Brexit, the four directions: nadir

The EUref results map

EU Referendum Results Map

Last week, I wrote and posted a series about the four possible directions the UK can go from where we are.

From a worm’s-eye perspective, the fourth option is least-worst: but the people most likely to face negative consequences for carrying it out and saving the UK from catastrophe or disaster, are the same MPs who would have to vote for it.

And regardless of how bad it is for us in the lower income bands, MPs are all in the top ten percent by income just from their salary: they have a generous expenses system, heavily subsidised food and drink at work, complete job security until the next general election, and a nice golden parachute even if they lose their seats then: they will not directly suffer from the economic disaster of soft Brexit, and though the catastrophe of hard Brexit might hit them, they’re better insulated against it than most.
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Brexit, the four directions: part 4

Front page of Telegraph 15th November 2017 - The Brexit MutineersThere are four ways the UK can go from here with regard to Brexit, and all of them are bad. We could go hard Brexit, or no deal – that’s catastrophic. We can accept the deal the EU is still prepared to offer us, soft Brexit, which may be only mildly disastrous but which won’t make anyone, Leaver or Remainer, happy: or the third direction, another EU referendum – which will inevitably stir up trouble, potentially very violent trouble, and there is no guarantee that a second referendum would arrive at the desired result; and time is running out.

The fourth, entirely constitutional option, is for the House of Commons to stop Brexit by a majority of MPs voting to revoke the UK’s invocation of Article 50 and remain in the EU.
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15/11/2017 · 12:50 pm

Brexit, the four directions: part 3

Pro-eu protester holding up BREGRET signThere are four ways the UK can go from here with regard to Brexit, and all of them are bad. Read the first and second directions: hard Brexit, or no deal, soft Brexit, or the EU’s deal.

There is no good way to do Brexit: there is only a choice between catastrophe and different flavours of disaster.

Third: Another EU referendum

The consistent argument of MPs and others against stopping Brexit – even now when it’s clear that hard Brexit is catastrophic and soft Brexit is not going to benefit the UK in any measurable way – is that a majority who voted in the EU referendum, voted to Leave the EU, so they have no choice: the UK government must obey the will of the people and the UK must Brexit.

But what if the UK ran the EU referendum again?
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Brexit, the four directions: part 2

Boris Johnson in front of a Take Back Control posterThere are four ways the UK can go from here with regard to Brexit, and all of them are bad. Read the first direction: hard Brexit, or no deal.

Second: soft Brexit, the EU’s deal

Hard Brexit will be unthinkable catastrophe for the UK, and cause some damage to each of the EU-27 countries. EU-27 are prepared and ready to offer a deal to the UK, but as EU-27 are better-prepared to negotiate, have better negotiators, and are in a stronger position (they can survive the damage done by no-deal Brexit; it is uncertain whether the UK can or not) the deal for the UK on leaving the EU will be set in terms that will favour the EU.
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Brexit: the four directions, part 1

There are four ways the UK can go from here with regard to Brexit, and all of them are bad.

First: hard Brexit, or no deal.

On 29th March 2019, the UK leaves the EU. If no deal has been agreed to, on 30th March 2019 the UK becomes a “third country”, in EU parlance – outside the EU, not part of the customs union, no access to EU agencies or EU funding, a hard land border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland – and between Spain and Gibraltar.

The inevitable and foreseeable consequences of this aren’t pretty. While Brexiteers have tried to argue with me that the countries of EU-27 won’t “let” this happen because hard Brexit will damage them too, they ignore two key points:
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Brexit on BBC extra Question Time

Stop BrexitI was tweeting away on Brexit using the #bbcqt hashtag as usual on Thursday nights, when Will Harris, a freelance journalist making radio at @BBC5live, tweeted me asking for a DM. So I did… and not long after midnight, I was on BBC Radio Five live, giving whoever’s up after midnight five minutes of my views on Brexit. (If you want to listen to me, for the next 28 days you can find me on BBC iPlayer, Question Time Extra Time on Radio 5 Live, the 19/10/2017 show, 2 hours 26 minutes in.)

What I’d been asked to respond to was a question on the Dimbleby programme itself: is no deal better than a bad deal?
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Prime Minister’s Question Time

Theresa May wavingTheresa May was due to meet with the 1922 Committee on Tuesday.

The chair of the committee, Graham Brady, has brought Tuesday’s meeting forward to Monday – tomorrow – in effect, summoning Theresa May before her backbenchers to explain herself.

Graham Brady has been the Tory MP for Altrincham and Sale West since 1997. He is described as an “early and enthusiastic Brexiteer“.

One Conservative method of removing the leader is to have 15% of Tory backbenchers write to the chair of the committee asking for a vote of confidence in the current leader. (Iain Duncan Smith was the last leader to be removed in this way.)

The backbenchers will certainly want Theresa May to justify why she should stay on as Tory leader after she called a general election that dissolved the Tory party’s small but working majority. Given that Theresa May’s motivation for calling that general election may have been precisely so that she needn’t worry about Tory backbencher rebellions against her while going through the show of Brexit negotiations, she may find this question difficult to answer.

But that’s really not the only question they should be asking.

London Evening StandardThey may also want to know why she claimed on Friday morning to have a deal already made with the DUP to prop up the tiny Tory advantage in Parliament, only to have the DUP deny it by Saturday: and they should certainly ask what the DUP is demanding as payment for the deal.

Some of them at least will want to know how May plans to prevent the Tory party being tarred by association with the creationist, climate-change-denying, homophobic, sectarian, anti-abortion DUP.

A few may even think to ask how May plans to preserve the Northern Ireland peace process, already at risk from Brexit, by removing the UK government’s ability to be a neutral broker in the Stormont crisis, on-going since January: and what happens if Sinn Fein mounts a legal challenge, asserting in court that the UK government is now in breach of the Good Friday Agreement.

If a UK government has been formed with the DUP’s support and this government is under legal challenge, even if the challenge fails, the EU negotiations – due to start on 19th June, already delayed by May’s general election – will have to be further put off because the EU cannot begin negotiations with a government in legal doubt and uncertainty. A European council meeting on 22nd June is said to be the next deadline for Theresa May – if still Prime Minister – to explain herself and to say when the negotiations can start.

The deadline for Brexit is 29th March 2019 and weeks have already been wasted.

I don’t have a Tory MP. If I did, and especially if they were a backbencher, I would write to them tonight or contact them by phone tomorrow and ask them to ask Theresa May these questions at her meeting with them tomorrow.

Please feel free to share this as widely as you can: Tory backbenchers should know that they need to hold Theresa May to account for more than just putting their jobs at risk.

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