Boris Johnson, Brexit, British Government, Conservative Party, Jeremy Corbyn, UK Labour Party

Some thoughts on Brexit as UK has another election

This blogpost was written on Sat, November 2nd, 2019. The next BEERG Brexit blogpost will be in mid-December, after the results of the UK general election are known 

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The granting of an extension by the EU until January 31 next and the calling of a UK general election has put the Brexit process on hold for now. How Brexit proceeds, if indeed it does, will be decided on December 12, the day the UK votes in its third general election in four years.

At the time of writing the outcome is impossible to predict. Election campaigns are strange events. The unexpected can happen during the next six weeks, and probably will. Trying to predict the outcome of this election based on what happened in 2017 is a fool´s game.

This Briefing has always been about Brexit and what Brexit means for businesses and their employees, whether based in the UK or elsewhere in the EU. We do not see it as our role to comment on UK politics more widely or to express particular political preferences.

For that reason, we are pausing this Briefing for the duration of the general election campaign.

Once the results of the general election are known, we will start writing again about the Brexit process which, as we suggest elsewhere in this Briefing, will never end. Writing about Brexit is a labour of Sisyphus.

However, our decision to sign off until mid-December, presents us with an opportunity to offer some thoughts on Brexit and the Brexit process and the light they have shone on the UK over the past three years. Continue reading

Brexit, Conservative Party, Customs Union, Negotiating, Northern Ireland, Single Market, UK Labour Party

Britain and Europe Plus ça change

This blogpost was written on July 1, 2019

marr hunt

You know a country is in deep trouble when one of its major political party appears to lose touch with social decency and economic reality. Yesterday, we had Jeremy Hunt telling a Sunday TV show that he would willingly tell people whose companies went bust after a no-deal Brexit that their sacrifice had been necessary, saying:

“At the beginning of October, if there is no prospect of a deal that can get through parliament, then I will leave at the end of October because that is our democratic promise to the British people.”

Asked whether, under such a policy, he would be willing to look owners of family businesses in the eye and say they should be prepared to see their companies go bust to ensure a no-deal Brexit, Hunt said: “I would do so but I’d do it with a heavy heart precisely because of the risks.”

As Nick Cohen, recalled in his Observer column“At no time and in no circumstances should a communist place his personal interests first,” said Chairman Mao.” As if anticipating Hunt’s later remarks, Cohen commented: “In the Conservative and Unionist party, as in the Chinese Communist party, personal interests are discarded if they threaten the purity of the Brexit cause.”

Truly, greater love for Brexit hath no politician than this that he would willingly lay down your job for his career (and votes from the 150,000 Tory selectorate who will choose the party’s new leader and potential prime minister).

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Article 50, Backstop, British Government, Jeremy Corbyn, UK Labour Party

The nightmare on #Brexit St continues

This blogpost was written on Sunday May 5th, 2019

LE19 UK result

Back in the day in the 1980s, whenever Labour lost an election to Mrs Thatcher’s Tories, the cry would go up from the usual suspects on Labour’s left that the reason the party had lost out, yet again, was because it was not “left wing” or “socialist” enough. It was just too “centrist”. Which is why people voted for Thatcherism instead. If only the raw, red meat of real socialism was on offer, Labour would sweep to victory.

It must have been me, as I never got the logic of the argument that because Labour was not socialist enough people voted for “right wing” policies instead. But then I never had that unique Marxist insight into the hidden dialectics of history, which readers of New Left Review and Living Marxism did, which is probably why I suffered from “false consciousness”.

These remembrances of time past came to mind as I watched reactions on Friday last to the results of England’s local elections as they came in. Bear in mind that not all of England voted on Thursday last, nor did Wales or Scotland.

On the day, the Conservatives lost over 1,300 seats, from a starting position of just over 8,000. Labour, which had expected to make significant gains, was also down by 81. The winners were the Liberal Democrats with plus 695, the Greens up by 194 and “others”, who picked up 662 seats.

The projected national share of the vote, calculated by elections analyst Prof John Curtice for the BBC, put both major parties neck-and-neck on 28% of the vote – both down from 35% a year ago. If that result were replicated in a general election, it would result in another hung parliament.

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Backstop, Brexit, British Government, Conservative Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Northern Ireland

The never-ending BYOB (Bring Your Own #Brexit) story

This blogpost was written on Monday, April 15th, 2019

BYOBrexit

Brexit has become a never-ending story for which there may actually be no end.

There is no majority in the House of Commons for the Withdrawal Agreement on offer. Nor is there a majority for leaving the EU with “no deal”. No one seems able to put together a winning coalition for any of the other exit strategies on offer: “Norway” (with or without +++); Canada, SuperCanada or Canada Dry; Malthouse. Alehouse or Curryhouse.

OK, I made the last two up but that’s about where we are. In restaurants BYOB normally means “bring your own bottle”. In the House of Commons read it as meaning “bring your own Brexit”.

Last week the European Union gave the UK a further Article 50 extension, to run until October 31st on condition that European Parliament elections are held on May 23rd next. As a continuing member of the EU the UK must hold the elections, otherwise the legitimacy of the Parliament, and any legislation it adopts, could be called into question.

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Article 50, Brexit, Brussels, Conservative Party, Rees Mogg, Theresa May, UK Labour Party

No point giving UK more time to just “kick the can around” on #Brexit?

This blog was written on Saturday morning, April 6thMay_Donald Tusk

 

Next Friday, the UK is due to leave the European Union, with or without a deal. As I write these words, and having been a close observer of Brexit for quite some time now, I have no idea how the coming week will play out.

Last Friday morning the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, wrote to Donald Tusk, at the EU Council, to ask that the leave date be pushed back until June 30th. She says that this would allow time for her government to complete talks with the opposition Labour Party about an agreed way forward on Brexit and for the necessary legislation to be put through parliament.

She acknowledged that this date would require the UK to participate in European Parliament elections in May but she hoped that the Withdrawal Agreement would be through the House of Commons before May 22 allowing the UK to cancel its participation in the elections at the last minute. In other words, “Can we screw about with your elections. They are not that important, after all, are they?”

However, by Friday evening the talks with the Labour Party appear to have collapsed. Rather than seeking a compromise, it seems that May’s representatives spent their time with the Labour team trying to “educate” them in just how good the Withdrawal Agreement was and why they should back it.

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Article 50, Backstop, Brexit, British Government, Irish border

One month to go and #brexit gameplaying goes on…

This blogpost was written on Wed Feb 27, 2019
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UK Labour’s Starmer & Corbyn in Brussels. Pic via Skynews

With each passing day it becomes clearer and clearer that far too many politicians in the UK, including the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, think Brexit is some form of game of political point scoring, with little or no thought for the immense damage to lives and livelihoods that will ensue.

On Monday of this week the leadership of the Labour Party, still reeling from the defections of nine MPs last week to the independent benches, announced that it planned to table a motion in the House of Commons calling for a different Brexit deal than the one Theresa May has agreed with Brussels. If the plans it brings forward are voted down in the Commons Labour may then call for a second referendum.

So, what are these Labour plans?

Apparently, the party wants a “future relationship” which would see the UK in “a” customs arrangement with the EU, but the UK would not actually be a member of the existing EU customs union. It would be a bespoke union between the UK and the EU. As part of this arrangement the UK would have a decision-making role when it came to future trade deals being negotiated by the EU.

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Article 50, Backstop, Brexit, Theresa May

#Brexit: A Procedural “Fix”?

This #blogpost was written at midday on Friday Jan 18th, 2019

article-50

The UK would apppear to be in a state of political paralysis over Brexit. While there might be a majority in the House of Commons against a “no-deal Brexit”, there is no majority for an alternative way forward.

The European Union cannot rewrite the agreement that is on the table. You cannot negotiate with a party which keeps saying: “I don’t like the proposal you have just made to me. Make me a different one”. You need to know what it is they want, at least in general outline.

But could the EU offer the UK a procedural “fix” as a way forward? Could the EU create time and space for the UK to reflect on where it really wants to be at the end of the Brexit process? Is there a way for all parties to step back from a brink that no one wants to be standing on?

As things stand the UK leaves the EU on March 29th next. If, a very big if, the Withdrawal Agreement is accepted the UK goes into a transition arrangement which could run until the end of 2022, a period of nearly four years. During this time the UK will be a de facto member of the EU, following all EU rules and procedures, but will have no say in EU decision making.

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