Due to competing duties, we’ll be brief on Brexit today. The newspapers are consumed with whether Theresa May will be forced to put off the vote on her Brexit deal due to the likely margin of rejection being so high as to make her continuation as Prime Minister untenable. I doubt the mechanism for an exit next week (if her bill is rejected roundly as anticipated) would be a vote of no confidence; the DUP said it would support May if her bill failed and the Tories are highly unlikely to run the risk of a general election, although the “no confidence” timetable allows 14 calendar days to find a new PM. Even the fabulously stubborn May might accept her ministers telling her she had to resign if she lost by a 100 vote margin.
So the odds now seem to favor May putting off the vote, and running to the EU Council meeting of December 13-14. If so, this means her fallback it to try to run out the clock so as to make the no deal risk even more imminent, and perhaps also to get the EU Council to say out loud what if any the terms for an extension might be. If they are as restrictive as the tweetstorm from a BBC reporter we featured indicated, making that official would focus a few minds.
We’d really like to be Corbyn enthusiasts, given how mendacious and incompetent the Tories are. But on Brexit, Corbyn alarmingly appears to be giving them a run for incompetence. The Guardian ran an op-ed by Corbyn which is truly disconcerting, particularly when taken in combination with Kier Starmers’ deluded or disingenuous “We’ll prevent a crash-out” scheme.
We’ll turn the mike over to Clive on what vlade had already depicted as Corbyn spots a herd of unicorns and promises a pony to everyone:
This really does warrant quoting in full because otherwise the true ridiculousness of it all might escape the casual reader. Not least because you have to wade your way through 7 paragraphs — and they are long, long paragraphs — which say nothing more than an adult version of “May is stinky and her Deal is stinkyer” (having said that, I think even children would baulk at the simplistic finger pointing we are subjected to) before you get to the nub of it:
A new, comprehensive customs union with the EU, with a British say in future trade deals, would strengthen our manufacturing sector and give us a solid base for industrial renewal under the next Labour government, especially for our held-back communities. It would remove the threat of different parts of the UK being subject to separate regulations. And it would deal with the large majority of problems the backstop is designed to solve.
Second, a new and strong relationship with the single market that gives us frictionless trade, and the freedom to rebuild our economy and expand our public services – while setting migration policies to meet the needs of the economy
Does Corbyn really believe any of this guff?
“solve a large majority of the problems the backstop is designed to solve” ???
Which problems are solved, exactly, and which aren’t? This isn’t even cakeism. It’s the napkin which the cake is supposed to be served on then someone has written “check back soon for the launch of our wonderful new cake” on it, with an artist’s impression of what the cake might look like.
Trust me, this is not the full extent of the lunacy. You need to read the piece in full. But see this snippet:
Unlike the Norway-plus option now being canvassed among MPs, our plan would not leave Britain as an across-the-board rule-taker of EU regulations without a say. It’s a plan that can be negotiated with the EU, even at this late stage, with most of the building blocks already in place. The EU has shown it is prepared to renegotiate even more complex agreements than this, such as the Lisbon treaty.
We are back to the EU’s “What about ‘no’ don’t you understand?”
But a big unicorn did die today, although expect the press to keep dragging the corpse around, since some pundits may not get the memo right away. Norway rejected the “Norway” option. We’ve been saying the Efta would not want the big and very very pushy UK as a fellow member. Not only did that turn out to be correct, but it turns out Norway (just like the EU) has been saying ‘no’ and the UK has been characteristically hard of hearing. From a different Guardian story, Norwegian politicians reject UK’s Norway Plus Brexit plan (hat tip PlutoniumKun):
The UK would need Norway’s permission to join its EFTA club….But the plan was rejected by Heidi Nordby Lunde, an MP in Norway’s governing Conservative party, and leader of the Norway’s European movement. She said her views reflected those of the governing party…
Lunde told the Guardian: “Really, the Norwegian option is not an option we have been telling you this for one and half years since the referendum and how this works, so I am surprised that after all these years – it is still part of the grown up debate in the UK. You just expect us to give you an invitation rather than consider whether Norway would want to give you such an invitation. It might be in your interest to use our agreement, but it would not be in our interest.”
Explaining Norway’s fear of the UK joining the Efta club she said: “The three countries in Efta have to agree on all the regulations coming from the EU so if one country vetoes something we all have to veto which means that if the UK enters the Efta platform and starts to veto regulations that we want, this will affect not just the UK but also us as well. Part of the success we have had with this EEA agreement is for the last 25 years is that we do accept the rules and regulations that do come out of the EU, mostly because it is in our interest.
“If as I understand UK politicians do not want to be ruled by regulations coming from other countries, why would they accept a country with 38,000 citizens like Lichtenstein being able to veto regulations that the UK wants. That would be the reality.”
A member of the parliament’s economic affairs committee, she said “it is not in my country’s interests to have the UK aboard, and I cannot see how possibly an EEA/Efta agreement could be in the interests of the UK.
“As part of the agreement with the EU we accept migration and free movement, we have our own body of justice but it is compliant with the European court of justice, we accept the rules and regulations of the single market”.
She added: “It is not an option for the UK to stay inside the customs union as the UK proposes to solve the Northern Ireland border issue if you are part of the Efta platform since Efta is its own free trade bloc. We have 29 trade agreements with 39 countries outside the EU that the UK would need to be able to accept. I do not understand why it would be in the UK interests to enter into trade agreements on the basis of agreements that have been negotiated in our interests and not the UK’s.”
She said the only politicians in Norway that wanted the UK to join Efat were the eurosceptic party that wants to destroy Norway’s relationship with the EU.
Ouch. But better this happen sooner rather than later. It’s very hard to kill off the various strains of Brexit denialism.