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The UK to remain within a reformed EU?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jul 25th, 2018 at 08:33:44 PM EST



Olly Robbins smirks at Brexit Secretary in name only, Dominic Raab

Theresa May has successfully withstood threats to her leadership probably at least until Parliament returns in the Autumn and has consolidated her Brexit negotiation team under her direct leadership and that of Olly Robbins, her chief negotiator. Dominic Raab has been sidelined as her largely titular Deputy and put in charge of a Brexit department mainly concerned with preparations for Brexit itself rather than the negotiations with the EU.

This merely formalises the previous situation whereby David Davis spent only four hours all year in actual negotiations with the EU team. Despite (or perhaps because of) this, Michel Barnier recently said that a Brexit deal had been 80% agreed. The main contentious item not yet agreed is how to avoid Brexit creating a "hard" customs border between the EU and UK along the 500km land frontier between Ireland and Northern Ireland which has over 200 crossing points.


The Irish Border

The creation of this border caused a bloody civil war in Ireland, shortly after the creation of the independent state in 1922-23, and political parties are united in their determination to avoid reigniting this issue. In addition, the Good Friday Agreement, which underpins the end of the Troubles in N. Ireland, is heavily predicated on the ending of border controls, the dismantling of British army border watch towers, and the blurring of many distinctions north and south made possible by both being part of the EU.

N. Ireland voted to remain within the EU by 56%-44% and yet the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has actively pursued it's policy of supporting Brexit in tandem with a Conservative Party government in Westminster which is dependent on the DUP for it's parliamentary majority. Despite the fact that the DUP supports different laws in N. Ireland on agricultural products, abortion and same sex marriages, it is absolutely opposed to Brexit creating any differences in market regulation between N. Ireland and Britain which might give rise to a need for customs controls "in the Irish Sea" between N. Ireland and British seaports and airports and claims to also oppose a hard border within Ireland.

This creates a logical impossibility if the UK is going to leave the Single Market and Customs Union. There then has to be a customs border somewhere between the EU and UK to enforce any differences in tariff rates or quality regulations. In order to move the negotiations forward, the EU and UK agreed a "backstop" proposal in December 2017 whereby, in the absence of any other solution for the Border, Northern Ireland would effectively remain within the EU customs union preventing the need for customs posts at the Irish border.

When the DUP realised this would require a customs border in the Irish Sea, Theresa May claimed that all of the UK could negotiate "access to" to Single Market and Customs Union circumventing the need for a customs border either in Ireland or the Irish sea. When the EU insisted that full access to either was possible only if the UK recognised the four freedoms", maintained "regulatory alignment", and didn't negotiate any separate trade deals with third parties, the Brexiteers in the Tory party revolted. For the EU this was "trying to have their cake and eat it" and for Brexiters, those requirements would mean "Brexit in name only".

Theresa May then resiled from the backstop proposal and claimed that the problems of a hard border could be resolved through a combination of new technology, "trusted trader" schemes, and the UK collecting tariffs on behalf of the EU (maximum facilitation) all of which were dismissed as impossibly complex and impracticable by the EU side. No sooner had the white paper outlining some of these proposals been published, important elements of it where rejected by a Brexiteer led revolt in the Commons in any case.

Ireland, supported by the EU27, has insisted that this issue must be resolved before substantive trade negotiations take place whereas the British negotiation position has been that the negotiation of an EU/UK FTA is what will resolve these problems. EU negotiators are concerned that the UK might try to use the N. Ireland situation as a means to gain access to the EU Customs Union and Single Market by the back door.

An alternative resolution?

But is there another way of resolving this problem? Now that the UK and EU have agreed a transition period from the 29th, March 2019 to end 2020, could both the trade and border issues be "kicked down the road again" and finalised during that period? The Brexit deal itself would avoid emotive issues like the border and access to markets altogether, and focus on relatively less contentious issues like the aircraft landing rights, the Medicines Agency, the Galileo project, and security cooperation. If some items cannot be agreed now, can the deal be stripped down to include only those items that require immediate agreement and where agreement is possible?

Any deal negotiated after the UK leaves the EU on the 29th. March 2019 requires the unanimous agreement of the EU27, so Ireland can be assured that any final deal will not ride roughshod over it's vital national interest in peace and stability on the island. The UK is also spared the prospect of a "no-deal" scenario whereby planes cannot land on EU soil, and food and medicines shortages are threatened.

But one other vital aspect of the political situation may change: by 2020, a new government, not dependent on the DUP may take power in the UK. No one really thinks that N. Ireland matters all that much in British thinking. A border in the Irish sea is of marginal concern to all parties except the DUP. The question is, how can the DUP be removed from it's current, pivotal position. The answer to that question may not be long in coming...

Suppose Theresa May and Olly Robins negotiate a bare- bones Brexit agreement by October 2018. They have three months to do so, and Barnier has already said such a deal is 80% agreed. Although hyped as a great achievement, it quickly comes clear that it doesn't guarantee "friction free" access to the single market after the end of the transition period. All the difficult discussions have been postponed.

The Brexiteers are concerned that the UK is getting very little for it's €40 Billion Brexit exit payment - and losing a lot of negotiating leverage for the future. Remainers are appalled that the deal is so obviously less advantageous than full membership. Corbyn whips his MP's to vote against because he doesn't want to be held responsible for the outcome of the negotiations ("a bad deal for Britain") and wants a general election so that a Labour government can negotiate "a better deal". The SNP won't support anything unless they get another referendum on Scottish independence.

May loses the Commons vote on the deal and calls a general election with Labour support. Corbyn promises to negotiate a better deal, and, in order to unite his party behind him, promises a second referendum on the outcome of the negotiations. From an EU perspective, it doesn't much matter who wins the election provided the DUP don't hold the balance of power. The DUP's position in N. Ireland is in any case somewhat under threat because of various scandals and their pursuit of an unpopular Brexit policy.

If Theresa May wins, her policy is vindicated and Brexit will proceed on the basis of the minimal deal she negotiated in October. A free trade agreement is negotiated during the transition period based on the Canada and Japan FTAs and which effectively retains N. Ireland within the customs union and single market. The DUP is sold down the river and a customs border is set up at mainland Europe, Irish, N. Ireland and British air and sea ports. No one outside Ireland cares that there is no customs border on the land border.

A Corbyn Victory?

However, what if the Commons divisions are reflected in the British electorate? Theresa May has to campaign with almost half of the Conservative party briefing against her and ridiculing her agreement. Farage becomes leader of a resurgent UKIP; AGAIN. Voters in Scotland and N. Ireland vote even more decisively against an English dominated Brexit project. Many Brexit supporting voters are disillusioned and stay at home.

Corbyn wins a majority, perhaps with SNP and Lib Dem support. He forms a government promising to negotiate a better deal with Brussels and a referendum on the outcome (as demanded by the Lib Dems), together with one on Scottish independence as demanded by the SNP. He arrives gung-ho in Brussels only to find that Brussels has lost interest. They have negotiated a deal to their satisfaction and will only consider a revision if it involves major changes such as the UK remaining in the Customs Union and/or Single Market with all the attendant requirements to respect the four freedoms, the regularity environment and restrictions on negotiating separate trade deals. Corbyn baulks at the compromises required.

Corbyn tries to go over Brussel's heads, but finds very little support from mostly centre right and far right governments. The deal Theresa May negotiated is effectively a case of take it or leave it - its the UK's choice. Corbyn's problem is that he, and the UK electorate, have effectively rejected Theresa May's deal, and so there are only two options to put to the people in a referendum - a No deal Brexit or a withdrawal of A50.

Sweetening the deal

In order to sweeten the pill the EU offers to talk about what reforms Corbyn would want in order to support a Remain vote in the referendum. These reforms can't be all that radical because there simply isn't time for a Treaty change, and far right governments would find much of Corbyn's agenda objectionable in any case.

But the EU Commission manages to draw up an impressive looking agenda for change which includes many things it and more centrist governments like Merkel and Macron would have wanted to do anyway. The fact that Corbyn has never really articulated a detailed agenda for EU reform gives him quite a bit of leeway to support impressive sounding proposals which may or may not change all that much on the ground.

The final proposals include a larger EU budget, greater EU regional, social, structural and cohesion funds; common industrial and environmental policies and much more cooperation on immigration, security, consumer protection, corporate taxation, anti-monopoly competition laws, education and healthcare. Corbyn can face the electorate saying he has negotiated the creation of a much more progressive EU and is giving the electorate a clear choice between the clean "no deal" Brexit beloved of the Brexiteers and continued full membership of a reformed EU.

Some committed leavers would still undoubtedly vote leave, but many more, particularly on the left, could applaud the fact that Corbyn has negotiated a better deal for Britain. Businesses will breath a sigh of relief, and even the cynics could argue that the A50 notification has proved a clever and successful ruse to extract more concessions from the EU. All will forget that much of what the EU offered might have been available anyway if only successive Conservative governments had asked.

EU immigration has been reducing rapidly in any case and Corbyn promises to address many of the poverty, inequality and public service issues created by austerity and which were another factor contributing to the original Brexit vote. He promises an industrial policy and much more regional and infrastructural investment. The UK votes to remain by a much more decisive margin than the original 52:48 Brexit vote and the issue is put to bed for another generation.

Brexit soon becomes like a bad dream best forgotten and not mentioned in polite society.

Display:
True, she survives the summer recess ...

I have been on this item in recent days, my long reply here.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Wed Jul 25th, 2018 at 08:45:09 PM EST
After David Davies [no leeway in negotiations] and Dominic Raab [shaking hands with Barnier and quick exit] it's Theresa May, led by her personal assistant Ollie Robbbins as I have written above. More steps taken by PM May these past days corroborated my analysis May would go on a full attack against the EU. In full control [of her armada] May will no take no prisoners in the coming weeks. She will attempt to split a few countries away from Brussels in a divisive attempt to put blame across the Channel for the disaster about to happen.    

    "Robespierre was elected to the Estates General convened in 1789 by
    King Louis XVI to deal with the Royal Court's ongoing financial crisis."

May's inner circle of trustworthy persons is getting quite small as pressure mounts.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Wed Jul 25th, 2018 at 08:47:30 PM EST
I don't think May will get very far going into attack mode. She could negotiate a bare bones deal by October though, and then present it as a fait accomplit to the Commons (and DUP). I doubt it will deal with the Irish border or market access issues. There is no solution to that that will get a majority in the c Commons.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 25th, 2018 at 09:13:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a nice story, Frank, but technically, if the UK doesn't have a full exit agreement before leaving the EU in March, then there is no more road to kick the can down. End of the runway. Crash out.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 08:04:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 08:29:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's complete bollocks. There are no (0) countries who can be split from the EU27. May's huffing and puffing, and Raab's threat to renege on the exit bill, are strictly for local consumption. They provoke nothing but grins on the continent.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 08:02:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"EU reform" is David Cameron talk: You will recall. And it has no place here after issue of the A50 notice by Tory gov and receipt by the Clowncil, accepted by Mr Tusk in fact.

Mr Tusk has said many things on behalf of the council, both conciliatory and trenchant, ignored here.

The A50 article of the Lisbon Treaty is remarkably brief and establishes one "right" for member states. That is to secede from the EU polity. It establishes a schedule by which the parties are to complete the withdrawal action. And it precludes the seceding petitioner's participation in EU polity determination of "Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union."

So, yes. Having issued intent to withdraw, Tory gov is not able to "reform" EU political business.

The A50 does not further stipulate procedures for completing a member's withdrawal. Lisbon's signatories obviously did not intend to bind future EU legislators to such. This statutory omission instead compels future EU legislators to evaluate terms and conditions of withdrawal in each and every case.

The UK, being the first member to exercise its right, has created the first opportunity for the Clowncil and its agents to establish procedures for withdrawal. The effects of the procedures created by Tory gov's act will be referred to by future EU and member legislators as precedent.

Initially, there was some agreement among commentators here that the EU Clowncil had no incentive to mitigate terms and conditions of a member's withdrawal for fear of dissembling the union. I guess, you've change your minds now that you're (pl.) contemplating "sweetners" for Tory gov and speculating about EU-27 concerted affirmation of some right of a member to "revoke," or reverse, an A50 action, whether concluded or in progress.

That right does not exist in A50 or A49. A50 acknowledges an available prerogative to "rejoin" the EU. That statement articulates, commission of an A50 notice immediately conveys third-country status to the petitioner.

For A49 does not stipulate any unique procedure for application or "conditions of admission" for former EU members or politically amenable heads of state. As a practical matter, each and every application is negotiable But any future UK gov must conform and affirm establisment treaties of the EU as is (cf. Reconstruction of the Confederate States to the US Constitution) or negotiate a cherry-picking trade "deal" with EU gov.

Which is still, obviously, very much motivated to prevent dissembling of the union. No one will put the cart before that horse.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 05:04:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 08:28:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I read it before I commented.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 01:04:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do we, as Europeans, really want these people back?

Joris Luyendijk on BBC World Service Business Daily

Things as they stand are inherently unstable. Stability will arguably be gained by a hard (but orderly) Brexit followed by an association agreement. Maybe they should have left after Maastricht and we wouldn't have this mess.

Reform package on the way out? Corbyn fighting for Remain? The British government has really overstretched the patience of the EU. We've got our own [misplaced] pride. It could be a blackmail too many. We need to have this out and the Brexiteers, after decades of appeasement, need to get their cold shower.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Wed Jul 25th, 2018 at 10:15:21 PM EST
As I understand, once Art. 50 is invoked there is NO way back.

Unchartered waters and all 27 nations would have to agree. A single vote against would veto the proposal.

Is just not going to happen!

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Wed Jul 25th, 2018 at 10:36:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU Council President, Donald Tusk, has indicated the Council would be happy to accept a UK change of mind, and allow the A50 notification to be withdrawn. A50, itself, makes no explicit provision for this, and so we are in uncharted territory. My reading is that there is no legal right no withdraw, but the Council can make a political decision to accept a withdrawal.  As you say I think this would require unanimity, as it is similar to an indefinite extension of A50, which also requires unanimity.

However for this whole scenario to be plausible, a Brexit deal of some sort would have to be agreed in October, voted down by the Commons in November, followed by an election and change of government in December.  Renewed negotiations in January/February followed by a second referendum in March with a confirmed result in before 29th, March in time for the A50 notification to be withdrawn.

And as you say, it would take only one country to with=hold consent. A lot of ifs and buts. Very much an outlier scenario.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 25th, 2018 at 11:26:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree. As a practical matter the apparatus of the EU government will decide in situ what dispensation, if any, to proffer members' that recant secession. That is how the EU rule-making becomes insitutional.

The UK is out numbered.

Veto prerogative of any one EU member state in no way rescinds or negates the UK's A50 action. It (dis)approves terms of settlement. It does not terminate secession.

The EC and EP have proffered the UK several options to mitigate its inevitable "third-country" status.

Tory gov has declined them all, even the future "association" compromise that Verhofstadt plants on the table once a month to lure Tory gov into any commitment to rational, negotiated process.

Make no mistake: Tory gov did NOT "conclude" any agreement to UK/IE border control in Dec '17 or March '18.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 12:37:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For this reason --as well as British military calumny, fancifully recalled as "The Troubles"-- IE is hiring and training customs guards. Try to look surprised when this Taoiseach or the next "reveals" EU subsidy for IE to maintain the EU border.

archived
If you were Barnier-Varadkar-May combined, which gov will be 'patroling' the invisible customs border?


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 01:20:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Varadker has announced the recruitment of 1,000 customs officials - but they will be stationed at ports and airports, not the Boarder. 10,000 British troops couldn't secure that border.

AFAIK the EU allows the operating state something like a 10% retention of tariffs collected to cover administrative expenses. I'm not sure how this works if the checks are primarily for regulatory compliance rather than Tariff collection. I have to date been unable to confirm this impression.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 08:39:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you have this the wrong way around. A Brexit deal concluded before 29th. March can be approved by weighted majority vote - In practice, so long as all the major players are on Board. An A50 extension on the other hand, requires unanimity. My take is that an A50 withdrawal - in practice an indefinite extension - would also require unanimity, although there is no express provision, precedent, or authoritative legal opinion on this point that I am aware of.

The same applies to any FTA or other association deal agreed after 29th. March, as the UK will then, effectively, be a third party. If any such deal involves an exercise of powers not already delegated by Treaty to the EU, it will also require a referendum in Ireland. It would be a delicious irony if the UK's future status vis a vis the EU became dependent on the vote of the plain people of Ireland in a referendum vote... I can see a lot of banter between relatives and friends in Ireland and the UK on the theme of "what will you give me in return for my voting in favour of your EU deal?"

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 08:20:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Especially since I suspect that you are going out of your way to be polite. I spoke to a Dubliner a few weeks ago, and he said that lots of people are looking forward to Brexit as an opportunity for revenge...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 08:42:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When it comes to sticking it to the Eton/Oxbridge crowd, the gloves are off, and war has been declared. Most Brexiteers have a gift for pissing everyone else off with their conceit and arrogance and casual put-downs of "the Irish" or the EU. Many Irish have experienced racism or at least condescension at the hands of such people usually identified by their posh accents.

However most Irish also have a lot of friends and relatives in the UK who could be badly effected. Many are also aware that a hard Brexit will lead to many job loses in Ireland. Some businesses have already had to close because their margins were tighter than Sterling devaluation allowed. Much of the indigenous agri-foods sector is still very dependent on the UK market.

Not to mention N. Ireland where Brexit will be seen as a victory for the DUP and a blow to cross-community reconciliation. Things will get ugly if the economic consequences are as severe as I expect them to be.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 09:09:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Barnier Reply: Dismisses Chequers White Paper
We are working on the basis of what was agreed in March with Theresa May.
19 March Draft Highlights
19 March Draft UPDATE 5 July 2018
Britain and EU formally start splitting WTO membership agreements 25 July 2018

That action cannot be walked back.

The show is over.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 12:55:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everyone is feeling Brexit fatigue, but I couldn't see the Council going against a very clear referendum result to remain. That too, would be the clearest and most emphatic rejection of the Brexiteers.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 25th, 2018 at 11:29:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That seems to be just about the only possibility. Remain by unilateral A50 withdrawal is of course legally quite possible. But the needle hasn't moved much politically. People either don't care or are as Brexity and ignorant as ever.

On this side of the Channel too. Mind you, while the political/mental shift has happened on the EU27 side and the UK is already seen as a third country (that cannot be trusted because it keeps going back on its word), the EU27 people are still somewhat in denial about the consequences. A negative shock is not really an advertisement for Remain but rather more fuel for recriminations. Or a propellant for a suboptimal deal because it's still better than no deal. Then it would only be a question of time before people in turn started complaining about that deal.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 04:40:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Remain by unilateral A50 withdrawal is of course legally quite possible."

I don't think so as there is no provision for this in A.50. So there is no legal right to unilaterally withdraw, but the Council, as a political body, can make a political decision to accept a withdrawal. But it is not legally obliged to accept such a withdrawal, and it may require unanimity for it to do so.

I agree that popular opinions haven't (yet) shifted enough to make a different referendum result inevitable, although small majorities for remain are evident in the polls. In my scenario above I am banking on the continuing negotiating debacle that is the Tory government to sufficiently disillusion leavers, combined with the only alternative being a potentially disastrous "no deal" Brexit.

On the EU27 side I don't see there being a lot of scope for ongoing recriminations about the Brexit deal because it won't effect most members all that much - Ireland and perhaps Holland/Belgium being the exceptions. The Canada or other FTA's tend not to be the subject of ongoing popular recriminations afterwards.

Obviously if citizens are effected directly, e.g. by having to have a visa to travel to or work in the UK, there will be complaints. It's hard to see how they would blame the EU for that however, as controlling migration is explicitly what Brexit was mostly about. A hard border in Ireland would however poison domestic politics indefinitely...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 08:58:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frankly, the last paragraph is nonsense. We already know what the EU, basically in the same composition as now, does if a socialist government rejects a deal and it does not involve sweetening. The deal will get worse and still be take it or leave it. As far as I can see, the Greek negotiations are seen as a success. A lot of constitutional questions got solved in the interest of oligarchy and the left got hopelessly split by the question of the Greek Quisling government.
Though of couse it lead directly to the Brexit vote, but then you can't win them all.
by generic on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 07:24:25 AM EST
I think you misread my scenario where the Brexit deal is rejected by the House of Commons, not just Labour. Corbyn's attempts to negotiate "a better deal for Britain" are met with disinterest in the Commission and hostility from centre right and far right EU Governments.

As an alternative the Commission offers to consider any ideas Labour might have "to reform the EU" which might persuade it to support a remain vote in a second referendum in opposition to a no deal Brexit which no one wants.

In practice those discussions would be mostly a face saving device to give Labour to an opportunity to claim to have negotiated "a better deal for Britain" and allow voters to feel they are not being humiliated by having to reverse their prior decision.

However the Commission would be severely constrained in what it could offer by what far right governments in the EU would be prepared to accept. I suspect Macron/Merkel would re-package reforms they have been considering in any case to make them seem substantial concessions to the UK.

Sadly those concessions might also include some constraints on migration - particularly external (refugee) migration - but also internal migration. That would make for an interesting confrontation between (say) Hungary and the UK, with the UK wanting to cherry pick and restrict Hungarian nationals moving to the UK.

But here the emergence of a Labour government might actually be helpful as Corbyn is unlikely to be as obsessed with welfare spongers and more inclined to spend money on the NHS to limit the impact immigrants might be perceived to have on waiting lists etc.

Let us not forget that prior attempts to re-negotiate the UK's role in the EU and how the EU operates have been Tory led. The Commission might be more receptive to some of labours ideas if only we knew what they are!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 09:31:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
between (say) Hungary and the UK

With the brain drain in Hungary, the Hungarian government might actually like a return to the good old communist days, where people weren't allowed to leave. The Hungarians themselves, maybe not.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 09:49:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just don't see where this willingness to offer Corbyn a hand is supposed to come from. As you you point out, there just is no appetite on the part of the Council to offer anything Corbyn would want. And at that point he has about as much leverage as Greece had unless the Tories stock a lot of cans.
I'm also convinced that our great leaders feel less need to offer any nod towards participatory democracy than at most any point in the last few years. For one they are happy to have the far-right occupy the EU critical discourse. I wouldn't call it a conspiracy, more an effect of the Western media system being tightly coupled and in a siege mood, but the result is the same. Reasonable criticism is drowned by right wing lunatics. Then, both the Trump election and the Brexit vote have brought out the latent loathing of democracy in a lot of the professional classes. It is very noticeable among the gaggle of Clinton diehards and on Remain Twitter.
Though I hasten to add that I don't mean the unwillingness to accept the referendum result or whatever.
by generic on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 01:54:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are 3 broad options:
  1. No deal Brexit
  2. Negotiated Brexit deal
  3. Remain

The EU Council and Commission would much prefer 3 and , failing that, 2. I is the doomsday scenario.

If May negotiates a deal and campaigns for it in an election and loses,  and Corbyn wins by opposing it, then that deal is off the table.

There are then three options:

  1. No deal Brexit
  2. A re-negotiated Brexit deal
  3. Remain

I am suggesting there will be little or no appetite for 2. Time is running out and everyone if fed up with Brexit. Unless Corbyn takes a significantly different approach (membership of Single Market or Customs Union) there will be little appetite (and time) to renegotiate. Why would the EU give Corbyn a better deal than May when so many EU governments are right wing?

So we are down to options 1 and 3 and this may be the binary choice on the second referendum ballot paper.

In that case many voters may vote for no deal because they are angry at being asked a second time and fed up with the whole business. It would also be humiliating for the UK to have to crawl back to the Council saying "please can we have our A.50 letter back?"

The EU elite (forget you and me) would much prefer option 3 to option 1. So they offer Corbyn the option of the UK re-joining a much reformed EU. Corbyn can claim to have negotiated "a better deal for Britain". Voters can feel they are being offered a better choice and the whole process has not been in vain. The EU gets to re-define itself somewhat and do stuff most of which it would have wanted to do anyway.

Everybody wins. The only question is whether the right wing majority on the Council will be able to agree a package of reforms which can credibly be marketed as a significant reform of the EU to Labour and UK voters more generally.

Brexiteers will obviously shout foul and claim the reforms are insignificant or actually make the EU worse. That will not be that hard a sell to voters who distrust Corbyn AND the EU.

But the Brexiteers will also have to spell out the implications of a no-deal Brexit much more clearly. The EU will also have to say that just as Brexit means Brexit, No deal means no deal. No flights. Food shortages. Medicine shortages.  A far cry from the first referendum:
.

At least no one will be able to claim they didn't know what they were voting for.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 03:07:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going to insist on what I said in the other thread: the "deal" is the withdrawal agreement plus a political declaration on the future relation and a transition period to negotiate the future relation. And the withdrawal agreement involves money, citizens, and the Irish backstop.

Under your scenario, with the DUP out the window and a Labour/LibDem/SNP majority, the deal Corbyn may be forced to seek is special economic status for Norhern Ireland, Gibraltar... and possibly Scotland and Greater London. One country, five systems. The EU would grant the devolved governments of the UK and its crown dependencies and overseas territories special arrangements as exist for other microstates and peripheral regins. And the customs borders would be within the UK.

Would that pass he Commons? I doubt it. Corbyn would probably be assassinated. And it wouldn't pass a referendum due to the English vote, I don't think.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 09:12:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the General election is in Oct/November, then Corbyn can credibly argue there is still time to negotiate improvements. Once in office he might accept the May deal as the basis on which his "improvements" will  be based for sheer lack of time.

The backstop applies to N. Ireland and only N. Ireland. Corbyn is in favour of a united Ireland so he wouldn't have a problem with that. With the DUP out of the picture the backstop could again be part of the main deal - in return for whatever minor other concessions Corbyn might want and be able to get.  Possibly a stronger "political declaration".


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 09:42:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Corbyn is in favour of a united Ireland, but you also say he might depend on the support of the SNP which wants a second Scottish independence referendum.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 09:59:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If he needs SNP support no doubt he would also agree to a Scottish referendum - but if they are smart they will hold it after any second EU referendum.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 10:03:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or he might avert Scottish independence by offering special economic status for Scotland, similar to that of Northern Ireland.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 10:05:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would avert a Scottish/N. Ireland border in the Irish sea and place it at the Scottish/English border instead! As far as I am aware there has been little discussion of such an option in Scotland and I doubt it would do much to appease Scottish Nationalists. Their claim is to full independence from the UK (much like the Brexiteer's claim to full independence from the EU) and is not primarily motivated by a Pro-EU sentiment - although that could change if the economic effects of Brexit are very severe in Scotland. One report I have read claims that Edinburgh and Cardiff are proportionately more dependent on the financial services industry than London.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 02:32:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In practice those discussions would be mostly a face saving device to give Labour to an opportunity to claim to have negotiated "a better deal for Britain" and allow voters to feel they are not being humiliated by having to reverse their prior decision.
Because that worked so well with Cameron and the original Brexit vote.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 08:59:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that in the end, Corbyn probably wouldn't get even symbolic concessions. But up until then the scenario feels solid, so let's fork it. Corbyn goes to Brussels and gets nothing. Then what?

In the scenario, Corbyn has made a big number about a second referendum, so one way would be to conclude that they have no good choices, and ask the people to rank Brexit without deal, Brexit with May's deal and revocation of article 50. Or if ranking is to hard, ask for which they want, and which they want if they have to choose between the two other choices. Stepping back to let the people decide maybe means a decrease in prestige, but on the other hand Corbyn can then after the referendum get on with his agenda as no result means that the people voted him down.

And in that scenario the Council may not accept a revocation, so then the Court could get to decide whether an A50 notification can be revoked.

by fjallstrom on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 03:08:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It all depends on how badly Corbyn wants to be out of the EU, and to what extent he is prepared to compromise and stay in under "improved" terms. The Council have made it pretty clear they would prefer the UK would stay in - despite popular anger and frustration with the UK. But it is not clear they could agree on a substantial package of "reforms" that would be sufficient to persuade Corbyn to campaign for a remain vote, and then to actually sway the vote in a remain direction. Once national pride comes into the equation, people tend to stick to their guns.

My guess is a remain vote could be won, and quite possibly by a substantial margin. I am less sure about Corbyn's preferences and the degree to which a right dominated Council could agree anything substantial. Given so many ifs and buts, this is an outlier scenario, but I think an arguable one. My money would still be on a hard Brexit, with or without a minimalist deal.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 03:26:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
according to French EU minister
One unresolved question has always been, if the UK changed its mind and voted to stay in, would the EU agree? According to the French Europe minister, the answer is yes.

Asked if staying in was still an option for the UK, Nathalie Loiseau told the programme:

We have always said, always, that the door would remain open and that we were not the ones who wanted to diverge from the United Kingdom. It was the British people who decided to leave the European Union.

And when asked if that meant the UK would be able to stay in, "on the same terms", she replied:

Sure, of course. [Like] every single member state of the European Union, we have one conviction, which is that the best possible status is being a member, the most profitable status.


Also : no daylight between Barnier and the Council of Ministers.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 09:14:30 AM EST
to rejoin.

Barnier is the muscle and voice of EU gov in this matter, I have said time and again. Until he offers to kill settlement negotiations, tear up the WTO "split", and Tory gov accepts and affirms terms and conditions of EU membership, the show is over. Look where you (pl) are at, not where you might want to be.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Jul 26th, 2018 at 05:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your scenario hinges on a few quesionable assumptions:
Corbyn whips his MP's to vote against because he doesn't want to be held responsible for the outcome of the negotiations ("a bad deal for Britain") and wants a general election so that a Labour government can negotiate "a better deal".
At that point the vote can credibly be described as one between deal and no deal, and I have no doubt May will make that argument. Unless, of course, May turns the vote into a confidence motion. As your own scenario argues, Corbyn would likely end up with no deal rather than a better deal.

Then you have to assume that the DUP won't hold the balance in the Commons after new elections. What if Corbyn fails to win a majority, but May can have her majority again with he help of DUP or, worse, UKIP?

Then you propose that the same EU council that won't be sympathetic to Corbyn the old-fashioned socialist is going to go along with an agenda for reform that it has been resisting for many years.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 08:53:25 AM EST
Count me also among the Brexit reversal skeptics, not that I wouldn't like the EU to remain whole, but like Mig, I just don't see Frank's scenario having a remote chance.

Given the strength of the Brexiters, with the weight of the Murdoch tabloids, the Tories would have to be beaten decisively, not by a small margin but a real sucker punch. And even then, we don't expect them to sit down meekly and say, oh well, we tried, now do we?

I too am skeptical about the "reformed EU" hypothesis (OK, OK, I'm French, so I'm skeptical by definition, but bear with me for a second): any reform in the EU is a long and glacial process that takes years and involve plenty of compromises. The clock is ticking: in EU legislative time, we're practically at the eve of March 2019.

And even if most of the EU would prefer the UK to remain rather than facing the unknowns of Brexit, the goodwill to bend over backward to accommodate the British demands has seriously evaporated in the past two years. As you remarked above, the EU already did that with Cameron in February 2016, to no avail. For the Brexiters, the only good "reformed EU" is a "dead EU".

by Bernard on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 11:02:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then you propose that the same EU council that won't be sympathetic to Corbyn the old-fashioned socialist is going to go along with an agenda for reform that it has been resisting for many years.

Yes the power inversion needed for that is as immense as it gets.

David and Goliath.

Apart from 5* there isn't any other European political party who would be supportive of such change, or is there? Bernie Sanders, if he had been elected woukd have been enormous help to support Corbyn as they are cut from such similar cloth, but that doesn't look like it's in the immediate offing.

The people would be behind it, if only because everything else but outright fascism has been tried. (And because the majority of Europeans are sufficiently educated in history not to want to go down that road again, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine notwithstanding.) The forces of corporate militarism are strong in the North East and East of Europe, and socioeconomic solutions to poverty and lack of development, while an improvement on the iron curtain days, are still a source of rage, envy and frustration, rendering underemployed youth easy prey for simplist right wing nationalistic forces.
Just as you and Brit predicted ten years ago.

Brussels is long overdue for a fundamental shake-up. The democratic tools are still in place but there's a big shortage of leadership material, leaving us with the likes of Macron, May, Kurz et al.

Which begs the question is the EU necessary, let alone viable in its preset form? Is it still the primary preventive measure that will stop euro states squabbling to the point of repeating the darkest side of our history?

Can we afford top-heavy centrally planned economies of this scale and if so how can we make them serve the peoples' needs rather than those of the 1% as they are presently doing?

If Corbyn could make the EU more democratically accountable he would have earned his prime ministership.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 08:28:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
>the darkest side

Is [the Lisbon Treaty or TFEU] still the primary preventive measure that will stop euro states squabbling to the point of repeating [conflicting bi-lateral treaties, tri-lateral treaties, and alliances of convenience that exacerbated internecine wars for possession of colonial territories]?

Yes.

Sez secular bibble of European "democracy",
Thuc.1.18-21.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 02:06:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thuc. 1.24
The last act before the war was the expulsion of the nobles by the people. The exiled party joined the barbarians, and proceeded to plunder those in the city by sea and land; [6] and the Epidamnians finding themselves hard pressed, sent ambassadors to Corcyra beseeching their mother country not to allow them to perish, but to make up matters between them and the exiles, and to rid them of the war with the barbarians. [7] The ambassadors seated themselves in the temple of Hera as suppliants, and made the above requests to the Corcyraeans. But the Corcyraeans refused to accept their supplication, and they were dismissed without having effected anything.
It's a good thing that Tory gov is populated with cheap, self-servin sumbitches. Lowers the odds, yanno, of "accidental" WWIII.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 02:23:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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