After the Brexit break, Brexit is still broken

25th April 2019


(Pandemonium by John Martin, c 1841)

UK politics has resumed after the Easter break, and Brexit is still broken.

The governing party wants a new leader, but like St Augustine, not yet.

The cross party talks appear to be at cross purposes.

The three ends of Brexit – Deal, No Deal, Revocation – loom and each has a plausible pathway.

But we are no nearer making any positive choice for any of the three ends available.

And things may now get worse.

The upcoming European Parliament elections may inject a destabilising agent into the current politics of Brexit.

The performance of the Brexit party, and of other parties, may lead to political decisions being made which otherwise would not be made.

What these decisions may be cannot be forecast with any certainty.

But the impact on Brexit of the European Parliament elections is a known unknown.

Like a disaster or horror movie twenty minutes from an expected end, something new may cause a shock. (And this may mean there has to be a sequel.)

After the Brexit break, Brexit is still broken, and it all may get worse.


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21 thoughts on “After the Brexit break, Brexit is still broken”

    1. Apparently the PM is thinking of putting the WA minus the backstop to HoC. This is pointless as it will not resolve the deadlock as not acceptable to the EU ( nor Irish libby in US)
      But could this be assorted with a commitment by HMG to organise a referendum in Northern Ireland only on an NI only backstop?
      1/ this would remove ERG’s objectiin to the UK being “trapped” in a UK wide CU
      2/ this would give NI people a democratic say on whether they are prepared to contemplate a CU border with UK rather than a hard border on the island of Ireland
      3/as the NI voters are likely to support backstop except hardest DUP members it would be acceptable to the EU
      4/ It would resolve the deadlock
      Is this a possibility?

  1. And given that the forthcoming election for MEPs seem to be regarded as a rehearsal for another referendum, it’s difficult for those opposed to secession from the EU to know how to vote.

  2. Indeed. It almost makes Rumsfold’s “known unkowns” speech look coherent!

    There is a disconect in polling between the aparent popularity of Farage’s new vehicle and the steady move of the majority away from any Brexit; with the latest margin being +8% pro-remain. No political party can go to the people on a “Brexit only” manifesto (pro or anti) yet that is what we are seeing. We have always lacked any clear policies that parties would follow at the EP (apart from the UKIP wreckers, of course). This must change if the UK remains in the EU.

    I hope that the matter will finally go back to the people and what was largely a protest vote can finally be laid to rest. Should that happen, and even if it doesn’t, the UK urgently needs to re-invent domestic politics and end the nonsensical “first past the post” system which leads to the polarisation that we see currently.

    1. “…and what was largely a protest vote can finally be laid to rest.”

      It was most certainly NOT merely a “protest vote”. That is a fatal mis-reading of the political time-line that led to the 2016 ref result.
      The 2016 referendum was the first opportunity that millions – including myself- were given to have any say on our own lives, since the fait accompli ref of 1975.
      To call a ref result, after over 40 years of actual, lived, experience of the EC/EU a “protest vote”, is facile, regardless of the title you post under.
      There was no political party to vote for post-1983, that offered anything other than ‘more’ Europe.
      Successive electorates were effectively disenfranchised over successive decades, by British governments & the EC & self-birthed EU.
      Ordinary people did not even ask to join the EU- let alone be made ‘EU citizens’ by the Maastricht Treaty.
      Yet- they are blamed for voting Leave, after they had never been consulted, let alone ever been asked for consent for any of it.
      And still- you think it was a “protest vote” that can “be put to rest”?
      The delusion is astounding.

      1. You make a powerful point. Yet I would still ask:
        1- What would the UK be able to do after Brexit that it cannot do at present?
        2 – How would any new freedoms from the supposed EU straitjacket benefit UK citizens?
        3 – If the referendum result was so clear, now that voters – all of them – have some idea of what is involved in Brexit, what is the problem with confirming that result? If Brexit is endorsed, either a hard Brexit or May’s withdrawal agreement, then Game Over – Remainers will really have no option but to accept the position once and for all. If on the other hand voters have reflected and in light of all the new information changed their minds, then isn’t that all to the good?
        In a second referendum, the momentum will almost certainly be with Brexit supporters. They will have more electoral appeal with more snappy slogans like “Tell Them Again” and more telegenic, front -page appeal of the likes of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.

        1. I gather my comment in response was “binned” as it did not meet Mr Green’s stringent standards. (see Green’s Twitter where he publicly ridicules people apparently unaware of how deeply unpleasant he appears by doing so.)
          Mr Green has a blog & can ‘bin’ comments that he doesn’t want to see.
          Of course a decent lawyer could easily make an irrefutable argument that Mr Green’s inability to cope with comments on his blog that he dislikes & therefores refuse to allow, is very much in-step with Mr Green’s refusal to accept democractic vote results that he doesn’t like either.
          They are pattern-making and very revealing.

          I won’t bother posting again Mr Green. Keep your echo-chamber unblemished.

          1. But I’d still be interested to read your response if you can write it in a way that doesn’t make DAG bin it.

    2. I think it’s pretty clear that the Farage Party is a pure Brexit Party. It has no manifesto or policies beyond its name. That makes it a clear standard for a certain group of people to stand behind. No party on the Remain side has anything remotely close to such a clear (if utterly shallow) stance, given that they all have to consider how they’d actually run the country, at the same time as fighting each other.

    3. Some of that swing will be Leavers who still don’t like the EU but think that given how badly Brexit has been handled, we should stay and try and get more independence within the EU, or try and reorganise until we can leave properly. That makes them quite different to Remainers who want us to be in the EU permanently. And if Remain win, then there is just a new chapter of trouble awaiting. There is no simple fix.

      1. Agree on your last line- the idea that we can simply annul (or “revoke” as some Remainers prefer to call it) the 2016 referendum result, pretend it was all a nasty dream & return to pre-2016, is so completely out of this world.

        People who simply cannot cope with life outside of the EU should make arrangements to move to a core EU country. Nothing is stopping them. They’re free to do so. They’re free & fully entitled to campaign to re-join the EU.
        It will be very very hard once federalism kicks in a few years but they can certainly try to persuade.
        What they cannot do is annul the first democractic vote seeking consent for rapid EC/EU integration & force the majority to remain in a political union they never asked to be part of.
        We are an island race- they’ve forgotten how much geography informs a national temperment.

  3. The electorate is still deciding things by emotion, never a good basis on which to expect stability,
    Brexit has to be delivered, someone promised it, will we recognise the benefits when we get it?.

    1. The short answer to that is no. There are no economic gains to Brexit – no UK export businesses were champing at the bit for a UK-centric trade policy prior to the vote and none are buoyed by the prospect now. The nation’s GDP will shrink and with it the tax take, making it more difficult to fund education, the NHS, social services and so on. Instead of being part of the world’s largest and most successful trading bloc we will be a small voice in the wilderness.

      Even the main proponents of Brexit fail to be able to project what economic gains their Utopia will afford, nor what “red tape” will be dispensed with (or how), where Brits will be found to do the scut work that low paid EU migrants currently do etc. If it happens, Joe public will quickly see that they have been sold a pup by a bunch of hucksters who have their own vested interests firmly to mind. And as anybody who has ever left these shores will attest, we have always controlled our borders!

      1. Quite correct. However, as the nation’s GDP will shrink not necessarily the tax take will – on the contrary, in order to meet the funding of essential services, tax rates are very likely to increase.
        In addition, as an Italian writing from Italy, I must say I am still surprised that the Brexit debate in the UK has indeed skipped the point that the EU is primarily an existential project born in the minds of our Founding Fathers to bring peace and prosperity to a continent that had waged war and destruction for too many centuries.
        The Romans used to say “Absens haeres non erit”, Italians say “Gli assenti hanno sempre torto”, the French “Les absents ont toujours tort”. Brexit means that “the absentee Nation is always wrong”.

  4. We have Jack Straw to thank for the form of PR used in the Euro elections- I guess it was picked as giving the bigger political parties the best chance of seat numbers and candidate control.
    If STV was good enough for NI, then ‘our precious union’ should have had the same.

  5. There’s one pattern of Brexit:
    – at the beginning, there was no word about leaving SM or CU
    – after 2.5 years of can kicking, Brexiters became more and more emboldened, no deal has become mainstream, CU has become “treason”
    – Brexit will probably wreck the EP elections

    I conclude that the later Brexit is dealt with, the worse its impact will be, because Brexiters will radicalise further. If the can kicking continues until next GE, the result might be unpredictable. Instead of merely an incompetent government, we might end up with Brexit ultras in charge.

    It would have been a sensible approach to search cross-party consensus for a CU back in 2016, when this was still acceptable to Brexiters. I’m afraid it’s too late for this now, and there might be no way for a controlled Brexit anymore.

    I hope that MPs start to seriously work on a consensus. The WA might be unpopular, but it’s a lot better than crashing out.

  6. Part of the disaster is that Labour don’t want a solution. They appea to want to watch and wait while the Tories ever so slowly self destruct, the slower the better, as more sure and painful and also as it avoids them actually having to do anything.
    But the real sorrow for me is that the real opposition to Brexit haven’t got their act together. After the beginnings of some semblance of sensible working together, it looks like Mr Umunna’s ambition has gotten the better of him. When the Tories split, as they finally must, then we really will be in a segmented policits and electorate, then we will have to learn to work together. Hopefully someone will have word in Mr Umunna’s ear, and we can get to a 4R slate.

  7. To quote Guy de la Bédoyère (letter to New Statesman): “The fiasco of the Brexit process is not only down to Theresa May’s ineptitude as PM and the irreconcilable aspirations of the Brexit dream. / Ever since the referendum in 2016, the ugly, we-won, get-over-it triumphalism of the Brexiters has been their, and everyone else’s, undoing. Constantly trumpeting their 52% victory as if it had been a landslide – ‘the British people have decided!’ – their definition of democracy has been throughout that it exists only to serve their inchoate and incoherent interests, with no regard for anyone else. / The European Union and some of the Remain camp have been no better. The flagrant disregard for legitimate concerns about how the EU is run and the consequences of unregulated one-way immigration handed the Brexiters their ‘victory’. The democratic majority principle means we must leave the EU, but the only way to avoid years of festering discontent and humiliation lies in understanding what democracy really means: consensus and compromise. The reality of true democracy is that no one gets exactly what they want and we must settle for something we can all live with, at least until the next democratic vote. That’s the whole point. If we can wrest at least that from this mess, all will not be lost.”

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