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

Reality Bites

by Frank Schnittger Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 12:00:28 PM EST

Theresa May has written a long letter to EU Council President, Donald Tusk, requesting a further extension to the A.50 notification period until June 30th., the same date she asked for, but was refused, last time out. It is a well drafted letter, which many of us commenting here could probably have drafted for her.

In it she makes much of her ongoing discussions with Jeremy Corbyn as providing an opportunity to create a consensus for the UK's future relationship with the EU. The EU has been telling her that for some time.

But she also acknowledges some facts the UK has been seeking to deny for some time: Firstly, that the Withdrawal Agreement is finalised and cannot be renegotiated. Any discussion with Corbyn is about the non-binding Political Declaration on the future relationship between the EU and UK, and that alone.


Secondly, that any continuation of the UK's membership beyond 22nd. May creates a legal obligation to take part in the European Elections and she promises to make all the required preparations to enable the UK to do so. She still clings to the hope that the UK might agree and ratify "an orderly Brexit" with the EU before that date, thus enabling the UK to leave without holding the elections.

However that rather ignores the fact that the UK's participation also impacts on the number of seats on offer in other European Member states, and parties and candidates have a legal right to know how many seats will be on offer. Will the Dublin constituency have 3 or 4 seats, for example, and therefore will some parties nominate 1 or more candidates? Expect legal challenges to the legitimacy of the election if that is not clear by the time nominations close.

Mark Durkan, former leader of the Social Democrat and Labour Party (SDLP) in Northern Ireland, has sought and won a nomination to run as a Fine Gael Candidate in Dublin - on the understanding that Brexit meant no European Parliament elections would be taking place in Northern Ireland. Will he now run in the Northern Ireland constituency in an election which may or may not happen? How does that possibility impact on his credibility as a candidate for Dublin?

So the bottom line is that her request can only be acceded to by the EU Council on the clear understanding that the UK will participate fully in those elections. Like it or not, the UK will be having "a public vote" on what will effectively become a second referendum on Brexit, however much some parties and groups may like to claim otherwise.

No doubt extreme Brexiteer Parties like UKIP and fringe right wing groups will do well, but will parties supporting Remain or a second public vote do better than pro-Brexit parties? Will the Tories campaign on the basis of a no-deal Brexit, or on "May's deal"?

No doubt different wings of the Tory party will try to have it both ways but I would expect the election to become (in part) a referendum on their Party's performance in office. If so, the results will not be pretty. Expect the Tories to claim furiously that it is "a meaningless vote" and that they are focused on "delivering Brexit".

But if the poll is high and the Tories poll much worse than Labour, the writing will be on the wall. European Elections in the UK have generally provoked little interest and resulted in low polls. This one could be as important at any in UK history. A last chance for Remainers and Brexiteers to have their say.

Unlike a binary referendum poll, voters will also be able to choose between parties supporting "May's deal", No deal, a Labour deal?, or Remain. If Parliament can have lots of indicative votes, why not the people as a whole?

But for Labour the EP elections could also prove to be a crucial turning point. They have to avoid contamination with May's unpopular deal, especially as the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement isn't even within the scope of the Corbyn May discussions.

So those discussions will have served their purpose by the mere fact that they have happened at all, providing May with a pretext to look for a further A.50 extension from the EU Council, and Corbyn an opportunity to look constructive and statesmanlike. No one will be surprised if they don't lead to an agreed Corbyn May Brexit deal, and all gloves will be off for the EP elections to come.

But what does Corbyn's Labour party campaign for? A Brexit deal containing "A customs union", "close alignment with the Single Market", or for Remain?  The minimum requirement for holding both Leave and Remain potential Labour voters together would be a public vote on the outcome of any future negotiations with the EU.

But for the vast majority of UK voters, Brexit itself has become a huge turn off, and most want it finished with, one way or the other, sooner rather than later. A promise to hold further extensive negotiations with the EU will hardly be a winning electoral platform.

So it will become increasingly difficult for Labour to ride both the Leave and Remain horses at once. Corbyn may have to come out and declare that Remain is preferable to "May's Deal", and that a future Labour government would explore all options - a better Brexit deal or a programme to reform the EU as a member - and would put the outcome of any discussions to a second public confirmatory vote.

Corbyn needs to be careful that Remainers do not lose patience with him and move en masse to vote for the Lib Dems, especially in a list system election where voting Lib Dem doesn't hand the seat to a Tory. My guess is the EP elections will prove almost as difficult for Labour as for the Tories with Brexiteers gravitating to extreme right parties, and Remainers gravitating to the Lib Dems.

But for the EU, all of this is potentially a win win, even if Nigel Farage and some extreme UKIPers are re-elected to the Parliament, provided that Remain supporting candidates are in the majority. This really could be the Remainer's last chance, and they had better show up at the polls this time around. If more than 17.4 Million voters show up and support Remain supporting candidates, the argument could be over.

French diplomats have characterised suggestions by some EU Officials that the UK might only be offered a "long extension" of perhaps 12 months, as "clumsy." There are still some discussions to be had before this scenario could come about. The EU Council must agree any extension by unanimity or the UK is out without a deal on 12th. April. That should concentrate minds in the meantime.

Reality can have a hard edge.

Display:
This is one of those situations where opinion polling is probably pretty meaningless as it relates to an election most people believed would never happen. However fwiw these are the % support figures for various parties at the end of March in the then hypothetical situation of the EP elections happening in the UK = compared to the 2014 election out turn.

2019 Poll
Date(s)       Sample    UKIP     Lab     Con   Lib Dem  Green  SNP  Plaid Cymru Others    

28-30 Mar     2,008     18%     30%     24%     10%     8%     4%     1%        5%    
22 May 2014     2014 EU election (GB) Results    
             16,017,366  27.5%  25.4%  23.9%   6.6%   7.7%*  2.4%  0.7%    

As can be seen from the above, the starting position for the campaigns indicated a significant decline for UKIP and gain for Labour and Lib Dems with everything else within the margin of error.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 03:50:53 PM EST
The last 5% on the poll row, is presumably other. While it can be hiding different parties, presumably it is mostly Brexit party. Still UKIP plus Brexit party is smaller than UKIP was in 2014.

Still early, but would be amusing to watch Farange's expression if his old wreck of a party beats his new one on name recognition. Party name, that is.

by fjallstrom on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 06:17:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't forget the Independent group, who also don't appear to be polling well.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 06:32:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had indeed forgotten about TInGe!

Maybe the voters has too?

by fjallstrom on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 06:38:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU would have to be insane to extend Brexit past April 12.  There are serious issues requiring serious and informed debate, unpossible if there is three year old throwing tantrums in the room.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 04:11:13 PM EST
Having a chastened UK back in the fold wouldn't be so bad, and would solve a lot of the problems Brexit would create. The whole Brexit process has road tested the A.50 process and provided an opportunity for the EU to show relative cohesion and competence. Next time some member wants to throw a tantrum, they can be shown the A.50 door.

In the meantime one can only hope that the Tories will be put out of their misery and replaced by a moderately sane and competent party - perhaps forever. The Lib Dems to replace the Tories in the Westminster duopoly? Once you are out of the duopoly, it can be very hard to get back in. Ask the Liberals. The UK could even cease to be a public school dominated class society, or maybe that is taking the possibilities for reform too far...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 04:47:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The LibDems won't replace the Tories. They're too closely associated with the coalition.

Reality is the Tories still have a lot of support in the UK. Enough voters are some combination of misinformed, stupid, tribal, or just plain nasty to keep the Tories within five percent of Labour.

Anyway - latest news is the EU is going to say "Non" to May's request for more time without an explicit plan. Which presumably means either a GE or a People's Vote.

And the negotiations with Corbyn more or less amounted to "I want you to support my Withdrawal Agreement, and beyond that I have no interest in anything you say here."

So currently, unless Parliament gets its act together next week and forces a GE or a PV - or the EU relents at the last minute - it's going to be No Deal on the 12th.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 05:00:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We'll see. Political memories are short and the Brits are masters of re-inventing themselves. Brexit is becoming such a huge political, social, and emotional embarrassment, many conservative Brits may find it hard to forgive the party that caused it, for the next election at least, and possibly for a generation.. (Quite apart from the business community told to FO by Boris). The single seat FPTP system is so unfair on the party which comes third...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 05:20:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most conservative Brits want No Deal.

I believe you're underestimating how insanely far the far-right has moved. Something like 70% of Tory supporters and a solid core of Tory MPs are gung-ho for body bags, food shortages, rioting, and death.

This is why we have a problem. If a tiny lunatic fringe wanted No Deal, it would be off the table.

But it's not a tiny lunatic fringe. It's quite a large lunatic fringe - around 30% of all voters, and by far the most active element in the Tory grass roots.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 06:08:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is why I expect UKIP and Farage's new Brexit party to do well, but they will mainly be taking votes from May's Conservative party chained to her hugely unpopular deal. Perhaps it is UKIP or Farage's party who will take over from the Conservatives in the duopoly but my own guess is they are too weak and divided. It's all very well to vote for such parties as a protest vote in an EP election, but many of those votes would either not materialise or be wasted in a single-seat FPTP general election. Either way, I think there is huge instability in the UK political system at the moment, and quite a few previously unthinkable outcomes may become possible.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 06:30:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
TBG:"But it's not a tiny lunatic fringe. It's quite a large lunatic fringe - around 30% of all voters, and by far the most active element in the Tory grass roots."

Interestingly, that is about the size of Trump's base in the USA. Anglo-Saxon Disease. Same root, toxic ethnic nostalgia. The only sane way forward is to marginalize these folks. But can we do it?

The most dangerous time for the adherents to such madness is when their representatives gain power. In both countries the adherents see glorious victory. Fortunately, most of the rest see disaster.

May those who orchestrate and support such madness go down with their puppets.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 01:14:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the size of the Altemeyer "Authoritarians" more or less.

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 Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 12:29:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No matter what else happens, count on the LibDems to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
by rifek on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 10:53:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe we are (all of the west, including Europe and US) getting to the point where a new political division is looming. When both parties are split over something as fundamental as EU membership (or tariffs, in the US), maybe the platform planks that differentiate today's conservative and labour parties--or US republican and democratic parties--will be replaced with a different issue.

We might end up with "Free Trade" (or "globalist") and "Mercantilist" (or "Isolationist") parties, maybe.

by asdf on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 11:18:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Happened in the US before the Civil War.  Every significant institution in the country, including both parties, split over slavery.  150 years later, we still haven't patched over it all.  I doubt we shall.  Personally, I believe there will be more blood.
by rifek on Sat Apr 13th, 2019 at 08:28:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Free Trade" (or "globalist") and "Mercantilist" (or "Isolationist") parties

This analogy for antagonism is incongruent.

All political parties organized in the USA ("assembled"  in confederation or federation of governments) advocate free trade, unimpeded or unrestrained commerce anywhere. Scope of market and commodity type traded is fundamentally irrelevant to agreement among members. This is the similarity in party polemic and business activities (liberalism).

"Mercantilism," for example, expresses one class of commercial enterprise. Briefly, this type of economic incorporation propounds precepts of private property rights and usufruct, ironically, taken together to control resource supply (anywhere) and means of production (anywhere) from which an enterprise's owner(s) realize profit ("value") by maximum exchange rate and volume.

"Capitalism" and "mercantalism" are expressions of one and the same ideology of commerce, embellished by technique over time; a neologism.

Dominant political parties in the USA differ only in advocacy of laws governing market participants anywhere: either centralized control (conservative liberal) or decentralized control (liberal liberal).

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Apr 15th, 2019 at 03:50:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The BBC sez Tusk likes the idea.

"The EU may well be more receptive, though, to the idea of a get-out clause: it would mean that if a deal were to be approved by MPs and ratified earlier, the UK could leave the EU straightaway. That would suit both sides, and it's another idea that Donald Tusk has been promoting behind the scenes."
by asdf on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 04:51:07 PM EST
Tusk need to be careful - last time the EU Council took over and drafted the response to the UK themselves, and more tightly than Tusk wanted. This time around French diplomats are already accusing some EU spokespeople of being clumsy. Granting an A.50 extension is a prerogative of the Council as a whole, acting unanimously, and there is no guarantee they will follow Tusk's line.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 05:05:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nigel Farage to stand in European Parliament elections next month
Nigel Farage has announced that he will stand in the European Parliament elections next month for his new Brexit Party.

The former Ukip leader said he would not, after 25 years of "endeavour", watch British politicians "roll us over" - as he warned of a "fightback".

---<snip>---

Mr Farage also accused the Prime Minister and parliamentarians of trying to "kill Brexit stone dead".

"They have done it by endlessly kicking the can down the road but what they haven't noticed is the growing anger in this country...

"I think Brexit will happen, I think the genie's out the bottle, I just fear there are more battles to fight until we get there."

The prominent Brexiteer led Ukip to a win in the popular vote at the 2014 European elections - but has failed to win a Westminster seat in seven attempts.

He quit Ukip in December, saying there is a "huge space for a Brexit party in British politics, but it won't be filled by Ukip".

The Brexit Party was founded in January by Catherine Blaiklock, reportedly with Mr Farage's full support.

The fact that Nigel Farage is only doing this because he is an inveterate attention seeker is irrelevant. His candidacy will add legitimacy to the EP election and make it more difficult for the Tory's to ignore it - as they would undoubtedly like to do. Now its game on between Leave and Remain supporters. I think Mr. Farage will do not quite as well as he thinks in a high poll election...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 05:33:19 PM EST
If UK is offered a continuation past the EP election, then I expect the UK to participate in the EP election, as the odds of passing the Withdrawal Agreement would not increase. And then more continuation, and more until there is a general election and May is replaced.

What I really wonder is who drafted the letter and how the process leading up to it looked. Somewhere some competence lurks, but there is not much sign of it parliament or cabinet. So a civil servant who has kept both wits and position despite seeing a Brexit process unfurl that would have driven weaker minds insane?

by fjallstrom on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 06:34:54 PM EST
According to CNN

Theresa May's plan for another Brexit delay has gone down badly in Europe

France, which has taken a firmer line over Britain's demands, floated the idea of offering only a two-week extension, in order to prepare financial markets for Britain leaving the EU without a negotiated deal.
The other option, floated by Germany, was to demand more information from May, in order to justify offering a longer extension.

There was no support, it would appear, for the UK's suggested June 30 date.

[emphasis added]

Reading the rest of the article it becomes clear to me  we're again seeing the UK government totally oblivious to the reality of the situation.  Unquoted bits of the article make me think the EU isn't going to put its political credibility on the line to save May and the Tory Party.  

I'm thinking she's going to get turned down.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 07:20:08 PM EST
When May first proposed a June 30 exit date, the Council spent an entire sitting lasting maybe 7h and spanning their working dinner explaining to her why June 3p didn't work and coming up with the April 12/May 22 scheme. They also said in case the WA were rejected the UK must indicate a way forward by April 12. And now the WA has been rejected May is asking for an extension to June 30 again and not indicating a way forward. No way her letter didn't go down well in Europe. My own reaction was "is she taking the piss?"

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 Apr 6th, 2019 at 10:30:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The reason June 30th. didn't work was because May was proposing that date without committing to participating in the EP elections, meaning the UK would be in breach of the Treaties from May 23rd. onwards. In her current proposal she concedes the UK would have to participate in the elections if it is still a member on 23rd. May, and indeed that preparations for those elections would have to start on April 12th.

So it boils down to whether EU leaders think the UK participating in the EP elections is a good idea or not. Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, previously said it would be "beyond strange" for a country leaving the EU to participate in the elections (and indeed have a say in the nomination of the next Commission). May has sought to address this concern by promising to act with "sincere cooperation" and not adopt the disruptive tactics as threatened by Rees-Mogg.

The UK's education minister Nadhim Zahawi has said that for the UK to take part would be "equivalent to a suicide note for the Conservative Party", and it seems likely that extreme Brexiteer parties would do well - mainly at the expense of the Conservatives. But would Remain and second referendum supporting parties do better than Brexiteer parties?

The EP elections could become, by default, a proxy for the the General Election and Second Referendum May is so desperate to avoid. A disastrous performance by the Conservatives would put added pressure on May to step down but would Corbyn fare much better if Remainers abandon him for the Lib Dems?

So the looming EP elections could put a lot of pressure on both leaders to resolve their differences and agree a deal, and, failing that, go some way towards demonstrating where the balance of public opinion lies.

Either way, it could be an advance on the current logjam in the HOC. I'm not sure the EU has a lot to lose by allowing this process to run its course. 30th. June is not a long time away, and if the situation is not clarified or resolved by then, the EU Council can always allow the UK to leave, one way or the other, on 30th. June, by refusing any further extension.

In some ways this is now becoming more and more like a hostage situation where the police are desperately trying to open up and maintain a line of communication with the hostage taker - firstly to buy time, and secondly to avoid the situation spiralling out of their control. At the moment the EU holds all the cards. Why play them before you have to?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 6th, 2019 at 11:55:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reading Guardian headlines at the weekend, the situation there is pretty psychotic -- TIG of Tories election to MEP as "referendum" on UK government? They'll be in Brussels with fat pensions. Meanwhile the islanders each have a plan to antagonize the other, and nothing but, so long as the EU extends UK A.50 "membership" for sales of beef and German NOx-mobile sales forthcoming. If Council still expect constructive outcome from a long kiss good-bye, they had better a quick consult with the Norwegians on or before 11 April.

Javid: new passports;
May: no votes scheduled by 12 April but "offering to enshrine in law a plan that would hand parliament a say in future trade talks with the EU" ... after she's replaced;
Lavery: determined to split Labour over persistent referendum demand;
Varadker: encouraging "flextension" rather than "rolling extensions every couple of weeks, every couple of months."

## Mental disorder ... you know the rest


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Apr 7th, 2019 at 01:53:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EP elections would be a godsend for parties like the The Independent Group and Farage's new Brexit party because the list system means they actually have the chance of winning some seats and establishing their credentials as a serious party. The bipolar FPTP single seat constituency system used in general elections would confine them to the role of spoilers picking up some protest votes.

I suspect the Tories would do disastrously, and Labour not much better so the EP elections could upset the whole apple cart of UK politics and bring some new realities into play. In Northern Ireland Sinn Fein traditionally top the poll with the DUP and Ulster Unionist Party sharing the final two seats. I don't see that changing, but It will be interesting to see how the DUP do and whether the SDLP can launch a serious challenge for the final seat.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Apr 7th, 2019 at 08:22:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the expat Brits I know is very big on the idea of the EP election as a proxy for a second referendum. I can't really follow the logic. EP elections usually have relatively low participation and if there is a depressed turnout from people who think that, or want that Brexit happens I can readily see very middling results.

As to the results: I wouldn't expect anything drastic. I assume the Tories will lose some support since their whole strategy of absorbing UKIP is on fire. How much the TIGllers will cut into Labour's support I couldn't guess. From where I'm sitting they are too blatantly an anti-Corbyn outfit to run as a single issue anti-Brexit party.

by generic on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 12:45:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See Off the reservation for a different take...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 02:08:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My own reaction was "is she taking the piss?"

She has been all along, long on bluff and bluster, short on any plan, tone-deaf and stubborn as a mule.

If she wanted to remain, she couldn't have done a better impersonation of a humble servant of the people's democratic will to leave, as expressed via Brexerendum.

Corbyn, if he wanted to leave, could be going for an Oscar too.

'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 Sun Apr 7th, 2019 at 12:03:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May is seeking a short extension to Brexit. How utterly contemptuous

There are only so many times you can - or should - give someone the benefit of the doubt. In asking Donald Tusk and the European council for a ludicrous, pointless extension just until June, Theresa May has surrendered any right to be seen as a prime minister acting in good faith.

<snip>

The truth is that deep down we all - even those of us who have up till now given her the benefit of the doubt - know why. She has done this now because she cannot let go of the idea that she may yet triumph in her borderline abusive relationship with parliament and the country. Failing that, she hopes to place the blame for a long extension on everyone except herself.

 

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 07:32:32 PM EST
Nor the Guardian -- where the piece was originally published.

(giving due credit where due credit is needed to duly credited to)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 07:35:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Back to one month ago.

Michel Barnier, mid-March, to the EP:

Mr Barnier said it was now "the responsibility of the UK" to suggest a way forward.

"They have to tell us what it is they want for their future relationship," he told the parliament.

"What will their choice be, what will be the line they will take? That is the question we need a clear answer to now. That is the question that has to be answered before a decision on a possible further extension.

"Why would we extend these discussions? The discussion on Article 50 is done and dusted. We have the Withdrawal Agreement. It is there.

"That is the question asked and we are waiting for an answer to that."

Margaritis Schinas, EC spokesperson, also quoted in the same piece:

"Should there be a UK reasoned request for an extension, the EU27 will stand ready to consider it and decide by unanimity.

The EU27 will decide, giving also priority to the need to ensure the functioning of the EU institutions and taking into account the reasons for and duration of any extension."

Schinas reportedly added:

Asked what constituted a "reasoned request" he said, "I will not venture into a typology on what a reasoned request would be. I would simply state the obvious that a reasoned request is a request based on a reason."
(We, Continentals, can be so literal...)

We are now in early April: what is the reason put forward by the UK? So that we can continue the bickering?

by Bernard on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 08:14:05 PM EST
We are now in early April: what is the reason put forward by the UK? So that we can continue the bickering?

Perhaps it's simply a matter of "showing them the instruments."  Farage and the rest of the loonies who will inevitably win the UK MEP elections will demonstrate to the European citizenry on a daily basis why, however bad the effects of Brexit might be, they still beat having to deal with the likes of these, thus easing the road for the EC to boot the UK sooner rather than later and on whatever terms become available.  As an aside, does the EP have a mechanism for censuring MEPs who insist on being thorough, unadulterated dicks?  If so, what would any penalties amount to?  I t would be SO much fun to see Farage et al. strapped to their seats with gags in their mouths.

by rifek on Sat Apr 13th, 2019 at 10:16:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole point of having a parliament is to have a place you can have the mad men pissing out rather than everyone pissing in to the institutions. They can be as mad as they like in there, providing exemplary exhibitions of what things would be like if they really got some power.

At the moment the EP is largely for show anyway, or let us be charitable, in an embryonic state, whereas the real power is wielded in the Commission and Council. Farage is a clown in a circus act who provides "reasonable people" with lots of opportunities to "tut tut" in an "adult, responsible" way and feel all morally superior about it.

He does more to discredit far right nationalism than "reasonable people" ever could. I think Macron is wrong to think the Presence of Brexiteers in the EP elections will embolden far right nationalists elsewhere: rather they will serve as a cautionary example.

Farage can even achieve the difficult feat of making Macron sound reasonable by comparison, when he isn't preening himself with delusions of grandeur, that is...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Apr 14th, 2019 at 10:29:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was always the myth on this side of the pond as well: Send them to Washington (or the statehouse) because we don't want them around home.  Reality has proved darker.  Even in stable times, the loonies in office inspire and enable the loonies at home in the basements and the back rooms.  In times of crisis (It happened here before the Civil War, and it's happening again.), the loonies become sufficiently inspired to start shooting, bombing, and generally taking to the streets like latter-day Brownshirts.  Yes', they're a minority.  So were the Nazis when they took over.  And they don't even have to take over.  They don't have to win to make everyone else lose.
by rifek on Mon Apr 15th, 2019 at 04:57:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Apr 14th, 2019 at 10:18:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On her visit to Dublin, Merkel went out of her way to say she would work "until the last hour" to try and ensure an orderly Brexit for the UK. She is not going to let a few months stand in the way of either an orderly Brexit or no Brexit at all.

Of course any extension requires unanimity and only one country could block it. At the moment France is the country making the most disgruntled noises, and the most likely to block an extension. But to what purpose? A No deal Brexit is in no ones interest, and it seems highly unlikely May's deal could be passed in a week.

A strong showing by Remain supporters in the EP elections could undermine the whole rationale for Brexit and puncture the Brexiteer's balloon. Of course a formal referendum or general election would be preferable but the former would be like asking May to commit political suicide, and the latter would take longer to organise.

But there is a process underway and some progress has been made, with May accepting the UK would have to hold, at a minimum, EP elections and accepting that the Withdrawal Agreement is now set in stone. Wait a little longer and a general election or formal confirmation vote may not be far behind.

If a No deal Brexit is to occur, it must be a UK choice. That would enable the EU to play really hard ball in any trade or other negotiations to come.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 5th, 2019 at 09:39:37 PM EST
Frank:
Of course any extension requires unanimity and only one country could block it. At the moment France is the country making the most disgruntled noises, and the most likely to block an extension.
Don't count on it: Macron is not going to blow the EU27 unity up, let alone the Franco-German axis at this crucial turning point. Of course, he's been playing bad cop to Merkel's good cop, but when push comes to shove, the priority is damage control, as Tusk put it clearly two years ago. And the French diplomats and EU commissioners have proven to be quite good team players (Exhibit A: Barnier, Michel).

The only thing to do, if no last minute change, is a hard cold assessment of the least damaging options for the EU27; and the EU Council knows full well there are only bad options: the challenge will be to decide the least bad...

As bad as a no-deal Brexit would be damaging to Ireland, it will be hard on the other countries as well: Germany exports a lot of cars to the UK, The Netherlands and Belgian Flanders also rely a lot on exports to the UK, with the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp literally facing Britain. France has quite some skin in that too: the main links between Britain and the Continent, the Dover-Calais link and Eurotunnel are all located in northern France and new customs controls would be a nightmare.

As much as it is desirable for everyone that the UK finally accepts the WA, the alternatives must also be considered: this is no disgruntlement, just risk assessment and contingency planning.

by Bernard on Sat Apr 6th, 2019 at 05:36:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France playing bad cop is more or less what I thought. France hates being taken for granted by the Brits. But the whole situation is still an accident waiting to happen. What if some loose cannon (Victor Orban?) or someone with a grudge just loses patience and decides to make a point?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 6th, 2019 at 09:15:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France hates being taken for granted by the Brits.

Well, who does? No one in Dublin either, right?

One of the main reasons behind Macron's impatience with Brexit delays and the push to get it over with, one way or another, is due to election posturing: Macron fears a protracted Brexit will favor the Euro-skeptic parties at the EP elections next month. The whole kicking of the can down the road is also, in Macron's thinking, delaying other projects for the EU that he's been so eagerly pushing.

Anyway, Macron is not alone in the EU and in the end, he had to follow the majority.

by Bernard on Sat Apr 13th, 2019 at 08:52:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What Orban and every other tinpot populist Fearless Leader in the EU realizes, at least on some level, is that the euro isn't really a sovereign currency for the EU but rather for Germany and so is controlled not from Brussels but from Berlin.  That means Germany gets to tell Hungary and everyone else out there in Exploitableland what stakes they need to bring to sit at the table.  The Germans have finally figured out it's easier, cheaper, and more reliable to invade a country with money than with panzers.  That said, it's still a bad idea to piss them off.  Perhaps even worse, because any resulting chaos will be internal to your country and the result of treaty terms.  "Who controls the money hose, controls the EU!"  [Apologies to Frank Herbert.]
by rifek on Sat Apr 13th, 2019 at 10:33:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, the euro core all has a stake and an interest in damage limitation. Though, if they conclude that the damage is least through extension, the urgency of the matter means it would create leverage for disgruntled, peripheral members to threaten a veto unless they get their way on other issues.
by fjallstrom on Sat Apr 6th, 2019 at 10:33:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Other matters like squeezing the Italian economy: EU says Italy's slower growth might trigger spending freeze
by fjallstrom on Sun Apr 7th, 2019 at 10:51:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The snake of German preference of austerity for others raises its head again. EU governance is so grand. (For 'others' read any but wealthy Germans.) And the proponents of such policies keep getting elected. It makes one despair of the prospects for representative government.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 01:31:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fintan O'Toole: The Flann O'Brien guide to understanding Brexit
In 2005, viewers around the world were sucked into a meandering TV drama called Lost, in which it was never quite clear what was going on.

Then the writer let it be known that, in the third episode of the second series, there would be an important clue. The clue was that one of the characters was seen reading Flann O'Brien's novel The Third Policeman, written in 1940, in which the reader begins to realise what the nameless narrator does not: that he is in hell.

This made sense of Lost. But I can now reveal that The Third Policeman is also the secret key to another long-running drama in which everyone is lost, no one quite knows what is going on and everything begins to look a lot like hell: Brexit.

Here is the history of Brexit in 12 passages from The Third Policeman.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 6th, 2019 at 02:20:33 PM EST


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Apr 6th, 2019 at 02:26:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU has been awesome in its Brexit negotiating strategy
On the way to one of those early Brexit summits, back when people thought "Brexit means Brexit" was a strategy, I chatted idly (at the baggage reclaim in Brussels airport, I seem to recall) to an Irish official, someone familiar with the workings of the EU and close to the decision-making processes of the Irish Government.

I wondered how the negotiations would proceed. He corrected me. "This isn't a negotiation. It's a declaration of terms."

Two other officials, both with long experience of how the European Union works, subsequently agreed with the assessment. All three said it with some resignation; all felt there was no upside for Ireland in what they could see then was the inevitable humiliation of the UK.

That humiliation has reached spectacular depths in recent weeks. As Fintan O'Toole has observed, if this farce was taking place in a former colony a few decades ago, chaps would feel justified in tut-tutting and I-told-you-so-ing to the effect that, well there you are, these foreign johnnies aren't fit to govern themselves.

The EU has been ruthless and ruthlessly effective. It's debatable - and history will decide - whether such a comprehensive steamrolling of the UK was wise; the verdict probably depends on how the process turns out.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 6th, 2019 at 02:36:08 PM EST
Now there's an insidious turn to the EU-Punisher plot.
< wipes tears >
Look here. From the beginning UK and EU were not playing the same game. EU is the board and properties. EU is the box that holds all rules, players, referees, and monies that move of the little pieces around the board; hence the title of the box, European Union.

Quitting any game is to remove oneself from play. To quit is to divest oneself of further participation in the scheme or preoccupation with its pieces, unless one player is Tory gov. In that case, "quitting" means snatching an empty box from the other players?

The object of this island diversion is obscure, though I think, the scheme has always been EU "reform" to Tory gov's real and imaginary losses to the union (the other one).

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Apr 6th, 2019 at 03:52:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 6th, 2019 at 09:18:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Somebody will be pointing back to this in a couple of years when Trump wins again against a fractured bunch of democrats.
by asdf on Sat Apr 6th, 2019 at 09:26:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The oligarchy in the US won't care. As with Hillary/Trump, the field will be whittled down to a choice of  tribally-labelled monsters, with any chance of real reform excluded - which is exactly as it should be, as far as the oligarchy is concerned.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 06:07:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We have a two party system. The goal is to get 51%. Fracturing a party doesn't accomplish anything.
by asdf on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 05:41:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fracturing a party doesn't accomplish anything
since the two factions combined to prevent formation of and competition from any additional "parties."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 06:08:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually it is largely because to get elected president, you need an absolute majority in the electoral college.
by asdf on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 06:59:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've explained here before, with gov links, how total electors are allocated to the states (by census) and how each party posts its caucus' set for purposes of FPTP, all or none, electors awarded.

If there were 9 or 50 party nominees for POTUS, there would be 9 or 50 sets of party electors.

Instead USA fosters a uniparty of two factions. (D) and (R) retard "third" or more party formation through control of states' boards of elections and secretaries of state. iirc, most of these functionaries are appointed.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 07:53:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, but there have been quite a few attempts at starting third parties. The problem comes in the electoral college where getting 34% (against the Ds getting 33% and the Rs getting 33%) is not enough to win. You need to get 51%.

Third parties have historically gotten less than 20% of the popular vote, and then because of the state-level manipulation you mention, they have ended up with an even smaller percentage in the electoral college.

The current movement to award state electoral college votes to the national popular vote winner will not change the 51% consideration.

by asdf on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 10:54:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, Bill Clinton won with 43% as Perot siphoned off more votes from R's than from D's and only a plurality was required for Clinton's election. This also occurred in 1912 when TR ran on the Bull Moose ticket and Wilson won.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 9th, 2019 at 01:35:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not about parties, it's about policies. D & R establishments are both pro-war, pro-pork, pro-Wall St, and pro-neoliberalism - essentially pro the right of the oligarchy to continue enclosing ever more of the world's wealth, for no particularly good reason.

The Rs are more pro-racism, and the Ds are more pro-identity-politics. But that's just red meat and tofu to distract the voters.

D&R fringes have more variety, with ideas that look suspiciously like social democracy on the D side, and like outright fascism on the R side.  But don't expect any serious change - or much hope - from either quarter.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Apr 9th, 2019 at 04:14:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be interesting to see what the democrats would do if they got solid control of the administration and congress. That has not been the situation since Reagan.
by asdf on Tue Apr 9th, 2019 at 05:13:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Split like the New York Senate?
by fjallstrom on Tue Apr 9th, 2019 at 06:09:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[INCONTINENCE ALERT]

"there is no co-operative solution available to the participants in this particular game. A peculiar version of the prisoner's dilemma."

nice try

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Apr 7th, 2019 at 04:51:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, even the French have (reluctantly) given up on fantasies of Imperial Glory. That leaves the UK and the USA - in 'the west'.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 01:35:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 07:16:21 PM EST
Technically speaking, I don't think that anybody has actually been asking her over the past few days what on earth has been happening with Brexit.
by asdf on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 07:27:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
She's trying to present herself as "the ordinary women in the street" chatting to the neighbours. Mind you, her neighbour, Philip Hammond, might have a few questions, and the economic actors he seeks to promote certainly do... But they aren't exactly your average market stall-holder in the street...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 at 08:57:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who has David Cameron been talking to?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Apr 9th, 2019 at 03:03:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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