Tag Archives: Brexit

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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Filed under Brexit, GE 2017

Turn Left

Theresa May: If I lose just six seats....In fairness, Theresa May never said what would happen if she lost 13 seats.

But here we are.

The Conservative Party has 317 seats in the House of Commons: even allowing for the 7 Sinn Féin MPs who never take their seats, the Tories are five seats short of a majority.

Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party, have between them got 314 seats.
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Filed under Brexit, EU referendum, GE 2017, GE2015, Scottish Politics

Oh, Snap! General Election 2017

Theresa May outside 10 Downing Street“Guess what we’re doing on 8th June 2017?” I asked.

“I dunno,” said the love of my life, busy with her coursework.

“Having a general election.”

Theresa May today announced (following a cabinet meeting) that she would hold a “snap general election” on 8th June 2017.

If you want to read her claimed reasons for doing so, her full statement is available.
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Brexit Day: independence for Scotland

The EUref results map

EU Referendum Results Map

Yesterday, the Scottish Parliament voted by majority both for the government’s resolution to hold a second independence referendum, and for the Scottish Green Party’s amendment, that sixteen-to-eighteen-year-olds and EU citizens should be able to vote in the second independence referendum.

Labour, the Conservatives, and the Scottish LibDems all voted for Scotland to Brexit.

Today, Theresa May invokes Article 50, and the UK begins its two year departure from the EU. On Friday 29th March 2019, short of some fairly major political upheavals in the Conservative Party, the UK will no longer be a member of the European Union.

According to report, Theresa May believes that in eighteen months time, the UK’s Brexit deal will have been fully negotiated and voted on by the EU Parliament. Whether she is right or not in that assessment, we will certainly know by that time whether or not the UK is likely to have a Brexit deal, or if the UK is likely to leave the EU with nothing but unpaid debts and no deal at all.

No deal at all, means an end to the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland: it means the the multiple essential agencies dealing with atomic energy, prescription-drugs regulation, etc, will cease to include the UK as from 29th March 2019 with certainly quite a gap before the UK can set up any replacement.

“No deal” means that millions of EU citizens currently legally resident in the UK, may become illegal aliens who can, if they refuse to leave their familes and homes when told to do so, quite lawfully be taken to centres such as Dungavel, locked up, and deported. “No deal” means the beginning of the end for the City of London as a financial centre: an end to the car industry in the UK: and all the food we import from the rest of the EU will become a lot more expensive.

Theresa May is likely to see as a “bad deal” any deal that includes requiring the UK to pay its full debts owed on leaving, and above all, a “bad deal” that requires the UK to be part of the Schengen Area or equivalent in freedom of movement.

But Scotland voted by majority to Remain in the EU. The only way this can be achieved, is for Scotland to become an independent country and rejoin the EU.

The second independence referendum for Scotland is likely to be held sometime in October or November 2018.

I voted No in 2014, believing that the SNP government had not properly thought through their plans for independence. I plan to vote Yes in 2018, or whenever the next independence referendum should take place.

I think Theresa May has three choices with regard to our independence referendum.
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Why is the UK leaving the EU?

“Does anyone know why the UK is leaving the EU?” someone asked.

This was my answer:

From where I’m sitting, the UK is leaving the EU because, in no particular order:
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A week makes

EU Referendum Results Map

EU Referendum Results Map

A week ago, the exit polls made it look like the UK electorate had instigated the worst political crisis in the UK outside wartime.

By Friday, the counted votes had removed all doubt.

By a majority of less than 4% across the UK, the electorate had voted to leave the EU.

There are a lot of unpleasant realities to digest with that vote.

The worst and most immediate reality: the racists who voted to Leave, because they thought they had got a promise that by voting Leave the government would make the foreigners go, now believe they’ve won. They believe, according to reports speeding in from all over the UK, that they’re now empowered to tell anyone who looks foreign, whether or not they are, to “go home”. The British word for racism is immigrant.

I saw Lauren report this on her Facebook timeline on Friday morning:

In Edinburgh, Lauren Stonebanks, 36, was on a bus on Monday when she says a woman shouted: “‘Get your passport, you’re fucking going home.’” She believes she was targeted because she is mixed race. “As I got off the bus, the woman started making threatening gestures, like punching gestures. It made me feel absolutely terrified.”

Many of the racists who voted to Leave have real problems, often, and real causes for anger. They’ve been told they can blame their problems on the EU and the freedom all EU citizens have to travel across the EU. The problems are real: lack of work, sanctions on benefits, housing shortages, strain on NHS and other public services. None of them are caused by immigration: immigrants are a net benefit to the UK even considered only in financial terms. The official government Vote Remain campaign could hardly say bluntly “Your problems are not caused by EU regulation or immigrants, they’re caused by our austerity policies, our lawless sanctioning of your benefits, our refusal to build new homes, our cuts and creeping privatisation of the NHS. Vote for the EU: their funding is keeping you alive.”
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Filed under EU referendum, Poverty, Racism

EU Referendum on the day

InnyMcInfaceI think the UK will vote to Remain in the European Union today.

I have no confidence that it will do so by a large margin.

The last poll from Ipsos Mori, based on telephone polling done over the last couple of days, shows 52% for Remain, 48% for Leave: the poll of polls shows a Remain majority. More telling still, 74% of those polled expected Remain to win.

What will happen if Remain gets the majority?

David Cameron remains Prime Minister until he chooses to step down – which, as we already knew, he planned to do before May 2020. He held the referendum to keep his Brexit MPs with the Tory party, and by their own boys-club rules, he’s won. He undoubtedly expected to be part of a Tory-LibDem coalition and to use the referendum as a trading point with his coalition partners, and keep his unruly anti-EU MPs and Ministers quiet in that way, but having won his point, I doubt if he will see many Brexiters go to UKIP: the Tory party has a talent for power and unity.

One genuine upside: Iain Duncan Smith has lost his place at the Department of Works and Pensions, and I very much doubt he will ever get it back. It’s difficult to think of any politician who has been more dishonest or more incompetent, and reputedly David Cameron had tried to edge him out at the last couple of reshuffles, but IDS sat tight. He was tempted out with – I’d guess – the hope that if Leave got the majority, the Tory party would once again recognise his gift for leadership as they did in 2001, and make him their leader and Prime Minister.

(I really do think Iain Duncan Smith is arrogant and stupid enough to think that. Of course, if he stands down in 2020, it will certainly be to a seat in the House of Lords, where he can continue to reminisce over those wonderful days where he deprived people of their benefits and forced them to work for no pay, until he dodders off stage still wondering why his party and his country never properly appreciated him.)

There will be no other referendum on leaving the EU for at least ten to fifteen years: the conditions required were odd in the first place, and I don’t think any of the parties except UKIP would have stomach for another.

Which brings us to UKIP, the party which will benefit most from a Remain majority.

They retain their main income source, the MEPs who don’t like Europe, and they are in the lovely situation where they convinced nearly half of the British electorate to vote based on lies, without having to be in a position to take responsibility for them.

Because the UK will not leave the EU, the Leave campaign can continue to push the idea that all of the austerity-fuelled cuts to public services are the fault of too many immigrants straining the system: they can continue to push the idea that immigrants are to blame for the housing shortage: they have no reason to stop this, now they’ve established so many white voters are gullible enough and racist enough to believe it. And while David Cameron didn’t want to leave the EU, he certainly sees the benefit of having a built-in group of vulnerable minorities who can take the blame for his own policies.

What will happen if Leave gets the majority?

I think this is unlikely, but it’s worth remembering: this EU referendum has no legal trigger. Neither the government nor Parliament was required to do anything as a result of a majority of UK voters deciding they wanted out of the EU: it’s effectively a giant opinion poll, no more binding than a petition to Parliament.

What many Leave voters were expecting to happen was that they’d wake up on Friday 24th June and discover the UK was no longer in the EU and their lives would get better because there’d be more money to spend and fewer foreigners around.

In fact, even if the EU referendum did have a legal trigger, all that could happen would be that the UK Government would invoke Article 50, and then 27 other EU countries and the EU Commission would spend two years negotiating with the UK on the conditions to be set for the UK to leave the EU: those conditions to be ratified by a vote of the European Parliament.

The negotiators for the UK would have to choose between the UK no longer having access to the European market of free trade – which, combined with the loss of the money that flows into the UK from the EU, would likely trigger a recession – or to accept that if the UK were to continue to have access to its biggest market, the UK would have to accept being part of the Schengen free movement area, as Norway and Switzerland have, and to accept that the UK would be bound by all EU laws and regulations – while losing any UK input into those laws and regulations.

Given that most Vote Leavers appeared to be inspired by a toxic mix of xenophobia and imperialism, I do not imagine that – if Leave gets the majority – the price of access to the EU common market would be acceptable to them. But it would most likely be what they’d get. And having left the EU, now poorer and seeing their services failing still further without any EU financial support, but with EU immigrants continuing to enter the UK freely and EU regulations still paramount, wouldn’t that make UKIP stil more successful?

But I think that today, the majority will vote to Remain.

I hope.

24th June: I despair.

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