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. Much thanks Adrian.

    Agree that Boris Johnson has been playing the game towards a no deal brexit and blaming the EU.

    My continued hope is that he is kicked to the kerb for being one of the most disengenuous politician to grace the UK parliament.

  2. The brazen lies coming from Johnson and his entourage is simply breathtaking. They literally just made up a belligerant statement attributed to Merkel during Johnson’s call with her. I’d like to think the cynicism of Number 10 in this whole sordid process – of pretending to want a deal but so transparently aiming instead for a no-deal and using the whole “negotiation” to frame their blame narrative – will be exposed during the election campaign, but I’m growing more and more pessimistic about that.

    Regrettably, its becoming more and more apparent that this Trumpist, divisive, culture war strategy of Johnsons and Cummings is actually working. I still don’t know how he’ll get around the Benn Act now that the deal is well and trully kaput, but I have a feeling whatever happens he’ll somehow manage to win the narrative – again.

    Pretty depressing really.

  3. Victoria: “My continued hope is that he is kicked to the kerb for being one of the most disengenuous politician to grace the UK parliament.”

    I simply can’t see how.

    On current polling he will win the election with more seats – possibly an outright majority. So his own party would be very happy keeping him.

    It is now logistically almost impossible for parliament to remove him before the October 19 deadline given the schedule leading up to the Queens speech. In any case, they won’t because they have proven incapable of agreeing on an alternative. And this just plays into Boris’s narrative of the fiddling, out ouf touch parliament.

    The only possible hope I can see is if an extension is granted (and I am still hopeful of that), and leavers blame Boris for it – splitting the leave vote, allowing labour to come up through the middle in the election. But even that would probably require large number of lib-dem remainers tactically voting for a referendum (still the only viable chance to remain)

  4. I am waiting for the next Survation opinion poll, coming out. Because they seem to be the most accurate. The last one on the 25th of September had the Tories on 27%, Labor on 24%, Liberal Democrats on 22%, Scottish National Party on 4%, Brexit Party on 16% and The Green Party on 4%. So far Boris Johnson’s strategy on trying to force a No Deal Brexit, are helping increase Tory support at the expense of the Brexit Party.

    For me Brexiters such as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, want a no Deal Brexit to occur, so their corporate backers to profit from the economic crash which would occur. Interestingly enough Labour could profit considerably electorally if a No Deal Brexit occurs.

  5. “On current polling he will win the election with more seats – possibly an outright majority. So his own party would be very happy keeping him.”

    ***

    Polling before the last UK election also showed the Conservatives holding a big lead. Once the election was called and the campaign got underway, things changed dramatically…

    This second graph shows what happened to the polling during the election campaign.

    Even though the polls did start recording the upward trend for Labour, most of them still underestimated their actual result at the election. Make no mistake, having an election is a very risky path for Johnson to take. He may indeed win it, but it could also be a complete disaster for the Conservatives, just as it was last time.

  6. @Firefox

    This time the situation is a lot more different, Corbyn having being seen as ‘Sitting on the fence’ on the issue of Brexit as alienated, many of the people (especially the young) who rallied behind him in 2017. These people are very much Remainders, especially the young. Indeed “Love Corbyn, Hate Brexit” was a favorite slogan of theirs.

    I would argue Labour need to get rid of Corbyn as leader and replace him with somebody who is seen being on the Remain side. Somebody say like Keir Stamer or Jess Phillips This would help to get back Labour supporters who have become disenchanted by Corbyn’s position on Brexit, who have gone over to the Liberal Democrats, Green Party and the Scottish National Party in Scotland.

    On the other hand Boris Johnson is rallying the Brexiters behind him, through his hardline stance on Brexit.

  7. Regarding the Benn Act. I think Johnson has done enough damage to his and the UK’s credibility on Brexit that any request for an extension will be viewed as disingenuous. And all he needs to do is remind everyone that by its nature the Benn Act invalidates the genuineness of the request. The only way I can see to restore meaning to the Benn Act is if each of the other 27 EU members come out in favour of an extension, and soon. With first France and now Germany seemingly giving up on any deal this seems unlikely.

  8. I’d love to believe that Firefox, I really would.

    However Boris is no Theresa May. The 2017 election was such a disaster for the tories because they inexplicably framed it around the personality of a leader who literally has no personality. This time around they have Mr Charisma himself. And as absurd and hollow and trite as he is to us, I think he will actually resonate with an electorate who seems to be looking for a Trump-like idiot with Trump-like divisive slogans.

    Its also been noted by commentators that 2017 went well for Corbyn because he had a more definite and uncompromising stance on Brexit – saying that it was done and it should be implemented. This worked because most Brits thought the same – even remainers. Now he is committed to a referendum, but won’t commit to what side he is on. I don’t think thats his fault – as the national mood has changed since 2017, especially amongst remainers, who now want a chance to revoke article 50. So Corbyn is forced to respond to his base (most labour voters are remainers), which unfortunately gets him depicted as a fence sitter – a most horrible crime in this new era of partisan absolutes.

  9. Well the likely outcome is that there is an extension for a general election, Johnson wins the general election and gets a no deal Brexit. There is a small chance that the EU will short circuit the process and they leave on Oct 31, but I doubt it (in that case, its considerably more uncertain – any disruption from no deal reflects badly on Johnson, the Brexit party ceases to have a reason for existing and parties Brexit positions matter less)

    Unfortunately Johnson is likely to be the beneficiary of too much of the population being receptive to serial liars so long as they are ‘their’ liars. The UK gets to join the US and Australia in that regard.

  10. “This time the situation is a lot more different, Corbyn having being seen as ‘Sitting on the fence’ on the issue of Brexit as alienated, many of the people (especially the young) who rallied behind him in 2017.”

    ***

    This is a good point. UK Labour would be wise to learn from the mistakes of the Adani Labor Party. Sitting on the fence doesn’t usually end well. They need to pick a side and champion it. Either get fully behind Remain and make the election a referendum on Brexit, or they could try and neutralise the Brexit issue by supporting Leave and instead go after Johnson on the many domestic issues that he seems to be neglecting.

  11. “I would argue Labour need to get rid of Corbyn as leader and replace him with somebody who is seen being on the Remain side. Somebody say like Keir Stamer or Jess Phillips This would help to get back Labour supporters who have become disenchanted by Corbyn’s position on Brexit, who have gone over to the Liberal Democrats, Green Party and the Scottish National Party in Scotland.”

    The reality is Corbyn has presented remainers with the most viable pathway to remain as is practically possible. I don’t really understand the argument that Corbyn is turning off remainers. His personal view about it shouldn’t come into it given he has committed his party to a referendum with remain as an option. That is all remainers could ever hope to get.

    Also according to one recent poll there are still about 8% of labour voters who are leavers. This is not insignificant, and they can’t simply be abandoned.

  12. Brexit was a comparatively minor issue in 2017; this time it will be the big issue. I think Labour’s pro-Brexit stance in 2017 inured them from accusations of being too close to the elites, and allowed their radical left-wing policies to cut through.

    This time most of the public wants Brexit resolved quickly, whereas Labour wants to negotiate a new deal, then put that to a referendum with Remain as an option. I don’t think this will appeal.

    For Labour to win, a no-deal Brexit needs to happen before the election, not after.

  13. “Brexit was a comparatively minor issue in 2017”

    ***

    Considering Brexit was THE reason that May gave for calling the election, I have to strongly disagree with this statement.

    The only way one could see UK Labour’s policies as “radical” is if one was looking at them from a perspective that is well to the right of centre…

  14. With talks on a deal having now pretty much collapsed, it is all about the extension now, and how far the UK Government is prepared to go to undermine the extension request it needs to make under the Benn Act. As I have written in the previous thread, I suspect it is prepared to go a fair way, and will make clear to the EU that if an extension is granted, the UK will become a hostile EU member, being prepared to use a veto to paralyse the EU. Boris Johnson will be hurt badly politically should the UK not leave on October 31 after all his promises that this would happen, so make no mistake, the UK Government will throw every obstacle possible in the way of an extension being granted. So, my thoughts on where this goes are unchanged and have been for some time now. Either Parliament removes Johnson through a no confidence vote, or the UK will leave on October 31 without a deal.

  15. @Firefox

    I think the point is though that Brexit is an issue in a very different way now than it was in 2017. In 2017, there was actually not a big gap between Labour and the Conservatives on Brexit; both campaigned on respecting hee referendum result and getting Brexit done. This allowed issues other than Brexit to become the focus. If an election is held before the UK leaves, this time it will be almost all about Brexit, it will most certainly be the dominant issue. So unlike in 2017, it will be much harder for Labour, and other opposition parties for that matter, to move the focus to any other issues, as Labour were successfully able to do in 2017.

  16. One way or another there will be a No Deal Brexit. There will be an election which the Tories will win overwhelmingly. There will be economic and social disruption and huge dislocation in people’s lives. This will be worked to favour the Reactionaries, who will begin to dismantle what little remains of the social democratic order in the UK.

    The Right are winning. Their opponents are too few and too weak to resist them.

  17. I would have assumed that if a no deal brexit is completed before the election then Boris will be all but assured of a thumping victory. I could be wrong though.

    But yes, I take the point that labour’s “more talks, more delay” election pitch will be a tough sell against “get brexit done now!”

  18. If no-deal Brexit is the catastrophe some people are predicting, and it happens before an election, the Tories might get the blame (fairly or not, according to your point of view) and suffer at the ballot box as a result.

  19. AM, I would argue that the election will come too soon after a no-deal for people to feel or understand the true damage of no-deal.

    At that early stage most people would just be relieved its over with – and would thank Boris for it.

  20. Big A,

    If the doomsayers are right and the country comes to a sudden cataclysmic collapse, a snap election while the disaster is fresh in people’s minds might be the worst timing for the Conservatives. After a few months of sorting out the worst of the problems, the anger might abate.

    Dunno really. Just guessing.

  21. If the UK does leave Brexit with no deal, and the election is (say) a couple of months later, it is very possible that the Snories will lose their majority.

    However “the deed would have been done”!

    There would be no easy return to the EU for the UK – or any of it’s constituent parts- whatever hapoens post Brexit.

    By the way, why is Boris suggesting that Stormont be given a recurring right of veto as part of his suggested solution? Firstly, Stormont is not functioning ….. and secondly, why would this be granted when the Northern Irish have already voted to remain – which has been conveniently overlooked by Boris & crew.

  22. Adrian, very good point.

    Brits will be more inclined to think of bread and butter issues post brexit. Especially if there is some anxiety over what brexit will mean for people’s day to day lives.

  23. Big A Adrian
    First you bemoaned RI’s post. Then you seemed to agree with him shortly thereafter. Now you are positing an alternative outcome. Where to next for you?

  24. No translation needed.

    Boris Johnson und seine Brexit-Verhandlungstaktik
    Der Saboteur

    https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/brexit-boris-johnson-will-eu-den-chaos-brexit-ausloesen-lassen-a-1290536.html
    The article looks at the Benn Act and how Johnson is responding by threatening to torpedo the EU. Hence the headline. The article spends a little time on the Irish Border, inasmuch that Merkel “plain and simple” explained that any Brexit agreement would have to prevent a hard border. And it reports that Tusk accused Johnson of playing a “stupid Black-Peter blame-game”. I’m pretty sure that Black-Peter is better known to most of us as “Hearts”. So his meaning is that Johnson is trying to offload the blame trick by trick. It’s an interesting analogy, but the reason Tusk thinks it’s stupid may be that this isn’t a game with winners and losers and no hard feelings.

    Der Spiegel has other articles, but they all pretty much align with the idea that Johnson will get his Brexit in 22 (and a bit) days.

  25. PaulTu @ #26 Wednesday, October 9th, 2019 – 11:57 am

    By the way, why is Boris suggesting that Stormont be given a recurring right of veto as part of his suggested solution? Firstly, Stormont is not functioning ….. and secondly, why would this be granted when the Northern Irish have already voted to remain – which has been conveniently overlooked by Boris & crew.

    Maybe for Johnson the state of Stormont today and its choices tomorrow don’t matter. He shifts blame and makes Ireland someone else’s problem. He tried. It’s not his fault. He’ll be glad to be rid of the place (and the DUP). Speaking of, has anyone considered the likely fate of the DUP in a post-Brexit election?

  26. Boris’s job is to engineer a No Deal Brexit so that his friends can collect on the billions they’ve bet on shorting the pound. His entire premiership is one world-historical insider trading conspiracy.

  27. Portuguese Election:

    I pride myself on being reasonably politically aware and knew, but quickly forgot, that Portugal had forthcoming elections when I holidayed there for 2 weeks in early September.

    I do not recall seeing any posters, banners or any other paraphernalia that might have hinted “election”. I was a tourist and learnt that tourism was a very significant sector of the economy (due to its impressive history and resultant cultural artefacts) accounting for 20% of GDP along with a well-respected tertiary education.

    Because Portugal struggled in the GFC there has since been, and continues to be a net migration out of Portugal. There are not a lot of start-ups in Portugal and for the young the best salaries are elsewhere in the EU, including Spain.

    Although Portugal is nominally Catholic and there are plenty of churches about, the sense of decay surrounding most of the functioning churches seemed in my eyes to reflect the decay of the authority of the Catholic church. The liberal drug policy another indicator.

    The consequence is that it is a great place to holiday as it caters well for the international students and tourists which are so important for its future, and yet is realatively inexpensive). At the university at Coimbra however I did see, and photograph, a scrawled on wall message “Imigrants (sic) in Tourists out”. To my observation people walked around Lisbon and Porto after dark without even a sense of a risk of potential criminal activity or violence.

    But no sign of any Election.

  28. @PaulTu

    I suspect the reason Johnson put the Stormont veto in was possibly to keep the DUP onside and possibly also because he knew it would be unacceptable to the EU. But in any case, he was absolutely correct to put it in. We now have a situation where the EU is attempting to use Brexit to create at the very least an economic united Ireland. The idea that this should happen without any say from the people of Northern Ireland through their representatives is completely ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I think Brexit is a bad idea; but the attempt to impose a backstop in Northern Ireland is even worse.

  29. The backstop is there to prevent a hard border on Ireland, which absolutely nobody wants except for the bigots in the DUP. The EU isn’t trying to “create” an economic united Ireland, it is trying to protect the economy that already exists there. Furthermore, Northern Ireland voted for Remain. The EU should not even contemplate negotiating on the backstop.

  30. “This is a good point. UK Labour would be wise to learn from the mistakes of the Adani Labor Party. Sitting on the fence doesn’t usually end well.”…

    What a load of crap!
    First: Corbyn is NOT “sitting on the fence”. Corbyn is supporting a second Brexit referendum with a Remain option in it.
    Second: The Adani brouhaha has been a complete disaster for the Greens. They lost everywhere before the federal election and at the federal election they went absolutely nowhere. The ALP lost the federal election in Queensland because Queenslanders supported the unequivocal pro-coal stance of the LNP. Hence, again, the Greens’ position was a complete disaster.
    Third: The ALP is currently reviewing the result of the election and revisiting their strategies. This is a necessary step to win the next federal election. The Greens are stuck in their repetitious nonsense, hence they are going absolutely nowhere… Do tell me which party is more likely to beat the Neoliberal-Conservative Coalition and make a difference in this democracy.
    Fourth: The Greens are numerically quite irrelevant in the Australian Parliament. In the UK Parliament they are even worse.

  31. @Late Riser

    How the DUP will perform in a post Brexit election is a really open question. It will surprise some on here, but the DUP are under serious fire from hard line Unionists for going along with Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposal, on the grounds that it actually gave up too much. It has created a serious backlash among Unionism in Northern Ireland. However, if the election is held following a no deal Brexit, I suspect that backlash will be neutralised. Under those circumstances, you would see Sinn Fein going all out for a border poll, so I think Unionist support would solidify behind the DUP. Were an election to be held before Brexit though, we may see more of a split in the Unionist vote emerge.

    @watermelon

    The reality is that until the people of Northern Ireland vote otherwise, Northern Ireland is a part of the UK. The UK voted to leave the EU; I wish that wasn’t the case, but it is. I would like nothing more than to see a second referendum reverse this whole craziness. But in the absence of that, what the EU is trying to impose, a situation where some of the UK leaves but part of the UK stays largely aligned with the EU, is completely unacceptable. Not only that, but of course it is creating an economic united Ireland through the back door, as it is imposing a situation where Northern Ireland is forced to align economically away from the UK and more so with Ireland through the EU. Also, you are incorrect to say that only the DUP opposes this; the generally more moderate Ulster Unionist Party has also strongly opposed it. The idea is no more acceptable to Unionism than a hard border is acceptable to Republicans, yet we get this constant one sided view that states that it is somehow the only acceptable solution.

  32. @Alpo

    As I’ve mentioned, I think that while Boris Johnson will make an extension request as he is required to under the Benn Act, he will at the same time make clear that if an extension is granted, the UK will fron November 1 be a hostile member of the EU. It is important to remember that the EU functions in a way where if one country doesn’t go along with decisions, they can be vetoed. For example, it has been suggested that the UK could veto the 2021-27 EU budget. Of course, the EU could grant an extension anyway and hope that a General Election throws the Conservatives out, but that would certainly be a risk on their part.

  33. Why is it “completely unacceptable” to recognize the simple reality of geography? The economic integration of Ireland is not being “imposed”; it already exists. To economically sever the island and break the agreement that ended sectarian violence by imposing border controls is, from any rational perspective, far more “unacceptable” than conceding to the objective reality that while the North is politically part of the UK, it geographically part of Ireland. This, quite simply, makes it different from the other parts of the UK, and the EU is correct to treat it as such. They must not give an inch.

  34. Alpo @ #37 Wednesday, October 9th, 2019 – 5:36 pm

    “the idea that Johnson will get his Brexit in 22 (and a bit) days”…

    How?

    It is as if they expect Brexit at the end of this month. Perhaps they are based on being unable to answer the opposite question, which is, “Believably, what would keep it going?” Here are some of the headlines to give you a flavour, with apologies for the rough translation.
    * Johnson tells the EU President, “Don’t be sad. (that we’re leaving)”
    * Tusk tells Johnson playing “Hearts” with Brexit (the card game) is stupid.
    * After the phone call with Merkel talks are collapsing.
    * British Government is pursuing No Deal Brexit, despite Benn Act
    * Brexit has already cost German exports 1 Billion Euro.
    * EU gives the UK just one more week
    * Brexit: Tittle-Tattle

    The odd one out (dated October 6):
    * Defiance is the wrong approach, we (EU) have to compromise

  35. @Watermelon

    And if they take your advice, as it appears they will, there will be a no deal Brexit, and that is the way it should be under those circumstances. What the EU are trying to impose is economic separation between the UK and Northern Ireland, when Northern Ireland is a part of the UK. This would exclude a part of the UK from any trade agreements the UK enters in to post Brexit. Of course that isn’t acceptable to Unionism in Northern Ireland, and of course it isn’t acceptable to the UK. The UK made a compromise proposal, which went further than it should have in my opinion. But the EU is now making it clear that nothing less than Northern Ireland staying permanently in the customs union is acceptable, and that is a complete non starter. So no deal it should be under those circumstances. Following Brexit, the quickest way to resolve the issues that will arise as a result would be quick negotiation of an FTA between the EU and UK, but only time will tell on that.

  36. Matt31 @ #43 Wednesday, October 9th, 2019 – 9:17 pm

    Parliament to sit on 19 October, the first Saturday sitting since 1982. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-49984367?fbclid=IwAR2Vqurh1TvomdCF84nyD7zZPSsyB8o9iT6Ss3tAm201GlKYBAw7xpelQhM

    Thanks for the link.

    A Saturday sitting sounds like more theatrics. But this quote attributed to Corbyn stopped me.

    Mr Corbyn said: “The prime minister has an opportunity on 19 October to announce he has obeyed the law, signed the letter, and sent it off to Brussels to ask for the extension, which will give us time to work out a sensible relationship with Europe.

    I was struck by the last two words, “with Europe”. If this is the mindset of the leader of those opposed to a No Deal Brexit, then Brexit has already happened, in the style of Dead Man Walking. The UK clearly is not part of “Europe”. At best it is willing to work on a relationship “with Europe”. There is “Europe” and the UK stands apart.

    If I can draw on an analogy from the perspective of the EU. You don’t want to wrestle the pig. You end up covered in shit and you piss off the pig. Let him go. He doesn’t fit. You can work out any details later, when he’s calmed down.

  37. Of course that isn’t acceptable to Unionism in Northern Ireland, and of course it isn’t acceptable to the UK.

    It was acceptable enough to May, and to anybody in the UK who is at remotely reasonable. The EU aren’t imposing a separation between the North and the rest of the UK; the Irish Sea is what imposes that separation. Any sensible person should recognize that this natural geographic separation is the only logical place for any economic border to go. The alternative is madness; throwing a loyal EU member state under the bus to satisfy one jingoistic political camp within a soon-to-be non-member. It would jeapordize the all-island economy and a hard-won peace for no purpose but the sentimentalities of an obnoxious sectarian minority.

  38. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/09/brexit-crisis-global-capitalism-britain-place-world
    In a 2 minute read the governing Tories are described in terms that I wonder why they’re not better known as the Capitalist Party, and goes on to describe the self-delusion of “Brexiteers” and the weakness of the nation state in a global economic system.

    Some quotes:

    A determined ignorance of the dynamics of global capitalism is bringing about a long-overdue audit of British realities

    Brexit is the political project of the hard right within the Conservative party, and not its capitalist backers. In fact, these forces were able to take over the party in part because it was no longer stabilised by a powerful organic connection to capital, either nationally or locally.

    The real hope of the Brexiters is surely that the EU will cave and carry on trading with the UK as if nothing had changed. Brexit is a promise without a plan. But in the real world Brexit does mean Brexit, and no deal means no deal.

    It almost feels as if the author sees the true value of Brexit as exposing the hold of the global capitalists over the UK.

  39. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/09/brexit-talks-in-brussels-between-eu-and-the-uk-come-to-a-halt

    Sources on both sides confirmed that no meetings between the negotiating teams were scheduled. There are 22 days to go before the UK is due to leave the EU.

    So now what?

    Contrast the two statements.

    On Tuesday, Varadkar had told the Irish broadcaster RTE that he believed it would be “very difficult to secure an agreement by next week. Essentially what the United Kingdom has done is repudiate the deal that we negotiated in good faith with prime minister [Theresa] May’s government over two years and have sort of put half of that now back on the table and are saying, ‘That’s a concession’. And, of course, it isn’t really.”

    Kit Malthouse, the policing minister, insisted in an interview with the BBC that there was still hope of a deal. He said: “We’re reaching a critical point – if there’s ever a time for jaw-jaw rather than war-war, this is it.”

    To me it still looks the only viable options are No Deal Brexit or Remain. There is nothing else. And since it appears that more people in the UK want to leave the EU, then No Deal is what will happen.

  40. The Sun reports that “Boris Johnson is planning to tell the Queen she cannot sack him as Prime Minister even if he loses a no confidence vote and MPs choose a caretaker replacement”.

    The argument seems to be that the Lascelles principles, which guided the monarch in deciding whether to allow a dissolution in the days before the fixed terms act (and which presumably remain relevant in Australia if a PM who has lost confidence seeks an election), include an election being “detrimental to the national economy” as a necessary but not sufficient condition for a monarch to refuse a dissolution. The Johnson camp would have us believe that this means the monarch would have to nix a change of government mandated by parliament if the defeated Prime Minister didn’t like it.

    This is very obviously too stupid to warrant serious discussion, and is probably intended to dissuade Tory rebels from bringing down the government under pain of a constitutional meltdown. But in the current emotionally charged environment, it would be taken very seriously indeed by a large section of the public and the media if the crisis came to a head.

    Judging what chance there is of this happening requires more brain cells than I have to spare just at the moment. As I understand it (which admittedly isn’t far enough), a no confidence motion may well be passed when parliament resumes on October 21. This would set the clock ticking on a 14 day period for a new government to be formed, but for which Johnson would be able to call an election. Whether or not Britain will have crashed out of the EU by that time would depend, of course, on whether an extension had been sought and obtained.

    Jeremy Corbyn will not have the numbers to form a government, but there might be the prospect of a unity administration being formed with someone else at its head. The problem here is that the seemingly irreconcilable split between a) most of Labour, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens, who want an election, and b) the Lib Dems, Tory rebels and ex-Labour independents, who want an interim government to hold a second referendum.

    The nightmare scenario being contemplated by the Johnson camp would only come to pass if a) and b) reached some sort of a resolution. If this resolution was determined in favour of the early election camp, I imagine Labour would wear the ignominy of having drawn the Queen into the heart of the crisis for no very good reason, having just recently blocked Johnson’s own bid for an election. Johnson’s own role in dragging the Queen in could be glossed over. But if the referendum camp got their way, Brexit hardliners would forever count her a traitor for having sacked Johnson, without regard to the clear fact that she would have had no other option.

  41. If Boris does not comply with the Benn Act, especially if he gets done for Contempt of Court, he may end up being booted without a no confidence motion upon the same principal of “The Government must not fight the law of the land” principal that got Jack Lang booted in 1932 in NSW. Presumably Corbyn, as Opposition Leader, would be summoned and offered the chance to form a government.

    The sort of centrist-led semi-caretaker government the LibDems et al are demanding, based on the usual ability of the political centre to switch to either the Left or the Right, represents one of the main things Corbyn stands against and could weaken him to allow. It has turned into a giant game of chicken, whether Corbyn or the centrist blink first (I don`t think it will be Corbyn). If the LibDems don`t blink, they can likely be accused of secretly wanting a chaotic No Deal Brexit, followed by a quick return to the EU, with the Euro as a condition.

    A second referendum before the next election could help Labour, at the expense of the LibDems, by removing Brexit as an issue for the Remain side. Hence some in Labour supporting the idea.

    A second referendum would likely be won by Remain, given that voters who have died since the 2016 referendum were mostly in heavily Remain demographics (i.e. old) and new voters are in heavily Remain demographics (young, immigrant (including the surge in EU Citizens applications for British Citizenship) and ex-abstentionists). Many previously Northern Irish Unionists who voted for Brexit may change realising that Britain is probably willing to swap Northern Ireland being in a Customs Union with Great Britain for a deal with the EU, in the event of a continuing Brexit, contrary to Unionist wishes.

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