Brexit – EU election results

UK results are slightly better than the final poll:

https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/crjeqkdevwvt/the-uks-european-elections-2019

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_European_Parliament_election_in_the_United_Kingdom

The “two parties” were defeated with Tories wiped out in 5th place and only 4 MEPs elected out of 73 total.

A similar result for Tories in General Election under First Past the Post voting would give them 0 MPs.

nge

R for Remain, L for Leave, M for Mainstream (“Two Parties” blithering)

1L. Brexit 31.6%. Major success but mainly at expense of Tories and a bit less than the final poll.

2R. LibDem 20.3%. Substantial increase mainly at expense of Labour

3M. Lab 14.1% disasterous collapse but not wipeout since likely to still be ahead of LibDems in a general election to win far more seats

4R. Green 12.09% substantial increase as part of general EU and worldwide revival of pagan faith

5M. Tory 9.09% wipeout

6R. Scottish National Party 3.6% (Scotland regional)

7R. Change UK 3.4% wipeout (0 seats, will merge with LibDems)

8R. Plaid Cymru 1.0% (Wales regional)

9L. UKIP 3.0% wipeout (0 seats)

NORTHERN IRELAND has preferential system (Single Transferable Vote like Australian Senate).

First preference numbers for each of the three candidates elected shown instead of party %.

Quota for election was 143,122. Turnout higher at 45.14%

R Sinn Fein, 126,951

M Democratic Unionist Party 124,991 (effectively prefers Remain to the only deal available but would have liked to Leave)

R Alliance 105,928

UK Turnout: 17,199,701 Percentage: 36.9% Change:

This is a smaller increase in turnout than expected (and lower than rest of EU).

Presumably a lot of Labour and Tory voters just stayed home rather than vote against their parties. If so, they would turn up again in a general election. The difference is that the Tories are likely to be outnumbered by Brexit party in most Tory seats while Labour would only be outnumbered by LibDems or Greens in some of their seats.

I haven’t seen any data on that kind of analysis.

Summary

Wikipedia summarizes (using different terms and slightly different numbers from above) as:

R Remain 41.02%

L Leave with no deal 34.2%

M Pretend to Leave with the available Withdrawal Agreement 9.9% (ie Tories but includes DUP despite it being effectively Remain)

M Pretend to be willing to Leave with a (mythical) Withdrawal Agreement or referendum 13.65% (Labour)

Both Remain and Leave each outnumber the two party “Mainstream”, with Remain larger than Leave an overwhelming majority against pretending to Leave and a large 65% majority against leaving with “No Deal”.

The 2016 Brexit referendum had a much larger turnout 33,577,342 votes, 72%.

So the EU election results are not a clear indication of how a second referendum would go.

But the Parliamentary situation that was previously just obvious is now blindingly obvious.

It is no longer possible to seriously pretend that there are options available other than Remain or Leave with No Deal.

No matter who the Tory leader is they are stuffed and so is Brexit.

Any attempt at “No Deal” will result in majority support for a “No Confidence” vote supported by senior Tory cabinet Ministers that will either result in a minority Government or a general election that will wipe out the Tory party under the current voting system.

The only other option is a referendum, which Labour will have to support even if it is in government.

The only deal possible would be rejected at a referendum.

Things may drag on for greater certainty about the outcome of a referendum, but if the Tories had any sense they would establish a Proportional Representation voting system and accept a general election while they still have a chance of continuing to exist.

So far there is no sign that they do have any sense. But I still don’t rule out a sudden concentration of their minds on the prospect of imminent non-existance resulting in some sense.

As far as I can make out there has been a less dramatic increase in strength for the far right in most of EU (with regional exceptions).

But that still leaves a two-thirds centrist majority overall (in a legislature with very little say compared with the representatives of national governments). Still, there is developing a certain level of “union” political party alignments rather than merely “federal” and there is now a major mass movement in support of the Union in the UK.

UK position is actually less clearly towards far right as Brexit party campaigned on implementing referendum rather than against immigrants as they did in previous incarnation as UKIP.

As a curiosity, Spiked went all out with the rest of the Murdoch press in support of the Brexit party.

Here’s their hilarious explanation that people who don’t think the Brexit party wiping out the Tories changes the fact that more voters supported “Remain” than “Leave” are “delusional”.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/05/27/this-is-not-a-victory-for-the-brexit-party/

Spiked quite correctly adds the UKIP to the Brexit party votes as “Leave”.

But then adds Tory votes as well! If the Tory party wanted to Leave they would have left.

Why not add in Labour too? They also said they wanted to implement the referendum decision to leave.

The whole point of Spiked’s campaign was (quite accurately) that both Tories and Labour were not going to implement the referendum decision to Leave (because it was based on bullshit, but that is a different issue). Now, to prove that Brexit won and anybody who thinks otherwise is delusional they count votes for the party that failed to deliver the imaginary Brexit as votes in favour of a real Brexit that was never supported at the referendum and was rejected by most voters at the EU elections. I guess it is easy to convince oneself of this stuff after being outraged at the very idea of another referendum as a “betrayal of democracy”.

What the Brexit party has done is cut through the bullshit and made it clear both that the choice is between “Remain” and “No Deal” and that the two party system is completely disfunctional. Spiked could take credit for that instead of coming up with delusional bullshit that a choice was made for “No Deal” either at the referendum when Leave supporters pretended a deal retaining all the benefits of EU membership would be easy or now when they have abandoned that pretence and their more honest position has been rejected by a large majority.

Brexit – near end game

Final YouGov poll before EU elections this week, weighted by declared intention to actually vote:

Brexit party + UKIP 40%

“The mainstream” 20% (Lab 13%, Tory 7%)

Remain parties (LibDem, Greens, Change, Scots, Welsh) 39%

https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/05/21/european-parliament-voting-intention-brex-37-lab-1

This will be seen as a major victory for Brexit party but still leaves a clear 60% opposed to a “No Deal” Brexit as well as an overwhelming majority, including the Brexit party and the “mainstream” as well as the Remain parties against the only available deal.

That isn’t yet a comfortable majority for a referendum to end Brexit so it could still drag on. But it certainly isn’t a majority for Brexit.

My impression is that May’s latest “10 point” proposal is pretty close to the end.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pms-speech-on-new-brexit-deal-21-may-2019

The reports I’ve seen focus on its general rejection by various MPs as meaningless and yet another sign she is hopeless.

But it strikes me as a further major step towards a referendum. Up to now a second referendum or “Final Say” has only been advocated by minor parties and Labour MPs with Corbyn remaining ambiguous and May resolutely opposed. By offering a “binding vote” on whether to hold a referendum (while not making it part of the Bill) May has signalled that it is now inevitable. The reports mention that Cabinet refused to make it part of the Bill as they cannot countenance the Tory party having surrendered on what it undertook to prevent by actually proposing a second referendum themselves. But all that means is it will eventually be moved as an amendment, which most Tory MPs can vote against, but will still be carried “against their will”.

When, remains unclear. But I honestly don’t understand why it is being reported as though much else about the situation remains unclear.

The remaining interesting twists in the end game are whether a threat of a general election will be used to get this done, or whether an actual snap general election will be held to avoid Boris Johnson becoming Tory leader and whether Proportional Representation will be introduced.

The speech is clearly aimed at openly threatening rejection of her proposal will inevitably result in either a general election or a referendum and squarely blaming May’s opponents in the Tory party for the consequences. There is nothing either implausible or “meaningless” about that. Boris Johnson should at this point be aware that he has been defeated. There is no way that I am aware of that a majority of the Tory party or of cabinet could prevent a general election two weeks after a no confidence motion. There would be no possibility of changing Tory party rules to remove May or to hold a membership vote for Boris Johnson as the next Tory leader in such an “emergency”. All May’s supporters need to do is not turn up when a Remain supporter moves no confidence and Labour whips for it. That option means obliteration for the Tory party but has been openly threatened by its current leader. The other easier option would be a referendum so I still expect that and am still hopeful about PR.

But the pretence Brexit is still a live possibility should now be ended by May’s signal of accepting a second referendum.

The pretence ought to have ended months ago. Although even Greg Sheridan has shut up lately, I won’t attempt to guess how long after the EU elections they will continue bleating about the Brexit party’s (quite real) success before grasping that they just don’t have a majority for any form of Brexit.

With only 7% of the vote for the Tory party against 37% for Brexit party the Tory party really does face extinction at the next general election. So I still expect PR to become a live issue, though there is no sign of it yet.

Brexit – could it result in Proportional Representation?

More than a month ago, 11 April, I predicted the present situation (which had basically “already happened”).

Brexit party led by Farage will do well and Tory party will be severely damaged. Both pro and anti-Brexit wings of Labour will have to run on a campaign which commits to a “Final Say” referendum. There will be a big turnout of Remain voters and clear majority for Remain.

Yesterday I wrote:

Update is that Tories are closer to being “wiped out” than just “severely damaged” and Brexit party is doing even better than I expected, well ahead of Labour and Tories combined, not just ahead of Tories.

A poll on May 13 had Tories in fifth place!

1. Brexit 34%

2. Labour 16%

3. Liberal Democrats 15%

4. Greens 11%

5. Tories 10%

That is because the pro-Brexit wing of Labour, led by Corbyn, has so far NOT run a campaign which commits to a “Final Say” referendum.

So as well as losing 12% of all Labour voters to the Brexit party, Corbyn is also losing another 57% of Labour “Remain” voters to other “Remain” parties (Liberal Democrats et al) leaving it with only 40% of the “Remain” voters it had at the last general election.

Actually the Labour party is following these tactics in the correct belief that humiliation by the Brexit party and minor “Remain” parties in the EU elections based on proportional representation is a small price to pay for the damage done to the Tories at the next general election under the current electoral system. I am surprised that they have been able to stick to this stand for so long, but if they are able to sustain it they are more likely to form a government after the next general election than if they do not.

Today’s news is that Labour has not been able to stick to this stand and have now broken of negotiations with the Tories the same day as they dropped to third place behind the LibDems. So they still have a week in which to campaign for a “Final Say” referendum and recover some of the votes lost to the LibDems.

Whether Labour succeeds in the EU elections or not it looks like the Tories have no hope of preventing a Labour led government in the next general election. The best they can do is hope it will be a minority government, which Labour is now trying to avoid by clawing back some of its supporters.

Either way, under the present electoral system the Tory party is in real danger of being replaced by the Brexit party. But the Labour party is in no real danger of being displaced by the LibDems and  others as Brexit will be over by the next general election and Labour will have delivered a “Final Say” without losing as many of its “Leave” supporters as the Tories have lost.

But will the present electoral system survive the collapse of mainstream politics?

The two party system is the inevitable result of anachronistic single member electorates that remained for centuries after national parties had developed because the UK Parliament was formed centuries before democracy was established, when politics was still a matter of representating local rather than national “constituencies”. Other english speaking countries like Australia have inherited the same anachronism. Throughout Europe national elections, as well as those for the European Parliament, are held on a system of representing national parties proportionately that was established together with democracy.

The current mess creates a real opportunity. It is always hard to get rid of an electoral system because the politicians elected under it consider it delivers a satisfactory outcome while those excluded cannot just vote to change it.

Right now in the UK we have a major national decision about to be resolved decisively by the fact that the supporters of Brexit will get less than 40% of the vote in a proportional system. The failed attempt at Brexit has now produced the only significant mass movement in support of the EU in Europe!

At the same time more than half the members of the current Parliament have a direct stake in getting rid of the anachronistic two party system. The Tory party currently has nearly half the seats and faces being replaced by the Brexit party and becoming just another minor rump party under the present electoral system.

No matter how inept they are they will have plenty of time to contemplate their predicament between the EU elections this month and the next British general election. Nothing concentrates the mind so much as imminent non-existance!

The minor parties naturally already support PR. Together with the Brexit party they now represent not only far more voters than the old “two parties” combined, but also a large absolute majority. (Today’s YouGov poll, Labour 15%, Tories 9% total 24% others THREE TIMES their total!).

Only the Labour party has a direct interest in retaining the present system. As well as having only a minority of MPs they are in fact badly split and would have real difficulty uniting against PR.

Even if the minor parties are all total wimps there should be little need to even get insurrectionary about it. Just huffing and puffing should be enough for a 75% majority to bring the two party system down in the UK.

There has to be either a referendum or a general election decided on before the next EU deadline of October 31.

In other recent news, Prime Minister May won’t discuss a timetable for electing a replacement Tory leader until after vote on Withdrawal Agreement Bill in early June. But that is presumably when an amendment will be proposed to call a referendum which should aim for a decision before the end of October. So there would be little time for a membership vote to elect a replacement leader for that campaign so it might just be necessary for Tory MPs to take the decision entirely themselves.

Then there is the problem of a possible switch to Proportional Representation. This could also come up when discussing whether a general election could resolve a parliamentary deadlock. If that occurs it ought to be followed by an immediate general election, even more urgently requiring a replacement leader.

If there is an orderly timetable for a membership vote, the charlatan Boris Johnson would be likely to win whereas Tory MPs would reject him. So my guess is that May is not likely to facilitate an orderly timetable and more likely to resign for a snap election after establishing at least a referendum and/or PR.

Things will drag on for a bit longer in Australia but the voters are already treating tomorrow’s national elections with an equanimity bordering on contempt.

It’s way past time for another campaign to vote for “Neither”.

 

 

 

 

Brexit – Remain still winning, as is Labour

A few weeks ago I said:

UKIP now led by far right thugs will be largely wiped out. Brexit party led by Farage will do well and Tory party will be severely damaged. Both pro and anti-Brexit wings of Labour will have to run on a campaign which commits to a “Final Say” referendum. There will be a big turnout of Remain voters and clear majority for Remain.

Update is that Tories are closer to being “wiped out” than just “severely damaged” and Brexit party is doing even better than I expected, well ahead of Labour and Tories combined, not just ahead of Tories.

A poll on May 13 had Tories in fifth place!

1. Brexit 34%

2. Labour 16%

3. Liberal Democrats 15%

4. Greens 11%

5. Tories 10%

https://www.reuters.com/article/britain-eu/british-pm-mays-conservatives-slump-to-fifth-place-ahead-of-eu-election-yougov-poll-idUSL9N227004

That is because the pro-Brexit wing of Labour, led by Corbyn, has so far NOT run on a campaign which commits to a “Final Say” referendum.

So as well as losing 12% of all Labour voters to the Brexit party, Corbyn is also losing another 57% of Labour “Remain” voters to other “Remain” parties (Liberal Democrats et al) leaving it with only 40% of the “Remain” voters it had at the last general election.

These figures are reported by the Guardian as:

The polls are clear – Labour’s Brexit tactics are failing spectacularly

The party is haemorrhaging votes in the mistaken belief that the leave tendency is driven by its working-class base

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/16/labour-brexit-remain-voters-european-elections

Actually the Labour party is following these tactics in the correct belief that humiliation by the Brexit party and minor “Remain” parties in the EU elections based on proportional representation is a small price to pay for the damage done to the Tories at the next general election under the current electoral system. I am surprised that they have been able to stick to this stand for so long, but if they are able to sustain it they are more likely to form a government after the next general election than if they do not.

The reason is simple, with single member electorates, as in Australia, there will be far less Labour seats lost to minor “Remain” parties than Tory seats lost to the Brexit party and to Labour. It will still end up a basically two party system. Even if Labour can only govern in coalition with minor remain parties there will be very little chance of anybody else being able to form a government. Although LibDems and others have benefited spectacularly from Labour’s tactics, once the Brexit issue is over many of those voters punishing Labour for its ambiguity will return to it and those who don’t will still not be represented in proportion to their numbers as long as Labour is larger than the others.

However the damage being done to the Tories is so great that they might decide to introduce proportional representation to avoid becoming just another irrelevant minor party displaced by the Brexit party. No sign of this yet, except that Farage is aiming for that result and there is plenty of time for the Tories to focus their minds on the reality of their predicament between the EU elections and the next general election.

It would be a positive step towards breakup of the two party system despite the fact that the immediate effect will be more long term representation for right wingers like Farage.

As for the effect on Brexit, displacement of the Tories by the Brexit party will not change the overall impact of a large swing towards Remain parties in the EU elections (with the Brexiteers accurately portraying both Tories and Labour as Remain parties despite their pretences). Being the largest party will not make the Brexit party a majority on its issue – Brexit. The figures above are essentially 34% for a “No Deal” Brexit with the rest against (and a more overwhelming majority, including the Brexit party, against the only deal available – the Withdrawal Agreement).

All other developments remain on track as predicted – there are no alternatives emerging that avoid the stark choice between “No Deal” and “No Brexit” and the only decision that can result will be to put it to a referendum, where the Withdrawal Agreement would be defeated, as would “No Deal”. Dragging out negotiations for a “customs union” is upsetting party supporters on both sides but mainly damaging the Tories in their existential battle with the Brexit party.

Here’s another comment from the Guardian just not getting it:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/16/labour-brexit-party-european-elections-nigel-farage

Brexit – “Remain has won”

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu/eu-offers-pm-may-brexit-pause-to-october-31-idUKKCN1RM0LR

Comment by Tory MP on hearing this news: “Remain has won”.

Brexit extension to October 31 with UK participating in European elections. Details here

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/39043/10-euco-art50-decision-en.pdf

1. UK will participate in European elections at end of next month, immediately after the celebrations for the birthday of St Rita, patron saint of impossible causes.

2. UK Independence Party previously led by Nigel Farage was largest UK party in European parliament followed by smaller Labour and Tory parties in elections based on proportional representation within regions similar to Australian Senate. Very low turnout that was mainly of people annoyed with EU since others didn’t care. UKIP now led by far right thugs will be largely wiped out. Brexit party led by Farage will do well and Tory party will be severely damaged. Both pro and anti-Brexit wings of Labour will have to run on a campaign which commits to a “Final Say” referendum. There will be a big turnout of Remain voters and clear majority for Remain.

3. Customs Union supported by Corbyn won’t be accepted by May. Even if went through Parliament cannot change Withdrawal Agreement.

4. Only remaining option is the Withdrawal Agreement being subjected to a “Final Say” confirmatory referendum. New October 31 deadline allows adequate time for referendum and inadequate time for anything else to emerge.

5. No chance of referendum accepting withdrawal agreement opposed by both “Leave” and “Remain”. Lots of Leave* voters will not turn up.

6. Further details murky but Remain has won.

Some earlier discussions among Tories are rather interesting.

https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2019/04/james-arnell-a-second-referendum-is-now-brexiteers-best-chance-of-getting-what-they-want.html

https://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2019/04/does-the-conservative-party-have-enough-money-to-fight-a-european-election-campaign.html

https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2019/04/lord-ashcroft-the-space-for-a-new-party-isnt-just-in-the-centre-of-politics.html

That last item has important information on likelihood of new parties emerging. There is a real possibility of the proportional representation being introduced by the Tories before the next general election as they face near extinction under the present system.

Naturally the precise timing and details of the twists and turns between now and the already known end result cannot be predicted with any certainty.

I am using an unusual grammatical tense that descriibes an inevitable future as though it is already present – as with Marx’s:

Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch32.htm

Or the road runner “runs of the cliff and crashes to the ground” as caption to a long scene in which legs are spinning in mid air at the same height as the top of the cliff with no downwards movement and no crash – yet.

Or “the US Democrats and liberal media focus on exposing the Trump as a Kremlin asset and when that doesn’t work out well for them go for changing the climate by printing money and lose bigly”.

Does anyone know the name of this grammatical tense? Perhaps “future present”?

PS Trump’s 51% approval to 47% disapproval does not seem to be an outlier. Same for three of the last four days Rasmussen polls of likely voters. For 9 April it was 53% to 45%.

PPS (sigh) * Fixed typo “Lots of Remain voters won’t turn up”.

Note: added 2019-04-12

There is a significant difference between the texts of the widely reported EU27 meeting’s “conclusion” linked above and the final text agreed by the EU28 including the UK concerning participation of the European Parliament elections:

https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/XT-20006-2019-INIT/en/pdf

EU28 decision European Council decision taken in agreement with the United Kingdom, extending the period under Article 50(3)TEU

(10) …In the event that those elections do not take place in the United Kingdom, the extension should cease on 31 May 2019.

EU27 conclusion:

(3) If the United Kingdom fails to live up to this obligation, the withdrawal will take place on 1 June 2019.

Presumably the change to a milder tone was requested by the UK Government to emphasize that the UK does not need to be threatended to comply with its legal obligations and participation in the European election was forced on them by a recalcitrant Parliament rather than by the EU.

Theoretically it opens up the possibility of Brexiteers further demonstrating their intransigence by trying to prevent acceptance of any statutory instruments needed to hold the elections under UK law rather than under an order to comply with European Union law from the European Court of Justice.

Of course the actual result of doing so would not be a “no deal” exit on 1 June, but another demonstration of their isolation and impotence.

Still, they are not known for tactical brilliance and it is interesting that, so far as I know, there has been no attention paid to the milder decision, than the widespread assumption from the conclusion that a hard Brexit on 1 June would be fully automatic if the UK did not comply with its legal obligations.

Brexit – from blustering and blithering to outright gibbering

Greg Sheridan seemed to have shut up for a few days after another specacular failure to get anything at all right about Brexit.

Previously he thought a “no deal” Brexit and “no Brexit” were equally likely. Then he just said only one thing was certain, Brexit “has a long way to run”.

Yesterday (Wednesday 2019-04-03) he returned to the fray. Now he thinks “there is a real prospect of a general election”.

She (the Prime Minister) hopes these threats (of a general election) will get her thrice -rejected deal over the line, on the fourth or fifth try.

He got that out just in time to be proved wrong the very next day.

In the same issue of The Australian, Janet Albrechtsen at least had the sense to not make stupid predictions. She doesn’t mention that her side has lost, but does tacitly indicate awareness of the real situation by fantasizing about the past instead of the present or future:

May’s other infernal error was not preparing the ground from the start for a no-deal Brexit. Given almost three-quarters of MPs voted to remain, May should have anticipated mayhem in Westminster. By banking on a no-deal Brexit she could better have forced agreement from remoaners….

May offered no explanations … of how a no-deal Brexit can, in the longer term, deliver a thriving UK, untethered from European bureaucracy and rules, trading independently like a Singapore of the north.

Albrechtsen is vastly more intelligent and perceptive than Greg Sheridan (to damn her with faint praise). But even if she believes that “untethered” stuff herself, she ought to understand that May, like most of the British establishment, does not share her views. Why does she imagine that the UK Prime Minister, who was one of the three-quarters of MPs who voted to remain, would try a “forced agreement” from three-quarters against the view she shares with them rather than carefully and systematically isolating the one-quarter whose policy she opposed (who unfortunately comprise about half of her own party)?

Nearly two years ago, after the last UK general election I wrote the first article in this series:

https://c21stleft.com/2017/06/11/no-soft-brexit/

Even the Economist is blithering that May’s campaign for a hard Brexit has been rejected but there are no grounds to reverse the referendum result.

My recollection is that May opposed Brexit and was given the job of recovering from Cameron’s blunder. She was forced to abandon the pretence that Britain could become the only member of the single market that did not comply with free movement of labor. There never was an option for “soft Brexit” nor any preparations for a “hard Brexit”.

So I assume there will now have to be a second referendum to cancel Brexit. The only reason I think this might be worth mentioning is that none of the articles I have read agree.

I documented subsequent twists and turns heading inexorably towards this outcome in detail under the same category heading here:

https://c21stleft.com/category/brexit/

Nearly two years later, some journalists have started to notice what has certainly been blindingly obvious for weeks and months, if not for more than a year.

Even CNN now mentions:

Senior figures in both main parties raised the prospect of a second referendum to obtain the British public’s backing for any deal — and to offer the choice of remaining in the EU.

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/03/uk/brexit-no-deal-bill-yvette-cooper-theresa-may-gbr-intl/index.html

In fact this item basically gets it right:

“The Brexit dream might be fading”

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/03/uk/brexit-no-deal-vote-may-corbyn-talks-intl-gbr/index.html

I had “Brexit Danger Fading” last year:

https://c21stleft.com/2018/11/19/brexit-danger-fading/

Different perspective and less certain, but CNN is now reaching roughly the same conclusion nearly 6 months later.

But of course another item at CNN just blithers:

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/04/uk/brexit-may-signs-of-optimism-gbr-intl/index.html

Accusations of incompetence are levied at her by the hour.
However, it is just about possible to see that the prime minister may finally get her own way on Brexit — with a few tweaks. Ironically, this could be happening in the same manner she won the contest to become prime minister nearly three years ago — due to all other contenders falling by the wayside.

Firstly, lawmakers fighting for a soft Brexit deal lost a crucial vote yesterday. The motion to allow a third opportunity to hold indicative votes on alternatives to May’s Brexit deal was defeated by just one vote.
The original vote was a tie, and as a result the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, had the casting vote and went with the government. Lawmakers had already had two chances to back alternative options and could not reach a majority on anything. That route is now closed off, making May’s deal more likely.

[Actually it had become pointless since May had agreed to present options to Parliament and abide by the outcome.]

Secondly, the prime minister has embarked on a new strategy of seeking consensus with the opposition Labour party, through talks with its leader Jeremy Corbyn, which could lead to her normally rebellious Brexiteer MPs (members of Parliament) coming round to her deal….
From May’s point of view, she can use these talks to pursue a double-game: Show soft Brexit and remain-supporting lawmakers that she wants to build a more moderate consensus, but also scare Brexiteers into backing her original deal out of fear of something “worse.” Those two ministerial resignations were triggered by that Brexiteer anger.

[Ignores the fact that lots of Tory Remainers who voted for the deal when they could rely on Brexiteers to block it would join them and Labour to vote against their party whip if that became necessary. A dozen did so recently on the vote that was almost tied even though it wasn’t necessary. The Brexiteer anger is about knowing that they have lost.]

Thirdly, a no deal is becoming increasingly unlikely — meaning, again, May’s deal emerges as a stronger possibility.

[She already convinced Rees Mogg and Boris Johnson that they would never get “no deal”. That still left 58 votes short despite them humiliating themselves. Only some journalists have actually believed “no deal” was still possible since then (though others may still pretend).]

Mentions referendum only as something opposed by both May and Corbyn. Doesn’t mention that May has no other options left and that Corbyn would lose his seat as well as his leadership if he allowed a Brexit agreeement without a referendum since his party and constituency are overwhelmingly for a “Final Say” vote.

Some useful background on Corbyn’s position is in this New Statesmen article although expressed as congratulations to him for his wise choice in accepting having been defeated by Labour Remain supporters.

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2019/04/tories-self-destruct-over-brexit-jeremy-corbyn-s-new-stance-has-been-vindicated

The Guardian, is also hopeful that there is now a “slim chance” for a referendum. (Presumably their campaign for it was in the same spirit of utter hopelessness as with climate change or “Not In Our Name” rather than intending to win).

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/03/may-corbyn-brexit-talks-solution-mps-final-say

The BBC maintains its more traditional “wobbly lower lip” focus on “sticking points” blithering about various reasons why an agreement would be unlikely with no mention of a referendum:

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47799848

The latest developments include the government and opposition agreeing to work for an extension that will require UK participation in EU elections and passage of a (basically pointless) Bill requiring the government to seek that extension from the EU.

That makes it pretty hard to just keep on blustering and blithering about any other possibility than a referendum on the “deal”. So now we get outright gibbering.

Here’s WAPO’s gibbering:

It leaves the country in an extremely perilous situation. The government’s latest wheeze, expressed in a statement from May on Tuesday night, is to extend Article 50 again and try to bring opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn on board to see if they can find a deal that works for both Labour and the Conservatives.

But even this attempt, which shows an openness the prime minister has not exhibited before, faces the same problems: If the plan does not include a People’s Vote, Corbyn loses a chunk of his supporters, inside and outside Parliament. If it includes a soft Brexit, those People’s Vote types still won’t support it, and May loses most of her own party in the bargain. Whichever way you look at it, political puritanism makes the mathematics of a Brexit majority hard to imagine.

The country is stuck, frozen in indecision. Parliament is reenacting the end of “Reservoir Dogs.” And still the clock ticks mercilessly down. Puritanism has provided no answers whatsoever, except pain and failure. Unless MPs quickly rediscover Britain’s tradition of pragmatism, things are about to get very ugly indeed.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/04/03/brexit-has-turned-british-politics-into-zombie-horror-movie/?utm_term=.f982009bc291

That spells out very precisely the mathematics of a Brexit majority, which have been obvious for a very long time. Instead of the last paragraph one would expect a simple conclusion following the second paragraph:

“Therefore the most likely outcome is a “Final Say” People’s Vote on the Withdrawal Agreement already negotiated with the EU”.

At the very least one would expect an analyst who disagrees with that rather natural conclusion to explain why not. Instead they just gibber.

Here’s The Economist with more measured gibbering, but likewise spelling out the positions that point to the obvious compromise but resolutely ignoring the implied most likely outcome without any attempt to explain why.

https://www.economist.com/britain/2019/04/03/can-theresa-may-and-jeremy-corbyn-compromise-on-brexit

Here’s Nick Miller gibbering in today’s The Age, under headline ‘Unity’ Brexit bid reeks of failure:

No mention at all of the most likely outcome, even to explain why he thinks it is not worth mentioning. Instead:

Apart from anything else, the UK still has the power to unilaterally revoke Brexit if, at the last, that is seen as a better option than plunging off the cliff of a “no-deal” Brexit.

And this all may have been a cunning plan by May to focus Brexiteer minds on the alternatives, swinging them behind her original deal.

If not, all May’s announcement on Tuesday may have achieved is spreading the blame for a no-deal disaster on April 12.

https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/was-this-a-brexit-breakthrough-frankly-it-smells-more-like-fudge-20190403-p51a6e.html

Its hard to understand what is going on, but somehow the politicians who kept insisting that they must avoid participating in the European elections (next month) because it would spell out the end of Brexit bullshit, have still not admitted that is precisely what will now happen.

Officially, the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition are negotiating how to achieve a short extension until the birthday of St Rita, patron saint of impossible causes, which is May 22, the day before European elections so that the UK won’t have to take part. The political parties and the electoral commission are officially only making “contingency” preparations for actually holding the elections because current law says the UK will not be in the EU then as the current exit date of April 12 has not yet been changed.

But the EU already specified and has repeatedly reminded everyone that any extension beyond April 12 will require participation in the elections.

So everyone actually following the Brexit saga does know. Here’s the details:

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2019/03/holding-european-parliament-elections-easier-mps-think

But that doesn’t stop them from simply not mentioning it and pretending they are working towards an exit before May 22.

It ought to stop anybody else from believing the pretence. But it certainly hasn’t stopped them from gibbering.

Details of the drama requiring the Prime Minister to seek an extension she has already admitted to needing are here:

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8541

If in fact the Government wished to defy both overwhelming votes and basic survival instincts by not requesting an extension the Bill would have no effect. It would simply be refused assent or more politely, not presented for assent in time. It is reasonable to assume the House of Lords will be able to adopt it in time, even if they have to stay up all night, as they are about two to one in favour of doing so. But cabinet ought to refuse assent anyway, just to remind people that responsible and accountable government requires a Parliament to confer confidence only on Ministries that it supports rather than issuing daily instructions on precisely what motions a Ministry it has no confidence in must propose in Parliament. That would also add some drama right up to the last moment this Wednesday, which is hardly sustainable by merely spouting gibberish.

The only point of the Bill is that it has provided a convenient way to avoid more embarassing displays of Parliamentary impotence with “indicative votes” instead of no confidence and a general election.

Theoretically it could also have had the effect of getting journalists to stop gibbering about the consequences of “no deal”. Its too soon to tell but I doubt they can stop. For example, instead of just explaining that the Bill is a distraction, we get expert gibberish arguing that it is also “dangerous” as it could add to the (imaginary) danger of “no deal”.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/03/cooper-letwin-brexit-no-deal-distraction

Here’s a collection of philosophers gibbering learnedly about the democratic solution to Brexit:

https://iai.tv/articles/what-is-the-most-democratic-way-to-solve-the-brexit-crisis-auid-1225

Only the last of them has a clue:

Silete theologi in munere alieno!” (Trans: “Silence, theologian, where you do not belong!) -Gentili (Italian humanist lawyer telling the Papists just where they get off, 1588 AD).

Of course nothing can ever be certain.

Especially when The Economist manages to make even their call for a referendum indecipherable by tacking it on at the end of some stream of consciousness gibberish:

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/04/04/theresa-may-takes-a-step-in-the-right-direction-on-brexit

This may be the result of alarm about the collapse of mainstream politics into a far right nationalist populist Tory party against a pseudo-left populist Labour party. A plausible description of that is here:

https://www.economist.com/britain/2019/04/04/the-tories-are-transforming-into-a-party-of-populist-nationalism

But it seems safe to say that when the PM and Opposition Leader agree on the obvious this will appear to the gullible as miraculous as pulling a rabbit out of a hat after first having put it there while misdirecting the audience to look the other way.

Here’s the Director of an “Institute for the Public Understanding of Politics” using exactly that expression about rabbits and hats to express his confidently and expertly helping the public understand that he does not have a clue:

https://theconversation.com/all-too-hard-understanding-brexit-theresa-may-and-the-british-humiliation-114644

Its interesting that he has essentially the same incomprehension of May’s successful tactics as Janet Albrechtson. But being on the opposite side he blames Theresa May for having gone “too hard” instead of “not hard enough”.

It takes real skill to convince all one’s opponents that they are much smarter than you are while defeating them.

Brexit blustering and blithering

I had better post this now. Cabinet meetings are now being livestreamed to a Financial Times journalist who just tweeted at 2200 Melbourne time:

Political cabinet is discussing how to try and get the Brexit deal through the Commons. One option to be discussed is whether it could get through with Labour votes if a confirmatory referendum was tacked on. Surprisingly little hope of getting of the DUP back on board.

https://mobile.twitter.com/SebastianEPayne/status/1113038561924845568

Here’s what I drafted before seeing above.

It isn’t just Australian journalists demonstrating complete incomprehension about Brexit.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s representative at Brexit negotiations just announced that a no-deal Brexit is “nearly inevitable”. This is a substantial escalation from the usual vaguely menacing talk of “increasingly likely with each day”, which accurately describes a slow increase from 0 over the 10 days till latest revised deadline.

The other deadline for an orderly exit on 22 May, birthday of St Rita, the patron saint of impossible causes, has already gone. So the likelihood does indeed increase daily from near 0 now to 100% on April 12 if there has been no decision to participate in the European elections by April 12. But it remains close to zero since the UK Government has made it absolutely clear it will do whatever it takes to avoid crashing out without a deal, as endorsed by an overwhelmingly majority of the House of Commons. It only jumps suddenly to 100% if that last day arrives without a decision to participate in the European elections and request for a postponement.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_of_Cascia

Ireland has made no preparations for a no deal Brexit because they have a good understanding of British politics. Angela Merkel is dropping by to urge them to at least join in the pretence of being worried. But why should they?

It is natural for EU as well as UK politicians to be striking dramatic poses for the journalists and equally natural for journalists to be joining in the dramatization.

But surely there would be some British journalists with analysis pointing out the obvious. Even though Australian journalists are fully clueless, why wouldn’t some British journalist want the kudos of having got it right?

It is pretty hard to maintain the drama under a headline that reminds everyone that a long postponement is available instead of a “no deal” crash by simply calling a general election or a referendum and explains that the EU would be even happier with ANY of the softer BRINOs considered in Parliament than it is with the deal already agreed:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-delay-barnier-article-50-extend-general-election-theresa-may-a8850371.html

Since “no deal”, a general election and ANY of the softer BRINOs under consideratin would be immensely damaging to the governing party the remaining option of a referendum on their version of BRINO is a foregone conclusion. But as far as I am aware NOBODY ELSE IS SAYING SO.

Here’s The Guardian’s inimitable Simon Jenkins fantasizing:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/01/common-sense-customs-union-theresa-may-cross-party

The “Leave”campaign is too busy being outraged to actually explain that they have lost.

The “People’s Vote” campaign is too busy whipping up fear of “no deal” to explain that they have won.

This news item is relatively sane:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-news-second-referendum-peoples-vote-theresa-may-commons-a8850401.html

It accurately reports facts about aspects of the referendum “compromise” that is being prepared. But it doesn’t actually analyse by explaining that the idea of cabinet accepting a referendum on customs union is sheer fantasy and the whole point of the exercise is that cabinet will inevitably have to agree that the only way for the deal they want to be even considered is via a referendum.

Here’s a roundup of the blustering and blithering from The Independent:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-news-live-theresa-may-no-deal-cabinet-vote-debate-election-a8850266.html

Here’s the BBC blithering:

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-46393399

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-47783127

Here’s The Guardian’s roundup of European incomprehension:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/02/wholesale-slaughter-of-brexit-continues-eu-papers-reach-for-the-apocalyptic

Finally, here’s the Guardian’s live stream including above tweet:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2019/apr/02/brexit-latest-news-live-cabinet-theresa-may-barnier-says-extending-article-50-again-to-help-uk-would-pose-significant-risks-to-eu-live-news