Tuesday, 26 February 2019

One way or another, we are leaving the EU

I sat and watched Mrs May's statement to the house this afternoon. She seems to have played a blinder. She has sucked the wind out of the sails of those seeking to tinker with pointless amendments while insulating herself from blame. MPs will get a vote on ruling out no deal but they will have to vote down a perfectly viable deal to do it. This time it will be parliament kicking the can down the road.

We can only speculate as to the duration of an extension but the default is still no deal if they then do not vote for whatever non-improvements Mrs May can then secure. If then MPs take us in this direction they will find that we spend a while longer having the same circular arguments only to end up back where we are today.

I suspect the more clued up remainers will be well aware of this but the intransigent TIG and their commons sympathisers will take us there in the hope of somehow derailing Brexit altogether. They are hoping to somehow force a revocation of Article 50 which Theresa May has ruled out - and to do it, every remainer would have to unite in an act of open defiance against the public verdict. I doubt they could pull it off and one would hope they would have more sense.

This looming threat though, may cause a few of the ERG types to reconsider voting against the deal. I suspect May will lose but not by such a wide margin this time. Somehow she's going to have to resurrect it for a third outing if she is forced to extend. We won't know the circumstances so speculation seems futile.

What's driving up closer toward the cliff is an unwillingness to comprehend that ruling out no deal is not within the gist of parliament. No matter how many votes and amendments we have, we cannot re-write the rules of Article 50 unilaterally. To an extend, though, this is wilfully obtusity. If they won't ratify the deal and have then secured a political obligation not to leave without a deal, knowing that the ERG will never ratify, revocation then comes back into play. It is upon this forlorn hope that they steer us closer to the edge.

Being that neither side has a hope of having it their way, it is hard to envisage any scenario where we leave with a deal. The ERG are not going to be satisfied with the backstop and anything that isn't remain will not satisfy the opposition. May's deal might come back in the final hour as an emergency ultimatum but the threat of imminent departure to WTO terms is by no means guaranteed to secure May's deal.

As a leaver I could now fill space with bloviation about MPs defying the will of the people etc, but that point is made, and it is not productive to re-state the case. We can hardly accuse the remainers of insincerity when the leave goalposts have shifted so many times. the ERG have done everything to antagonise and make compromise impossible and in the final days it has come down to all our war between the factions. I suppose it was always going to come to this eventually.

It can, though, be argued that the MPs on the remain side now blocking May's deal (without good cause) never had any intention of respecting or honouring the vote. The ultra remainers don't see why they should since they have convinced themselves that the vote was not legitimate and given the way in which the ERG propaganda machine has lied through its teeth, I suppose, were I a remainer, I wouldn't go without a fight either.

If I said I knew which way this was going to go, I would be lying. I have no idea. This is a total failure of politics from start to finish and I won't be in the least bit surprised if we leave without a deal purely because parliament cannot reach a consensus. Though I am anxious to avoid such an outcome, if that's how it must be then so be it. If our politics is that broken then let the chips fall where they may.

By far the most dangerous outcome, though, is remaining. I struggle to imagine the circumstances in which that would happen. It would certainly involve toppling Mrs May and the formation of a new government - but I think there would have to be a general election along leave/remain lines for them to get away with revoking Article 50 - and as much as there isn't time, there is then no guarantee what parliament would look like after the election or who would be in control. If it were simply a remainer coup, revoking article 50 without a referendum or election then yet again it would be another example of parliament doing as it pleases in respect of the EU.

Either way, if we end up remaining then our politics goes into a full blown civil war and we see widespread civil unrest. I don't see any remainer MPs being safe to walk alone at night. The only way then to lance the boils is for a a coalition of populist parties to take over the Tory party and leave the EU unilaterally. I just don't see any scenario where we don't leave the EU eventually. It's only a question of what price we pay politically. It looks like May's deal is the cheaper of all the options.

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