On Brexit 16 Nov 2018

Yesterday the Brexit deal was presented. The draft deal is available here.

Today almost everybody in the UK seems to believe there is no way Prime Minister May will have the agreement agreed to by the House of Representatives. Watch this video Can May Get Her Deal Through Parliament? to seek the answer to the question of the day.

The bottom line is that not only the British society is divided over the issue, but so is the Conservative Party of the UK. There are three approaches to Brexit within the Tories, and PM May’s is only one of three. Most people have heard about Boris Johnson and other hard liners from the European Research Group. The further away from the Union, the better – seems to be what this approach argues. Probably this group not only is against a deal May has negotiated; many of the hard liners are probably in favour of the no-deal Brexit on 29 March 2019.

The second approach is supportive of the deal and PM May. This approach can be summed up this way: we are in a business of negotiating a lose-lose, so we are negotiating not exactly the best of the worlds, but limiting the negative consequences of Brexit. There might be an alternative vague positive universe somewhere down the road (remember Global Britain?), but for the moment the London government is in the business of limiting the outflow of jobs and capital from Britain.

The third group are the Tory supporters of the Second Vote, like the ex-transport minister Jo Johnson. The argument goes: the Brexiters lied in 2016, the nation took a decision misled and today the pros and cons are more clearly visible. Let the nation vote again for only now we can know what the British want.

The problem with this approach is that it is unclear what happens if the current majority would be “for staying” in the EU, because this option will be off the table as of 29 March 2019. If Britain has a Second Vote after 29 March, it is effectively a vote to start accession into the Union. Accession terms today might look very differently than they looked in 1970s. It may well be that Britain would no longer secure its many opt-outs, most visibly, from the Eurozone.

If you divide the cake into three, who gets the biggest piece? And, what if we talk not even the half of a cake, but just under 50%? Here’s the House of Commons membership:

  • Tories, 316 seats – divided over the Withdrawal Agreement (WA)
  • Labour, 257 seats – mostly opposed to the WA
  • Scottish National Party, 35 seats – most likely opposed to the WA
  • LibDems, 12 seats – opposed to the WA
  • DUP, 9 seats – unknown (probably opposed)
  • Others, 11 seats

Clearly if the House was to vote today it would be a negative vote.

The next opening is crystal clear. It is PM May who holds the cards in the process. The alternative to the deal is a no deal Brexit. She will negotiate with partners to obtain a majority vote. As negotiations go, there could be new developments and surprises.

I wish for this miracle to happen: in order to get a “yes” to the deal from the House’s various corners what if PM May made a U-turn on the issue of the Second Vote? What if she was to promise that following the Brexit in March 2019 the “future deal” would actually include a renewed UK’s membership in the EU and for that to happen there would need to be a Second Vote?

 

#Brexit

 

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