Brexit: Torygeddon?

We’ll be brief because the news of the EU Council to give the UK a Brexit stay of execution until October 31 broke relatively late, and so there isn’t a lot of informed commentary so far. However, this has the appearances of being an arbitrary end date, arrived at as “someplace in the middle” date between Macron pushing for a short extension (reportedly backing Theresa May’s June 30 request) and Merkel’s desire for a longer extension.

Key conditions:

The UK must organize itself to participate in the EU Parliamentary elections, otherwise the extension terminates as of June 1

The Withdrawal Agreement will not be renegotiated. If the UK does manage to pass it, Brexit day is the day after it is voted through

The UK must play nicely: it will “refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union’s objectives, in particular when participating in the decision-making processes of the Union”

The UK has to make a progress report in June

You could see the frustration in Donald Tusk’s official statement in which he wished the UK well and hoped they’d make good use of the time. May is still pretending she can get the Withdrawal Agreement passed by June 30.

It is hard to see how anything changes by October 31. May will still be in charge unless she leaves No. 10 feet first. There will be no General Election or referendum in that time. While key players on the EU side will change (for instance, Juncker will be out by October 31), that seems unlikely to affect Brexit or Not to Brexit, since the ball is in the UK’s court.

Brexit hardliners may get a new shot of life from the upcoming council elections. The hard Brexit faction seemed to be in retreat as stalwarts like Jacob Rees-Mogg were ceding ground by saying they could back May’s deal rather than risk losing Brexit altogether. The pro-EU camp in the Tories even dared float the idea of revoking Article 50.

However, the push for a softer Brexit or revocation is likely to take a setback in the upcoming council elections in early May. This vote is seen as an indicator of party fortune. The Tories are expected to take a big hit due to member frustration over the failure to deliver Brexit. From “We’re doomed”: The mood of Conservative councillors facing the electorate varies from nervousness to despair in ConservativeHome:

However, among most of the councillors and candidates I spoke to the prevailing mood was still downcast. Seasoned campaigners were shocked by the level of anger they encountered on the nation doorsteps – invariably from Brexiteers who felt betrayed.

One councillor in the East Midlands told me:

“I had somebody who was so furious he started getting a nosebleed. Even then he kept talking about the local Conservative MP letting him down.”

Someone from the North West, in a Conservative council, suggested that this week it was even harder pounding than last week:

“The decision to hold the Euro Elections is a disaster for us. For a start, it confuses matters. People think we might be canvassing for them and then really go mad. Before we have a chance of talking about local issues they start the conversation by saying they will definitely not be voting for us in the Euro Elections.”

A leading campaigner I spoke to in the South East detected a class divide:

“To give a big generalisation, the middle class Conservatives are exasperated but still voting Conservative. When it comes to White Van Man it is much worse. We keep finding those who were marked as Conservative last time actually shouting and swearing.”

Where will the angry voters go? As noted above in the great majority of places there will not be a UKIP candidate to vote for. So the biggest problem will be Conservatives abstaining. One council leader I spoke to says:

“Frankly, I think we are doomed. All our work on new housing, on infrastructure. It’s not what people are want to talk about. We don’t have UKIP candidates. But if Labour supporters vote and Conservatives don’t it’s not that hard to predict the outcome.”

And from Conservative Jon Dobinson who is seeking a seat on the Guildford Borough Council:

I’m standing in a part of Surrey that voted Remain and only a few years ago my ward was the safest Conservative seat on Guildford Council, before local problems with development and illegal waste destroyed a lot of trust and the Lib Dems seized their chance. Still, in normal times, it should be eminently possible to win it back. Instead, the message from voters on all sides has been deafening: the failure of the Government to deliver the manifesto promises it made on Brexit has destroyed trust in the party. You might expect to come across the occasional hostile voter in any election, but now the anger is universal. And the most vitriolic are those who voted Conservative last time. They feel totally betrayed over Brexit.

Their only cause for optimism was that Labour turnout might also be low due to Blairite antipathy for Corbyn.

Has the EU created a rolling extension treadmill? The EU lost one reason to stick to its Brexit guns: the need to discourage separatist efforts in other member states. That happened all on its own due to the Brexit shitstorm. It’s not just that the UK is showing how difficult it is to pull a departure off; more important, the groups advocating an exodus and the leadership classes generally have taken a hit.

Having made this concession to the UK, the EU has conditioned key players to expect another extension if things wind up where we expect, as in more or less the same place, by October. One factor that could change this equation is that the difficulty of dealing with the Irish border in a crashout and Irish pleas for relief were significant drivers. Ifthe EU works out a state aid package for Ireland and the Republic gets further along on preparation, that could stiffen the EU’s spine. But Ireland is just as likely to expect neverending extensions as the UK and thus not mobilize.

Would May actually quit? The 1922 Council confronted her last month. May slipped the leash by getting teary-eyed and promising she’d depart after her deal was ratified. Can she come up with another non-concession? Given how she’s managed to survive every attack, it’s not wise to bet against her. But even if she’s finally persuaded to go, that’s not likely to do the Tories much god. From another post in ConservativeHome:

Suppose for a moment that Theresa May leaves Downing Street and her successor enters it just after the European elections.

He or she would be very short of time in which to turn round…what? Perhaps a Letwin/Cooper- driven Commons that has settled – if the Withdrawal Agreement is not passed, with a customs union attached or not – on a second referendum.

This new leader would have very little time to turn the ship round – his ultimate fallback being a general election, if his party and the Commons will wear it.

This all smacks of trick rather than treat. As for things that go bump in the night, well, it isn’t clear whether the EU wants to settle on No Deal if there is no Brexit resolution by next autumn. But we doubt it.

Watching the leading UK parties tear themselves apart would be good clean fun if the stakes weren’t so high. Gridlock and confusion are the new normal.

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  1. Neil T

    Always remembering that 1st June is the departure date if the “UK” doesn’t hold European elections, which could mean May, over the next few weeks, force feeding parliament “meaningful vote” gruel until MPs surrender.

    1. Avidremainer

      Mrs May is a busted flush. Amongst all the confusion and drama of late most commentators are underplaying the significance of the Cooper-Letwin Act.
      The Act is not important for it’s content, it is important because it exists. For the first time since 1642 parliament wrestled power from a rogue executive and told that executive that it will obey the will of parliament.
      Several commentators have pursued the myth that their are certain persons who are above the law, that there was no power on earth to make a Prime Minister do something which s/he refused to to. We now know that there is.
      The UK’s unwritten constitution has been changed in a flash. Our “Constitution” is what Parliament says it is at any one time.
      Mrs May, a rogue and malicious actor in this drama, is hardly in control of herself let alone the country.

      1. Fazal Majid

        Parliament has shown it is as divided and incapable of making hard decisions as the government or the electorate. It has not taken back control because it doesn’t know what it wants either. At least Ms. May knows what she wants, even if she is unable to deliver.

          1. fajensen

            To be Prime Minister forever, preferably under a perpetual state of emergency.

            The brexiteers lied to her too, BTW.

    2. Redlife2017

      I don’t think that will happen. The Labour Party is in full campaign mode. I expect (as a Branch Secretary) to get an email today or worst case tomorrow to start the ball rolling on getting our Branch and Constituency Organisers to concentrate on the European Elections (i.e. stop doing local issues organising). The Labour Party put out an email to all members last week requesting submissions for getting on the regional lists. The drop dead date was yesterday to enter. They will have their candidates finalised by next week. We are in full campaign mode.

      1. Avidremainer

        My mother, a life long Bennite always read the Daily Torygraph and FT on the grounds that you should know what your enemy is about. In the same vein I think people would benefit from a quick look at Conservativehome-the Tory peons website. The comments that follow each article are excoriating and show a membership in open revolt against their leadership. The Conservatives are far from being in full campaign mode. Encouraging no?

        1. Matttski

          Would the prospect of a terrible licking for the Tories cause some Tory MPs to come around?

    1. windsock

      Why “sigh”?

      He broke bail conditions that he had previously agreed to and betrayed the trust of others who backed him in the bail hearings.

      And now it seems he has pissed off his hosts. Sigh.

      1. timbers

        Yes you’re right Assange is the criminal not all the murderous lawbreakers he reported on.

        1. windsock

          Not what I said at all. He may have done good work, but he agreed to abide by law. Until he didn’t.

          1. Joey

            I’m sure you’d make a good prisoner.

            I, for one, would lose my sanity after 7 years trapped in an embassy, and won’t be casting stones.

        2. Tom

          Those are orthogonal. Both can be true independently. The value of Wikileaks’ deeds does not depend on the innocence or good character or Julian Assange.

          1. jsn

            No, but those deeds do depend on some character, good or not, like Julian Assange.

            No doubt a complicated person and one who knew the risks he was taking.

            We should be encouraging other complicated characters to take such risks.

            As “the law” has been captured by an unaccountable elite with no tendency to apply the law to itself and a corresponding compulsion to abuse it with regard to its enemies, I think it’s up to the publicly minded to look after, to the limited extent we can, those rogues who, for whatever reason, support the public interest by “betraying” the abuses of the elite.

      2. ambrit

        Yes, well, his ‘problems’ are supposedly with England and Sweden. If the UK “renders” him to America, then the political nature of his “crimes” will be plain for all to see. Or, what if England sends him to Sweden? Haven’t they promised to send him to America, even though the charges originating in Sweden have been dropped?
        There will be no “winners” in this. This is not a ‘zero sum game’ situation. This is a ‘negative interest rate’ sort of situation.

        1. animalogic

          “Haven’t they promised to send him to America, even though the charges originating in Sweden have been dropped?”
          Oh boy, how often does this need to be repeated? There were NO Swedish charges against Assange.

          1. ambrit

            Hey bareback rider. What about the ‘no condom’ accusations? If the items resulted in his fleeing to a “safe” jurisdiction, then the quibble about “official” charges versus “unofficial” charges is pretty void.

            1. animalogic

              What is an “unofficial” charge? Could you please explain it’s legal significance? Perhaps you refer to the extraordinary, (almost unheard of) fact that Sweden requested extradition not on the basis of validly filed charges but for mere questioning? The so called “charges” had been dismissed. Given the repeated travesties of justice none of this amounts to a “quibble”
              “Hey bareback rider” Is that somekind of
              crude sexual
              reference to me?
              And a tasteful way of reminding us all that this whole sorry mess was begun by two women who went to the police seeking a legal way to force Assange to have a STD test, given that Assange had (foolishly) refused to take the test after the women requested him to.
              From such a gossamer thin thread of evil-doing was spun a grand tapestry of rape, molestation etc.
              Naturally, NONE of these legal feats of imagination had anything to do with the US’s vindictive hatred of Assange….

            2. Jimbob

              You mean the ‘broke’ condom from the women who threw him a party the next week or the other women who agreed to have sex without a condom because she couldn’t be bothered asking him to wear one again? Both of which only reported it because they wanted him to have a STD test and didn’t claim rape?

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Yes, Sweden defines “rape” to include non-condom use even in consensual sex. I am not clear on the details, but this was the category of “rape” Assange allegedly perpetrated.

                Also note that pretty much every extradition treaty requires that the offense that serves as the basis for the extradition request be a crime in the country from which the person is being extradited as well as the country where he is accused. For instance, and I am not making this up, in Switzerland, saying bad things about banks is a crime. I have a colleague who is an internationally recognized tax expert who will not go to Switzerland out of fear for his work critical of Swiss banks for facilitating money laundering (help me, this is like calling the Pope Catholic). But no way could Switzerland successfully extradite said person even if they bothered working up an indictment based on his speeches and publications.

                So Assange would have had a good defense had Sweden tried extraditing him, based that its outlier definition of rape was the basis for those charges….assuming he could have gotten a fair hearing.

    2. Doggrotter

      A huge stain on the UK, every Brit should hang their head in shame We will remember those that pushed for this and they will not be allowed at some future date to say it was all a mistake. History will put them in the wrong.

      Hope none of the officers or lawyers involved find they have to rely on the old “just following orders”

      1. Clive

        Well, I hang my head in shame on a daily basis because living somewhere (I didn’t ask to be born here, mind) which has, after oh, I don’t know, about 500 years of being dreadful to everyone on every matter you could possibly think of, it’s a wonder I don’t self flagellate every time I venture out in public with a copy of the People’s Friend while forcing myself to be eating Marmite straight out the jar.

        That said, I do wonder if Sweden might also have something to do with all this. But no one ever blames Sweden for anything. The Swedes having, so it would seem, developed the happy knack of keeping their heads down.

        1. ambrit

          As i mentioned above; what happens if he is sent to Sweden, and then to America? That’s the ‘1984’ aspect of all this.
          “We have always been at war with our own people.”

          1. fajensen

            I’d say that never gets to Sweden, that would tarnish the purity of ‘The Brand’. It’s more likely that he gets snatched by CIA in Heathrow, while changing planes in Copenhagen airport or maybe going through Warsaw.

            Poland and Denmark are sort-of in competition for the position of Most Favoured US-Poodle so carelessly left open by the UK.

        2. Tom

          Yup. This perfectly normal for the UK.

          Sweden? Maybe. I think the USA might be involved. They have been taking a very hard and public position that the only people punished for America’s war crimes and genocide are whistle blowers. They are relentless in pursuit and merciless in the cruelty of the punishment.

        3. fajensen

          Sweden is very good at adopting conflicting positions and keeping them straight while doing it.

          There exists a “liberal, humanistic, egalitarian and open Sweden” – which I call The Brand – then there is quite another Sweden, which I call The Business.

          “The Business” will be quite happy to sell anything to anyone (including mr. Assange) as long as there is a few pieces of silver in it and it doesn’t affect The Brand (meaning, for as long as it can be kept “secret”, which in Sweden is out of mainstream media discussions and especially away from the State-run TV program ‘Uppdrag Granskning’, who simply loves to stick a spanner into all manner of mischief and root out the dirt).

          Layered on top of it all, there is the old-boys and crony networks in government, business and culture, which are styled more after the court of Ludvig XIV of France than anything else that happened since. I have never seen quite the same elite arrogance anywhere else in Europe.

          1. Anders K

            Well said. As a fellow Swede, I really don’t think the US will get Assange direct-delivered from us – much more likely that, like any wayward package, he is lost along the way and “accidentally” turns on in the US .
            Sweden publicly got a bit of a brown nose (mixed metaphor is intentional) with regards to the CIA black site planes, and would not like to repeat that experience, especially with Trump in office. Had Obama – or someone with similar cachet – been in power, it would probably be different.

            I hope that Assange gets his day in court, gets fined/considered having served his time/expelled from the UK to somewhere on continental Europe and gets cracking on trying to sell his “I’m oppressed” brand there. Preferably without some stupid people attempting to martyr him.
            He deserves some credit for WikiLeaks, but the organization is definitely bigger (and better) than him. Let him fade away, free to flitter about and – maybe – do something as good as creating WikiLeaks again.

            1. Anarcissie

              I imagine Mr. Assange will get about as much of a hearing as Mr. Khashoggi.

              The values and governing principles of the regimes under which they have suffered are similar to those attributed to the legendary Mafia. It’s a matter of Respect. Imagine how Mr. Brando would have said that word before telling someone to ‘take care of it.’

              About the only hope Mr. Assange has now lies with the goddesses of Unintended Consequences and Paradox.

          2. Carolinian

            Thanks for comment. Those Dragon Tattoo books make Sweden look pretty grim!

            And as an American I am continually puzzled that Europeans are so content to be our poodles. Where’s Charles de Gaulle when you need him?

            Meanwhile here in the hegemon it’s time for the left to step up and show what they are worth. They may be poodles too.

            1. Marlin

              Being America’s poodle pays. Much of Europe and Sweden as much as the Netherlands and Germany are ideologically committed to a too tight fiscal policy. This means they (we) need market access in the Anglo world, which is willing to run huge trade deficits. If the trade war with Trump escalates, eventually, Europe will change its behaviour.

        4. Synapsid


          I recall someone saying that Marmite should not exist in a world that has discovered penicillin.


          1. ambrit

            Hey seeker! Marmite is the basis for Alchemical Antibiotics.
            Now vegemite, that tastes like something made with Candida yeast! Make your tongue hard and your d— fall off!

    3. Fazal Majid

      The US-UK extradition treaty is a one-sided travesty that lays bare Britain’s vassal state status for all to see. Funny “take back control” doesn’t apply to it. He would have been better off in Sweden.

    4. orange cats

      My first reaction to Assange’s arrest was that the timing was suspicious given the Brexit news (Falklands War diversion strategy), but Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, seems determined to distance himself from Correa’s legacy, not that the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

  2. Tom

    Has the EU created a rolling extension treadmill?

    They created the expectation of it, which is no better.

    That was the point of my comment yesterday. The power of the 2-year hard limit bult into A50 to pressure the UK to act is gone.

    And it’s power as disincentive to other potential exiters.

    1. Anders K

      As Yves mentioned, UK has managed to create a disincentive to compensate, though. (“Ah, so you want to do something like Brexit?” is not going to make people get positively interested in your idea, IMHO)

      Of course, the comeback would be “we’re not as incompetent as the UK” which is probably valid, but quite a low bar to hurdle, and also not likely to inspire confidence.

      1. Tom

        I think it’s hard to predict how any subsequent exit scenario might play out and how the UK history might influence its players’ decisions. I only wanted to point out that the 2 year fuse built into A50 can’t be taken as seriously now as it was, say, 3 years or even 3 months ago. It’s a significant change.

        I remember being told way back as referendum discussions started that A50 was designed with this hard schedule to make it obvious that triggering it would be very bad for the departing member.

        And in March this year the temperature and pressure in Whitehall and Westminster grew quite dramatically, getting close to panic in the last two weeks of March up until about Friday last week. Things started to calm down last weekend as people understood there would be another extension, a big one this time, even if May doesn’t present coherent reasons for it.

        All that excitement was because of the approaching deadline with the default crash-out and it’s naturally died down now.

        Figuratively speaking, the case law and precedent of A50 is being written as we go along with this first application of it. And I think the nature of A50 is changing in this process. I find that interesting in itself and it may turn out to be important in future – Idk, we’ll see.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    As I suspected, there was no real strategy behind the EU offering an extension – it was just based on horsetrading and a horror of actually throwing the UK off the cliff. They EU has cracked, but not in a way the Brexiteers wanted – they’ve set up the prospect of an endless cycle of postponements.

    Its reported in some papers that there were furious arguments involving Macron (who didn’t want an extension) – the October date being a compromise. I think we’ll find out if this is true over the next 24 hours when the better connected journalists talk to their sources (presumably, after they’ve had a good sleep).

    I do wonder if this could actually help May get the deal agreed before June. The ERG must be wondering now if it would be better to accept the WA rather than face the prospect of a never ending series of cliffs. Plus, if its accepted, then they can see her resign over the summer and put one of their number in charge. I don’t think she will resign before December if the WA is not agreed.

    The other big uncertainty is that this date is very close to the Conservative Party Conference. If the Party splits or breaks up, it will be at the conference that it happens. Of course, the same could happen with Labour, which is also struggling to contain its own issues with Brexit.

    Business must be fuming at this. They now have to prepare all over again for an October possible cliff edge. Do they run down stocks over the summer and start building them up again when the leaves change colour? Do they just throw up their hands and try to pretend nothing will happen? Do they make their workers stay during the summer shutdown so they can have the shut-down in November instead?

    I wonder if someone will get the bright idea of running a referendum during the Euro Elections? Form three parties and run a candidate from each one in each constituency. Call party one ‘Revoke A.50’. Party 2 ‘The Customs Union Party’. Party 3 ‘No deal, fly off a cliff, do it now Party’.

    The Euro elections in the UK are going to be a complete farce, and this will no doubt leak down to the local elections. I foresee happy pickings for independent candidates and micro parties. I hope the Greens take advantage. I wonder how other countries will deal with the ‘extra candidate’ problem. In my constituency here in Dublin there is an extra seat because of the UK leaving.

    1. Clive

      I can’t see any reason why any MP from any party would vote for the Withdrawal Agreement. They can just wait six months and see what happens. And even if the answer is “nothing”, might as well turn up at the Council in October and find out if there’s any more extensions being given. The Council, apparently, happy to dish them out like marijuana at a Hawkwind concert.

      And even if May doesn’t go before October and it’s all just the same-old-same-old (Yves beat us to variations on that pun so apologies for lameness) that’s just yet another good reason for the Council to give another few months so’s everyone can find out who will be replacing her and what they propose to do.

      1. Marlin

        A reason not just to wait would be the fact, that the Brexit uncertainty is bad for the economy. Especially as currently not even no-deal is firmly excluded. Who is going to make major investments in such a situation?

        1. Clive

          You’re not wrong — this is definitely a factor and a consideration. Possibly, though, not one of sufficient weight to force any changes of approach. I know that sounds rather odd. But Brexit has caused even the shamelessly pro-business Conservative party to say “f—- business”. So “business” (and we should not forget, “business” lacks agency) might just have to play second fiddle here.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I would imagine many Brexiters are fearful of Brexit being lost forever in a maze of extensions. The WA may become a least worse option for them. The mainstream Tory MP’s would see voting for the WA as a means of getting Brexit off the table so they can focus on other things for a change.

        And most of all for Tories, voting for the WA means they’ll be rid of May by the summer – surely this is highly attractive to pretty much all of them. Is there a single Tory left who deep down wants her to stay as PM?

        1. Anders K

          The ones who do not wish for an opponent to take the throne, as it were?

          As long as May is there, they are PMs-in-waiting (and can increase their own chances).

      3. ambrit

        “..happy to dish them out like marijuana at a Hawkwind concert.”
        From over here, it is looking like another class of psychoactive at a Gong concert.
        There are local elections coming up in England soon, right? The ‘average’ MP might be keeping his or her head down until that shows “which way the wind blows.”
        I’m wondering where the public’s breaking point on this is.
        Another thing I am confused about is just where are the genuine Labour leaders on this? Isn’t this the “chance of a lifetime” for a Socialist movement? The Tories are demonstrating as positive inability to govern.
        There has been lots of theorizing about possible outcomes of a New Referendum. The original Referendum was a Tory ‘stunt’ that went ‘not as planned.’ Can Labour promote a New Referendum as a Labour sponsored “taking the pulse of the Nation?” Will October give enough time to pull that off?
        America is famous for having “joke” candidates run for President. England, I’ll suggest can do the same with, perhaps a “Lewis Carroll for PM” run on a “Snark Party” platform.

        1. Monty

          We have actually had “the monster raving loony party” running in many elections for as long as I can remember. Seriously.

          1. Iorwerth

            There was a cartoon in the paper years ago of Lord Sutch campaigning on the doorstep and the caption is the householder saying, ‘Yes but ‘which’ monster raving loony party?’

        2. ChrisPacific

          The dirty secret of Westminster style politics is that most politicians have no real idea how to govern. Their core skill set is all focused around getting elected. This was the central premise of the ‘Yes [Prime] Minister’ series, and the basis for most of the humour.

          Most of the time this works, because the country largely runs OK on its own, and the civil service can be relied on to keep things ticking over. A requirement for politicians to make decisions now and then is OK as long as none of the potential decisions are too bad (since they will generally base it on how it will affect their re-election chances, with the interests of the country a secondary concern at best).

          In a situation like this, where there are more than two options that don’t break along party lines, where a realistic assessment of their respective merits relies on a level and depth of understanding that most politicians don’t possess and have no interest in acquiring, and where all choices are sufficiently politically and emotionally loaded that “will I get re-elected” becomes an existential matter and trumps the facts even in the rare cases when politicians do have a proper grasp of them… Well, it doesn’t turn out so well.

          All of this applies just as much to Labour as it does to the Conservatives, which is why they’ve failed to take advantage of the open goal for so long now.

  4. The Rev Kev

    This deferment will surely go down in history as the Halloween horror deadline. It is in 203 more days so probably May will go on holidays for 200 days and the come back and demand Parliament accept her deal because time is so short. That time is far to short too organize a referendum or another general election but too long in that it will enable all sorts of breakdowns in the UK’s political parties. PlutoniumKun mentioned that the Conservative Party Conference is close to this date. I checked and found that it is scheduled for 29th September – 2nd October in Manchester. Just before then, there is the Labour Party Conference which is scheduled for 22nd – 25th September in Brighton. I would guess that both of them will be absolutely chaotic and who knows what will come out of them. The horror show will continue.

    1. Avidremainer

      General elections can be organised within weeks and a referendum not much longer. It all depends on the will of Parliament.
      I do agree that the horror show will continue. Whether it will last to the autumn is anyone’s guess.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        *Sigh* Please read up on the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. None of the routes for triggering a GE are open in practice. The Tories and the DUP are absolutely not going to trigger a GE. The Tories will hold their noses if May refused to leave of her own volition and toss her out in December under the intra-party process for getting rid of her.

        And the “weeks” is seven weeks, which is longer than most readers would assume. A 14 calendar day period followed by a 25 business day period. And then another week for making the new Government official, most importantly, the Queen’s Speech. So really eight weeks.

        1. Avidremainer

          I’m sorry, I did not make myself clear. My point was simply there is ample time to organise a General Election, not that there would be one. “Sigh”
          Time is a flexible concept when dealing with the EU and there is no limit to the number of extensions which may be granted under article 50.
          Do you still cling to your assertion that Jeremy Corbyn cannot become Prime Minister without an election taking place?

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Corbyn is absolutely unacceptable to too many interests. It’s not just the Tories but the Blairite Labour MPs.

            And I hate to tell you but a very hard core left leaning economist I know in the US (and is also well connected, as in he has briefed foreign governments on the importance of not letting IMF officials have any influence in developing policy) says Corbyn’s economic team is appallingly bad, that he can’t support Corbyn because if he became PM, his policies would be so poor that he’d set the cause of the left back globally for at least a decade.

            This is a credible charge. Just look at the hash Corbyn’s made of Labour’s response to Brexit.

            1. Avidremainer

              So, you now accept that Corbyn could become Prime Minister in the current session without a General Election as you did not address this point.
              Is there such a thing as a hard left economist in America? For God’s sake Mr Sanders, for whom I have a great deal of respect, could happily sit alongside Angela Merkel.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Go to hell. Straw man me one more time and you’ll be banned. I said nothing of the kind and SPECIFICALLY said he’s unacceptable to Tories and the Blairites. Can you not do math? Do I have to spell out that he doesn’t have the votes?

                1. Susan the other`

                  It’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t dare make a move. He kept his negotiations with the EU as secret as possible and we have had no reporting of exactly what he and Theresa discussed. I find it odd that Corbyn has been so silent or has been silenced like this. But if it is self imposed it is because he’s caught between a rock and a hard place because nobody in the UK can agree on anything right now. It’s almost frightening to watch this.

            2. Matthew Kopka

              This is depressing; I’ve wanted to believe there was a there there. Slightly off-topic, but I believe that one of Bernie’s great strengths is his long congressional tenure and practice with the sausage-making. It certainly helps undo the charge that his plans are impractical, etc.

              1. Avidremainer

                The fact that Mr Sanders could sit happily with Angela Merkel is no bad thing. From what I can see Mr Sanders would make a tremendous difference to the lives of ordinary Americans.
                Corbyn is vilified for being an out and out Marxist. The truth is that he only wants to have a German-Scandinavian system in this country. Some Marxist.
                From this side of the Atlantic American politics are almost incomprehensible. For instance, if your politicians, civil service and medical establishment cannot devise a health system that cuts your medical costs to 8-10% of GDP then they are useless and should be replaced toute suite.

                1. Tony Wright

                  The exhorbitant cost of privatised, big pharma subservient health care in the US is probably further inflated by the obesity epidemic, which is caused in part by the insidious insertion of corn syrup in a wide variety of manufactured food. Add to that the impact of epidemic gun violence because the NRA has so many US politicians by the balls and you have an unhealthy population and an exhorbitantly expensive “health care” system.
                  This is one of the reasons Clinton ( notwithstanding his other well documented shortcomings) checked out the healthcare system here in Australia before he was elected, which provides better population coverage at less than half the cost of the US, as a proportion of GDP.
                  Not that our system is perfect, far from it on various counts.
                  And back on thread, you have to wonder what would have happened to the UK health system had Frau Merkel not held sway and a hard Brexit had occurred today.

        2. shtove

          I believe the supply & confidence agreement with the DUP is up for review in June. As is Macron’s progress assessment. Another moving part.

  5. QuarterBack

    Changing the Brexit deadline to Halloween will certainly be a boon to the meme industry.

  6. David

    When I saw the first reports early this morning, my immediate thought was « Macron has (family blogged) it up » because the date of 31 October makes no sense. This seems to be confirmed by the first French media reports, which suggest that Macron was forced to compromise, being supported only by four of the 27 (apparently Spain, Belgium’ Malta and Luxembourg). The only argument he could really deploy, (apart from being fed up) was that an early deadline would increase the pressure on the UK parliament to ratify the WA. Yes, well. It wasn’t, apparently, an argument that made many converts, and early reports claim that Merkel simply didn’t understand what he was doing. Part of the collateral damage from the meeting will be a further deterioration in the bilateral relationship.
    It was never really rational for Macron to stick with his extreme position for so long. He could and should have made a graceful concession earlier, racking up points for being reasonable, to spend later. But it seems to have been his ego rather than his judgement that won out – not that his judgement in such issues is that great anyway. It’s all very well playing Napoleon to spite the British but France has more to lose than many countries from a hard Brexit.
    This means that, as well as having provoked a new timetable that is too short to achieve much, Macron has also sown anger and disunity within the 27. Not bad for an evening’s work.

    1. vidimi

      if macron wanted to take a slice out of the UK’s financial pie, a hard brexit would have been the way to go about that.

    2. Frenchguy

      I’m really puzzled by how Macron is taking so much grief today. Sure no one likes him but people could try to hide it a little better before blaming him for everything and screaming he screwed up.

      It’s beyond laughable when coming from UK journos. After all, he was only arguing for giving May what she wanted for crying out loud…

      And frankly, already no one is seeing October 31 as a hard deadline, if it needs to be extended, it probably will be. How is that a huge mistake ? As for spending political capital, thinking that one has to shut up and maybe, at some point, others will recognize you’re a nice boy and give you a treat, that’s more likely to be a losers’ game in international relations.

      PS: and a closer deadline is better to keep pressure on biz to relocate to France. That’s a win in this sense.

      1. Ignacio

        I think that by looking so closely at the political details we migth be loosing perspective. The fact is that UK, the always reluctanct member, wants –or at least a big part of the UK– to cut ties with her neighbours in a move that reverses post WWII trends and so –some believe– marks something that the prophets label as a new trend on EU disintegration with lots of centrifugal forces inside.

        Cutting ties with your neighbours is, generally speaking, not good policy unless there is a strong argument about fellow countries behaving not in the most cooperative and inclusive way. I would say that Germany, Merkel’s party in particular, has increasingly been playing this role of behaving somehow abusive with their neighbours and I would put the blame in Merkel for this situation much more than on Macron (eventhough I am not Macron-friendly). This is precisely what may explain the differences between Merkel and Macron. I believe that there is some feeling of guilt force driving Merkel´s approach that Macron, with a reason, lacks

        1. fajensen

          Cutting ties with your neighbours is, generally speaking, not good policy unless there is a strong argument about fellow countries behaving not in the most cooperative and inclusive way.

          What if the strong argument is being manufactured and there are even some E-numbers in it?

          The IEA recently hosted the launch of ‘Freer’ , a parliamentary lobby group founded by Liz Truss MP with which the IEA shares staff and facilities. The launch was attended by cabinet ministers including Truss, Michael Gove and Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who prioritised this event over the Brexit negotiations taking place at the same time in Brussels. Freer’s membership includes both the current and the former chair of the ERG, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker

  7. Peter

    “refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union’s objectives, in particular when participating in the decision-making processes of the Union

    And how will that be enforced one asks? If the Brexiteers win big time in an EU election, who will stop them from being obstructionist?
    That whole idea to have Britain in the process of exiting should participate in the election is just nuts, except the hope by the EU that something will turn up and brexit vanishes into the netherworld.

    1. Briny

      Except for the fact, as someone else pointed out in a prior Brexit entry, the UK EU parliamentarians belong to entirely the wrong “parties” in the EU parliament, too small to influence anything and, thus, neutering themselves.

  8. Matthew Kopka

    I think I might have been onto something yesterday when I said that a real end-game may finally be espied here. Assuming the EU sees that GB and May are not going to get their stuff together, that a no deal Brexit is almost assured, this gives Europe–especially Ireland, businesses–a hard date six months out to better prepare for. Not enough time for a referendum; if Parliament somehow approved the deal, great. Had a British friend this morning tell me it was all becoming like the Norse Sagas, neverending, but isn’t this likely it? I think Europe is better served by the cautionary tale at this stage than having these right-wing chauvinists in its own parliament.

  9. Summer

    The remain camp is just as hard core as the full-throttle Brexiteers.
    It can’t be ruled out: 6 months gives plenty of time for a scary event to occur that would privide political cover for revoking Article 50.
    The elected officials don’t think enough people are scared of “no-deal” for them not pay a price for revocation.

  10. Ddf

    What about the forthcoming contingent of U.K. MEPs? The continentals cannot expect that they will behave themselves. They have a lot of scope to make a nuisance of themselves, for instance by refusing to support the incoming commission or the EU budget… could this not spur the continentals to become more decisive?

    1. Neil Carey

      There are 75 MEPs at present from the UK out of a total of 751 members. To be a real nuisance in the future it presumably would be necessary that all newly elected UK MEPs would all be avid Brexiters and be capable of forging alliances with other disaffected groups. The new European Parliament will have a total of 705, I suppose the UK number will be slightly reduced.

      1. Anonymous2

        Recent opinion polls suggest that the UK at European Parliamentary elections will swing ‘left’ i.e. Labour, LibDem, ChangeUK,Green, SNP as a group would outperform Conservatives, UKIP and Farage’s new party.

        Perhaps UK MEPs would be surprisingly constructive (apart from showboating Farage types making fools of themselves).

  11. PKMKII

    The UK must play nicely: it will “refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union’s objectives, in particular when participating in the decision-making processes of the Union”

    And this gets enforced how? This is why the March 29th – April 12th – May 22nd series of deadlines made sense; give Britain time to sort things out without having to deal with the mess of them holding MEP elections. The anecdotes from ConservativeHome suggest there isn’t quite the organizational capacity in the Brexit movement that there was a few years back, but I have to imagine we’re going to see some rabblerouser Ultras winning leave districts. Why would they have any motivation to do anything but throw spanners in the EU works? The EU is just inviting chaos as to avoid chaos.

    Unless the unspoken bit here is Brussels knows the MEPs are largely for show, the pomp and circumstance of bourgeois democracy, and that the EU Court and Bank are the ones really running things, safely removed from the political theater. Although if that’s the case, I would imagine the Brexit Ultras MEPs would do their damnedest to expose that.

  12. ChrisAtRU

    “May slipped the leash by getting teary-eyed and promising she’d depart after her deal was ratified.”

    Soooooo … if a deal isn’t ratified???

    Sounds to me like May has created a “treadmill” of her own.

    1. ChrisPacific

      I wonder whether May has started privately referring to the Withdrawal Agreement as “the Precious.”

  13. Susan the other`

    I’ve decided the reason Brexit is so sobering is because it is only the beginning of world change. The UK knows globalization isn’t working but it doesn’t know why. The EU knows the same. The awful thing is that nobody knows what to do. Cooperation has no footing. And I see this happening in France now. I wouldn’t be surprised if Germany started protesting various inequalities. I’ll never again admit I actually thought this, but I can see why countries just said screw it and went to war to decide their differences. That’s a luxury we no have. We must find solutions. The only one out there is MMT and it is being blindly resisted.

    1. Andy Raushner

      You mumble “globalization” without knowing what it means. Capitalism in general is struggling to grow above population growth fast enough to keep the high going. With debt you can’t go backwards and whining about capitalism’s slowdown is really all what this is. Globalization, please. That has been here since 1700.

      1. Susan the other`

        You are correct. And in our superficial (all of our) understanding of how to globalize civilization we have made a mess of it. So I’m not alone in my confusion. And I’m a proponent of diversification of economics until we can figure it out at a higher level. But “capitalism” mandates that we make a profit whether or not we have a niche and forces otherwise productive energy into retirement because it cannot “compete”. Capitalism is a disaster. Fiscal management would be a far better choice that free-marketeering cowboy capitalism. Where is our humility? Why can’t we just admit we need to change?

        1. Tony Wright

          Many good ideas, when taken to their logical extremes become a disaster. We don’t have capitalism any more, we have hypercapitalism. I, or anyone else, can make way more money with a few well placed ‘buy’ and Sell’ clicks than anyone can make doing anything productive or useful.
          This is what happens when we put a monetary price on everything – effort goes to where the most money is to be made, not to doing what is beneficial, useful, productive or helpful.
          So we have an increasingly(human) overpopulated, polluted, species depauperate world beset by accelerated anthopogenic climate change. Woopydoo.
          Not that full on Socialism or communism is the answer, as 20th century history tells us.
          But there must be a better way, otherwise we are all f….. Well before the end of the current century.

      2. Joe Well

        That has been here since 1700.

        You’re forgetting the huge reversal of globalization following the end of WWI, particularly during the 1930s, and then decolonization (both globalizing and de-globalizing) after WWII. For instance, in the 1960s almost every country with a developed economy had, or was trying to get, its own locally-owned national car brand. Latin America and much of Asia had adopted import substitution. China was leaping forward and then the Cultural Revolution. Even within the Eastern Bloc, there was quite a bit of economic nationalism among individual countries.

        And when globalization started up again, inequality started skyrocketing back to how it had been pre-WWI. Funny, that.

  14. eg

    The annihilation of the Tory Party is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

    Couldn’t happen to nicer people, really.

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