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People playing games

by Frank Schnittger Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 12:30:37 PM EST

It was Karl Marx who observed that "history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce". Clearly we are reaching the farcical stages of the Brexit Greek tragedy.

Just yesterday the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, gave the official closing oration urging the House to support a government motion and saying it was in the national interest, and then voted against it. The Government's Chief Whip, Julian Smith, charged with whipping it's members to support the motion, abstained. Eight cabinet ministers voted against the government, and still did not resign or face dismissal.

A government motion seeking support for May's deal is defeated by 149 votes - the fourth largest margin of defeat for a government in history - and yet the government proposes to bring the same motion before the house again next week.  The House of Commons votes decisively against a "no deal" Brexit and for a delay in Brexit itself, and yet has no idea what it will do with that extra time.

Those voting in favour of a "no deal" Brexit claim they are doing so to put pressure on the EU in the negotiations, seemingly unaware that those negotiations are over. There hasn't been a serious negotiation since November and even all attempts at "clarifications" in accompanying documents are at an end.

The Attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, no doubt having examined the contents of his codpiece, seeks to add three paragraphs to his earlier, decisive, legal advice claiming that under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties the UK could cancel the Irish Backstop if "unforeseen circumstances arise" and drawing derision and scorn from experts in the field. How can you trust a country as a negotiating counterparty if they are proposing breaking a deal before the ink has even dried on their signature?

And yet all the while EU leaders are unfailingly courteous and helpful: would you like more time? How much more time would you like? Is there anything else we can help you with? Barnier greets Theresa May with a kiss and warm hug. Juncker doesn't even pinch her bottom. It must be bloody infuriating to be a Brexiteer at times. Just when you need a good bogeyman, he refuses to turn up.

But could it be a case of the spider welcoming a fly into its web?


For one thing, any extension beyond 22nd. May would require the UK to take part in European Parliament Elections - neatly undercutting the Brexiteer "the EU is undemocratic" mantra and providing Remainers with a platform to make their case and show their numbers on favourable terrain. Surprisingly both Nigel Farage, at the head of an imaginary party, and UKIP are planning to contest those elections thereby undercutting any "the elections are irrelevant" meme. Perhaps he just loves the EP and the attention it provides too much.

For another, what can be a more delicious irony than watching the British elite make a complete mess of everything having lectured the EU for 45 years on their superior pedigree, traditions, leadership and negotiating skills. Brexit has become a sitcom that could continue for years casting the EU as the adult in the room while the children in Britain squabbled. Brexit is the ideal distraction from the EU elite's own shortcomings.

So is it time for the people of Europe to call for an end to the charade, put Britain out of its misery, accept the reality of a no deal Brexit, refuse an A. 50 extension, and get back to the challenges of fixing the many real problems facing the EU and its citizens? No deal may not be in anyone's economic self-interest, but are we getting to the stage where it is in the collective political self interest of the EU27 to put an end to this farce? Indeed is that now the only remaining realistic political option available to the EU?

Strangely, I would argue, no, not now. The Brexit debacle can act as a cautionary tale for voters contemplating voting for eurosceptic parties throughout Europe. Having something to unite around is no bad thing for the morale and functioning of the institutions of Europe as well. But most crucially, the EU must avoid becoming labelled as the culprit if and when all of this goes horribly wrong. "We gave you every opportunity to change your minds" will be the refrain.

If anyone thinks the current negotiations have been difficult, you ain't seen nothin' yet. It will not be long after a "no deal" Brexit when the UK comes screaming for deals on everything from aviation to medicines, security cooperation to food standards - and all the while insisting on no immigration, no trading barriers, no contribution to the EU budget, and no recognition of the rights of EU citizens in Britain or of the jurisdiction of the ECJ. Responsibility for this mess will have to be clearly seen to be the UK's, and the UK's alone.

Brexiteers keep insisting that they want a "clean break" from the EU while maintaining all their current privileges. The Sunday Telegraph even headlined a poll claiming that 44% of Britons support a no-deal Brexit. Buried in the small print was the fact that the same respondents backed Remain over Leave by 46% to 39%.

So what the EU is actually doing is preparing for a long and difficult trade war. If a no deal Brexit actually happens, all hell will break loose, and it will be important to have maximum cohesion and unity on your side. Brexiteers have always mistaken EU "reasonableness" for weakness. Many are still expecting the EU to "cave" at the last minute, as if the negotiations were ongoing. But that reasonableness is actually a sign of confidence and strength. There has been no need for lies on the EU side.

Display:
This is my 500th. diary for the European Tribune. I think it is time I got a life...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 12:33:24 PM EST
Keep doing it and you will get life.

Oops, sorry, missed the "a".

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 01:03:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is this thing you call "a life"?
by rifek on Sat Mar 16th, 2019 at 03:35:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I get glimpses of it from time to time, mostly when playing with my grand children, seeing their joy at the simple things in life, or eating a meal with my extended family to the accompaniment of a good wine... Seeing people grow and develop their capabilities, achieve real things, change the world in ways I couldn't do. Or even when a leader acts without capriciousness, mendacity, megalomania, narcissism or plain stupidity. I don't ask for much...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 16th, 2019 at 10:28:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have shared much of your life with friends Frank 😊🍀

You have written many excellent diaries ... this one is one of the most pleasant ... ehh, well written pieces Frank. Thank you for sharing a piece of your mind ... as always a precise analysis.

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

by Oui on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 02:11:27 PM EST
Thanks Oui. You're not doing so badly yourself... and on topics I wouldn't be able to cover.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 05:10:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I went looking for the poll you reference, and I think I found it.. It's pretty interesting, with a number of questions on what people think is true, what they think will happen and what they feel about it.

And the numbers doesn't add up to any clear direction. Yes a majority of likely voters would vote remain, but with similar numbers a majority is against a second referendum. Perhaps a clue can be found in a question about how they feel about a no deal and the most common reply is relief that this part of Brexit is over.

Also in the question Sunday Telegraph highlights, no deal Brexit has less support (44-30, with 25% don't know), then "I just want it over with" (55-33, with 12% don't know) in the just preceding question.

To sum up, going by this poll, the respondents don't know what is going to happen, doesn't think the politicians or the parties care about them, think the government did a poor job negotiating, think the parliament has done a poor job, think the EU has been unfairly hard in the negotiations, and are so tired of the whole thing that they just want it over and done with. There is not much support for prolonging the negotiation process, though that question is asked in an awkward way.

by fjallstrom on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 02:34:06 PM EST
Thanks for this summary. I was just looking for a link to evidence my impression that the widespread feeling amongst Brexiteers is that the government should just "get on with it", that what they wanted (and voted for) was "a clean break", and that May's deal didn't provide that.

Many seem to think the Irish backstop is just an EU wheeze to "trap the UK in a custom's union" when it was May's idea to include all of the UK in the Backstop and that in this in fact provides the UK with an advantageous position no other third country has.

None seem to have any idea of how a "no deal" "clean break" Brexit could actually work - assuming they could continue to have all the existing benefits of Membership and that only vindictiveness on the EU's part would prevent this.

Ultimately, apparently, "common sense" would ensure that the UK ended up with all its current benefits and with none of the current costs. As the fifth largest economy in the World, the EU will have no choice but to do business with the UK on the UK's terms.

All evidence to the contrary is discounted or put down to EU unreasonableness or May incompetence. She will be the sacrificial lamb when all this goes belly up and few will want to recall that much of what they will be screaming for in the future was already included in the Withdrawal Agreement.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 03:15:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Einstein supposedly said ...

The definition of insanity is doing the same things, in the same ways, and expecting different results.

I can see why the EU wants to be the rational actor.  Why it wants to be calm and collected, giving the UK every opportunity to come to an agreement that will prevent future acrimony and the basis for future acrimony.  

That's simply not possible with a negotiating Other that (a) doesn't know what it wants and (b) will be mad as hell if it doesn't get it.

We all know what the UK wants: the rights and privileges of EU membership without the duties, responsibilities, and costs of membership.  Stated that baldly the silliness is immediate apparent.  So it cannot be stated.  Thus we get inanities like "Brexit is Brexit" and May's call for parliament to decide what Brexit means two weeks before the UK is scheduled to leave.  

The EU and UK can kick the can down the road.  But since they are on a round-about it's only going to end-up in the same places.

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

by ATinNM on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 03:46:37 PM EST
The EU and UK can kick the can down the road.  But since they are on a round-about it's only going to end-up in the same places.

It's likely to hit them in the head as they wheel round.

by rifek on Sat Mar 16th, 2019 at 04:04:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In these disturbing times I am grateful to have your perspectives bookmarked and available. Please continue.

Could I prevail on you for the candid amplification of one point? I'd be keenly interested to hear what further possibilities were in your mind when you wrote "if and when all of this goes horribly wrong."

by PavaniGanga on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 03:56:56 PM EST
Probably my most complete elaboration of what might happen if "this all goes horribly wrong" is contained in A Brexit doomsday scenario. It is dated Jan 3rd, 2017 but is still a pretty accurate description of how things may go wrong now.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 04:32:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you! Will reference now.
by PavaniGanga on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 05:02:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to me the UK government and parliament faces 2 fundamental strategic choices or options going forward.

  1. It can accept the referendum result as binding and absolute and either agree May's deal or proceed with a no Brexit deal. The economic fall-out will simply be an unavoidable consequence of a political imperative. So either May gets her deal approved, or she resigns and her successor (probably Boris Johnson) goes the no deal route. All negatives will be the fault of remoaners or the big, bad,inflexible, vindictive EU.

  2. It can accept there is no majority for Brexit in this Parliament and call either a general election or a second referendum. There is no guarantee a general election will resolve the issue and for many it would be a case of turkeys voting for Christmas. A second referendum would be hugely divisive and would probably have to include three options where voters would vote in order of their choice: May's Deal, No deal, and Remain. However at least it could provide a decisive result.

If the result is May's Deal or No deal, the people will have to live the the consequences of their vote and the political system is somewhat absolved. If the result is Remain, the legacy of Brexit would be a hugely more divided UK society with renewed calls for Irish re-unification and Scottish independence. But for most it would be an episode best soon forgotten. Many of the older Brexit voting population would be retiring or dying off resulting in diminishing political influence.

Either way, there would be some economic consequences, most severe in the case of No deal. But it seems, Brexit was never primarily about the overall economic performance of the UK in the first place. It was a struggle for relative power by those who felt it seeping away from them. Still hard to know who will ultimately win. My money is still, marginally, on some form of Brexit happening, most likely no deal.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 04:03:28 PM EST
The BBC is reporting ...

A series of Brexit votes have taken place in the Commons:

    On Tuesday, MPs rejected Mrs May's withdrawal agreement for a second time by 149 votes

    On Wednesday, MPs voted to reject the idea of the UK leaving the EU without a deal under any circumstances

    Then, on Thursday, the Commons voted by 413 to 202 to seek an extension to Article 50 - the legal mechanism by which the UK is due to leave the EU

However, as things stand, the law has not been changed, as Wednesday and Thursday's votes were not legally binding.

That means the UK is still set to leave on 29 March - with or without a deal.

[emphasis subtracted, emphasis added]

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

by ATinNM on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 05:38:17 PM EST
Yep a lot of faffing around or sturm und drang signifying not very much.  The ball is still in May's court. She's talking to the DUP trying to get them to support her deal. No idea what her plan B is, beyond looking for an A.50 extension for about 3 Months. The EU should insìst on this being conditional on the UK holding EP elections.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 06:37:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence today:

there will be a third meaningful vote on Tuesday, but with the added twist that Theresa May is explicitly using the European elections as a weapon - possibly her most potent one yet. A long delay including European elections would be a nightmare for the Tory eurosceptics, and a boon to the new Brexit party. It is also a nightmare for the EU. It falls into the "be careful what you wish for" category.

(...)

Donald Tusk (...) dangled a long extension with the ease of a man who will not have to clean up the mess. We suspect the members of the European Council will be a little less gung-ho about this when they consider the consequences of the UK participating in the elections. No matter what the election outcome will be, the UK will not dispatch MEPs who will support Manfred Weber for the Commission presidency. And do the other leaders really want Brexit to dominate their own election campaign? It would be a gift to all populist parties on the continent. And it will give us another five years of Nigel Farage in Brussels.

(...)

The threat of holding European elections is probably May's most important weapon in the days ahead.

The EU insists on EP elections as a condition for an extension; May tells the ultra-Brexiters it's my deal or EP elections; the ERGers finally come to heel on meaningless vote N° 4, or thereabouts. Meanwhile the DUP has been bought with lashings of lolly. May's deal scrapes through the all-sovereign parliament.

May's plan A, or B, or X. It might work.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 09:36:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My expectation has always been that the Brexiteers will gradually come on board as their prospects of a no deal Brexit fade. What I am less sure of is whether Tory Remainers will come on board when their prospects of a second referendum improve, and when all the attention (and bribes) is going the way of the Brexiteers. The final uncertainty is around how many Labour MPs might end up disobeying the party whip and supporting May's deal. My guess is, not many. May's attempts at bribing them have been a bit maladroit.

May will have to get a lot of disparate groups on Board to get the numbers she needs. So far there is little evidence her team have the skills and firepower required.

I'm not sure about the EP elections analysis above. Early reports suggest Farage and UKIP are keen to contest, but they may do rather less well than they expect. I don't see a lot of Remainer MEPs as a problem for Weber. I would have thought Brexit as an election issue would not be for the benefit of Eurosceptic parties elsewhere.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 10:14:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's all just a shadow puppet play at this point.  It will take major political whip-cracking just to get Parliament to vote for an extension, but the EU has said an extension request will need to be accompanied by an explanation of what the extension is for (and it would be contrary to the EU's interest to reverse on this point), and there ain't no way in Hooterville a majority of the Commons will agree on a reason for an extension.
by rifek on Sat Mar 16th, 2019 at 04:21:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurointelligence (permalink):
And it will give us another five years of Nigel Farage in Brussels.

A powerful deterrent if there ever was one.
by Bernard on Sat Mar 16th, 2019 at 11:35:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
needs a clown...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 16th, 2019 at 11:54:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nigel Farage leads pro-Brexit march to London
A small group of Brexiteers are marching (and taking the bus) to London to voice their outrage at British lawmakers. Nigel Farage is leading the group but has admitted he'll only cover a third of the trek.
by Bernard on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 12:53:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He was, of course, lying. He'd never get through 90 miles.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 08:13:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In fairness, he has remarkable stamina. He will keep on walking for as long as there is a camera on him, and if it takes 90 miles to do 90 interviews he will probably do it. The guy lives on the adrenalin of attention.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 11:48:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll willingly hold the camera.

Just to see how many rests, pint-stops, days off, sleep-ins and calls for medical attention he totalises before dropping dead from exhaustion.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Mon Mar 18th, 2019 at 07:09:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mussolini, of course, saw well to not waste his energy during the March on Rome in 1922. He joined his goons only on the very last leg. It might have been his bone spurs.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 18th, 2019 at 10:50:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course that has been Farage's dastardly plan all along - make them hate him so much they will give him the Brexit he so dearly wants... just to get rid of him. He should be sentenced to sit in the European Parliament (without speaking rights) forever.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 18th, 2019 at 12:53:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if she has a plan B, or just assumes that if she is stubborn enough, things will go her way. Which is an excellent way of getting no deal Brexit by accident (because it is the default setting).
by fjallstrom on Sat Mar 16th, 2019 at 12:18:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exports hit record €13.7bn in January as reliance on UK declines
The value of Irish goods exports hit a record €13.7 billion in January while the UK accounted for less than 10 per cent of Irish exports for the first time, the latest trade figures show.

The record performance comes amid signs of a global slowdown in trade, threats from Brexit and faltering US-China trade relations.

The figures show seasonally adjusted goods exports grew by 6 per cent to €13.7 billion in January while imports fell by 25 per cent to €6.5 billion. This resulted in a record trade surplus of €7.2 billion, 72 per cent up on the previous month.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 08:03:35 PM EST
In the beginning it may be a bigger hassle to ship it across the ocean to France or Belgium or China or Russia or India or wherever in containers than across the Irish sea in trucks.  Ultimately, tho', Ireland has food to sell and the rest of the world wants to eat so after a bit of unsettled times things will settle down.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 10:32:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As we discussed last summer.
by Bernard on Sat Mar 16th, 2019 at 11:37:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And a good discussion it was too. Since then a Cork Santander ferry route has open up (initially intended to be summer only) and now it has been extended to an all year service.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 16th, 2019 at 12:12:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are the no-deal economic realities starting to worry the DUP?

There was a feeling in Dublin that the tariff regime outlined by the UK government in the event of a no-deal Brexit was designed, in part at least, to put pressure on the Government to give some ground on the backstop. Exports in key sectors such as beef would be in the firing line. However we can expect that the announcement will also have put pressure on the DUP, whose business supporters will surely have been pointing out the reality of what was announced.

Many businesses in the North had supported the backstop plan to which the DUP has been so stridently opposed. For them it would have offered clear access to the UK and EU markets, albeit with the price of some additional bureaucracy - particularly on goods entering from Britain - and a willingness to operate under rules set in Brussels.

In contrast, the plan outlined for the North by the UK government after a no-deal Brexit would be hugely disadvantageous for businesses in Northern Ireland. By allowing goods tariff-free through the Border, it would open them to competition, while they would face tariffs selling into the EU. Checks crossing the Irish Sea would also be necessary. It seems like an unworkable mess designed purely to avoid Border checks - and to put pressure on the Irish Government and the EU to outline what they would do.

But it will also have turned up the heat under the DUP. Because if you were an owner of a small business or a farmer in the North you would rightly be worried and very annoyed about how this is going.

Coincidentally - or not - the DUP are now in talks with the UK government to see if a way can be found for them to support the withdrawal agreement, when it comes back to the Commons next week. It is not clear what changes are possible in the backstop plan, given that the EU side has said there will be no more talking. But the economic realities must surely be intruding in the minds of the DUP, as they try to balance this against their political red lines.




Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 09:16:28 PM EST
Even if the DUP comes aboard May needs all 75 Conservative No votes -- and that isn't very likely.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 10:36:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK's attitude toward the EU in these negotiations reminds me of an old story.  The river was rising and threatening to flood a whole region, including the house of a certain old farmer.  Deputy sheriff drove his truck out to the old farmer's place to find him on his porch sitting in his rocking chair.  Deputy said, "Get in the truck, I'll get you out of here."  Old farmer replied, "No no, the Lord will provide," so the deputy drove off.  Well the river rose, flooded out the ground floor of the old farmer's house, and he had to go upstairs.  Deputy came by in a boat and said, "Come on, get in the boat, and I'll get you out of here."  Old farmer replied, "No no, the Lord will provide," so the deputy motored off.  River rose more, and the old farmer had to climb up on his roof.  Deputy flew over in a helicopter and yelled, "I'll toss down a ladder, you climb up, I'll fly you out."  Old farmer replied, "No no, the Lord will provide," and the deputy flew off.  The river kept rising, and the old farmer drowned.  He went to Heaven and came before God, and he asked, "Lord, why didn't you save me?"  God thundered, "Save you!  I sent a truck, I sent a boat, I sent a helicopter...."
by rifek on Sat Mar 16th, 2019 at 03:59:37 AM EST
the UK comes screaming for deals on everything from aviation to medicines, security cooperation to food standards - and all the while insisting on no immigration, no trading barriers, no contribution to the EU budget, and no recognition of the rights of EU citizens in Britain or of the jurisdiction of the ECJ
This describes what I call 'Switzerland minus' and expect to be the future relationship with or without a deal.

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 Mar 16th, 2019 at 05:20:25 PM EST
Question 1, has Bercow scheduled a third vote on May's plan yet? I thought there was some argument about government bullying parliament by re-submitting a failed motion over and over again.

Question 2, what EU countries are most likely to veto an extension? The idea of actually getting all 27 of them on board seems like a stretch.

by asdf on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 02:26:45 AM EST
Q1. Good question. Last time around May could claim that her deal had been "improved" by the added clarifications in accompanying documents. This time around, there hasn't even been the pretence of further discussions with EU.

Q2. The truly remarkable thing is the degree to which they have been speaking with one voice until now, despite major differences on other issues. Some of this may be in solidarity with Ireland, a small member with most skin in the game, and a determination that no continuing member will be thrown under a bus - it could be them next time!

I'm inclined to give Varadker some credit for this, although others may have more knowledge/better perspective on this. He loves schmoozing at summits, and seems to have good relations with everyone (including Orban). Being a member of the dominant EPP helps (something the Conservatives never realized).

The EU's patience may not be limitless, but so far it may be a case of "never interrupt your enemy while he is busy making a mistake" (Napoleon). Some may be taking some vicarious schadenfreude at the UK's discomfort, but I am expecting a severe reaction if the UK does, eventually, go the no deal route.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 10:56:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Barnier's team also worked in close coordination with the EU institutions, with regular briefings & reports to the EC, the Council and the EP. They quickly brought up the Irish border as one of the main issues (Varadker helped too), so that people in Brussels became more familiar with the issue than those in Westminster. It definitely helped cementing a common position for the EU27.

Also, it has to be said, the British political class did its absolute best to antagonize just about everyone in Europe, even in the countries that used to be considered as closest to the UK's position, like Sweden or the Netherlands. I mean, when even Mark Rutte is "visibly irritated" while comparing your political posturing to the Monty Python, you know you're in real deep.

Dutch PM compares Theresa May to Monty Python limbless knight

Mark Rutte, who appeared visibly irritated last week at the failure of MPs to pass the Brexit deal, admitted feeling "angry" at the impasse in Westminster.

He said his frustration was focused on the posturing of those seeking to make party political points during a major national crisis but praised May's "incredible" resilience in the face of repeated knock-backs in the House of Commons.

"Look, I have every respect for Theresa May," Rutte said in an interview with the Dutch broadcaster WNL on Sunday. "She reminds me occasionally of that character from Monty Python where all the arms and legs are cut off but he then tells the opponent: `Let's call it a draw.' She's incredible. She goes on and on. At the same time, I do not blame her, but British politics."

by Bernard on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 08:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, the EU side has been doing a negotiation process, while the UK has not. As far as I can tell, the UK hasn't worked out positions (not to be confused with red lines), so there has hardly been any situations where the UK could have tested the EU countries' resolve by offering compromises where on question A they offer to meet halfway if they get this and that on B and C. And then different countries and political groups might value A, B and C differently.

You know, actual negotiations, instead of demanding unicorns and that the EU breeds them.

by fjallstrom on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 11:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bercow is under impossible pressure.

On the one hand a third vote is against all Parliamentary tradition, as codified in Erskine May. On the other hand the Tories will send over their media kneecapping squad if he doesn't.

He doesn't seem to have made up his mind yet.

The news for May keeps getting better and better. Former ally Matthew Parris has said in a Spiegel interview that almost everyone in the party now thinks that May - hired as a safe pair of hands - is actually mean, rude, cruel, and stupid.

Which actually makes her a good representative for a fair proportion of voters.

But not all, and certainly not a majority.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 11:05:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but probably a majority of conservative voters. As for a majority of Conservative party members (average age 70+), even Boris and Rees-Mogg may be a bit on the liberal side. Certainly they won't vote for any alternative leader to the left of Boris, or possibly Gove, at a stretch. Hammond or Rudd need not apply, even if they could get a nomination from the parliamentary party.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 04:46:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Conservatives only use tradition as an excuse to get what they want.  They ignore it when it suits them.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 07:52:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tradition is Conservatives getting what they want - or the accumulation of conservative victories over time.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 08:25:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm no expert, but should I find myself in a negotiation where the other party's lawyer is repeatedly heard to advise his client that he can and should sue to nullify major elements of the contract as soon as it is signed, I don't think it would be a good idea to sign the contract. Beyond that, might one wonder if it is a violation of some principle of contract law to enter into an agreement one has no intention of complying with? Was Cox an attorney of any note, or is he just a bag of wind?
by Andhakari on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 10:05:59 AM EST
I know someone (a Brexiteer) who knew Cox professionally, and held him in high regard. However "bag of wind" is probably a fair description of your average Queen's Counsel, with the added proviso that most of them are also public school toffs, or, worse still, wannabe public school toffs.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 10:44:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Beyond that, might one wonder if it is a violation of some principle of contract law to enter into an agreement one has no intention of complying with?

Perhaps in Civil Law countries, but in Common Law countries, not really.  The evidence indicates that Our Glorious Leader, the Cheeto in Chief, has never entered into a contract he intended to comply with.

by rifek on Sat Apr 13th, 2019 at 03:43:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect that the brexiters whole plan is about escaping the eurosphere and swapping it for the anglosphere because they hate taking "rules" from johnny foreigner; the sort of people they used to own (in Ireland), rescue (France) or beat in wars (germany). In other words, being a member of the EU is a constant humiliation by being submissive to people brexiters feel they should more naturally be ruling.

They feel more comfortable with the anglosphere which, while although it will mean being rule takers from the USA, they as a class have been acclimated to such things since WWII and the ongoing membership of NATO. Being told what to do by Washington is the natural order of things. And, from the consverative brexiter view their especially parasitic, rentier capitalism is most acceptable to people whose entire wealth has been built of parasitism and ent-seeking.

And they only speak english, which means they can't be plotting behind your back in dastardly tongues

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 08:50:56 PM EST
The Sun, 18th March 2019, 1:01 pm
Theresa May set to SCRAP third vote on her deal after Boris rails against it - opening door for long Brexit delay
The Brexiteer said the 'diet of capitulation' was set to continue and Britain faces even greater humiliation to come

The Sun, 19th March 2019, 12:19 am
Shameless Speaker John Bercow destroys Brexit deal hopes with his most destructive abuse of power yet

With our entire future is in the balance and only one deal on the table, Mrs May is having to fight a Remain majority AND a bent referee
by asdf on Tue Mar 19th, 2019 at 03:11:11 AM EST
And the only thing May can do is waddle on over to the continent and beg an extension putting the Brexit deal and the long term fortune of the UK totally in control of the EU.

Which does have amusement value, considering.

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

by ATinNM on Tue Mar 19th, 2019 at 03:07:56 PM EST
"You can check out, but you can never leave"

Hoist, petard, etc.

'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 Tue Mar 19th, 2019 at 11:47:47 PM EST
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