No Brexit in near future; Israeli election results

Brexit delayed until October 31, with a review to be held in June. Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu wins re-election in Israel. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian’s work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

On April 8, Parliament approved a bill that forced Theresa May to request a Brexit extension, after it had passed the Commons by just one vote on April 3.  On April 9, Theresa May’s proposed extension to June 30 was accepted by 420 votes to 110, though just 131 of the 313 Conservative MPs voted in favour, with the rest either abstaining or voting against.

On April 10, an emergency European leaders’ summit was held.  The 27 European leaders, not including the UK, agreed to delay Brexit until October 31, with a June compliance review, and this extension was accepted by Theresa May.  If the UK passes legislation to enable Brexit, they can get out earlier.  In practice, such an early exit is unlikely, as Labour has little incentive to cooperate with the Conservatives in reaching a deal, and Theresa May’s Brexit deal has no chance of passing the Commons without support from at least 20 Labour MPs (it got five Labour MPs the last time).

Without an early exit, the UK will hold European elections on May 23; these elections will be held in Europe from May 23-26, but Thursday is the UK’s election day.  Local government elections have been scheduled for May 2 for a long time, so the UK will be holding two major elections in three weeks.  Recent polls have had the Conservatives slumping, and these polls were taken before today’s developments.

While the Commons was happier with a long-ish Brexit delay than any other option to resolve Brexit, the public will not be happy with Brexit debate continuing on and on!  A YouGov poll recently gave respondents three options for what should be done by April 12: no-deal Brexit, Remaining or an extension.  No-deal had 40% support, Remain 36% and an extension just 11%.  Most Remain voters will settle for the long-ish extension, but, as I wrote earlier, Leave voters will feel more betrayed than they would had a soft Brexit been agreed, after been told for the last two years that Brexit would occur on March 29.

In December, May won a confidence vote among Conservative MPs by 200 votes to 117.  Under Conservative rules, she has a year’s grace, and cannot be challenged again until this December.  If May will not voluntarily resign, the one way for hard Leavers to remove her would be to join Jeremy Corbyn in voting no-confidence in their own government.  After a successful no-confidence vote, the Commons has 14 days to vote confidence in a new government; if it does not, a new election is required.  The major risk for hard Leavers from this course is that, with the Conservatives bitterly divided, a new election could well lead to PM Corbyn – the ultimate nightmare for the hard right.

If there is a vacancy in the Conservative leadership, MPs winnow the candidates down to two, and the membership decides between those two candidates.  A January poll found that 57% of Conservative members wanted a no-deal Brexit, just 23% backed May’s deal and 15% Remain.  A leadership election would likely result in a hard right MP winning.

Netanyahu wins Israeli election

At the Israeli election held on April 9, Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party won 35 of the 120 Knesset seats (up five since 2015) and the left-leaning Blue & White 35 (up 24).  Explicitly religious and nationalist parties won 26 seats, giving Netanyahu a narrow path to a parliamentary majority even without the centrist Kulanu (four seats), which was part of the last government.  Israeli Labor used to be the dominant party, but fell to just six seats (down 13).  Including Kulanu, the right won 65 of the 120 seats.  This will be Netanyahu’s fourth consecutive term.

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.

38 comments on “No Brexit in near future; Israeli election results”

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/11/what-are-pms-brexit-options-now-that-eu-has-granted-extension

    I think this covers it nicely. The more time taken to agree a deal or process with Labour, the less practicable it is to hold a referendum by 31 Oct.

    I think the EU will allow a further extension to hold a referendum that produces a decisive end step?

    Can the tories and lab agree on a customs uniony soft brexit with no referendum? My gut says improbable.

    If a referendum is essential (and momentum growing in that direction) looks like May can choose a referendum between (a) commons majority customs uniony brexit and revoking, or (b) her deal and revoking per the Kyle plan. Thats a really interesting choice for her and the tories. The first could have bipartisan brexit support and win but the second wouldn’t and therefore more likely to lose… go for glory and risk disaster or bank a semi-brexit of some kind (from May’s viewpoint).

    I don’t see a resignation or an election producing a substantially different endgame?

  2. This chinese water-torture isn’t doing anyone any good. They should have just let the deadline expire for no-deal and be done with it. Clean break, deal with the problems as they happen. In six months the major problems would probably have been sorted out.

    Now, we’ll get to October and have to go through this pissing-around uncertainty all over again.

  3. May’s strategy has been to run down the clock on Brexit, and disallow compromise. She took parliament hostage. “Agree to the WA or Britain gets it.” Her strategy failed, and pissed off both sides of British politics, seriously pissed off the leave voters, frustrated the remain voters, and pissed off the EU27. The result is a worst of possible worlds, for May. (What political capital?) The question is, will she continue with this approach?

  4. Late Riser,

    I think you are being unfair to May.

    The sticking point with her deal was the Northern Ireland backstop provision, which is where the EU refused to compromise. There wasn’t a hell of a lot May could do.

  5. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/11/what-are-pms-brexit-options-now-that-eu-has-granted-extension
    Starting with the EU27 conditions for the flextension, Britain has four choices.

    A) Ratify the WA, and leave.
    B) Ratify the WA, change the political declaration, and leave.
    C) Choose Hard Brexit, and leave.
    D) Revoke.

    So how do the scenarios in the Guardian article arrive at one of these?

    1. Strike a pact with Jeremy Corbyn
    A-no, B-doubtful, C-no, D-doubtful
    Is either side ready to compromise, and on what?

    2. Agree a plan for Commons votes with Labour
    A-doubtful, B-maybe, C-no, D-doubtful
    Labour and the Tories are both split.

    3. Bring her deal back to parliament – again
    A-doubtful, B-doubtful, C-no, D-doubtful
    It didn’t work 3 times already.

    4. Call a general election
    A-unknown, B-unknown, C-doubtful, D-unknown
    Could it change the DUP’s influence? Would “Remain MPs” be in the majority or “Leave MPs”?

    5. Call a referendum
    A-doubtful, B-maybe, C-doubtful, D-maybe
    Picking the referendum question would be fun, but perhaps a three way run-off might be possible, choosing among: Remain, WA, Hard. The ultimate result might swing between WA with a political tweak versus Remain.

    6. Resign
    A-doubtful, B-doubtful, C-no, D-doubtful
    A new “Hard-Brexit PM” would surely stiffen the resistance against Brexit.

    Overall, who knows at this stage? Maybe the horse with its nose in front is B (WA, change the political declaration).

  6. Ante Meridian. Yes ok, maybe. But Ireland has always been the sticking point from the very start, and expressed and dismissed 3 years ago. Apart from bribing the DUP to keep quiet what has May done to resolve that? Before triggering article 50, May could have entered serious discussions with Ireland to resolve issues to avoid the inevitable “backstop” band-aid.

    Hindsight for armchair tragics like me is easy, but May misread the EU’s solidarity. She chose her path. Something like the backstop would have been predicted. Surely?

  7. Late Riser,

    True, the problems with the backstop could probably have been predicted (in fact, I think they were by one or two knowledgeable people), but that doesn’t necessarily mean they could be solved.

    If the EU refuses to budge and a majority of the Commons refuse to budge, it seems a bit harsh to blame the lack of compromise on May. I think she was given a hospital handball, but it could be argued she brought her woes on herself by accepting it.

  8. Ante Meridian: “If the EU refuses to budge”

    The situation is that each of 27 members has a veto; the EU is not a monolithic entity except in fantasies of the Brexiteers. Instead, Ireland has correctly identified the border as a existential issue for it, and will certainly veto any agreement that interferes with border. This being the case, there is no possibility that the EU could ‘budge’, even if 26 of the 27 were for budging. Hence there is no sense in which the EU refusing to budge is an accurate summary; instead it should be “Ireland refuses to budge, and the EU supports its member, against its former member Johnny Foreigner”

  9. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/11/nationalist-right-lost-battle-for-brexit-second-vote

    The delay imposed by the EU on Wednesday night

    Britain requested a short delay until June 31 and the EU responded with a longer delay. How distorted are British opinions?

    May’s decision to open talks with Labour was a watershed. Its importance was widely underestimated, …the approach to Labour marked May’s acceptance that the Tory-facing Brexit strategy she had pursued for 30 months had failed.
    …merely by talking, she has put a second referendum – in which Britain may vote to remain – into the realms of the possible for the first time since 2016

    My earlier question was, “Will she continue with, my way or Britain gets it?” The answer appears to be, “No, she has a new strategy. New options have opened up.”

    Unrelated directly to this is another question, when are Britain’s leaders going to address the divide in their country?

  10. E.G.,

    I think you know what I meant. I don’t believe the lack of compromise is May’s fault, and was attempting a succinct summary of why that’s the case.

  11. True, the problems with the backstop could probably have been predicted (in fact, I think they were by one or two knowledgeable people), but that doesn’t necessarily mean they could be solved.

    Irish reunification might solve them, but my point was that the clock and was a core element of May’s strategy. Talks between Ireland and Britain could have exposed problems and allowed reasoned debate without the added difficulty of time pressure. It’s all a bit late now though, other than maybe a blurry insight into May.

  12. May has got to go – she will continue to run the clock down with no compromise

    Why would the EU pander to a country that is quitting when the impact of leaving, threatens the security of a member state, namely Eire or Ireland?

    I have heard that “No Deal” is against UK law as it contradicts the Good Friday Agreement

    Ideally there would be another referendum with the choice to remain as an option

    Absolutely shocking to see a once great industrial economy bought to its knees by bickering politicians

  13. Would the next person to accuse May of running the clock down with no compromise please give an example of the sort of compromise they believe she should make. Bearing in mind that a majority of the Commons won’t accept a withdrawal agreement with the backstop and the EU won’t accept a withdrawal agreement without the backstop.

  14. Ante Meridian @ #14 Friday, April 12th, 2019 – 1:45 pm

    Would the next person to accuse May of running the clock down with no compromise please give an example of the sort of compromise they believe she should make. Bearing in mind that a majority of the Commons won’t accept a withdrawal agreement with the backstop and the EU won’t accept a withdrawal agreement without the backstop.

    Sorry, I wasn’t commenting on the inevitable contents of the WA. I was commenting on May compromising her strategy before it got to this point. May did compromise last week by reaching out to Labour. Should she have done that sooner, before time had run out? Did her steadfast approach over the previous 30(?) months force the current outcome?

    But it’s too late now. The questions are academic other than perhaps suggesting clues as to what May might do next. (Steadfast?)

  15. Late Riser.

    Fair enough.

    But I’m still a bit hazy on what good reaching out to Labour will do. The deadlock on the withdrawal agreement remains the same and the only other leave option (no deal) remains the same.

    As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem two people have instead of just one (that’s how my version goes, anyway).

  16. Ante Meridian: “I think you know what I meant. I don’t believe the lack of compromise is May’s fault”

    In relation to the Irish border issue, Ms. May could have chosen to negotiate with the Irish Government, who are the only other government (the first being HM’s Government) empowered to negotiate (and compromise) on that point. Such a negotiation would inevitably have raised the topic of a single Ireland / Reunification. In order to avoid a conflagration within the Conservative Party (and after 2017, the DUP) she choose not to engage in such a negotiation, and instead negotiated only with the EU, which has no power over the issue*. Generally speaking, attempting to negotiate something with an entity that has no power to deliver the desired outcome is a sham and a waste of time, yet that is the route Ms. May choose to take. At best that is complete incompetence.

    * The EU will not invade a member state so as to force it to comply with an edict emanating from Brussels. As we see from the US Civil War, the power to invade is ultimately the only enforcement.

  17. Ante Meridian: “Would the next person to accuse May of running the clock down with no compromise please give an example of the sort of compromise they believe she should make”

    Agreed – there is no compromise Ms. May can make that would not result in the collapse of HM Government and the fracturing of the Conservative Party.

    It does not follow that the EU should therefore compromise, and in particular that it should somehow offer a compromise that it has no power to offer.

  18. E.G.,

    So May’s only alternative to the current deadlock was to – in your words – ignite a conflagration within her own party and the DUP. With no guarantee of success.

    Like I said, a hospital handball.

  19. And on your last point, of course it doesn’t follow that the EU should compromise.

    My point is only that it’s rough to blame May when she’s in an impossible position.

  20. May isn’t in an impossible position. She should have told the EU that the UK will exit on WTO Terms unless they agree to a full exit. They should have left as per the original timeline.

    The only logical conclusion is that May has no intention of the UK ever completing BREXIT.

  21. The Opposition in Israel must really be on the nose if Netanyahu was able to win with all the allegations surrounding him and his family.

    It is my opinion that HAMAS has probably achieved this victory due to all the violence that they are generating around the Gaza strip.

  22. As I speculated, British EU elections are going to be polarising. The Hard Leavers are first out of the blocks.
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/12/annunziata-rees-mogg-to-stand-as-mep-for-farages-brexit-party

    the former Ukip leader said he intended to put “the fear of God” into MPs.

    And the rest of the article is one angry statement after another, with an occasional bombast.

    “The quickest way to a free-trade deal is we leave on WTO rules and, you know something, the European Union will come running down the street after us wanting a tariff-free deal,” he said to loud cheers.

    This isn’t about why leave is better than remain. It isn’t how to fix the problems with the backstop. It is threats, boasts, and money. I want to ridicule it, but when I read “to loud cheers” I can’t. Watching from the other side of the planet, I have to ask, is there one genuine British leader left? Has the money won?

  23. And the now the Remainers appear, slowly or is it carefully?
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/13/pro-eu-parties-to-use-european-elections-as-soft-referendum
    In terms of effectiveness, slowly is probably the better word.

    The timeframe for potential candidates will require final applications to be submitted by Monday morning and interviews later next week.

    Fractured might be another,

    …the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the Independent Group, will not form pacts or alliances at the forthcoming EU elections
    …Renew, another emerging new party that has fought local elections, will also run pro-EU candidates in the EU elections.
    …The two major parties are also likely to see applicants hoping to run on a remain platform.

    and unfocused yet another.

    …hoping to use the poll as a “soft referendum”
    …stress the importance of the elections to send a message.
    …“seen by many as a soft referendum on EU membership”

    The numbers might be with Remainers, but it appears that the tactical advantage is with the Leavers.

    And how will this affect the wider EU elections, across all 28 participating countries. How much policy will be obscured or distorted by this battle for Britain? Will we see “kick-em-out” candidates popping up?

  24. If anyone is still interested in UK politics, there are two new polls out today.

    In YouGov, Labour has a 32-28 lead over the Tories. In the last YouGov (April 2-3), the Tories had a 32-31 lead. It’s the first Labour lead in YouGov since July 2018; this poll tends to give the Tories better numbers.

    In Opinium, Labour has a 36-29 lead (35-35 on March 28-29).

    These polls are not completely after the April 10 EU summit; YouGov was taken Apr 10-11, and Opinium April 9-12.

    The big slump for the Tories in these two polls confirms my view that the long Brexit extension would damage the Tories.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_next_United_Kingdom_general_election

  25. Thanks Adrian. I’m thinking how this affects Brexit. If the flextension moved support from the Tories to Labour that could be interpreted as the “Hard Leavers” having (what in Aus politics we would call) the Balance of Power. (Opinium UKIP numbers are up too.) If Labour leans towards Remain, would those polls switch back? Would either Tory or Labour want a General Election now, with this dynamic in play?

  26. Labour already lost support by voting to delay Brexit and unenthusiastically embracing a 2nd referendum. But the Tories have far more Leave supporters than Labour. Under FPTP, votes lost to UKIP and the Brexit party won’t come back. I’m sure Labour will definitely want a new GE with those polls.

  27. Thanks Adrian. (Not stalking) 🙂

    Ok, the argument is that UKIP and similar will gain from the Tory and Labour losses, but not enough, and the net will see Labour in front. I can accept that. FPTP takes getting used to.

  28. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/15/europe-urged-to-reject-us-middle-east-plan-if-unfair-to-palestinians
    The article is about US-Israel politics. But it is centred on the idea of a single “Europe”. A couple of quotes:

    …”It is time for Europe to stand by our principled parameters for peace…”
    …“Europe must pursue its own course of action”

    Although there is support from within the UK mentioned in the article, I wonder if the core idea of a political entity called “Europe” is what the UK is having trouble with. I’m thinking of the “special relationship” between the UK and USA, which would seem to be at odds with the European relationship with the USA. I am also thinking of the difficulty an ex empire has in accepting that it fits inside a greater European whole.

  29. Some Brexit dates…
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/12/uk-brexit-deadline-key-dates-eu-extension-october

    European parliament elections
    22 May: The final day on which MPs could pass a withdrawal deal and avoid holding European parliament elections.
    23 May: European parliament elections take place across the UK

    EU27 takes a look
    20-21 June: EU leaders will assess the progress Britain has made over the past few months at a European council summit.

    EU parliament resumes
    2 July: New MEPs sit at the inaugural session of the new European parliament.

    Clock runs down again
    10 October: The last practical polling date on which a prime minister could hold a general election or second referendum
    17-18 October: EU leaders meet for the final European council summit before the UK’s extension is due to expire.
    31 October: The six-month article 50 extension will expire.

  30. https://news.sky.com/story/nigel-farages-brexit-party-could-win-european-elections-poll-11696217
    Headline:

    Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party could win European elections – poll

    Sentence 1:

    The former UKIP leader’s party is on 27%, ahead of Labour on 22% and the Conservatives on 15%.

    From what I’ve read, EU elections use the proportional system. Farage’s Brexit Party would get 27% of the MEPs.
    Other quotes:

    …Greens are on 10%, the Liberal Democrats on 9%, newly-formed Change UK on 6% and the SNP/Plaid Cymru on 4%.
    …weighted by likelihood to vote

    Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said Remain-supporting political parties should be “fighting together under the same banner” in the elections. … “it would be better, I think, from the point of view of the supporters of British membership of the EU if we were fighting together under the same banner, and certainly that’s something we would like to have seen, but that wasn’t possible, we didn’t get a positive reaction to that, so we are going on our own.”

    It reinforces the idea that the EU elections in Britain would be Remain versus Leave, and that Remain has the tactical advantage.

  31. I need to correct myself, the Brits use D’Hondt to distribute the votes, except for N.I. which uses “Single Transferable Vote”. I’m not motivated at the moment to figure out who gets what based on the poll.

  32. It turns out my previous calculation did include the 3 MEPs from N.I., where STV is used. (My spreadsheet included N.I., I just didn’t notice.) I don’t think it makes a difference (1x MEP for each of Brexit, Labour and Conservatives) , so I’ll leave the totals as they are.

    23 Brexit
    21 Labour
    15 Conservatives
    8 Greens
    5 Liberal Democrats
    1 Change UK
    0 SNP/Plaid Cymru

  33. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/20/second-eu-referendum-only-way-to-beat-farage-says-watson

    Labour will never defeat Nigel Farage if it continues to “sit on the fence” over Brexit and offers only “mealy-mouthed” support for a second referendum, the party’s deputy leader says today.

    To sum it up, nuance won’t work. Nuance is too complicated. Simplicity is appealing. Labour needs a simple message.

    My thought on it is that Farage has a simple message. “Britain will only survive if it gets out.” Where do you even start to argue that? Because he’s right of course, but wrong too. Britain has changed as part of the EU, but it will change if it leaves the EU. If the EU is a boat in choppy seas, Farage wants Britain to jump overboard. (to drown) If the EU is a group of like-minded people in a dangerous crowd, Farage wants Britain to cut loose. (to be lost) But if you think of Britain as an island invaded, Farage wants you to “throw them out.” (to be free) And notice that’s not quite the same as “leave”. Leave is such a passive word. It feels like a simple right, like growing up, like independence. Except it cloaks the real message. And notice too he wants you to do the throwing. He will vanish like last time to let you get on with that bit.

    The tactical advantage of destruction is simple and clean and quick. I don’t see any real opposition. Farage will do it again.

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