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. Tory 38%
    Labour 26%
    Independent Group 14%
    Lib Dem 7%
    Other 15%

    In a first past the post voting system the rise of the IG would mean a 100 seat victory for the Tories.

  2. Holden Hillbilly says:
    Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 3:25 pm
    Tory 38%
    Labour 26%
    Independent Group 14%
    Lib Dem 7%
    Other 15%

    In a first past the post voting system the rise of the IG would mean a 100 seat victory for the Tories.

    If an election were held today, the Tories might well win. But this situation will evolve very quickly as MP’s decide whether or not to position themselves to seek Remainer support from their electorates.

  3. Like I said the Sellout Seven are wreckers. Anyone seriously believing that austerity is not a first order issue in Britain, at least for the bottom 30% is seriously deluding themselves. People in Australia need to take a good hard look at Britain, because even without Brexit, this society is our future under more Tory rule. Hey you think industrial relations are a problem here, in Britain they have zero hour contracts, yeah but that’s not an issue, only Brexit, yeah pull the other one. Ten of thousands of people relying on food banks to survive, austerity an issue… nah, just Brexit. Yeah right! Get in touch with ordinary British voters, as I do every night and listen to them.

  4. Interesting timing – Crash-out Day, 29th March, is a Friday. Then 30th and 31st March are a weekend, when relatively little happens – though the queues will start building up at the ports and the airports will be in some disarray. Then on Monday the Brits will wake up to a new week and to discover that they’ve all become giant APRIL FOOLS!

  5. clem

    I agree that Brexit is merely a symptom of what has gone wrong in the UK. Brexit or no-Brexit, there are still massive problems, with seemingly little will to fix them. Most British people I know, both here and there, have no idea how this will all end. Those who are here are glad they left, but are disturbed for their friends and relatives left behind.

  6. RR, my British ancestors – all 8 great-grandparents – saw how Britain was going 165 years ago and all migrated to Victoria in the early 1850s. I salute their judgment every time I read about modern Britain.

  7. Clem – I agree with you that the issues you’ve raised are genuine problems, and that these have real world effects. But my point was that Brexit will dwarf them all. If you think it’s tough in Britain now, wait till Brexit hits with full force. And it won’t be the Boris Johnsons and Nigel Fagages who will suffer, it will be the poor, who we both agree have been done over by the austerity regime of the last decade. But yelling “splitters” at anyone who thinks there should be another approach than that seemingly set on by both May and Corbyn is not particularly helpful or illuminating.

  8. Jack Aranda – one of spouse’s ancestors came here involuntarily due to their political beliefs and activity, and it seems pretty clear to me that their descendants are likely better off than those of the judge who sentenced them!

  9. Hugoaugogo that is to say that there are no Labourr Remainers who will also stay true to their party. The Sellout Seven will do nothing for the case forRremain. They are a tiny minority, most of whom are not even primarily motivated by it. Do not confuse what they say with what really drives them. Most left Labour before they were dumped.

  10. Clem, yes there is undoubtedly some truth to what you say. But people might still do the right thing for the wrong reasons.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am at heart a Labo(u)r loyalist, and while I am no great fan of Corbyn, I generally think dissent is better done internally. If I were them, I would have stayed, but the looming Brexit cliff might have made them feel that they had no choice.


    Two senior Conservatives have said they are ready to resign from the party if it does not change its direction on Brexit, after three of their colleagues joined eight former Labour MPs in a breakaway group in parliament.

    The former attorney general Dominic Grieve and the former education secretary Justine Greening both said they would leave the Conservatives if there was a no-deal Brexit, as the three ex-Tory MPs said a third of the party could be willing to join them.

    Greening said she would stay in the party “for the moment”. Asked if she would join the Independent Group, she said: “It is something that I’ve considered, but I’ve reached a different conclusion for the moment. I want to challenge my own party. I think we can step up to the plate. I know that many activists and members of parliament feel exactly as I do on social mobility.”

    She said she would work to prevent a hard Brexit by voting against it in parliament. Greening added: “If I’m not successful then to my mind the party that I joined many years ago and that I felt matched my aspirations and the aspirations of many people in Britain on opportunity, I would question if that is the Conservative party today,.”

    She told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “If we simply become the Brexit party, then I do not believe we have a successful future ahead of us …. I don’t think I would be able to stay part of a party that was a Brexit party that had crashed us out of the European Union.”

    Grieve, speaking on Wednesday night, said: “The government which I am supporting implementing a no-deal Brexit – what would I do? I would not be able to maintain my support of the government. I would have to leave the party.”


    The decision of Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen to leave the Conservative party is the dominant story across Thursday’s UK front pages.

    The Mirror called the event “Brexodus”, saying it was a sign of “Tories in Meltdown”. “The Tory party was in chaos last night”, wrote the paper, which said the “under-fire PM was braced for a further exodus”.


    Anna Soubry, who left the Conservative party yesterday, is hosting the mid-morning show on LBC, which began at 10am, standing in for regular host James O’Brie who’s on holiday.

    She is asking people to ring in to answer the question as to whether she did the right thing in leaving the Conservative party.

    Soubry began the show by saying “some stuff happened yesterday”, describing what happened as “a bit of a wrench, a bit emotional, a bit scary” but she said it was more scary hosting a show on LBC. She

    She said she has had thousands of emails supporting her move from constituents.

    The second caller, Neil, is very angry, he calls Soubry “duplicitous” and “two-faced” over her stance on Brexit and says: “You disgust me.” He wants a by-election in her constituency.

    The next caller, Samina, is far more amenable, saying there are millions of people in the country who do not have a political home.

  14. I’m normally not a fan of dumping other people’s tweets in here, and this one is arguably hypocritical given the source, but still, HELL YES:

    Glenn Greenwald
    ‏Verified account @ggreenwald

    This is how it always works on the center-left: the duty of party loyalty only goes in one direction, applicable only when centrists rule & the left must devote themselves to their victory. But when the left leads, centrists are free to engage in subterfuge, sabotage & desertion

  15. I guess I don’t understand the following.

    She said she would work to prevent a hard Brexit by voting against it in parliament.

    My assumption is that something has to be done to avoid a Hard Brexit. Voting against things is voting against doing something. Charitably, I suppose she could mean there is a process that involves several votes, and she will vote which ever way increases the chances of voting for something that isn’t voting for nothing…nope. Lost it.

  16. Labour and the Conservatives are both braced for fresh walkouts after 11 MPs formed a breakaway group in protest at the direction of their parties.

    Sarah Wollaston, one of the Conservative defectors to the Independent Group (TIG), warned that a third of the cabinet could walk out if Theresa May leads the country into a no-deal Brexit while her colleague Heidi Allen said around 100 Tories were sympathetic to their aims.

    The IG need about 265-268 additional votes to avert Brexit. If the Tories yield around 100, they will need about 165-170 from Labour, representing about 2/3 of the Labour benches. This is likely to be do-able. If it happens, the Commons would most likely elect a new PM, presumably someone from Labour.

    The reflex from Corbyn has been to attack the Independents. The corollary is that Corbyn intends to persist with his Leave-at-any-cost strategy. This will only drive more defectors to join the ranks of the Independents.

    Presumably it’s going to get very close. The Faragists nestled inside the Tories and Labour will hang tight, hoping they have sufficient numbers between them to prevail. The Remainers will have to choose between allegiance to their parties or to their voters, who will otherwise make up a disenfranchised majority. The rebel MPs will certainly have everything to gain by combining their numbers; by unifying into a Remainer group. By doing this they will be able to assert themselves in the Parliament and improve their campaigning position in the electorate. If the Remainers can coalesce in sufficient numbers they will be able to dominate the Faragists, who will be divided into two camps – the Crazy Right and the Corbynistas.

    Looking good for the Remainers and for the stability of the UK economy and democratic order.

  17. The IG need about 265-268 additional votes to avert Brexit.

    That’s a lot. and if you’re negotiating, one strategy is to embellish your hand. I guess I am sceptical of claims of 100 more “defectors” from the Tories from someone who has already left.

  18. Late Riser…..I agree wth your remark. Scepticism is well-warranted. However, these are not normal times. There is a Leaver majority in the Tories and it’s been applied quite ruthlessly up til now. The game has been played on winner-takes-all rules. But these rules only apply as long as the Remainers in both Labour and the Tories are kept apart – as long as they do not join together. If the bonds of party are set aside, the balance of the numbers will change dramatically.

    The IG have created a focus for rebellion on both sides. Considering they are playing for the allegiance of the majority of voters, their rebellion must have a good chance of attracting more participants.

  19. Jonathan Pie articulates my position, good get there Guytaur. Love it when he says that centerism is Thatcherism with identity quotas, it’s austerity with a handful of socially progressive policies. Nailed it. Yes, people have a problem with Corbyn, not because of anti Semitism but because he is a socialist and they know he will implement the program and not go to water.

  20. Oh dearie me.

    Ms Begum has publicly supported the bombings that killed dozens of British citizens on buses and trains in London because she reckons it is payback for the bombings of muslim women and kids in Syria.

    Has Mr Corbyn condemned Ms Begum’s statements?


    Mr Corbyn reckons that she should be let back into Britain so that she can answer some questions.

    No wonder Corbyn’s Labour is on 26% in the latest YouGov polling.

  21. guytaur, thanks for the link to J. Pie. He’s like a good cartoon, but longer. He makes his points easily and convincingly. I wonder how much of a following he has in the UK? (idle speculation)

  22. Boerwar what the hell are you on about? Has Corbyn made any statement in support of this woman, other than the fact, that she has a legal right to return? You bang on about ‘rule of law’ all the time Boer, but selectively it would seem. This woman is a rat bag, but she is British and is not a dual citizen. In law she does have every right to return whether people like it or not, that is the reality.

  23. The increasing number of resignations is a very good sign. They may trigger a second and final referendum or, if more Tories leave the party, lose the Government its current majority… and back to a general election.

    Whatever the case, the dis-United Kingdom are in a mess. But I hope that they may have learned a hard lesson from this Brexit debacle: in the 21st century, jingoism doesn’t pay!

  24. Here are my recent articles with some discussion of Brexit.

    On my personal website, after the 230-vote defeat of May’s Brexit deal in mid-January.

    In The Conversation at end of this article after late January Brexit votes.

    In The Conversation at end of this article after the defections to the Ind Group.

    The next important Brexit votes will be on Feb 27 (early morning Feb 28 in Melbourne).

  25. The Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has lowered the odds of a United Ireland by 2024 to 15/2:

    Senator Daly has been conducting research in conjunction with UNESCO regarding the possibility of a reunification referendum, particularly in the wake of Brexit.

    On Twitter, the senator pointed to separate poll from Lucid Talk, a UK-based market research firm, that found a majority of people in Northern Ireland believe Brexit is making a united Ireland more likely [60%]
    Additionally, the research showed that a majority of people surveyed believe the government should be working with Unionists to address their fears & concerns about a United Ireland……

    In the reporting, one professor stated: “In anticipation of a future referendum on unification and a new Ireland, regardless of when this emerges, program and policymakers need to establish a basis for cross-society interaction, integrated schooling, and integrated existences (housing, work, and other settings).”

    “It is only through this sort of interaction, communication, and experience sharing that all sides realize common, general needs as well as the fact that they have nothing to fear from the ‘other’ side.”….

    Please! Anything but see the “Troubles” restart.

  26. Douglas and Milko, thanks for the link. I wonder if Irish reunification has already become more likely, even if the UK somehow decides to remain in the EU. (And Scottish separation may be more likely too for that matter.) The idea that “we can’t trust them” must surely be one of the elephants lurking in the shadows.


    The EU must resist impatience with Britain – for its own sake
    Timothy Garton Ash

    The European choice on Brexit specifically will hinge on extension of article 50. A short extension, which is now inevitable, will only help May to pile the “my deal or no deal” blackmail pressure on wavering MPs – and, with a little help from Brussels, she may finally succeed.

    Only a longer extension, for nine months or one year, – which means tackling the difficult issue of British representation in the new European parliament from the outset – would allow for a proper national debate, culminating in a second referendum, and bring new possibilities of Britain staying in the EU.

    Some thoughts. First, why is the extension inevitable? Second, if Britain leaves, what representation in the new European parliament? Was that an issue in the negotiations. And third, what about the border in Ireland?

  28. Do the media commentators have some inside information from the EU that doesn’t seem to be available to the British PM? They all insist that there will be an automatic extension if there is no agreement by the exit date. But why would there be an extension?

    The UK has had two years to sort this mess. May continually goes to Brussels demanding the same old, same old only to be told that her demands are not for negotiation. Why would the EU27 drag this process out for another 3, 6, 9 months or more? It’s just not going to happen unless the UK comes up with a strategy which will satisfy both the leavers and the remainers, will protect the Good Friday agreement with Ireland (ie NO hard border) and is acceptable to the EU27.

    Nothing to date suggests that they are even close.

  29. Im battling with the parliamentary endgame between now and March 31 to avoid both no deal and May’s deal.

    Option 1 is this idea of passing May’s deal subject to a referendum between that and remain (extension obviously required and part of the deal)

    Option 2 is that May’s deal gets voted down again and she requests an extension (ie caves to the anti no-dealers)… to do what… stay in govt and submit to parliamentary sovereignty over what happens next?

    Option 3 is where May loses a vote on her deal but caves to the ERG and indicates that there’ll be a no deal brexit. In this scenario i can see a no confidence vote where a majority of anti no-dealers force an extension by another PM (is Corbyn vetoed?), perhaps passing a remain v no deal referendum act before dissolving for an election as well… this is presumably the endgame in which this trickle of party resignations is just the start?

    How else could it happen?
    Its just chaos – i can see no deal happening just due to disorganisation. May’s strategy to run the clock down and position a vote on her deal as the only practical alternative to no deal is not a bad tactic (just evaluating it purely as a tactic) under the circumstances?

  30. Expat Follower, A few months ago I started recording guesses as to the outcome by March 30. So far the PB commentariate has opined the following. If you like I can add your guess for “Hard Brexit” based on your comment, “Its just chaos – i can see no deal happening just due to disorganisation. ”

    Let me know. 🙂

    35d 16h until Brexit
    On or before 2019 March 30, Britain will decide for one of the following:
    50% (a) Hard Brexit – No Deal
    4% (b) Soft Brexit – Deal
    15% (c) Brexit Extension – Negotiations Continue
    13% (d) Brexit Extension – New Referendum
    4% (e) Withdrawn Brexit
    6% (f) Something else
    8% (g) Don’t care
    No. Of PB Respondents: 43

  31. A really painful scenario is that May loses the vote on her bill, requests an extension and calls an election (supported by Corbyn) for a new parliament to tackle the question, and then goes on to win it – with a tory majority even but not enough votes to still pass her deal…. ie burn 3-4 months and be exactly where we are now just with the deadline pushed out! I cant see any way that Corbyn can win a majority or oversee anything conclusive in a minority govt (a tory majority is unbelievably more likely)

  32. Late Riser im already there as a (c) but its how c eventuates that im now losing faith in conceptualising with this disorganised circus (mostly thanks to Corbyn being hopeless)

  33. Late Riser @ #86 Friday, February 22nd, 2019 – 6:20 pm

    Some thoughts. First, why is the extension inevitable? Second, if Britain leaves, what representation in the new European parliament? Was that an issue in the negotiations. And third, what about the border in Ireland?

    Yes, like much of the commentary on Brexit, that article makes very little sense 🙁


    If the UK`s membership of the EU is extended beyond the start of the new European Parliament, the UK will need representation in the new EU until it leaves or until the next European elections if the UK decides to stay during the extension.

    If there is no deal, then there is requirement for a hard border (unless the UK doesn`t have a hard border with the rest of the WTO, which is not going to happen), pending the referendum/referenda (north and south) on Irish unity likely to eventuate in the event of Brexit and favour a United Ireland in the event of hard border.

    If there is a deal, then there will be the soft border in the deal (Ireland won`t allow a deal without one), pending the referendum likely to eventuate in the event of Brexit and without a certain result in the event of a soft border.

    If the UK ends up staying, the current situation will remain, however there may still be a referendum but one less likely to pass.

  35. Tom the first and best

    That makes a sort of sense. Thanks. If I understand what you’re saying…

    If there is a Brexit of any colour by the currently planned date, then I would think that membership in the EU Parliament would not be a concern. There simply would not be any.

    However, if there is an extension of any colour, then membership of the EU parliament is a concern. (1) Presumably there are UK members of the European parliament right now. (2) However they are part of the EU now would presumably continue until the EU election. (3) Presumably there will be EU elections in the UK to elect new members. So I don’t see a problem on the EU side. But I wouldn’t know. The only problem I see is how the UK might hold EU elections in the teeth of Brexit.

  36. ‘clem attlee says:
    Friday, February 22, 2019 at 10:53 am

    Boerwar what the hell are you on about? Has Corbyn made any statement in support of this woman, other than the fact, that she has a legal right to return? You bang on about ‘rule of law’ all the time Boer, but selectively it would seem. This woman is a rat bag, but she is British and is not a dual citizen. In law she does have every right to return whether people like it or not, that is the reality.’

    Ms Begum has publicly stated that she supports the bombing in London justifying the London bombings with reference to the bombing of women and children in Syria.
    My point was that Corbyn does not seem to have felt the need to condemn her for stating these views.
    I am all for getting her back into England, arresting her at the airport, and charging her for terrorist related offences.
    Corbyn wants her to return to England because she has questions to answer.
    You do see the distinction?

  37. I am aware of six polls in the UK for February.
    One poll has LaboUr and the Tories in a tie.
    Then we have the Tories leading Labour by 3%, 3%, 7% and 7%.
    And then there is the YouGov poll showing Labour on 26% following the Split.

  38. Expat….there has been no majority for anything other than the original s50 notice. As things stand, No Deal Brexit will ensue. There is probably a Remainer majority, but it has not been convened hitherto. The IG will try to assemble it.

    Of course, when it dawns on Labour’s Momentum ranks that Brexit is Austerity x ten, they might give up their Leaver game and vote with Tory Remainers, something Corbyn has not so far allowed them to do.

    Corbyn is now an accomplice to deep and lasting Austerity.

    We will soon see.

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