Brexit, Portugal and elsewhere

With a Brexit deal unlikely, will there be an extension or a no-deal Brexit? Also: the left scores a rare victory in Portugal. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

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 October 2, Boris Johnson submitted a proposed Brexit deal to the European Union, but that proposal was dismissed. The EU summit on October 17-18 is the last chance to do a deal before the October 31 Brexit date.

A deal is now unlikely, and it is probable that the proposed deal was designed so Johnson could blame the EU when rejected. As I wrote in mid-September, Johnson would be attacked by Nigel Farage for a genuine attempt at a deal, and such a deal would be unlikely to pass the Commons, which three times easily rejected Theresa May’s deal.

If Brexit is to happen by October 31, Johnson will probably need to attempt a no-deal Brexit. The question is whether he can defy the legislation parliament passed in early September requiring a Brexit extension request by October 19 if there is not a deal (the Benn Act). On October 4, government documents to a Scottish court said Johnson would obey the Benn Act, but Johnson tweeted shortly after: “New deal or no deal – but no delay #LeaveOct31”.

The government may believe there is a loophole in the Benn Act that will allow Johnson to obey the letter of the law, but break its spirit. Johnson has called this legislation the “Surrender Act”, and it would be bad for him politically if he was perceived as meekly surrendering to the “Surrender Act”. He needs to be seen as being dragged kicking and screaming to an extension if he cannot avoid it.

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour will vote for an election once an extension is in place. Four polls taken in the last week gave the Conservatives leads of between five and 15 points.

Ex-Conservative MP Dominic Grieve suggested that, if Johnson failed to implement the Benn Act, the Queen would sack him. In my opinion, the responsibility to discipline Johnson for disobeying parliament’s laws is not the Queen’s, but the parliament’s. If the Commons is dissatisfied with Johnson, the Commons can vote no-confidence in him, and then vote confidence in a new PM. There is no agreement among Johnson’s opponents on who that new PM should be, but that is parliament’s problem, not the Queen’s.

Parliament was prorogued on Tuesday until the Queen’s speech on October 14; a short prorogation was permitted by the Supreme Court. Parliament has done nothing notable in the two weeks since it was recalled.

Left wins in Portugal 

I previously previewed the October 6 Portuguese election and other elections. Portugal uses proportional representation at the regional level, which assists bigger parties. With four seats from outside Portugal to be attributed, the Socialists won 106 of the 230 seats (up 21 since the October 2015 election), the conservative parties 82 (down 22), the Left Bloc 19 (steady), the Communists and Greens (CDU) 12 (down five), an animal welfare party four (up three) and there are three others. Popular votes were 36.7% Socialists (up 4.3%), 32.2% conservatives (down 6.4%), 8.7% Left Bloc (down 0.5%), 6.5% CDU (down 1.8%) and 3.3% Animals (up 1.9%).

The Socialists will be able to govern with the support of either the Left Bloc or the CDU; in the previous parliament they needed both parties. With this decisive victory for the left, Portugal bucked the trend to the right in much of the democratic world.

Election updates in Austria, Poland, Canada and the US 

  • Final results of the September 29 Austrian election gave the conservative ÖVP 71 of the 182 seats (up nine since October 2017), the centre-left SPÖ 40 (down 12), the far-right FPÖ 31 (down 20), the Greens 26 (up 26) and the liberal NEOS 15 (up five).
  • The Law and Justice party is still likely to win the October 13 Polish election with a majority.
  • For the October 21 Canadian election, the Liberals have 34.3% in the CBC Poll Tracker, the Conservatives 33.8%, the NDP 14.5%, the Greens 8.9% and the Quebec Bloc 5.5% – this is the first Liberal lead since February. Seat expectations are Liberals 153 of 338, Conservatives 139, Bloc 21, NDP 20 and Greens four.
  • Donald Trump’s net approval is -12.2% with all polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, down 1.8% since last week’s article. I will have a Conversation article by Thursday on impeachment polling.

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.

92 comments on “Brexit, Portugal and elsewhere”

  1. One way to help change the dynamics would be for Corbyn to make way for someone else to lead the Labour Party

    Adrian has pointed out several times that there is no psephological data to support your view.

  2. From a recent poll…

    “But only 34 per cent of those questioned back a no-deal departure in these circumstances, compared to a total of 51 per cent who said Mr Johnson should extend negotiations, call a second referendum or call Brexit off – all options which he has ruled out.”

    and the breakdowns…

    “20 per cent said the prime minister should revoke Article 50 if he cannot secure a deal by 31 October, 20 per cent that he should hold a second EU referendum and 11 per cent that he should seek an extension to negotiations.”

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-no-deal-deadline-boris-johnson-eu-poll-voters-a9146196.html

    So here is the problem for remainers: there is no consensus on what fighting no deal should entail, while by far the biggest, united block is crash out with no deal.

  3. I’m not convinced a second referendum would result in a vote to remain.

    Just because there have been demographic changes over the last few years doesn’t necessarily translate to a change in the overall vote. People might change their minds as they grow older and become more likely to vote Leave, for example.

    There’s also the issue of voluntary voting. The leavers might have become hardened in their resolve, while the remainers might be getting sick of the whole thing, resulting in a higher turnout of the former and lower turnout of the latter.

    This is all just guesswork, of course. Unless a second referendum actually happens, we have no way of knowing for certain.

  4. It’s worth keeping an eye on the Brexit clocks.

    Time left until
    * EU Summit starts: 7 days and 7 hours
    * Benn Act deadline expires: 9 days 22 hours
    * UK EU membership expires: 21 days 22 hours

    Johnson effectively has only 9 days (and maybe only 7) to come up with a model for NI that would convince the other 27 EU members it is worth extending Brexit negotiations. And foremost he’ll need to convince Ireland. Is this maybe why

    Boris Johnson to meet Leo Varadkar over Brexit compromise
    Pair to meet in north-west England on Thursday and discuss Northern Ireland

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/09/boris-johnson-to-meet-leo-varadkar-over-brexit-compromise

    Is there a rabbit in the hat?

  5. AM – polls have been very consistent for quite a while showing majority support for remain in a second referendum. But then again, Bill Shorten was supposed to win the election too :p

    Still, I sense a change in mood in the British public. Remembering that during the 2016 referendum no deal wasn’t really considered. Even the hardliners weren’t talking about it. I’ve seen tweets come out from Farage of all people at the time saying of course there will be a deal negotiated. Its only now that brexiters have taken up the no deal baton has resistance to brexit really mobilised and stiffened. I would be fairly confident of a remain win in a second referendum.

  6. Big A Adrian @ #57 Thursday, October 10th, 2019 – 11:35 am

    Still, I sense a change in mood in the British public. Remembering that during the 2016 referendum no deal wasn’t really considered. Even the hardliners weren’t talking about it. I’ve seen tweets come out from Farage of all people at the time saying of course there will be a deal negotiated. Its only now that brexiters have taken up the no deal baton has resistance to brexit really mobilised and stiffened. I would be fairly confident of a remain win in a second referendum.

    I think you’re right that for the 2016 referendum the full difficulty (impossibility) of a Brexit deal wasn’t much appreciated. As the negotiations have dragged on views have “stiffened” or been pruned back to core goals. Is it now generally accepted that the only two viable choices are Remain or No-Deal Brexit? (I read one poster in a British news outlet saying he still really wanted to leave the building, but not by jumping out of the 5th floor window. What he didn’t say was if he would jump if that was the only way out.)

    The path to No-Deal Brexit is simple, though not necessarily easy. The government just needs to bluff its way to midnight October 31. One path to Remain is a forced Brexit Extension, then a GE, then the new government Revokes Article 50. This seems fraught. A second referendum is another path, starting with a forced Brexit Extension, then a GE, then the second referendum, then the new government Revokes Article 50, or allows the UK to crash out at the end of the extension. That’s why I give a No-Deal Brexit a higher probability than Remain, and I give Brexit-With-A-Deal almost zero probability.

    But to examine the likelihood outcome a Referendum, has there been a poll with the only two choices presented as “Crash Out Brexit” versus “Give Up and Remain”? I think the negative emotional language in a poll is important to mimic the polarisation that would occur during campaigning.

  7. If there’s hard evidence from opinion polls, that’s one thing. What I find dubious is the conclusion that Remain ‘should’ win because of demographic shifts, like old leavers dying and young remainers reaching voting age.

  8. https://www.pollbludger.net/2019/10/09/brexit-portugal-elsewhere/comment-page-2/#comment-3267698

    I know that the Lang Dismissal was the result of Commonwealth law trumping state law, however, the usual control of at least one house of Parliament by government`s in the Westminster System means that federal systems are the most likely to have laws specificly passed to make an executive government do the opposite of what it wants to, making the Lang Dismissal the most similar example.

  9. If you think a 2nd referendum might favour Remain, take a look at this twitter thread.
    https://twitter.com/BrexitCentral/status/1182247711845834752

    Corbyn makes the mistake of offering Remain versus Brexit-with-a-deal.
    The problem is that no-one anymore believes a deal is possible. (It doesn’t matter why.)
    I didn’t spot one tweet in support of a 2nd referendum.
    If this is commonly felt then the discussion is over.
    I think Johnson gets this.
    I think the Lib-Dems get this.
    If Johnson loses (on October 31) he wins (at the following GE).
    If Johnson wins (on October 31) he wins (at the following GE).

    For the rest of us, England will never bind itself to the continent.

  10. Brexit Central is a staunchly pro-Brexit website, where most of the people who are following it are likely to be Brexiteers and my understanding of Twitter is they can delete replies they do no like (I am not saying they have, just they can). It is not a neutral outfit, their website explicitely states their position “Our Mission Promoting a positive and optimistic vision of Britain after Brexit”.

    Going to Brexit Central`s Twitter feed for a balanced position is like going to Peter Dutton`s Twitter feed for a balanced view on Refugees.

    https://brexitcentral.com/

  11. Tom the first and best, sorry I was aware of that. My surprise was the 100% rejection of Corbyn’s binary options, including by Labour voters.

    When I first started paying attention to Brexit I soon got to the question of the Irish border, and could not see how an agreement might work that would not threaten the peace. As time went on I gradually hardened my view and now think it’s not difficult, it’s impossible. The single exception might be if there was sufficient trust and pragmatism that the agreement would be on paper only. Both sides would then pretend the border both isn’t there and is there, as needed for the occasion. It was pointed out the amount of border ‘leakage’ would not amount to much, overall. But the border has become the political focus so that approach now seems unlikely.

    From my antipodean ignorance it seems that Johnson is offering Leave, the LibDems want Remain, and Labour just wants to have a turn.

  12. All these national voting opinion polls are really relatively meaningless – any upcoming election will be a series of mini-elections fought out on completely different planes.

    The Tories can only win so many Labour “leave” seats… the experts i rate say that this numbers maybe 20 maximum. The Tories will lose at least 10 Scottish seats. And they have 100 of their own “remain” seats to defend. I believe the only pathway to a sizable majority is to win a swathe of Labour “remain” seats by way of dependance on the Labour vote fracturing to the Lib Dems allowing them to come up through the middle on a FPTP basis. Its such a laughable outcome except i really think it can happen. Corbyn and Swinson are both so stupid… any kind of non-compete alliance across even 50-60 seats and its impossible for the Tories to win a majority imho.

    This all in the context of an extension election of course. Funnily enough, you would think that a last minute Boris deal (which would probably resemble Theresa May’s with minor cosmetic changes), which i’m certain would get thru the Commons (40 former tories + labour renegades would support it, only DUP/Spartan opposition could scupper it), would deliver Boris a thumping majority in a subsequent election but i’m not so sure it would as they still lose the Scotland seats but with Brexit done i think the Tory to Lab swing in Lab-held seats will not be that high, and the Lab to Lib Dem swing will disappear since Remain is over. I cant see if todays’s developments in Liverpool are real or a ruse… but i struggle to see the DUP or the Spartans betraying Boris at this stage even if they hate the deal he comes back with.

    Back to this extension election… we are dependant on some kind of Lib-Lab cooperation both in the election and certainly in any hung parliament to follow, but its hard to see. I dont know who is going to fold in terms of a caretaker PM to request the extension even if they pass a no-conf vote on Oct 20… these Tories are abominable except for the complete incompetence of Corbyn and Swinson.

    A total convergence of the disasterous, really.

    The only way Corbyn ever wins an election is if we somehow end up going no-deal with catastrophic results. He would be mad to agree to an election immediately after no deal and any impact felt – as any kind of Tory majority and they are in for 5 years. But he has the strategic judgement of a speedhump i fear.

    What probability BJ comes up with an approved deal in next 8 days? How long will it take to execute the extension from the 19th by whatever means have to be done. I can see a scenario where they even pass a no-conf motion on the 20th but cannot agree on an interim replacement by the 31st and the extension isnt requested… can you imagine!!

    Just for the parliamentary bloodsport, i have never in all my close following of politics seen anything so insane and unpredictably chaotic as this episode. Fascinating until one appreciates the massive harm that is going to be inflicted as a result of the shenanigans

  13. Fascinating until one appreciates the massive harm that is going to be inflicted as a result of the shenanigans

    +1
    You saved the best for last.

  14. So Johnson apparently caves on the customs and veto issues which we all knew had to happen for any chance of deal.

    One day he appears to be setting things up for no deal and squeezing out the Brexit Party vote as an election strategy, the next day major efforts to find a deal that gives the Brexit Party an opening.

    I presume there is some kind of chessboard going on in Cumming’s mind… or is this just ad hoc lurching in any which direction?

    Even if the tunnel of love pans out, to close out all the detail in a week seems highly improbable… is this a pretext to BJ voluntarily requesting an extension on the basis that he is “sooooo” close?

    Once it is clear that BJ is really genuinely trying to avoid no deal then i battle to see how he contains the DUP and his own spartan right. Qn of optics i guess… can he sell them a v slightly watered down Theresa May deal as a major victory?

    The electoral calculus for the Tories and Lib Dems are completely different if its a no deal versus Theresa May redux deal based election. I’m looking for the thread of logic that underlines the real Tory strategy here… everything was consistently pointing to a no deal play, until this supposed promise to one nation Tories on no deal and now this caving to the EU… now i have NFI what the endgame target is in their minds. And if it twas ever thus or they have changed their minds…

  15. A tunnel is just a room with no windows and two doors. You go in one and you come out the same way or out the other one. And no-one can see you. I just read that this happened 12 months ago.

    Weyand told EU ambassadors: “What we would really like to do is go into a tunnel and then come back to brief you about what happened just before the next European council.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/11/entering-the-tunnel-what-does-it-mean-for-brexit-talks

    If this is the same tunnel that May entered, what can Johnson achieve that May couldn’t? I suppose this could be Johnson doing his own little bit of “surrendering” (only a little bit pregnant) or just a subterfuge to wind down the clock.

    I see a hint of a deal, but no-deal still seems most likely.

  16. Expat Follower, I’ve got a cynical theory of Boris’ tactics, but I’ll save it for my next article, which should be Tuesday. Also, can you not call Boris “BJ” – sexual connatations!

    YouGov has another thumping lead for the Tories, though it was taken Tues-Wed, before Thursday’s meeting with Varadkar.

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    ·
    11h
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 35% (+1)
    LAB: 22% (+1)
    LDEM: 20% (-3)
    BREX: 12% (-)
    GRN: 6% (+1)

    via @YouGov, 08 – 09 Oct
    Chgs. w/ 01 Oct

  17. Make no mistake, the DUP have absolutely no room to move, and if anything, their statements have hardened in recent hours. This is no surprise to me; as I have posted they have suffered a significant backlash with their base for agreeing to Boris Johnson’s original proposal. So if Boris Johnson wants to have a deal which leaves Northern Ireland in the customs union, he will need to pass it without the DUP. He will also very likely need to pass it without the support of Northern Ireland born Labour MP Kate Howey, a hard line Unionist. It is also possible he loses the support of some hard line Conservative Brexiteers who are also Unionists, Owen Paterson is one who quickly comes to mind. Given that, could he pull together a majority? Also as mentioned, such a deal certainly opens the door for the Brexit Party, who would campaign that this is not a true Brexit.

    One idea I have seen floated in recent hours is a sort of UK/Ireland free trade agreement, which would supposedly negate the need for a hard border, but still allow Northern Ireland to leave the customs union. It is an interesting idea, but only time will tell on the detail of what could be thrashed out.

    Of course, this could all be a big Chess game, with Boris Johnson not really being interested in pulling together a deal. Or, I guess he could say that he tried, but couldn’t pull together a majority. Either way, fascinating days ahead.

  18. If by some miracle Boris does make a deal with Brussels, i suspect it will get passed in the commons. Not because MPs will like the deal but because now, unlike during May’s time, the prospect of no deal is all too real and imminent. I think there will be mps who will vote for it even if they think its worse than May’s deal.

  19. Voting for a deal, before the extension required in in Benn Act is finalised, is actually opens a loophole in the Benn Act allowing a No Deal Brexit because it allows Boris to avoid getting the extension but does not force him to bring the further legislation required to actually put the deal in place. That is why the European Research Group (Hardline Tory Brexiteers, led by Jacob Reece-Mogg) and the DUP have not been heavily attacking it, despite the deal being what they do not want.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoXolLl5Ukw

  20. Tom the first and best @ #74 Sunday, October 13th, 2019 – 12:31 am

    Voting for a deal, before the extension required in in Benn Act is finalised, is actually opens a loophole in the Benn Act allowing a No Deal Brexit because it allows Boris to avoid getting the extension but does not force him to bring the further legislation required to actually put the deal in place.

    Interesting. So…
    1) Get an agreement with the EU.
    2) Get agreement in UK parliament.
    3) Skip the extension.
    4) Do nothing. (Don’t legislate.)
    EQUALS
    No deal Brexit

    The video is now 10 days old, so do the last 10 days fit the scenario? Plausibly, yes. So then, at most Johnson has 7 days to get to complete step 2. Phil(?) reckons only 4 days (by the 16th).

    Thanks for the link.

  21. No deal is less likely than ever IMO.

    I still cant see a way around the Benn Act. And now latest reports that torie rebels are getting in behind a referendum, as well as talk that labour will whip their members to back a referendum.

  22. Big A Adrian @ #77 Sunday, October 13th, 2019 – 9:46 am

    No deal is less likely than ever IMO.

    The problem is that I don’t see any deal that might work. I only see two options for the UK. Stay In or Break Out. If No Deal is ruled out then Remain is what happens, eventually. I think Brexiteers understand this. If the EU grant an extension, and it seems like I picked up some flavour of a resigned willingness to do that, and Johnson doesn’t get a deal by Thursday, then the pendulum might swing back, to Remain.

  23. The problem with all this speculation over a referendum is that Corbyn has said that, once an extension is in place, Labour will vote for an election. If, as seems likely, the Tories won a majority at that election, it’s no-deal Brexit.

  24. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/12/support-grows-for-new-brexit-poll-amid-fears-pm-plan

    Both pro-referendum remainers as well as tory moderates are now saying the numbers are there for a referendum *IF* Boris fails to get a deal.

    There was an interesting opinion piece in the Grauniad last week arguing why a referendum might be the best political option for Boris. One reason was that it need not pit him against Farrage and co, as they can both campaign together for the brexit side.

    More importantly though I just can’t see big business standing idly by as a no-deal crash out brexit is allowed to happen. There must be a lot of very big and powerful vested interests that are significant financial backers to the Tory party. Its inconveivable to me that there won’t be a huge amount of pressure applied to Number 10 and the Tories to stop a no-deal brexit happening.

    AB: “The problem with all this speculation over a referendum is that Corbyn has said that, once an extension is in place, Labour will vote for an election.”

    Watch this space. Word is McDonnel and some others in Corbyn’s inner circle are privately in favour of a pre-election referendum. The position of the labour party is fluid. And keep in mind that Corbyn has already been convinced to change his election stance once before – when he dropped his support for an immediate election after the Benn Act was passed.

  25. Die Schottische Nationalpartei SNP will eine mögliche Labour-Minderheitsregierung nur unterstützen, wenn diese ein zweites Referendum der Schotten über eine Abspaltung vom Vereinigten Königreich zulässt.

    https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/schottland-nationalisten-wollen-zweites-referendum-a-1291249.html
    (timestamp in the last 24 hours)
    Rough translation…

    The SNP will only support a Corbyn led minority government on the condition that it allows a 2nd Scottish independence referendum.

    I haven’t seen this in any English press.

    EDIT: added timestamp

  26. Corbyn has already stated he won’t support a Scotish referendum and that hasn’t stopped the SNP continuing to call for Corbyn to lead an interim government.

  27. I would think that if the Tories get a deal (somehow), pass it through the commons (somehow) to sidestep the Benn Act on Oct 19-20 but do nothing thereafter, the Commons will have a chance to pass a vote of no confidence in BoJo (is that better Adrian :-)) right before the 31st, and find an interim PM (somehow) to request an extension?

    It doesnt square that BoJo et all have been lining all strategies around No Deal (including going so far as to remove the whip from those 20 for supporting the Benn Act), only to then bring a deal to the Commons that surely has to be a cave to the EU on Northern Ireland? The only rationale is that the no deal activity was only ever necessary posturing from the get-go to maximise negotiating leverage, which feels quite the stretch (would you expel 5+% of your party as part of a posture that they werent in on?)

    The idea that parliament seize the agenda on the 19th and first thing pass a law before anything else that subjects any would-be-passed deal to a referendum, or failing that, setting a referendum on remain vs no-deal and requiring an extension request to faciliate (ie superceding the Benn Act conditions)… that would be a fascinating vote (would any Tory MPs vote for it? what do the Lib Dems do? would the former Tories and Labour all support it?) and strikes me as a rather good strategy especially for Labor to attempt. This would definitely gather some steam especially if the DUP and Spartans come out against whatever direction a would-be BoJo deal starts to resemble.

    The only way such a referendum could be overturned is an election and subsequent majority to repeal.
    That would be a fascinating election campaign.

    Too may permutations both under-handed and above-board to contemplate. I hope Corbyn really has been getting some decent advice in terms of tactics… a referendum lock-in could legitimately get a majority and would be quite a victory for his platform.

  28. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, reminded the UK that it would become a “potential competitor” with the EU in global markets “along with China and the US” after Brexit. “Europe needs to show what it’s made of” as Brexit looms, she said before a dinner with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, in Paris.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/13/barnier-warns-brexit-talks-have-been-difficult-amid-pessimism-over-deal
    Mutti Merkel, at work.

  29. Not surprising to me at all that we are now seeing threats of Loyalist violence and disruption if Northern Ireland is treated differently to the rest of the UK in a Brexit deal. The threat of Republican unrest has been used as leverage in negotiations by both the EU and the Irish Government in order that their proposals for an economic united Ireland are accepted, so Loyalist push back was completely inevitable. The EU and Irish Government should now help cool the fire they have helped to flame, but I won’t hold my breath.

    Of course, the best way to avoid all this is that the craziness that is Brexit does not happen. But if Brexit is to happen, the UK must be allowed to leave as one. The sensible thing to do following this would be for the UK and EU to quickly get to work on a free trade agreement which would negate the need for a hard border, but acknowledge the reality that Northern Ireland is not only politically but economically a part of the United Kingdom. https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/brexit-loyalists-plan-action-if-boris-johnson-shafts-northern-ireland-38589092.html

    More broadly, I am finding it almost impossible to try and work out where this is all heading. Of course, we still do not even know whether Boris Johnson can get a deal. Labour seems to be divided on how it would approach the situation if a deal is done. Jeremy Corbyn has indicated he wants to fight an election prior to a second Brexit referendum, so could Labour block a second referendum if it is to be fought on a deal done by Boris Johnson versus Remain before an election, and if they do, what then? A lot is going to play out this week!

  30. I thought I would be able to submit an article about Brexit and Poland results today, but there’s nothing from Poland except exit polls. Hopefully, results will be available tomorrow, so I should submit then for publication Wednesday.

    According to those exit polls, Law & Justice won a majority of seats.

  31. Matt31

    The sensible thing to do following this would be for the UK and EU to quickly get to work on a free trade agreement which would negate the need for a hard border,

    OK. But how would that be different than Brexit with a deal, which has so far been beyond them? A FTA that makes a hard Irish border superfluous would apply to the whole of the UK, not just NI. I guess I don’t see a FTA agreement any easier or quicker to establish than Brexit with a deal. (Never mind Merkel’s veiled threat yesterday, lumping the UK in with the USA and China and saying “Europe needs to show what it’s made of.”)

    If I remember right, this last extension was much longer than May had requested, specifically longer to give the UK time to depressurise and decide what it wants, or wtte. It is starting to look as if that time was insufficient. If you compare where the negotiations are today with 10 days ago, then 20 days, then 30, 40, 50, etc. Has there been progress? Is it possible that Brexit continues for ever, as some sort of draining sideshow, and all the while the UK remains a member?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *