...a blog by Richard Flowers
Friday, April 12, 2019
Day 6676: Europe: The Final Countdown. Again.
Happy STILL IN the European Union Day. Again. They come around so quickly, don’t they!
People keep asking me “What is going to happen about Brexit?”
To which the correct answer is “How should I know, I’m a stuffed elephant!”
But let’s give it a go.
There was exactly ONE moment when Brexit could happen, and that was 23:00 on 29 March 2019.
And it didn’t.
Entirely thanks to the ineptitude of Brexiters in and formerly-in the Cabinet demanding more unicorns and less reality in their Brexit and through the religious intransigence of Brexiters outside the Cabinet insisting that this Brexit wasn’t Brexity enough, they missed the exit.
This is undeniably good news.
Parliament, and to an extent even the Prime Monster, have looked twice into the ABYSS of “no deal” and said “no thank you very much, matey” to the death and disaster that likely would follow.
So what do we do instead.
Well, Parliament is already off on its Easter hols…
No, that’s super UNFAIR – they’ve all been working absurdly hard to try and agree on nothing, and taking time away from the bubble might clear heads and let some fresh thoughts in.
But still, this extension actually takes all the pressure OFF The Prime Monster to get her agreement signed. And equally OFF of MPs to come to any agreement for it or any other deal.
And we have seen for the last six months that if there is an option to kick the can down the road, Mrs May will punt it into the longest deepest grass she can find.
Which unfortunately gives them all time to think about doing something else instead.
The WORST that could happen would be European Parliament Elections AND a General Election AND a referendum.
So you can bet that that’s EXACTLY what’s going to happen.
With the Conservatory Party visibly self-destructing before our button eyes, it will not be long before they do something… rather rash.
Pundits saying that the Prime Monster is safe until December because of the rules of the 1922 Committee… are overlooking that the 1922 Committee can just change the rules. We’ve already had the suggestion of “Indicative Votes of No Confidence”, which would be just as lethal as the real thing if lost.
Of course, Mrs May is a past master of seeming to promise to go, only to indefinitely defer the deadline – before the 2022 election, once the agreement is passed, when the stars are right. However, the even-by-their-standards frothingly outraged reaction of her Party to having to fight the European elections suggests time is very much reaching its fullness and the appropriates of her juncture is fast approaching.
The time limit that the Prime Monster has set herself is the 30th of June, though a calamitous showing at the now-inevitable Euro elections could truncate her tenure even further.
And to be fair, not a moment too soon. She has been absolutely the worst Prime Monster since, er, the last one, who is really to blame for all this mess. But Mrs May should have gone after the unnecessary election that she lost and only the unique combination of personal mulishness and no one else wanting to be left holding the ticking timebomb let her stay. Alas for Theresa, proving that she would rather defer Brexit forever than be holding it at the moment of detonation has removed her last purpose, that of fall guy.
I actually have this notion of Theresa May that, should she be ousted either by some confected 1922 Committee mechanism internal to the Tory Party or by a Parliamentary vote of no confidence in her government… she will still be Prime Minister long enough to send a Revoke letter to the EU.
It would be a final act of petty revenge, but she’d finally be doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons.
And she would tell us, from her Downing Street podium, that – entirely correctly – she was justified in this by the House having repeatedly voted down no deal and there simply being no time to reach agreement to do anything else.
She could literally save the country to spite the ERG.
But alas, that’s really too bold, to daringly pro-active for the Theresa we’ve come to know.
Most like she’ll just slink away to her field of wheat. Or what blasted heath is left of it.
So the Conservatories will need a new lunatic to take over the asylum. And the chances are they will replace the current one with the egomaniac second only to Mr Balloon in the annals of BLAME, Boris Johnson.
Not to say they won’t move heaven and earth – more like hell and earth – to stop him getting to the final two, because if he goes before the members he will win on a manifesto of bluster blubber and betrayal.
The alternatives though are not many. Either one of the swivel-eyed band of Mogglodytes, possibly Moggy himself. If Johnson gets it, he’ll split the party in a week. If one of the ERG lot get it, they’ll split the party in under a day.
Or there are the “moderates” – the deeply unlovely betrayer of human rights, Sajid Javid or the incarnation of the Banality of Evil, Jeremy the former Hulture Secretary. Either or both hoping to play the “John Major” of this scenario – winning from out of the bland – though neither have the shining charisma or raw sexual magnetism of a John Major. And that’s saying something. They are tainted with the Remain vote, though, for all the effort they’ve put into being more right-wing-than-thou. (Which, actually, was Mr Major’s problem too – he had to out-Thatcher Thatcher, hence all the insanity from railway privatisation to Back to Bedsocks, but that was last century's Tory tragedy.)
Obviously it would be a LOT better for all of us if they decided to look for fresh blood (no, not in the Zombie Apocalypse sense) and went to a fresher face, who could actually negotiate with Europe and build a national consensus again… no, I don’t see it happening either.
They’re going to pick another loony.
And then between two and twenty of the centreerists of the Dominic Grieve flavour will cross to the TIGgers (now renamed ChUKles) and the government will fall. In fact, a SMART Tory leader would jump before pushed, calling an immediate election rather than be humiliated into one.
Which would leave us with Boris Johnson versus Jeremy Corbyn. Which Johnson would win.
That’s not to underestimate Mr Corbyn. But against a robot with a manifesto that promised a death tax on her own core vote, Mr Corbyn still only managed to drag back Labour’s performance to really very awful. He’s not going to win back the forty seats in Scotland from the SNP that he needs to be anywhere like in contention for a majority. And his equivocation on supporting a People’s Vote or a Revoke Article 50 mean he’s frittered away a lot of the goodwill of the young people who believed Magic Grandpa was playing Seven-dimensional chess to stop Brexit.
The first thing to remember is that TMPM doesn’t actually HAVE a “deal” as such at all.
What she’s got is a Withdrawal Agreement, an acknowledgement of what we need to do to settle our existing obligations – mainly pensions for UK civil servants and MEPs, and projects that we signed up to and that went ahead on the understanding we were going to contribute – so we can settle our bills on the way out the door.
The Johnsonian notion that we can walk away from the Withdrawal and let the EU “go whistle” is obviously nonsense on stilts.
The first thing we would do after quitting with “no deal” is to go to Europe to sort out our customs, defence, security, common air-travel, fisheries etc etc agreements…
And the SECOND thing we would have to do is eat copious HUMBLE PIE as they wave the Withdrawal Agreement at us with an air of “What about paying for those dumplings you had, then?”
The real “deal” is the Future Trading Relationship, whether we are in the Single Market, in the Customs Union, in a Free Trade agreement or in the DO-DO of a no deal scenario.
“No deal” is the utter severance that is yearned for by the ardent Brextremists who laugh off the fears of “experts” and warmly welcome the notion of “trading under World Trade Organisation terms”.
This is because they do not know – or care – what that really means. Or worse, they do know and plan to make a killing by shorting the pound against the collapsing British economy. What it means is tariffs, schedules and border checks. Oh my.
Tariffs are actually the LEAST of our worries. The Government laid out its plans for a lot of zero INBOUND tariffs, which might seem good for people buying things, but they cannot fix the OUTBOUND tariffs that will make selling things to other countries HARDER, and with zero tariffs in place give us nothing to negotiate with when we try to change that. Disgraced former Defence Secretary Fantastic Dr Fox will remain a useless adornment to the government. So it’s not all bad news.
The schedules, though, are a very complicated set of lists and quotas that say how much of a thing we can import at a low tariff rate, how much has to be at a high rate, or how much we cannot import at all. Britain’s are all tied up with Europe’s, so expect a big fight over what our share of the EU schedule actually is. Which will obviously be helped HUGELY by having just TICKED OFF the rest of the EU by not agreeing the Withdrawal Agreement.
But the border checks are the MOST complicated, because under WTO rules you need to prove where the things you are taking across a border came from. And not just the whole finished product, but all the bits that made it up. And all the raw materials that the bits were made from first. And you have to stop lorries and boats and planes and check the paperworks. Which takes a LONG time. At the moment, in the Single Market, we get a lorry though the port of Dover every TEN SECONDS. Just how much of a delay do you think it will need to be before those lorries start backing up along the M20? Hello carpark-Kent. Hello food shortages and soon food riots. Hello people starting to DIE from lack of medicines.
And of course any country in the World – including the twenty-seven we’ve just magnificently flicked the V’s at; including Argentina who still want the Falklands – can start a trade dispute with you. Several already have, including the biggest economies in the World, China and our supposed best buds the Americans (make that trade deal great again, the Donald). You need teams of "experts" to provide "evidence" and agree "compromise" - all the things the Quitlings hate. Your free trade quickly gets very sticky, tying you up in knots for years.
One thing we DO know about Boris, though, is that he DOESN’T LIKE HARD WORK. Work like fiddly negotiations or difficult compromises or learning a brief when a woman’s life depends on it.
So why not try this for a Boris lark. He arrives in Downing Street victorious and announces, with another turning on a dime volte-face, that Britain clearly needs to choose its destiny again and there will be another referendum. He will rise magisterially above the fray. And with that vanishes inside Number Ten to make away with the silver and the secretaries.
And with one voice the nation cries:
JUST MAKE IT STOP
And so the nightmare is over. As long as Boris remembers to send the Revoke letter.
Brexit is dead. Or undead. At least until Halloween.
Now we just have to find a way to undo all the massive harms they’ve done getting us to this absolutely dead end.
Meanwhile, here is some Dr Woo…