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.





2 thoughts on “Brexit – exhausting the alternatives

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s