Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Brexit Revisited

by Frank Schnittger Tue Apr 30th, 2019 at 07:48:52 PM EST

Many people will no doubt be pleased that Brexit has been removed from the headlines, even if only by a tragedy like the Sri Lanka bombings or the attempted Venezuelan Coup . But as they used to say about the IRA, it hasn't gone away, you know!

In truth, not a lot has been happening, despite Donald Tusk's injunction to the UK not to waste the time it has been granted by the extension of the Brexit deadline to the end of October.

The May government has seemed like the rabbit stuck in the proverbial headlights, unable to decide which way to go as the onrushing car approaches. MP's were glad of the Easter recess, only to find on their return that not much has changed...

But has it?


The Conservative Labour talks continue without much urgency on either side, with both sides seeming to use them mainly as a means to stall for time.

Meanwhile Tory party MPs and members are in a panic about the disaster they expect to see unfold with the local elections on May 2nd., and the prospect of Nigel Farage's new Brexit party winning the European Parliament elections.

But attempts to change the rules of the Conservative party to enable a new vote of no confidence in Theresa May have failed, and an unprecedented meeting of local Conservative Party Chairs to call for her resignation has advisory powers only.

In an admission of how precarious her position has become, Theresa May has decided not to proceed with a Queen's speech to announce her legislative programme as it would precipitate a Commons vote equivalent to a vote of confidence in her government. Lose that, and her game is over.

But what happens if the local elections on May 2nd. and the European elections on May 23rd. turn out to be the disaster widely predicted? My prediction on April 8th. in Off the Reservation that the Tories might only win 15% of the vote in the European elections is beginning to look a bit generous...

What if the Conservatives are faced with the threat of being replaced by Nigel Farage's Brexit party in the Westminster duopoly? There is nothing which concentrates the politician's mind so much as a threat to their self preservation instinct. Not only would many lose their seats, but the prospect of Ministerial office would become a distant memory.

Meanwhile the Labour party is still desperately trying to hang onto both its Remain and Leave supporters, by again issuing a somewhat conditional promise to hold a second referendum under certain circumstance, chiefly, "if we can't get the necessary changes to the government's deal, or a general election".

It will be interesting to see whether this position "evolves", if Labour candidates do not do particularly well in the Local elections. It will be harder to campaign on a slightly more nuanced position than the "No deal Brexit" of the UKIP and Brexit Parties, and the committed Remain stance of the Lib Dems, ChangeUK and Green parties.

However the Brexit and ChangeUK parties aren't fielding candidates in the Local elections, and there are many districts where there are no established alternatives to incumbent Tory Councillors. Local elections are also often fought more on local name recognition and concerns rather than national issues, so a track record of being seen to work for local causes can matter quite a lot.

The Local elections may not, therefore, be quite the disaster for the Tories many are predicting, and Labour may still have some chance of picking up some Leave votes in the absence of Brexit party candidates. However it will be much harder for Labour to maintain an ambiguous or lukewarm stance for the European elections, and public patience with the Tory/Labour talks may have run out.

Overall it is hard to see the European elections being anything other than a disaster for the Tories for their failure to honour their manifesto pledge "to deliver Brexit" and a straight fight between Brexit supporting and Remain supporters parties for a plurality of the votes. Labour are running the risk of being caught between two stools and satisfying no one.

My guess is Corbyn will move to clarify their position just as soon as the local elections are over. Whether he likes it or not,the European Elections are becoming, effectively, a second public vote on the merits of Leave or Remain. There is no middle road in a binary choice.

It is also hard to see how Theresa May can carry on if the Tories do badly in the local and Euro elections, and the Tory Labour talks fail to reach a decisive conclusion. My somewhat tongue in cheek predictions in Off the reservation - accurate to date - still seem at least as likely as any other scenario.

Display:
I don't know about the polticians, but I know for certain that I needed a break from it.

But the only break is to look away because to face it is to look into the face of madness. It simply makes no sense. Trying to rationalise it is trying to grab a handful of water; the harder you try, the more water slips through your fingers.

the only thing that I cling to is that exahustion seems to have gripped them all; they've kicked the can down the road for 6 months, at which point they'll kick it 6 months more and hopefully at some point we'll all just forget about A50 and go back to where we were.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Apr 30th, 2019 at 08:20:22 PM EST
I think it is most unlikely the EU (read Macron) will agree to a further extension unless there is a new government with a new approach in place by the end of next October.

Jeremy Hunt says he favours Brexit now because the economic damage of no deal is exceeded by the political damage of no Brexit (read destruction of Tory party).

But that logic applies to the EU as well. There comes a point where the political costs of the ongoing uncertainty may come to exceed the economic costs of no deal - for all members except Ireland.

The EU is already trying to move on. Brexit is going to slip down the list of political priorities entirely by the summer. Very few in the EU (outside Ireland) will care much either way what the UK decides to do after the summer.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Apr 30th, 2019 at 08:32:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank:
I think it is most unlikely the EU (read Macron) will agree to a further extension unless there is a new government with a new approach in place by the end of next October.

More than Macron apparently:

Germany: No Brexit extension beyond October - EUobserver

The EU cannot extend the Brexit process a third time, German foreign minister Heiko Maas said in an interview with the Financial Times newspaper. "They will have to decide what they want by October," Maas said about the UK. "You cannot drag out Brexit for a decade." He said another UK request for an extension "could send the signal that they plan to stay in the EU after all".
by Bernard on Wed May 1st, 2019 at 05:46:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not a single partner in EU or UK wants the Brits to participate in the EU elections of May 23. The election would be a farce and cause immeasureable damage to the EU project. I see a decision taken this month. :)

On the quiet, UK prepares for 'zombie' European elections

[...]

Yet both the ruling Conservatives and the main opposition Labour Party are keeping quiet about any campaign plans, wary of how voters might respond.

Zombie election

May has previously said it would be "unacceptable" to ask Britons to take part in the elections three years after they voted to leave the European Union. Her spokesman emphasised that once called, Britain could still cancel the polls up until 22 May if it has secured a deal to leave the EU by then.

This would cause anger in Brussels, not least because 27 of Britain's 73 MEPs have already been reallocated to other countries. And it leaves Conservative candidates in the unenviable position of asking voters to back them in an election they themselves do not want, and still may not happen.

    In June last year, the European Council adopted a new reform aimed at adapting the EU parliament to life after Brexit, abolishing 46 of the UK's 73 European parliamentary seats - the remaining seats would be redistributed among the EU states that feel underrepresented in Brussels. France and Spain would be the big winners under the new reform, with five extra MEPs each, while Italy and the Netherlands would get three and Ireland two. Nine other member states would get one each.

Brexit a 'Shitshow' Says German Foreign Minister Ahead of EU Elections



Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Wed May 1st, 2019 at 08:38:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not a single partner in EU or UK wants the Brits to participate in the EU elections of May 23. The election would be a farce and cause immeasureable damage to the EU project. I see a decision taken this month. :)

You are probably more in touch with public/political opinion in various EU countries outside Ireland than I am, but I fail to see why UK participation would be an existential concern for other countries.

Yes, there would be the complication of 14 countries not knowing exactly how many seats are on offer, and constituency boundaries even being effected in Ireland. A nuisance, at best.

But the EP elections are essentially 28 distinct elections in 28 member states with minimal interdependencies and impact on each other.

Analysts (like me), will look for pan European trends, but it seems unlikely that (say) Vox or AfD or Le Pen will do better or worse because the UK are also holding an election.

If anything, the pathetic sight of the UK still clinging on 3 years after the referendum will be a cautionary tale for voters considering voting for extreme Eurosceptic or nationalist parties elsewhere.

Brexit has highlighted the benefits and warned of the difficulties caused by taking the advantages of the EU for granted, while thinking you can put narrow self-interests first.

Vox may campaign on putting Spain first and making Spain Great Again, but voters may note that is also what the Catalan parties want - for Catalonia.

So overall I see no reason why European Leaders, coming mostly from mainstream centre right and centre left parties, will be too concerned about UK participation.

They may make noises about how pathetic it has all been, but perhaps are pleased that it has also been an opportunity for European leaders and institutions to show cohesion and unity of purpose, not to mention a minimal level of competence by way of comparison.

What else has there been for Europhiles to brag about recently?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 1st, 2019 at 11:06:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If EU Council lets any of their "alternative" plans not to ratify the WA slide...

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed May 1st, 2019 at 01:07:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What plans not to ratify WA? Has there been any published by EU side? Has any EU member state resiled from their unanimous position that the WA is the only deal on the table? Has any state taken the WA off the table?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 1st, 2019 at 01:30:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank.
The antagonists in this "shit show" is not the EU.
It is and has always been UK Tory gov
and plans "not to ratify the WA".

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed May 1st, 2019 at 03:39:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit barely even raises a smile any more in France. Just an eye roll.
Even rabid Frexiters have nothing to say about it. Zero political impact with respect to the élections. Frustratingly.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu May 2nd, 2019 at 10:58:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Things had been getting a bit boring so Theresa May sacks defence secretary Gavin Alexander Williamson CBE allegedly for the criminal offence of leaking details of the Huawei decision at the National Security Council to the Daily Telegraph last week. The leak enabled the Telegraph to name five ministers - including Williamson - who had attacked the involvement of the Chinese giant Huawei. Gavin Williamson of course denies the allegation.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 1st, 2019 at 07:16:17 PM EST
Juncker says something I've been saying all along.

European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker has said the UK has never been "comfortable" in the EU ...

For the British, integration has always been about economic gain. For them it is a system based on business, not values.



She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed May 1st, 2019 at 11:48:48 PM EST
If I found myself on the same side as Juncker I'd go away and very carefully reevaluate my opinions.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu May 2nd, 2019 at 07:41:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would take a Schnaps. 🤣

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Thu May 2nd, 2019 at 03:45:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well Juncker would probably already have had the guts of a bottle of fine wine, so you would have him for company...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 2nd, 2019 at 03:53:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ha, ha ... first of all you won't find me on the side of Juncker and certainly not at his table. Reminds me of Cameron when candidate Junker was promoten to succeed Barroso ... if he is elected then the chance for a referendum becomes reality. Cameron kept word.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Thu May 2nd, 2019 at 04:15:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Brits are never happy if they're not the ones running the show. If it had not been Juncker (who got overwhelming support for his election in both the Council and Parliament) they would have objected to someone else.

In this instance, Juncker is right. The Brits were only in the EU for what they could get out of it (defined in narrow monetary terms) and had no interest in promoting it as a means of promoting peace or harmony between nations or economic opportunities for less developed members states, or indeed for European citizens as a whole.

As such they had a degrading influence on the level of cohesion and solidarity within the club. Takers rather than givers. They even begrudged the EU their miserly net contribution and seem to believe the EU will not be able to manage without them.

We shall see...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 2nd, 2019 at 07:47:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]