Brexit update (POTMR)

Boris Johnson is planning to force a new Brexit deal through parliament in just 10 days — including holding late-night and weekend sittings — in a further sign of Downing Street’s determination to negotiate an orderly exit from the EU. According to Number 10 officials, Mr Johnson’s team has drawn up detailed plans under which the prime minister would secure a deal with the EU at a Brussels summit on October 17-18, before pushing the new withdrawal deal through parliament at breakneck speed.

The pound rose 1.1 per cent against the US dollar to $1.247 on Friday amid growing optimism that Mr Johnson has now decisively shifted away from the prospect of a no-deal exit and is focused on a compromise largely based on Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement.

That is new from the FT, here is part of my Brexit post from August 29:

I would sooner think that Boris Johnson wishes to see through a relabeled version of the Teresa May deal, perhaps with an extra concession from the EU tacked on.  His dramatic precommitment raises the costs to the Tories of not supporting such a deal, and it also may induce slight additional EU concessions.  The narrower time window forces the recalcitrants who would not sign the May deal to get their act together and fall into line, more or less now.

Uncertainty is high, but the smart money says the Parliamentary suspension is more of a stage play, and a move toward an actual deal, than a leap to authoritarian government.

This remains very much an open question, but if you “solve for the equilibrium,” that is indeed what you get.

Comments

NI backstop.....line in Irish Sea .....what took them so long?

'what took them so long?'

The them being the Tories, right? The Irish Sea was the original EU proposal, which was rejected by the party keeping the Conservatives in power.

And which is still rejected by the party still keeping the Conservatives in power, by the way.

But just as Prof. Cowen so thoughtfully pointed out in August, the EU may tack on some 'concession' to the withdrawal agreement.

The entire thing just seems absurd.

Just replace EU membership with a free trade agreement. There's no need for a hard border anywhere in the British Isles.

Insanity.

'Just replace EU membership with a free trade agreement.'

EU membership is not primarily about free trade, so that is roughly the same as replacing an orange with a LED flashlight. Certainly, one thing the EU is about is a common market, but to be a member of that common market means playing by the rules of the EU. And Norway has already essentially indicated that the UK will not be able to use the EFTA backdoor either.

The entire thing is a scheme to bind various economies together under a common currency for incredibly dumb reasons?

Good on Germany then. They’ve found a way to keep their currency from appreciating: 20 - 40% unemployment in large areas of the “common market”. Ironic it took the Germans to fully realize Napoleon’s terrible idea of the Continental System.

The EU as 21st century mercantilist. What idiocy.

'The entire thing is a scheme to bind various economies together under a common currency for incredibly dumb reasons?'

Nope - the entire thing is basically a scheme to keep Europe from going back to war, something that the British in particular seem to have no understanding of.

'The EU as 21st century mercantilist.'

Not even close., which may explain why the British seem so utterly hapless when dealing with the EU at this point.

oh dear so is Germany on the march again now?

"the entire thing is basically a scheme to keep Europe from going back to war,"

Which is incredibly stupid. The EU is more likely to get into war than stay out of it.

BTW yes the EU is absolutely 'mercantilist'. This 'free trade area' is riven with protectionism.

Never understood why they couldn't just do Norway.

I think a Norway-style relationship would be good for the UK.

However, control over immigration and trade are key issues for most Brexiters, and a Norway style relationship in which they must allow free movement with the EU and can't independently make trade deals (among other restrictions) would be viewed as not really leaving.

'I think a Norway-style relationship would be good for the UK.'

Oddly, the Norwegians disagree, on several levels.

Basically, the Norwegians are members of the EU without a standard voice in EU, though they are able to ignore the EU on matters of concern to the Norwegians. On the other hand, the Norwegians cannot ignore the EU on matters concerning access to the common market, such as free movement or a standardized regulatory environment.

However, Norway can make independent trade deals, at least as a member of its own economic association (which the Norwegians has said they will not allow the UK to return as a member) - 'As member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Norway seeks to conclude bilateral Free Trade Agreement in the so-called EFTA framework. This means that Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein can negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with a respective third country via EFTA.' https://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/norway/

There is basically no way anything resembling a 'Norway option' is realistic as a path for the UK to follow. But considering how bizarre things have gotten, who knows? In all fairness, the EU would likely not mind having the Brits no longer have any voice in EU affairs, while also being forced to follow most EU rules.

I love how clockwork prior pretends he's a voice of reason and compromise, but nothing triggers him more than any thought that Brexit could be a success. A bit like the EU commission I suppose.

The Remain faction, though, may think they can scuttle any kind of Brexit. Hard to count the votes since most of the MPs are lying about what they want.

'may think they can scuttle any kind of Brexit'

This is one of the problems involving the rejection of no-deal by most people in the UK. Some of the people rejecting no deal are pragmatic individuals who want Brexit, but not the disaster that they feel is inevitable following a no-deal Brexit. Some of the other people rejecting no-deal Brexit also hope to reject Brexit entirely.

What is bizarre is that a minority of people who care nothing about no-deal Brexit difficulties are in charge, while bleating about how democracy must be respected. And making not so veiled threats to ignore the same Parliament that has already voted for Brexit. But not for a Brexit disaster.

Basically, this dynamic is a British mess, and there is an excellent chance the EU will just wash its hands of it.

There was a vote. Your side lost.

"there is an excellent chance the EU will just wash its hands of it."

The British will wash their hands of it. The EU will continue to stumble and hopefully die. The next economic cycle won't be easier than the last and the last nearly broke them.

Additionally, Johnson will have to have a significant concession from the EU, who may be inclined to not offer one given the recent bill passed by Parliament.

The EU has basically said the withdrawal agreement is take or leave it, after it was agreed to by the British government.

This has nothing to do with what the self-absorbed UK thinks about the EU reacting to whatever daily bit of bizarreness is thrown up in the British Brexit tragicomedy.

Basically, the EU requires all members to agree on something like the withdrawal agreement, and as the Johnson government has made basically zero concrete proposals, the EU simply does not care what Parliament says or does not say about Brexit at this point. The EU is making its own planning, and Little England is not really in charge.

Nothing like a woman scorned.

Doing a deal under duress is never a good one. Anybody in real estate can tell you that the profits are made when reeling in motivated buyers/sellers.

Both Labour and Conservative stood on manifestos of Brexit. Now many MPs have voted against all versions of Brexit offered them, and we have an unprecedentedly active Speaker talking about using creativity and ripping up the parliamentary rulebook, while voting against early elections, which would tell us what their constituents think of their behaviour. When somebody talks about authoritarian government, it's not Boris Johnson who comes to mind.

Bercow was talking about ripping up the rule book to stop Boris from breaking the law.

Well, clearly you are not a Tory (particularly one of the 92,000 select), because Boris is apparently planning to respect democracy, not break the law.

Now that we have established that a committee of 650, debating in public, is not ideally suited to foreign policy negotiations, perhaps Parliament should consider allowing Boris to act as a representative with delegated powers, even if he does not keep all of them happy. This concept of representation should not be too foreign to them, because many of them are having to trot out Burke's line about owing the people their judgement, since in opposing Brexit they are going against the wishes of their constituents. Their action in not accepting an early election is consistent with them also knowing that Burke lost his seat at the next election.

'Now that we have established that a committee of 650, debating in public, is not ideally suited to foreign policy negotiations'

You do know that Johnson was the foreign minister in charge of negotiating the withdrawal agreement he voted against until he voted for it, right?

And oddly enough, he just happens to be Prime Minister today, and thus positioned to have Parliament approve the deal made during the time he was foreign minister. Anyone not open to the idea that Johnson is playing the rubes perfectly to get what he wants may need to wonder why they are wearing blinders. Though you are also welcome to say Johnson is utterly clueless and just flailing around.

'allowing Boris to act as a representative with delegated powers'

Oddly, he has quite recently suggested he will not act as a representative of Parliament with delegated powers. So, probably not a solution.

'since in opposing Brexit they are going against the wishes of their constituents'

A majority of members of Parliament have voted to approve Brexit, and thus not gone against the wishes of their constituents. What many people, including a significant number of Leave voters, oppose is a no deal Brexit. These are two very distinct things, which for some reason, seem to be always conflated.

@prior, well, he has stated that he will obey the law, but he has also said that he will never ever ask for an extension--so who knows what he will do?

Unless he pulls a rabbit out of a hat and gets a deal, the only way to be true to both statements would be to resign. I'm not holding my breath.

'so who knows what he will do?'

The sad thing is that Johnson likely doesn't know either. His ability to imagine the future probably ended the second he became PM.

'Unless he pulls a rabbit out of a hat and gets a deal'

Well, at this point, who knows? Though I wrote that the DUP is what keeps the Conservative in power, that is not strictly true at this point - what actually keeps the Tories in power is the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, because even though they no longer have a majority, the Conservatives cannot actually convince 2/3 of Parliament to call for a general election.

Every day brings a new level of bizarreness.

And of course, this web site seems to avoid talking about Farage and the Brexit Party as if they can be ignored, a luxury the Conservative do not enjoy. Johnson might still be hoping for some sleight of hand to work, if not precisely a rabbit - have a general election while still being able to keep Farage at bay by claiming Brexit is coming.

However, since no one trusts Johnson in the least, this is unlikely to occur.

It is forgotten that non Tory MP's will vote against the minority government no matter what it does.

We have the spectacle of a parliamentary coalition unable to govern forcing a minority government what to do! This is absurd and will be resolved by a general election, whenever.

Kudos to Tyler for his prediction that May's deal would be revived. I did not see that coming, but here we are (though it still may not pass).

'that May's deal would be revived'

Um, maybe by the UK? For the EU, it was and is the only deal on offer, regardless of what the UK wants to think.

'I did not see that coming'

Seriously, why not? The EU is offering a withdrawal agreement, and the British are free to accept it or not. If they don't, they either leave the EU on Oct. 31, or ask (again) for the EU to give them more time.

What will be interesting is the EU response in the middle of October. Just as there are conflicts in the UK about various desired Brexit outcomes, the same applies to the EU. One of the largest being that the EU does not want to be seen as throwing the UK out, and then blamed for whatever happens following a no-deal Brexit. Which perfectly dovetails with not wanting to suffer the damage of a no-deal Brexit itself. However, only the UK can ask for an extension - otherwise, they leave on Oct. 31.

Yes, I do mean revived by the UK.

And, oh yeah, I found this:
"Cromwell’s dismissal of Parliament 370 years ago leaps to mind: 'You came here to address the nation’s grievances and you are now its greatest grievance. In God’s name, go!' ”

Well said...that is the crux of the matter...this parliament has had numerous votes on Brexit already to the point of having votes about votes...the time has come to put the whole matter back to the English people in a general election...leave means leave...if it's without a deal so be it...I feel Brussels never negotiated in good faith...the wanted to make an example out of England to deter the rest

'this parliament has had numerous votes on Brexit already'

Actually, only one - and they approved it. What they have taken numerous votes on is the Brexit deal, not Brexit itself.

'I feel Brussels never negotiated in good faith'

Considering that several of the men actually involved in negotiating for the UK then voted against what they negotiated, one can wonder whose good faith is more open to question. (Johnson is a particularly glaring example, having actually voted to both reject and to accept the deal, but here is a full list - People who voted against the deal at Meaningful Vote 2 but for it this time include: Lucy Allan, Richard Bacon, Crispin Blunt, Conor Burns, Rehman Chishti, Simon Clarke, Damian Collins, Rosie Cooper, Robert Courts, Richard Drax, Iain Duncan Smith, Charlie Elphicke, Michael Fabricant, Sir Michael Fallon, Jim Fitzpatrick, James Gray, Chris Green, Mark Harper, Gordon Henderson, Eddie Hughes, Boris Johnson, Gareth Johnson, Daniel Kawczynski, Pauline Latham, Andrew Lewer, Ian Liddell-Grainger, Jonathan Lord, Esther McVey, Anne Main, Sheryll Murray, Tom Pursglove, Dominic Raab, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Grant Shapps, Henry Smith, Royston Smith, Bob Stewart, Ross Thomson, Michael Tomlinson, Craig Tracey, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Shailesh Vara, John Whittingdale https://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2019/mar/29/how-did-your-mp-vote-on-the-withdrawal-agreement)

The really amusing thing is that the most likely 'concession' to be made by the EU, after a request by Johnson, is to return to the original EU proposal of having an effective backstop EU/UK border in the Irish Sea, something the UK government rejected as being unacceptable at the time. Shouldn't take too long to cut and paste the text rejected by the UK at the time, after all. And one that the EU already stood behind as part of its favored solution, making it easy for 27 nations and the European Parliament to agree on it, mid-October.

I think this has held up quite well...

Donald Pretari
December 7, 2016 at 6:03 pm
#4...My reason for supporting Brexit was that the EU is unable to take any effective action, so it keeps putting off tough decisions. Hilariously, if not unexpectedly, the situation remains the same, only now, with the added spectacle of Britain behaving like the EU, doing its best to not do anything except wait and see if someone else does something. In Italy, a Yes vote would have at least advanced a plan, but, no, not here, they voted No, meaning everything is on hold until the a caretaker government comes in or there are new elections. How long will it take for that to be decided? It's like a card game where no one bids or calls, being satisfied to scrutinize the other players indefinitely. By the time they actually decide to play they'll have found themselves with far fewer chips. Unreal."

'My reason for supporting Brexit was that the EU is unable to take any effective action'

That just might be fun to repeat on Nov. 1.

'It's like a card game where no one bids or calls'

If no one bids or calls (to be a bit less than accurate), the UK is out of the EU, automatically, on Oct. 31.

It is has been quite interesting (though completely unsurprising) to see just how different the actual EU is from the EU one believes exists when reading mainly UK sources.

That's a lot of big words for what is basically just a mixture of wishful thinking and self-delusion...

What happens if Johnson simply resigns at the last moment?

Who knows?

Though one can imagine a certain degree of flexibility if the person that replaces him on Nov. 1 indicates they are revoking Article 50, effective Nov. 1.

But really, who knows?

There will be a NI backstop in all but name...NI has done incredibly well in EU/56% voted to remain..2/3rds of MEP's will be Remainers...Alliance will only grow...EU/UK agriculture/trade with Hogan running show will be incredibly favorable to NI/EU not UK..Varadkar will govern with a larger plurality in Dail and began talking of altering constitution.

It would be an interesting tactic by Johnson, especially if he waits until the last moment, on October 19th- leaving 12 days before Brexit.

I think what would actually happen in such an event is that the EU would extend the deadline, even if the UK doesn't have an interim government in place to request one officially.

Of course, a resignation may be the best way to get an election called by Parliament- the battle to see who takes over without one would be the worlds most entertaining clown show.

The predictIt market on Brexit before 10/31 seems unmoved. It is at 30% (odds of a Brexit happening by this date) as it has been since a few days.

I wonder: if Johnson present a deal with some version of the back-stop, and manages to get most conservatives in line, he still will lose the votes of the UKP. To have the deal approved, he will need some liberal-democrats or labor vote. Will they oblige?

The closest move to authoritarian government in the UK scene lately is a cross party set of rebels forming a coalition that effectively passes legislation like a government, without this being a coalition or party which any of the British electorate actually voted in the knowledge would form, and then refusing to hold an election to put this new coalition to the test of public opinion, or seek royal assent in forming a government!

(Multi-party democracy, which is what we have in Britain, is that representatives seek election as members of a party, and they do this with the expectation that the representatives they elect are loyal to parties to allow them to form governments that represent that party. So it's rather bizarre to see MPs bleating on as if democracy were embodied in their ability to do and say whatever they felt honoured their conscience without facing electoral scrutiny for this until such time as they feel comfortable with it, or never.)

The risks of proroguing Parliament to democracy are largely much overblown - there's a lot of "What if Boris Johnson advised the Queen to prorogue Parliament indefinitely?" and the answer to that is that she would tell him to bugger off, and in the event she didn't, the government would be unable to legislate or raise taxes until prorogation was ceased, and mass unrest from the people would immediately occur.

The legislative body of the United Kingdom seem to believe that they should internally manage when they sit for, or the judiciary should, but the reality is that there are plenty of checks and balances on this, outside of the MPs and the judiciary, that enmeshing the judiciary in this decision immediately politicises the judiciary, and there is no risk of authoritarian government from the prorogatory powers that the executive (which the sovereign head of state) holds.

No one actually believes that upholding a referendum is authoritarian. It's just a standard term in our overweight political lexicon.

No, they consider a no-deal Brexit being brought about this way, even after Parliament explicitly rejecting such a no-deal exit, to be authoritarian.

Whether 'authoritarian' is a bit overwrought is open to discussion. This is more akin to a palace coup than something actually involving authoritarianism.

Oh, there are certainly those who'll say they believe that and never say otherwise. What they privately believe is unknown.

Um, 21 Tories are now former Tories after committing the same act as current Prime Minister Johnson did in the not exactly distant past.

Which seems to have little to do with voters and their representatives, as it was the Conservative Party that made this decision, though even regarding Brexit, party members were not kicked out of the party for voting against what the party wanted in the recent past.

As the link No then Yes to the withdrawal agreement list above shows, of course it was not just Conservatives who changed their votes.

It is simply that it is now the Conservative Party kicking out members for following the previous example of the current Prime Minister.

'and there is no risk of authoritarian government from the prorogatory powers that the executive (which the sovereign head of state) holds'

Authoritarian government? Laughable to say when an executive uses their legal powers, as Johnson most certainly did.

However, in the neverending strangeness which marks Brexit, it is fairly apparent that the decision and its framework were intended to keep Parliament from further scrutiny of the government's plans. Which is not the strange part, though it can be considered more than a touch unsavory when bleating about democracy needing to be respected.because 92,000 Conservative Party members chose Johnson as Prime Minister.

The strange part is that the normal check to such activity is to do something along the lines of a vote of no confidence or to call a general election to replace the prime minister. Which is not happening because of a law intended to increase government stability in the UK, and because of Conservative Party internal rules.

Basically, the law suits against prorogation were silly - Johnson had every right to do what he did, regardless of reason. However, the remedy to what one can consider to be Johnson's larger intent to avoid as much control from Parliament as possible is completely unavailable, in an even larger breakdown of the UK's supposed checks and balances.

The EU is going to be so happy when they won't have to deal with this never ending story.

Huge difference between *not* voting for a particular piece of legislation, and actually going over to a coalition of members of other parties and allowing them to set a legislative agenda, particularly one that sets a draconian mandate around the government, without setting anything like this forward in a democratic manifesto and putting it to the people, or taking responsibility for negotiations. It's not following Johnson's example, at all, and quite rightly those rebels should have been expelled, and a further election held, which they have frustrated.

The reason a further election is not being held has nothing to with legislative requirements, as quite easily this could have been voted for by MPs this week, but to do with the strongly anti-democratic belief among the majority of the house that they can act in a legislative capacity as a government, without having to seek a public mandate to do so.

Not having to seek? Hell, the opposition parties are scared out of their brains, and for good reason.

The whole thing is pretty simple. The MPs have been doing exactly what they want, favoring themselves, and blaming anything on the EU regulations preventing them from following the will of the people. The people are done with it but the MPs are not. Anything that forces the MPs out of their happy excuses is supposedly evil. They won't accept any exit from their ensconced ability to represent nobody and be accountable to nobody.

All they want is trade and some kind of military arrangement?

EU defenders like the one in this thread always impress with their fanaticism and mendacity almost equal to their overconfidence. Their tears are pretty delicious.

Just crash out by any means necessary. When the world doesn't end it will be better off. The Tory remoaners can join the Lib Dems and construct a responsible opposition to replace Corbyn Labour with.

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