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Nov 15 2018

Sympathy For The Devil

Look, there is definitely a Left case to make against the European Union- it’s Institutions are Anti-Democratic, it’s regulatory bodies are Industry Captured and in a way that prevents local initiatives to mitigate negative effects (affects is pretending), it’s Financial Institutions are biased toward Hayekian Austerity. These are all very good points which might have led me to vote “Leave” in 2015.

Ad Hominem. Ex uno disce omnes. People are quick to label it a fallacy but in many real life situations if you examine a person’s motivations and history you can discover their arguments are entirely specious and self serving. A trivial illustration- if you recommend the insights of Charles Murray (The Bell Curve) not only am I going to question your taste, I’m going to closely examine your future and past statements for other signs you’re a stone cold bigot.

Thus it is with Brexit, the fever dream of the farthest right Conservatives in England (though Steve Bannon makes them all look like Commies). Their reasons are not good reasons (Xenophobia and Racism mostly) and the ease with which they contended the transition could take place is demonstrably false.

That said I can understand Jeremy Corbyn’s reluctant support for “Remain”. Not only does “Leave” honestly represent his sentiments of 40 years or so (as I say, there is a strong Left case) it also reflects the views of almost 50% of Labour voters, some of whom are his most reliable core base.

What is clear now that wasn’t in 2015 (yes, I expect the hoots and jeers of the prescient crystal ball crowd) is that the Tories are utterly incapable of pulling it off. Their Party is riven between greed heads who want to stay and ultra-nationalists who are hell bent on closing the borders (sound familiar? Bueller? Buelller?).

This along with the inherent difficulties of extracting the British Economy from 60 years of European involvement and the general incompetence of Conservatives to do anything but make the lives of the poor and disenfranchised miserable (Ok. WW II. They didn’t screw that up bad enough to lose, though they lost their Empire in the process) means it’s impossible for Theresa May to negotiate a Brexit deal that satisfies her Parliament members.

The proximate problem is that there is no way to negotiate a satisfactory Customs Border between Northern Ireland and The Republic Of. The coalition partners she depends on to maintain her working majority, the Democratic Unionist Party, insist that there can be no border between Northern Ireland and Britain. The Republic of Ireland insists there can be no border between Ireland and the North.

Oh, and they’re going to stay in the EU thank you very much.

These positions are irreconcilable because the Republic of Ireland has veto power through the EU over any agreement and May’s Government can not survive without the DUP, not to mention half her caucus thinks she is insufficiently ardent in her defense of slavery Brexit because she initially opposed it.

Today at least 5 Cabinet members have resigned over her most recent proposal (the day isn’t over yet) and if she isn’t felled by a No Confidence vote in her own Party, she shall certainly be defeated in Parliament on the issue (Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have pledged unified dissent as has the Scottish National Party). She only has a 2 vote margin. If only the Tories who have already resigned their leadership positions put their money where their mouth is she will be forced to call a snap election that Labour will almost surely win.

So, good news… maybe.

I think it likely Corbyn, once installed as Prime Minister, will call for a confirmation vote and the EU will probably grant him the time to do that and, if it’s still relevant, re-negotiate the Brexit deal.

Then we can go back to the normal level of antagonism.

Britain Could Have No Brexit Deal and a New Prime Minister by the Time This Chaos Ends
By Joshua Keating, Slate
Nov 15, 2018

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May presented a draft agreement to her Cabinet, establishing the terms for Britain’s withdrawal, which is due to take place on March 29. After a contentious five-hour meeting, the Cabinet reluctantly approved the agreement, which still must be approved by Parliament. But today, two Cabinet ministers resigned over the agreement, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and several junior ministers. Current Environment Minister Michael Gove, the most prominent pro-Brexit voice remaining in the Cabinet, is thought to be in line to take Raab’s job, but according to the BBC, he will take it only if he can renegotiate the deal.

Pro-Brexit members of May’s Conservative Party as well as the opposition parties have been trashing the deal in Parliament today. Hard-line Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has called for a vote of no confidence in May, as have up to a dozen other Tories. If 48 Conservative members of Parliament submit letters, it will trigger a vote.

May can then either fall on her sword and resign, or try to win the vote. Even if she survives, the breadth and vehemence of the opposition to her deal from both sides of the aisle today suggests she will have a tough fight getting it approved in Parliament, where her coalition has only a very narrow majority.

The 585-page document, the product of months of negotiations with EU leaders, resolves a number of key issues, including Britain’s financial obligations to the EU and the rights of EU citizens currently living in Britain and British citizens currently living elsewhere in Europe. A final trade agreement between Britain and the bloc would be negotiated during a 21-month transition period.

The most contentious issue in negotiations—surprisingly, given that it was barely discussed in the lead-up to the Brexit referendum in 2016—is the status of Northern Ireland. This is the only part of the United Kingdom that has a land border with the EU, meaning that goods crossing it would somehow need to be checked for EU standards and tariffs. Neither side wants to impose a hard border with customs checks, which, it is feared, could imperil the region’s hard-won peace. The EU has insisted on what’s been called a “backstop,” an agreement that will keep Northern Ireland in a single market for goods and customs union with the rest of Europe if the two sides can’t resolve the issue by 2020. Since this would essentially involve creating an economic border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K., it is anathema to British conservatives—and even more so to the Democratic Unionist Party, the right-wing Northern Irish party that May has depended on for her parliamentary majority since calling an ill-advised general election last year.

All this has created what’s been called the “trilemma.” Britain wants to leave the EU’s single market, avoid a hard border in Ireland, and keep the country economically united. “You can have two of those things, but you can’t have three of those things,” Amanda Sloat, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center on the United States and Europe, told me.

Even if May survives today’s leadership challenge and then defies the odds by getting her agreement approved by Parliament, the Irish trilemma isn’t going away, and no one seems to have a good idea of how to solve it. There are hopes that technological solutions could be put in place to track goods crossing the border without customs posts, but currently this tech, as one official recently put it, “is either untested or does not exist.” But at the very least, the backstop would buy May’s government some more time to figure out a solution.

If May is forced to resign by her own party now—or if Parliament rejects her deal, which could lead to her resignation and new general elections—then it’s anybody’s guess what happens next. There’s little time left to negotiate a new deal with Brussels, and EU leaders have indicated they have little interest in going back to the table. An emergency session of the 27 EU member states is likely to be held later this month to sign off on the current deal.

The prospect of an economically disastrous “no deal” Brexit is growing steadily. Speaking to Parliament last night, May gave a glimmer of hope to those hoping Brexit might still be avoided altogether, saying, “We can choose to leave with no deal, we can risk no Brexit at all, or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated,” May told the House of Commons.

Testis in uno falsus, in nullo fidem meretur.