Brexit: Gaming It Out

The BBC and others are reporting what should come as no surprise to Naked Capitalism readers: Boris Johnson’s efforts to force crunch negotiations over the October EU Council meeting are not going to happen because they were never going to happen. The EU doesn’t do treaties that way. Donald Tusk in New York stated that the Government needs to come up with shortly after the Tory conference ends, which would seem to mean the end of next week at the very latest. In the meantime, it delivered a fourth non-paper.

Reuters reports that Barnier told EU 27 ministers that it is still waiting for a proposal and “workable ideas”. The UK press is still digesting Boris Johnson’s stunning slap at an MP who criticized Johnson for calling the Benn Act a “surrender bill” in light of the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox. The Telegraph says that EU officials saw the performance and are “in despair” at the spectacle of Johnson alienating Parliament.

In the meantime, Richard North describes how the supposedly urgent need to get Parliament back in business is belied by MPs collectively being missing in action. From his site:

In what must qualify as the understatement of the century, the Speaker observed at the beginning of business in the Commons yesterday that, “I think there is a widespread sense across the House and beyond that, yesterday, the House did itself no credit”.

BrexitCentral’s daily e-mail is full of fevered thoughts as to how Johnson could defy the Benn Act. I’m skipping over the hyperventilating in the long editorial section at the top:

At this point, vlade’s view of where things are going seems as good as any. Via e-mail:

Even BBC is now catching up:

Some interesting points:
– The EU would loathe to break precedent that it deals only with executive, not legislative, as that would drag it into domestic politics (not just in the UK)
– but refusing to say what it would do if the PM would refuse and extension and the UK court would order someone else to accept it; the court can’t order a Queen (she’s technically above law), but it can ask her prettily.
– hope for elections later this year with a deal by the end of the year (so sounds like it could say yes to an end-of-the-year extension)

If the EU’s betting on the election leading anywhere, they are IMO more deluded than they seemed to have been during all this process. i.e. on the current aggregate preferences (which, as we know, in FPTP mean way less than in PR) there is better than even chance for either a Tory led or no government.

That said, if the EU took in an extension acceptance from anyone else than the government, it would pave way for another extension in case of inconclusive GE – but still, what the hell that would be for except to prolong the misery on both sides (and make no-deal more likely, as in any other GE it would almost certainly play into Johnson’s hands).

As much as I hate to say it, I believe that the best for the UK would now be a GE in early November, with the extension no longer than EOY. Either the anti-Tory coalition wins, and then it can ask for a long extension to arrange the referendum (because it would be in their manifestos), or Tories win meaning no-deal, or it’s clear there’s not going to be a resolution anytime soon, so a stark choice between no-deal or May’s WA is given to the MPs. The EU’s kick-the-can-down-the-road is not doing anyone’s any favours.

Do be sure to read the BBC tweetstorm. It suggests that Boris could put up a big show at the EU Council intended for UK consumption, and then resign so he could claim all sorts of dastardly forces stopped him from delivering his glorious Halloween Brexit and better position himself (and hopefully the Tories) for a general election.

At this point, I don’t think anyone can attempt to steer this process. Johnson is effectively a hostage in No. 10, yet the opposition is divided and on top of that, Parliament isn’t even remotely set up to step in and play executive, even on narrow tasks. This section of Dune, when Imperial planetary ecologist gone native Liet Kynes, is hallucinating after being abandoned in the desert, seems apt:

Then, as his planet killed him, it occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error.

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  1. vlade

    duh, that was a typo-full mail from me. Just fixing one that makes it harder to understand – the court can’t order a Queen (she’s technically above law), but it can ask her prettily.

    And if anyone says they know how it will all pan up by the end of the year, they should put money on it and donate any winnings to NC.

      1. Irrational

        The various bets and odds made me laugh, thanks! If only the underlying reality were not so bizarre… And yes, i think the EU-27 are really tired of the show.

  2. vlade

    I’ll make one more comment though:
    Paradoxically, each side is likely to electoraly benefit from the scenario they fight to avoid.
    I.e. if Johnson does deliver no-deal Brexit, chances are that a lot of his potential voters don’t show up to an election, as they will see it as “mission accomplished” – and, IMO, in case of no-deal, Labour and co would be well advised to avoid elections for the next 3-6 months, just to get Johnson stew a bit with out being able to do anything in the parliament.

    Conversely, I’d see a good chance of higher turnout from the remainers, who would see it as a chance of mitigate the results at least a bit.

    If the brexit is delayed, it’s likely that the BP/hard Tory turnout will be high, while it’s entirely possible that the other side’s turnout would suffer given timing.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think you are right that the negative electoral consequences of a no-deal are only likely to materialise well into 2020. Its only then that I think the longer term economic problems it will call will become apparent to those voters who aren’t completely obsessed with exiting. So I’m not sure at all that a November election is in Labours interest. The longer Bojo is in power, the more lustre he will lose. And of course Labour may well be getting themselves ready to machine gun themselves in both feet at their upcoming conference. If I was a Labour strategist, I’d be praying for a late Spring election, whatever happens with Brexit. Conversely, if I was a Tory strategist, I’d be doing everything I could to bring it on as early as possible.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Gentlemen.

        I agree about the timings for the parties and by when we will see the impact.

        I hear with regard to healthcare and agriculture of some short term mitigants in the hope that soon enough a compromise will emerge.

        I can’t recall where, but I heard / read that the EU27 expect the UK to crawl back within a few months of the exit date, if a hard exit. A harsh winter, perhaps due after two hot summers, may be a factor.

      2. Mattski

        I agree heartily with this. BoJo the Clown will only wear on people and the ill-consequences become more apparent with time. Besides that, Labour MUST present, not just pretend to embody, the alternative, set out a detailed AND comprehensible plan for how to proceed. Not even knowing if Brexit is happening is not a foundation to build a platform upon. In this long uncertain interregnum, with a party divided and some sentiment for a ‘Labour Brexit’ continuing to prevail, not having done so, and the general failure to capitalize, can perhaps be better understood. . .

  3. Silverfox

    Nouriel Roubini writing in the Guardian makes the following point:

    A blowup over Brexit might not by itself cause a global recession, but it would certainly trigger a European one, which would then spill over to other economies. The conventional wisdom is that a hard Brexit would lead to a severe recession in the United Kingdom but not in Europe, because the UK is more reliant on trade with the EU than vice versa. This is naive.

    I know that many Brussels people claim that the integrity of the single market trumps individual european economies, and they’re prepared to go into recession over a principle. But I don’t think anyone has tested this in practice.

    On the British side, polls show Brexiteers are prepared to risk recession and even Scotland and NI leaving the UK in order to realise their Brexit dream, it’s almost like the world war, they’re prepared to make any sacrifice.

    So the economic news coming out in early October will be very important. Suppose Germany has gone into technical recession – are they prepared to risk No Deal and make their economic situation worse? Or will they think it prudent to cobble together a quick and dirty deal with the UK? Same goes for Spain, the other country affected by the falling pound, loss of tourism etc.

    So in the game of chicken, the economy might be the key point.

    I’d be interested in European opinion about this if anyone has any links/articles. Are people in the EU are willing to risk hardship for the integrity of the single market? Has public opinion been prepared for this?

    It goes without saying that Britain will get blamed, the question is, are people willing to lose jobs/money over this? Blaming Britain is one thing, actively saying “I’m willing to lose my job for the principle of not giving the Brits a sweet deal” is another.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Funny, I don’t think I’ve addressed the overall growth EU growth issue, but it seemed obvious to me that a crash out would be disastrous for the UK and still plenty bad for the EU. There will be all sorts of knock-on effects to various interests that didn’t or couldn’t prepare or had the UK as a meaningful customer.

      And the EU banks are fragile. A recession would push some into crisis mode.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Yves.

        The knock-on goes beyond Europe’s shores. Mauritian agriculture, essentially sugar, tourism and textiles are suffering. This month alone, 3000 jobs have gone in these sectors. The island’s largest trading partner is the Eurozone.

        When in Normandy at the end of August and in Provence in mid-September, one kept hearing that a recession is around the corner and the slow-down has been apparent since the spring. The more clued-up felt that Brexit could be the trigger, but this has been baked in for years, even pre-2008. Some felt that the slow-down in Germany, echoed by German colleagues in London and Frankfurt, would be worse for France than Brexit.

        1. Harry

          The scale of the current slowdown is very impressive. Of course a lot of it reflects German strengths. If you are strong in autos, and have 800k of auto employees, then weakness in autos in China, and the US will be a serious problem for you.

      2. Oregoncharles

        I wonder about London’s role as a money center and clearing house (ironically, for Euros). Seems like suddenly losing that would cause a lot of disruption in the financial sphere. It’s the same sort of thing that caused the Great Recession. How well is the EU prepared for that disruption? Plenty of EU banks etc. stand to gain from new business, but what about the transition?

        1. Yves Smith Post author


          Not, it is not as if all financial activity is suddenly leaving London. The EU had to back off its plan to require clearing of Euro derivatives to take place in Europe, but trust me, it will move that forward.

          And more important, banks are multinationals and not loyal to any country. They can and do move activity to different places and legal entities.

          The morning after the Brexit vote, the big international banks were starting on getting new licenses and office space. They are far and away the industry best prepared for Brexit.

          That does not mean banks would not be hurt in the event of 1. a sterling crash and/or 2. Brexit hurting EU businesses and producing defaults. I am speaking simply of the immediate regulatory impact. Although one open question is data sharing rules, that could cause a ton of headaches but I have not seen anything that says it would have a crippling impact on financial firms.

          1. FKorning

            The banks will be fine. Deregulation and jurisdiction arbitrage has been not only The city’s golden goose but of all the EuroZone banks. I’ve worked in derivatives and equity desks for a number of European banks, and all of them drink at the offshore Eurodollar trough. One brokerage arm of a major bank has its key prop trading registered in the Channel Islands. But the UK, profligate as it is, is not the only provider of fiscal incentives. I would expect all that to simply move to Monaco or Lichtenstein.

    2. Marlin

      Speaking from Germany, I can tell you, that the government hasn’t and won’t spend even 3 seconds about the possibility to risk the single market. Nobody thinks that the avoidance of short term pain is worth the destruction of the longterm gain of the single market.
      Public attention anyhow has moved away from Brexit. The new climate protection measures are dominating the public debate even much more than the recession. This might change if the unemployment numbers go up, but at the moment, unemployment is the lowest since the 60s and there is essentially no credible scenario, where this changes dramatically in the short term. The financial crisis had a minuscule effect compared with the reforms of 2005+ on unemployment.

      1. Ignacio

        In many other EU countries (not all of course) public attention is away from brexit, except as an entertaining reality show. We now have re-election in Spain since, for the first time, a government could not be formed after previous elections in May, and reflecting that deep political problems aren’t exclusive property of the UK.

    3. Mattski

      We’re about to learn a great deal about contemporary global economics, the late capitalist nation-state, etc. in very short order. I imagine that graduate students world over are salivating.

    4. vlade

      As Marlin says above. The EU will NOT give a long term (treaty) advantages that would kill single market. If it does, it could just simply dissolve itself.

      It survived plenty of recessions, it has the mind that it can do this too. It may not be pretty, but they all expect that the EU will come out of this way better than the UK will.

      1. Titus

        Yes, but none to date were based on or exacerbated by losing 20% of its economic capacity aka the U.K. Surely you will admit this is not trivial and no doubt you have some cogent way to explain the impact. To be fair – I do and I’ve explained and amended that explanation below. But to save scrolling, I’m a supporting if Dr. North and I do believe there is a black swan event occurring allow it to proceed.

        1. Yves Smith Post author


          First, the UK is 13% of EU GDP and it is not sinking into the sea. Our forecast that the UK’s GDP would be 10% smaller 10 years after a crashout (basically what has happened to Italy post the crisis, so not unprecedented), is deemed super dire.

          Second, any manufacturing capacity that is EU owned and does not serve the UK market only will be moved to the EU. That’s not as hard as it seems with a fair bit of transportation-related capacity. EU automakers have slack in their factories. We’ve discussed this a few time.

          Third, the UK is already moving some finance activities to the EU, which is a loss for UK and a gain for the EU.

    5. Ignacio

      Yep, brexit is now coincidental and causing an economic downturn in the EU. Can kicking the can down the road help to delay the worse consequences of brexit into a more suitable situation or will it make them worse by projecting uncertainties indifenitely? I am in the second camp but without deep conviction.

    6. Titus

      Great link, and holds the key to ending the whole Brexit standoff, which is the E.U. to save itself must pull the existing WA and offer EEA/Etfa – for the U.K., tailored to it. It will only work with a conservative government and a lot of education, but what a black swain.

      1. vlade

        There is no “must” there.

        First, the overall amount of EU trade with the UK is not trivial, but is nowhere of the UK levels. And, for example, a lot of the car makers or car part makers can be relocating into the EU, which will help.

        Secondly, it is entirely on the UK what sort of relationship it wants to have with the EU – but all of them come with a price. EEA for example with free movement (Ask Swiss). Don’t like it, don’t get it.

        1. Titus

          Beg to differ, there is a ‘must’ if one wish’s to stay in the realm of sanity and self interest. We are using different data points as to the impact of a Brexit no-deal on the E.U. which can not (based on the authority granted to me by me -( call it a “Johnson”)) be viewed in isolation as something only between the U.K. and the E.U.. I do believe the world wide economy is highly destabilized. Politically, that is a given. My thinking on EEA/Efta for the U.K. is solely based on the work of Richard North’s. FoM is an issue that can be negotiated. Just ask Romania. It has been granted but is not allowed. How clever the E.U.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Efta is not happening. We’ve discussed this too, including links to longer-form takedowns of the Efta idea.

            The short version is the breaks the EU would give four small countries are not ones it would give to the UK via the Efta. The EU is also getting tougher on the conditions for access to the Single Market, witness recent dustups with Switzerland.

            Even more important, the Efta members would have to agree and they have already said no even before being asked. England would be bigger than the four put together and given how badly behaved it has been in the EU and with Brexit, clearly thinks it could push the others around. Norway already very clearly said this deal might appeal to the UK but there’s nothing in it for Norway and they would not go along.

        2. John Jones

          I’m with Titus.

          Old saying in business , “when you’re making money, you can do pretty much anything ” well, in an “emergency” as in EU / Brexit/UK emergency anything can /could happen – the genie out if the bottle and the unquantifiable domino effects of a hard brexit are incalculable.

          Now, we the UK are still a signatory to the EEA – funny, we have never given a years notice to leave ,wonder why ?
          – the EEA /EFTA pillar is highly configurable to meet emergency /interim needs ,especially when the money markets are in freefall.

          FOM gets mitigated to a certain degree by Article 112 of EEA agreement.

          I suspect a hard brexit is now pretty much inevitable, however Boris and Tusk bringing a white rabbit out of a top hat , feasible and , likely probable after a few months of hard brexit.

          The other better news – the EEA comprises the SM, which has most rules made at a global intergovernmental level – in reality the EU is a SM middleman.

          1. Mirdif

            These global forums that that lunatic North goes on about are dominated by the EU – 27 votes.

            The UK remains in the EEA…but so what? It has no schedules and without those schedules it has essentially a blank agreement i.e. nothing.

            Article 112 nonsense again? Really? This is a byword for damaging the British economy which is built on access to European labour. You stick in the word cheap if that suits you but it’s still true.

            EEA may well be where the UK lands long term but it’s not happening for a long time. These current pains will end with the withdrawal agreement passed, which was what the Johnson/Cummings plan is or it will lead to continuous extensions for many years to come. No deal in slow motion if you like.

            Reality is, screaming “they need us more than we need them” or “they need us as much as we need them” does not make it true. You’ll likely claim you didn’t see such words and yet you agree there is a “must” for the EU and that “must” is built on the basis of symmetry in power between the UK and the EU.

            You’ve yet to understand the EU is now dealing with the UK as just another country to be bossed about in its backyard- the assymetry in power should be evident but you’ll likely come back with some nonsense about Security Council and nuclear weapons.

            It’s nonsense because it means little and you would know this had you bothered to notice the way with which Varadkar told “Alex the Great” Johnson what he must do. Think on that a second, the Irish Prime Minister made demands of “Alex the Great” with Johnson looking, well like a Johnson.

            This is not the first time this has happened to the Prime Minister of the UK in 2019. They made May wait outside the room while they decided the terms of the extension earlier this year. This alone should have been enough to demonstrate the folly of the current policy and the assymetry of power.

            But then I guess this is asking too much of people who hate the EU because their father’s told them to do so in 1975. Incapable of independent thought and blinded by hatred is the basis upon which failing to understand the assymetry is built.

            1. John Jones

              I’m fairly convinced , given your diatribe/emotional incontinence , that your crystal ball is likely, even more opaque than mine.

              God loves a trier though. :))

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                That comment is ad hominem, and substance free save the personal attack, which is false to boot. Mirdif gave evidence and an argument, something you abjectly failed to do. And as much as I like North’s granular observations on the state of play and trade rule wonkery, he’s all wet re the EEA/Efta.

                Your comment is a violation of our written site Policies. This is not a chat board. Your behavior puts you on a fast track to being blacklisted.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Going by this mornings reporting, I think the EU has pretty much thrown in the towel as regards hoping that London has some sort of clever strategy to pass the WA or to do a last minute compromise. Its the nature of politicians to think that a deal can always be done, but I think that they now know that its delusional. UK politics is disintegrating and there is nothing outsiders can do to rescue it. Bojo’s performance was appalling and his Jo Cox comments were the absolute pits as far as most observers could see – there is no coming back from this. It really shows how morally decrepit the Tory Party has become that no one was willing to call him out on this. I’d like to think it would lose him votes, but I doubt it.

    As others have observed, things are so extreme now, that politicians may be considering what would once have been ‘unthinkable’ options. But I don’t think that any really could work. There is always possible the option for the EU to seek an ECJ declaration that since the UK can’t follow its own constitutional procedures, then the A.50 declaration was by definition null and void. But that would create a whole world of problems if they ended up stuck with another two years and Johnson and the BP won an election. Another ‘unthinkable’ possibility is to seek to deal directly with Parliament, but since there is no ‘there’ there, who do they deal with? I know the Irish government has indirect contacts with Corbyn, but they are well aware there is no guarantee he could become leader of an anti-Tory Parliament, not without the explicit support of the LD’s and SNP.

    RTE is reporting this morning that Irish politicians are in complete despair – all business has come to a halt as they simply have no idea what to do, or what can be done. There is no willingness to drop the backstop (far too late for that), and the feelers sent out to London that some sort of cosmetic alterations would be offered have been rebuffed. The economy is booming, but the upcoming budget will be explicitly a recession budget, no giveaways or tax cuts as you would expect with an election due early next year.

      1. Donn

        “the British Isles union project” – what a delightful euphemism for empire. And what a strange article to read in these days when the true nature of the ‘true union of nations’ has never looked clearer to many of us on this side of the Irish Sea.

        1. AFrenchGuy

          True. See also Fintan O’Toole’s analysis on the lost Empire of England. Finally, I cannot help but wonder whether the Union in the UK is the prism through which english view the EU: Germany’s takes England’s role as hegemon of the (E)U(K), and the other are just nominally equal, wink wink, nudge nudge…

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I don’t think much of that article, to be honest. For one thing, it implies that European interest in Ireland historically was just as a ‘backdoor’ military threat to the UK. In reality, Ireland was in many ways more closely tied to northern Spain and south-western France for much of its history because these were natural trade-wind generated links – sailing between much if Ireland and Spain/France was often easier than to Britain. Trade with Britain was always mostly extractive – timber up to the 18th Century, then barley and live animals, while trade with Europe was mostly higher value products up until it was more or less destroyed by active intervention in the 19th Century.

        The second issue I’d have with that article is that it repeats uncritically the argument that the Irish Sea backstop infringed on Unionists links with Britain. This ignores the repeated insistence of the DUP that NI should remain apart when it comes to things like abortion and gay marriage. Northern Ireland’s special status within the UK with regard to a variety of issues was part of the Unionist negotiating strategy for the GFA. This is a typical thing you get all the time in British writings on Ireland, even from supposed progressives, a sort of ‘well, both sides are really equally guilty’. Its a way of making Britain look like just a confused but reasonable bystander, trying to make sense of those crazy Irish. Unionists and Loyalists have consistently manipulated this ambiguity, fighting for Stormont independence when it suits them, or direct rule when the dreaded catholics look like they may have too much influence in Belfast.

        Another strong error in the article is its account of the Irish War of Independence. Just about all the histories that I’m aware of emphasise the very strong Irish influence in the US as the moderating influence on British actions in Ireland. Quite simply, the British could not do in Ireland what it did after previous revolutions (or at the time in India and elsewhere), because the optics in the US media was too bad. Plus they were beaten fair and square after Collins destroyed the empires intelligence networks in Ireland, effectively blinding the security forces. It had nothing whatever to do with Britain feeling ‘secure relative to Europe’ as if granting Ireland freedom was some sort of paternalistic gesture.

        1. Donn

          Yes, yes, and yes again – well done, PK, bang on. As I’ve said, I found it a strange read. I couldn’t help sensing a kind of a sublimated outrage over Ireland’s stance, one that can only express itself in sternly paternalistic warnings about scheming ne’er-do-well foreigners. Because clearly, even a century after successfully insisting upon it, the Irish remain devoid of any real agency in the world.

          On the other hand, it was nice to discover that Brexit was actually all Ireland’s fault: “The defeat of the withdrawal agreement was also a reminder of the dynamics of participation in these islands. Had the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland remained part of the UK, for example, there would probably have been no Leave majority in the 2016 referendum, since most of the electorate there would have voted Remain.”

          Sorry everyone. Our bad.

          1. Michael Quinlan

            A very superficial historical counter factual in my view. He ignores why the EU is so very popular in both parts of Ireland.
            Had the 26 remain part of the UK, than it would no doubt have been as poorly served as Wales and Northern England. The population may even have continued to fall, or have an even larger English retiree population as a proportion. A poorer, neglected, and probably more rural Ireland with large numbers of elderly English is more likely to have voted like Wales.

            1. Donn

              I think you’re very probably correct there; it’s the same superficiality that one finds underlying the attitude PK mentions above: ‘well, both sides are really equally guilty’, leaving Britain to look like just a “confused but reasonable bystander, trying to make sense of those crazy Irish.”

              A recent Irish Times podcast on the history of Northern Ireland does a good job of contrasting the natures and trajectories of the two jurisdictions on this island, and strongly suggests that an Ireland that had never broken free from the UK would have remained in a state of general neglect and disrepair, socially, economically and culturally.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                Its an interesting counterfactual – its impossible to know for certain of course, but its hard to avoid the conclusion that Ireland would have been set on a path of long term decline if it stayed in the UK. Ireland made terrible economic mistakes for much of the 20th Century (and also, it should be said, had some bad luck with timing), but it did engage in a level of experimentation that would never have been permitted as part of the UK (the formation of the semi-State bodies, for example.

                As for Wales, as someone with south Wales based relatives, I can attest to the cultural stultification resulting from a long term influx of English retirees. Some of the prettier little villages there make the Cotswolds look like hotbeds of cutting edge expression.

      3. Mattski

        Yes, I keep wondering–pace Daniel O’Connell–whether there is some real opportunity for Ireland in Britain’s undoing here. I would like to think that Ireland’s stature, at least, is increased. Certainly, in impending U.S.-British trade negotiations, Ireland will be foregrounded in many new ways. If Dublin just partly replaces London as a predatory banking and lending center, with new power over Irish politics. . . but many of you can see into that crystal ball much more deeply than the likes of me.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Well, some would say Dublin already is a predatory banking centre! Although its slowly improving (under pressure from the EU it must be said). Some lessons were learnt from the crash.

          Yes, its not been said much, but Irelands international standing has grown due to Brexit, and it will continue to grow in a post-Brexit situation where Ireland will have something of a veto on future arrangements for the UK. Its not particularly something Irish politicians sought, to put it mildly, they were much happier keeping their head down. At the moment, Ireland is going for a UN Security Council seat (one of the rotating ones), and its actually occupying 50% of the Irish foreign offices energy, not just Brexit. There are lots of jokes going around that if they win, they’ll simply be put in place to replace Britain.

    1. Redlife2017

      Good point on the Jo Cox moment. I find it interesting how Johnson is trying to use similar tactics to Trump. But Johnson is quite bad at it and the UK is not the US. Johnson is stoking things like some sort of bad imitation of a hard man.

      I’m not sure how we get back from this. My dearly departed Dad would say that once you cross a hard line, it almost impossible to come back. I’d add that even if you do, you are changed for it. We will not be the same.

      1. Clive

        It’s grotty, grisly politics but I’m not entirely sure it is ineffective.

        Or, to turn it on it’s head, I’m not sure that all the “my friend Jo” emoting, the Internet outrage (whether genuine or fake) and attempting to control the language of the debate is any substitute for policy. It’s not like you can’t go to any comments section of any media and see both Leave and Remain behaving disgracefully. The Guardian’s commentariat is scarcely tea with the vicar just as the Daily Express’ isn’t, either.

        Demanding Parliament be brought back into session whereupon it can put on nothing better than a three ringed circus (with the Speaker turning purple and spluttering as the performing elephant poops in the sand) is what you get when you try to have the politics without the policies.

        What does Remain want, and how is it going to do it? And even if it did it, how long would it last? If not now, then when? And how durable is the EU27’s patience supposed to be?

        1. Titus

          Very well put and agreed. If as predicted the E.U. and in particular Germany falls into a recession I do believe the dynamic changes entirely. An extension with no deal or leaving with no deal does not settle any of socio/economic and trade issues. Very different approaches are going to required then the thinking behind the existing WA.

        2. Redlife2017

          I also agree. What the hell was Parliament brought back for? To prevaricate? To yell at each other? It really is to no credit to anyone. I had a bad feeling when the court case was won (seemingly accidentally) as it was very clear no one wanted to actually do anything. And so, they took Friday off, ’cause why not. I mean, it’s not like anything important is happening!

          The picture in the article will be used in the Tory political party broadcast. I bet dollars to donuts on that one: “These are the people who care about your democracy…who screamed that they would lash themselves to Parliament! The empty promises of democracy. The empty hall…The Conservative & Unionist Party is committed to the will of the people…[picture of empty hall] and your Parliament is not.”

          This stuff writes itself…

    2. David

      Yes, this is the beginning of the breakdown of the UK system that we have foreseen for a while now. The EU may have to decide fairly soon that the UK has no effective government, and that as a result it will have to deal with whoever has the effective power, or at least influence. This is not as bizarre as it may sound : there are lots of precedents, but they come from places which are in situations of collapse or post conflict (Somalia anybody?) Which is to say that not simply is the UK in unknown territory, the EU is as well.

      1. Eclair

        “….. the UK has no effective government, and that as a result it (the EU) will have to deal with whoever has the effective power ….”

        Good lord, David! That statement was an effective slap across the face with a wet cod. I am unable to follow the all the narrow twists and turns in the lamented Brexit debacle, but the macro view …. that of a nation’s ‘government’ completely unable to govern and shedding gobbets of its legitimacy like a molting sheep dog in spring time … is frightening. And, with a dispossessed and put-upon section of the population having a ‘stick-it-to-the-bastards’ attitude. Just the climate for a ‘strong man/woman’ to jump in with a ‘solution,’ and seize power.

        All the more frightening because of a similar situation here in the US. The two major governing (hah!) parties constantly at each others’ throats over minor issues, while kicking aside major issues that will affect the governed … climate change, mounting personal debt, rotting infrastructure. There is no governing going on. None. Just a mad scramble to extract as much wealth as possible before it all goes down.

        I am going out to tend my garden.

        1. VietnamVet

          Definitely. Impeachment and Brexit cannot be a coincidence. Politicians simply do not care what happens to the little people. Jimmy Carter said the US government is a plutocracy. He should know. It is also a collapsing Empire with the oligarchs at each other throats fighting over the spoils. A recession is on the way. Trade Wars and Economic Sanctions cut global economic output. There is a black swam event awaiting the next missile attack in the Persian Gulf. To be honest the only chance to reverse course is a Sanders/Gabbard Presidency in the USA. The United Kingdom is apparently finished.

          1. DHG

            Actually, the Anglo-American world power goes to its death at the hands of the Kingdom of God FULLY functional, there will be no major political changes in either country as that would render the world power non functional. All this can be found in Rev Ch 17. All thats left for prophecy fulfillment in the time of the end is for the political to turn on the religious system and destroy it ushering in the Great Tribulation. This system is not going to recover it will continue to unwind until these things come to pass.

    3. robert dudek

      EU27 has a relatively simple way out of this. After the Oct 19th meeting comes and Johnson’s empty bluster is revealed to all, they should say:

      You have 3 options:
      (1) Revoke A50
      (2) Pass May’s deal
      (3) WTO terms

      As long as the remainers believe that endless extensions will be granted, they never have to make the difficult compromises needed to resolve this situation. Everyone clings to their personal version of revoke, 2nd referendum, or BRINO deal.

      My guess is that option 2 will swiftly pass parliament, as not enough Labour and ex-Tories will have the guts to go for option 1 (which would very likely see riot on the streets and pro-Brexiters winning the next election).

    4. John Jones

      “There is always possible the option for the EU to seek an ECJ declaration that since the UK can’t follow its own constitutional procedures, then the A.50 declaration was by definition null and void.”

      The ECJ/CJEU.cannot give a view on the UK’s constitutional procedures -a) it hasn’t the knowledge b) the remit c) nothing would surprise me if it so recklessly tried to provide a view – certainly, it’s view couldn’t be enforced on a nation state.

    5. Oregoncharles

      “RTE is reporting this morning that Irish politicians are in complete despair” – I THOUGHT Varadkar’s strategy was pretty high-risk, but I certainly don’t see a better one.

  5. The Rev Kev

    Does anybody have any idea on what is happening with the City of London in all this? There is a lot of money and power in that square mile so you would reckon that they would be on top of what is really happening behind the scenes. I hear no whooshing sounds of money leaving London.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Kev.

      I have not followed money flows and no longer have access to that buy side data. This said, I hear of investment, not just from City firms, going into EU27 offices and hires.

      With regard to firm planning, I have noticed an uptick in British, Swiss and American firms staffing in EU27 locations, mainly Frankfurt and Paris, and at senior levels. Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse are particularly active this month.

      A week ago, a colleague remarked that our new skyscraper, to consolidate from a dozen buildings around London, may not be needed in full such is the scale of business being booked in other locations and the support for such activity being located either there or in Frankfurt.

      Slowly, but surely, not just EU business that needs an EU location, but due to economies of scale, related activity, are going. Some of the reasons for the soft pedalling are that firms need to scale up locally, EU27 regulators need time to gear up for the business migrating from London and hedges, often contracted according to English common law, aren’t easily novated to continental codes. Therefore, a slow burn suits the EU27. However, the lack of sudden movement has lulled many in the UK into thinking that things won’t be as bad as feared. There are cheerleaders who have seized on the slow burn as a sign that project fear’s worst fears won’t come to anything. We shall see.

      EU27 and Swiss employers are reluctant to hire staff whose immigration status is uncertain due to Brexit unless their skills are hard to find. Considering that many City employees have roots in the EU27, EU27 employers have little to worry about.

    2. Clive

      I can’t speak for the large cap or forex side of things, confined as I am to the grot end at retail with only a bit of wealth management to lighten the vanilla bog standard small stuff unglamorous gloom (I shouldn’t complain, it’s steady I suppose) but the one benefit which Johnson has is that, if you take your money “out” of something, you have to, inevitably, put it “in” to something else. Or somewhere else.

      But where? The Eurozone isn’t exactly a bowl of cherries right now, the US is notionally booming but the dollar seems fully valued and any sort of safe investment is in nosebleed territory when you look at the current political risks. Ditto Japan with the added bonus of low liquidity. There’s a few niches and there’s always emerging markets, but these suffer either from everyone else already finding them or higher risks than even the U.K. presents.

      Anything really safe is negative yield. Full stop.

      And three years ago, if you’d even dared to question the holy writ of the all-conquering great supply chain, bringer of eternal efficiency savings, destined to forever reduce commerce to ever-smaller and more salami-sliced business and manufacturing processes, you’d have been laughed out the room by Very Serious People. Now, though, the future does look, perhaps, a little more localised. So business sentiment has changed a tad, it might continue to go further along this line and genuinely question the “inevitability” of carving up your operations into teeny tiny chunks and sending them into a never-ending game of continental (or even global) labour, tax and subsidies arbitrage.

      Shorter, it’s crap, everywhere. Just different sorts of crap to pick from (with too much liquidity sloshing around in search of the least-crappy crap).

      1. Ignacio

        It may be plain vainilla, Clive, but I see it more motivational than the glamorous moving billions into whatever sophisticated speculative drive. At least it keeps you closer to the ground. Don’t you think? My wife got so fed up about mutual fund management!

      2. Tom Bradford

        I’m facing just this problem now, with the maturity of bond that has been paying me 5.75%pa. The best I could roll the capital over into was an unsecured bond at 3.5%. So I’m investing it in rooftop solar and a Tesla Powerwall battery instead.

        Tangible assets nailed to the house offering a tax-free return in the 8% region as long as the the sun keeps shining. And my lights stay on even if they go out all over Europe. What’s not to like?

        1. Anon

          The next step would be a composting toilet, potable water storage, and a small garden. You can’t eat your mutual fund.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I was doing a little personal finance filing last night (I’m always about a year behind on this kind of thing) and counted three letters informing me of ‘changes to my insurance policy’, which in effect meant that my policy was shifted from a London address to Luxemburg or Amsterdam. So this type of business is definitely slowly shuffling out, although I’ve no idea about its real implication for jobs and money. I do know that UK property investment money is flying into Dublin right now, funding mostly residential and office uses.

      So far as I know, the UK is now technically in recession, or at least that’s the assumption pending the next round of results.

      But from what I can gather, most finance businesses are not anticipating some sort of panic in the markets – but they are anticipating a slow bleed of some core finance businesses from London elsewhere. Hence no real evidence of the Parliamentary shenanigans having any impact on Mr. Market.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for your thoughts gentlemen. The reason that I asked is that I have started reading Nichols Shaxosn’s “Treasure Islands” which made me wonder about how this is all playing with the City of London, hence my question.

      1. Clive

        One way to consider the overall dynamics is “there’s a reason CalPERS is like CalPERS”.

        The same absence of forces which are not forcing CalPERS to wake up and smell the coffee are also in play in London not forcing investors to smell the Brexit.

      2. Anonymous 2

        There will of course be winners and losers in the City. Others more knowledgeable may add more but I suspect the key point is that so many of the players are now so international they really care only a little where they do the business – if they do not do it in London they will do it in Dublin etc.

        Some business doubtless will move out of London, some will move in if the secrecy rules are changed to improve the protection provided to hot money. Overall London will probably lose but, in a market which I believe is still otherwise growing, this may not cause too much distress. It is the other parts of the UK which are likely to suffer most if there is a no-deal Brexit – ironically, particularly those areas which voted for Brexit.

  6. Jesper

    Hard Brexit or inequality slowing down GDP growth? Out of those two possible (there are probably more explanations) then which explanation would be favoured by the rich and/or powerful?
    A little bit of chaos and pain for others while keeping their own privileges and the blame on someone/something else might be a price worth paying or?
    On the other hand, the tax-avoidance facilitated by UK overseas territories might become more difficult for all so maybe an effort can/will be made to keep that going. The ultra-rich might not care about the tax-avoidance that much but the ones facilitating the tax-avoidance (for a fee) might lose a lot or at the very least face some inconveniences so interesting times.

  7. Matthew G. Saroff

    So, when does one of the EU member states (probably Hungary) decide not to grant an extension?

    Given that this requires unanimous consent, that would force a hard Brexit.

    1. fajensen

      What about the UK?

      Boris Johnson goes and asks for an extension as required by law, then veto it? It’s possible, think.

      1. David

        If you read Art 50 very carefully, it doesn’t actually say that the UK has to ask. The EC decides to extend the period (as it already has) by agreement with the country concerned. Technically, the 27 could decide on an extension and tell the UK to accept. Art 50 also has a general provision forbidding the leaving state from participating in meetings to discuss its future, so the UK would not be present fr the discussion about extension (as indeed it was not last time).
        More generally, I think that the consensus is that the EU has enough problems already without countries breaking ranks and vetoing an extension. Any country that tried to do so would come under incredible pressure, and would be made to suffer for a long time thereafter.

        1. Skip Intro

          It might well be useful for Germany and France, for example, to be solicitous while letting one of their cousins to the east do the dirty work of vetoing an extension to end everyone’s suffering.

        2. John Jones

          I’ve read A50 quite carefully – it’s not so much as asking even to extend , so far as I understand – it’s more to do with the unanimous decision of all 28 countries to agree to extend. One presupposes that by agreeing to extend , one has asked ,but this might not be the case.

          Happy and content to be corrected.

    2. vlade

      Why would they do it? It would cost them in the EU, for no clear benefit to them. I can see the whole of EU agreeing to not giving an extension, but going really rogue in the EU has significant repercussions, so normally you’d expect to see benefits.

    3. Mirdif

      James Crisp of the Telegraph had this to say about Orban on twitter:

      “1 time he did open his mouth he stuck the knife into May. Said all tory leaders put party before country, which he had seen first hand in London on the 1980s

      Orban is a bullshitter. Talks anti-EU for domestic but loyal as a puppy behind closed doors. Knows HUN hooked on EU funds”

  8. Tom

    Can someone help me understand the landscape of possible politics of a November election in the case that an extension has been granted? Even just the constraints.

    For example, is there any possibility of the opposition coalescing around a modified WA that’s appealing to NI’s and to Scotland’s remainers and to English nationalists?

  9. Russell Davies

    Is it too late for a solution? The UK has descended into factionalism, where each faction has nothing in common except a mutual antagonism towards, and repudiation of, the others. Any compromise is a betrayal, not leaving a surrender to Europe. One’s position on Europe has become an indelible part of one’s identity and to question it is to question the core of one’s being and right to exist. Each faction dehumanises the others and excludes them from the category of “the people”.

    We cannot go forward and we cannot go back. Neither a general election nor a referendum offers a path to a resolution because whatever the outcome of either there will no longer be a tacit approval of the result by the defeated. Equally, there is nothing to remain to, no status quo ante referendum, as the UK’s standing in Europe has been irrevocably damaged, while its own political culture has been shredded. Remaining will not be remaining.

    The UK has reached an impasse where positions have been radicalised beyond negotiation and compromise. This is the moment of stasis, of civil strife, as theorised by Thucydides about the violence in Corcyra in his history of the Peloponnesian War. Stasis is an internal conflict that is completely self-destructive, where all collective and individual action is driven to extremism. It is the immanent collapse of the universal where laws and customs are overthrown. Institutions remain in place, but their function and meaning are utterly perverted and, through this perversion, destroyed.

    Stasis is the outcome when factionalism gets into its stride. We have at least four tribes here, each occupying an extreme, where even a moderate position is considered immoderate. On the Remain side there are the Revokists, those who want to cancel Article 50 without a referendum and who believe that this cancellation can be done via a general election, and the People’s Votists, whose sole purpose is to overturn the result of the 2016 referendum and who must have a no-deal rupture on the ballot paper to ensure a remain vote.

    On the leave side, the Softists want a deal with the EU, confirmed by referendum, that ensures the minimum amount of damage. But, as this is the compromise position, and the position of the Labour party, it is the one that is most derided, the one that is far too complex for the performative stupidity of the media, one that must be repudiated because it could allow Corbyn into No. 10. For the hard-line Brexists now in government, no-deal has become a test of one’s quasi-ethnic purity, one’s loyalty to the tribe and to an imagined people for whom this rupture has become an absolute. The Brexists appeal to an English Dunkirkian spirit where a disastrous European retreat is rebranded as a triumphant release into greatness.

    This extreme factionalism is testing the UK to destruction, constitutionally, politically, economically and culturally. The UK has ceased to exist on these terms even while it still exists. Everything that is now happening is not taking place; the prorogation that was not a prorogation, in which the Supreme Court invented its own version of the Grandfather Paradox (if there was no prorogation then the Court could not have passed judgement on it); the return of parliament that was not a return; the non-papers being sent to Brussels setting out positions that are not positions.

    The Government treats Parliament as a masquerade for its propagandist imagery and abusive rhetoric; it continues in power despite having no majority and having lost the confidence of the House of Commons. The Supreme Court says that this confidence is its only democratic legitimacy. The Commons is incapable of acting in favour of anything; it only knows what it is against. Rather than being dead, it has become undead. The Queen has been made a party to an unlawful act, while the law itself has become the enemy of the people.

    Escalation is inherent to stasis. People go to ever greater extremes to create new forms of attack and counterattack – the scenes in the Commons on Wednesday testify to that. All values become inverted; reckless audacity becomes courage, while thoughtful hesitation becomes cowardice. “Moderation was a front for unmanliness; and to understand everything was to accomplish nothing,” wrote Thucydides. “Wild aggression was a mark of manhood, while careful planning for one’s future security was a glib excuse for evasion. The troublemaker was always to be trusted, the one who opposed him was to be suspected. The man who devised a successful plot was intelligent, the one who detected it still cleverer; but the man who thought ahead to try to find some different option was a threat.”

    Perpetrating outrage becomes the quintessence of the political. Despite the violent language that now pervades our discourse, the UK has yet to descend into the savagery that consumed Corcyra. How can we ensure that this is not our trajectory?

    1. Joey

      I sympathize with your poetically-stated premise.

      Things have gotten worse throughout the extension because it was bound to worsen with no new possibilities.

      Which is why I cannot fathom another extension, yet anticipate one.

      1. Ignacio

        We may have reached the point in which by graciously granting an extension the EU would simply aggravate the situation of all involved parts. It could be even argued, specially after reading vlade’s electoral analysis, that granting another extension could qualify as an EU direct intervention on UK politics favouring this political outcome over that other.

        1. Monty

          At this point, the best thing for everyone is a crash out. Let them reap what they have sown. It is the only way forward that has any chance of settling this. Anything but the hardest exit will lead to an eternity of bitter yammering and we will always have the threat of the exit lurking in the background.

          If the results are as bad as expected, prosecute the instigators for treason and freeze their assets.

      2. Titus

        Joey, consider this aside – from the hubris of the U.K. polity in enacting a law demanding an extension, (to ask while still a member of the E.U. is pretty much to form, no?) why, really would the E.U. grant it? Several different theories all give the same reason: because it benefits the E.U.. Why? Because bad things happen in the E.U. without a deal. Not just hurt feelings. Things to do with wealth.

        As in Recession. Lack of growth. Zero return on capital. Large Problems without solutions – take your pick

        Germany is just about in a recession, France does 52% of its fishing in U.K. waters, Italy is in a no growth situation, Spain, eh. The E.U. is now already on a verge of a recession and events in an interconnected world such as: in Iran (Oil), South American (IMF defaults), China (everything), US (everything), And Japan (most things – the Auto market worldwide is shredding), Climate Chaos, the list goes on. Pull the Brexit thread and the positive feedback loop starts, making everything in the E.U. that much worse. No Brexit without a deal can’t happen, the E.U. knows it.

        If a Brexit no deal happens it will be ruinous for the E.U. not just the U.K. The problem is the UK doesn’t understand what to ask for because it doesn’t understand how the E.U. works. The other problem is the E.U. has taken the wrong approach in not trying to get to ‘yes’ because in all reality it does not understand why leave really passed. Economic ties yes, political ties no. There are solutions but the whole withdrawal process needs a black swan reboot. And I think it’s going to happen.

        1. xkeyscored

          You mention “events in an interconnected world such as: in Iran (Oil), South American (IMF defaults), China (everything), US (everything).”
          From a political rather than economic point of view, these could be reasons for the EU to be glad to see the back of the UK. The UK is the closest EU member to the USA on many hot geopolitical issues. Just two examples that spring to mind – it was UK forces that seized an Iranian oil tanker, and MI6 and the CIA who together set up the arms supply line to their allies in Syria in 2011.
          Does the rest of the EU want to get stuck on the side of the USA in its wars and trade wars and so on? I suspect not, on the whole. Some EU countries may side with the US on this issue or that, but overall they seem to want good relations with everyone, including Russia, China and Iran. The US plainly does not want good relations, especially with those three countries, and the UK seems to be their main European cheerleader.
          (Of course, a Corbyn government with Corbynist policies could change all that!)

          1. Summer

            “Does the rest of the EU want to get stuck on the side of the USA in its wars and trade wars and so on?”

            More could be said, but any time Syria is in the mix, France will be a player. (Sykes-Picot).
            Just one example other than Britain.

            1. xkeyscored

              That’s why I said countries may side with the US on this issue or that. France didn’t join the war on Iraq (remember the backlash against french fries?).

      3. Russell Davies

        Joey. Thank you. I have two great fears in the absence of an agreement between the Johnson regime and the EU. My first great fear is that the EU will grant us an extension beyond the 31 October deadline. My second great fear is that it won’t!

    2. David

      It maybe worse than that actually. As in most countries, the structure of British politics assumes parties which represent coherent groups with economic and to some extent social interests, which are in competition with each other. Elections decide (simplifying a bit) whose economic and social agenda gets implemented. But Brexit, although it obviously has all sorts of economic and social implications, is fundamentally a political question that traverses boundaries between parties. What that means is not just that an election in November will not provide a solution, but also that no election can ever provide a solution because the structure of the party system won’t allow it.

    3. shtove

      I think you’ve plonked a giant fallacy – the Grandfather Paradox – in the middle of your assessment of the Supreme Court judgment. Besides, I live in deep blue country, Hardy’s Wessex, and the natives are as even-tempered and pleasant as ever. The most distressing trouble for outsiders comes from those who never vote.

    4. RBHoughton

      Well, one thing we might consider as Sir John Major fears a return to 19th century practice and the use of Orders in Council to by-pass parliament. If we are going back there, why not adopt another feature of the century – when MPs were found to not represent their constituents, the voters used their own Powers-of-Attorney to appoint someone else whom they trusted to represent them honestly. This gets around the 1884 Reform Act and returns parliament to the people.

    5. Tom Bradford

      For a long-lifetime I have defended the ‘anachronism’ of a Monarchy not for its pomp and ceremony, not for its romantic links to history, not for its romances and breeding outcomes, but precisely for its potential power in exactly this situation.

      Moreover in the person of the present Queen I have no doubt that she has the awareness of her constitutional position, a genuine concern for ‘her’ people and still sufficient respect from all sides as a ‘neutral’ to intervene if necessary.

      What she could actually do defeats me – this is an unprecedented situation. Nevertheless I see her as a last resort, and believe she sees her role likewise.

      If she does not even try, should it become necessary to preserve civil order, I shall after all these years, be forced to agree that the Monarchy has outlived it usefulness.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The fundamental problem with a monarch in this situation is that she doesn’t have any real legitimacy to over rule the executive or Parliament. In the Irish system, which is very similar to the UK’s political/legal system, the President has essentially the guardianship role of a constitutional monarch, but unlike the Queen has electoral legitimacy. Hence he/she can (and has in the past) simply told the government ‘you can’t do that, its unconstitutional’. And no government would dare over-rule that (not least because in theory the military answers to the President). But the monarchal system is much more ambiguous. It works… up until it stops to work, and then you find a void where there are supposed to be rules and guidelines.

        1. ChrisPacific

          There is a line from one of the Terry Pratchett Discworld books that went something like “he had reached an understanding with the police, by which they agreed that he wasn’t under arrest and he agreed that he wouldn’t try to leave.”

          The Queen is similar – she is allowed to retain enormous constitutional power for historical reasons, on condition that she doesn’t ever try to actually use it.

  10. Noel Nospamington

    In the event of a no deal, why doesn’t the EU simply impose hard sanctions on Britain for defaulting/reneging on its financial commitments and breaking the GFA, and block 100% of all British goods and services from entering?

    It would of course involve a lot of short term pain, but should hopefully force Britain to quickly come to its senses, and come back to the table to the EU with reasonable (non-unicorn) positions which include accepting its previously agreed to financial commitments and to agree to some type of backstop, either for the entire UK or in the Irish sea.

    Hard Brexiteers, including those in government, already hate the EU with such passion, that the EU has nothing to lose in playing hardball, and much to gain if they quickly shock the British back to reality.

    1. shtove

      GATT. Although I understand arbitration rulings there are practically worthless for the time being, if only because the appeals body is not quorate.

    2. Petter

      I don’t know. If I’m understanding you right so sounds this a lot like bombing a country into submission. Doesn’t often work (Japan 1945 is an exception) and mobilizes the populace again you.

      1. Noel Nospamington

        With regard to GATT, this does not stop countries from imposing sanctions against bad actors. Besides there is that national security exemption which Trump unfortunately made famous.

        Besides, a no deal Brexit is likely to spark a new civil war in northern Ireland due to breaking the GFA. And a no deal Brexit also means committing sovereign debt default by Britain, by its reneging on its previous financial commitments to the EU which the government previously signed off on.

        The current British government is planning to do so much damage to the EU, and is spouting so much public hatred against the EU, why shouldn’t the EU impose some bad measures against Britain.

        Especially when some bad short term pain is necessary for those in government and their supporters in Britain to quickly face reality. And a quick resolution is far better for everyone (in terms of lives and wellbeing) than many drawn out “lost” years of living with a no deal Brexit.

        Keep in mind that the reality is that Britain is trying to leave the EU without a deal, while the EU has made many accommodation for Britain to stay, and the EU also negotiated a fair withdrawal agreement in good faith based which accommodates the British government stated red lines that the British government now refuses to pass.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I think there would be huge reluctance in Europe to take what would visibly seem to be retaliatory action, not least because it would be very difficult to get unanimity. Ultimately, its not in Europes interest to have a very large failed state on its border.

          And I do find it remarkable that that the concept of the UK becoming a real live failed state is not by any means impossible. All branches of the UK government are rapidly losing their legitimacy and there is nothing obvious (apart from the military) to replace them.

  11. Peter

    When I was reading on the latest Brexit news, I saw someone posted a link to this article which says the EU actually passed the wrong law for the second Brexit extension. The law the EU passed is here

    There’s a preamble section to the bill describing the events leading up to this bill and the intentions of the bill. In this section, the EU actually gets it right here and say the extension ends on October 31st. However in the actual legal / law part of the bill is made up of two articles. Article 1 again is correct – it says the extension ends on October 31st. Article 2 is where the problem is. It says:

    “This decision shall cease to apply on 31 May 2019 in the event that the United Kingdom has not held elections to the European Parliament in accordance with applicable Union law and has not ratified the Withdrawal Agreement by 22 May 2019.”

    So unless I’m reading the law wrong, since the UK didn’t ratify the WA by May 22, the extension ceased to apply on May 31st. While no one seems to actually be paying attention to what the EU passed, nothing has happened. However it seems like someone would have a pretty solid legal challenge to the ECJ that the UK is in fact no longer part of the EU.

    Not sure anyone would be foolish enough to try something like this, but I’m not sure we can underestimate the level of foolishness of everyone involved in this mess.

    *The caveat to this is, I’m assuming this is in fact the bill that the EU passed and not some link to an older version of the bill. Searching that website is not the easiest thing in the world.

  12. John D.

    To enter a bit of levity: With all the recent talk of a 5th series of the classic British comedy Blackadder – which, sadly, isn’t going to happen – it occurs to me that if they did make a new series, it could be set in the present day, featuring Edmund Blackadder as a conservative MP firmly stuck in the middle of the Brexit mess. Stephen Fry could play Bojo! Miranda Richardson could play Teresa May! With Tim McInnerny as…Rees-Mogg, maybe? I don’t know which current politico could fill in as Hugh Laurie’s usual upper class twit character, but I’m sure someone in that gallery of grotesqueries would fit the bill.

  13. Summer

    Catching up here, but I just look at the pic of the empty Parliament and shake my head.

    They just raised hell about being suspended.

    So I go back to my earlier theory…more of these elected officials want out or have puppet masters who want out than they will admit. They all just want to make sure they can be re-elected after it’s all over.

  14. KFritz

    Since the UK Supreme Court ruling, Brexit has disappeared from both the home page and World page of google news. Ditto for the home pages of the NYTimes, WashPost, and LA Times. The NYT World has a comparison of Trump and Johnson. The LA Times World has an article on Johnson’s toxic behavior in Parliament.

  15. RMO

    It’s got to the point where for me reading about Brexit is like watching the film Robot Monster on and endless loop – futile and painful with no end in sight and any “so bad it’s good” feelings long gone. I figure it’s just a matter of time before we hear Boris or one of the other players on television saying “I cannot – yet I must. How do you calculate that? At what point on the graph do “must” and “cannot” meet? Yet I must – but I cannot!”

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