Morning Ed: Brexit III {2016.07.10.Su}

If the European banking community moves on from London, it does seem to me that France is not a good fit.

Rory Stewart (An undersecretary of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) was a Remainer, but argues that it’s time to make the most of the departure. Michael Burrage argues that Britain’s negotiating hand is really quite strong.

Adrian Pabst writes of the existential crisis of the Labour Party as Neil Kinnock expresses his dismay at a party that’s close to giving up.

Matthew Parris explains that now that he knows his country a little bit better, he likes it a little bit less.

And a good-bye to Neil Nigel Farage, the marmite of British politics and arguably the most successful British politician of an era.

Farage may be less than pleased to know that free movement appears to be on the table, however.

There are quite a lot of decisions to be made. It seems kind of obvious that, assuming Brexit happens, Team Norway has the edge.

And Eastern Europe makes its move

Naturally, the Brexit was a result of climate change.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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60 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Brexit III {2016.07.10.Su}

  1. The Labour Party has been in an existential crisis for years. It started with the fight in the late 1970s and early 1980s between the faction who wanted to stay the course with socialism and the part of the party that realized Labour’s traditional platform was no longer popular with the British electorate. Thatcher got a lot of her support from skilled laborers that traditionally voted Labour but were fed up with the strikes and wanted to buy the public housing they rented. The seeds of the current Labour fight are in this past fight.

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  2. The Government said officially yesterday that there would be no repeat referendum (this in response to the petition for such with some four million signatures). The statement included, “We must now prepare for the process to exit the EU…” Sounds to me like all of the “not-binding, the MPs favor Remain by a very large margin, etc, etc” arguments aren’t going to matter.

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    • One of the reasons -I think- is because no one wants to test the “referenda are just like opinion polls; (the Queen in) Parliament is the only Sovereign of the U.K.” principle.

      Everyone knows that the referendum is non binding, but Parliament trying to ignore it would create a backlash that would jeopardize a core constitutional principle that is not in the interest of Parliament to put to the test.

      Funnily, if Parliament indeed decided to ignore the referendum, I believe Leavers would have recourse under EU law and/or the European Court of Human Rights

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      • I sorta think the Parliament overriding the voters here is basically akin to the Queen overriding Parliament.

        Aka, it’s something they have the right to do….*once*. They only keep that right by never doing it.

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    • That particular re-do referendum, calling for a super-majority, seems utterly politically tone-deaf. There was a reason the referendum was promised, and that was to marginalize the EU skeptics. They were not marginalized, and would not have been marginalized had those rules been in place. “Leave” would still be more popular than any politician or party, and every party and politician would have to bow to that reality.

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      • ““Leave” would still be more popular than any politician or party, and every party and politician would have to bow to that reality.”

        After the Brexit leaders admitted that the campaign was fraudulent, and after people realized that this crap might actually happen, my money would be on Remain winning handily.

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          • The ipsos MORI July 1 poll showed a very slight plurality (44% to 43%) of the surveyed saying that Brexit was a “wrong decision”, but it also shows only 5% of the leave voters saying they would probably or definitely change their votes on a do over, which is somewhat more than the 2% of the remain voters (see slide 3 of the “charts” download).

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            • To a great extent, the re-do push is built on empowering marginal voters: people who didn’t vote the first time, but might this time, people who might change their mind or did not understand the issues, and voters in the wrong geographic areas to exert much influence.

              That last point may not be clearly stated, but in a national referendum it doesn’t matter where the voters reside, but when the parliament is asked to disregard or re-do a referendum, the parliament would be expected to care greatly where the votes are located.

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    • So, in my mind, the question is not so much about a new referendum, but a general election that may act as a referendum on the referendum.

      Cameron has said he isn’t going to invoke article 50 before he leaves. If he’s simply succeeded in an orderly fashion by the new conservative party leader, that new leader will presumably invoke article 50.

      But what happens if that’s not how it shakes down? Given everything that’s going on, it’s not unlikely that we have a no confidence vote at some point, triggering new elections. And if the new elections result in a majority or coalition government that has explicitly campaigned on stopping Brexit, then it’s not exactly a sin against democracy to do what they promised.

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      • This could work, but the alignment would have to be pretty explicit. The Tories would need to come out in favor of pulling the trigger on the Brexit, Labour/SDP/whatever would need to come out unambiguously against doing so. Then you would need an outcome where parties unambiguously against Brexit win more votes than parties unambiguously in favor of it. If you can do that, you have democratically nullified the outcome to the extent that it can be nullified.

        In the event that Labour/SDP wins, though, they can do whatever they want ultimately. The referendum wasn’t their idea and they can say as much. The public can punish them for it, of course, if a majority either favor the Brexit or object to any nullification.

        Which is the big problem. As things stand, over 50% want out and they believe they earned it. I don’t think Remain is going to be able to talk themselves around that, unless minds change. And if minds change, then the results can be nullified regardless.

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        • Will Truman: This could work, but the alignment would have to be pretty explicit. The Tories would need to come out in favor of pulling the trigger on the Brexit, Labour/SDP/whatever would need to come out unambiguously against doing so. Then you would need an outcome where parties unambiguously against Brexit win more votes than parties unambiguously in favor of it. If you can do that, you have democratically nullified the outcome to the extent that it can be nullified.

          That’s not really how I see it shaking down. Frankly, if that’s how the parties align, I see another victory for the Tories.

          Victory for Remain comes if Labour unites behind a Remain candidate and the Conservatives fail to unite strongly behind Leave.

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          • Maybe my wording was confusing. Let me try again:

            This could work, but the alignment would have to be pretty explicit. The Tories would need to come out in favor of the Brexit, Labour would need to come out unambiguously in favor of junking the whole thing. Then you would need an outcome where parties unambiguously against Brexit win more votes than parties unambiguously in favor of it. If you can do that, you have democratically nullified the outcome to the extent that it can be nullified.

            Everything below that paragraph remains in tact (though you can ignore the SDP stuff to simplify).

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            • More votes, or more MPs?

              It’s abig difference, because Tories have a busload more MPs than Labour (330 vs 232) with but not that big a difference in votes (36.9% vs 30.4%)

              If you add LibDem votes (7.9%) and SNP (4.7%) you have -in principle- a pro Stay Majority of votes

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              • A majority of seats allows them to do it. To allow them to do it and wave the flag of democracy? They need more than that. A majority of votes would be a start. And even then, that would only apply if the battle lines were very unambiguous. Some poll numbers demonstrating Bregret is actually a thing would help a lot.

                Technically, over 80% of the voters in 2015 voted for parties lead by people who wanted to stay. But if you break it down into left-leaning parties versus right-leaning, the latter got a majority of the votes. Tory+UKIP+DU>50%… but it’s close. (And I don’t know what the DU/UU position is on the EU is, but their constituencies voted Leave.)

                Ultimately, though, this simply doesn’t draw sufficiently close along party lines for it to be easy to come to conclusions about what it means about support for the Brexit. A lot of pro-Leave people are going to Labour for other reasons. Some pro-Remain people are going to vote Tory for other reasons.

                Barring an apparent shift in public sentiment, or an extremely strong general election along very unambiguous lines, movement to kill Brexit would not have democratic winds at its back. It would be a case of saying “Woah, there, let’s not have that much democracy!”

                Which I consider a perfectly valid view (more democratic doesn’t make a system inherently better, and less democratic doesn’t make it worse). But it’s a risky one. Even if Cameron had done this the way I wish he had – with a 60% majority required – that 52% is a democratic problem and it’s going to take more than a general election victory to make it go away.

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                • I think you and I are talking about different things. In order to make an unambiguous case that the British voters have changed their minds, the things you mentioned need to come to pass.

                  But Remainers don’t need an unambiguous case–just a plausible one. There’s not much difference between a democratic mandate of 52% and a democratic mandate of 48% if that 48% is enough to win in enough seats. Hell, there’s a 67% democratic mandate from 2011 where Brits said exactly that.

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  3. When the Labour election was going on last year, I was rooting for Corbyn because I didn’t see the usefulness of a Labour Party that had the same policies as the Tories, but were sort of ashamed of that

    There is space for a Center Left classical liberal party in the UK in opposition to the Center Right “socially conservative” Tories. That’s what the Lib Dems are. Labour should occupy the Social Democratic niche, and I had the hope Corbyn would move the party into that position. Currently, the SNP is the only Social Democratic party of the mold Labour should be, except that regional issues are their reason d’etre and they don’t have or care for a UK wide constituency.

    Boy, was I wrong. Corbyn could not have been a worse leader, and instead of trying to fill in the Social Democratic Niche, he’s full blown OWS.

    I don’t see a way out. I believe Labour will split, with the “Tories but ashamed of it” moving towards the Lib Dems, the Corbynites disappearing Judea People’s Liberation Front like, and someone trying to build a UK wide Social Democratic Party.

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      • I was chatting about this yesterday with JayFromBrooklyn and Varad Mehta. Some have suggested that they should join the LD, but it seems more likely to me tha they form a new party and the LD joins them, along with the anti-Leadsom 20. Of course, that gets complicated if May wins.

        One stumbling block I’ve heard with the anti-Corbynites busting out is that their fundraising apparatus is simply too tied to organized labor, who might stick around. If Leadsom wins this seems like less of an issue if they pick up some Tory money. But I speak from an awful lot of ignorance here.

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    • Labour can’t really occupy a classic Social Democratic niche anymore. Many British voters don’t want the classic Labour Platform. Certain changes in leftist thought like intersectionality don’t work well with the class and economic basis of classic social democracy.

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      • We might be talking about the same things differently, or about different things using the same words, but:

        1. I Believe that the Classic Labour Party, very much aligned to the Unions, has no place in contemporary UK politics.

        2. A Social Democratic Party is other European countries is not dominated by Unions (at least the Spanish Socialist Workers PSOE is not, name notwithstanding. The Unions are further left than PSOE). Nor is the SNP linked to the Unions. I think if you strip the Independence for Scotland bit, the rest of the SNP program would be very well received in the left of center UK.

        3. There is no party occupying the Social Democrat niche in the UK. The Lib Dems are the Obama Democrats, the Torys are the Hillary Democrats. UKIP is Trump. And Labour is a strange mismatch of Tories with social conscience (the MPs), OWS (Corbynites) and Unions few people (including said MPs and Corbinites) pay any attention to

        So why can’t a Social Democrat party be created? There’s one in almost every European country

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  4. And a good-bye to Neil Farage, the marmite of British politics and arguably the most successful British politician of an era.

    I didn’t know that Nigel had a brother

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    • It says something about Will’s reputation that although I did a double-take when I saw that, I actually fact-checked myself to be sure that I was the one who was right…

      ObPopCulture: Nigel is the one who stuck by his guns, maintained his integrity, kept doing what he’s best at, and has made a number of lasting contributions. His brother Neil went on to form “Crowded House”.

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  5. Way off topic, but something I just learned from the discussion about Trump’s VP pick. George Wallace’s campaign’s original first choice for VP in 1968 was Happy Chandler, the former Kentucky governor and senator, best known as the MLB commissioner who’d supported Jackie Robinson’s breaking baseball’s color line. When that leaked, it caused such a furor among Wallace’s supporters, donors, and staff, that Chandler was dropped like a hot potato.

    So next time anyone tells you that the Wallace campaign was about populism, or the white working class, or anything other than racism, tell him he’s full of it.

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    • From the wiki (which I looked up because I had the same question):

      The British version of the product is a sticky, dark brown food paste with a distinctive, powerful flavour, which is extremely salty. This distinctive taste is reflected in the British company’s marketing slogan: “Love it or hate it.” The product’s name has entered British English as a metaphor for something that is an acquired taste or tends to polarise opinions.

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  6. “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”

    ? Frédéric Bastiat

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      • I remember reading a quote (P.J. O’Rourke, back when he was interesting?) to the effect that, in a hundred or so years, “Waterloo” and “Watergate” will basically convey the same meaning.

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    • It’d be irrelevant, seems to me. Academically counterfactual in all its glory. Germany is the Big Player in the EU, and if you want an EU, the EU you’re gonna get will be dominated by Germany.

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            • Do you mean British people or folks like you?

              Adding: Once again I have no idea what you’re arguing. In the above comment you objected to a Germany dominated EU even if membership in such a union benefitted non-German member nations. Now you appear to be arguing that free choice based on expected benefits (regardless of German dominance) ought to be the principle that holds sway.

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                  • Sylvania can stay in the EU and leave. If Sylvania finds the benefits and liabilities in favor of the former, it stays. If not, it leaves. If Sylvania leaves, does that make the Sylvanians bad? Is Sylvania’s presence in the EU value-neutral, or do they need to be in the EU for the greater good?

                    Sylvania is a fiction, of course. But replace Sylvania with Britain, or replace Sylvania with Hungary, and does the perspective change? Or do we judge Britain and Hungary differently? Should we? Would Hungary leaving the EU be something that should be condemned to the extent that Britain has been condemned?

                    (For my own part, I suspect Hungary leaving the EU would actually be met with more alarm than Britain leaving would be. The people for whom Britain’s departure is not value neutral, would also not view Hungary’s departure as value-neutral. Jaybird is pointing to a double standard that I am not sure is there. But I think the appearance of a double standard is what he’s getting at here.)

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                    • Or do we judge Britain and Hungary differently? Should we? Would Hungary leaving the EU be something that should be condemned to the extent that Britain has been condemned?

                      Well, I hear ya about all that. I’m just wondering what any of that has to do with the issue Jaybrid brought up: the advisability of a German Dominated EU. I’m not seeing a connection there, to be honest.

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                • Leave or stay are value neutral. But I think the difference is on whether the Brexit will deliver what it offered., and whether the votes were presented the real deal to judge upon.

                  The Leave campaign offered the following;

                  1. Polish plumbers will be out, never to come back

                  2. For good measure, assorted brown people will be out too

                  3. There will be no limits on UK nationals to live in Southern Europe

                  4. We will send a ton of money to the NHS

                  5. Nothing else will change. At all. Not one thing.

                  Now you have:

                  1. All the Tory candidates promising that (1.) won’t happen, except May, and she has been heavily criticized for refusing to promise EU citizens will be allowed to stay.

                  2. Of course has nothing to do with the EU

                  3. Is not in the hand of the U.K. Government either

                  4. Brexit leaders walked back from this offer not 24 hours after the referendum, and now you have farmers, students, whole Brexit voting regions (hello Cornwall), asking for promises that the EU subsidies will be replaced pound for pound. Which they won’t

                  5. And of course a lot of clusterfishing is happening and will continue to happen.

                  The “doubts” about the legitimacy of this particular referendum hung on the switch and bait of a Leave campaign that promised the end of the Polish plumbers and a lot of rainbow farting English sheep. Imagine if in November you go vote for Trump, a GOP landslide carries the 50 states, and, come January President Jeb Bush is sworn in. When did you vote for him? When did anyone vote for him?

                  When did anyone in the Leave side vote for the Polish Plumbers to stay but the pound to drop?

                  So what is it that the voters actually chose?

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                  • Past the first sentence, this is sort of an answer to a different question. The above questions weren’t so much about the legitimacy of the referendum, but the moral legitimacy of a nation (Britain, Hungary, or Sylvania) to leave.

                    The shock and dismay over the result of the referendum included statements that the voters were lied to, but went further in expressing moral illegitimacy at the idea that Britain would abandon the European project. That even if the voters are still on board knowing how things were doing to shake out, that they made a wrong (and not value-neutral) decision.

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                    • The answer to that is easy: there is no special moral value in staying vs leaving (*), so leaving the EU is morally right, if you decide to do so.

                      I just wish the decision would have been made without bamboozling the voters. I think a switch and bait election is tinted with illegitimacy. I wish Johnson, Farage, Gove, Leadstrom would have had the courage to say: “It will cost blood, sweat and tears to rid your country of Polish plumbers, but at the end, it will be worth it. We will be poorer for sure, we will hurt, but not a single Polish plumber will blemish this royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle…this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England” (**)

                      (*) Having said that, I think there is a moral component in the EU conception to unite a continent that has known wars nonstop since the fall of the Roman Empire. A Leave vote is a vote to also reject that path towards peace.

                      (**) is there a moral component here worth discussing? This is what a lot of people might be objecting to. Not the moral value of Stay vs Leave, but the fact that what drives the Leave vote is xenophobia. Your definition of better for the UK starts and ends with no funny foreigners.

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  7. J_A: Corbyn could not have been a worse leader, and instead of trying to fill in the Social Democratic Niche, he’s full blown OWS.

    Labour is so screwed up that I’m surprised you can actually pick Corbyn out from the chaos. I was really impressed with Labour’s priorities after the Conservatives stuck a marlinspike through their own head; a lesser party would have stepped up and given it a twist, but the PLP caucus rushed to form their own circular firing squad instead.

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  8. Why do so many people think the EU is an essential vehicle for peace in Europe?

    Ever since Hitler stopped making subtitled videos 71 years ago, all the existential threats to peace in Europe have been centered in Moscow, and its relationship with the rest of Europe. And Brexit or no Brexit, Russia is still well outside the EU, and is still run by people that are kinda jerks.

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    • Certainly having a big bad enemy was the best thing to bind western europe together. I think the belief is the EU is that by tying the countries together economically and legally it makes it is their interest to get along and for all their ships to rise together. If their economic futures are closely intertwined they are less likely to think killing each other will help. That goes along with free movement, the more people can mix freely the less likely their are to be gross misunderstandings and lack of understanding and fears of the Other. Of course Greece is feeling the downsides of having economics tied together and it seems clear open borders and such doesn’t just lead to a wide spread lessening of fears. All that makes sense but also doesn’t mean it works without negative aspects.

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  9. So, Leadsom has dropped out and the head of the leadership committee has said that the process won’t be restarted. Cameron says he’s delighted that May will be the next PM, and will submit his resignation to the Queen on Wednesday. What’s the before/after date on Article 50 notification now?

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      • Theirs not to reason why,
        Theirs but to do and die:
        Into the valley of Death
        Rode the six hundred.

        I don’t suppose the Tories plus the SNP are six hundred, but right order of magnitude. If I’m war-gaming things for the SNP, I would want the irreversible Article 50 notice made as soon as possible, believing that the UK’s withdrawal is a key to getting Scottish independence down the road a few years. And I don’t see too many of the Tories willing to take a chance on a snap election.

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      • I’m apaprently not as consistently minded as you are, because, even as a LibDem supporter, I think that having a PM that no one voted for manage a Brexit process whose terms and redlines are not known by the public, with the strong opposition of at least one of the constituent nations, and with Brexiters supporters clamoring for the promised rainbow farting English sheep, is a good reason for a snap election.

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        • I think there should be an election. I’m criticizing their previous position, not their current one.

          Well, to clarify further, I am criticizing the implementation of the previous position. I can understand the argument that governments should not be able to game the system by calling elections at favorable times. But having such a barrier to a called election leads to… well… this.

          It seems to me that the provision for fixed terms ought to include a call for an election in the event of a resignation or death of a prime minister, regardless of whether or not there is a Brexit involved. From there, keep the terms fixed, though, so basically it’s like a senatorial special election. You’re having an election to serve out the remainder of the term.

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