Archive for the 'BREXIT' Category

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TMay caves in to the Brexit Taliban over Chequers plan

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Moggsy now appears to running the Brexit show

Mike Smithson




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PB Video Analysis. Brexit: How We Got Here & What We Want

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

So: Brexit.

I’ve artfully avoided addressing it in my videos so far, but the time has come. Today’s video is about Brexit. Specifically, it addresses the process through which Britain joined the EEC, and then asks what the UK government actually wants from negotiations. Why have there been all these gyrations, when the EU has proposed a CETA/South Korea type relationship already?

Be warned: this video will be equally annoying to Remainers and Leavers.

Robert Smithson

Robert tweets as ‘@MarketWarbles’




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A better ‘ole

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Reflections on the dramatic events

When I was a child, we used to visit my maternal grandparents most Sundays.  I learned my love of card games and Scrabble there, including the importance of seating: my grandpa would cheat to ensure my grandma won (she was a shocking loser and he knew which side his bread was buttered).  Sunday tea was an institution, my grandma slipping Ben her fat golden Labrador little treats from her plate when she thought no one was looking.

My grandma kept the house immaculate, with display cabinets filled with charming if not particularly valuable china – the teapot with an orange radish for a lid handle sticks in my mind.  On the wall, gripped in those elasticated plate holders that fill antiques experts with horror, was a plate with a cartoon scene from the First World War showing two bedraggled soldiers sheltering in a make-shift bunker with artillery raining down.  One was saying to the other: “if you knows of a better ‘ole go to it”.

That cartoon sprang unbidden back to my mind as the Cabinet’s farewell symphony after the Chequers deal unfolded.  Conservative Leaver MPs were swift to draw attention to the many defects that they identified with Theresa May’s plan, to lament the absence of planning for no deal, to decry the betrayal of the referendum vote and to call on her to change course.  What they conspicuously did not do was come up with an alternative strategy.  It seems that they don’t know of a better ‘ole.

That doesn’t mean that you would want to get stuck in the trenches with them.  At every point before, during and since the referendum, Leavers have been very clear about what they don’t want and completely befuddled about what they might actually want that was achievable through negotiation.  This state of affairs has not changed.  Their inability to come up with an alternative hasn’t stopped them detonating ordnance in a bid to make Theresa May’s position uninhabitable. 

Time is now short.  Britain is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.  Britain needs some form of plan, if only to start discussions.  Theresa May’s plan, for all its defects, has the great merit of actually being a plan, which is more than can be said of anything that any of her critics including resigning ministers have put forward.

As I write, it looks pretty certain that Theresa May will face a vote of no confidence. Her opponents in that and any future candidates for the Conservative party leadership will need to be able to do more than just critique the proposals of others; they will need to put forward positive suggestions of their own.

If you think that British politics looks chaotic now, just wait until the Conservative party decides to conduct its Cabinet negotiation over its Brexit position in the full glare of a party leadership election contest. Add to that the fact that there isn’t the slightest sign that the losers (whoever they might be) will get behind the winners in such a contest and the chaos looks set only to worsen. And all of that, of course, ignores the fact that whatever is alighted on then has to be negotiated with the EU, who do not look particularly inclined to be indulgent of the British just now.

What that suggests is that the Leavers should look again at Theresa May’s strategy, as the Cabinet ministers were initially inclined to do before running into the wrath of the Leaver obsessives in the outside world. It may not be exactly what they want, but it is a plan.Sooner or later, Leavers are going to have to start compromising with the dictates of the real world. Now would be a very good time to start.

Alastair Meeks




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PaddyPower clearly doesn’t understand the CON leadership rules

Monday, July 9th, 2018

If TMay loses a confidence vote then she can’t be a contender

It is perhaps not surprising given the scale of the story at the time was but whenever people think of Conservative leadership contests and disposal of incumbents they look back to 1990 when Mrs Thatcher had to depart.

Hence that is the only reason, I suggest, that Paddy Power in the latest range of markets following the David Davis resignation have included Theresa May as a potential candidate in a new contest.

To emphasise it simply does not work like that anymore. Mrs May will either go when she steps down of our own accord or else there is a confidence vote amongst Conservative MPs which she loses.

A confidence vote can only happen if 15% of the total number of Conservative MPs send letters to the chairman of the 1922 committee requesting that such a move should take place. On current numbers that means that 48 fellow Conservative MPs have got to send their letters in to 1922 chairman Graham Brady.

There have been all sorts of rumours over the last 24 hours about CON MPs being ready to send the letters to Mr Brady who is required to set up an immediate ballot should the total be reached.

It was interesting that Stephen Baker, the minister who resigned alongside David Davis, was making clear this morning that there simply wasn’t the time for the Conservatives to go through a leadership contest given that we are due to leave the EU on March 29th next year.

It could be that there is a fix – that those who have been named as a leading contenders agree amongst themselves not to stand and only one candidate to emerge from the nomination process. That was what happened in 2003 with Iain Duncan Smith. He lost a confidence vote and Michael Howard succeeded him as leader without having to be bothered with the trouble of a leadership election.

Will that happened again? Quite simply we don’t know but a lot clearly is going on at Westminster and we might get a pointer in the next few hours.

Mike Smithson




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David Davis quits possibly making a challenge to TMay more likely

Monday, July 9th, 2018

He was the 4/1 favourite for next exit

The big UK political news overnight is that the BrexSec and former favourite to succeed TMay, David Davis, has resigned as a minister following his disagreement with the PM’s approach to Brexit. Another of his ministers, Steve Baker, has gone with him.

This plunges the party into its biggest crisis since Mrs. May failed to hang onto to the Tory majority in June last year.

The move happened just before midnight and is not really a surprise. The Times reports:-

“..Friends said that Mr Davis had been building towards the resignation for weeks, fed up at being ignored by the prime minister and sidelined in favour of Olly Robbins, her all-powerful Europe adviser. Mr Davis was said to have held only four hours of direct talks with Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator, this year

A cabinet minister told The Times that Mr Davis had made a “grumpy” contribution during the cabinet meeting at Chequers on Friday, urging No 10 not to give away so many concessions. He was publicly challenged by other cabinet ministers and showed little sign of expecting to get his way. One source said that “he sounded fed up” on Saturday morning

Davis had been 4/1 favourite with Ladbrokes to be the next cabinet exit and those who backed him should receive their winnings during the day.

The question then is what next for Mrs. May’s government? She’s meeting the backbench 1922 Committee this evening?

I wonder whether we could see a confidence vote backed by TMay’s supporters? Such a move would clear the air provided she secured the backing of the parliamentary party in a secret ballot. She would then be immune to a further challenge for a year.

Mike Smithson




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There signs are that TMay might have to face a confidence motion in the next few days

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

So far Peston hasn’t moved the PM exit betting

ITV’s Political Editor, Robert Preston, is Tweeting that there might be a confidence move about to take place against TMay.

The system, as we all know, is that the 1922 Chair, Graham Bray, has to initiate an immediate confidence ballot should 15% of CON MPs, 48, write letters to him requesting such a move.

If he gets the letters then we could expect a secret ballot of MPs during the following 24 hours. The PM is speaking to the 1922 Committee of MPs tomorrow evening and further letters could come after that.

The gamble that the “insurgents”, if we can call them that, take is that if the PM survived such a vote then she would be immune from a further challenge for a year. 15% of MPs is not that great compared with the 155 required to ensure that she goes.

    I wonder whether May-loyalists might back the move simply because they think the rebels will fail and the leader’s position would be strengthened.

Meanwhile there’s been no movement in the years of TMay’s exit betting. 2019 remains the favourite.

Mike Smithson




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The fly in the ointment? How Brexit may be delayed by no deal

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

For the last year or so, one of my favourite betting markets has been the market on Betfair on whether Britain will leave the EU by 11pm on 29 March 2019.  I wrote about it in February and it has been a market that I have returned to regularly over the intervening months.  The price on Yes, Britain will officially leave by that date has shortened considerably since February and as I write last traded at 1.83. 

I still think that is much too long for all the reasons I gave in my February article and still regard it as a buy.  If a deal is done in principle in October or even December, there’s no obvious reason to extend the time period for a few weeks; all concerned can be expected to get their finger out to get it appropriately ratified in time for the deadline.  If negotiations are stalled, a few extra weeks aren’t going to break the logjam.  So there’s no obvious incentive to delay the effective time of Brexit either way.

I have, however, noticed a route by which the bet might fail which I hadn’t previously considered.  So in the interests of full disclosure, I draw it to your attention.  Personally, I’m not convinced it’s particularly likely.  But if like me you’re heavily invested in this market, you might want to chew it over.

On Friday the Cabinet sought to reach a common position on outstanding aspects of its negotiation.  Huge amounts of nervous energy and analysis were expended on this, right down to the taxi arrangements for recalcitrant ministers. 

I find it hard to muster much enthusiasm for the subject, given that the EU looks set to reject whatever position the government might have alighted on in the interests of party unity.  From this point, it looks likely that Britain is going to end up either with essentially whatever deal the EU eventually decide to offer it or with no deal at all.

Either route looks fraught from here.  I don’t propose to look at the practical aspects of a deal on this occasion; if a deal is to be done then the route to 29 March 2019 becomes a mechanical exercise. 

What if no deal is done? Then Britain looks set to crash out of the EU. This would potentially be humongously inconvenient in the short term at even the most basic of levels. It wouldn’t quite be at the level of the breaking of the sixth seal in the Book of Revelations, which will trigger a great earthquake and the sun will become black as sackcloth of hair and the moon will become as blood, but unless a fair amount of practical action was taken beforehand we could expect to see planes grounded, nuclear power plants shut and large parts of the law would be thrown into complete disarray as EU laws ceased to apply.

When you hear such predictions, your antennae should twitch.In that last paragraph there were two key bits: the word “potentially” and the words “unless a fair amount of practical action was taken beforehand”. You could expect a fair amount of practical action to be taken. Even if there is the most almighty falling out and no deal is done, it is in no one’s interests to cause chaos. So there will be a substantial effort to avoid the worst of the consequences.

There is, however, a substantial risk that if no deal is done, that is only apparent at a very late stage. Presumably everyone will keep working towards doing a deal until there is a final late showdown. If so, there may not be the time to make that substantial effort.

And this is the one set of circumstances where a short delay to Brexit might be in everyone’s interests. There wouldn’t be a logjam that needed breaking, just a bit of time to make sure that the sticking plaster was in place and the sealing wax had dried. It appears that the EU has been giving this some thought, as the Austrian Chancellor recently suggested. Ironically, the single most likely circumstance in which Brexit might be delayed is if no deal is done at all.

I have to say that I am now expecting a deal.  Theresa May is evidently working towards one.  The harder line Leavers in the Cabinet appear to have no stuffing in them for a fight.  The consequences of no deal are causing everyone who has thought about it in any detail to flutter their eyelids and have palpitations. 

The government is so dysfunctional, however, that a deal cannot be guaranteed.  It seems that there is no majority in Parliament for any one deal, or for no deal at all.  How this pans out is far from clear.  I still think backing Brexit to take place by the current appointed date and time is a very good bet, but there are ways in which it could lose.  This is one of them.

Alastair Meeks




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So a cabinet Brexit deal is done and there are no resignations

Friday, July 6th, 2018

Looks like a victory for TMay and it will be a soft Brexit