Archive for the 'BREXIT' Category


With or without EU, will anybody follow Le Royaume-Uni’s lead?

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

This market on which countries will leave the EU by the end of 2025 from Paddy Power on first inspection seems like an excellent way to contribute to the Paddy Power bonus fund.

In terms of disasters for the United Kingdom a no deal Brexit is to picture the Hindenburg meets Chernobyl meets the fall of Singapore meets Solo: A Star Wars Story.

I’m not sure any country will be in a hurry to repeat Brexit, particularly those countries in the Eurozone. If you thought leaving just the Single Market and Customs Union was difficult just imagine leaving the Euro at the same time as well.

For example the 14/1 on France seems like an effective proxy on the Front National winning the 2022 French Presidential election, I’m not keen, ditto the 5/1 on Italy.

The one option I’m tempted to back is Hungary at 20/1. Following the contretemps in recent weeks involving the EU and Hungary it isn’t hard to see the situation escalating, particularly with Russia taking such a close interest in Hungarian affairs  and Hungary seeming intent to ignore all the norms that make a country a vibrant democracy.

With Brexit  delivered Hungary will lose Tory support inside the EU, Orban and Hungary will become even more isolated, but this is a market where I wish Paddy Power offered a no country, after the UK,  shall leave by 2025 option.



Six Impossible Things Before Brexit

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

With six months to go, the ultimate denouement of Brexit looks as murky as ever.  That hasn’t stopped plenty of people trying to peer through the vapours.  If you are going to speculate, go right ahead, but it’s probably best not base your speculations on things that are downright wrong.  So let’s take a stroll past some of the more common misconceptions.

1) If Britain proposes something different (whether a recantation or a hardening of stance), the EU won’t necessarily accept it

Perhaps Salzburg will have despatched this particular misconception once and for all.  I doubt it though.  British political junkies of all stripes have for years put forward preferred plans on the basis that the moment they are espoused, they will be achieved.  Leavers seem to have mislaid the easiest deal in human history, yet still keep coming up with new ideas that they assume would glide past the EU side.  The optimism is commendable, if of murky origins. 

The latest variant is that Britain would go for no deal Brexit, and then magically negotiate lots of mini-deals with the EU to keep the show on the road in most practical aspects.  It’s far from clear whether there is time for those mini-deals or whether there is real agreement between the two sides on what the mini-deals should contain.

Remain supporters have been at least as guilty of this misconception as Leave supporters, assuming that they would automatically get a fairer hearing.  The EU has indicated that if Britain were to repent, it would take it back.  I’m far from convinced in practice that it would.  Britain looks set to be a nation divided roughly equally between Leavers and Remainers for some time to come. 

Why would the EU wish to keep on a country that is going through a collective and extended nervous breakdown where it is the subject of controversy?  Looking at the matter dispassionately from the EU perspective, you’d want to have some form of holding pen while Britain sorted itself out.

You probably didn’t notice in all the excitement, but a Scottish case has been referred to the CJEU to determine whether the Article 50 notice can be unilaterally withdrawn (my view is that it cannot).  The decision is going to be intensely political.  It’s hard to imagine the CJEU taking power from the other 27 countries and giving it to Britain in present circumstances.

This, incidentally, is a big problem with any hypothetical referendum.  Are the public going to be given an option that the politicians can’t deliver? (Again?)

2) Theresa May does not have to leave just because the men in grey suits ask her to

This is one of many misconceptions relating to the Conservative leadership process.  Absent actuarial considerations, Theresa May will step down as Conservative leader only if she resigns or if she is replaced by the due party process.  With the debatable exception of Iain Duncan Smith, the men in grey suits haven’t claimed a Conservative leadership scalp in generations. 

Theresa May might be induced to resign if she were persuaded that she had lost the dressing room sufficiently to make a defeat in a vote of confidence inevitable, but she has no track record of being easy to persuade.  If she resigns, it will be because she feels she has nothing more to offer the country.

What of the process?  No doubt we will read many more times of a stalking horse.  There is no such concept in the current version of the Conservative leadership process.  If 15% of the Parliamentary party lodge a letter with the chair of the 1922 committee calling for a vote of no confidence in the leader (that number being currently 48 MPs), a vote is held the next day.  A simple majority in that vote determines the matter.  So until a majority of Conservative MPs conclude that it’s time for a change, there won’t be a change in Conservative leader.

3) The government won’t fall just because its proposals on Brexit are defeated

One misconception, usually emanating from the left, is that if the government is defeated on its Brexit proposals the government will fall.  Following the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011, a government falls between general elections only if there is a vote of no confidence (or if the Prime Minister voluntarily resigns).  A vote on the Brexit proposals by itself doesn’t count.  The government would have some hard thinking to do having lost its main policy plank but it wouldn’t automatically fall.

The converse is also true.  The government could get its Brexit proposals through the House of Commons then be defeated in a vote of confidence.  Depending on what the Brexit proposals are, that’s a distinct possibility.  Keep an eye on that.

4) A general election won’t magically just happen because there is chaos

This is a variant of the same misconception.  There’s a process for replacing governments.  Mere chaos doesn’t qualify.  So even if the government has no policy at all on Brexit capable of being defeated in Parliament, the government won’t automatically fall.  There needs to be a vote of confidence to do this.

The consequence of this is that government could effectively cease to function, but the nominal government could remain in office, if not in power, for a considerable period of time indeed.

5) If the government is defeated in a vote of no confidence, the Conservatives won’t be in control of events

If, however, the government loses a vote of no confidence in accordance with the prescribed process under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011, politics goes into fast forward.  Just because she’s lost a vote of confidence in Parliament doesn’t mean that Theresa May ceases to be leader of the Conservative party (see 2 above).  But it does mean that she will cease to be Prime Minister and a general election will be called unless a new government is approved by a vote of confidence within 14 days.

Pandora’s box would then be opened.  Would Theresa May be able to keep her leadership of the Conservative party?  This could be decided within 24 hours, see 2 above.  If not, would the Conservatives be able to find a replacement for her in time?  This might very well not be capable of being decided within 14 days, given the many MPs who look in the mirror and see the noble prospect of a First Lord of the Treasury and the time it would take to puncture all of their pretensions. 

If not, could the Conservatives nominate a caretaker who could serve as acting Prime Minister while they chose their new leader and get a vote of confidence passed?  Bear in mind that if a vote of no confidence had been lost, the government must have lost part of its coalition.  It would need to find a way of putting that back together.

Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn would be insisting on the opportunity to form a government, just as he did in June last year.  He might well seek to put it to the vote.  If the alternative is a general election at a time when the Conservatives are in chaos, might they simply abstain in the short term until they had sorted themselves out?  They might.

In short, if the government loses a vote of no confidence, events become very unpredictable.

6) You won’t hear the end of Brexit on 29 March 2019

You’re probably sick of hearing about Brexit.  You probably want someone to make it go away.  But all that’s being discussed now are the transitional arrangements to apply while the main trade deal is to be negotiated.  The main event hasn’t started yet and won’t start until after 29 March 2019 (assuming some kind of deal gets hatched).  We have years more of these brouhahas and battles to look forward to.  Aren’t we lucky?

Alastair Meeks


TMay hasn’t had front pages like this since she made the fateful decision to call GE2017

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

Mike Smithson


NEW PB / Polling Matters podcast: Chequers is dead, so should Labour offer a ‘people’s vote’?

Friday, September 21st, 2018

As Labour heads to Liverpool, Keiran Pedley and Leo Barasi look at the polling and ask whether it is in Labour’s interests to offer another vote on Brexit. They lay out the case for and against and debate what happens next.

Follow this week’s guests:


While the nation faces huge and historic issues over Brexit Labour gathers in Liverpool to talk about itself

Friday, September 21st, 2018

Today’s Times column by Phillip Collins hits the nail on the head about Labour and its current state.

“..The issues of the hour are historic. Are any of the half-formed answers to the Irish border question at all practicable? Will the strong desire of the European Union 27 to agree a deal quieten the opposition to Mrs May’s besieged plans? Is it really worth risking exit without a deal for the distant and unlikely prize of winning a second referendum? Is there not a danger that thwarting the first referendum would result in civil disobedience? Is that not a democratic outrage? Never mind all of that. Let’s talk about the contemporary criterion for conference motions.

The Labour Party has decided it need not pay attention to the historic turn of events…The Labour leadership isn’t interested in Europe. All it has ever wanted is to take back control of the Labour Party. Which is what the Labour conference will essentially be about. All conversations in the party since Tony Blair left office have been, in one way or another, about which faction is the rightful owner of the party heritage…”

Meanwhile this from the latest polling ought to be worrying the red team.

Mike Smithson


TMay heads back from Salzburg looking more isolated than ever

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

And the time is running out

It is becoming harder and harder to work out how Britain’s exit from the EU will work out. Theresa May looked absolutely furious in post-event press conference and that is understandable given the amount of political capital she has personally invested in the Chequers plan.

Maybe thigs appears so difficult and so bad on both sides that the meeting in November will take on a different tone. Maybe. Maybe it won’t.

Her next major challenge is going to be her conference speech in 3 weeks time and how she copes with that could determine a lot.

What must have been disappointing for her is that there had been some positive indications from Brussels to the Chequers plan and she must have really been hoping for something vaguely positive from these latest meetings.

But Theresa May is a tough one and she’s usually resilient it is just that the current challenge facing her looks insurmountable.

Mike Smithson


How the readership of the main national papers are split on Brexit

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

YouGov have just published a poll which shows how readers of different newspapers are viewing brexit and how they would vote in a new referendum. For some reason the Sun does not appear to be included.

In broad terms the results are what you would expect with Guardian readers being staunchly for Remain while Express ones are for Leave. But there are some surprises. To me the big one is the Daily Telegraph where the split is 45% remain to 55% leave is very different from the strong hard Brexit editorial approach that the paper has been taking four years.

I also like the Daily Mirror figures where the readership is completely split down the middle though I am a bit surprised about the the fact that 30% of Daily Express readers are remainers. That seems on the high side.

The Mail, also, appears to have more Remainers than you would expect. I wonder how they are going to take the new approach being adopted by the pro-Remain new editor.

Mike Smithson


With just over six months to go until Brexit day YouGov looks where the public stands

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

Some good news for Theresa May?

Anthony Wells writes

There is an overwhelming perception that the Brexit negotiations are not turning out well. In our most recent tracker 73% of the public thought the negations were going badly, including majorities of both Remainers and Leavers, and both Tory and Labour supporters. Only 22% of people now think that it is likely that a deal will be struck in time for Britain to leave the EU in March 2019.

A majority (55%) think that the EU has had the upper hand in negotiations, around a quarter (24%) think there has been give-and-take on both sides and just 2% think the UK seems to have the advantage. Only 8% of people expect the government to get the sort of Brexit they have said they want – while approaching three in ten (28%) expect them to end up agreeing a deal for a softer Brexit than they want, and around the same proportion (27%) expect no deal at all.

However, these deeply negative judgements are not placed wholly at Theresa May’s door. Four in ten (42%) respondents think that any other leader would have done just as badly as May, compared to just over a quarter (27%) who believe someone else could have done better.

Neither is the perceived poor progress of negotiations necessarily seen as a reason to replace May. Just over one in five (22%) people now think an alternative leader would get a better Brexit deal, while over half (54%) think that a different leader would not be able to do any better in the time available.

My take from this poll is that if Mrs May gets a sub-optimal deal or no deal she personally won’t take a hit, low expectations may help her in the long term.

For those wishing for the UK to Remain in the UK that Bregret lead isn’t large enough to demand let alone win another referendum. I suspect the Bregret lead will increase a lot in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. Britons will need to experience the reality of a Hard Brexit if there’s to be any chance of overturning Brexit.