77 thoughts on “What’s for Brexit?

      • At least one piece I’ve read this morning says that the Scottish Parliament is already drawing up the wording. No one knows when (or even if, the EU referendum being non-binding) the UK will punch the Article 50 button, giving official notice. If Scotland were to vote for independence before that point, there is apparently some chance that things could be weasel-worded so that for legal purposes, the rest of the UK was “leaving” Scotland, which would retain the EU membership.

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      • Good question, this isn’t a silly place like California where any old thing can be put up for referendum.

        The last referendum was called by the Scottish parliament, but only with the consent of the UK parliament… so it is not something they can unilaterally do.

        Will Cameron want to cement his legacy with the exit of Scotland as well? Or will he encourage Scotland to leave to make the transition more difficult? Will the 84 conservative members who voted to leave but also wrote a letter of support for Cameron even if Brexit won still support him if he further dismantles the UK… why stop at Scotland, there’s Northern Ireland as well. There are a lot of gears turning now and I’m not nearly up to speed on more than a tiny a fraction of them.

        I mean, bear in mind that the Stay vote mostly passed on account of the financial pain Scotland would suffer without UK subsidies. Is Angela Merkel going to mach them? If so, it might even make the Brexit “easier”… so she probably won’t. There are just so many new variables and conflicting motives that I’m not sure even the current set of players have fully gamed out strategies.

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  1. I did notice the Guardian was a little less cutesy about posting the running total of this election result than it was the USA Presidential primaries.

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  2. One of the things I’m already finding very interesting is the amount of “The EU will punish the UK savagely during the separation negotiations in order to ensure that other countries don’t try to leave” thinking. This strikes me as counter-productive in at least two ways. First, in the short term, it encourages people to think “Other than the EU hammering on them, Britain might have done just fine on their own. Maybe the EU isn’t all that helpful after all.” Second, in the longer term, it would seem to encourage countries to leave in blocks rather than individually. That is, Greece may realize that the EU can flog them even worse than they flogged the UK; Greece, Italy, and Spain together — population as a group 50% larger than Germany, and if they all defaulted on their bonds held by German banks, those banks are toast — might think “We’re too big for them to flog at all.”

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    • I’m not sure how savage it will be. But the EU could very well have a lot more leverage and the UK could be in a really bad bargaining position. Not savage out of revenge, but hard bargaining. There will be quite a few things the UK will want that the EU can use as chips.

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      • I think it’s more likely that. The EU has a lot of leverage. And as the UK is no longer part of the EU, the EU is duty bound to use that leverage to maximum effect for the good of the EU.

        The good of the UK is no longer their concern.

        Which is, I think, something the “Leave” folks didn’t really grapple with. They assumed that the aftermath of Brexit would be a quick reassertion of all the “good” stuff, that the EU would swiftly move to at least keep stuff like trade and most forms of movement at the status quo. That Brexit was, more or less, the UK saying “No” to all the EU stuff it disliked but getting to keep what it wanted.

        Cafeteria EU, so to speak. :)

        But I can’t see why on earth the EU, even if it’s negotiators are Spock-like neutral parties, wouldn’t utilize the fact that the UK needs a lot of sudden agreements to gain maximum advantage.

        Because the good of the UK is immaterial to them, beyond wanting them to be healthy enough to be a trading partner.

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        • But I can’t see why on earth the EU, even if it’s negotiators are Spock-like neutral parties, wouldn’t utilize the fact that the UK needs a lot of sudden agreements to gain maximum advantage.

          Yeah, I don’t see anyone talking about the fact that UK is probably in a worst place than it was *right before* the EU.

          All countries in Europe had slowly been building all sorts of treaties with other countries for some time. Ever since WWII, in a quite deliberate attempt to make a third world war impossible.

          If you were in the EU, a lot of those were absorbed *into* the EU, from what I understand.

          Britain hasn’t gone back to 1992. They haven’t even gone back to 1973, when they joined the EEC. They’ve gone back to 1950.

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  3. I’ve been looking at the comments at Charlie Stross’s blog off and on over the last 24 hours. There’s an astounding range of legal theories being put forward. At one end there’s the one that says the two-year clock is already ticking because the EU Commission has interpreted the treaty language to mean that passing the referendum is “official notice”. At the other is one that goes through a long chain of things in the British constitutional structure (despite my occasional complaints, there are advantages to having it all written down in one place) to “prove” that no notice can be official unless it is also approved by the Scottish Parliament (unlikely, as Scotland voted 60/40 for Remain).

    I had beer with a couple of friends that hold both US and UK passports Thursday evening. As I told them, I favored Leave only on the basis that things would be far more interesting if that side won, and that I was far enough away to be safe from the consequences. Hope I was right about the latter.

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    • The EU seems to think the UK has already voted itself out. I don’t see any way that legal maneuvering on the UK’s side is going to change that.

      I remember once that a non-profit that I volunteer at tried to escape from a contract that the Executive Director had signed, by pointing out the bylaws required two signatures. While the other side of the contract accepted the cancellation and everythign went well…I still had to point out that, under contract law, it matter *not a damn* what internal policies exist. If a person signs a contract with an employee at a corporate entity they can reasonable expect to be able to sign that contract (And ‘Executive Director’ is surely such a person.), and are told no other requirements at that time, that is a real contract, and they can sue for breach of contract. Doesn’t matter if we didn’t sprinkle magic pixel dust on it by having some other employee sign it also.

      Likewise, it doesn’t actually matter what the structure of the UK is, or reasons the *UK* might have to claim there are other things they need to do. If the EU doesn’t agree….the EU doesn’t agree, and the UK is out.

      Although reading Stross’s page did point out something interesting: What’s going to be nice and catastrophic is when Scotland realizes if it’s not in the UK when the UK leaves the EU, than *it* doesn’t have to leave the EU.

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      • Scotland already knows this, but there are three issues:

        1) They just had a vote and lost, and the UK has to agree to a new vote. There is no guarantee that they will, and no governing authority to force them to.

        2) It’s not clear it would pass. Yes, it came close last time, but oil was a semi-reasonable economic staple then and isn’t now.

        3) The EU might not take an independent Scotland. At least three members are looking as at secessionist movements of their own, and Spain and Belgium have both indicated opposition with Italy probably not far behind. The EU might want to poke UK in the eye, but there are difficulties doing so.

        So while the Scots want to be in the EU, it’s all pretty up in the air.

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        • Yes, it came close last time, but oil was a semi-reasonable economic staple then and isn’t now.

          OTOH, Scotland already generates more electricity than they consume, with the surplus sold to consumers in England. They are pro-renewables and the population seems to be tolerant of wind turbines relatively nearby. Scotland is the obvious place to terminate an HVDC link from Iceland, which could be done for about the cost of a new nuke plant and deliver Icelandic hydro and geothermal power. Personally, I’d rather be selling electricity than oil anyway.

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