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The EU Refuses to Negotiate Further, so Why Would MP’s Vote for a Brexit Extension?
The European Union Brexit negotiating team said many times in recent months that there’s nothing to negotiate in regards to Brexit and consider the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by former UK Prime Minister Theresa May to be the ultimate Brexit agreement — although it didn’t pass in the UK Parliament and therefore isn’t a valid agreement.
In fact, saying Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement didn’t pass in the UK Parliament is a bit of an understatement as it failed badly each time she presented the bill in the House of Commons.
Here’s what The Guardian wrote about the former PM’s first attempt to get the bill through Parliament: “Theresa May has sustained the heaviest parliamentary defeat of any British prime minister in the democratic era after MPs rejected her Brexit deal by a resounding majority of 230.” — Heather Stewart, writing in The Guardian
In the 2nd attempt to get the bill passed in the House of Commons, the BBC posted this summary on its website: “Theresa May’s EU withdrawal deal has been rejected by MPs by an overwhelming majority for a second time, with just 17 days to go to Brexit. MPs voted down the prime minister’s deal by a margin of 149.” — BBC
And in the 3rd try, which was also defeated, the (by-then) hated withdrawal deal went down in flames with the EU’s vox.com writing, “The British Parliament has rejected the Brexit deal for a third time, intensifying the UK’s political chaos just two weeks before the country breaks up with the European Union. Members of Parliament (MPs) defeated the deal, 286 to 344 — a much closer margin than the previous two votes in March and January, but still short of a majority. It has dealt another deep blow to the already flailing authority of Prime Minister Theresa May.” — Jen Kirby at vox.com
And that 58-vote loss was obtained only after Theresa May offered to resign if the bill passed Parliament.
So, the Withdrawal Bill is dead, dead, dead, and won’t be returning no matter how much the EU miss it. And it’s no wonder they miss it, for it was practically written by them, for them.
In short; A completely one-sided deal that never had a chance to pass.
It’s Clear That UK MP’s Wanted Brexit and Wanted a Deal. But What Deal?
UK House of Commons MP’s voted enthusiastically to follow the instructions of UK voters way back in February of 2017 though, voting 498 to 114 to pass the European Union Bill by a healthy margin of 384 votes to get Brexit negotiations underway.
But Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement just didn’t cut it.
Since then, there’s been a lot of chatter in the UK about gaining a new deal, one that might actually work for the UK instead of the European Union alone.
But as EU leaders have said many times, there’s nothing to negotiate. The now-defunct Withdrawal Agreement is the only deal they would’ve considered and they continue to maintain that position.
One wonders if they’re 100% serious about that position as the EU (and especially German car manufacturers) might see falling sales should trade between the UK and the EU revert to WTO terms, and I think that’s what Prime Minister Boris Johnson is banking-on to get them back to the negotiating table to obtain a workable and fair Brexit agreement — one that works for both sides.
Yet, if you know continental Europeans like I know continental Europeans you’d know they always bluff to the last second.
And the EU does have a track record of last-minute deals that were preceded by years of excruciating trade negotiations.
In the case of the Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA) it took the two countries 8-years of on-again, off-again negotiations to reach a deal — which the Canadian Parliament ratified within weeks, while not one EU27 country has ratified it. Indeed, the EU has chosen to ignore the parts of the CETA deal they don’t like which makes them guilty of ‘cherry-picking’ the (signed and ratified by Canada-only) CETA deal.
Is that the kind of compliance we can expect if the EU were to sign a political agreement with the UK? And is that the kind of compliance the UK can expect if the EU sign a free trade agreement with the UK?
If so, why waste a minute on it?
Boris Johnson Wants a Brexit Deal – But the EU Doesn’t
Who will win that round?
Easy; The EU.
But UK Parliamentarians can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that the EU… doesn’t want a deal.
And of course they’re right because the EU does want a deal — it wants the one-sided Withdrawal Agreement that was ‘negotiated’ during Theresa May’s time in office — and if that doesn’t work it wants the UK to give-up and stay in the EU. Which from their point of view is an even better deal.
If the EU can’t have either of those two choices, it doesn’t want any deal.
But within weeks of a No Deal Brexit, EU27 car manufacturers will have unsold cars piling-up outside their factories and will begin to pressure their governments for a trade deal (by that time a Brexit agreement won’t be needed as Brexit will have already occurred) and such a trade agreement could be in place by January 1, 2020 (about 115-days from now) and a cavalcade of sector-by-sector (or even segment-by-segment) trade deals would be signed and ratified by both countries in short order.
And, in the face of the thrice-failed Withdrawal Agreement, that might be the option the EU27 prefer. I know I prefer it!
So, Knowing All That: What‘s the Point of a Brexit Extension?
The EU said many times that they’re not interested in negotiating any more. They wanted the original Withdrawal Agreement and they didn’t get it, so now they want to bluff until the very last minute in a game of brinkmanship hoping against hope that the UK Parliament or the British people will lose the plot and just give up on Brexit.
There is therefore, nothing to negotiate.
So why are some British MP’s trying to get an extension of the Brexit date?
- Because they think the EU is lying and will negotiate a new Brexit agreement?
- Because they hope to overthrow Brexit altogether by using endless delay tactics?
- Because they were at first, brave and wanted to fulfil the democratic will of Britons, but have since gotten ‘cold feet’?
If they think #1 is correct, I have to say they’re incredibly naive.
If they think #2 is correct, I have to say they’re wrong. More and more Britons (even former Remainers) just want Brexit done, allowing the economic uncertainty to go away.
If they think #3 is correct, I would have to agree. And that means the UK needs a strong and dynamic Prime Minister to help them stay on-course and facilitate a resurgence of confidence in Britain’s future to get them past the present moment.
And guess what? That’s exactly the kind of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is. Thankfully.
What Kind of Brexit Deal do I Favour?
I prefer a No Deal Brexit — but only because I’ve seen close-up how the EU doesn’t keep its end of the bargain in Canada (at least in the CETA context) and I see that only two of the EU27 countries have ever met their NATO spending commitments.
That’s why ‘deals’ with the EU don’t excite me too much as they seem to consider trade ‘deals’ as mere ‘guidance’ more than they consider them ‘regulations’ or ‘laws’ that must be ‘followed’ to the letter.
Calling the EU’s bluff by Brexiting on October 31, 2019 as Britons were promised by this government, followed by a flurry of international trade deals signed between Britain and her other trading partners should put the EU in its place and make it realize that it isn’t the centre of the universe (not even in the UK’s myopic worldview universe) and help to repair the mindset of those Britons for whom the EU seems to have an outsized importance — far beyond what is healthy and good for the United Kingdom.
Not that I wish one bad thing for the EU. I wish every single member country of the EU27 well. In fact, I wish them very well.
Eventually the UK will get around to signing a free trade deal with the EU. After America. After China. After the CPTPP countries. After The Commonwealth of Nations. You know, all the nations that don’t ‘cherry-pick’ their deals.
It’s just that this part of our relationship is over EU, and now, I just want to be ‘friends’.
Hey! We’ll do lunch!
The Dichotomy of The Commons
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?
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)
- Continue with more indicative votes until every side has had their fair say (without undue duplication of proposals)
- 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.
- The House should then vote that Theresa May present the approved 400-page WA, etc., to Brussels for their kind consideration.
- 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.
- 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!
In the Year 3535 Theresa May FINALLY Delivered Brexit – But Nobody Cared!
UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s amended Withdrawal Agreement + the non binding Political Declaration + the Joint Instrument may be for all we know, the best possible arrangement for the United Kingdom to Leave the European Union; But if it takes until the year-3535 before it gets approved and signed into law, by definition, it’s not the best deal is it?
You might laugh at the year-3535 connotation. But really folks, the ‘talking shop’ that is the UK House of Commons (at least under Theresa May’s premiership) is on track to deliver Brexit months or even years after it has been repeatedly promised by the Prime Minister — which means the Brexit that Theresa May is on course to deliver might as well happen in the year-3535.
All of which means that Theresa May’s version of Brexit is irrelevant.
If you can’t get it done on-time and on-budget (£39 billion) Theresa May, it renders your vision of Brexit 100% insufficient and irrelevant.
I will remind you yet again, Prime Minister, The People voted to Brexit; They didn’t vote for a Withdrawal Agreement/Political Declaration/Joint Instrument/plus delays — they voted for the UK to Leave the EU in a reasonable amount of time.
And either the year-3535 or any date beyond June 23, 2018 (yes, 2018) is just not acceptable.
Even the newest backbench MP should recognize that once a referendum is held, and once the result becomes clear, and once the government promises to honour the result of that referendum — that promise to The People must be kept — and it’s not unreasonable to expect that it should be kept within 2-years of the date of the referendum.
This business of Brexit-extension-after-Brexit-extension (which is what I fully expect will happen over the coming months and years) is sub par, gauche, Low Ambition politics and it represents the very worst of parliamentary democracy on planet Earth — a talking shop that can’t get anything done, and keeps kicking the can down the road hoping it will all go away — and then blames its own MP’s for the failure.
Theresa May: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!
There comes a point in every Prime Minister’s political life when they become a detriment to their party and to the country. It’s unseemly to hang on to power one minute beyond the moment that occurs, and that time is coming perilously close for Theresa May.
Theresa May has had almost three leisurely years to deliver Brexit — that’s 985-days if you’re counting the days — and her Number One platform item and promise to The People remains unfulfilled.
(It’s been 1005-days since the referendum to Leave the EU)
I’ll remind you at this point that it took only 2044-days for the UK and its allies to defeat Nazi Germany in the biggest war this world has ever known (September 3, 1939 – April 8, 1945) and if Theresa May and her government can’t even deliver a Brexit working with a European ally in less than 1000-days, that government’s failure will stand as one of the epic failures in political history.
Every MP should hang their heads in shame, resign their seat forthwith, and refer to themselves as ‘The Snowflake Generation’ forevermore unless they can now and suddenly act on the will of The People and arrange a Brexit (any kind of Brexit!) including a so-called and very unfairly portrayed No Deal Brexit, and get it handled within days — and be on with the other important (and piling-up) business of running the country.
The shame should be palpable; Millions died in World Wars fighting in brutal conditions for freedom and democracy, and with it, good government — and they didn’t fight for those noble ideals so that MP’s and in particular the Prime Minister could run away from their responsibilities, from their oft-stated promises, and from their party platform — because they’re too afraid to govern, or for some other reason of which we know not.
It’s time for the Theresa May government to stop running away from actually having to make a decision and to give The People what they voted for in the June 2016 referendum and if they can’t do that, then they need to resign, for they are not the quality of people the country needs in the UK House of Commons.
The good and long-suffering British people deserve better than this path of least resistance government.