Brexit and the Ides of March

Nothing much changed except Ides of March now looms before April Fools Day.

Everything has continued to develope along the lines explained in that article.

Most likely outcome seems to be an overwhelming Parliamentary vote endorsing the only “deal” available, subject to a referendum with the option to reject the only deal and consequently remain in the EU. The EU will certainly agree to an extension of the deadline to allow the referendum to resolve the issue.

That is clearly what the Government has openly been aiming for, with only a pointless token pretense of some third option resulting from imaginary further negotiations with the EU or a widely believed but completely ludicrous imaginary threat to leave with no deal by April Fool’s Day.

Parliament has spelled out that no deal is not an option and could enforce that if necessary. The government would not refuse assent by the Crown even if it voted against such legislation. I doubt that such legislation will be necessary as the ritualistic threats of no deal are basically over already.

The Government has spelled out that the only other options are the current deal agreed with the EU or cancelling Brexit.

The hard core Brexiteers were always a minority and are now totally isolated. They lied about what the options were in the previous referendum and they, along with everybody else, have now been clearly told what the actual options are. Whatever they do there will be little damage done by their “outrage”.

Given the alternative of becoming a vassal state of the EU and nobody seriously supporting that, lots of people who previously voted for Brexit can be expected to just stay home muttering rather than turn up at the referendum to vote against remaining. The remainers can be expected to turn up in larger numbers and are already a majority in polls.

If unexpectedly the vassal state option wins there will be no great damage done. Just further humiliation for the Brexiteers eventually ending up either rejoining an EU that has meanwhile benefited from the absence of a British veto on deepening the union or agreeing on some less humiliating BRINO more like Norway (and rejoining free movement of labor).

Other alternatives still possible, but I don’t see any reason for a successful no confidence vote in Parliament that could result in an early election.

Theresa May has won and both Corbyn and the Tory Brexiteers have lost.

6 thoughts on “Brexit and the Ides of March

  1. There seems to be a widespread media consensus that the Brexit saga will just drag on with a postponement of the March 29 deadline still leaving all options open.

    So I’ll double down on my expectations above.

    Today’s order paper for UK Parliament has a motion from the Prime Minister “taking note” of imaginary ongoing negotiations with the EU and an equally pointless amendment from the Opposition “instructing” Ministers negotiate an entirely different agreement. There are many others
    for taking control of Parliamentary business away from the Government and so on, but those are are certain to be voted on.

    This means that the Liberal Democrat amendment to the Opposition amendment is also certain to be voted on. It proposes exactly what I outlined above – postponement to hold a referendum on either accepting the only deal on offer or remaining in the EU. That is the only plausible outcome expected from a series of votes to reject all other possibilities scheduled between now and the Ides of March.

    So theoretically it could happen right now if Corbyn accepts the amendment or if enough of the Labor MPs who overwhelmingly agree with it and hate Corbyn ignore the party whip and join with enough of the Tory MPs who also agree with it and the smaller parties who also agree with it to deliver a majority.

    More likely there will merely be “surprisingly” strong support for it, only prevented from becoming a majority by both Government and Opposition whips rejecting it. But then of course Corbyn’s motion also gets defeated and it becomes immediately obvious to all that whatever other votes are taken, this is eventually the only one that can actually resolve anything.

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    • Evidently my assumption that the Liberal Democrat amendment was certain to be voted on was wrong. No vote on it was taken:

      https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmvote/190227v01.pdf

      I thought it was automatic because it was the only amendment to an Opposition amendment that was certain to be voted on. Wrong about that.

      So it wasn’t even “theoretically” possible right now. Nevertheless the rest of it stands with Corbyn’s immediate announcement on losing his amendmendment that the Opposition will now support a referendum, as both expected and inevitable.

      Rejection of all other options is inevitable. Theoretically they could decide to just ask for a postponement with everything still left unresolved
      but it will be hard for the media to sustain a sense of drama about that possibility as they report on the unfolding of utterly predictable events
      towards another referendum. Even if they did try that, they all know it could only have the same outcome after further unnecessary delay or further humiliation if the EU insisted on some reason for a postponement.

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  2. One permutation I didn’t mention is the likely EU response to a request for postponement unaccompanied by a proposed resolution such as a referendum.

    This should result in a postponement until after the European Parliament elections at the end of May this year. The UK seats would necessarily be contested by forces supporting different outcomes for the Brexit decision rather than traditional parties. The system used is similar to the Australian Senate. The only way the Tories and Labor could avoid splits is by allocating their party lists proportionally to their factions actual support for different outcomes. Either way the result would be likely to show small numbers for a no deal Brexit, less small numbers for the only deal available and a large majority for remain. That could then be used to as the basis for ending Brexit, presumably still needing a referendum, though perhaps not.

    But there is no plausible way to postpone until after the next UK general election due in 2022 under the fixed 5 year term system. Nor is it plausible that there will either be a two thirds majority for an earlier election or a no confidence vote with no new government obtaining confidence within two weeks.

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  3. The economist still thinks the situation is only opening towards further developments rather than having implicitly settled the issues:

    https://www.economist.com/britain/2019/02/26/labour-and-the-tories-change-tactics-on-brexit

    The Guardian looks more accurate, describing Labor party divisions over timing rather than substance of what must happens next:

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/feb/28/labour-moving-towards-plan-to-let-mays-brexit-deal-pass-if-it-faces-public-vote

    Curiously other reports are still discussing absurdities like a three way referendum and that postponing exit from the EU in June does not imply participation in the May elections for EU Parliament.

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    • Reuters quotes the following new odds from Goldman Sachs analysts:

      1. “Extension of Article 50” 55% (previously 50%). This is generally recognized as now a near certainty so I don’t know what they or Reuters
      are talking about.

      2. “‘No deal’ Brexit 10% (was 15%)

      3. “No Brexit 35% (unchanged)

      Total 100% (unchanged)

      But:

      4. ““We continue to see the most likely outcome of the current impasse as eventual ratification of the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, with a three-month extension of Article 50,” they wrote in a note on Thursday.”

      No figure quoted but presumably the 100% sum is not accidental so they are listing mutually exclusive possibilities.

      Perhaps they mean 55% chance of an extension that would certainly result in the current deal and that if there is an extension there is no chance of 2 or 3.

      That would make as much sense as most financial analysts prognostications – none at all.

      My guesstimates are:

      1. Extension. Near 100%

      After extension most likely a referendum between deal and no-deal – say 90%

      Referendum result:

      No Brexit – say 90% (lots of Brexiteers will not vote since they would be voting for vassal state BRINO vs REMAIN)

      Current vassal state BRINO deal which has been rejected by pretty well everybody in Parliament except as an alterrnative to “no-deal” – say 10% because weird things can happen when people get really irritated.

      Brexit with no deal – near 0%

      After 10% chance of extension of Article 50 with no referendum scheduled:

      No idea, hence only low 10% chance of them choosing that hard to predict outcome.

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-brexit/goldman-sachs-cuts-chances-of-no-deal-brexit-to-10-percent-idUSKCN1QH0MZ?il=0

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