Brexit – exhausting the alternatives

Greg Sheridan seems to have shut up, but fear not, Fairfax’s Nick Miller provides equally incompetent “analysis”.

“So now we come to Brexit Plan B”, The Age, Sunday 2019-03-31 p26. Online at:

“The best-case Brexit scenario could still happen. It probably won’t.”

Includes final sentences omitted from The Age after “Quite the pickle”:

… As one anonymous Labour MP told The Times:

“When the result was announced and the government motion was rejected, I didn’t remotely feel like cheering. This isn’t a game and there are no winners. We come back on Monday.”

Also on p26 from Nick Miller:

“Three-time loser May plans fresh showdown”.

This quotes an unnamed cabinet minister, asked why May had brought on a vote she knew she would lose: “F— knows, I am past caring, it’s like the living dead in here.”

Actually it is quite obvious why. Not only have charlatans like Boris Johnson humiliated themselves by voting for a deal they correctly said was worse than remaining in the EU, but they are also now stuck with nothing to campaign about in claiming “leadership”. Everybody now knows that “no deal” won’t happen and within the next 10 days the UK will have to decide on participating in the European elections and request a long extension. That unambiguously settles the final outcome – no Brexit.

By “everybody” I do not of course include journalists, as demonstrated by the above article continuing in Greg Sheridan’s tradition of invicincible incomprehension.

Goldman Sachs should also be exempted. They still only estimate a 40% chance of no Brexit, 45% chance of a modified deal being approved even after a long extension with participation in the European elections and 15% chance of a crash out with “no deal”.

Unusually, The Guardian has a relatively sane list of 5 possibilities despite concluding “there is no plan” in the face of a well executed plan to exhaust all other options and reach “No Brexit”:

Each of the 5 scenarios considered as a “way out of chaos” is described as having “pitfalls”.

It is of course hard to work out precisely what route will be followed to the conclusion that necessarily follows from the large majorities in both major parties who agree with overwhelming majorities in minor parties and a smaller majority of the public now in favour of Remain. This is difficult to follow in detail because apart from the minor parties most of the politicians are publicly committed to pretending that they are trying to implement the referendum  to Leave. So everything they actually do has to be presented as just “chaos”.

But its worth going through the list of scenarios and “pitfalls” to understand why things have developed exactly as I said they would and are likely to continue in the same direction. I won’t repeat many of the less important pitfalls mentioned in the article.

1) Parliament tries to force May’s hand by agreeing an alternative Brexit plan

Pitfall: (Not mentioned) even if there was a clear majority for the most widely supported alternative (Customs Union) there is simply no way cabinet could be forced to hand this victory to Jeremy Corbyn when they have the easy alternative of accepting the offer that has already been made by Labour to put their deal to a “confirmatory” referendum (where it will be rejected). Brexit to a Customs Union would be far worse for the Tories than simply being defeated at the referendum.

2) May brings her deal back

This could theoretically be successful against worse alternatives such as a customs union (especially if combined with an irrevocable threat of immediate snap election).

“If May wins it is game over. The UK would leave on 22 May.”

Pitfall: (Not mentioned) But it would not be “game over”. Masses of legislation would be required and at some point an “accidental” victory would be reversed by tacking on “subject to confirmation by referendum”. A point to watch for is whether the government introduces the statutory instrument for participation in the European elections before any such further attempt. That needs to be done before April 10.

3) MPs vote for a second referendum

Pitfalls “There is limited Tory support for a second referendum, and considerable opposition to it on the Labour benches. Many MPs fear that it will cause a public backlash and a loss of faith in British democracy. There are also fears it would deliver another close result which would leave the country as divided as it is now.”

Above is the reason for “exhausting all other alternatives” first. But having done so there is nothing so easily punctured as an outraged backlash against being allowed to take a vote. The embarassment is purely because the leaders of both parties spouted this nonsense.

There is little fear of a close result when the choice is between Remain and a BRINO exposed as significantly worse than Remain by its own advocates. The Remain voters will turn up but many of the Brexit voters will just stay home, “outraged”.

4) No deal. Parliament fails to agree and we crash out

Pitfalls (As correctly stated by the article). “In reality, the EU will do everything it can to avoid no deal and the vast majority of MPs will too. Even if May has no plan to put forward on 10 April, the EU will still probably give the UK more time.”

5) May tries to call an election

That could well happen, especially as it could enable the Tory MPs to choose a leader quickly to fight the election rather than risk Boris Johnson being chosen by  the general membership.

Pitfalls. Tories would suffer greatly (as the article states).

Items 3 and 5 both guarantee an extension with a fork in the road away from Brexit by participating in the European elections. A general election now severely damages the Tories and prolongs the agony while still having to end up with a referendum eventually. Agreeing to the referendum before 10 April will be much easier for the government to “reluctantly accept as a compromise as the only way to get the deal through despite parliamentary obstruction” and is what they have in fact been working towards.





Brexit – straws in the wind for UK election

I have ignored the possibility of a UK election because it requires a large number of Tories to vote for losing their seats.

But as it is the only thing not being bloviated about at the moment it is worth further consideration.

There are some recent reports of government discussions about possibly calling an election and recent statements by May opposing everything else that might happen on the grounds that she is obliged to support the manifesto she was elected on. She didn’t hint at any possibility of calling an election and all the bloviating has been about her untenable position with demands to resign immediately with no particular replacement or plan in mind.

Now that cabinet has lost control of Parliament the traditional procedure under the Westminster system would be to either replace the government or replace the parliament.

Parliamentary politics has become so ritualistic under the two party system enforced by single member electorates that they have fogotton the basis for their rituals. Recent changes from the Westminster system have produced a “fixed term” Prime Minister until December and a “fixed term” Parliament until 2022. This absurdity is now confronted with deadlocked decisions that must be resolved within 3 weeks.

One way or another, the UK will request an extension beyond April 12, which requires participation in the EU elections in May. That is a major fork in the road away from Brexit which will split the Tory party and outrage a lot of blowhards.

I still think the most likely way, after exhausting all other options, will be to accept the proposed Withdrawal Agreement deal, subject to confirmation by a referendum.

But another possible way is for the Government to propose an early election and whip sufficient Tories into supporting it for there to be the two thirds majority required. Getting two thirds against a government whip would be impossible. With government support it would be easy.

The EU would of course grant an extension on that basis.

Some of May’s more “inexplicable” behaviour could be explained, as could the defeat of a vote to force a recall of Parliament if no deal within 7 days of deadline.

May’s speech blaming Parliament for the mess helped defuse the efforts to blame the EU at her own expense from the viewpoint of MPs. But it also sets the stage for having been forced by Parliament to hold elections for Members of the European Parliament despite a referendum to withdraw and insisting that the UK Parliament must itself also face elections.

Either way, I don’t see any long delay between the next (long) extension and a final decision for No Brexit after holding European Elections.

Notes on Trump 44 – No collusion but keep ranting about obstruction

Here’s the four page summary of the Mueller report from US Attorney-General Barr:

Despite massive efforts the inquiry did not find that anybody in the Trump campaign either tacitly or explicitly agreed to coordinate with Russian interference in the election.

Despite continuous public attacks on the investigation by Trump, the inquiry could not come up with a plausible theory for “obstruction” and left that issue for Attorney-General Barr to resolve.

Barr notoriously did so before becoming A-G. Here is his 19 page memo dismissing any “obstruction” theory from 2018-06-18:

He and Deputy A-G Rosenstein, who initiated the inquiry, have already agreed and announced in the summary – no obstruction.

It’s “all over bar the shouting”.

The shouting may well intensify given the media and Democrat track record.

It would be hard for Trump to keep them on track blithering about this if they came to their senses.

But it looks like he will be able to easily keep them going on “obstruction”, especially if DOJ starts prosecutions of people like Comey, Clapper et al as it should.

Pelosi has wisely opposed impeachment by insisting that they wait for Mueller report.

But there’s no way to stop them from keeping on about sex with porn stars etc instead of actually developing saner policies than changing the climate by printing money.

Brexit – successful confusion

That was quick. The EU has avoided any need for another meeting this month by spelling out the full timetable:

1. When current “deal” is not accepted next week, automatic extension till 12 April which provides only a couple of weeks for actual preparations to minimize damage from automatic “no deal” Brexit on that date.

This is calculated to maximize panic at prospects of crashing out unprepared and thus reduce numbers of Labour MPs from “Leave” constituencies who might have voted for May’s deal.

If the Tory Brexiteers were as stupid as people think it would influence them in the opposite direction by lifting their hopes for “no deal”.

However they already know that “no deal” won’t happen and many are still likely to humiliate themselves by voting for BRINO.

More importantly, it sidelines Corbyn’s waffle about alternative forms of BRINO and ensures rapid agreement on a long delay with participation in the EU elections. Anybody voting against that will be voting to crash out with no preparations so the vote will be overwhelming. This will end up with Brexit supporters in both major parties outvoted at elections centered on the issue of Brexit and will pave the way to referendum even if referendum is not adopted immediately.

2. When UK changes course to put forward new proposals (eg referendum) and decides to participate in European elections before 12 April the EU will offer a long extension.

3. In the highly unlikely event that the UK Parliament accepts the only deal available next week there will be an automatic further extension for actual exit on May 22 to finalize necessary legislation (or run around in panic reversing the decision). European Parliament will then be elected without continuing British obstruction.

Of course above is NOT the way they expressed it. Here is the actual text.

Here is the CNN report of that text:

Here is the Financial Times doing its bit to maintain belief in the absurd idea that May might intend to crash out with no deal.

Here’s the Guardian insisting that she was just incompetently drifting rather than “exhausting every alternative” to staying in the EU:

The only thing unclear is whether there will even be time wasted on a third vote to reject the deal, and preliminary vote to allow considering it yet again, given the urgency with which they will have to decide what to do next. My  guess is there will, just to humiliate the maximum number of Tory Brexiteers.


Notes on Trump 43, Nazis and Brexit both sides losing

1   Brexit dramatization is still being scripted despite outcome having been done and dusted during the Ides of March. Current scheduling seems to be a pointless request for a delay till end of June on the basis of hypothetical successful third attempt at getting deal through Parliament that didn’t happen today. That seems to be intended to be postponed by the EU until an emergency meeting around the day before deadline expiry so as to maximize the number of Tory Brexiteers who might humiliate themselves by voting for BRINO in fear of the obvious alternative. That alternative seems to have been scheduled for April Fools day when  the UK gets offered a choice between spending the next two months actually preparing for “no deal” or agreeing to a referendum.

The EU will have been maximally cooperative with the UK Government seeking to get the deal approved. Only the usual suspects will keep claiming failure of Brexit is their fault rather than a British decision. May will have kept her promise to fight till the bitter end and will be able to blame the hard Brexiteers for forcing the long delay followed by no Brexit. Corbyn will have fought against a “Tory Brexit” still valiantly holding open some hypothetical unspecified alternative and only reluctantly accepted the referendum for no Brexit. But there will, as has been obvious for a long time, be no Brexit.

Here is quite a good analysis on the eventual referendum:

Key point is that the parliamentary maneuvering does not include a positive campaign to convince people in favour of European Union.

Opponents have been out-maneuvered but Corbyn would not fight in the first referendum and won’t fight now. It is tactically smart party politicking for him to let things drag out while the Tories discredit themselves without alienating Labour supporters that voted to leave or the large majority of Labour members who want to remain. Likewise Therese May is being denounced as hopelessly incompetent by the people she has been very competently isolating in the Tory party. But both sides are unprincipled. Resentment could still do long term damage even when Remain gets a large majority as a result of their opponents not bothering to vote for BRINO.

2. CNN has acknowledged that Trump’s tactics on the wall have worked out for him:

Also they have started paying attention to voters rather than polls counting everyone.

Their polling confirms Trump lost no support and is back to 43% approval among voters (42% including non-voters).

The preference for Democrats among non-voters is actually much more than the 1% they have noticed.

Rasmussen polls voters daily and is still running closer to 50% (today’s 47% approval, 52% disapproval)

3. This is also a good analysis on Democrat tactics against Trump from a right-winger helpfully explaininng Trump voters to CNN:

Fascinating that they are so far gone Trumpists feel no hesitation about telling them how to do better.

They are still rabbiting on about Trump’s imminent doom from the Mueller inquiry but my morbid fascination that led me to read past the headlines of “explosive” new revelations has faded.

4. This book has some useful background on neo-Nazi fringe lunatics in Australia and how they repeatedly promoted and encouraged terrorist acts with exactly the same mealy mouthed denials of doing it and the same liberal defence of their “free speech” right to keep doing it as we are seeing now. (58MB pdf book)

After a series of violent attacks on Vietnam and anti-apartheid protestors, and Communist bookshops – actively encouraged by the Special Branch of the police, and attacks on Jewish businesses permitted for recreation, they were forcibly shutdown in Melbourne in the early 1970s by joint action of the Worker Student Alliance and Jewish ex-servicemen. Their HQ was destroyed and subscription lists captured. Their sponsors were visited personally and advised that “we know where you live”. They left town.

The account in the book above is very garbled, and omits most of the facts about them being shut down. But it accurately quotes the denunciations in favour of “Free Speech” from “The Age” and hostility to the protests from Zionist dominated Jewish Board of Deputies.

Does not mention that the police started committal proceedings for riot. Eventually abandoned when they realized a jury would be unlikely to convict.

The terrorist violence nearly half a century ago did not extend to mass murder. It would have if they had been tolerated and “censured” as similar elements are being tolerated and “censured” today.

Brexit – end game

According to Greg Sheridan in The Weekend Australian”:

“Only one prediction is certain: the Brexit mess, which has already exhausted the patience of the British public, has a long way to run.

Previously he had concluded from his inability to accurately predict anything at all, that “nobody knows” while also saying:

“…no-deal Brexit or the no Brexit at all are about equally likely.”.

Now he is back to being “certain” but certain of something quite different from BOTH his “equally likely” main options.

Once again Sheridan picks the most widely spouted and least plausible prediction.

It is of course still theoretically possible that there could be a “hard Brexit”. It could happen “by accident” if one of the EU 27 vetos an extension or if the EU initially grants only a short extension until offered a credible reason for a longer one and the UK does not provide one in time. But even that would not have “a long way to run”. There would be some immediate emergency response to an “accident”.

Another theoretical possibility is that the UK Parliament could very narrowly adopt the currently proposed deal and reject holding a referendum to “confirm” it. This is being hyped at the moment with some Tory Brexiteers indicating that they might humiliate themselves by voting for the deal that they denounced, correctly, as far worse than remaining in the EU in order to keep on whining during the subsequent transition period. That could qualify as “a long way to run” – if anybody let them just keep exhausting “the patience of the British public” through the long transition period.

But that too could only happen by “accident”. The focus on loud mouthed Tory Brexiteers who keep voting against their party whip ignores the fact that there are far larger numbers of Tory remainers who have been complying with the whip only because they have not had any need to defy it on votes where the “deal” would be rejected by an overwhelming majority anyway. They are anxious to get it over with and have been prevented from doing so only by Corbyn’s tactics of assisting the Tory party to tear itself to pieces by delaying the end game now in progress and by Theresa May’s tactics of minimizing the damage done by lunatic Brexiteers by totally isolating them.

Certainly adopting a humiliating “deal” and refusing to let the people vote on it would keep the “omnishambles” running. But not for long. After such an “accidental” vote and the reaction to it, the necessary legislation would still not get through a Parliament that has a solid majority opposed to Brexit. Again, there would be an emergency reaction to the “accident”.

It is tempting to conclude from Sheridan’s latest prediction that it will be all over within a few days. The Tory party whip is no longer effective even for senior cabinet Ministers so it would be possible that a third motion to adopt the “deal” could still be put tomorrow after Theresa May has extracted the maximum humiliation from her Tory opponents by getting enough of them to publicly commit to voting for it. Then an amendment to make it “subject to confirmation by referendum” could be carried (or even accepted by the Government). The final motion would be overwhelming, would leave it up to the people and would totally isolate the Brexiteers.

But that scenario requires that the third “meaningful vote” is actually held soon, presumably based on enough Tory Brexiteers and some from Labour) having signed on to the “vassal state” deal based on agreeing that the “backstop” is acceptable with an agreement that it will apply to the entire UK rather than establishing separate regulations for Northern Ireland. Granted that they are even more unprincipled and stupid than Greg Sheridan, there are still two reasons to doubt that the vote will actually be held this week.

1. Sheridan said last weekend “May will submit her deal to the House of Commons for a third time next week”. This of course is not conclusive evidence that it won’t happen. Greg Sheridan probably believes the earth is not flat, yet he would be right about that. Still, it would be unusual for anything he expects about Brexit to actually happen.

2. The EU has started making preparations for BOTH a brief extension and a subsequent longer one. This suggests that people who are following events a lot more closely than I can, do think there is a serious possibility it won’t be all over this week. A decision tomorrow for a referendum would automatically result in a longer extension without a preceding short extension. Likewise a convincing decision for the “deal” without a referendum would automatically result in a short extension without a subsequent longer one. Only an “accident” or an ongoing deadlock could need both.

If a deadlocked vote is held this week and the deal is rejected again with no decision for a referendum, the UK will request a long extension to sort itself out. The natural EU response, already announced, would be to offer the extension conditional on a “credible reason”. With Labour plus an insufficient but large number of Tories having already joined the minor parties in proposing a referendum it could become obvious to anyone except Greg Sheridan what is needed for a “credible reason” to expect that a long delay would result in an actual decision.

There could be some back and forth but it would fairly quickly emerge that a referendum will be needed.

If anybody wanted to be fair, and to humiliate the Brexiteers further, the choice between Remain and vassal state BRINO would require a qualified majority to be binding. eg If BRINO wins with a larger majority than “Leave” in the previous referendum it is binding. If Remain wins with a larger majority than in the previous referendum that becomes binding. If either majority is not larger there was no result and the debate would then have “a long way to run” with alternative options during the long delay.

This would be “fair” to the hard Brexiteers who could simply campaign for a boycott as they would anyway.

Likewise it would be “fair” to advocates of other imaginary proposals.

But I doubt that any of the decision makers want to be “fair”. Apart from the hard Brexiteers they just want to get it over with as soon as they can be reasonably certain of the outcome not being anything that idiots like Sheridan would like.

Expel Anning from Senate

It is utterly pathetic that a join censure motion from all major parties will be debated on April 2.

That is the earliest date politicians could act without adding unnecessarily drama. But instead of acting they are merely denouncing.

He is plainly seeking to attract attention as a rallying point for neo-nazis. Denunciation without other measures only helps provide the notoriety.

Doubtful whether he could or should be prosecuted for what he said and that could help him get attention.

Casually expelling him from the Senate without fuss or ceremony is a gesture less likely to assist him.

Not much of a gesture since he will be out very shortly anyway.

But at least as useful as other gestures of solidarity against the mass murder of muslims by neo-nazis.

Requires amendment of Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 which abolished the power of either House to expel a member.

Simply add a section to the effect that notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this or any other legislation he is expelled forthwith.

Both houses meet immediately after April Fools day. Could be done by suspending standing orders etc and rushing it through both Houses without wasting more than a few minutes on voting, with GG standing by to proclaim it a few seconds later. A few seconds extra for him to attempt to say something and get ejected for whatever he says.

No need to worry about setting a precedent or getting overturned for unconstitutionality as he would be out anyway by the time he could get to Court.

Instead they are deliberately choosing to virtue signal while not actually doing anything against open mobilization for neo-nazi terrorism.

This must be taken seriously. It should be qute feasible for public outrage to force politicians to just shutup and act.