Deal or no deal

It has been observed that discussion of Brexit, a matter kind-of-but-not-exactly within the ambit of this site, is taking up a disruptive amount of space on the main threads. Even if this isn’t truly the case at present, it seems to be that it will be soon enough at the rate things are going. So with that in mind, here is a thread dedicated to discussion of the mother country’s ongoing political crisis.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

170 comments on “Deal or no deal”

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  1. Scrolling through twitter I find it pretty disturbing to see the number of people demanding by-elections for the seats where members have quit their party to join the ‘Independent Group’. It’s a Westminster system… obviously! Voters elect people, not parties in a Westminster system. And, I believe, an elected MP has a higher responsibility to their constituents than they do their party. The argument seems to be that they were voted in running under their party’s manifesto. However, the Labour party’s manifesto from the last election states they will respect the Brexit vote result. Yet, at the last Labour conference that position changed to supporting a People’s Vote! Without making judgement on what the best position is, my question: why are the party-quitting MPs more beholden to the manifesto than the rest of the Labour party?

  2. Defectors from the Anti Brexit camp now coming from the Conservative Party as well:

    LONDON — With Britain’s chaotic departure from the European Union just weeks away, three prominent lawmakers abruptly resigned Wednesday from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party, saying the government has surrendered control to reckless, hard-line Brexiteers who are endangering the country’s future.

    The Conservative members of Parliament who resigned will join a new “Independent Group” of lawmakers formed earlier this week by eight legislators who quit the opposition Labour Party.

    The creation of a small but potentially powerful independent bloc of 11 — now composed of moderate rebels from both parties — suggests that seismic forces are at work in British politics.

  3. If the Sellout Seven (Eight) had any honour, they would resign, but clearly they do not. They were elected as Labour candidates, supporting the existing Labour manifesto, with labour volunteers and money.

  4. Victoria

    I am hoping you are correct. There are rumours of more defections to come.
    With luck that could make Corbyn PM. Then he could extend (I don’t see him revoking) article 50.

    Without that default rush off the edge off the edge of the cliff Brexit can be reframed. In that process education can happen giving the chance of Remain its best chance.

  5. Clem

    The sellout 7 seem to have no problem allying with proponents of Austerity and the rest of the Neoliberalism.

    Proving they were never should have been in the Labour Party.

  6. Guytaur

    Goodness. I don’t want Corbyn as PM either.

    I want for sanity to prevail and for agreement to be reached as to a no Brexit. It is the only logical thing to do.
    At present there is a huge fire that if not put out will turn to ashes. Disastrous.
    It wont be just the UK that will be destabilised. We will all cop it

  7. @guytaur At this point they haven’t formed a new party, only a group of independents. Parliamentarians are supposed to ally on issues they have in common, that’s how the system was designed to work. I don’t like your position on A, so I won’t work with you on issue B where we mostly agree is completely counter-productive. It’s exactly that type of party-first attitude that lead to a majority of parliamentarians in Australia supporting gay marriage but not being able to pass it through parliament. The same goes for climate change policy.

    Again, once you are elected you are duty bound to represent your constituents based on your best judgement, not just the people who voted for you, and not just following the dictates of your party.

  8. DVC

    I am not disputing that. My point is that means they should not have joined the Labour Party in the first place.

    Especially if they are ok with Austerity while the party platform is diametrically opposed to that.

  9. Victoria

    There are only two choices. Both want Brexit. Welcome to accepting what you don’t like in working towards your goal on avoiding Brexit.

    Out of the two Corbyn is the lesser evil.

  10. The Independents need to assemble a majority in the commons that will vote to rescind the article 50 notice. They are a long way short of this today. Such a majority does exist but it is fragmented. The IG will have to de-frag the drive.

    The IG can rely on the support of the SNP (35 seats) and the Lib-Dems (12) to vote for recission. With these votes and their own 11, they need another 268 votes. With more defections, they might get there. The laws of arithmetic say they should get there. If they do, a new majority will exist in the commons that will have been drawn from the breakdown in both Labour and the Tories, who would then be comprised of their Faragist rumps. There will certainly be a new PM – a Remainer PM – and an election.

    One further thing is now also very clear. Corbyn is further from becoming PM this week than he was last week. The IG will not support Corbyn. They have explained their resignations from Labour by declaring, among other things, that they cannot support Corbyn – that they consider him unfit for the office. His numbers have begin to wilt.

    Corbyn – a Leaver – is finished. We will soon see if May – who has tried to Leave – is also finished.

  11. “Especially if they are ok with Austerity while the party platform is diametrically opposed to that.”

    I might have missed it, but I haven’t seen any evidence that they are ok with austerity, only that they are interested in working with people who are on other issues.

  12. Dan Gulberry

    Thanks for your reply last night on the main thread, on the possibility of an election, votes of confidence and the Independent Group (IG). Sorry I missed it.

    Your points make sense. The IG is politically weak. If given the opportunity, possibly the only power they have is to “blow up the joint”. As the crisis unfolds we’ll see true leanings, including within the major parties. I expect when it happens (whatever “it” is) it’s likely to be dramatic, not stable, and rapid.

  13. And thank you William Bowe for the freedom a separate thread provides for this topic. With this greater freedom I can post the full list of PB guesses more often, starting this morning. (Reminder, you can choose more than one, and some posters have.)

    37d 0h until Brexit
    On or before 2019 March 30, Britain will decide for one of the following:
    49% (a) Hard Brexit – No Deal
    4% (b) Soft Brexit – Deal
    16% (c) Brexit Extension – Negotiations Continue
    14% (d) Brexit Extension – New Referendum
    4% (e) Withdrawn Brexit
    6% (f) Something else
    6% (g) Don’t care
    No. Of PB Respondents: 43

    The full list:
    (a) Adrian Beaumont
    (a) allan moyes
    (a) bc
    (a) Bennelong Lurker
    (d) Bert
    (b,c) Big A Adrian
    (a) BK
    (a) Bonza
    (a) briefly
    (a) C@tmomma back at the polls rather than another referendum
    (c) Confessions
    (d) DaretoTread
    (a) DisplayName 
    (c) Douglas and Milko
    (c) Expat Follower
    (a) Fargo61
    (a) Fozzie Logic
    (f) Frednk no bexit because Britain will come foul of the requirement that they must withdraw according to the states constitution. Or won’t happen; poms can no longer organize a pissup in a brewery
    (d) Gippslander
    (a) guytaur general election
    (a,d) imacca
    (a,c,d) It’s Time
    (e) Jaeger
    (c) John Reidy
    (f) KayJay Café au lait for two – with lunch at 1:00 P.M. — Curried Prawns and Rice.
    (a) Late Riser
    (g) nath
    (a) pica
    (a) Player One
    (g) poroti
    (a) Puffytmd
    (a,d) Question
    (a) ratsak
    (b) Ray (UK)
    (a) Rocket Rocket
    (a) Sceptic
    (c) Steve777
    (a) swamprat
    (d) Tom the first and best
    (c) TPOF
    (g) Ven
    (e,f) Victoria May resigns
    (a) WeWantPaul

  14. Imagine if member of our ALP defected and found common cause with other defectors from the Liberal Party? Who could vote for them? This is the rabble that Briefly et al believe are worthy of support, and he considers himself to be a progressive. What a joke!

  15. LR – probably (a) Hard Brexit, but when it really comes down to the line (g) I really don’t care. It may hurt the rest of the world economy a wee bit, but not nearly as much as it’ll hurt their own. But Briefly, a Remainer majority? Possibly in the population at large, but in the Commons? No way – too many nutjobs!

  16. Late Riser

    Looking at that depressing list of alternatives facing the UK in your ‘poll’, I think if we put this one

    (f) KayJay Café au lait for two – with lunch at 1:00 P.M. — Curried Prawns and Rice.

    to a vote in the Commons it may well command a majority. It certainly sounds by far the most appealing.

    On another note, I understand that Megan Markle is expecting her first child in early April. Some in the media had suggested that the timing had been planned so that there would be a bright beacon of celebration just after the Brexit date. Of course if there was a last-minute delay to the Brexit process that would become moot!

  17. Jack Aranda says:
    Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 10:47 am
    LR – probably (a) Hard Brexit, but when it really comes down to the line (g) I really don’t care. It may hurt the rest of the world economy a wee bit, but not nearly as much as it’ll hurt their own. But Briefly, a Remainer majority? Possibly in the population at large, but in the Commons? No way – too many nutjobs!

    We’ll soon see. The Indies are going to try. It’s possible…not likely, but the prize for success would be very great. British politics realigned overnight following the Great War, when the Liberals – the party that had ruled for most of the 19th century – and who had taken Britain into the war, disappeared overnight.

    Labour has been very largely replaced in Scotland by the SNP. There is no rule that says the only expression of egalitarian politics will be embodied by Labour, or that the Tories will always be the voice of the land or the urban bourgeoisie.

    Labour and the Tories are intent on serving their Faragist elements, on pursuing the Leaver constituencies. They have abandoned the majority. The Faragists – the Trumpy Nationalists – are the hermit crabs of UK politics. They have insinuated themselves into empty shells wherever they can find them. But they do not make up a majority, and if Brexit goes through they will soon be a small and disgraced minority. The Faragists will be obliterated, just as the Liberals were obliterated a century ago. Anyone that wants a future in British politics would do well to stand in opposition to the Faragists.

    Of course, the Liberals got themselves into the War in the strength of lies and intrigues. They deceived themselves and the public. They were severely punished for it. The Leavers have likewise deceived themselves and the electorate. They will not be forgiven if Brexit goes through. They will be reviled.

    MPs have very finely tuned senses when it comes to their electoral prospects. They will all be thinking whether they want to stand for or against the Leavers.

  18. My own view is that both Corbyn Labour and Leaver Tory will be unelectable. There is a huge gap opening in the UK landscape. It has been created by a combination of austerity, nationalist romance and Faragist lies. A coherent and organised outfit that promises to end both Brexit and austerity will have a chance of replacing one or other of the Leaver parties.

  19. 37 days….. That was the title of a brilliant (but contested) BBC series describing how European ‘statesmen’ sleepwalked into WW1. How ironic that the Treaty of Verseilles (signed 100 years ago in June) saw the emergence of a string of nation states that originally challenged the Old Order, yet soon lapsed into a squabbling gaggle of competing dictatorships. Oppressive narrow-minded nationalism destroyed the naive Wilsonian idealism of that time, but where is any sort of European optimism today? Why on Earth would anyone invest in a Europe in such economic, social and demographic decline? How can morons like Corbyn and May inspire anyone? Where are the great statesmen (women) of previous times?

  20. The Independent Group are pro-austerity, which prevents them from offering any effective solutions to what ails the UK. They are poseurs who feign independence while not changing the policies that caused the Brexit outcome in the first place.

    The UK desperately needs its government to make muscular use of fiscal policy to drive unemployment down to 2 percent and under-employment down to zero, and to enact a Green New Deal that shifts the UK’s productive activities to a zero carbon outcome.

  21. The Independent Group are pro-austerity, which prevents them from offering any effective solutions to what ails the UK. They are poseurs who feign independence while not changing the policies that caused the Brexit outcome in the first place.

    The UK desperately needs its government to make muscular use of fiscal policy to drive unemployment down to 2 percent and under-employment down to zero, and to enact a Green New Deal that shifts the UK’s productive activities to a zero carbon outcome.

  22. swamprat
    Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 1:18 am
    I think we have different understandings of natioanlasismd.
    As i have said before to me nationalism = self determination

    [I include the link back to our original discussion]

    I accept “self-determination” can be used as a partial description for nationalism, but it’s only a part of it. Other words nationalists use along similar lines are “sovereignty” and “control”.

    I assume you oppose self-determinaion in favour of the Imperial “State”

    When you wrote that I took it as the individual versus the state which is why I thought it sounded libertarian. I accept that nationalists talk about self-determination, sovereignty, and control. They mean the state should give special consideration to “people like me”. They regard themselves as having a special “native” status.

    To exercise such control the state has to be more authoritarian than otherwise. And it all gets a bit grey when you apply it to the UK, which is a collection of states.

    In any case, this is precisely the danger of nationalism. The real problem in the UK, and other places where nationalism is taking hold, is that inequality is on the rise. Austerity has done a lot of damage in the UK. Nationalism is an easy way for financial “imperialists” (to use your language) to distract people from the real cause of their discontent.

    Nationalism has a way of compounding. For a start, the question of who has “native status” can get rather blurred, so all sorts of segments of society can be alienated. Race, religion, politics, sexual orientation, disability or whatever can be bought into the argument.

    The discontent can also be continually updated. So for example if Brexit goes ahead, and it wrecks the UK economy, do you think the nationalists who led the leave campaign will wear the blame? Of course not. It will be the EU’s fault, with a few extra insults thrown in about Germany and France.

    This is why nationalism leads to war, because it distracts people from the truth, and always has some handy “other” to blame.

  23. Nicholas

    We’re living in pre-Copernican times. The courage to doubt is swamped by righteous confidence, never mind the courage to make the kind of changes you’re arguing for.

  24. N, the moment a political voice that is not Corbyn’s promises to end austerity and prevent Brexit, that voice will claim an easy majority in UK politics. It is about to happen. The Liblings and the Trumplings will hate it. But they cannot prevent it.

  25. briefly

    Scotland is interesting. Labour, helped in no small part by Thatcher, pushed the line that the London-based Tories had no place in Scotland. Labour came then to absolutely dominate in Scotland, with the Scottish Nationalists having a very minor role. But Labour’s own tactic rebounded on them as the SNP then pushed much the same line, that an England-based Labour Party had no place in Scotland, and now the SNP have almost total domination.

    If Brexit does eventuate it will be very interesting to see how long it takes until there is another independence referendum in Scotland. Before the last one in 2014 one of the arguments of the “Remainers/Unionists” was that Scotland needed to stay in the UK if it wanted to remain a part of the EU! A certain irony there.

    The other great irony was UKIP being vehemently opposed to Scotland being able to leave the Union!

  26. Apart from empathy for people who are struggling and will be hurt by Brexit, I have no skin in the game. No relatives even.

    But several things make the UK a fascinating place. It has very similar political structures and even similarly themed political parties. And like me it also it speaks English and is followed by our local media on a daily basis. Culturally too, it’s very close thanks to the dominant immigration over the past century or so. Economically too, the austerity Australia has absorbed under our current government bears a strong resemblance. But it has these quirks, like NI and Scotland which contain real political differences and seeds of drama. Add to all that a slowly unfolding crisis and why wouldn’t you watch the show. At worst it is a political “Days of our Lives” but we might learn something too.

  27. As an economist I’m semi-excited to see what effect this has on UK and Europe.
    As a supporter of Australian sport I feel a great deal of epicaricacy for the old rival.
    As a financial analyst I’m keen to see what happens to the re-insurance and derivative markets in the city.
    As a progressive I can’t help but feel scared that a once sane country has been hijacked by the ERG and Momentum.
    But then I remember, we used to be sane too…

    edit: How the f*** can the Corbynistas defend Labour being 12 points behind the s***-show that is the Tory party.

  28. Thanks for the new word slackboy.

    I’m not sure epicaricacy is as widespread as schadenfreude, but I always have to look up how to spell the later 🙂

  29. The Remain side’s Project Fear is a continuation of their failed campaign in 2016. Sadly, the current government lacks the economic competence to use fiscal policy to support a full employment, environmentally clean economy. What adds to the tragedy is that people who identify as progressive mostly share the objectively incorrect belief that fiscal policy can’t be used in a non-inflationary way. Consequently, all manner of myths about the economic implications of Brexit pollute the discussion.

    No, the UK is not an export-oriented economy. Like nearly all advanced economies, it is focused on domestic consumption. Exports are nowhere near as important to the UK economy as Remainers claim.

    No, the UK’s export markets are not dominated by the EU (the share of UK exports destined for other EU nations has been declining for over a decade).

    No, you don’t need to be in the EU to sell goods and services to the EU. The impact of trade deals is vastly overstated. The volume of trade mostly depends on consumer incomes and tastes in importing nations. Most tariffs were lowered long ago. These days trade deals are mostly exercises in public relations with negligible economic impacts.

    No, the worst case scenario of some economic activities declining because of Brexit would not make the UK helpless. With correctly targeted fiscal policy any economic decline can be fully offset. Shifts in the composition of economic activity happen all the time, and every nation needs to be enacting ecologically sound shifts in production in any event.

  30. Briefly’s analysis of the circumstances behind the rise of the SNP and fall of Labour in Scotland is wrong. Labour lost ground there, because they adopted a neo liberal position and seemed to be abandoning their constituency. Seeing this, the SNP shifted into a more economically radical position, one that stood in stark contrast to the Blairite ideology of Labour. Labour took Scotland for granted, thinking that it would vote for them even when it was responsible for economics policies no different form those inflicted by the Tories. It was a hard lesson learnt, but by moving further left at the last election, Labour managed to pick up a number of seats from the SNP. Prior to that they held one seat in Glasgow.

  31. Nicholas

    Are you arguing that Leave could be a good thing, if only the UK figured out how to manage it? (I’m not disputing your economic analysis. I don’t know enough to say even if I agree or disagree.) But it raises a couple questions. (1) If the UK can’t figure out how to manage Leave, what is the point of leaving? (2) If the UK can manage better fiscal policy, why not pursue that instead of Leave?

  32. Ha, ha, the supporters of the Sellout Seven (eight) hold one poll taken after the defection as proof of Labour’s weak electoral position, gee who would have thunk it. Cause and effect, ( the defection) was not a factor at all of course. These people are wreckers and they are not concerned one bit that they have weakened Labour and boosted the Tories. Why, because they are Tories in all but name. Note where has been the hysteria on here about the defectors from May’s party….silence…. just the crickets chirping.

  33. clem attlee
    Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 2:17 pm
    Note where has been the hysteria on here about the defectors from May’s party….silence…. just the crickets chirping.

    It was when I saw the Tories had split that I started commenting. I think the remain MP’s from both sides should have the backbone to cross the floor on Brexit.

  34. Britain has traditionally had much less solid party solidarity than we here in Oz, and people changing parties (and, what’s more, not resigning from Parliament in doing so) is relatively common. There is little in British political culture, then, that requires them to resign and contest by-elections.

    It’s interesting reading some of PB’s more ideological contributors continually referring to austerity and other Tory social and economic crimes. It’s not that their claims are wrong, but that they are, in the current environment at Westminster, tenth-order issues – and the first nine are all called Brexit.

    Brexit has dominated and paralysed UK politics for the last three years (and some) and will continue to do so for the next decade. Frankly, everything else is a side issue, as important as it might be on its own terms.

    Both the major parties are on trajectories that will inevitably lead to a “Hard Brexit” next month. And to give some colour to what means, think queues of trucks kilometres long at Dover, food and medicine shortages, and a general collapse of confidence. The Brits will muddle through, of course, but it will be no picnic.

    So to turn on the IG MPs as traitors, splitters, “Blairists” (and, note, as soon as any uses that meaningless term, I stop reading), or Red Tories is to entirely miss the point. Britain is facing the single biggest challenge since the Blitz, and the political class has demonstrated that it is woefully ill-equipped to deal with it, nor do they have any plausible plan to make it happen (or not).

  35. Hugo
    I too roll my eyes when I hear the term Blair used as a derogatory term.
    I wonder if they can remember back to the Thatcher and Major years when it seemed like there was no hope of peace in Northern Ireland. That awful Blair fellow had to go and ruin all that violence with that Good Friday agreement. /s

  36. I’ve always thought that the exercise of power makes many more doctrinaire Lefties uncomfortable, involving as it does compromise in pursuit of overall improvement. And this view is particularly virulent in the British Left – compare the glorification of our former Labor governments (Fisher, Curtin, Chifley, Whitlam, Hawke, Keating, and even recently about the Rudd/Gillard governments) with how they do it in Britain. Atlee gets his share of hero-worship, but Wilson doesn’t, and Blair certainly not, even though both governments achieved a lot that you would normally expect of long-term Labour governments.

    I lived in London for a large part of the 90s, and it’s easy to forget from this distance that Conservative hegemony was taken as a given, and the early Blair years were a period of great optimism (“Cool Bittania” for example. Of course, Blair pissed all that goodwill up against the wall with the Iraq misadventure, but I do think that the British left (and indeed, elements in al countries) is much more comfortable critiquing power than exercising it.

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