The Brexit Genie Is Out The Bottle: Why Revoking Article 50 and a “People’s Vote” Settle Nothing

The Brexit Genie Is Out The Bottle: Why Revoking Article 50 and  a “People’s Vote” Settle Nothing

Revoke Article 50. Have a second referendum. Remain win. We forget this whole Brexit thing and things go back to normal.

One of the frequent complaints of remainers is that Brexiteers made brexit sound just too simple. It seems to me remainers are now very much in the same position.

To the simple formula posed in the opening paragraph, I have often asked: “Then what?” to which there is usually a blank stare followed by a response of “Well…we stay in the EU?”

Yes, and then what? We just pretend the last 3 years never happened? How detached from reality do you have to be to think that’s remotely realistic?

I’m sorry, but that doesn’t cut it. Brexiteers are often accused of not having a plan for brexit, but I’ve yet to hear any remainer express a plan for remaining in the EU that acknowledges any political realities of overturning the 2016 referendum result without enacting it.

Remainers might not like this, but just like they did not consider the 2016 referendum to be the final word on Brexit, if there is a second referendum that “remain” wins then Brexiteers will not consider that the final word either.

But they won’t be calling for a third referendum.

What will happen is this: In the mind of brexiteers, a mandate for leaving has been established by the the 2016 referendum and their narrative will be that the 2019 referendum is invalid.

The argument for a 2019 “remain” referendum overturning the 2016 result would be chronological -it comes after the 2016 one and therefore is a greater mandate, but surely that is not the only valid criteria for saying that a mandate is valid?

A very simple problem would be if the turnout for a second referendum is markedly lower than the first referendum. This would be a good argument for saying the mandate of the 2016 poll remained a stronger mandate

Even if the turn out is reasonable, there will very likely be a strong quibble over whether the question on the ballot paper is fair and gives leave a fair chance.

If the question is formulated differently to in 2016 – well, that’s obviously going to be a source of argument. Not least the fact that if the question is different then the 2019 referendum result cannot logically overturn the 2016 one since it is on a different question.

It’s then not a re-run referendum but a different referendum. If the second referendum involves a complex three way vote ,or only a vote on a certain form of Brexit, it will be an interesting opinion poll, but inferior as a fundamental democratic test to the 2016 referendum. On the pure, simple, question “Should Britain Leave or Remain in the EU?” the 2016 referendum would remain the gold standard benchmark.

Alternatively, If the question is formulated exactly the same – then it’s surely a valid point of view that being asked the exact same question twice amounts to bullying the electorate into giving the answer you want.

The key defence of the second referendum would be that it is more recent. However, with the passing of time, that argument would become less and less persuasive. If we are still arguing about Brexit in, say, 2028 the question “Do you support the 2016 result or the 2019 referendum result?” will consider the 3 year time gap to be almost entirely arbitrary.

Now you can have your own opinion on what would make a second referendum result more or less valid than the first one, but here’s the point:

Referendums, as remainers are so keen to point out, are “only advisory“.

Once two referendum results exist: one from 2016 backing leave and one from 2019 backing remain. (I’m assuming for the sake of being charitable to remainers that remain is on the ballot paper and remain wins) then all we are saying is that referendums have failed to resolve this issue.

Which means the issue will instead be resolved by general election.

Brexit supporting parties like UKIP and Farage’s Brexit Party, and potentially the Tory party if it ever got a proper Brexiteer leader, would not put in their manifesto a pledge to hold a third referendum.

Instead, they would put in their manifestos a pledge to simply enact the 2016 referendum and declare the 2019 referendum null and void.

Before we consider the political consequences of that, let’s consider the nature of political identity in the UK for a moment:

Ten years ago, if you asked someone to give you one word or phrase to describe their political views they would probably say “I’m a Tory” or “I’m a Labour voter” or “I’m left wing” or “I’m right wing”.

Something has happened to politics in our country however. Now, the most meaningful simple answer that any one can give to that question, the one defining characteristic which tells you something useful about someone’s politics, is whether they are a “Remainer” or a “Brexiteer”.

And notice that from the answer to that question, you can tell a lot more about a person than just their view on the UK’s membership of the EU. They have become political stereotypes.

We are told how “divided” the country now is is. Well, that’s the glass half empty way of looking at it. The other way of looking at it is that, the people of this nation have found political identities which they really care about and have coalesced around. People who are remainers are far more passionate about being remainers than they are about being Tories, or being Labour supporters. the same is true of Brexiteers in reverse. Being a Brexiteer is significantly more important to them than being a Tory or a Labour voter.

Remainer/Brexiteer is the new political divide in our nation. It’s more meaningful and descriptive of the political narrative of Britain in 2019 than talking about Left/Right or Tory/Labour.

You won’t kill that off now with a second referendum. In fact it will be even more entrenched.

The ultimate result can surely only be that the political parties divide along brexit/remain lines eventually.

It’s arguable that the whole problem of parliament has been the fact that the Brexit/remain divide does not neatly sit on opposite sides of the House of Commons and that is why consensus cannot be reached.

It may take several more reshuffles or elections, it may take the splitting of the Conservative party even, or it may mean the rise of new political parties altogether, but if remain win a second referendum, the only logical political divide for the political parties of the future in the UK is going to be along Brexit/remain lines…because that is the meaningful divide in the country as a whole. That is the choice that people are going to want to be able to express at the ballot box.

I for one, will never in my life vote for any party which has abandoned Brexit in its manifesto, whether there is a second referendum or not. And even if only half of the 17.4m people who voted leave feel the same way that’s enough votes to form a party of official opposition, or even government. Sooner or later that pool of votes will fall to the last party standing which supports Brexit.

Eventually, parties have to appeal to some kind of cohesive electorate to which they can speak a coherent message, and I just don’t believe that is now possible across the brexiteer/remain divide when that is now how millions of people now primarily identify their politics.

At some point parliamentary parties are going to have to reflect that. They will have to become either “Remain parties” or “Brexit” parties.

Once that becomes established, however it become established, we will end up with two political parties on opposite sides of the House of Commons, one with a fundamental party commitment to leave the EU, and the other to remain or rejoin it.

Neither will see any value in a further referendum as mandate for this.

Which then means every single General Election will become a proxy EU referendum.

What that means is the long term destiny of the UK being in or out the EU will never be known more than five years ahead.

This would be absurd and massively destructive to the UK. Long term investment needs more than a 5 year promise of stability to occur.

This is why a solution to brexit must be found. It must be a solution whereby the UK leaves the EU, thus honouring the 2016 referendum, but the concerns of remainers are sufficiently addressed for them not to constantly fight for us to rejoin and thus perpetuate the Leave/remain divide.

The solution was, and is, and will continue to be EFTA/EEA. The big brexiteer concession would be on freedom of movement of people. That is a big concession, but, in return, we get happy remainers who basically get to retain everything they love about the EU in practical terms (The four freedoms), and brexiteers can be happy that A) we can make independent trade deals b) we have our fishing waters and agricultural policy back C) we have supremacy of UK law on domestic policy d) We have blue passports.

To achieve this: two things need to happen:

Brexiteers need to stop living in fantasy land. You have to work out what you are willing to compromise on. You cannot drag 48% of the country kicking and screaming and dragging their heels into any kind of bright future. The thing that needs to give way is freedom of movement. Some leeway on that opens up all sorts of possibilities. The thing that must not be given away is the right to be out of the Customs Union for that is economic enslavement to the EU.

Remainers need to stop living in fantasy land. You have to recognise that any future reality in which the UK is perpetually in the EU following the 2016 referendum result is toxic and will re-define British Politics along remain/Leave lines forever. Is that really what you want? Don’t you want this to all be over and reach a settlement? There is no possible version of the future in which you wake up and the 2016 referendum result is just a bad dream, and a 2019 re-run will not achieve that.

Ironically, nothing will perpetuate the Brexit-limbo more in the long run than remain winning a second referendum.

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“The Begging Bowl Bill”. Parliament Just Handed The EU All The Cards

“The Begging Bowl Bill”. Parliament Just Handed The EU All The Cards

What took place in the House of Commons yesterday was truly shocking. It was as near to a political coup as has happened in this country since the English civil war. A bill brought, not by the executive, the government of this country, but, effectively, by the opposition, forced through the whole house of Commons process in just 9 hours – with two intentions: 1) To inhibit the will of the rightful executive 2) To thwart the will of the people as stated in the 2016 referendum.

This is as close to the direct rejection of democracy as we have ever seen in this country. What is simply staggering is how few people who happen to like the outcome (the stopping of a no-deal Brexit) are willing to admit what a corruption of the democratic process this is. They are falling into the truly shameful position of ignoring the means, because they approve of the ends. Down that road lies the end of all freedom and democracy, and dark chaos.

Because if remainers start to play by those rules, why can’t the far right do the same?

What happened last night was a bill was passed in the house of commons which prevents the government from pursuing a no deal brexit. They must ask for an extension should we reach the point of Article 50 being “timed out”.

Interestingly, there is nothing in the bill about what happens if the EU refuse an extension or attach conditions to an extension. In other words, no deal can happen, but only at the time and choosing of the EU, not UK parliament.

It should be obvious to anyone that this bill does nothing other than make the UK government negotiate our withdrawal from the EU with one hand tied behind their back. It doesn’t stop no-deal, it just stops the UK using No deal as a negotiation threat against the EU, yet the EU can still use it as a negotiation threat against the UK.

That’s either absurd, or, frankly, traitorous. I am aware that the word “traitor” has been used and over used in the debate about the EU, but it’s hard to see how a bill designed to do only one thing: Limit the UK’s options in negotiation with a foreign power, the EU, could not be seen as an act of treachery. Those doing this are acting directly in the interests of the EU against the interests of the UK.

We need to return the fundamental principle of negotiation: If you take no deal off the table as a theoretical option, then either you accept whatever deal the EU offers, or you don’t brexit at all.

This should be called “The Begging Bowl Bill”. Brexit can now only be agreed on the terms the EU allow: They can make us leave on no deal, they can give us the deal they want to give us, or we can remain. We simply have to go to them, begging bowl in hand and beg them for a good deal.

We on the other hand can only remain, or accept the deal we are given.

That is what this bill means. You don’t have to want no deal to see how this destroys the UK’s negotiation hand in any new or future attempt at withdrawal from the EU. I have never wanted, and still don’t want as a preference, a no deal brexit, but this bill is sheer insanity.

I think part of the problem here is that many people are locked into the psyche of seeing the EU as “Big” and the UK as “small”, so they think of course negotiations are going to be that way inclined.

Consider this fact: The UK has the second largest GDP of any EU nation. Not only that, our GDP is larger than the GDP of the 19 smallest EU nations combined.

From an economic point of view, the UK leaving the EU isn’t the EU going from 28 to 27. It’s the EU going from 28 to 9 nations.

The core of any global power is its defence firepower.

The UK is one of only two nuclear powers in the EU. (The other being France). The UK leaving the EU nearly halves the EU’s nuclear capability – the ultimate measure of a global superpower.

In terms of defence spending, the UK is either the first or second highest spender on defence in the EU, alongside Germany depending who’s figures you look at. This makes the UK the 5 or 6th largest defence budget in the world – more than Russia. France has comparable spending, Italy is about 75% of UK spending.

The next largest defence spender in the EU is Spain – at just a quarter of the UK budget and 18th in the world list. The rest of the EU’s nations are minnows in defence spending.

These are hard realities about what the UK leaving the EU means for the EU – it hollows out the European project to an alarming degree.

In the media discussion or the political discussion of Brexit have these facts been stressed in the psyche of the British General Public? I think not.

This bill ignores all these facts. It behaves as if the UK were weak, spineless and at the mercy of the EU. It cowers at shadows.

It might be because its proponents are stupid, or it might be because they are more concerned about the damage a no deal brexit might do to the EU than they are about the UK’s best interests – because many of them, I strongly suspect are EU puppets.

All of this is secondary, because even if the bill were good legislation, it is a horrendous constitutional abuse, on a number of counts:

  1. The Bill Passed the House in just 9 hours – There is a reason why bills are supposed to be read multiple times in the house of Commons and debated. It is to allow for good legislation to be passed. It is to allow for MPs to have a reading, go back to their constituency and take soundings from their constituents on how they feel about a piece of legislation and consider amendments, do reading and research. One has to wonder what the point of having three readings of the Bill in a single day can possibly be, other than to thwart the obvious intentions behind multiple readings of legislation for it to become law.
  2. The Bill was brought by the Opposition – A fairly basic principle of democracy that most people understand is that the people who win a general election get to form “The Executive” and the Executive get to choose what laws they want to make. We surely understand the general principle that the losers in a General election don’t get to make laws. Yet, in what amounts to not much more than a coup, the opposition have driven this legislation through the house, against the will of the executive of the country. This is extraordinary. Even more extraordinary is that the law being passed is specifically to limit the powers of the executive. This is upending of the law to a ludicrous degree. There are only a few precedents in British constitutional history since parliament put Charles I on trial and then to the Sword in 1649.
  3. The Bill has virtually no democratic mandate – There are various different ways in which one can argue that our MPs have the mandate to make and pass laws. On virtually every count, this bill has no democratic mandate. Below we shall consider each one separately.

The Bill Was Not Brought Forward With the Approval Of “The Executive”

This is an issue for the constitutionality of the Bill in its own right, as mentioned above, but is also a democratic abuse. The general understanding of how law making works in democracies is you have an “Executive” and a “Legislature”. The Executive run the country, and, in the UK system, originate laws, which they then put to the legislature to vote for or against or ammend.  In other governments, the legislature can form its own law, but that is not how the British Constitution is set up to work.

The right to come up with new laws in the UK comes from the executive. In the UK the right to form the executive comes from being the party which wins a general election, by getting the largest number of seats and forming a government. The Prime Minister is the head of the executive.

Now, there are many flaws in the UK system in this regard, but all get the general idea: The party getting the most seats, gets to form a government, and they get to make the new laws.

Except that’s not what happened yesterday. The non-executive part of parliament grabbed control of the house and brought forward their own laws for making, ad hoc.

The law that was passed was brought forward by Oliver Letwin (Tory) and Yvette Cooper (Labour). Yes, these are both elected MP, so that’s a mandate of sorts. However, MPs are elected on the basis of manifestos which say what their party will do, assuming their party gets to form a government.

They are way outside their mandate in this regard, they are operating as renegade MPs. 29,268 people voted for Yvette Cooper at the 2017 general election and 33,081 for Letwin. Just 62,349 people in total.

Last night, the interests of the entire UK were represented by the impromptu ad hoc formation of a pseudo-executive formed on the mandate of just those 62,349 votes of British people from Pontefract and West Dorset. (The constituencies of those two MPs)  An executive formed purely for the basis of that vote and then immediately dissolved and thus holding no accountability.

That is an absurd way to form law. Yet this bill forms a precedent for it. Now it’s happened once, it can happen again, and again. This is an dreadful corruption of the constitution.

If you are a remainer, you may be applauding it tonight, but, in some future scenario, will you applaud it when Tommy Robinson MP and Gerard Batten MP get together to form an executive and shove through some piece of legislation on the dead of night that you hate? I rather suspect not. This is why we have constitutional  limitations.

That may seem unbelievable to you now, but parliament has a long memory for precedent. Indeed, part of the justification of what happened yesterday was based on how the Official Secrets Act was passed over 100 years ago in 1911. It could haunt future generations.

The MPs Voting In “Aye” were not proportionately representative of the population

It has been stated that the vote was a “narrow” win 313 to 312, and passed on just one vote.

Actually it’s even worse than that.

Voting “Aye” were:

229 Labour MPs, 35 SNP, 14 Conservatives. 11 Lib Dems, 11 TIG MPs, Ind 8, Plaid 4, Green 1

Voting “No” were

290 Conservative, 10 DUP , 9 Labour, Ind 3

Now how representative are those of the population?

In the 2017 General election the Tories won 758,766 votes more than Labour. (13.6m to 12.9m)

The Tories defecting to the other side in this vote, represented 429,109  of those, while the Labour defections the other way represented 243,446 votes.

So looking at Tory and Labour votes alone, the “No” lobby represented 573,103 more votes at the last general election for the two main parties than the “Aye” lobby did

Of course, the picture gets more complicated when you try to include the smaller parties and independents,

However, the “Aye” lobby would, by any maths, have been nowhere near getting over the line without  the 35 seats of the SNP.

To secure those 35 seats in parliament, the SNP needed just 977,568 votes in the last election

Meanwhile, UKIP polled 594,068 votes in the last election..and no MPs.

The Green party polled less votes than UKIP, yet have an MP.

And remember this vote passed by just one vote.

Now, normally, this wouldn’t matter so much, because the only legislation passing before the house would be coming from the executive, who control what legislation is put to the house to vote on, and the executive is always made up of the party that won the most seats, which means the starting point for origination of the legislation is some kind of relatively solid democratic mandate.

The fact that legislation is then amended and voted for or against by a parliament which is not terribly proportionally representative is usually just a matter of irritation.

However, the rules changed last night: Now legislation can originate on the whim of a couple of renegade MPs (In this case Cooper and Letwin) on nothing more than their mandate of a few thousand votes in their local constituency.

Under these circumstances it matters tremendously that the house then voting on that legislation is not remotely proportionately representative.

It means the resulting legislation has no discernible democratic mandate at all.

The rearrangement of the MP’s party loyalties renders their mandate to vote contentious 

11 of the votes “Aye” came from the TIG group. These MPs were previously Labour and Tory but have defected to form an independent group. None of them have put themselves up to a by-election, and indeed, 3 Independents voted against who were elected on a Labour ticket at the last election.

We simply can’t say, when the general public voted for these MPs whether they did so on the basis of them as individuals or on the basis of their party mandate. Yet, in this hung parliament, which is now apparently making its own laws, they have significant sway on policy, without being in any way tied to any manifesto commitment. That’s deeply unsatisfactory.

It should be noted that both Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, when they defected from Conservative to UKIP put themselves forward to by-elections (and won). The TIG MPs have chosen not to do this.

They are thus renegades. Again, this wouldn’t matter so much if legislation was only arising from the executive, with its own democratic mandate, but at this point it seems legislation could be coming from anywhere…including these TIG MPs.

The “One Vote” which allowed it to pass was the vote of a convicted Criminal

Fiona Onasanya voted for the bill.

An MP who attends The House of Commons having been convicted of peverting the course of justice.

Additionally, she served only 28 days in jail. Some might suggest, had she been an “ordinary person” she’d have spent longer behind bars and not been able to vote at all.

This is dirty politics in the extreme.

On No Moral Basis Did The MPs Have a Mandate Against 17.4million Leave Votes

The final point should go without saying. However you do the maths, those who voted to legally block Brexit last night did by virtue of democratic mandates from their electorates significantly smaller than the mandate of the Leave vote itself.

This is anti-democracy in action.

We can’t go on like this.

No FT. “Brexit” has not “Cost” the UK £600m a week

No FT. “Brexit” has not “Cost” the UK £600m a week

The Financial Times is a respected journal. It is extraordinary, therefore, that they should run with the headline “Brexit Costs UK £600m a Week, says Goldman Study”

The claim is this: UK GDP is 2.4% lower now than it would have been at this point if we had not voted “leave” in 2016.

Wow. The number of ways in the headline is wrong are breathtaking. Remember, this is the Financial Times – a respected journal, not a tabloid.

First, it’s comparing what actually happened with a speculative hypothetical scenario of what might have happened if we voted remain. This is so obviously laden with the possibility of bias and assumption that it almost goes without saying it’s to be taken with an enormous pinch of salt.

Second, it’s not “Brexit” – it’s uncertainty and speculation about Brexit which is the issue. We haven’t left the EU. It’s no surprise to anyone that uncertainty effects financial investment in the short to medium term. It doesn’t mean brexit itself is a problem at all, just the sheer failure of Government to get an handle on it, and get on with it.

Third, and this is the most important: GDP is not a cost. Any writer of the FT should surely know this. If they don’t, they need firing right now, and if they do they are clearly being sensational and misleading with their headline.

GDP is the sum total of all financial activity in a country, private and public. It’s not a measure of profit. Thus, if you borrow a large amount of money, GDP goes up by the amount borrowed, not down.

If a government in crisis borrowed a trillion pounds, the countries GDP would skyrocket upward by a trillion pounds. It doesn’t mean the country is better off.

It’s also a measure of all activity private and public – so it says nothing about the public purse.

The figure is obviously intended to draw comparison with the infamous “£350m a week” from the Vote Leave red bus. However, that was talking about the money that Government spend from the public purse on the EU (and yes, it’s more like £200m than £350m – still a lot of money).

GDP isn’t like that. It’s the sum total of all the money in the private and public sector. If a bank or a big multinational do more business, then GDP goes up, it doesn’t necessarily mean the government is a single penny better off.

If the research means anything, and, as I said at the start, it’s unlikely that it does as its mostly speculative against a “what if” scenario that can never be proven false,( and its been generated by the heavily “remain” backing Goldman Sachs) all it shows at most is that private companies, and possibly government,  may have borrowed more conservatively due to not being sure how Brexit would pan out. In no real world scenario is that a “cost”, and it’s not even necessarily a bad thing.

 

98 Reasons to Remain In the EU – Refuted

98 Reasons to Remain In the EU – Refuted

With the Brexit process faltering, the claim that we should remain in the EU is being heard louder in recent weeks. However, it’s the same old arguments coming up again and again. This article claims to have 98 reasons to remain in the EU. One can only assume the author got bored before reaching 100. Many of these can be responded to generically, so we’ll start with three general responses:

 A.  “The EU Funding Fallacy” – You will often see claims that EU membership is good because the EU “funds” X or “Funds” Y. Well, where does the EU get its money from to fund things? From its member nations. It takes with one hand and gives with the other.

Our “Gross” bill to the EU is £350m a week. Now, it is quite true that we never actually pay this, (which is where the idea this number is a lie comes from as detailed here). The reality is we get a reduction in our bill (the rebate) which takes it down to £250m a week, and then a further amount which “comes back” to the UK in EU funded projects which takes our total contribution down to around £160m a week.

However, we still put in £160m a week more than we get out from the EU. Anytime you hear that the EU has “kindly” funded a particular project, all it means is that some of t he money we initially put in has come back to us. Whatever way you slice it, we are a net contributor to the EU. The EU has no source of money other than its member states. So somewhere along the line some states have to be putting in more than they get out and some are putting in less than they get out.

So if there is any project you happen to like (for example, EU funding an Arts project) why send the money on a circuit to Brussels and back? why not fund it locally? Why not have it funded from local councils and authorities which are directly accountable to local people via election to spend money wisely? Isn’t that obviously more sensible?

Now, it is true that there are some financial savings by virtue of working together in a single market. However, this doesn’t arise out of the EU as such. These arise primarily out of the single market. – the European Economic Area. The EEA is not restricted to EU countries. Norway is not in the EU, but is in the EEA.

Any “The EU funds this” argument is negated by A) us simply not being a member and funding the thing itself directly and B) retaining single market membership to benefit from the economic boosts of the single market.

There is also another problem: The EU funds things which it has a vested interest in. Has the EU funded a UK based film company? You can bet that film company will produce films which are “Pro-EU” in their political message, or, at the very least, will avoid producing anything which contains an “Anti-EU” message. If you look at where the EU chooses to spend its money funding projects, it essentially uses funding to fuel a propaganda machine. Money is spent on furthering the best interests of the EU.

B) The “We get this right or that legal Benefit from the EU” Fallacy. A typical example of this would be the workers right to a 48 hour working week. What this ignores is that any UK political party could have put a legal restriction on a 48 hour working week into their election manifesto, and if people wanted it, they could have voted for it. That’s how democracy works. Indeed, it’s fair to say the primary reason something like this wouldn’t have already appeared in a UK political party manifesto is because it wouldn’t be popular with the electorate.

So the argument here is presumably that you like the idea of the EU doing things undemocratically and unilaterally which would be resisted if they were put to the electorate.

This is fraught with danger. Even if you think that the EU want to do the right thing why would you trust a small group of elite law makers to do the right thing for hundreds of millions of people without consulting those hundreds of millions of people via a democratic process first? And, any organisation with the power to influence your life positively with new laws has the ability to influence it negatively  also. Why would you want that power without a democratic check or balance?

C) The “Affirming the Consequent” Fallacy – These are arguments which run in the form “Because we are in the EU we get X”, and draw the illogical conclusion “Therefore to get X we must be in the EU”. This is a flat out logical fallacy.  Called “Affirming The Consequent”.

One example of this would be the claim that because we are in the EU, students can benefit from the Erasmus program, and therefore will not be able to if we leave. While it is true that EU nations are automatically part of Erasmus, many non-EU nations are party to this also (e.g. Turkey, Norway, Iceland etc..).

Just because something is a “benefit of the EU” does not mean it is an exclusive benefit of the EU.

Right, now let’s look at that list of reasons to remain in the EU:

  1. Membership of the world’s largest trading bloc with over 500 million consumers, representing 23% of global GDP – This is Fallacy “C”. The “Trading bloc” is the EEA, and membership and access to this is possible without EU membership (e.g. Norway through the EEA, or the Swiss model with bilateral deals accessing the market).
  2. The UK has greater global influence as a member of the EU – This paints the picture that somehow the UK would be struggling for global influence if it were outside the EU. It suggest that somehow the EU is a junior party in the EU. Consider this. There are 28 nations in the EU. The UK is the second biggest economy in the EU. It is as large as the 19 smallest economies in the EU combined. We are one of just 5 members of the  UN security council. We are one of just 9 nuclear powers in the world. Neither of these are because of our EU membership We are the 5th largest economic country in the world by GDP.  The UK is head of the commonwealth, 53 countries covering a third of the worlds population. 360 million people speak English as their first language, 1.5 billion, one in five of the people on the planet, speak English as a second language.  These are all real significant points of influence in the world that Britain has, whether we are part of the EU or not.  There are also demonstrable areas where we would gain influence: We do not, for example, have a seat on the WTO. We are represented by the EU, rather than as our own independent nation. Even if it were true that the EU added to our influence, how much influence do we need to have? This arises out of the idea of the UK as somehow a struggling nation, needing a prop-up from the EU as opposed to one of the worlds most influential global players.
  3. The EU provides a counterweight to the global power of the US, Russia and China – This is highly presumptive about how global power works and should work. Why, for example, should we not want the UK to be close to the USA to act as a counterweight to the EU’s power? Why would we somehow see a powerful EU as an inherent good versus the other nations mentioned? Seems kind of racist actually. My personal view is that the UK should seek a close relationship with the other non-EU European nations: Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein – to provide a counterweight to EU control of Europe.
  4. With Trump in the White House the UK’s strongest natural allies are France, Germany and our other West European neighbours – The idea that our national allegiances of the last 100 years depend primarily on who happens to occupy the oval office for a 4 year Presidental term is just absurd. The reality of history for a century is that the USA is the UK’s most natural and powerful ally. If we are talking about military alliances (and ultimately all alliances are military at heart) the UK represents a disproportionately large part of the EU’s military capability.
  5. Tariff-free trade within the EU – See Fallacy C. We can have tariff free trade outside the EU if we have an FTA with the EU.
  6. The abolition of non-tariff barriers (quotas, subsidies, administrative rules etc.) among members – Again, this is a benefit of the EEA (Single market). We do not need to be a member of the EU for this. EFTA/EEA membership would suffice (fallacy C)
  7. Participation in free trade agreements with Japan and Canada as an EU member – This is ultimately a “Fallacy C” issue again. There’s no reason we could not have FTAs with these nations outside the EU. It should be conceded that we would need to agree those deals. However, joining EFTA would do a lot of legwork here automatically as we would become party to the EFTA FTAs
  8. The EU accounts for 44% of all UK exports of goods and services –This is true, but it’s not clear why it’s an argument for membership. It doesn’t account for 56% of UK exports and we aren’t in political union with those nations. Also notable is that in 2006, 55% of UK exports went to the EU – the EU is a shrinking market for the UK, and to some extent our extra- EU exports are being hampered by the EU trading bloc.
  9. The EU accounts for 53% of all UK imports of goods and services very similar to point 8, with the added point that, if the UK so chooses, after we leave the EU we could give unilateral free market access into the EU even if the EU deny us a free trade deal in return. There are advantages and disadvantages to doing this, but essentially it would be under our control.
  10. Cheaper food and alcohol imports from continental Europe – They are cheaper because they are tariff free. They would be Tariff free if we had any kind of FTA with the EU too, so no difference there. Moreover, What about imports from outside the EU? EU rules oblige us to put tariffs on non-EU food and drink imports which we could scrap or reduce if we were outside the EU.
  11. As a member of the EU the UK maintains a say in the shaping of the rules governing its trade with its European partners – We have to be careful what we mean by “A say”. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you, Joe Public, have a say. It means, at best, that our leaders get a seat at the negotiating table. However, Many areas of EU policy making are shifting to QMV (qualified majority voting) and this is an increasing trend over time. This means the UK has fewer options to veto EU proposals. Moreover, it’s not true we wouldn’t have any say if we were outside the EU. If the UK joints EFTA, then EFTA becomes the 3rd largest trading organisation in the world (Behind the USA and the EU itself). It’s simply not realistic that the EU could ignore the opinions of its largest customer in those circumstances.
  12. 3.1 million jobs in the UK are directly linked to exports to the EU – Unemployment is at a record low and has fallen since the referendum. The vast majority of industries simply do not seem concerned about this. Again, the question is whether EU membership is required, or merely Single market access. Which anything other than a “No Deal” brexit would allow, and even a No Deal Brexit allows – albeit with some  tariff barriers.
  13. Free movement of labour has helped UK firms plug skills gaps (translators, doctors, plumbers) – If we are an independent nation we can set whatever immigration policy we want. We can, unilaterally, allow anyone with a medical degree or a plumbing qualification fast track immigration if we, as a nation so choose. It’s fairly obvious this does not require the EU.
  14. Free movement of labour has helped address shortages of unskilled workers (fruit picking, catering) – The point above still applies. If we felt it was in our interest, we could allow as much immgration as we want as an independent nation. However, we need to ask the question “Why do unskilled workers come to the UK”? They come from Eastern European nations, and the reason they come is because of the differential in wages between the UK and their nations. This is ultimately not sustainable. Sucking the labour force out of nations like Romania is a not a good way forward for the EU long term. For it to continue to work that way, either Romania will start to come up to the same economic level as other EU nations, in which case the benefit of migrating to the UK for work will evaporate, and the EU will have to expand to new “poor nations” to generate the same effect, or Romania will be forever left behind, which hardly seems a way to operate a fair and equitable union of nations.
  15. The Single Market has brought the best continental footballers to the Premier League – Sergio Aguero is current top scorer in the Premier league with 19 goals and 124 career total in the league. He’s from Argentina. Which is not in the EU or even the single market. Again, at best, this is an argument for freedom of movement in the Single market (EEA) not membership of the EU.
  16. The EU accounts for 47% of the UK’s stock of inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), worth over $1.2 trillion – So 53% of FDI is not from the EU. which makes the point that you don’t need to be in political union for Foreign direct investment to exist. It’s true there is a benefit to FDI from the single market, it’s not clear how much of that is due to the EU per se. Again, membership of the EEA would be sufficient to maintain the vast majority of the FDI, and even non-membership would not reduce t he 47% to 0% or anything close.
  17. Access to the EU Single Market has helped attract investment into the UK from outside the EU – This is obviously an argument for access to the single market, but it’s not clear why it’s an argument for membership of the EU. Indeed, it is arguable, that actual membership of the EU, being behind the EU tariff wall and locked into the EU regulatory frame work is restrictive to external foreign investment from outside the EU. Being outside the EU framework but with ready access to the EU would be, arguably, a better position.
  18. No paperwork or customs for UK exports throughout the single market – This is virtually replicated by being in the EEA but outside the EU. Moreover, we could lower the paperwork and customs for trade from outside the EU.
  19. Price transparency and removal of commissions on currency transactions across the Eurozone – The four freedoms (Money, Goods, Services and People) are benefits of the Single Market (the EEA) not the EU. So again EEA membership is likely sufficient to get many of the benefits here.
  20. FDI into the UK has effectively doubled since the creation of the EU Single Market – Correlation is not causation. FDI has increased into most markets in the world because we live in a far more globally connected world (because of cheaper travel, the internet etc) than in the past. It’s entirely clear that the EU single market can take credit for this
  21. The UK’s net contribution to the EU budget is around €7.3bn, or 0.4% of GDP (less than an eighth of the UK’s defence spending) – This interestingly gives the lie to some of the other points on the list about “EU funding” – because when all is said and done we contribute more to the EU than we get back financially. £7.3Billion a year, or £140 million a week. So if the Brexit bus had said “We send £140m a week to the EU”, then there could be no argument it seems to me. Do we seriously think that anyone who was convinced to vote “Leave” because the bus said £350m, would have looked at £140m and thought “Oh, well, if it was £350m a week I’d vote leave, but as it’s only £140m I’ll vote remain”?
  22. No time consuming border checks for travellers (apart from in the UK) – Time consuming border checks are not necessarily a bad thing if they prevent trafficking of people, illegal guns, terrorists etc. Anis Amri, the attacker who carried out the 2016 Berlin Christmas market place attack was arrested in Italy having been able to take advantage of the border free schengen zone to make good his escape from Germany.
  23. The City of London, as a global financial hub, has acted as a bridge between foreign business and the EU – This is true, but provided the EU ends up with a relationship giving good unfettered access for Money goods and services to the EU, there is no great need to be concerned about leaving the EU negatively affecting this.
  24. British banks and insurance companies have been able to operate freely across the EU – Again, this is down to freedom of movement of money and the single market for services. This is a product of the single market/EEA, not the EU per se.
  25. Cornwall receives up to £750 million per year from the EU Social Fund (ESF) – See “Funding Fallacy A”
  26. Structural funding for areas of the UK hit by industrial decline (South Wales, Yorkshire) – See Funding Fallacy A
  27. Support for rural areas under the European Agricultural Fund for Regional Development (EAFRD) – See Funding Fallacy A
  28. EU funding for infrastructure projects in the UK including £122 million for the “Midlands engine” project – See Funding Fallacy A
  29. Financial support from the EU for over 3,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK –  See Funding Fallacy A
  30. EU funding for the British film industry – See Funding Fallacy A. I would highlight this as being a particular area of concern for impartiality of media. Effectively this means the film industry functions as pro-EU propaganda.
  31. EU funding for British theatre, music and dance – as above.
  32. EU funding for British sport, including football apprenticeships, tennis and rugby league – as above. Noticed what a huge fan of the EU Gary Lineker is?
  33. Glasgow (1990) and Liverpool (2008) benefited from being European capitals of culture, stimulating their local economies – Right. Just look how well that’s worked for Glasgow and Liverpool is not much better.
  34. EU competition laws protect consumers by combatting monopolistic business practices – Except that it’s an open secret that the EU is heavily influenced by the lobbyist industry. A staggering 30,000 people work as lobbyists in Brussels. These people’s jobs are to represent big business, and wine and dine EU MEPs and commissioners and get them to make legislation that suits their business interests.
  35. Strict controls on the operations of Multinational Corporations (MNCs) in the EU – Because the EU is in no way run for the benefit of Multinational Corporations? Please spend an hour watching this and get back to me on that one.
  36. Human Rights protected under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – See Fallacy B.
  37. The death penalty can never be reintroduced as it is incompatible with EU membership – Again an example of the Fallacy B and demonstrates the point nicely. If it’s impossible for any democratic vote in an EU nation to legalise the death penalty (because the EU law is “untouchable”) we should not that at some point the reverse might be true. If the EU law at some point demanded that nation states have the death penalty, then the democratic will of the people of that state would also be powerless to prevent it.
  38. Minority languages such as Welsh and Irish are recognized and protected under EU law – Fallacy B.
  39. The right to reside in any EU member state – The EEA allows this. EU not required.
  40. The freedom to work in 28 countries without visa and immigration restrictions – This seems to just be restating point 14.
  41. The mutual recognition of professional qualifications has facilitated the free movement of engineers, teachers and doctors across the EU- This seems to be restating point 13. Could it be that the author was just replicating some points and hoping no one would notice?
  42.  The mutual recognition of educational diplomas – Two nations can choose to do this without being in the EU if they so choose, on the basis of the merit of the qualifications. No EU required.
  43. The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) has standardized assessment of language proficiency across the EU – While this is useful, again, you don’t need to be a member of the EU to benefit from it. A non EU nation can opt to chose to use the same standardized assessment.
  44. The freedom to study in 28 countries (many EU universities teach courses in English and charge lower fees than in the UK) – Again, the EU is not required for this. A bilateral agreement on student exchange is perfectly plausible without being under joint political control.
  45. The Erasmus programme of university exchanges (benefitting 16000 UK students a year) – Fallacy C. Not all Erasmus programme nations are EU member states.
  46. The freedom to set up a business in 28 countries – There are circumstances where the EEA alone may not provide your ability to do this or it may be complex, but not impossible. However, really, how many people in the UK have a burning desire, not just to go and work in Europe but to set up a business elsewhere in Europe?
  47. The ability to retire in any member state – EEA membership could allow for some restrictions of freedom of residency that may effect this, but would not render it impossible It also seems to me this is not an unqualified “good”. Most people will take more out of a healthcare system in retirement than at any other point in their lives. It’s clearly economically problematic to pay into the healthcare system of one country, but then go and retire to another and “draw out” of that countries healthcare system, unless both systems are identical in their funding and provision. Which EU healthcare is not – yet.
  48. Pension transferability – It’s not entirely clear what this point means, but again, money and services freedom across the EU is possible with EEA membership alone for the most part.
  49. The right to vote in local and European Parliamentary elections if resident in any member state – Yay for the right to elect your puppet government!
  50. EU laws making it easier for British people to buy property on the continent –This again might be more limited with EEA membership alone. I will concede that ex-pats are a small group of people for whom there may be real benefits to EU, but it’s not impossible to replicate these benefits from outside the EU if goodwill existed to do so between the EU and the UK.
  51. The right to receive emergency healthcare in any member state (EHIC card) – EHIC is valid in EFTA states. No EU membership required.
  52. Consular protection from any EU embassy outside the EU – This is an interesting one. I’ll concede that, in the event one found oneself in need of consular protection somewhere in the middle of Africa, miles from the UK embassy and able to get to the nearest French Embassy, this might prove useful. Although, again, between friendly allied nations, an arrangement on mutual assistance is possible without the EU.
  53. The EU has played a leading role in combatting global warming (Paris 2015 climate change conference) The 2016 event was held in Marrakech. The 2017 event was held in Fiji. All of them are United Nations organised events. The “Paris Agreement” was signed by 174 nations, and it was actually signed in New York. Not Paris. I think the EU influence might be overplayed here.
  54. Common EU greenhouse gas emissions targets (19% reduction from 1990 to 2015) – This would be the targets that are responsible for the deaths of 38,000 people a year due to the EU stupidly promoting diesels for decades?
  55. Improvements in air quality (significant reductions in sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides) as a result of EU legislation – The problem the EU itself created by promoting Diesels through its legislation in order to reduce CO2? Even though this would increase sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide?
  56. Reductions in sewage emissions – From the UK point of view this is a Fallacy B. Although clearly this is something where international cooperation is useful.
  57. Improvements in the quality of beaches and bathing water – Fallacy B
  58. EU standards on the quality of drinking water – Fallacy B. UK drinking water has long  been to higher standards than much of mainland Europe and the EU standardisation of regulations has, for the most part caused other EU nations to catch up. That’s a good thing obviously, but it’s not clear why the UK remaining in the EU is required for this benefit to continue
  59. Restrictions on landfill dumping – National law can do this if we so choose
  60. EU targets for recycling – We can have national legislation on recycling if we want it.
  61. Common EU regulations on the transportation and disposal of toxic waste – This is clearly useful if you’re transporting waste across borders but, err, why would you be wanting to do that? Also, the common standards are likely within the EEA.
  62. The implementation of EU policies to reduce noise pollution in urban areas – What, the kind of EU nonsense law which gives rise to this absurd situation?
  63. EU policies have stimulated offshore wind farms – One of the great problems with the EU is its ability to unthinkingly implement large change on a huge scale with no real foresight into the negative impacts. Windfarms are potentially an ecological nightmare.
  64. Strict safety standards for cars, buses and trucks Euro NCAP regulations are industry standard across the EEA. no EU membership required. At this point EU regulations on car safety have been broadly positive, but like most things with the EU it can’t stop itself regulating and going to far. As it appears to be doing on car safety.
  65. Protection of endangered species and habitats (EU Natura 2000 network) – EU law is constructed far removed from the real world, with damaging outcomes. One example of this is EU environmental law about endangered species. For example, if you have bats living in your loft, you are banned from disturbing them. If there is hole in your roof, you can’t block it up and prevent the bats reaching their nest. You would be banned from doing a loft conversion. All this sounds great, except that it could mean your house could fall into dilapidation from the hole in the roof and you would still not be allowed to repair it. As such, having bats living in your loft goes from being an interesting quirk of your property to a liability and a nightmare. As a result, anyone finding a bat in their loft, if it is not yet officially “known” as a bat residence is likely to quietly kill the bats or get rid of them (although this is illegal) rather than have their loft declared a “bat residence” with all the implications and limitations for the future of their future of their home. This is a classic example of EU over-regulation having unintended negative effects. Bats are, from a homeowners point of view, now a very significant “pest”.
  66. Strict ban on animal testing in the cosmetics industry – Two points on this: First, the UK could independently ban animal testing if it wanted. Second,  no one is seriously arguing that we should ban animal testing on drugs. While it may seem morally better to us to test a drug on an animal than a cosmetic product, I’m not sure how it makes any difference to the animal the purposes for which it is being tested on. Moreover, the EU can only legislate for the EU. There’s nothing to stop a multi-national cosmetics company doing related animal testing outside the EU, where not only could the animal be subjected to testing,but also generally lower welfare standards.
  67. Membership of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which monitors the quality and safety of medicines (until recently located in London) – Other agencies exist. The American FDA for example and the UK’s own MRHA. It is enormously euro-centric thinking to only the Euro agency has value or utility.
  68. 13% of EU budget earmarked for scientific research and innovation – Again, funded out of our EU budget contributions. – Fallacy A.
  69. The UK receives £730 million a year in EU funding for research – Fallacy A. How very generous to get £730m a year back, when we are paying in £140m a week!
  70. EU funding for UK universities – Funding Fallacy A. – And worse than that the EU specifically funds universities in such a way as to promote its own agenda. For example funding Jean Monet chairs (professorships) in political sciences. These mean that students learn political science under professors who’s position is directly funded by the EU. Guess what kind of bias their political teaching has?!
  71. Cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy as a member of Euratom – The treaties which lay the groundwork for Euratom date back to 1957 – predating the EU. Switzerland is not in the EU but has a working relationship with Euratom, and there is no reason to think the UK could not do likewise outside the EU.
  72. Minimum paid annual leave and time off work (Working Time Directive) – Fallacy B – These things are now in UK law. They will not stop being UK law unless the UK changes them after leaving the EU. And if they were changed, just vote for a party who promises to reintroduce them. Is this not what democracy and elections are for?
  73. Equal pay between men and women enshrined in European law since 1957 – And in the UK since the Equal Pay Act 1970 – before we joined the common market. How is this an argument for needing to be in the EU?
  74. The right to work no more than 48 hours a week without paid overtime – This is simply restating 72.
  75. Minimum guaranteed maternity leave of 14 weeks for pregnant women –  again Fallacy B, and is now in UK law as for point 72.
  76. Rights to a minimum 18 weeks of parental leave after child birth – see previous.
  77. EU anti-discrimination laws governing age, religion and sexual orientation – Again, now written into UK law, but why on earth would we think these things need to be decided by the EU for us? If we, the people of the UK feel these things are important, we are perfectly capable of voting for parties that support these policies in general elections are we not?
  78. EU rules governing health and safety at work – see previous.
  79. The rights to collective bargaining and trade union membership are enshrined in EU employment law – And if you want these things in UK law, vote for them in general elections. You might say “Ah, but they might be removed from us in UK law!”. Well, anything that can’t  be removed is a liability. What if, one day the EU decide to ban trade union membership? The same mechanism of unchangeability  by democratic processes which seems to work for you now, will work against you then.
  80. The UK enjoys an opt out from the single currency and maintains full control of its borders as a non-member of the Schengen area – I think it’s pretty certain we won’t be joining the Euro if we leave the EU? Not quite sure what point this is making.
  81. Since 1985 the UK has received a budget rebate equivalent to 66% of its net contribution to the EU budget – This is a bit like being told you’ve paid 66% of the full price for a sofa in a DFS sale….
  82. EU cross-country coordination offers greater protection from terrorists, pedophiles, people traffickers and cyber-crime – Or great invasion of your privacy, or the ability to be carted off to a foreign jail by a European Arrest warrant.
  83. The European common arrest warrant – The ECW is a liability to your liberty. The journal of the Law Society Agrees.
  84. Europe-wide patent and copyright protection – This is not unique to the EU. It’s not clear why membership of the EU is required to be the beneficiary of copyright protection.
  85. EU consumer protection laws concerning transparency and product guarantees of quality and safety – In the event we leave the EU, it’s fairly obvious that the CE standard for products is going to continue to be the standard for the vast majority of items, and in most cases British standards are going to meet or exceed EU standards.
  86. Improved food labeling – This is unlikely to change. We have established the same standards, it to deviate from the CE standard is going to be a pointless complication for producers, whether we are in the EU or not.
  87. A ban on growth hormones and other harmful food additives – Many of these bans are not well evidence based and mainly targeted and keeping out cheaper food sources from outside the EU. I defy anyone who goes to Australia or America on holiday to tell me they were seriously worried about what they were eating when they tucked into a Burger or a steak while on holiday.
  88. Cheaper air travel due to EU competition laws – But..air travel is bad for the environment? And the EU is constantly tightening regulations on that. I don’t see promoting cheap air travel being a policy compatible with the EU’s enivornmental policies for very long.
  89. Common EU air passenger rights – again, these are mostly shared within the EEA.
  90. Deregulation of the European energy market has increased consumer choice and lowered prices – Actually the EU applies minimum levels of taxes and tariffs to Fuels and energy, which we could cut if we were outside the EU.
  91. Mutual recognition of the common European driving license – Mutual recognition of driving licences between the EU and the UK is perfectly possible even if we are not EU members.
  92. The introduction of the European pet passport – see previous
  93. The abolition of mobile telephone roaming charges – Does anyone seriously think the mobile phone companies have not simply shifted their charging structures to absorb the loss of profits from roaming charges into other parts of their business?  Which means we are now all paying incrementally for our roaming charges for our two week European holidays during the other 50 weeks of the year.
  94. The EU acts as a guarantor of the Irish Good Friday Agreement – This is a really thoroughly nasty argument. It suggests that we should be afraid of the IRA and their guns and bombs if we dare leave the EU. How is that an argument?
  95. A frictionless Irish border – The UK have committed to a frictionless border after Brexit. It is the EU who refuse to do likewise and are therefore using the threat of terrorism rearing its head for political leverage against the UK.  I don’t see this as a good argument to remain in the EU.
  96. The EU acts as a guarantor of the special status of Gibraltar – No. The Royal Navy acts as guarantor of the special status of Gibraltar, and the Spanish would do well to remember that.
  97. The EU helped support and maintain democracy in Spain, Portugal and Greece from the 1970s and these countries have become major destinations for British tourists – I’m intruged to know how the EU, founded on 1st November 1993, managed to support and maintain democracy since the 1970s? One can only assume the author means the “EEC”, which is essentially what is now the “EEA” today, not the EU.
  98. EU membership has helped facilitate intercultural dialogue – Maybe, but not in the European Parliament. Of 751 MEPs – just 12 are Black or Ethnic Minority.

Again, I’m still waiting to hear the compelling argument of why the UK’s interests would not be equally or better served by being out of the EU and exploiting a deep and extensive trade relationship, probably through EFTA with membership of the EEA.

 

Yesterday’s Indicative Votes: EFTA+EEA Sadly Overlooked

Yesterday’s Indicative Votes: EFTA+EEA Sadly Overlooked

After months of whining about not liking the Government deal, all MPs got the chance to give their opinions on a range of options. A lot of this was always going to be deeply predictiable. Hardcore remainers would vote to remain, hardcore leavers would vote to leave. But did we learn anything more than that?

Here’s a rundown of the options which MPs voted on:

1.”No deal” (John Baron’s proposal – 160 for, 400 against): This option is basically the hardline brexiteer option. Voting in favour of leaving even without a deal.  (John Baron’s proposal – 160 for, 400 against)

2. “Common Market 2.0″(Nick Boles’ proposal – 188 for, 283 against): This is effectively staying in the EU but without being official members. It would keep us in the common market and the customs union (see below for more on Customs Unions) and therefore wedded to EU trade policy – but with no say in that policy. What “The Common Market” means is that two nations agree to abide by the same standards on building a particular good or providing a particular service so that the two are interchangeable – the product is legal and appropriate for sale in both countries. This is not a bad thing in itself. It becomes a problem when wedded to the Customs Union. (see below)

3. EFTA + EEA (George Eustice’s proposal – 65 for, 377 against): Effectively this is the Common market, but without a customs union.  Joining EFTA and remaining the EEA does mean making significant concessions from the leaver side on things like freedom of movement. It means we would have to obey EU law in so far as we interact with the EU but importantly, not in domestic law. It gets us out of common fisheries, so we can take back control of our fishing waters, it gets us out of common agricultural policy. Perhaps most importantly, it gets us out of the customs union. This means we can make both independent trade deals, and make joint trade deals with the 4 other EFTA nations (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein). This means over time we would build a portfolio of non EU dependent trade, which would mean we were less dependent on the EU for trade. It’s not a perfect option, but it’s a real option, which produces real gains over EU membership.

I can’t really see any downside to this option for average person who voted remain in 2016, who basically just wants easy travel of people and goods to and from mainland Europe and the ability to live and work there. It’s not good for remainers who are actually directly in the pay of the EU. It’s a good option for brexiteers who want to take back control of things like trade policy and our fishing waters. The one group of people it doesn’t do much for is Brexiteers who are obsessed with control over immigration. It would allow some degree of greater control over immigration than at present but not complete control.

4. Customs Union (Ken Clarke’s proposal – 264 for, 272 against): Here’s a short explanation of tariffs and customs unions: Countries often charge taxes on imports, usually to protect their own businesses in that area. For example. Spain grows oranges. So does Brazil, and their oranges are much cheaper. Spanish Orange growers want their business protected, so Spain slaps an import tariff on Brazilian oranges so they cost the same as Spanish oranges in Spanish shops to keep the Spanish orange growers in business. The EU’s central policy, the thing it all started with, is a Customs Union. What this means is that all the nations of the EU agree to charge the same tariffs to outside nations, but charge no tariffs to each other. What this means in practice is that the EU sets all tariffs for all nations on all items.

This creates a problem: Why should Britain be forced to charge a tariff on Brazilian oranges, making them more expensive for British consumers, simply because that suits Spanish orange growers? This is clearly not in our interests. You might be thinking “well, at least the government gets the tax revenue”. Nope. Tariffs are paid to the EU not to Westminster. This is why, if we left the EU, and dropped our tariffs on imports, things like food and clothing could get considerably cheaper while costing the government nothing in lost revenue.

An important aspect of being in a Customs Union with the EU is that you clearly cannot make a Free Trade Deal (FTA) with another nation while you are in a customs union with the EU. The whole point of an FTA is that the two nations in it don’t charge each other tariffs. All the while we are in a Customs Union we are beholden to charging whatever tariffs in the EU tells us to to outside nations. Trade deals are the building block of international relationships and interaction. If we are in a Customs Union with the EU, we can’t make them.

For this reason, a vote for a Custom’s Union is fundamentally a vote to remain in the EU.

5. Labours’ Alternative plan (Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal – 237 for, 307 against) : A Customs Union. With added Unicorns and rainbows.

6. Revoke Article 50 (Joanna Cherry’s proposal – 184 for, 293 against): The hardcore remainer option. Revoke article 50 and just pretend the referendum was just a bad dream and 17.4 million people didn’t vote to leave the EU. Then expect everything to go back to normal. Otherwise known as the “Bucket of sand to stick your head in” option.

7. Second Referendum (Margaret Beckett’s proposal – 268 for, 295 against): See the option above. This is basically the same, but with some recognition that there must be a veneer of democratic accountability to ignoring the largest democratic exercise in British history.

8. Standstill arrangement (Marcus Fysh’s proposal – 139 for, 422 against): Maintaining tariff free trade in the context of an otherwise “No Deal” brexit in return for EU contributions.

What the 8 different options mean:

So in summary: Options (1) and (8) are hardcore leave options

Options  (6) and (7) are hardcore remain options

(2) (4) and (5) all involve a Customs Union and are therefore effectively remaining in the EU, except that we would officially be non-members. They all deny us the possibility of independent trade deals and therefore couldn’t really be considered to get us out from the EU in a meaningful sense. Notice that all three were proposed by people who campaigned for “Remain” in 2016.

Option (3) is a genuine “Brexit” albeit with some really pretty major concessions to remainers. Notice this is a proposal tabled by someone who campaigned for “Leave” in 2016 – George Eustice.

So, while it’s true that there are some die-hards on both sides who are entrenched in their positions, the only person offering a real olive branch to the other side in this process is a brexiteer: George Eustice’s EFTA+EEA proposal.

Depressingly, This is also the proposal that attracted less voting support than any other option.

Analysis of the votes:

The fact is all the MPs are just so entrenched in their own positions at this point that they simply cannot or will not think laterally.

Most of the Leave supporting MPs and hunkered down in the trenches of “No Deal”. The remainers are simply offering endless successions of patronizingly obvious versions of BRINO – “Brexit in Name Only”, or even just flat out asking for a second referendum or to revoke article 50.

Looking at individual MP’s voting records, the usual suspects mostly voted true to form. Jacob Rees Mogg voted in favour of 1 and 8 and against everything else.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, The Independent Group MPs voted in favour of revoking Article 50 and a second referendum and against everything else.

The bulk of ordinary remainer MPs voted to varying degrees in favour of the various BRINO options 2, 4 and 5. With some of them dabbling with voting for a second referendum too.

At first glance, it appears that EFTA+EEA should be dead in the water, but looking at individual MPs voting records reveals something interesting.

Although the group of MPs that voted for option (3) was small, what was notable was that it actually included a significant number of remainers.  Damian Collins, Damian Green and Nicky Morgan, all fairly staunch remainers, voted in favour of it. . Also, while a lot of the “big name” leavers voted against it, there was a chink of light in that some leavers (Dennis Skinner) voted for it, and a lot of  fairly significant leavers abstained on it rather than voting against: Kate Hoey and Liam Fox for example.

So although the numbers in favour of it were small, there was this about it: It was a motion, put forward by a brexiteer, which a significant number of the other side felt able to support.

None of the remainer proposed motions attracted any support from brexiteers. None of the other Brexiteer proposed motions attracted any support from remainers.

Which means, despite getting the least number of votes, if the name of the game is finding consensus across the spectrum, it was the most successful option.

In the “Aye” lobby for the EFTA+EEA vote there were just 65 MPs, but, importantly, and uniquely amongst all the indicative votes, those 65 were a genuinely disparate mix of both “remainer” and “Brexiteer” MPs.

On that basis, EFTA+EEA was the the only “successful” vote of the day.

Why Jacob Rees-Mogg has Folded his Poker Hand and Backed May’s Deal

Why Jacob Rees-Mogg has Folded his Poker Hand and Backed May’s Deal

It is reported that Jacob Rees Mogg, political king of the hardline brexiteers is softening on Mays deal and may actually vote for it. What on earth is going on?

This report has sparked utter fury amongst the online forums of brexiteers who were convinced that “No Deal” was something JRM supported.

There has generally been a failure to appreciate what “No Deal Brexit” is all about. “No deal” Brexit is not a real thing, as explained here. It is not some great solution to all our brexit problems. What it should have been was the loaded gun that the UK pointed at the head of the EU with enough threat to make them worried we might actually pull the trigger, and thus cause them to crack, while actually not really planning to pull the trigger. Anyone who has ever watched Jack Bauer interrogating a suspect in an episode of 24 will understand this concept.

In our analogy Jacob Rees-Mogg is, (if you can imagine this), like a raging Jack Bauer, sweat beading down his forehead, as he holds a Glock 17 to the head of the EU shouting “Give me Free Market access without enforced Regulatory alignment, or I WILL pull the “no deal” trigger DAMMIT!!”.

We all know that our hero Jack Bauer won’t actually pull the trigger…and neither will Jacob Rees-Mogg..because they are both upright and decent men in their own very different ways.

The right way to use the “No Deal” threat

This was the correct way for “No Deal” to be used – as a stick to beat the EU with. On that basis, it required that the UK government, all of parliament and that the people of the UK united behind the threat of no deal. It required that, some months ahead of time, the UK government made every possible preparation for Brexit as publicly as possible, and sent a message to the EU – looking them in the eye and saying “We are prepared for no deal – now, let’s talk about a deal”. If we had done that, we would have, almost certainly, got a better brexit deal out of the EU.

This did not happen. Part of the blame for that is on Parliament. Part of it is, I’m afraid, in my view, on individual members of the population. Every “anti-brexit” march and petition over the last 2 years has weakened the UK’s negotiating hand. It has made it more likely that we will leave the EU on significantly worse terms for the UK than we would have otherwise done.

If, at any point since 23rd June 2016 and now you have actively sought to overturn the referendum result, or given the impression ro the EU that the result could be overturned – then you have, in some small way, contributed to a worse brexit if brexit happens.

However, by far and away, the largest blame lies with the Remainer MPs who have done this, rather than the individual members of the  population.

It seems to me, Jacob Rees-Mogg has been trying to use “No Deal” in this way. He knows now “no deal” is a busted flush, and so he’s folding his hand, having held onto it for as long as he dare.

However those who are being smug about JRM altering course are not being honest with themselves or others: Had the country as a whole, and parliament in particular, committed itself properly to Brexit on the 24th June 2016, we would not be in the position we are now in.

The Two Wrong ways of using the threat of  “No Deal”

  1. The Farage “No Deal is a Great Deal” Way – Now, I’m calling this the “Farage” way because he hasn’t yet backed down on this. It’s important to say that he might just be taking the same approach as JRM but hasn’t yet folded his hand. However, this is the approach which actively tries to argue that, not only are we prepared for no deal, but we want no deal. Unfortunately, Farage and others like him have managed to convince an awful lot of brexiteers this is a good idea. Many of those brexiteers are right now calling Jacob Rees-Mogg a “turncoat” because they have simply never understood the poker game that we are playing. I have laid out here what the problem is with actually pursuing No deal, particularly in a chaotic way of just “falling out” of the EU unintentionally. What I have not yet figured out is whether people taking this approach are either geniuses who have a cunning plan, that I can’t see, to make it work; idiots who just don’t understand the obvious catastrophic implications of an unplanned no deal; or just borderline anarchists who just want to see the whole system burn and rebuild from the ashes.
  2.  The Theresa May “Vote for my deal or you’ll get No Deal” way – Theresa May has often been considered “hardline” by some because she’s kept “No deal” on the table. However, we have to understand that she has never seriously used “No deal” to threaten the EU at any point. Which is why she ended up with a rubbish deal. No, instead, she has used no deal to threaten  parliament to vote for her deal. Notice the different emphasis here: When we threaten the EU with “no deal”, what we are saying is “You know what? No deal wouldn’t be so bad…we’re ready for it“. That is not how Theresa May has used the threat of no deal. She has used it to say to parliament “No deal would be absolutely awful – so vote for my deal”. To this end, she has quite deliberately kept no deal on the table, but not planned for it until the last moment – in order to make it the scariest deterrent possible to garner support for her rubbish deal in the House of Commons. Of course, this works directly against the interests of using “No Deal” as as threat against the EU.

Why Mogg is Now Backing May’s deal

So “No Deal” is off the table. At this point, Brexiteers have two options: Back May’s deal or accept that we might have to revoke article 50 and take a whole different run at things. It seems to me unlikely that we can sort out a meaningful alternative to May’s deal in the context of short or medium term extensions to Article 50 – although that is just possible. 

In a recent blog post I stated why I felt revoking article 50 could actually work well from a brexiteer point of view. However, I also recently argued for why May’s deal may yet get through. Precisely because I felt it possible enough brexiteers and remainers may yet break for May’s deal if they saw no other route out. This is what appears to be happening. It seems, ultimately, it is the ERG brexiteers who are feeling the need to blink and get behind the deal.

This, by the way, gives the lie to those who claim May is now a “brexiteer”. It’s the ERG who are having to get behind the deal for fear of ending up with “No Brexit”, not the hardline remainers who are having to get behind it for fear of “No Deal”…which tells you, ultimately, which side of the argument May comes down on, when push comes to shove.

So why has Mogg made this leap? A few reasons:

Legally we will have left the European Union -This is an enormously important point. We would, despite every caveat and every limitation, be out of the EU.

Now, to be clear, my core reason for leaving the EU is a moral one. I have laid out part of my moral conviction that the EU is not something we should be part of here . It’s morally not an organisation I feel happy being a part of. As such, even if in every conceivable way it is materially worse to be out than in, I think, ultimately I still back getting out on these terms. Morally it’s arguably better to be a slave of the EU than to be giving tacit approval to the enslavement.

Jacob Rees-Mogg knows that there are a swarming mass of politicians and people of influence who are desperate to keep us in the EU. He knows that getting legally “out the door” will be a significant hindrance to them getting back in. To rejoin the EU, we would be starting as new members. That means taking the Euro and abandoning the pound, and that would be a really difficult sell to the British public. He’s banking that won’t be politically plausible. That seems to be a dangerous gamble, but he might just be right.

I suspect he’s also banking on the fact that, provided we get out, May will then resign as leader, we will get a more “brexit minded” government (maybe with a proper Brexit Prime Minister). If the ERG Tories can grab control of the Conservative party, they can then try and win a majority at the next election and do something much more productive with the final deal than May has achieved with the withdrawal agreement.

The Withdrawal agreement CAN be scrapped – It has been said that there is no legal escape from the withdrawal agreement. I myself have made this point. However, at this point, I think Jacob Rees-Mogg is preparing to play a bigger curveball than any of us imagined on this point.

He’s banking that if, come 2021, we have a Prime minister with some back bone and real support for Brexit (possibly a posh chap with glasses and a double barrelled surname for example) they may actually simply walk into the EU, tear up a copy of the withdrawal agreement in front of Jean Claude-Juncker and say “You can take your agreement and shove it..”

This would be illegal…but…so what?

At the end of the day, it’s governed by international law only. International laws are truly laws which  are made to be broken. The EU would be massively annoyed, but really, are third party nations like the USA or Canada going to impose trade sanctions on the UK, one of the worlds largest economies, and a significant military power, because we have been “naughty” and broken our agreement with the EU? Highly unlikely.

This is, I think, the new “nuclear option” that Jacob Rees-Mogg is prepared to play in 2021 if the final deal after the withdrawal agreement is not to our liking. Simply flout international law, watch other nations grumble about how we really ought to stick by the contract, put our hands on our hips and say “Yeah..what are you gonna do about it then?”

The only way this possibly works is by having a government led by a leader who’s hard as nails. What it says to me is that JRM is preparing to strike a deal, whereby, provided the ERG vote for May’s deal, May will resign, and then he’s banking on the Brexiteers being able to grab control of the Conservative party.

It’s a bold move. It’s far from ideal, as JRM himself admits, but it might just work.

 

Tactical Retreat: Why, For Brexiteers, Revoking Article 50 is the Best Way Forward

Tactical Retreat: Why, For Brexiteers, Revoking Article 50 is the Best Way Forward

The key to victory in any battle is knowing when is the right time to retreat. D-Day could not have happened without Dunkirk. I’m fast coming to the conclusion that Revoking Article 50 is now the best way forward for Brexit. The Enemy is on all sides, and we are boxed in. Pressing forward at this point will see Brexiteers isolated, their supply lines over-stretched, and the remainers will completely surround and destroy them.

The standard brexiteer mantra at the moment is “Leave on 29th March”. We need to be real. This is just no longer a realistic option. It’s six days a away and we don’t even know if that’s what’s going to happen. This is the biggest single event in British history in living memory and we simply cannot stumble into it with less than a week’s notice it’s going to happen without catastrophe.

WTO, or “No Deal” might be a viable option, if, say, three or six months ahead of leave date, we had committed to that course of action, and made “No Deal” our plan A. We did not do this.

What brexiteers must not now do is panic and try and force through a “bad leave”.  Here’s why.

“Leave at Any Cost” Will Not Work. It Will not help.

The important thing brexiteers need to realise is that, in and of itself, leaving the EU achieves nothing. The point of leaving the EU is to return power to ordinary people, to seek fairer representation of people, to liberate trade, deregulate, and allow people more freedom and political control over their lives. None of these things will automatically happen just by leaving the EU, if the people in Westminster continue with the exact same mindset as before.

If paying close attention to politics in the last two years should have taught you anything, it is this: The EU isn’t a problem “over there” in Brussels. There was, perhaps, once a view of our good and brave patriotic MPs in Westminster doing their best for Britain, while being hindered by overbearing controlling overlords from far off Brussels.

No. It’s not like that at all. Brussels isn’t just across the English channel. It’s in our universities and education system, it’s in our media and it’s in our parliament. EU funded University chairs feeding EU ideology to students, EU funded arts grants meaning the middle classes are constantly exposed to arts and entertainment culture which drip feeds them EU ideology, and most of all, a Westminster parliament which is riddled with MPs who serve in the interest of the greater good of the EU over and above a patriotic interest. Sometimes because they have their own vested interests to do so, and sometimes simply because they are ideologically wedded to the EU.

As such, leaving the EU, in itself, achieves nothing. The EU has spread out of brussels and metastasized into the institutions of its member nations. Mere severance from the primary source is no longer sufficient.

I’m not sure anyone fully appreciated the depth of this problem in 2016 at the time of the referendum. Overt “EU patriotism” is almost a post-referendum creation as a commented on here. However, This video of A.C. Grayling speaking to Guy Verhofstadt neatly demonstrates the problem. Grayling is a university professor. Part of the EU-loving establishment.

Here we see him, as a British citizen, actually asking the EU to be harsher on the UK in negotiations. Campaigning directly counter to the British interest. This is one of the most obvious examples, but, we have to understand that many in the British establishment, even amongst those politicians who are supposed to be negotiating on the British side of the negotiation table are actually sharing this mindset internally, even if they dare not express it externally. It is entirely possible this view has sympathy within number 10 itself. We just don’t know.

It’s even possible there are sympathisers to the EU establishment position within the declared brexiteer camp.

Most will be familiar with Sarah Wollaston MP, who as one of the “ultra-remainers” has left the Conservative party and joined the Independent group. What, incredibly, draws virtually no comment now, is that she was originally part of the Vote Leave campaign. Read a post from her blog declaring she would be voting “Leave” in the referendum in February 2016. Then, dramatically, a week before the death of MP Jo Cox, and just a couple of weeks before the referendum, on June 9th she reversed her opinion

Almost overnight she became one of the most zealous remainers in parliament. This extraordinary about-face has received almost no serious political comment or scrutiny as far as I can see. It’s like the whole “Sarah Wollaston backs Vote Leave” thing has just been agreed to have never happened.

Boris Johnson is purported to have written two articles for release, one supporting remaining in the EU and one supporting leaving and left it until the last moment to decide which to publish. Michael Gove, another key figure of the remain campaign was instrumental in ensuring Theresa May…a remainer…became Prime Minister.

It is in this environment, surrounded by an establishment which actively wants Brexit to fail at every turn, that a handful of genuine believers in the cause within parliament and politics, most of whom are not really in control of any of the levers of power, find themselves trying to push through Brexit. This is doomed to fail.

Let’s quickly recap the two current live options to see why:

May’s deal passes

It’s important to realise that basically May’s deal is a holding zone. Basically, it recreates an exact working replica of the EU and puts that in the place of the actual EU. The only difference being we don’t have MEPs, and we are, theoretically “Non-Members”.

As such no one is really even pretending it gives any benefits, but it’s not supposed to. It’s just supposed to create a holding zone while a “proper” agreement is created, potentially in 2021.

The “People’s vote” campaign have been careful with the terminology they use. They often talk about “having a say on the final deal“. That phrase is used again and again. When the same phrase is used by multiple politicians it means it has been fed to them from a briefing sheet, and that phrase has been chosen for a reason. I believe this is a deliberate psychological technique to prime people to be familiar with this terminology of “final deal”. This is because in 2021, we will be hearing all about “The Final Deal” all the time on the news as those negotiations reach their climax.

At that point, I am pretty certain those people now calling for a people’s vote will call for a “Vote on the Final deal”.

Constitutionally, this makes some sense. Technically we would have left the EU in 2019, so no one could deny that the 2016 referendum had been honoured. We voted to leave – we leave the EU. Now, 2021, 5 years later, a “seemly” amount of time has passed for another vote, and the question would be different: It would be “Would you like to accept the Final deal, or rejoin the EU?”. It wouldn’t be a second bite of the cherry for remain – because now it would be rejoin on the ballot paper.

Of course, if the EU know that there is going to be a referendum on the final deal with “rejoin” at the other option there is zero motivation for them to make serious concessions in negotiations and make the final deal in any way attractive.

Thus, the second referendum will be between a terrible deal that no brexiteer can vote for, or rejoining the EU. On a small voter turnout, “Rejoin” will win by a landslide, and the remainers will joyously wave their EU flags in parliament square.

It’s almost impossible to see how things wouldn’t play out this way in 2021 if May’s deal passes. Thus, May’s deal is a terrible trap for Brexiteers to be avoided at all costs. The May deal is, I believe, a remainer “win”.

No Deal WTO Brexit

This is what all the Brexiteers are now pinning their hopes on. This is absurd. WTO is not a “good” deal. It’s a survivable and workable deal if we committed the entire resources of the nation to preparing for it six months in advance, dug in and made the best of it, and had a really strong, confident government which made some really bold moves on trade, tax cuts and tariffs to make it work.

This we do not have. We have a weak government and a weak leader. No Deal at this point is like a general refusing to withdraw his troops from battle when they are surrounded on 3 sides, and losing the opportunity for tactical retreat, allowing for their total annihilation.

A third option is some kind of long postponement for a new deal, but that can’t happen without the EU’s agreement and they are (apparently) not willing to renegotiate this.

Thus the only option realistically available is revoking article 50.

Why revoking article 50 could work well for Brexiteers

In 2014, the British public voted for UKIP in the European Parliamentary elections.

In 2015, they voted for the Conservative party on the basis of a manifesto promising an EU referendum

In 2016, they voted to leave in the single biggest democratic exercise in British history.

In 2017 they reiterated that by voting for parties in a general election which promised to deliver on the vote to leave.

If Article 50 is revoked – there will be no spin-doctoring it, there will be no glossing over the inconvenient truth: Something is deeply rotten in the establishment. It cannot enact the repeatedly stated will of the people. The Prime Minister has stood at the dispatch box and said “We are leaving the EU on 29th March 2019” on something like fifty occasions and it has not happened. That is quite unprecedented.

Behind all the reasons for voting leave, I strongly believe the key reason is a deep distrust of the EU as being a cartel, a mafia, which has UK politicians paid off to do its bidding, to keep the elites in power, and the “little people” in their place.

Interestingly, had we voted to leave, and then the EU calmly and reasonably negotiated sensible terms for leaving, and remainers calmly got behind the cause of leaving the EU in orderly fashion – that whole argument would have collapsed. I’d go so far as to say that, if that had happened, I may have wondered if I had even done the right thing to vote leave at all, and should have voted remain. What I thought was a controlling and evil institution would have shown itself to ultimately be a benign and benevolent one.

At the point article 50 is revoked, that is surely, absolutely off the table. Anyone who had a shred of cynicism about the anti democratic and sinister nature of the EU should have massive alarm bells ringing.

If article 50 is revoked, the remainers will have won a battle, but lost a war. Notice that very few remainers have wanted article 50 revoked up to this point. Their preference was a second referendum. Why? Because they were desperate to have a thin veneer of democratic validity to the decision to remain in the EU. It doesn’t matter how thin that veneer would be – a sham referendum between remaining and a sham deal…it would be good enough to cling to the idea that the whole idea of this being a democratic decision wasn’t a farce.

However, if we end up with Article 50 being revoked out of hand, there will be just no hiding it. It will be abundantly apparent that the emperor has no clothes. We cannot leave the EU.

That should terrify people all over Europe. Think of this. Of all the 28 nations of the EU, Britain is easily the one which should be most able to leave the EU. We aren’t in the Euro, we aren’t in Schengen, physically, we are an island. We share the English language with many parts of the world, we have the commonwealth, we are one of the largest nations in the EU by GDP, we are the EU’s largest military power.

If Britain can’t leave the EU, no one can. 

Article 50 becomes a mere joke clause. This is really important because any time any of the 28 nations are in negotiations over anything in the EU, whether its fishing rights or clean air laws, somewhere in the background of the negotiations is the idea that the individual national leaders are involved in this EU project voluntarily. That they could walk away. That subtly shapes the tone and character of any negotiation.

The realization that is not the case marks a disturbing shift: It means Macron and Merkel and the others, are, in a very real sense, actually under the thumb of Tusk, Juncker et al. When push come to shove – the EU does actually hold all the cards, not the nation states. That will actually be a rude awakening to many in Europe, and it should certainly be a rude awakening here.

The whole point of the 2015 manifesto promise from Cameron was to maintain the illusion of being in the EU under our own volition. We were supposed to be shown the open door to leave, reject it, vote to stay “remain” and thus never realise that the open door was a mere fake – like a film studio set in The Truman Show.

Once that dark realisation sets in, that we have all been led up the garden path, and the EU flag wavers have packed up and gone home from parliament square, the mood will change.  The level of fury amongst leave voters will be something close to scary. I sincerely hope it won’t overflow into violent protest from the far right. I actually doubt it will ever result in large street marches of “average brexiteers”, because there is something about the concept of a  “street march” which is either leftist or fascist, and the moderate-right shun it as a method of voicing political concern. Instead, they will just grumble on social media, and wait to go to the ballot box.

Millions voted in the Referendum who never voted before, but those individuals are now “activated” in the political process. They may just have got a taste for voting, and may significantly change voting patterns  I would expect to see the worst showing in living memory for both Labour and the Tories at the next general election. We might just reach the critical mass of change which ejects both parties from being the parties of government and opposition.

And that would be a far more meaningful and important route to significant political change than forcing through a half-baked brexit. For this reason, although I still fear May will get her half baked deal through, I actually hope, for brexiteers’ sake that Article 50 is revoked, we re-group, and come back for another go at this, more motivated than ever before.