Jerusalem/England’s green and pleasant land

Latest Brexit despatch from Adrian Beaumont, also featuring a look at the imminent election in Israel.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at The University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

On April 1, four indicative votes were held that would have softened Brexit, and all four failed again.  Conservative MPs were given a free vote with the Cabinet abstaining.  A customs union lost by 276-273 (271-265 on March 27), a confirmatory referendum on a Brexit deal lost by 292-280 (295-268 previously), a Norway-style Brexit lost by 282-261 (283-189 previously), and revoking Article 50 to prevent no-deal lost by 292-191 (293-184 previously).

The Commons has 650 members.  Owing to non-voting members, about 320 is needed for a majority.  Commentator Stephen Bush says that none of the options received anywhere near 320 votes.  Had the Cabinet voted and Conservative MPs been whipped, these options would have lost by more.  There was some bickering between soft Leave and second referendum supporters, but in the four motions the most Conservatives to vote Yes was 36 on the customs union.  The most responsibility for the failure of these motions lies with the Conservatives.

On April 2, much to the disgust of hard Leavers, Theresa May said she would attempt to negotiate a Brexit deal with Jeremy Corbyn.  Any deal that is acceptable to Labour would be softer than May’s original deal, and would probably require a confirmatory referendum.  Even if May sincerely wants to negotiate with Corbyn, it is unlikely they can come to an agreement in the time remaining.  May proposed extending the Brexit deadline to May 22 from its current April 12, but this has little appeal to the European Union without a commitment to hold EU elections from May 23-26.

There will be an emergency EU leaders’ summit on April 10, two days before the current Brexit deadline.  Unless May agrees to participate in EU elections, it is unlikely a further extension will be granted.  It is possible that May wants this outcome, and that her move to negotiate is only intended to drain time that could be used to prevent no-deal.  May does not want a no-deal Brexit, but she wants her deal passed.  If the EU rejects her extension request, there would be just two days with only three plausible options: no-deal, revoke Brexit or May’s deal.  If revocation failed again, many Labour MPs would face a difficult decision.

On April 3, a bill to require May to ask for a long extension if her deal is not approved by April 12 passed the Commons by just one vote – 313 to 312.  As this is legislation, it must also pass the Lords.  The bill does not require May to hold EU elections, and any extension must be approved by the Commons.  A motion for more indicative votes on April 8 was exactly tied 310 votes each, and the Speaker broke it in favour of the government on the basis of precedent.  It was the first Commons tie since 1993.

On April 4, a by-election occurred in the Labour-held seat of Newport West.  Labour won it with 39.6% (down 12.7% since 2017), followed by the Conservatives at 31.3% (down 8.0%), the UK Independence Party at 8.6% (up 6.1%), and four pro-Remain parties had a total of 17.2% (up 11.5%).  With both major parties losing votes to more pro-Remain and pro-Leave parties, it will be even more difficult for May and Corbyn to come to a Brexit agreement.

Netanyahu likely to be re-elected at Israeli election

The Israeli election will be held on April 9, with polls closing at 5am April 10 Australian Eastern Standard Time.  All 120 Knesset seats are elected by proportional representation with a 3.25% threshold.  Right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been PM since March 2009, will be attempting to win his fourth successive election.

As no party will come close to a majority, it is better to look at overall right-wing vs non-right wing parties’ support.  Recent polls give the overall right between 62 and 67 of the 120 Knesset seats.  The strongest parties are Netanyahu’s Likud, with 26 to 31 seats, and the left-leaning Blue & White, with 27 to 32 seats.  Even though Blue & White is about tied with Likud, Likud has more potential allies, and it is thus likely that Netanyahu is re-elected.

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.

45 comments on “Jerusalem/England’s green and pleasant land”

  1. May asked EU to extend Brexit date again to June 30th. If that is accepted then shouldn’t UK conduct EU parliament elections? If so, what is point of having Brexit vote in the first place. Getting more humiliating for UK as Time goes by.

  2. Ven @ #1 Saturday, April 6th, 2019 – 6:42 am

    May asked EU to extend Brexit date again to June 30th. If that is accepted then shouldn’t UK conduct EU parliament elections? If so, what is point of having Brexit vote in the first place. Getting more humiliating for UK as Time goes by.

    I doubt the EU will agree to that date. It already rejected it once. My guess based on various reports, is that the EU will give another conditional extension. This time the extension will be a floating one (UK can exit the EU at a time of it’s choosing during the extension) but the condition will be holding EU elections.

  3. The Article 50 process already allowed the UK to exit before March 29 if they had their stuff in order before that date.

    So if this offer of an extension until April 2020 with the UK able to exit earlier is approved, it’s really no different to the current article.

    The EU leaders don’t want emergency summits every two months or so, so June 30 won’t be a goer.

  4. Wasn’t March 29 set in stone for Article 50 till May asked for extension? Once that deadline is crossed, shouldn’t every other deadline for extension be approved by 27 members of EU? How is it same as ‘current article’?

    The brexiteers promised during campaign of referendum for Brexit promised that Britain will return to its old glory where erstwhile colonies will be delighted to do trade with them. What do we see now? Even the smallest countries in EU have a say in the future of Britain.
    A country, which presided over an empire where the ‘sun never set’, has only darkness at its door step.

  5. WB:

    ” Jerusalem/England’s green and pleasant land”
    While it should be “Engxit” as England is the nation in the UK that is most desirious of leaving the EU, it is in fact “Brexit”.

    England is also draging its 3 attached “partners/colonies” in that Most Glorious Union despite two of the three voting emphatically contrary to England’s wishes.

  6. England and Wales are in fact dragging out 5 jurisdictions from the EU, as Gibraltar is also being dragged out despite voting about 96% remain. The major cities of England and Wales are being dragged out by the smaller cities, towns and rural areas.

    And to top it all off, it is likely that the living are being dragged out by the dead because in the 2+ years since the referendum the dying demographics are heavily leave and the newly enrolled demographics (the young and the newly naturalised) are heavily remain. This is a major reason why the Brexiteers do not want a second referendum, they risk loosing it.

  7. Merkel the peacemaker. Hmm. The problem is that the French disagree and the Brits don’t want to.

    Daniel Boffey
    Sun 7 Apr 2019 05.30 AEST

    …Merkel is keeping all options on the table ahead of this week’s EU summit and is said to be willing to back 30 June as an exit date.
    …will be a boon to the prime minister, who on Friday proposed the 30 June extension, with the promise that the UK would hold European elections if it had not ratified the withdrawal agreement by 22 May.
    …Last week the French president, Emmanuel Macron, warned that Britain and the EU were heading for no deal, and that the bloc could not “forever be the hostage of a political crisis in the UK”.
    …Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Eurosceptic Conservative MP, … said the UK “should be as difficult as possible” … “We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes,”

  8. England and Wales are in fact dragging out 5 jurisdictions from the EU, as Gibraltar is also being dragged out despite voting about 96% remain. The major cities of England and Wales are being dragged out by the smaller cities, towns and rural areas…
    And to top it all off, it is likely that the living are being dragged out by the dead

    Theresa May;

    The longer this takes, the greater the risk of the UK never leaving at all. It would mean letting the Brexit that the British people voted for slip through our fingers. I will not stand for that. It is essential we deliver what people voted for, and to do that we need to get a deal over the line

    This annoys me. 17.5 million peeps voted for Leave…… Out of 46.5 million eligible voters. And those 17.5 million had no idea what the actual Brexit would have entailed. Cameron must now be recognised as the worlds worst political leader – WOAT.

  9. Ven, if Theresa May had clearly lost the confidence of her party, eg, via a massive rebellion against an extension and resignations from many Cabinet ministers, she would probably have to go.

  10. If May cannot be persuaded to step down voluntarily, I don’t see how anyone can force it, short of a change of government. But what would either of those options actually achieve for Brexit?

  11. Surely Labour cannot screw things up at this stage.

    Cooper’s anti NoDeal bill should become law once it gets through the Lords today.

    Only choices then are to negotiate some deal such that Brexit can happen by May 22, or take the 12m flextension.

    What compromise can May agree to with Labour that allows Mays own withdrawal agreement and/or political declaration to remain intact? Surely none…

    Corbyn shd keep playing the ‘no compromise is poss now process-wise because it should have happened 2 years ago” card – and stand by when the Tories self-immolate as May has to take the long extension and agree to participate in EU elections.

    Besides, this flextension still allows for the possibility that a50 can ultimately be revoked.

    Corbyn would have to be the biggest idiot alive to sign up for some unenforceable compromise deal under the current WD. Chances not zero.

    Lords passing Cooper’s bill is the most impt event today.

  12. Lords passing Cooper’s bill is the most impt event today.

    Yes. I am surprised how little ink has been spent on this.

    And an idle thought popped into my head just now. If the EU is considered as a club with members, are there provisions for suspending a club member? Without the privileges and obligations of membership Britain could run a 12 month trial of Hard Brexit, and duck having to hold EU elections. After the wilderness they can rejoin with all privileges intact and obligations reimposed. Pure fantasy of course, but what if…

  13. I don’t think Cooper’s bill does what you assume. All it mandates is that May request a long extension, not that the UK agrees to participate in EU elections. If they don’t, a long extension won’t be granted. Any extension still has to be approved by the Commons.

    It appears that French Pres Macron wants tough conditions on a Brexit extension.

    On Sunday, a key ally of French president Emmanuel Macron said that such a “flex-tension” plan should be replaced by “a long extension so the UK can really figure out what it wants”.

    Alexandre Holroyd, an MP from Macron’s En Marche party whose brief covers Brexit, told the BBC that this should come with conditions, for example, the UK should have no say on the next EU budget.

  14. this should come with conditions, for example, the UK should have no say on the next EU budget.

    Hmm. Sort of a Clayton’s suspension then? Does the EU have a constitution? Can you arbitrarily restrict a member’s privileges?

    I suppose you can twist a member’s arm to “voluntarily” agree to a suspension of privileges, maybe even in return for suspending some obligations (EU elections)? All this by April 10, or 12?

  15. Does anybody know the odds of the Lords passing that bill? The talk around here seems like it’s a foregone conclusion, but I wouldn’t have thought so.

  16. Ante Meridian, I don’t think it’s certain. But I did read a piece published soon after the HoC vote with wtte that the Lords were generally in favour of the bill and would act atypically quickly to review and decide. Maybe on the Guardian?

  17. Thanks Late Riser.

    I read what was possibly the same Guardian article, and my memory is that the Lords are aware of the urgency and hence will deal with it quickly without filibuster, but I don’t recall if they were generally for or against.

  18. The Lords consistently comprehensively voted against all pro nodeal filibuster attempts. As long as it actually gets to vote on it, then its passage is assured. But that condition precedent cannot be guaranteed i guess.

    Adrian, am i incorrect in stating that if Cooper’s bill becomes law and the EU dictate whatever extension they choose, that is has to come for a vote to the Commons and, if they pass it, is a done deal? If the alternative is a nodeal brexit then i have little doubt that a sizable majority in the Commons will support it.

    If i am wrong and there is some ability for the tories to stymie a long extension, then i think May will have to choose between nodeal and revoking prior to April 12. That assumes that its not possible to no confidence her and install Corbyn purely for the purpose of executing the extension and, beyond that, needing ongoing confidence to attempt to govern (ie a gen election will soon follow)

  19. Huzzah!! Cooper bill receives Royal Assent.

    EU to reject dumbass Jun 30 extension request, offer instead the 12m flextension… if parliament can do it, they should just force May to ask for that in the first place. In any event, i think this is a sure sign that the long extension is now past the point of no return?

    Will Theresa May resign as Tory leader on Apr 12?

    Can pissed off Torys really remove her as leader by en masse resigning and forcing her resignation?

    My sense is that a general election under these circs is more likely to increase the soft/remain numbers in the Commons… so cant see how any tories would no confidence May out of office?

    I wouldnt be at all surprised if we are left with May and Corbyn still where they are and this present Commons having to find a majority-backed endgame in the flextension period.

    Imagine if this turns out to be a customs union vs revoke referendum!!! I can see hard brexiters advocating to simply remain since that kind of brexit is not a meaningful brexit at all… that would be hilarious.

    What other endgames can others forsee?

  20. Well i guess its possible that May and Corbyn could close on some verbal compromise that allows brexit on may 22 and a hardcore tory PM to lead the next steps.

    Very bad strategy for Labour to do that, but underestimate Corbyn’s stupidity at one’s peril…

  21. I am confused about the dates if there is a “felextension”. What happens to April 12 and May 22? Do we end up with lots of dates or just one? Who sets the dates?

    It appears that each major party is still jostling for their post-Brexit survival, and each MP is thinking about their personal survival too. The country being as split on this as it is, parliament’s indecision is no real surprise. Perhaps the best thing May/Corbin could decide is to give their MPs a hall pass or conscience vote, or whatever it is called in British politic-speak, until Brexit is settled, essentially dissolving party lines to get the job done. And perhaps in addition to holding EU elections, which now seems certain, voters could be asked a series of “guiding questions” to guide parliament. (Preferential voting style.) But do I give that a realistic chance? No.

    (The arrogance of holding a referendum that can be decided by a one vote majority on something as momentous as Brexit is stunning.)

  22. My belief LR is that May and Corbyn have until April 12 to pass something together that enables a May 22 brexit with no new extension required.

    In parallel, tomorrow the Commons will probably amend this June 30 extension proposal of Theresa May to an extended date. This she must take to the EU this week.

    The EU will presumably reply with the flextension offer or bust, which the Commons will surely approve prior to April 12.

    The nature of a flextension still allows a negotiated deal between May and Corbyn to enable brexit on May 22, Jun 30 or any other date – which is why Corbyn loses nothing by insisting on that route yet benefits from the Tories losing their crap at the prospect of a long extension +/or participation in euro elections +/or a negotiated customs union with referendum outcome!

    My question is what May herself does once this flextension is ratified… (a) resign the Tory leadership, (b) try and engineer a gen election, or (c) carry on thru the flextension trying to get her deal passed but ultimately being overruled by whatever the majority of this Commons settles on.

    Guessing her right wing party rump will try and force (a) without (b) – which looks v difficult, and Corbyn will be pushing for (b)

    Riveting soap opera… you couldnt write this script. My pref is (c), the maj will settle on something customs unionish hopefully with an attached referendum… and the whole thing gets called off!!

  23. My understanding is that May can satisfy the terms of the legislation just by asking the EU for a long extension. If she does so without agreeing to take part in EU elections, it will be certain to be knocked back and it will be May’s deal or no deal by the 12th.

  24. Mood swing warning.

    Reading Deutsche Welle at the moment I see:
    * EU battles China in trade talks, “China doesn’t deliver what it promises”
    * USA threatens Europe with penalty tolls
    * Putin woos Erdogan with more military technology
    * Parliament puts May in her place

    Unfortunately for the UK the remaining 27 have other issues to deal with than just Brexit, and the UK may be proving more trouble than worth. Merkel and Varadkar are on side still, but it only takes one. It would not surprise me if the EU rejects May’s request for an extension.

    And if holding EU elections is a step too far for May then, as Ante Meridian points out, April 12 may be it.

  25. May has offered to hold EU elections with June 30 as the new date, but EU leaders are at the least likely to insist on a far longer extension.

    Macron is the most likely to refuse an extension.

  26. Thanks Adrian

    May has offered to hold EU elections with June 30 as the new date

    From the perspective of the EU is that believable?
    * May has been unable to deliver.
    * May’s offer is a sham EU election so the UK can leave on June 30.

    April 12 is firming up.

  27. If Macron or anyone else vetoes an extension then anything can happen. What odds a one minute to midnight revocation?! Becomes a giant game of bluff – Corbyn insisting on a customs union or else May has to revoke or no deal happens, May insisting on some uncompromised version of her deal or else no deal / revoke (depending on who she is trying to bluff). Your run-of-the-mill armageddon, basically. Whatever May does in this scenario will engender all-out war? (This could be a Corbyn gameplan)

    If the EU does offer a ‘take it or leave it’ long (fl)extension, then my understanding is that the Commons can force May to accept it?

    Its all best guess and noone is driving the bus really…


    Britain is likely to be offered a final long extension ending on 31 December after the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, failed to convince the the bloc’s capitals that Theresa May has a plan to break the Brexit impasse.

    This is still developing but I’m off to bed in a bit, so Ill see what the morning brings. Right now it looks like
    * May was unconvincing. (expected)
    * A further extension will be offered (expected, not certain)
    * Further conditions will be imposed (reasonable, not certain)

    The Guardian graphic still shows way too much complexity.

  29. I suppose that if Labour can get the Tories to go along with a soft customs union brexit subject to a referendum where the single alternative us to revoke – including as McDonnel says some binding legislation that only a Commons majority can repeal – then this is the best case scenario… but will still need some portion of a flextension period to execute.

    What Tory would want to be PM overseeing this? The best a BoJo type could do is force an election to try and get a repealing majority in the Commons. I think that is a far-fetched outcome even to the ERG radicals?

    Theresa May will go down in history as one of the most incompetent leaders ever… she should have gone the cross party consensus approach after losing her majority, went all in on her deal which noone will pass and ends up with an outcome that will surely fracture her party for years. Deserves the lifelong scorn she will have earnt.

    Just wish there was a competent Labour alternative like eg Cooper who could take over this debacle.

    My weak bet has been on an ultimate remain/revoke since May lost mv1… feeling like doubling down now though a majority soft brexit is still an option. I astoundingly agree with Liam Fox on that being the worst of all sovereignty worlds. Best to just call the whole thing off!

  30. 2 days before something breaks…

    Some random thoughts.
    * Threatening Britain’s divorce partner is never a good idea. At best it comes across as childish and petulant. It weakens Britain’s hand. I reckon that was Tim Loughton’s deliberate purpose.
    * I am encouraged by Macron’s warm personal greeting of May, no doubt for the cameras, but still.
    * May’s idea of cross-party meetings bears an uncanny similarity to my half-arsed brain fart yesterday that

    Perhaps the best thing May/Corbin could decide is to give their MPs a hall pass or conscience vote, or whatever it is called in British politic-speak, until Brexit is settled, essentially dissolving party lines to get the job done.

    So that doesn’t bode well either.

    At this point I reckon Britain will be given until the end of the year to sort it’s shit out and part of the shit will be running highly divisive EU elections.

    I have no skin in this game, other I suppose than as an Australian with Australia’s traditional links to Britain, but I hope they resolve it soon and get on with living in the world again. But Britain has damaged its reputation for a generation, whatever the outcome.

  31. The EU has been making louder noises around tax harmonisation and even the possibility of an EU army since the UK voted to depart – knowing that a main obstacle to such integration (i.e. Britain) would not be there much longer. So having not yet departed, and with a seat still at the table, a vote and a veto, the UK could put the EU’s future plans on hold, making it difficult to get new legislation over the line. EU reps are right to worry about such circumstances (Politico reports there is talk of possible clauses to try and mitigate intentionally non-cooperative behaviour). Understandably the EU doesn’t want the UK dictating its future, now that it’s voted to leave.

    But this is the same concern many Brexiteers share over the backstop – they don’t want the UK’s future dictated by the EU, having voted to leave the bloc. The trap of the backstop – tying Northern Ireland into the single market and the whole UK into a customs union indefinitely – translates to British trade agreements, regulatory policy and taxes being set by the EU. Not only will critical areas of economic policy remain in the EU’s control, the UK will be even more disadvantaged than it is now, having no representatives in the European parliament or a vote or veto in Council. This is not simply intolerable from a sovereignty perspective; it removes the UK’s ability to take advantage of the main opportunities of Brexit; that is, to secure its own free trade policies and to set its own tariffs (ideally lowering them, making imported goods cheaper and more accessible for British consumers).

    The EU’s fears of a unruly UK in the European Union are just as legitimate as the Eurosceptics’ concern of an unshackled EU making decisions for the UK post-Brexit. If you understand one perspective, it’s only consistent to understand the other.

  32. The EU’s fears of a unruly UK in the European Union are just as legitimate as the Eurosceptics’ concern of an unshackled EU making decisions for the UK post-Brexit. If you understand one perspective, it’s only consistent to understand the other.

    Totally. That has only one solution from the British side, which is to leave before you get kicked out. The question is how many regular people (voters) see it this way? (You can understand the view, but does it represent the country?) This clarifies my feeling that this Loughton fellow deliberately threw that grenade, to promote the “kicking out” part. Sovereignty rules.

  33. A decision by the EU27 is imminent. Meanwhile the Hard Brexiteers continue to undermine May.

    Jacob Rees-Mogg: A Eurocrat thinks it is out of order to stand up for democracy, it is typical of their high handed approach and encourages us to be difficult.

    Sophie in ’t Veld, a Dutch MEP: Tweets by people like Jacob Rees-Mogg for example [see 10.35pm], that if we stay in the European Union that we disrupt things, it doesn’t create an atmosphere of trust here.

  34. EU elections are going to be challenging in Britain. What’s the bet the candidates will split along Remain/Leave lines. Will it be a proxy vote on Leave/Remain? How will the parties handle it?

  35. The European perspective, I think, is summarised by the Tusk/Juncker press conference.

    …what happens will be in the hands of the UK
    …the UK will remain a friend of the EU.
    …this extension is shorter than he expected, but long enough to allow the UK to find a solution.
    …Please, do not waste this time.

    From which I take the message that the EU expects a divorce, but hopefully as friends.

    Where I’m not clear is this bit, the three options.

    It can ratify the withdrawal agreement, and leave.
    It can change strategy, although not the withdrawal agreement.
    Or it can decide to revoke.

    What is “change strategy but not the withdrawal agreement”?

  36. Adrian Beaumont @ #43 Thursday, April 11th, 2019 – 2:38 pm

    The WA cannot be renegotiated, but the Political Declaration can. So a customs union would mean renegotiating the PD.

    I’ve submitted my final (for a long while anyway) Brexit article to WB.

    Makes sense. On reflection too, I suppose it could also mean Britain could leave without an agreement.

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