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Third Time Unlucky for Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement

by John Brian Shannon

After the national humiliation of missing the loudly proclaimed and government supported Brexit deadline of March 29, 2019, it’s helpful to carry out some kind of postmortem to, in retrospect, ascertain where failure has occurred.

And there’s no doubt that after flogging her Withdrawal Agreement / Political Declaration / Joint Instrument three times in the space of three months, and failing each time, it must be acknowledged — even by Theresa May, who has become over time, overly married to and overly fond of her contraption of a deal — that her deal is dead, dead, dead.

It’s time to move on, Prime Minister. Your deal died a historic death on January 15, 2019 by 230 votes, then again on March 12, 2019 it died by a margin of 149 votes, and even with you promising to leave politics you lost again by a margin of 58 votes on March 29, 2019 on the day the UK had been scheduled to Leave the EU.

The vote that got the highest level of support… was to get rid of you!
Which should tell you something very profound, Prime Minister.

Three Strikes and You’re Out, at the Old Ball Game!

PM May arranged that she’d write the Withdrawal Agreement almost single-handedly, carry it the entire distance, deliver it herself, and then receive all the credit for Brexit — thereby setting the stage for her to win the next two-or-three general elections. And that was a fine plan, Theresa.

Unfortunately, her deal wasn’t good enough to receive enough votes in Parliament three times in a row, and she now wants to try to ram her deal through the House of Commons for an unprecedented fourth time, which would’ve been beyond the remit of either former Prime Minister Winston Churchill or former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher — let alone the comparatively unaccomplished but no doubt well-meaning — present Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May.

I’ll remind you that it took only 2044-days to beat the Nazis in WWII, and that as of today, it’s taken 1010-days to get exactly nowhere on the June 23, 2016 referendum result.

Watch the video below; See the imbroglio that has been created by this Prime Minister’s handling of what was a very clear and simple referendum result in 2016, and decide for yourself whether Theresa May should resign or stay on as UK Prime Minister.

Vote in a Poll!

Today Was Supposed to be Brexit Day! Instead, It’s Just Another Day in Europe

by John Brian Shannon

If anyone on Earth is remotely surprised that European politicians couldn’t get the Brexit job done by their own chosen deadline of March 29, 2019 you haven’t been on this planet long.

Obviously, the process was bound to fail as no one on the EU side wanted it to succeed — and on the UK side the effort to Leave the EU was quarterbacked by a staunch Remainer; UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Not only that, however. Seven days before the June 23, 2016 referendum to Leave the EU (when the ‘Leave’ side was polling at 65% – 35% among decided voters and climbing) a respected Scottish ‘Remain’ politician by the name of Jo Cox was murdered in a car park and Britons fell backwards in shock and horror at this appalling crime.

Almost instantly, the British mindset was thrown back to the time of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland where each terror attack was more horrific than the previous one, which had the effect of cowing large numbers of Britons who had been working through the process of deciding whether to back ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ in the campaign into maintaining the status quo (at least, for now, they told each other, until we see what happens) consequently, the final referendum result was 52% – 48% for the ‘Leave’ side.

Britain’s Prime Minister at the time of the referendum was the highly principled David Cameron, who decided to resign his premiership soon after the referendum result was announced, as he felt that as a staunch ‘Remainer’ he couldn’t do the job required of a ‘Leave’ Prime Minister. Much respect, David.

1009-Days Since the 2016 Referendum + 100’s of Brexit Promises by PM Theresa May = Still No Brexit

Theresa May the Remainer became Prime Minister on July 16, 2016 and immediately began promising the world to the winners of the 2016 referendum using the language of populists:

  • “Brexit Means Brexit”
  • “Brexit Delayed is Brexit Denied.”
  • “No Deal is Better Than a Bad Deal”
  • “The UK Will Regain Control of its Money”
  • “The UK Will Become The Great Meritocracy”
  • “Nothing is Agreed Until Everything is Agreed.”
  • “The UK Will No Longer be Subject to a Foreign Court”
  • “The UK Will Regain the Right to Write its Own Trade Deals”
  • “The UK Will Regain Control of its Borders and Immigration”
  • “The UK Will be Leaving the European Union on March 29, 2019.”
  • “In Trade Deals With the U.S., the UK Will Now be at the Front of the Line.”

And all of it sounded sincere, legitimate, and oh-so-doable to Brexiteers. It was exactly what they wanted to hear. Those words were like icing on the cake, they were like pristine snow on the mountains, like apples of gold in pictures of silver. How they loved her!

In other words; Too good to be true.

So. Did Theresa May Lie or Fail?

Actually, nobody knows the answer to the question; Did Theresa May lie or fail?

What I suspect is that Theresa May tried to dampen enthusiasm for Brexit in the early days of her premiership, but soon realized the depth of determination among Britons to Leave the EU and reluctantly decided that the only way to stay in power (the goal of every politician, nothing personal against Theresa May) was to deliver Brexit to the British people.

And then, her bureaucratic training kicked-in. And Boom! Whole new ballgame.

Theresa May, the consummate Home Office bureaucrat who became UK Prime Minister via a set of impossible to predict circumstances, must have decided that if the UK was going to Leave the EU it might as well leave with the best deal possible — and that she was the best person to deliver that deal — which, if the universe were a fair place (it isn’t) would result in her winning the next two or three general elections. Fair enough, Theresa.

And I’ve no doubt that she would’ve succeeded — perhaps spectacularly — except for internal EU politics.

Enter the EU Agenda

The EU too, has its own agenda; And first on that list is that the EU is in a conflict of interest with regard to the UK’s European Union membership as the union receives a net annual payment of approximately £10 billion from British taxpayers. Click here to see where the EU has been spending all those 10’s of billions of UK taxpayer pounds. (Information and charts courtesy of TradingEconomics.com)

Second on that agenda is that other EU countries wanting to Leave the EU might feel more empowered to do so if the UK’s exit turned out to be a smooth and easy process.

Resulting in a Complicated Dance

The UK wanting to Leave the EU and led by a Remainer; The EU wanting to help the UK to leave but not wanting to encourage other European Union countries to follow the UK out of the union; And both sides with loud and spirited factions defending their point-of-view. What could possibly go wrong?

Yet, they’ll get it done eventually. ‘Just get us enough smoke and mirrors and we can make anything happen!’ said every policy wonk ever.

The Latest Complicated Dance Move is the UK Missing it’s Official Brexit Day (today)

Now, if Theresa May can’t get her excellent (except for the hated Irish backstop clause) Withdrawal Agreement passed by April 12, 2019, legal agreements between the two blocs will automatically kick-in and the UK will leave the EU in a so-called ‘No Deal’ Brexit and, apparently, the whole world will blow up, or the Sun will go out, or gravity will fail, or some other such nonsense will occur.

Of course, none of that will happen.

UK and EU politicians will simply read the public mood in both countries and if ‘Leave’ voices are still strident in the UK, and if smaller European Union countries are convinced that it’s too hard for them to leave the EU — then we might not only have a Brexit deal, but a decent trade deal — all of which could be cobbled together in a matter of days if the public supports it.

But if it looks like support for Brexit is waning in the UK, or if it looks like the UK is getting away too easily from the European Union, then more political bafflegab will be required and the UK may be stuck in the EU for however long it takes to get to a point of convergence where it works for both sides.

How European.

Eventually, There Will be a Brexit: Just That It’s Costing the UK Billions to Stay in the Meantime

Unfortunately for the UK, it’s losing £10 billion (net) per year to stay in the EU (on average) in the form of annual overpayments to the EU budget and it’s also losing multi-billions per month in lost international trade opportunities until Brexit occurs.

Has the continent ever done anything other than cost the UK money?

Not really. But they’ve been great partners in the postwar era and Britain has had Europe’s back just as many times as the EU has had the UK’s back.

And you can’t put a price on that. It’s an incredible accomplishment, especially when we factor-in what happened between European states in the early part of the 20th-century. Astonishing success after success… out of disaster, really.

Yet, the seeds for all that mutual support were laid down decades prior to the formation of the European Union. The EU isn’t responsible for that success, the European Union like the United Kingdom merely benefited from all that prescient pan-European thinking that began in the immediate postwar era.

And as great as it was to get together and to live in each other’s back pockets for a time, it’s costing the UK big time to stay in the EU.

I can only imagine that EU leaders see this for what it is and are sympathetic to the UK, but don’t want a cascade of smaller EU states to suddenly up-stakes and leave the union. Therefore, I understand where EU leaders are coming from.

So, it looks like the dance will continue until public opinion catches up with the legitimate concerns of both blocs (Britain losing billions per month & the EU rightly concerned about a re-fractionalization of European states) but for all the right reasons I hope that Brexit occurs sooner rather than later, and that all these valid concerns are completely addressed and resolved by Europeans working together on both sides of the English Channel.

As always, Europe remains a work-in-progress. May that ever be so.

The Dichotomy of The Commons

by John Brian Shannon

After trying to pull-off an international Brexit treaty all by herself with only a small cadre of Conservative insiders — and without allowing her colleagues in the UK House of Commons to participate in the process, nor indeed to know much at all about how negotiations with the EU were progressing, UK Prime Minister Theresa May was recently forced by British MP’s and the (excellent) Speaker of the House, John Bercow into fully informing them about her Brexit plans, which has resulted in the political equivalent of a slow-motion car crash.

Yet, Speaker John Bercow’s decision to allow a series of indicative votes in the UK House of Commons as a damage control measure and as a frustration-lowering device may turn out to be the best thing to happen to the House and to British democracy in decades.

Such precedent will allow indicative votes in the future on thorny issues before the government, thereby allowing individual MP’s to pose questions to the House and receive the results in the form of votes For or Against their motion and allows constituents to gauge the voting record of their MP’s.

At the very least, it’s another tool in the toolbox of Parliament with which to conduct The People’s business and to help MP’s, stakeholders in the UK economy, and Britons to understand the will of the House more completely.

Good so far? Yes?

I agree.

Although Clearly Not Theresa May’s First Choice; Indicative Votes May Save Her in the End

Speaker Bercow’s decision to allow indicative votes will over time, funnel MP’s toward becoming part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

I doubt Theresa May sees that MP’s are and always should be (from the PM’s perspective) part of the solution instead of part of the problem. After all, how could she?

She’s been banging on about her cliquish Withdrawal Agreement / Political Declaration / Joint Instrument for almost the entire 986-days she’s been the Prime Minister and has tended to view colleagues in the same way she views Brexit and everything else in the world; As a series of obstacles to be avoided. (The mindset of a bureaucrat)

She doesn’t seem to realize that playing the bureaucrat isn’t what the job of Prime Minister is all about.

Politics in One Word: IRDIME

Once you move up to the big leagues, bureaucratese must give way to Identification (identifying items that legitimately require the attention of a UK Prime Minister) Research (getting the right policies from the get-go) Dissemination (communicating with colleagues / keeping them in the loop / thereby making them part of the solution instead of part of the problem) Informing (keeping the public informed) and importantly, Math (Do I have the necessary support to get my legislation passed?) which coincides nicely with Electability (Will I stay in power if I get these bills passed?)

Theresa May is in the situation she’s in — because she’s a ‘square peg in a round hole’.

Other bureaucrats who employ bureaucratic tools to accomplish political objectives will end up in the same quagmire that Theresa May now finds herself in — both in the House of Commons and in Brussels. And soon with the public who will blame her for getting the country into the mess it’s now in.

There’s no doubt she means well for the United Kingdom.

And there’s no doubt that (as you would expect from a world-class bureaucrat) she has crafted an excellent, perhaps exceptional Withdrawal Agreement / Political Declaration / Joint Instrument (except for the hated Irish backstop clause forced on her at the last-minute by unelected EU bureaucrats) and there’s no doubt she intends to make a success of Brexit even if it kills her dream of staying-on as Prime Minister. Admirable.

But a New Process Has Begun, Thanks to Speaker Bercow

During today’s indicative voting, not one proposal received majority approval from MP’s. Which may have surprised some of them who were wanting to hijack the Brexit process or those who wanted to kill it.

This is the back story of the indicative vote process: Sometimes people have unrealistic expectations, or feel they are being ‘kept down’ by the government which causes them to wonder that perhaps the present House of Commons isn’t as ‘democratic’ as it should be; Yet, there have been few examples of purer democracy than in the House of Commons yesterday where members voted on proposals offered by none other than MP’s from every party. An historic day!

And every one of them failed.

IRDIME works at the backbench level in the House of Commons exactly as the stock market works in the economy (the most perfectly balanced system in the universe, except for nature itself) and if an idea has merit people invest in it, and if it doesn’t have merit few invest in it, and if they do, they stand to lose. But feel free to invest or vote how you want!

And they’re now starting to see what Theresa May has been seeing all along; That there isn’t a magic bullet that can solve all of the various Brexit problems.

Which will have the (very odd, but predictable) effect of causing MP’s to respect Theresa May moreso than they’ve done over the past 986-days now that they see the limitations of democracy; How can you get what you want if you don’t know what you want? and; How can you get what you want if you can’t sell it well enough to the other members of the House?

It’s one thing to know what you don’t want, and that’s now been made clear by these time-consuming but necessary indicative votes.

Now, due to Speaker Bercow’s precedent-setting decision all that remains is for MP’s to find out what they do want.

All-in-all, a healthy democratic exercise is underway in the UK Parliament — a process that Theresa May should’ve initiated herself back in 2016 instead of locking MP’s out of the Brexit process for 2-years.

Including MP’s throughout the entire Brexit process could’ve resulted in Brexit done and dusted before June 23, 2018 (within 730-days, or 2-years of the referendum to Leave the EU) and both the UK and the EU would’ve been the better for it.

And there’s no excuse on Earth good enough to cover that failure.

The Obvious Way for the House to Proceed (From a Brexiteer Point-of-View)

  1. Continue with more indicative votes until every side has had their fair say (without undue duplication of proposals)
  2. If no clear winner arises, then straight to voting on the 400-page Withdrawal Agreement / Political Declaration / Joint Instrument (remove The Backstop) and every MP should vote to pass it with a clear conscience if they’re true democrats representing the will of The People.
  3. The House should then vote that Theresa May present the approved 400-page WA, etc., to Brussels for their kind consideration.
  4. If the EU answers, ‘No’ or if it doesn’t counter-offer — then, straight to a No Deal Brexit — which is what The People voted for in the first place.
  5. But if an EU counter-offer is made, then that must be respectfully considered by the whole House, first by indicative vote, and then by meaningful vote.

The end of this story is that separate from going through this interesting and necessary indicative vote session; The People voted to Leave, they didn’t vote for complicated Withdrawal Agreements, nor did they vote for high falutin’ Political Declarations, nor for weak fixes to the fundamental error in the Withdrawal Agreement (the Backstop) they voted to Leave the EU — and the job of government is to carry out the will of The People — whether individual MP’s like the instructions given by The People or not.

And come Hell or high water, I expect that in the end, that will be done.

Therefore, the Dichotomy of the UK House of Commons is This:

Theresa May tried to blast her secretive Brexit deal past MP’s using Shock and Awe tactics and failed twice (making MP’s part of the problem in her mind) but Speaker Bercow, by allowing a series of indicative votes helped MP’s to recognize that Theresa May’s flawed deal is actually a better deal than the House itself could arrange — and therefore, the Speaker, by treating MP’s with fairness and respect, may thereby help MP’s pass Theresa May’s twice-rejected deal.

This Can’t be Said Loudly Enough…

The Speaker of the House, John Bercow, used the strength of the House (its MP’s, its numbers, its experience, its longstanding systems and procedures, its ability to innovate and set new precedent) which allowed (facilitated?) members of Parliament to become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

And that’s what politics and leadership is all about. Well done, John Bercow!

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