Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Be careful what you wish for

A few days ago a Labour MP had to resign from Jeremy Corbyn's front bench after she allegedly threw a bucket of water at a journalist.

While I would not for a moment encourage anyone to literally pour water on anyone, it seems to me that it is a large proportion of MPs who might benefit if someone metaphorically threw a bucked of cold water over them - if it got them to calm down and reduce the hysteria which is impeding the chance to get a sensible decision on Brexit.

It appear clear that there is no majority for any positive outcome at the moment, only majorities to criticise of reject things.

I'm fairly certain that there is not a majority who want a hard "No Deal" Brexit, thought this has to be a far more likely outcome than the number of MPs who support it might suggest because it is the default position which Article 50 will impose if nothing else is agreed by 29th March 2019.

I very much doubt that there is a majority for another referendum, although there will continue to be a lot of noise from those who back the idea.

Nor do I think that a majority of MPs will vote to cancel Brexit altogether. Most MPs personally voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, and many of these would probably still do so if they were taking that vote again, but too many of them were elected in 2017 on a promise to respect the referendum result for me to think it likely that they will break that promise. But I'm not nearly as certain of that today as I was a week ago.

The old adage "Be careful what you wish for" has never been more applicable than it currently s in respect of Brexit.

Nobody, but nobody, knows for certain what will be the ultimate outcome if Theresa May's proposed Withdrawal agreement is voted own next week. I think there is precisely one thing of which we can be certain: if the deal goes down in defeat and the ultimate outcome is significantly different, some of the MPs who killed it will end up with an outcome which they like much, much less.

You only need to look at two articles which have appeared in the past 48 hours in the same magazine responding to votes in the House of Commons this week in which two of the most senior political journalists writing for that magazine and draw radically different conclusions - let's be frank, diametrically opposite ones - about what is likely to happen if the PM's deal is voted down.

The New Statesman's political correspondent Patrick Maguire has an article today called

"Despite Commons defeats for Theresa May the odds of a No-deal Brexit are still rising,"

In which he argues that Britain will still leave the EU on 29th March "with or more likely without a deal."

He may be very well be right, and if he is and Britain does leave without a deal, every singly Labour MP, Lib/Dem or SNP member of parliament who has voted against the deal will have personally helped to cause a result which most of them think will be disastrous.

In the same magazine the political editor, George Eaton, has written

"Tory Brexiteers are deluded if they believe that they have a better option than Theresa May's deal,"

and  he argues that  there is no parliamentary majority for a harder Brexit, that Leavers’ "true quarrel is not with the Prime Minister but with reality."

He thinks that parliament will stop a no-deal Brexit and writes that

"The denouement of the Brexit epic finds Remainers and Leavers joined in strange unity. 

Both have vowed to defeat Theresa May’s deal next Tuesday; both insist that this will serve their interests. 

Leavers hope to advance an alternative plan (or embrace the apocalypse of no-deal), 

Remainers hope to secure a second referendum, a general election or a Norway-style agreement.

They cannot both be right."

(My underline and larger lettering)

I don't know whether Patrick Maguire or George Eaton is right about whether this week's vote made a hard Brexit more or less likely,

I am absolutely certain that George Eaton is right that if the May deal is blocked by parliament, some of the people who blocked it will cause a result they regard as much worse.


Chris Whiteside said...

If you want to put a comment on this thread, please give your name.

Chris Whiteside said...

Apologies, I accidentally deleted a comment on this thread from someone who said that if the choice was May's deal or No deal he or she would prefer No deal.

Those people who think that are entitled to their view. I'm not one of them.

I spend the referendum campaign pointing out the many misleading or downright wrong statements by both sides. It is now evident that, as I thought at the time, the Remain campaign exaggerated the harm that merely voting Leave would do. Unfortunately their crying wolf may have caused people to discount similar warnings about a no-deal Brexit which I think are justified.

If you read the articles I linked to, one of them argues that if the May deal goes down we are likely to get No Deal, the other that if May's deal goes down we will get the Norway option or no Brexit at all.

I have no idea which is right and I don't think anyone else can be certain either.