarian crisis in 2019. Am I missing something? Was that the Vow?).

    It is hard to imagine circumstances in which arguments against independence will ring more hollow. So assuming it's called soon enough, iref2 could end up a 60/40 blowout for Yes. Pretty much a dream start for our country.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you might be right. Just the phrase "better together" sounds laughable now, or even more laughable. I have the feeling Sturgeon's strategy has been to act the grown up, highlighting the contrast between a serious, stable Scottish government and the Westminster shambles, which is probably a particularly effective way of winning over the cautious, scared voters who will hopefully swing the next indyref for YES

      Delete
    2. Exactly. It's been pretty hard to remain patient at times but if No Deal proves even a fraction as bad as the predictions then desperation will swing hundreds of thousands behind Yes.

      And even if No Deal is avoided, imagine attempts in the iref2 campaign to claim with a straight face after the bad-trip ultrashambles of Brexit that the Union is "not just the greatest political entity in the world but in all of human history" etc.

      Just the thought of them trying that stuff again is great for morale. Bring. It. On.

      Delete
    3. There is another aspect that is persuading former Nos, and that is the reiteration of the message from the chattering classes that 'obviously' the Scots will go for independence, it is now 'inevitable'. People will follow that just as they followed the same media message that independence was 'narrow nationalism'.

      Delete
  6. I wouldn't rule out revocation quite so readily.

    Parliament has already voted against a No Deal Brexit under any circumstance. We could be in the situation soon where the only way to avoid that is by revocation.

    Article 50 can be re-triggered anytime, so revocation is not necessarily an end to Brexit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Voting for revocation doesn't (and won't) follow on logically from voting to "rule out no deal" (sic). Avoiding no deal is consistent with the 2016 referendum outcome, revocation is not.

      Delete
    2. James,

      You say:

      "Avoiding no deal is consistent with the 2016 referendum outcome, revocation is not."

      I think that the 2016 referendum was a false prospectus and has been thoroughly trashed. I think revoking Article 50 is, at the very least, a respectable position. I kind of doubt that 'the will of the people' now is precisely aligned with the 'will of the people' then.

      As an electorate, we are surely as entitled as a Parliament to define precisely what we meant about BREXIT? This entire issue should be subject to a second referendum imho.

      Delete
    3. Yay hay. Were off on the wiggly way. There'll be hell up pay but we'll have The brightest future uh re.

      Delete
  7. .... too bloody right, James ... Nicola must be ready to fire the starting pistol on IndyRef2 in order to save Scotland from the "crapshoot" which is dropping from above imminently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jinglepit!

      Delete
    2. Cordelia's guttered and making up its own Polari again.

      Delete
    3. Up your quimble you gribbling grumble.

      Delete
    4. Cordelia's guttered and making up its own Polari again.

      Delete
    5. I know polari is poof talk. I've seen Channel 4. But I'm all man. Big man.

      Delete
    6. "Stop making me think my sexuality's being called into question! I'm confused enough without you lot making it worse!
      STOP LAUGHING AT ME!
      Waaaaaaah!"

      Delete
  8. Beautiful sub-sample in the new ComRes poll: SNP 39%, Lab 23%, Con 20%, LD 10%. Are we just starting to see the first glimmers of a significant Con to LD switchback? It was of course the mass-desertion of Scottish LD voters that artificially flattered the Scottish Tory results in 2016 and 2017. An unwinding would see the SNP lose NE Fife to the Lib Dems, but in return gain a whole swathe of Con and Lab seats. The ComRes figures would give: SNP 50 MPs (+15), LD 5 MPs (+1), Con 3 MPs (-10), Lab 1 MP (-6).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fantasy fairy cake

      Delete
    2. "You're all Nazis! Everything I disagree with is wrong! You should all be good and obedient colonial servants like me!
      STOP LAUGHING AT ME!
      Waaaaaah!"

      Delete
    3. You still waring your boyfriend's panties? Get back to your cream puff villa. Ship ahoy, Capn Pugwash.

      Delete
    4. "You're all Nazis and I hate you! You should all be as confused about your tastes as i am!
      STOP LAUGHING AT ME AND MY BIZARRE LUSTS OR I'LL CRY!
      Waaaaaah!"

      Delete