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Theresa May: How Hard Can it Be to Follow Voters Instructions?

by John Brian Shannon

London, UK: Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government loses a historic vote in the UK House of Commons on her cherished (and reworked) Withdrawal Agreement by a vote of 391-242, a margin of 149 votes.


History: On January 23, 2016 an historic vote was held where 52% of those Britons who cared to show up at the polls, voted to Leave the European Union. They didn’t vote for a complicated Withdrawal Agreement, nor did they vote for a high-sounding, but non-legally binding Political Declaration.

Britons voted to Leave the EU. Nothing more, nothing less. They didn’t vote for a Withdrawal Agreement, nor did they vote for a Political Declaration.

Subsequent to the EU referendum, the UK held a General Election in June of 2017 where all UK political parties as part of their party platform supported Brexit. Not one party ran on an anti-Brexit platform. And no surprise there, as each party was simply mirroring the will of The People since the June 2016 EU referendum.

Since that time, Prime Minister Theresa May and EU negotiators have been attempting to agree a deal for the UK to leave the European Union over-and-above the simple wishes of the UK electorate and that proposed deal has become known as the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

That’s the deal that was voted down in the House of Commons in January 2019 by a historic margin of 230 votes. Never in British history had a bill been so resoundingly defeated.

Now that same bill with minor changes has been voted down by British MP’s by a healthy 149 votes.

I suspect that much of the failure of this latest iteration of the bill was because MP’s had only a few hours to study the reworked (and incredibly complex) Withdrawal Agreement, as Theresa May presented the new version less than one day before it was up for a Parliamentary vote. Très gauche, Theresa!


Near-Term Parliamentary Process: Tomorrow (March 13, 2019) MP’s will vote on the so-called ‘No Deal’ scenario and on March 14th they will vote on whether the UK should go to the EU (cap in hand) to ask for an Article 50 extension — to give more time to UK and EU negotiators to come up with a deal — notwithstanding that 2.5 years hasn’t been long enough and notwithstanding that not one single issue will have changed in the meantime, and the EU is under no obligation whatsoever to accept an Article 50 extension.

Let me repeat that statement; If an Article 50 extension is requested by the UK, the EU is under no obligation to accede to that request, nor will any issue have changed (nor the opinions behind them) in the meantime. Therefore, what exactly would be the point of the UK applying for, or the EU accepting, an Article 50 extension?

See? There’s no logical reason to extend the Article 50 deadline.

And from the point of view of UK voters, an Article 50 extension would reward mediocrity — the kind of mediocrity that is represented by 2.5 years of limp-wristed and on-again-off-again negotiating that doesn’t deserve another chance.


What Would Margaret Thatcher Do?

Anyone who saw how Margaret Thatcher operated would know that she wouldn’t have done the EU dance, allowing them to call the tune every step of the way.

For tomorrow’s vote, Maggie would’ve simply whipped her MP’s to vote for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit — and that would be the end of the present 2.5 year-long period of economic uncertainty — and it by far would be the best thing for the UK economy and for Britons wondering where all this unguided or lightly guided Brexit will end-up.


Sometimes, You Have to Do the Smartest Thing – Which Can Sometimes be the (Temporarily) Unpopular Thing

And that’s what Theresa May hasn’t yet learned.

Margaret Thatcher, on the other hand, learned over her long career that no matter what promises have been made, no matter how uncomfortable the short-term might be, no matter the (short-term) howls of protest, senior politicians must stand up and do what’s best for the country, and do it with a sense of urgency and purpose.

And what’s best for the UK at this moment in history is for Theresa May to ‘whip’ her MP’s tomorrow to support an automatic ‘No Deal’ Brexit and just get Brexit done and dusted — thereby putting a definite and permanent end to the present economic uncertainty.

Her detractors will say, ‘Yes, but Theresa May is no Margaret Thatcher!’ and whatever else anyone ever said about her, Maggie commanded a high degree of respect from her political friends and enemies due to her having the courage to always and without fail do ‘the right thing’ as she saw it — no matter the obstacles.

If Prime Minister Theresa May can summon her inner Margaret Thatcher tonight and direct her Parliamentary whips to force every Conservative MP to vote FOR a ‘No Deal’ Brexit tomorrow, all the uncertainty building in the UK economy would dissipate within a matter of days. And Britons and UK stakeholders could get on with the job of making Brexit Britain an astonishing success story and the EU could concentrate on its internal problems. Phew!

It would be the defining moment of Theresa May’s premiership.

The entire world would thank the Prime Minister and breathe a sigh of relief. Yes, even in Brussels!

Small numbers of Remainers might complain for a few days, but on the whole, being decisive now would solve more problems than continuing along the present course.


Can Theresa May (BPE) the Bureaucrat Par-Excellence make the switch to Theresa May (PPE) Politician Par-Excellence and be the politician that’s so desperately needed at this crucial moment in Britain’s history?

We’ll soon know.

Brexit: ‘No Deal’ is [Still] Better Than a ‘Bad Deal’

by John Brian Shannon

STATEMENT: Being a British Prime Minister has got to be the least fun job on the Earth.
WHY? Because everyone wants you to fail!


Opposition MP’s want the Prime Minister to fail (don’t take it personally) and it has been thus since the beginning of time.

Conservative Party members would each move-up one notch should the serving (Conservative) Prime Minister fail and subsequently lose her job. (Again, nothing personal. It’s the nature of politics) However, British politics can seem especially brutal.

The media love a good story and (again, nothing personal) a British Prime Minister being toppled sells more newspapers. Not to mention dramatically driving up advertising revenues for any media — print or electronic. Which must be a big draw for publishers! (How could it not?)

Remain voters would like to see the PM lose her job, thereby delaying or even derailing Brexit completely. (16,141,241 and falling rapidly as many just want the present misery/economic uncertainty to end)

And lest we forget the EU which hates the idea of the UK leaving the union — and why wouldn’t they? — as the UK pays more into the EU than any other country, save Germany. Yet, only the UK pays (up to) £12.221 billion per year (net) to be a member of the EU club.

Which averages out to 10.235 billion (net) per year that British taxpayers pay to the European Union black hole they call their budget to allow the UK to remain in the European Union.

Of course the EU hates the idea of Brexit, blames every British Prime Minister since Churchill for Brexit and even if it costs them a Remainer-or-Soft-Leaver (depending upon your point of view) europhile Prime Minister by the name of Theresa May, even they want the PM to fail.

Net UK contributions to the EU

All of which gathered together causes one to wonder why anyone (anyone!) would want the job of British Prime Minister. You can’t win when everyone wants you to lose.

Yet, she has stuck it out. Which gets her some respect around here.

Too bad she’s a Remainer in Leavers clothing, otherwise she could keep the damn job forever IMHO, or until the next sado-masochist feels they require more beatings per hour than they presently receive.


Yet, Theresa May is The One Who Accepted the Job and Made All Kinds of Promises

So as heartless as it sounds, she’s got to make good on her promises.

And Promise #1 was to get Britons out of the European Union.

There’s no wiggle room there. The People voted to Brexit. They didn’t vote for a Withdrawal Agreement nor did they vote for a Political Declaration — those things are contrivances by Theresa May and her EU pals. Britons voted to Leave the EU.

And so long as those contrivances (pet projects?) don’t prevent Brexit, a majority of Britons will tolerate them. Let Theresa and her EU pals cover themselves in garlands and confetti and toast each other with their great bureaucratic accomplishments. (Zzzzzz)

Nobody cares about all that hoopla outside of those who work in the EU Parliament or in Whitehall. And that’s what politicians don’t get.

Good intentions, bureaucratic excellence, and sadomasochism aside — get us our Brexit Theresa May and you can continue to receive as many beatings per hour as you want.

You seem to thrive on it. Just like every previous British Prime Minister.


Predictions:

Prediction #1: Theresa May and the EU create an Irish backstop workaround that satisfies British MP’s and passes in the House of Commons and the EU27 parliaments. (Wouldn’t that be great?)

Prediction #2: Theresa May and the EU try to fob-off a substandard Irish backstop workaround on the House of Commons where it fails to receive even 20% of the vote = straight to Hard Brexit. (This is the most likely scenario, IMHO)

Prediction #3: Theresa May tries to get a deal with the EU negotiators, fails, then tries to delay or cancel Brexit, gets fired by her party, and new PM Michael Gove takes the UK straight to a Hard Brexit. (And Theresa May instantly becomes a historical footnote)

Prediction #4: Theresa May tries to get a deal with EU negotiators, fails, battles it out with her party, a General Election is called and Jeremy Corbyn wins the PM’s chair, who then takes the UK straight to a Hard Brexit. (And the name Theresa May is thenceforth spoken in the same tones as the name Guy Fawkes among Leavers from any party)

Really, there’s only one choice. And if you make that clear enough to the EU side Theresa, they’ll see the situation clearly and act accordingly. If you don’t draw those distinctions clearly you’ll unwittingly set the seeds for the very result that you and the EU say you don’t want.

So instead of endlessly repeating, “Let’s be clear” — BE CLARITY ITSELF! — and save yourself, your EU pals, and 500-million Europeans from an unnecessarily hard Brexit!

Theresa May Offers a Draft Brexit Deal to Cabinet

by John Brian Shannon

Until now I’ve been a strong Theresa May supporter. After all, she jumped at the chance to become ‘The Brexit Prime Minister’ and she respected the will of the British electorate by acting appropriately on the result of the June 23, 2016 EU referendum, and she has endured a brutal schedule spending countless hours flying to European capitals to arrange a sensible and fair Brexit agreement (an amazingly thankless task that even her political enemies acknowledge is thankless) and now, she and her ministers have carved-out a Brexit agreement that EU negotiators say will be signed by all 27 EU countries. (What the EU negotiators say, and what EU27 leaders will do, may be two different things. We’ll see)

This, in addition to fulfilling all her other duties, qualifies her in my mind as operating a very successful premiership.

However, it did not go unnoticed that Theresa May is now quoting THREE possible Brexit outcomes; (1) Theresa May’s Brexit deal, (2) A No Deal/WTO Brexit or, (3) cancelling Brexit.

Whereas prior to being pressured by her party and the media Theresa May was only quoting TWO possible Brexit outcomes; (a) A negotiated Brexit deal, or, (b) a No Deal/WTO Brexit.

Which represents a big difference in political thought and a very dangerous game could begin thereby impacting civil order in the UK, and Conservative Party fortunes well into the future.


Does Theresa May (The Brexit Prime Minister!) Pose an Existential Threat to Brexit?

No doubt that every Brexiteer on planet Earth has taken it as a threat that Theresa May intends to revoke Great Britain’s Article 50 notification to the European Union if she doesn’t get what she wants.

And extrapolating that for a moment, and as Theresa May is a self-confessed Remainer; Brexiteers must assume that Theresa May is aiming for a BRINO — a Brexit in Name Only agreement.

What other conclusion can be drawn?

The definition of BRINO varies widely depending upon whom you consult; For example, Brexiteers say that BRINO will create a situation whereby (via a weak Brexit agreement) the UK becomes worse-off than if it had stayed within the European Union — many orders of magnitude worse than a Hard Brexit which is what most Brexiteers favour — whereas BRINO to a Remainer means the only difference is that Britons continue to pay Europe’s bills but with less say in EU spending, less say in EU legislation that affects the UK, and Britons will enjoy a more arm’s length relationship with the EU.

Much worse than either of those two options is that Article 50 could be cancelled by Theresa May — especially if you’re the Conservative and Unionist Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland which would likely be removed from power at the next election and might not form a government for decades.

Smaller betrayals of the people’s trust have started civil wars and the Conservatives would roast themselves if they allowed Theresa May to revoke Article 50 thereby cancelling Brexit. Assuming it could be legally cancelled, and assuming that the EU would agree to the cancellation.


To be Fair to Theresa May…

To be fair to Prime Minister Theresa May, her comment might have been made in the heat of the moment. We all do that. Sometimes we say more than we mean to say especially when the pressure’s on. And if that’s the case, we must remember the sportsman’s rule of “No harm, no foul” and carry on without mentioning it further or using it to embarrass Ms. May.

But if Theresa May is using the threat of cancelling Brexit in order to force her Cabinet and her party into voting for her Brexit deal, Conservative MP’s will have two choices; Hold their noses and vote for the Theresa May deal and fire her shortly after the official Brexit date, or fire her now and replace her with an interim leader who will continue the Brexit process without resorting to such threats.

However, if Theresa May is to be fired by her party for threatening to undo the result of the democratically held EU referendum to get her chosen (some would say BRINO) Brexit deal approved, she deserves to know in advance. For Conservative MP’s to gather 48 or more members on the so-called 1922 Committee to overthrow her as party leader and Prime Minister (which is allowed in the Conservative Party constitution) without a warning or opportunity to retract part of her statement would be unseemly.

In such cases where the leader and 48 or more members disagree on an important policy or part of policy, or of conduct of a Prime Minister, the 1922 Committee members should appear at 10 Downing Street and sign-in at the guest register and inform the Prime Minister of their intentions to remove her from the position of Prime Minister unless she retracts that part of her speech, comments, or policy, that offends them.


Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, ERG, on Theresa May’s (Draft) Brexit Deal

If those 48 or more 1922 Committee members don’t appear at 10 Downing St. and forewarn the Prime Minister of their intentions, they risk becoming complicit in her error, or they are a ‘paper tiger’ political force powered by sound bites alone, or they’ve already made the decision to fire her at the first opportunity.

Perhaps by virtue of their appearance at 10 Downing Street to politely notify the Prime Minister of their intention, Theresa May will have the opportunity to explain to them that she hadn’t meant it the way they’ve taken it, or that she simply said it in the heat of the battle; In either case, no harm done.

At the very least, it might register with Theresa May that although she faces negative consequences in the EU as she arranges the best Brexit that she can, she and her party will also face negative consequences within the UK if she doesn’t practice the very best form of statecraft — both foreign and domestic.

Finally, I wouldn’t wish Theresa May’s job on anyone — not even my worst enemy — for the Brexit Prime Minister’s job has got to be one of the most under-appreciated jobs in the world — yet with all of that said, she and every subsequent Prime Minister must ‘get it right’ regardless of the challenges.

Here’s to a better level of understanding between Prime Minister Theresa May, her party, and to British citizens!


The Point of All This?

In Theresa May’s defence, the EU-approved Canada+++ proposal doesn’t solve the seemingly *highly contrived* (by the EU) or *vastly overstated* (by the UK) problem of a border in the Irish Sea and a hard land border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland — which is a problem that mere handfuls of politicians on both sides of the English Channel are concerned about.

I say highly contrived or vastly overstated because nowhere in the Belfast Agreement does it say there can’t be a Hard Border.

In Theresa May’s mind, she has delivered a 100% perfect deal that addresses every problem related to Brexit. And in the end, that may turn out to be 100% true.

That some of those problems may have been contrived or overstated by incredibly small numbers of politicians seems to have escaped her. Still, as long as the entire implementation period and/or temporary Customs Union membership has a firm end-date, that’s good enough for me.

*No end date* should equate to *no deal* IMHO.


Related Articles:

  • Theresa May’s Brexit statement in full (The Times)
  • How to Create a ‘Win-Win’ Northern Ireland Agreement (LetterToBritain)
  • In the Brexit Home Stretch there are Only Three Possibilities (LetterToBritain)
  • Read the entire text of The Belfast Agreement in downloadable PDF form (gov.uk)