Archive for the 'BREXIT' Category


Mrs. May survives the day getting cabinet backing for the deal and there’s been no Vote of Confidence move

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

On Betfair the money goes on a 2018 TMay exit

Well all those who were predicting that today there would be a cabinet rebellion on the Brexit deal and a possible vote of no confidence move against Mrs May have been proved wrong. Yet again the most resilient leader of recent times continues to defy political gravity.

The next stage its for this to go to the House of Commons and that might not be as easy as today has apparently been for the prime minister. Sure the cabinet meeting went on for a whole lot longer than anybody was expecting but she got the result that she wanted.

Her big view is that leavers will come around to supporting her position because the alternative could be a No Deal, a referendum, or no brexit at all. For all its faults what’s that’s been agreed with Brussels does provide a pathway for an exit from the EU on March 29th next year.

Her great strength with all those who oppose her position is the threat of what could happen if the arrangement is not backed.

I’m coming to the view that the biggest challenge now might be fending off the growing demand for a people’s vote. Remainers have become emboldened.

Mike Smithson


Good news for TMay: Montgomerie’s backing suggests that the deal has a better chance of being agreed

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

That the founder ConHome, Tim Montgomerie, has Tweeted that he’s backing the deal suggests that this is going to be less of a struggle for TMay than many thought.

A couple of years ago Newsnight described him as “the most famous conservative who is not an MP” and there’s little doubt that he still has a lot of influence particularly as he as always been seen as a strong Brexiteer.

In 2016, a few months before the referendum vote, Tim announced that he was quitting the party over Cameron’s Brexit stance.

ConHome itself has always been strongly pro-Brexit.

No doubt Tim will be writing of the reason for his decision and my guess is that he’s taking the “half a loaf is better than none” approach. The last thing those strongly opposed to the EU want is another referendum which could could open up the issue.

Mike Smithson


2019 becomes favourite for year of next general election as punters ponder the EU deal

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

After all the waiting this is a massive day for Theresa May and for the country’s relationship with Europe.

What I find amazing is the number of MPs and other commentators, declaring that this is a bad deal and they haven’t even seen the document yet. Sobeit.

At the end of the day the big question will be how many MPs will be ready to put their heads above the parapet and vote for no deal with all that that might mean. This is TMay’s big gamble making the uncertainty of leaving without a deal the reason to vote eventually for what is agreed.

The big choice for remainers is rejecting the deal and hoping that this might lead to a third referendum or accepting BINO.

The money’s going on a general election next year and on Betfair gamblers make it an 18% chance that TMay will be out this year.

Have a good day.

Mike Smithson


The Brexit deal is being put to the Cabinet one by one

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

But what are the chances of success?

So the brexit process moves a step forward with a broad agreement that Theresa May now has to sell to her cabinet, then her party, and then the House of Commons.

Each of these hurdles looks insurmountable but then Theresa May has got over many obstacles in the 18 months since she lost the party its majority and is determined enough to push this as hard as she is able.

If Brexiteers like BoJo simply keep on with their tedious repetition of the phrase “vassal state” without doing any serious thinking then she might have a chance.

    At the end of the day the choice for MPs looks set to be between her Deal, No Deal, and the possibility of Mr Corbyn becoming PM. The latter is as horrifying to many Labour MPs as it is to Tories.

The betting markets move towards the UK leaving the EU as planned on March 29th.

Bring on BINO.

Mike Smithson


As the Brexit “deal” reaches another critical week the public are still totally split

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

What is Corbyn’s LAB going to do?

With things apparently coming to the head with the EU withdrawal negotiations the above shows the latest YouGov tracker on how voters think broken down into what they did at the referendum and their current voting intention.

This is the first time for months that this has been published on PB partly because the numbers almost never change or only very by very small amounts.

As can be seen the main figure continues to show a small lead for those saying that brexit was wrong but the margin is not that great.

Looking at the detailed split there is a little bit of a gap between those who voted remain and those who chose Leave on June 23rd 2016. More of the former are certain of their decision two years ago than the latter but there has been no really big swing.

We’ve tended to focus on the Tories but as Robert Shrimsley in the FT argues today “Corbyn is facing his own Brexit moment of reckoning”. He notes:

Labour now holds the key to what happens. Pro-Europeans will not forget if Mr Corbyn fails them.Without clear and rapid Labour backing for one such path, Mrs May will continue to frame the choice: her deal or the void. So the question for Mr Corbyn is one that separates an opposition from a government-in-waiting. Does he want a better outcome for Britain or does he just seek to benefit from the chaos?”

YouGov continues to find that by a big margin LAB voters overwhelmingly think Brexit is wrong which is not how Corbyn is said to think. Continuing to sidestep the issue could prove to be highly dangerous.

Mike Smithson


JoJo’s resignation pushes the odds on a 2019 referendum to 29%

Monday, November 12th, 2018

When transport minister and brother of BoJo, Jo Johnson, quit as transport minister on Friday calling for a second referendum there was an uptick on the Betfair betting market that one would take place before the end of 2019.

It moved from about a 22% chance to a 29% chance which is where it remains at the moment. I’ve been looking at this market for some time and the odds have never been sufficiently attractive either way to tempt me.

Obviously there is a huge issue in relation to timing because it is hard to see the necessary legislation going through the Commons and being passed in time for a referendum before the article 50 exit date of March 29th.

But that rigid timetable might not be as big an obstacle as it might appear.

    There is a court case going on which could end up with Britain having the option unilaterally to withdraw article 50. Also you could envisage that the EU 27 might agree to an extension in the deadline to allow a second referendum to take place.

The real question is whether there is a plausible political pathway for this to happen and so much seems up in the air at the moment that is hard to come to a conclusion on that.

The suggestion is that Mrs May will put to the Commons the deal she gets at a late stage. Then MPs will be faced with agreeing the terms she manages to achieve or a no deal exit for which it is hard to see a majority of the Commons backing.

Labour is pressing hard for a new General Election though it lacks the MP numbers to be able to force the issue and it is difficult to see the party securing a no confidence vote which isn’t rescinded within a fortnight as laid down by the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

We also don’t know the level of resolve of the prospective Tory Rebels when faced with the prospect of leaving without a deal. Whatever they say now might be tempered by the process of being asked to vote on that very point.

I still can’t see value on either side of the bet and maybe other PBers might be able to enlighten me.

Mike Smithson


Brexit: Not the End. Not the Beginning of the End. Perhaps, the End of the Beginning.

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

The UK’s relationship with the EU has never been cosy, and, as you may have noticed, it’s recently become incredibly contentious. Worse still, and regardless of what happens next, this is going to dominate politics in the UK for decades.

The reason is simple. This is a matter of identity. Some fear being governed by foreigners, the nation losing control of its own democratic destiny. Some feel they’re having their rights taken away against their will.

How do you bridge that gap? You can’t (not now, at least). There’s a chasm between them, and you can’t stand in the middle of a chasm.

“Frantic violence became the attribute of manliness; cautious plotting, a justifiable means of self-defence. The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy; his opponent a man to be suspected.” – on oligarch/democrat factions in the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides, Book III

The current state of British politics, whilst a great many are weary and quiet, is dominated by the raised and angry voices of those convinced they have the national interest at heart. And, by definition, those who oppose them are deemed not merely to hold a different view but, wittingly or not, to be adversaries of the British national interest.

Hence the rise in pejorative language. It’s easy to label someone a racist or traitor, and then not have to bother actually formulating an argument against them because they’re inherently wicked. But those labels sting, intensifying bitterness and raising tension to an ever higher pitch.

And people who are embittered and divided do not relinquish the source of contention but grip it ever tighter.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha.

In a few months we’ll likely find out what the next Act in this play will be. There are a few possibilities, and not one will bring harmony to discord, for reasons I outline below.

The Remain Dream

Imagine the Commons backs a second referendum and Remain wins. The EU poses no significant problems and the UK ends up staying after all.

The political class breathes a sigh of relief, the media say it’s settled and we should unite, and all is well. Hooray!

If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

The EU won’t stand still. Remain does not mean status quo forever, it simply means gradual, continual integration, as has happened over decades. And each time it’ll be fresh salt in the sceptics’ wound. Those wanting to leave the EU/EEC have persisted for decades. They won’t stop when they feel they’ve had victory stolen from them. Theresa May will be replaced, and the odds are we’ll see a pissing contest over who can be the most pro-Leave Conservative leader.

If the Conservatives have a pro-third referendum leader there will likely be a party political split, with Labour effectively becoming Remain and the Conservatives Leave. The EU will then be a core election issue.

Total Leave

Suppose the opposite occurs. The UK leaves the EU. No customs union, no single market, no deal, the EU doesn’t have a say over any law or regulation in the UK.

Will hardline Remain types leave it there? Unlikely. Leavers spent decades campaigning, after all. Not to mention there would likely be economic turbulence (perhaps severe) which would immediately be blamed on leaving the EU (which has an interest in a leaving member being seen to suffer pour encourager les autres).

The Leave side will dissipate somewhat, as it’s ‘mission accomplished’. Passion will be spent and the fatigue of triumph will enervate further efforts. The media (excepting print, and that’s softening) is generally pro-EU. The political class was pro-EU at the time of the referendum.

It’s unlikely, though not impossible, Corbyn would promise another referendum, but his successor could do so. The weight of the political and media establishment is still pro-EU, and that weight may very well prove telling.

Leaving with a Deal

Suppose we actually get a withdrawal agreement, and maybe even a trade deal after that. It’s kind of between Leave and Remain, right? Things could settle down then?

No, centrist voter, your hopes will be dashed once again.

If the EU has any say over UK law or regulation or trade (including Northern Ireland) that’ll enrage those Leavers who think the spirit of the referendum result has been ignored (after all, if the EU is determining our regulations/laws and we’re paying them money, and they dictate our trade terms, just how much of it did we actually leave?).

Meanwhile, Remainers will see that rejoining might be possible from such a narrow distance without losing Schengen and eurozone opt-outs, which will make their task much easier.

Both sides will push hard to either rejoin or ‘properly’ leave, realising, perhaps correctly, that Leave has a 1-0 half time lead but there’s still every chance Remain could come from behind.

Ideological divides, such as the Peloponnesian War example of oligarchs and democrats mentioned above, tend not to be resolved quickly. Consider the iconoclasm in the Eastern Roman Empire. Or the religious turmoil in England during the 16th century as Protestants and Catholics tussled for the kingdom’s soul.

All of those disputes lasted for decades.

Morris Dancer

Morris Dancer is a longstanding PBer and tweets as MorrisF1


April 2019: month of chaos

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

A No Deal Brexit is now highly likely in March

Nothing has changed: words that might well form Theresa May’s epitaph. Unfortunately for her, unless something does, that epitaph will be needed sooner rather than later. With less than five months until the Brexit deadline, both the parliamentary maths and the European diplomacy remain resolutely irresoluble. Nothing has changed.

Some might argue that’s a favourable interpretation; that Jo Johnson’s resignation yesterday indicated the maths are getting worse for the PM but that wouldn’t be quite right. To some extent, these resignations ought to be baked into the figures. We don’t know exactly who’s going to resign, or when, but we do know that passions on Brexit run high and that it will be impossible for the government to satisfy all its ministers in whatever is agreed. Hence, some will walk. This is just the process playing itself out.

Unfortunately, what also hasn’t changed are the other irreconcilable aspects of Brexit. The EU and Ireland still demand an open border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland; the DUP demand no regulatory dealignment between NI and GB; Tory MPs demand the ability to diverge from the EU; the EU insists that its external Customs Union border must be consistent.

The problem here is that the four demands cannot all be met simultaneously but that for a deal to be able to be signed and ratified, the government needs the agreement of all those parties demanding them. Hence, unless something fundamental changes, it’s almost impossible to see how a deal can be done.

Hence the Gordian Knot attempts to solve the problem by changing the rules (or ignoring them); the most popular of which is the second referendum. Quite how this is supposed to come about when the government is understandably adamantly opposed to the idea isn’t clear. Nor is it obvious how a second vote resolves the problem when it’s all-but certain that public opinion would polarize away from any unhappy compromise and toward the extremes of Remain or No Deal. A second vote offers nothing that parliament cannot do now except provide a little more justification for a U-turn should Remain win.

However, the clock has practically run out on the time needed for a new referendum and certainly will have done so by the December summit – and even that might not be when a deal is either done or declared undoable. Article 50 could be extended to enable the vote (if the EU agrees) but there’s a more practical deadline of late May, when the European elections take place: elections Britain would be entitled to take part in if still a member. But it’s still all hypothetical as long as the Tories are in power: no referendum bill will be introduced.

Which means that the can can’t be kicked any further down the road: March 29 really is the deadline, deal or not – and the changes are very much not.

As Jo Johnson pointed out in his resignation statement, a No Deal Brexit would not be a piece of cake. The British government would neither be bureaucratically or logistically ready. In all probability, neither would the countries with which Britain shares its closest transport links.

    It’s entirely possible that the country could see its worst disruption since the Winter of Discontent or the Three Day Week – hardly an appetizing prospect.

That assumes that Theresa May makes it that far. With incoming fire from the DUP and from both wings of her own party (though oddly, not from the Labour front bench), she may not – though the red lines and the parliamentary maths won’t be any different for any alternative Tory PM. They would of course be different for Corbyn but that’s not going to happen unless May seriously errs in her relationship with the DUP.

Ultimately, some form of deal or deals will be done. Practical politics will demand it as the logjam of interests is swept aside by the force of public opinion being confronted with the reality of what No Deal looks like. These might be micro-deals to keep individual sectors running, based on mutual recognition; it might be a comprehensive one based on something like those sections of the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework already agreed. Whichever, the talks look highly likely to go down to the wire and beyond.

David Herdson