Unhelpful Thoughts On Brexit

You could spend a lot of time wondering what makes Theresa May tick.

She says she supported remain and voted to stay in the European Union. So her increasing fervour for Brexit has been one of the most confusing factors in British politics over the last two and a half years.

Taking over the Tory leadership after David Cameron resigned was always going to be a poisoned chalice. No-one would have had a good time in that position, except maybe a genuine hard quitter like Jacob Rees-Mogg. That’s probably why Gove and Johnson pulled out.

If she truly believed that staying in was best, though, she would not have rushed into triggering Article 50 (nor would she have gone to court to fight for her wish to do so by diktat; luckily National Hero Gina Miller had the nation’s back on that one).

If she had used more care, collaboration, and consideration, she might have had an easier time when Article 50 finally was triggered and the negotiations started. In fact if she had been more thoughtful in the first place she might even have said something like, “The vote was close; the country is clearly divided. We will discuss the possible ways forward in parliament and with the rest of the EU, and come back to you, the people, for confirmation when we better understand what Brexit means.” 1

But no: “Brexit means Brexit”: she knew up front what it meant, and never deviated. Even if the majority of the country had no idea what it would mean.

She then proceeded as follows:

  • ignore any idea of cross-party talks and so involving parliament (the UK’s sovereign body) in the negotiations;
  • trigger Article 50 as soon as she could;
  • negotiate with the EU27 almost in secret;
  • have inflexible “red lines” to appease the hard quitters, leaving herself no room for compromise in the negotiations.

It’s a truism, even a cliche, to say that she puts the Tory party before the country. But the only way I can explain such a dramatic change of heart is that her love for the Tory party overruled her knowledge that being in the EU was, is, and will be the best situation for the UK. And that she somehow convinced herself that she could heal her fatally-divided party.

In fact, the very thing that Cameron was trying to do by calling he referendum in the first place.

“Tory eurosceptics” used to be a common enough phrase, but it denoted a tiny fringe of the party: a few loons like John Redwood. But in trying to appease them, two Tory leaders and prime ministers have turned them mainstream and brought us to where we are today, on the brink of leaving the EU without any kind of agreement for our future relationship.

And their party is as divided as ever.


  1. That’s fanciful, of course. But it’s what a sane, thoughtful person, who cared about what might happen to the country would have done. 
Unhelpful Thoughts On Brexit

Landmark European Court Case Could Curtail Freedoms of British Dual Nationals

The Home Office refused his application on the grounds that she could not rely on her EU freedom of movement rights, which include the right to bring in a family member, as she was a British national as well as an EU national.

Does this legal case mean that British citizens automatically have fewer rights than EU citizens in general?  If that’s the case then we should be leaving the UK, not the EU.

Link

Brexit Hope?

A very small hope. Brexit—take back control by the improbably-named Jolyon Maugham, suggests that a court ruling could be achieved which would ensure that we can back out of Brexit at the last moment:

The effects of an Article 50 notification are not fully understood—and not only because May is still peddling a blind bargain, a Brexit pig-in-a-poke. We do know that, should we ask and the other 27 member states agree, we could remain. But it is brave to assume that two years of exposure to the negotiating skills of Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis will not generate even one hold-out. […] The preponderance of legal opinion is that we could, after all, decide to remain. That we could, having notified, withdraw that notification. But, given the magnitude of the issue, our parliament must know more than what the answer probably is. It must know what it actually is.
[…] only the court to which we all subscribe can give an answer: the European Court in Luxembourg.

He/she (I’m guessing “he,” from the writing style) says:

But a case which—along with Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley, Steven Agnew, a Green member of the Northern Irish Assembly and Keith Taylor, a Green MEP—I am bringing in the Dublin High Court seeks to give us the power to travel back if we need it.

And he explains that:

We access it via a national court. And it can’t be one of ours. One of the complaints in the Dublin case is that the other 27 have breached the Treaty by excluding us from Council meetings before we’ve notified under Article 50. And that complaint can only be made by a court in one of those 27. The Irish court is the natural choice

Which all seems fair. The idea seems to be that the European Court of Justice could rule definitively that we could revoke our triggering of Article 50 at the end of the two-year negotiating period. And if the deal is bad, or especially if there isn’t one, parliament is likely to call another referendum in those circumstances, wherein we’ll know exactly what we’re voting for, and get it right this time.

A small hope, like I say. And it doesn’t protect us from the damage that’s being inflicted in the meantime.

But a small hope is better than none at all.

Link

The Only Good Brexit is No Brexit

38 Degrees is consulting the public on a “DIY Brexit,” wherein the public can give their opinions on what Brexit should look like, and supposedly the results will be looked at by a group of think-tanks who are being consulted on the matter.

The things people have come up with so far all seem pretty good and sound, at a first glance (kind of hard to read, the way it’s presented with big fixed header and footer).

But. But what we want is not the best Brexit we can get. What we want is no Brexit at all.

And I think I can safely say I speak for the majority when I say that. But Theresa May and her crazy government don’t look like they’re willing to listen to anyone about it.

You know how all recent prime ministers get “isms” named after them? Ever since Thatcherism, at least? Well this one gets an alternative suffix: Not Mayism. Mayday!1


  1. And not the good one. That’s May Day. []
The Only Good Brexit is No Brexit

42 referendums and and a resignation

I can’t decide on this David Davis thing. Is it just a stunt? Is he genuinely concerned enough about civil liberties to take the chance (small though it is) of losing his seat? Certainly he sounds sincere when he talks about his concerns about the growth of state power; and Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty counts him as a friend, it seems.

But as others have pointed out he has a bad reputation on some other rights votes.

Still, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’d be better than “Kelvin Mc-bloody-Kenzie”:… (as backed by Rupert Murdoch, of course).

The most concerning thing, though, is the talk to the effect that the public is in favour of 42-day detention without trial. This member of the public most certainly is not, and I’m sure I’m by no means alone. And honestly: would people who’ve really thought it through be in favour of this kind of thing? I find it hard to believe. What happened, if it’s true, to the great British sense of fair play, of support for the underdog, even of disrespect for authority? Is this another facet of the grumbling about human rights that I wrote about before?

Maybe we need to re-educate people about what is good and right. But how?

And then Ireland have voted ‘No’ to the EU treaty. I can’t help but think that this is a bad thing. The EU itself has been a net good for Europe and the world, as I’ve probably said here before. Whether these reforms will really make it better and more democratic, or not, I can’t say: I haven’t studied it.

Thing is, though, I would probably have been in favour of the EU constitution; if only because we could do with one in the UK. Admittedly, I’d want one that got rid of the monarchy and introduced an elected upper chamber in parliament, but one that further enshrined the European Convention on Human Rights would be a good start.

It would be quite difficult to amend it, mind you, since you’d need a Europe-wide referendum.

But I’m havering fancifully here: it was never meant to be that kind of constitution.

What now, then? Who knows, really. I expect they’ll either re-work it slightly and try again, or just apply various components of it without the treaty.

42 referendums and and a resignation