Cui bono, Brexit?

I understand Brexit even less now. Theresa May has offered to throw herself on her political sword to get her desired deal.

What a grotesque Faustian pact they have concocted. In the early evening, Theresa May walked into a committee room in parliament and indicated to her parliamentary party that she would quit if they backed her deal. Journalists and MPs reacted with bewildering innocence to all this. The widespread presumption – laughable when you see it written down in black and white – was that it was true. In fact, it seemed perfectly in line with her usual tactic of saying whatever gets her through the day, then dealing with the consequences of it further down the line. One thing you can always rely on with May is that if there is wriggle room, she will make good use of it. And there was plenty of wriggle room in the vague assurances she offered the parliamentary Conservative party this evening.

But put that to one side. Let’s say it is true. Consider for a moment how disreputable this is. Any deal which requires the resignation of its author in order to get is passed is by default not worth supporting. And any political culture which would require the author of a deal to step down in order for MPs to back it is plainly in a state of advanced decay.

The American political mess I can understand, even if I hate it. Some rich, corrupt parasites have figured out that they can tap into the deep vein of American racism to get the political power to loot the country to their benefit — they’ve been poisoning the black children of Flint, Michigan while lowering their own taxes. I get it. If I had no moral compass and lacked all empathy, I could imagine sucking the country dry for my own profit as a net gain.

But what are the Brexit crusaders going to gain? I’m sure someone can profit from pure economic chaos, as an opportunity to pick up the broken shards of people’s lives and put them in the bank, but it can’t be that simple, can it? If someone were approaching my car with a sledgehammer intending to smash it into scrap, I wouldn’t ask my wife to vote with me on allowing it.

Is it just weird English pride? Co-existing with other partner nations might rankle a population that still remembers being the ruler of a vast empire. Is that it? As American politicians tap into the reliable resource of our racism, are British politicians relying on the sentiment of “Rule, Britannia! rule the waves: Britons never will be slaves”?

I hope it’s not the charisma of the Brexit leadership. Nigel Farage always seems like a dippy used car salesman; Boris Johnson is a clown; Jacob Rees-Mogg…oh, god. The Etonian pomposity. I once listened to him on the internet and felt a rising need to stand on a table and sing the Marseillaise. Another question: how do the British manage to listen to that pretentious snob without rising up in revolution? I wouldn’t be able to do it.

I guess the plan here is to answer my questions by simply plunging ahead and doing the experiment: ripping the country out of the European union, and then sifting through the wreckage to see who, if anyone, profited. One has to admire their dedication to empiricism, at least.


  1. mmfwmc says

    The obvious people trying to benefit are the hard-brexit tories who are all rich and want to live in a deregulated tax haven where they can treat the rest of us like serfs.

    The scary one is that there are members of the Labour party who think this way. The leader of the Labour party is a genuine Marxist – I don’t mean the way that the U.S. accuses anyone who supports not murdering sick people is a Marxist, I mean someone who reads Marx and thinks it’s great. He seems to be someone who believes that the best thing that can happen is a messy Tory brexit that leaves the country in a shambles and leads to 20 years of Labour rule. The problem is that – politics aside – he is disastrously bad at leading. Theresa May is the worst PM in my lifetime, and he has lower approval ratings than her. A competent leader would be wiping the floor with her, even if they were a full blown Marxist.

    The people’s vote initiative was voted down by a margin of 27. Coincidentally, 27 Labour MP’s voted against it, with another 18 abstaining.

  2. says

    I’ve seen it pointed out several times that Rees Mogg’s father wrote a book all about profiting from economic chaos (providing you are already rich, of course). Wee Smogg himself may already have profited by as much as £7 million, just from the churn caused by the build up to any exit.

    It’s all about the money.

    Which is why I’m particularly angry at the Lexiteers who support Brexit, despite it being so transparently by and for the sort of avaricious capitalists they claim to despise.

  3. ajbjasus says

    I think the thing which is disconcerting you is your notion that somewhere there is a cunning plan whereby somebody has worked out how they will benefit from this.

    The lack of a cunning plan starts with the idiotic reason why referendum was offered, which was in fact an expedient way for David Cameron to attempt to deal with a rift in the conservative party, and which he thought would never actually be carried out, as he thought he would be in a LibDem coalition, who would veto it.

    What we are now doing is trying to find a compromise which will satisfy factions with diametrically opposite views, which is essentially impossible. Chuck in the fact that Johnson, Corbyn etc are trying to expoit the situation for their own political gain and you have a recipe for the chaos we see unfolding.

  4. F.O. says

    Pretty much what mmfwmc said: rich people want to escape EU regulations, poor people want to feel like they are better than someone else.
    The EU has a lot of problem, but there seems to be a genuine attempt at controlling corruption, tax evasion and white collar crime in general, as well as pushing environmental and safety regulations.

    The UK has special exemptions from some of these, particularly regarding the banking sector; Brexit might actually allow the EU to close some loopholes.

  5. blf says

    I once listened to [Jacob Rees-Mogg] on the internet and felt a rising need to stand on a table and sing the Marseillaise.

    Hum… that’s perhaps the best reason yet to learn the damn thing. I live in France but don’t know it, despite hearing the local pub owner sinking† it with great gusto every time the French rugby team plays. Which suggests a bar owner poopyhead duo. However, I suppose such a duo would frighten even the mlldly deranged penguin.

      † I meant singing, of course, but the Tpyos offering is so amusing — in part because of its accuracy — I left it in.

  6. nomadiq says

    This might be a little harder to see and understand when you are not used to the Westminster system of government. May’s position of party leader (and hence the prime ministership) is weak. She knows she will be booted soon anyway. The conservatives are in in disarray and if that continues they would likely lose the next election. For some odd reason, a way to avoid that is to fall on ones own sword. So there are other things to consider apart from Brexit. May is a conservative. She doesn’t want those Labour (commies in her mind) to ascend to power. She wants Brexit – she is a Brexitter – and she wants the Tory party to persist. She knows her own power ambition has hit a brick wall and there is no constitutional rule that says she has ‘x’ number of years before anyone decides her fate. They could roll her as leader by the end of the day.

  7. Mark Baker says

    For the ordinary brexit voter, I think it is mainly a British pride issue. It doesn’t help that they see the EU as something external dictating a large proportion of laws to us, rather than something we are an important part of collectively deciding on actually quite a small proportion of our regulations. But even if they had a more realistic view on what the EU is they feel that Britain is special and should stand alone. Anti-immigrant views (which is not quite the same as racism) play a large part but I think the British exceptionalism is more important.

    But that wasn’t really the question you asked, was it? Of the MPs who support Brexit, I’d say many of them feel the same way: many of them really do appear to be not all that bright. Other I suspect just pretend to believe that because they see it as the best way to get re-elected.

    As for who really benefits, that would be the likes of Rees-Mogg, who as mmfwmc says want to live in a deregulated tax haven. Also American companies who want a free trade agreement so they can destroy the NHS, or export poor quality American food. And the Russians who want to destabilise any western democracies.

  8. Dunc says

    But what are the Brexit crusaders going to gain?

    The previous commenters are broadly correct – it’s about dismantling EU social and environmental protections, lowering taxes, privatising public services, and so on. The interesting wrinkle is that it was probably never actually intended to come to this – the real plan was to use the threat of Brexit to try and force the EU in a more neo-liberal direction. It just got out of control. Remember how Boris looked like he’d just been diagnosed with cancer of the puppy when it turned out he’d “won”?

    There is a very long and detailed look at the various lobbying firms, think-tanks, and individuals behind the whole sorry mess here: Brexit was the result of a corporate lobbying campaign, which backfired.

    It’s now gone even more horribly wrong, since it’s turned out that nobody can come up with a way to implement it that can actually get through Parliament… That definitely wasn’t part of anybody’s plan. Well, almost definitely anyway…

  9. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The European Union was serving as an impediment in the race to the bottom.
    As long as one laborer is paid a living wage;
    As long as one environmental regulation impedes the full plunder of the planet;
    As long as anyone has any privacy or dignity;
    Then no rich, heartless son of a bitch is truly free!

  10. Dunc says

    That [no-deal] definitely wasn’t part of anybody’s plan.

    “That” did not mean “no deal”. “No deal” isn’t acceptable to Parliament either.

  11. kingoftown says

    This is a problem of her own making. When she lost her majority at the last election she should have realised this was an indictment of her extreme form of brexit and tried to work with labour to get a softer version. Instead she tried to court the hard right of her party and the DUP, and failed.
    We seem to be stuck now with no consensus in parliament for any form of brexit or for remain. What will happen now is anyone’s guess.

  12. HappyHead says

    Wasn’t Farage the one they interviewed the day after the Brexit vote, and when asked what his plan was, he got angry and said “Plan? We don’t have a plan, THEY (points at opposition) WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE A PLAN!” – much like Trump, they didn’t want to win, they wanted to use the racists and gain political capital by losing. And they screwed it up by underestimating just how many racists they were able to rile up with their bullshit.

  13. blf says

    It’s nearly essential — well, suggested — to read John Crace’s politics sketch daily column in the Grauniad. Some excerpts from yesterday, Brexit Westminster is like the Crystal Maze on crystal meth:

    The only person missing was Prince Edward. Brexit has now turned Westminster into the Crystal Maze on crystal meth. A looking-glass world where any truth has a half-life measured in milliseconds, where normal rules no longer apply and every MP is desperate to play the joker. The best the rest of us can hope for is to wake up to find we had been dropped into the ninth series of Dallas and that the last few years have just been a bad dream. Imagine how good that would feel.

    This was the day when the pupils chose to put their own school in special measures because they had lost faith in their teachers. When parliament sought to take back control of parliament. Precisely the form of taking back control the government had always insisted the country didn’t have in mind when it had voted to take back control. But then the government now barely has control over its bowels as everything it touches turns to shit. There is no area of public life it hasn’t found a way to do badly.


    Now that even [PM Theresa May — Lino — leader in name only (also hard to nail down)] seems to have realised she has reached the endgame of her time in office, she appeared almost demob happy, in as much as someone whose automated language skills barely extend to meaningful sentences can do. She still insisted she had no intention of listening to anyone but herself, but made no effort to deny her sell-by date was near. The last sign of artificial intelligence in a Maybot is an awareness of inbuilt obsolescence.

    The school’s new timetable didn’t get off to the most promising of starts. […] Jacob Rees-Mogg merely used the time to debate the merits of different public schools. The UK’s biggest constitutional crisis reduced to a spat between Eton and Winchester over Tudor history. Beyond pathos.

    The Grand Wizard of Mogg has always resembled a boy in a suit. Now he’s just a homunculus trapped inside a boy’s body, mewling at the moon to distract everyone from his own sense of entitled inadequacy and profound misjudgment, and unable to even own that it was partly down to him that the government had temporarily lost control of Commons’ business. If nanny had been around, he’d have been sent to the naughty step. For life.

    […] There was still time for another unnecessary act of self-harm as [lino] whipped her party to vote down the business of the house that had been agreed only two days previously. She punched the air as she crashed to yet another defeat. Losing has become an obsessive compulsive disorder. Failure is her defining feature, the only thing at which she indisputably excels. With any luck, she’d lose again providing John Bercow didn’t stop her from bringing the meaningful vote for a third time and the Democratic [sic] Unionist party didn’t do something stupid like saying it would vote for her deal after all.

    But Lino needed back-up, a get-out clause. So she headed off to the 1922 Committee to deliver the coup de grace, the sacrificial self-immolation. She knew she was useless, she told the Tory backbenchers. She had always been hopeless. And now was the time for everyone to acknowledge they too thought she was rubbish by getting behind her deal that they all thought was terrible. If they did that, she’d promise to resign sometime over the summer. She wasn’t entirely clear on dates, but then she’s seldom clear on anything. All she cared about was that she’d created the ultimate lose-lose situation, both for herself and the country. She would go down in history as the worst ever prime minister. So far. The ideal outcome.

    Boris Johnson tried to look sombre as he left the 1922 Committee but he couldn’t conceal a smirk. Everything was working out just fine. Who cared if the public reckoned him to be a man of no principles? He’d never pretended to be anything but a self-interested careerist. Brexit had only ever been a means to an end. […]

    What followed was yet more clusterfuckery. The ERG split, the splitters split from the splitters and then the hardcore Spartans threatened to bulldoze parliament in the name of democracy. Just before 9pm the shit really hit the fan when the DUP found there was no deal to which they could say yes. No retreat, baby, no surrender. Lino’s deal was as good as dead and she’d made the ultimate futile gesture.

    As so often we ended up by knowing less than when we had started. Friday had been cleared for a third meaningful vote but no one knew if it would now even take place. Just how much more of a punishment beating was Lino willing to take. She couldn’t even organise her own departure. […]

    The quantum Brexit had become ever more relative. And parliament was still left wondering quite what it had taken back control of as it had contrived to vote against everything. Bollocks to everything. The will of the people was to remain indefinitely in a tenth circle of hell. […]

    One of rhe readers observed “Brexit is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, guarded by the Grand Wizards mounted on their unicorns.” Others put it, as have commentators here, the pro-leaving eejits seem to have visions of a loonyberationisque “Singapore on the Thames” low-tax / -regulation anti-foreigner authoritarian slave economy.

  14. blf says

    That [no-deal] definitely wasn’t part of anybody’s plan.

    “That” did not mean “no deal”. “No deal” isn’t acceptable to Parliament either.

    It’s the default. Parliament has to vote for something else, or else it’s a no-deal. I am fully aware they have voted against no-deal, but that doesn’t magically mean it won’t happen if nothing else is passed.

    I read the “that” as referring to Parliament not passing anything. But not passing anything means a no-deal crash-out, very probably on April 12th.

  15. says

    @1 mmfwmc

    Corbyn is not a Marxist. He does say that Marx was a great economist and we have something to learn from him but he rejects a number of areas of Marxist thinking. He is also in the Labour Party and they are far from Marxist.

    He is also giving support to both the customs union and the second referendum ideas in the Brexit debacle. The only reason those votes were so close was because of his support. He does have a history of not supporting the EU but it was for very progressive reasons. He did not like the central bank having authority to veto economic reforms that would help the poor in the UK. He is also very critical of the imposition of austerity measure in Greece and elsewhere by the body. He does realize that Brexit is a bad idea for other reasons and campaigned against it in spite of his EU reservations.

    As for being a bad leader that is ridiculous. Theresa May lost her majority and nearly her government because of an unexpected surge in Labour support during the last election, the first with Corbyn as leader.

    He seems to me to be the real deal of a progressive leader and I get tired of centrist lefties trying to undermine a largely very successful leftist leader who could be elected.

  16. raven says

    I don’t quite understand Brexit either.
    There doesn’t seem to be anything to understand anyway.

    Looks like the plan is…No Plan at all!!!
    1. The UK is just going to suddenly leave the EU and then make it up as they go along.
    .2. Which means the world and the UK won’t know how it works for 5 or 10 years.

    .3. The USA should be able to relate to that.
    We don’t have any plans for our future either, anyway.
    The current Trump regime are simply nihilistic sadists who are destroying anything they can think of.

  17. says

    nomadiq is not quite right. May is not a Brexiteer. She voted to Remain, but decided to ignore her own opinion in the face of the referendum result.

    Also, her position as leader of the Conservative party is completely untouchable for another eight months or so, as she defeated a no confidence motion in December 2018. And it’s unlikely that a General Election could be called without her agreement. So she’s ‘safe’ as Prime Minister for the rest of this year, really.

    But I completely agree that

  18. ajbjasus says

    #6 I recall that May was remainer – she picked up the mess that Cameron left behind when he cut and ran. She’s made an unholy mess of it, but she is trying to deliver on something she was opposed to.

  19. says

    15: I think the customs union idea is really the best thing for the brit’s relationship with the EU: the way the EU being run does not fill me with confidence for it’s long term viability, with that austerity nonsense, but it’s economic suicide to cut off from it; it allows either cleaner divorce if the thing craters or reintegration if it pulls it’s head out of it’s ass.

  20. kingoftown says

    @Paul Durrant

    I wouldn’t really say Theresa May was a remainer. Like Corbyn (though for different reasons) she claimed to support remain during the referendum but campaigned very weakly. She is clearly very strongly anti immigration given her opposition to remaining in the customs union.

  21. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    thank you for letting me write my misconceptions of this whole mess:
    – I remember when the EU first formed and Britain rejected common currency, the Euro, and maintained the £ (pound) as their form of currency locally.
    – I also loved the Monty Python skit, not related, about wanting to tax all foreigners living abroad to cancel their national debt.
    – Also appears they have mostly resisted the metric system as too European. Some of there units are metric while roads are still measured in miles. Speed limits are in kph, though, A heady mix of units there.
    -Seems the British have continuously struggled too remain not-Europe, with only the narrow Chunnel connecting it to the mainland.
    -Seems to me with bias, that this may be part of their Viking heritage. Vikings settled the island as a separate continent to escape the miasma of Europe.

    I don’t know anything.
    Thank you for reading

  22. auraboy says

    It’s always leading back to Russia. Destabilising the E.U. is a major geopolitical aim of the Russian government. You only have to look at how Farage makes his money: he shows up in the E.U. parliament, spouts some sound bites that have ZERO to do with what is being discussed, has it filmed and then RT’s YouTube arm monetises it.

  23. kingoftown says

    @slithey tove

    You’re forgetting about the border with ROI. Don’t worry though, most british people forget Northern Ireland (or even Ireland as a whole) exists.

    Also our speed limits are in miles per hour. It’s one of the fun ways you can tell you’re in the british occupied part of this island, along with the lack of irish language signage.

  24. Jazzlet says

    slithy tove
    Speed limits are gnerally not in kph, they are in mph on road signs and in the highway code. Although you will see lorries and coaches with kph limit roundels on as those are set Europe wide.

    The Brexit mess is down to the rich boys making money from the chaos, with the lond term aim of less regulation across the board and privatisation of anything that hasn’t already been sold, no one else is united enough to stop them even though they can see the damage they are causing.

  25. says

    Well, as others have pointed out, there are plenty of factors involved but let’s not discount that racism was one of the selling points in the form of anti-immigrant sentiments. I’ve talked to acquaintances of mine who were pro-Brexit and fear of immigration was definitely a driving factor in their support.

  26. Dunc says

    It’s always leading back to Russia.

    Actually, if you read the link I provided at #8, you’ll see that a lot of it leads back to US corporate lobbyists.

  27. ajbjasus says

    I’m not sure I buy this cunning plan by the rich boys to make money out of the chaos. The CBI and IOD have come out strongly in favour of an orderly and softer deal than the “we want out even without a deal” mob

    PS I refuse to use the term Brexiteer, it sounds like some jolly swashbuckling type which most certainly they are not.

  28. blf says

    the way the EU being run does not fill me with confidence for it’s long term viability

    And the NKofE† is being operated in a “better” manner?
    Threatening the Good Friday Agreement fills you with confidence for the future?

    The Irish, and also ex-pats on the continent, will have something to say on all that, as well as (and more vehemently) on the NKofE backstabbing them.

      † N.Korea of Europe — a nuclear-armed private estate run by and for a small group of paranoid authoritarians who feast, boast, lie continuously, and are both unable and unwilling to care about other people.

  29. Dunc says

    I’m not sure I buy this cunning plan by the rich boys to make money out of the chaos. The CBI and IOD have come out strongly in favour of an orderly and softer deal than the “we want out even without a deal” mob

    That’s because those people actually run businesses. The rich boys are making money on currency speculation. Different thing entirely.

  30. ajbjasus says

    That’s because those people actually run businesses. The rich boys are making money on currency speculation. Different thing entirely.

    Ahh – those rich boys. Maybe – but still not convinced they have enough influence. The parasites might benefit as a consequence of the chaos, though.

  31. lucifersbike says

    @mmfwmc and @anna. With respect, I don’t think Corbyn is a Marxist or a successful progressive politician, or even very progressive. He may have read Marx, but I doubt he understood much. His success as a politician is doubtful – in personal terms he managed to get himself elected as leader of the Labour Party and to increase Labour’s share of the vote in 2017 (but they still lost, and it seems Labour collected many disaffected Lib Dem voters) – but what has he ever achieved for others? He went from a minor private school to a poly, dropped out and worked as a Trade Union functionary, became a local councillor, and then an MP. This is a familiar career path in the Labour Party. He spent 30-odd years as a backbench MP who was chiefly noted for voting against his own party. He did this so often that he was sometimes on the right side – as in the case of the Iraq War. But millions of other people were against that, too. Compared to the members of the Atlee government or of the first two Wilson governments, Corbyn has achieved nothing. Last Saturday more than a million people (including my Labour MP) marched through London to demand a People’s Vote on Brexit. Corbyn went to Morecambe, a seaside town 250 miles from Westminster, to campaign for the local council elections.

  32. Jazzlet says

    Ahh – those rich boys. Maybe – but still not convinced they have enough influence. The parasites might benefit as a consequence of the chaos, though.

    Those rich boys are the ones in Parliament, like Rees-Mogg and Johnson, so yes they are directly responsible for the whole mess. It was that wing of the Tory party that led Cameron to promise the referendum in the first place and that wing that have been causing May all the problems ever since. Don’t forget the general run of British MP’s do not have to give up their day jobs so these guys are directly benefiting from the chaos they are creating.

    Racism was certainly involved at the voter end of things, my former butcher was convinced by the lie that Turkey was about to join the EU and that as soon as it did we’d be invaded by 70,000 Turks, which was published the week before the vote. I don’t think the politicians as a whole care that much, those boys generally just do not let other people (race or class) play in their sandpit.

  33. blf says

    We’re led by a party not fit for power in a system not fit for purpose:

    A few days before the 2015 general election, the prime minister, David Cameron, tweeted: Britain faces an inescapable choice — strong and stable government with me, or chaos with Ed Miliband. Cameron won (the first general election the Tories have won outright since 1992), followed through on his pledge to hold a referendum on staying in the European Union, promised not to resign if he lost, lost and then resigned as chaos ensued.

    Theresa May took over after all other challengers either fell on their swords, stabbed each other in the back, or put their foot in their mouths. It is as good a time as any to recall that, of all the jokers and hucksters standing for the Conservative party leadership, she was probably the best candidate. It really could have been worse. It could have been Andrea Leadsom [or Boris Johnson –blf].

    May insisted she would not call a snap election, called a snap election promising strong and stable government, lost her majority, and has presided over a weak and unstable government. Her sole achievement has been to negotiate a deal with the EU that has twice been overwhelmingly rejected in parliament. Yesterday she presented her party with an ultimatum: if it accepts the deal it doesn’t want, it can get rid of the leader it doesn’t like.

    Depending on the interpretation of a 415-year-old precedent by the House Speaker, John Bercow, and some procedural shenanigans, this may be how our trading and political relationship with Europe is settled: we are not so much leaving the EU as falling out head first.

    Yesterday’s events in parliament illustrated four things about our politics and the Brexit process that are now unavoidable. The first, and most evident, is that the Conservative party is not fit to govern. Let us leave aside for a moment its mendacious policies that pauperise the vulnerable and deport the eligible. Morally its agenda is contemptible; and from Windrush to trains to universal credit its incompetence is undeniable.

    But even if the Conservatives were decent and effective, as a simple matter of capacity they are no longer even low-functioning&nbsp&mdashl they are not viable. Terrified of their own members and overwhelmed with internal rivalry, they cannot run themselves let alone the country. Their divisions are multiple and irreconcilable. […]

    The Tories lack discipline, direction, cohesion, coherence, substance, stature and credibility. They haven’t got a clue and they have no idea how to get one. With May’s promised resignation we will see the baton yet again pass from one failure to the next, each abdicating responsibility for the legacy they bequeath, none claiming ownership for the calamity they have wrought.

    This is not just a question of politics, but personnel. Take a look at those poised with indecent haste to replace May, and it is clear what a shallow and shabby bench they are drawing from. A contest in which Michael Gove is favourite, and Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt [all three exceptionally dishonest serial failures –blf] are being seriously considered, owes more to reality TV than a party that wants to run the country with any serious intent. Things could get worse.


    Finally, we need electoral reform. The referendum nobody’s talking about that could have obviated both Brexit and the stasis that has followed was the 2011 vote that rejected the alternative vote system. It is thanks to first-past-the-post that, with 37% of the vote, Cameron was able to inflict the Tory psychodrama of Brexit on the rest of the country. It is why today the numbers in parliament aren’t there — we keep counting the votes the wrong way.

    The claim for a winner-takes-all system is that it produces strong one-party government. It was always debatable whether that was desirable. It’s no longer debatable whether that is true. It’s clearly not. The real divisions we have in the country are compounded by our electoral system, which simultaneously produces governments and parliaments that are incapable of tackling them. Our destiny should not be shaped by the Speaker reaching back to before the Mayflower set sail for a ruling on how we can and can’t vote, regardless of what you make of the ruling.

    We have a party that is not fit to govern, leading a parliament that is not able to legislate, elected by a system that is not fit for purpose. Yesterday showed that these contradictions are no longer sustainable.

  34. Dunc says

    Ahh – those rich boys. Maybe – but still not convinced they have enough influence.

    Where do you think the money behind the Leave campaign came from? 61% of it came from just 5 people.

  35. ajbjasus says

    Racism was certainly involved at the voter end of things, my former butcher was convinced by the lie that Turkey was about to join the EU and that as soon as it did we’d be invaded by 70,000 Turks, which was published the week before the vote. I don’t think the politicians as a whole care that much, those boys generally just do not let other people (race or class) play in their sandpit.

    Even that isn’t the whole picture. Many people in areas with high immigrant populations from Pakistan\Bangladesh voted leave because they thought that was also something to do with the EU.

  36. kingoftown says


    I think Corbyn has breen very successful as labour leader. He started with labour in an extremely weak position after Milliband’s defeat. Both the media (including the guardian at the start) and many in his own party were strongly critical of him before he even started.

    Theresa May thought she could easily defeat labour under his leadership. By producing a reasonable, progressive manifesto labour under his leadership managed to beat the odds and reduce the tories to a minority government.

    Brexit has put labour in a very awkward position and while I don’t fully agree with the policy corbyn has gone with I still think acorbyn government is the best option we have bar stopping brexit entirely.

  37. opposablethumbs says

    @anna #15 – Exactly! (also you have put it much better than I could, especially with a work deadline looming)
    He’s my MP and I’ve met him briefly as well as hearing him speak for Remain during the campaign, and I’d say that anna hits the nail on the head.

  38. says

    I saw Rees-Mogg on TV last night for the first time, although I’d known of him for some time.(It’s an easy name to remember.) My first thought was that he looks like Curly Watts from Coronation Street. My mom watched the series when I was a kid, so I ended up watching it too. Of course that was ’70s and ’80s Coronation Street, when characters like Hilda Odgen and the Duckworths were still around, the show had at least some humour to it, and a couple of the cast hadn’t been accused of sexual assault.

  39. petesh says

    @anna 15 & opp… 38: I agree. My one quibble is over the phrase “centrist lefties” — far too kind. More accurately: “centrists with an indefensible lefty self-image” — far too long, I know, but I’m feeling pissed off and pedantic. And functionally some of them are not even centrist. À bas les aristos! Vive la révolution! Home in time for tea!

  40. ajbjasus says

    I saw Rees-Mogg on TV last night for the first time, although I’d known of him for some time.(It’s an easy name to remember.) My first thought was that he looks like Curly Watts from Coronation Street. My mom watched the series when I was a kid, so I ended up watching it too. Of course that was ’70s and ’80s Coronation Street, when characters like Hilda Odgen and the Duckworths were still around, the show had at least some humour to it, and a couple of the cast hadn’t been accused of sexual assault.

    It’s weird how things get normalised, I remember seeing Johnson and Rees-Mogg on Have I Got News for You years ago and thinking that nobody could ever take them seriously. Same goes for The Donald, too I guess

  41. blf says

    European press gets popcorn out for another chaotic day of Brexit:

    “Most series start getting dull after a second or third season, but Brexit’s different,” said Germany’s Die Zeit. “The longer it lasts, the better the plot gets. Yesterday’s twist was the best yet: first the unloved PM offers to go, then MPs seize the initiative and it seems the tide may be turning.

    “But wait … In the end, it turns out they can agree on — absolutely nothing. So, cue uproar in the house, and the credits start running. ‘Order,’ roars John Bercow. Please do not adjust your set: we’ll be back right after the break.”

    Speaker Bercow has been a hit here on the continent for some months now, ‘Order!’ Why Europeans are turning to John Bercow for light relief in Brexit chaos (video): “The thunderous pronouncements of the Speaker of the House of Commons have become the subject of numerous profiles in European newspapers and a fair few highlights videos shared heavily on social media. One article in a Dutch newspaper suggested: ‘The only order in British politics comes from John Bercow’s mouth in these turbulent days’.”

    […] Britain’s Brexit impasse “has never looked more insurmountable than after this crazy day of 27 March — the day that was supposed to unblock the situation”, said France’s Le Monde. [… Referring to May’s vague offer to resign] The DUP’s determination to vote against May’s deal meant that “in the manner of a Shakespearian tragedy, the heroine of Brexit may indeed have sacrificed herself — but, stabbed in the back by her allies, it may all be in vain … And the sacred cause she defended is now compromised.”

    Day after day, “Brexit demands of us an ever more implausible feat of mental gymnastics”, complained France’s Libération. “In taking back a small measure of control over Brexit on Wednesday, parliament was supposed to unblock the logjam. But nothing now appears less certain.”

    It was “another day rich in plot twists, but without a proper ending”, the paper said. The British parliament “still does not know what it wants. On the other hand, it knows what it doesn’t want: neither the exit deal agreed with the EU, nor eight other possible ways out of this mess.”


    I do wonder what sort of tragicomedicfarcewhatever Mr Shakespeare would write on, or alluding to, brexit.

  42. Dunc says

    I do wonder what sort of tragicomedicfarcewhatever Mr Shakespeare would write on, or alluding to, brexit.

  43. willj says

    I do wonder what sort of tragicomedicfarcewhatever Mr Shakespeare would write on, or alluding to, brexit.

    Maybe not Brexit, but Shakespeare apparently did write a speech for Sir Thomas More against anti-immigration. So you might guess where his sympathies would lie,

  44. KG says

    The defenders of Corbyn’s leadership prowess might like to explain how, in opposition to a Tory Party in complete meltdown and a Prime Minister who makes Basil Fawlty look like the acme of competence, Labour is still behind in the polls, and Corbyn’s personal ratings are far worse than hers.

    As for what the Brexit crusaders are to gain from May’s deal passsing and her then resigning, the answer is simply, for some of them, the chance to be Prime Minister. If May goes, her replacement will be chosen (from two selected by the Tory MPs) by a bunch of swivel-eyed xenophobes and racists – the Tory Party membership. This replacement will then casually break the terms of the withdrawal agreement, trash what protections workers and the environment have, blame everythnig that goes wrong on the EU and traitorous “remoaners”, and snuggle up to Trump.

  45. mnb0 says

    It’s quiite an achievement of Sir TM if he also delivered that speech, given the fact that he lost his head almost 30 years before Shakespeare was born.

  46. says

    Corbyn keeps insisting that he’s against May’s deal, but not against Brexit, and that if he were installed as PM he would get a better deal. This despite the fact that multiple sources within the EU have said multiple times that May’s deal is the best the EU is willing to give. It’s a terrible deal, but there is no deal that the EU would ever be willing to sign off on which isn’t terrible for the UK, and only somebody lost in fantasy would think the EU would give away the shop to help out a country which mostly openly despises them and wants to leave.

    Corbyn could have made a brilliant move and officially lined up Labour as the “cancel Brexit, hold another referendum” party after the vote of no-confidence against May failed. It would have made him look like the sane person in the room, and brought a lot of hesitant fence-sitters into the Labour camp, at least temporarily. That he did not do this shows that he really doesn’t have good judgement.

    Realistically, there are only 3 options:
    1. May’s deal, which is terrible and will make absolutely everyone (with the exception of the disaster capitalists) regret Brexit, and possibly end with rioting in the streets
    2. No deal, which is even worse and will definitely end with rioting in the streets, and possibly a revolution, albeit probably failed (not exaggerating — the UK’s military has plans in place to impose martial law in the event of a no-deal Brexit, to evacuate the royal family, and has put a control center in a bomb shelter)
    3. Call off Brexit, at least temporarily, which could be done quite easily on the excuse of “seeking further clarification from the public” by way of a new referendum. (And it would be very easy to arrange for the referendum to kill off Brexit for good — just list the different Brexit options separately so that Leave voters are split.)

    Nothing else is going to work. This has been obvious for weeks. The fact that there are MPs still trying to deny these options just shows how utterly disconnected from political reality British Parliament really is, even the supposedly “good” members.

  47. says

    @The Vicar
    Corbyn has said he would back another referendum for a month now. He has said he wanted to honor the voters choice to Brexit so allowed May time to come back with a deal but when it proved inadequate he said he would go with another vote. The fact there is no second referendum is completely on May as she has Labour support.

    Everyone wanted an immediate Brexit do over but Corbyn is correct to not just throw out the will of the voters without a really good reason. Democracy is not just getting results we want. Sometimes voters are stupid.

  48. says

    Right now there are no popular leaders or parties in the UK. Until Brexit is settled one way or the other no one can say much of anything about electoral chances until the fallout is over. My defense of Corbyn leadership is based on the pre Brexit climate which is the only way we can currently judge. The politics of Brexit is unfortunately hopelessly muddled with no chance of making a majority of people happy no matter what your position is.

  49. says

    @anna, #49: just the other day, Corbyn said he only wanted a referendum on the Tories’ “failed” deal, not against Brexit as an idea, and that if he were PM he would negotiate a better deal. I’d say that that’s pretty clear, myself.

    @myself, because I forgot this point:

    It’s interesting just how much of the weird and terrible behavior surrounding Brexit is and has been purely internal power struggles, rather than anything to do with external realities. Cameron only scheduled the referendum in the first place to quiet dissent within the Tories, most of May’s shenanigans are best understood when viewed through the lens of maintaining Tory control of government, even if it means throwing the whole country off a cliff so that the Tories only control a ruin. The Labour “rebellion” a while back was the “New Labour” backers of Tony Blair trying to regain control of “their” party; Corbyn’s unwillingness to really push against Brexit is because he wants to be PM and doesn’t want to alienate the Leave vote. None of this has anything to do with good governance or policy, it’s just power struggles.

    (And that’s paralleled over here in the US, naturally. About a third of Republican proposals are naked power grabs, and the “New Democrats” are willing to nominate useless candidates and pursue counterproductive policy, like the War on Drugs and drone bombing, as long as it maintains their control of the party.)

  50. says

    @The Vicar
    Corbyn had a whipped vote to keep the referendum option on the table just last night at a steep personal cost. Several of his front benchers revolted and his leadership is threatened. I think that shows his personally willingness to go the referendum route. Add to that him campaigning for remain in the first place.

  51. says

    @anna, #54:

    He said if he were made PM he would negotiate a better deal, rather than cancel Brexit. The EU has repeatedly made it clear that that is not happening. Any claim that “the UK can have Brexit with a deal better than May’s” is a fantasy. (And that’s not, by any means, a defense of May’s deal — the situation is just that bad.) The only way out without a total disaster is to cancel Brexit, and you’re saying Corbyn won’t do that because he wants to keep control of the party.

  52. Zmidponk says

    The Vicar:

    multiple sources within the EU have said multiple times that May’s deal is the best the EU is willing to give. It’s a terrible deal, but there is no deal that the EU would ever be willing to sign off on which isn’t terrible for the UK, and only somebody lost in fantasy would think the EU would give away the shop to help out a country which mostly openly despises them and wants to leave.

    I think this is the second thing that went wrong in the whole mess (the first being Cameron actually agreeing to hold the referendum in the first place, believing it would be an easy win for the ‘Remain’ side) – during the referendum campaign, this fantasy is more or less what the Leave side sold as being what would happen, and, thanks to the Remain campaign being rather weak and watery, this went practically unchallenged, which led far too many people into actually believing it. It’s also partially responsible for the current bourach, as a fair number of hard-line Brexiteers are voting against anything bar the promised fantasy (which is more or less an ultra hard Brexit – telling the EU to fuck off, then having them beg for the privilege of doing business with the UK), whereas others are voting against May’s deal because it’s actually not soft enough, as it doesn’t guarantee access to the EU single market or customs union.

    Looking at the US and the UK, it really does seem like our two countries are in a competition to see who can do the most boneheaded thing – the US took the lead by voting in Trump, but this utter clusterfuck of a Brexit is making the UK catch up fast.

  53. says

    @The Vicar
    That is not at all what I said. Here is what I said in summary of the order in which Corbyn did it with more detail:
    1. He campaigned for the remain side in spite of misgivings of some of the details of the EU. He knew that staying was still a better option so his summary was “Remain – but reform”
    2. After the Brexit vote he said he would respect the will of the voters and that Britain should get the best deal possible for exit.
    3. Time was given for May to get a deal from the EU.
    4. May got her deal. He felt that it was a bad deal as it did not achieve the continued access to vital markets and the proper solution to Irish stability that was necessary. He voted against that version of the agreement.
    5. He and parliament voted to send May back to try to negotiate a better deal since he respected the will of the voters in regards to Brexit.
    6. May failed to get an adequate new Deal. He then proposed a Labour plan for what she be asked for in negotiations. This was voted on and rejected in parliament.
    7. Parliament rejected a No Deal exit and the speaker of the house disallowed new votes on a similar deal plan. At this point Corbyn accepted the idea of another referendum on Brexit plans.
    8. Parliament continued in disarray and Corbyn decided that a new full referendum and staying in the customs union needed to be on the table because a no deal Brexit would be a disaster. He signalled his willingness to support both. He felt a no deal Brexit was not what voters intended so this option should be there.
    9. Votes were taken on both of those plans and Corbyn did the risky personal move of having a whipped Labour vote to support both those proposals. He was rebuffed by some members of his own caucus and this threatens his own leadership.
    10. The proposals that would likely lead to the UK staying in the EU in one form or another that just took place failed despite his best efforts not because he was trying to do his own Brexit or because he was solidifying his leadership. You can say he was wrong to not push for a referendum earlier or by thinking that negotiations would get a better deal but you can’t say it was just for personal gain.

  54. zenlike says


    I loved “Have I got News For you”. I thought Johnsons character was a spot on caricature of a Bumbling Upper Class Twit Who Occasionally Delivered A Spot On Zinger.

    Imagine my surprise to learn that he was not playing a character. And that people indeed took him seriously.

  55. runswithscissors says

    a population that still remembers being the ruler of a vast empire…

    I have only one family member remaining who remembers the days of Empire and the Raj, WW2 and post-war Austerity in Europe. She’s fiercely Pro-European, and furious with the cohort of Brexiters, most of whom are Baby-boomers who enjoyed all the benefits of EU membership and have no first hand experience of the “Independence” and economic hardship they now want to foist on their children and grandchildren.

    Farage and de Pfeffel Johnson were born in 1964, 17 years after the Independence of India, 12 years after Suez, a few years after the Independence of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, and most of the Caribbean. The only “Empire” they know first hand is the pith helmeted fantasyworld of the Carry On films. The only food rationing they have ever experienced is mummy limiting them to two scoops of icecream at one time.

  56. chrislawson says

    Cui bono? The ultrawealthy who see an opportunity to dismantle the UK’s financial regulations, workers rights, and environmental laws once free of the EU. Putin who sees an opportunity to weaken NATO. Racist xenophobes.

  57. chrislawson says


    There are no options left. It is now virtually certain that there will be a no-deal Brexit. May’s current deal is dead even if she does fall on her sword; Parliament won’t support it and the EU won’t accept it. Any chance of a repeat referendum is now long gone. The UK is like a drunkard staggering towards a cliff, too intoxicated to change direction and too bellicose to lie down and sober up.

  58. chrislawson says

    Captain Jeep-Eep–

    I share your concerns about the EU’s austerity measures…but the UK seems to think the EU is doing austerity for wimps.

    Check. it. out. It’s certainly not a good argument for Brexit.

  59. Alt-X says

    Brexit is the British spelling of Make America Great Again. They’ll hold their own Eurovision and win it, by darn it.

  60. KG says


    There are seveal gaping holes in your analysis.
    1) Corbyn’s “campaigning for Remain” in the referendum was completely unconvincing. This is not hindsight – it was widely noted, within and beyond Labour, at the time. Labour presented no credible plan to “Remain and Reform”.
    2) Since the referendum Corbyn has, disgracefully and more than once, dog-whistled to the racists by blaming low wages on immigration.
    3) He could and should have opposed the triggering of Article 50 without a cross-party agreement on the aims of the negotiation, and what to do if those aims were not met – which should at that stage have been: return to the people and say “This is the best we can get – do you still want to go ahead”. Instead, he whipped his party into backing the triggering of Article 50 without any commitment whatsoever from May. Now he’d have lost the vote in Parliament – but it would have put him, and Labour, in a far stronger position later.
    4) He and his neo-Stalinist advisors Seamus Milne and Andrew Murray did everything they could to block a commitment to a fresh referendum on whatever deal was negotiated at Labour’s conference. This is despite his supposed commitment to respecting the views of the membership, who are overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit.
    5) He has repeatedly wriggled out of any commitment to a fresh referendum. In doing so, he has ensured that when he finally, at the 59th minute of the 11th hour, came out in its support, only his uncritical admirers actually believe he is sincere. Myself, I suspect Keir Starmer (Shadow Brexit Secretary) and possibly John McDonnell (Shadow Chancellor) threatened to resign if he didn’t.
    6) He failed to attend the People’s Vote demonstration, one of the two largest in British history (so, to be fair, did Starmer and McDonnell). Even at that stage, he could have put himself at the head of a mass movement to avoid the disasters of a Tory Brexit. Instead, he showed his contempt for it by buggering off to Morecombe.

    It is now virtually certain that there will be a no-deal Brexit. – chrislawson@62

    No, it isn’t. May (or whoever is PM on April 10th) can ask the European Council for a long delay. Probably they will grant it if there’s even a marginally convincing plan to make use of it. This is up to the Commons. If the European Council refuses, there remains the possibility of revoking Article 50. My hunch is that May would rather drag us over the cliff, but that’s not certain, particularly if MPs collectively properly seized control of the business of the House and passed legislation (it would have to pass the Lords too, but almost certainly would) ordering the PM to do so.

  61. leerudolph says

    petesh@41: “More accurately: ‘centrists with an indefensible lefty self-image’ — far too long, I know, but I’m feeling pissed off and pedantic.”

    The initialism “cwailsi” is short and pronounceable. I don’t really believe Google Translate when it tells me it’s Welsh for “pickles” (certainly the available on-line Welsh-English dictionaries don’t believe it!), but, hey.

  62. says

    Russian trolls also supported Brexit, and it looks to me as though they still are. As well as the billionaires, I mean.