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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.

After 3-years of Lollygagging, Now They Want an Article 50 Extension?

by John Brian Shannon

The best example of European ‘Low Ambition’ has arrived (in the UK of all places!) and British citizens should be enraged.

After piddling around for over 2 1/2 years, the UK government is now putting out ‘feelers’ about how the UK public would react to an Article 50 extension. Pathetic.

There are many valid reasons why citizens and the media should virtually veto this idea — and number one on the list is that it cynically works to strengthen the hand of Remainers many of whom still can’t accept the June 23, 2016 referendum result and are actively working to this day to subvert the will of the majority.

Is Theresa May actually trying to create the conditions necessary to start a civil war? Because without her feeding the anti-Brexit movement at irregular intervals over the past 30-months it would’ve died out of its own accord as it wasn’t that strong to begin with.

What kind of leader would work against the wishes of a majority of referendum voters to strengthen the losers of such an historic referendum? Sir Winston Churchill (who earned his title by the way) is rolling over in his grave at this very moment.

Again, Britain’s leaders must stop acting like they’re representing the 120th-largest economy in the world and begin acting like they’re representing the 6th-largest economy in the world. Yes, even if that is scary. Oh Winston, where are you?

Britons and the entire world are dying to hear Winston Churchill snarling, ‘This will be Britain’s finest owwwa!’ in full British bulldog mode.

And far less of;
‘IsItAlrightToSitHere?Oh,ItIsn’t?OK,Sorry,I’llSitRightOverHereThenIfThat’sOKWithYou. AndI’mWillingToPay£39BillionForThePrivilege,ButIfYouWantMoreThat’sOKToo. ButPleaseJustGiveMeSomeTimeToSellItToMyGovernmentFirst.
IfThat’sOKWithYou,Jean-Claude.Don’tBeMad,OK?’

Followed by the mandatory 5-minute round of air-kisses between the two. Sickening.


Let’s Look at the Pros and Cons of a Delayed Article 50

As there aren’t any ‘Pros’ let’s skip directly to the ‘Cons’ of an Article 50 extension:

  1. It might create a civil war in the UK: Or it might strengthen the present divisions which could lead to the kind of polarized society we see in the United States. Which is great if you’re a UK politician trying to make a name for yourself by using ‘Divide and Conquer’ tactics leftover from the feudal era, but it’s never good for a country. Yes, it might work for you but it will permanently damage the country. Anyone who uses such tactics to further their own career, prolong their premiership, or gain a fleeting advantage over their political opponents should be fired by their party for fomenting public strife.
  2. Adding even more uncertainty is bad for the economy: Keeping the fight going for whatever reason instead of getting on with the business of the country has had a deleterious effect on the UK economy. As long as a Remain vs. Leave fight continues business confidence within and outside the country is negatively affected. Leave won. Remain lost. Even Remainers in government must get over it, or do the honourable thing and resign their Parliamentary seat. This applies to the House of Lords as well. If you can’t accede to the will of The People you’re not a democrat, you’re a despot. And nobody wants you — except the losers of the 2016 referendum. Bye! We (the people who believe in democracy) won’t miss you. Don’t call. Don’t write. We don’t want to know.
  3. The UK looks weak in front of the entire world: As the world watches, the way Brexit has been handled on the British side makes Britain look disorganized, unsure of itself and led by a closet Remainer, that is at all times afraid of its own shadow… and this! this? is the UK that hopes to become a major exporting nation in a globalized world that (try not to laugh here) is supposed to be based on a meritocratic government and society according to Theresa May? Give us a break!
  4. There is nothing to be gained by extending Article 50. Nothing! The same (apparently intractable) problems will remain and nothing more can be said then, that hasn’t already been said between the two sides. If they can’t get it done in 3-years (!!!) what makes them think they can get it done in 3-years + 3-months? Ludicrous! The EU says the draft Withdrawal Agreement can’t be renegotiated (which is incorrect, as it’s only a ‘draft agreement’ or ‘proposal’) and if they want to sell cars, etc. to the UK they will sign a revised (no backstop) agreement at some time before the 11th-hour on March 29th. And I don’t blame the EU one bit for trying that bluff on a weak UK Prime Minister. I would too, as would any negotiator. But Theresa May will be a fool if she falls for that ol’ negotiating ploy. Everyone can see it for what it is. So why can’t Theresa May? Inexplicable!
  5. After the EU/EC elections in May 2019, the UK will be facing the ‘Hard Crew’ — not the ‘Soft Crew’ of jolly old (and powerful) Jean-Claude Juncker and businesslike (and powerful) Donald Tusk — both of whom almost like the British. The Hard Crew is most decidedly NOT going to be easier to negotiate with. The Hard Crew is NOT going to allow any better deal for the UK. The Hard Crew is NOT going to put up with some of the shenanigans we’ve seen from the British side. And the Hard Crew certainly won’t consider changes to the proposed backstop. And the Hard Crew (and this is important!) won’t be bound by any self-serving and pollyanna Political Declaration that has absolutely no force in law. Might as well tear that up right now Theresa because the Hard Crew isn’t going to entertain one word of that document unless some part of it happens to favour the EU side. If you think the EU aren’t your friends now (and they aren’t, they’re quite rightly negotiating and bluffing for their own side, not the UK side) just wait until you meet the new boss!

Finally, Theresa May has been getting better and better by the month. However, she’s failed to grasp some important points which may prove disastrous to Britain and to her legacy once she leaves office.

Her oft-repeated statement which she quoted on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday goes like this; “Don’t let the search for the perfect become the enemy of the good.”

Which is a nice thought but it misses the mark and she doesn’t see it. Brexiteers aren’t asking for “the perfect” — they’re asking for a “successful” Brexit. What Theresa May thinks is “the perfect” is what Brexiteers merely consider “the bare minimum” level of Brexit success.

Remember the four metrics of Brexit success?

  1. Take back control of the UK’s borders and immigration
  2. Take back control of the UK legal system
  3. Take back control of the UK economy
  4. Take back control of UK trade

And her draft Withdrawal Agreement as it presently sits (unloved by anyone in the world except Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker) satisfies only 3-out-of-4 of those metrics, but is otherwise an excellent document.

Which results in a failed grade for Theresa May as far as Brexit negotiations are concerned.

A ‘No Deal’ Brexit is far superior to the present draft Withdrawal Agreement as a No Deal Brexit WILL ALLOW THE UK to strike any trade deal it wants, post-Brexit.

Theresa May is living a fairy-tale if she thinks that allowing the backstop to remain in the draft agreement and then post-Brexit trying to negotiate her way out of the backstop with the Hard Crew is going to get the UK out of the backstop. (What???)

Sorry Theresa. I like you. But the EU is trying to steal Northern Ireland from the UK by stealth (If I were them, I’d try the same thing!) employing the backstop to arrive at the point in time where a UK Prime Minister’s choice would be narrowed down by events to only one of two choices; Either surrender Northern Ireland to the EU, or the UK becomes trapped in a worse deal.

Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement as it stands would’ve gotten her a 1-out-of-10 grade in Political Science class. That’s a 10% grade. Not even up to the D- mark that we all feared in high school.

Yet, with one change (dropping the backstop, or alternatively, putting a firm end-date on Customs Union membership) would turn that very same draft Withdrawal Agreement into an A+ agreement, or 95% if you prefer that measure.

Who wants an even worse deal than at present? Hands up! None? See Theresa, I’m right!

So choose to drop the backstop, or alternatively, get a firm end-date on Customs Union membership and you’ll be the hero of Brexit and live out your life in the House of Lords after your premiership ends! Or, choose to be reviled worse than Guy Fawkes — for being the Prime Minister who delivered the British people into the hands of the EU’s Hard Crew and concomitantly trap Britain in an even worse deal than it presently has.

There’s no other options left. Taking the path of least resistance with your EU pals is no longer an option. The time has come to show some mettle or get out-of-the-way and let someone who can get the job done, get it done.

And forget about cancelling Brexit. That should be a treasonable offence even for British MP’s including the Prime Minister. The People voted to Leave and you must follow their instructions.

Of course it’s nice to leave the EU with a Withdrawal Agreement that allows an easy Implementation Period so that no one has to work too hard at moving to a new way of doing things, and it’s nice to create fluffy and pretty Political Declarations that sound wonderful and sweet (but in reality will rank as nothing once the Hard Crew gets into power) and all the other sweet, flowery, diplomatic and fluffy things that the new relationship with the EU could and should be. But none of that is based in reality.

And unfortunately, no matter how we try to pretty it up, we live in reality, not in non legally binding documents. And no one wants to be trapped in a worse deal.

So, put on your big-girl pants and get the final and most important part of the job done, or get out-of-the-way and let someone else who can, get the job done.

You’ve been great, but obtaining a successful Brexit is bigger than any one Prime Minister (or two, or three!) and it must be done right.

Hurt feelings, being pushed aside for a more proactive and bolder Prime Minister, or not being able to build the legacy you want are far less important than the British people getting out of the EU (which is what they voted for) and either obtaining a better Withdrawal Agreement prior to March 29, 2019 or moving smartly along to a No Deal Brexit by the same date, are your only two options.

Any other paths are merely flights of fantasy that only serve to waste everyone’s time, including yours.

Why Theresa May’s Draft Withdrawal Bill Should be Voted Down

by John Brian Shannon

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” — Benjamin Franklin

Theresa May’s EU draft Withdrawal Agreement seems to meet 3-out-of-the-4 metrics of the leave campaign, but importantly, it doesn’t meet the last and arguably most important metric of a successful Brexit; That of being able to negotiate the UK’s own trade deals — even after the official Brexit date is past!

That’s failure by any standard.


Adding Insult to Injury

Another knock against Theresa May and her draft Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is that she’s threatened to cancel Brexit altogether if the House of Commons doesn’t approve the draft WA she’s delivered.

That’s a direct slap in the face to 17.4 million British voters who voted to leave the European Union; They didn’t vote for a high-falutin’ 585-page draft Withdrawal Agreement, nor did they vote for a newfangled Political Declaration with the EU — they voted to Leave the European Union.

Although she’s only uttered that threat twice (in public, anyway) it’s the kind of thing you expect from 3rd-world strongmen — not a Prime Minister who represents the world’s oldest democracy.

It comes perilously close to Theresa May choosing to remain on good terms with her continental buddies, preferring them over the British electorate. And we know what that’s called.


Forget the Arbitrary Deadlines that Favour the EU Countries

It’s telling that Theresa May travelled to Brussels late last week and was suddenly found to be in possession of a fully completed 585-page Withdrawal Agreement, and startlingly, she told UK MP’s that they have only a few days to review it before they must vote it up or vote it down.

Aren’t Britons more important Theresa, than your EU friends? Was it not Britons that built the great country you’re privileged to lead, or was it your continental pals? Isn’t the democracy you serve more important than arbitrary deadlines set by the UK’s competitor nations?

Forget telling us with words. Show us.

“Don’t tell me what you can do, show me what you have done.” — Henry Ford


Meeting Three-Out-Of-Four Metrics Doesn’t Equal £39 Billion

Until Theresa May brings home a Withdrawal Agreement worthy of passing in the House of Commons, there’s no way UK taxpayers will countenance the transfer of £39 billion to the EU — and if Theresa May tries to strong-arm the ‘3-out-of-4’ Withdrawal Agreement through the House of Commons and thereby then feel she can pay her pals in Brussels a lump sum payment (which they haven’t earned) the Tory government will fall hard and Conservatives needn’t ever worry about forming a government again. Said every voter.


We Will Never be Here Again: Take the Time to Get it Right

It’s not like a Brexit deal comes around every winter just in time for Black Friday.

If ever there were a time to slow down and get it right — this is it — as opposed to Theresa May and her continental friends who want it passed through the House of Commons so they can get the £39 billion before anyone has time to study it too closely.

Perhaps each institution in the UK should be tasked with creating a report on Theresa May’s Withdrawal Brexit plan and publishing it publicly — the good and the bad — with gov.uk paying the bill and making those reports available (in PDF form) to UK taxpayers and other stakeholders in Britain’s future.

We know that partially financed by the EU institutions such as the CBI and others will like this deal because fundamentally it’s a BRINO deal (Brexit In Name Only) as trade with the EU and other countries won’t change appreciably as long as the UK remains in the EU Customs Union.

But other institutions and think tanks may have different ideas. Some may question why their members are to be held back (on account of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement) from trading with the world via new Free Trade Agreements that could be signed with other countries via better Withdrawal Agreement terms.


Here’s a Partial List of Countries Whose Leaders Have Publicly and Enthusiastically Endorsed Free Trade with a Post-Brexit UK:

The U.S.A. wants a zero-tariff free trade agreement soon after Brexit. Positive features of this agreement would be *reciprocity* which means nobody gets screwed on trade deficits, etc., and *equivalency* which means (among other things) that products that are safety certified in one country are automatically approved for sale in the other country. Thankfully, the Americans are strong proponents of both points. It’s such a good system that I hope that all of Britain’s future trading partners emulate this model.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh — there’s over 2 billion customers right there! — have all said they want free trade deals with the UK as soon as possible following Brexit. Some have gone so far as to say they would use the CETA agreement as a template for a new UK agreement to save negotiating time so they can get to the good stuff (high volumes of trade) sooner.

The TPP countries (now called CPTPP) led by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have all agreed to allow the UK to join the group as soon as Brexit is completed. This massive trade bloc is the 3rd-largest trading bloc in the world after NAFTA and the EU.

China has said that they would like a free trade agreement with the UK in the post-Brexit timeframe and China’s president has been travelling the world trying (and succeeding) to get free trade agreements signed with his country in recent months.

Many other countries too, would like to trade with a post-Brexit UK which is still the 5th-largest economy in the world (by GDP, but not by PPP) and the sooner all Britons realize that they are the 5th-largest economy in the world, the better. Because it seems that some Britons think they’re the 120th-largest economy in the world and act accordingly.


Paying £39 Billion to Give Up UK Fishing Rights to the EU (???)

What madness is this?

When you offer to pay £39 billion to a country for a bespoke Brexit deal/free trade agreement, and then they drop the free trade agreement portion, and then they say the UK must stay in their Customs Union (meaning the UK can’t sign its own trade deals) and then they tell you they want huge fishing rights in UK waters, and then they tell you they might not allow the UK to sell services in their economy, and then they tell you that UK airlines might not be able to land their planes in their country, and then they tell you that the UK can’t continue to be a part of the Galileo project that the UK partially funded — but they still want the £39 billion — they’re not your friends, Theresa.

It’s time to take stock and decide who you’re working for Theresa May. You either work for the UK or the EU, but not both.

We won’t be paying attention to your words, Theresa. We’ll be watching your deeds.