Meanwhile, looking across the Atlantic …

… I have given up on understanding the Brexit process.

While the way that the US government functions (or, as is the current situation, does not function) is difficult to understand, the current situation regarding the Brexit process in the UK has gone completely out of my range of understanding. I read this news report that says that prime minister Theresa May has received some major setbacks due to losing key parliamentary votes, but what exactly happened, what it means, and what the next steps are is hard to decipher. Next week is supposed to feature yet another key vote.

The difficulty is compounded by the fact that so many political parties are involved and members of both Labour and Conservative parties are not unanimous on what they want. I assume that there is some orderly way that they can proceed but for the life of me, I don’t think I will understand what the options are without devoting an enormous amount of time delving into the weeds of the deals and the procedures.

But at least their government is open, so there’s that.


  1. EigenSprocketUK says

    Sadly, most of this country has also given up on trying to understand what’s going on with Brexit: not good for democracy.
    The bizarre developments have led to a situation where the winners were all for “taking back control” [from the nasty, undemocratic EU, sic] because British laws should be made in Britain, and return democratic control to Parliament. But our law-making body, Parliament, is now belatedly trying to make the government account for its actions. So the winning Leave side is left complaining that it disagrees with Parliament taking control of events because the government must get on with delivering Brexit and nothing, not even democracy, should get in the way of that.
    It’s also becoming clear that even the politicians don’t really understand Brexit either.
    Pity us: We’ve become the clown-car state just off the coast of Europe.

  2. larpar says

    EigenSprocketUK @# 1
    Is anyone talking about rebuilding Hadrian’s Wall? ; )
    At least you only have a clown-car. We have several clown-buses.

  3. file thirteen says

    May: “Hello? Hello is that you Juncker?”
    May: “…”
    May: “Hello?”
    Juncker: “You again”.
    May: “Yes it’s me, look we have to talk about Brexit”.
    Juncker: “There is nothing more to discuss”.
    May: “How can you say that, that there’s nothing to discuss. What about Northern Ireland?”
    Juncker: “You know what will happen to Northern Ireland”.
    May: “Well that’s what we need to discuss”.
    Juncker: “They will be fucked”.
    May: “Well that… that absolutely has to be avoided at any cost…”
    Juncker: “Right up the arse. They will be fucked up the arse.”
    May: “That is impossible. We need to come to some arrangement”.
    Juncker: “The arrangement is that they will be fucked up the arse. Britain voted to fuck them up the arse”.
    May: “Well perhaps… but the people won’t accept that, they won’t.
    Juncker: “I didn’t make this problem, it’s your problem. The arse-fucking is inevitable”.
    May: “Why?”
    Juncker: “Because Britain will leave the EU. Ergo, there will be a border with the EU, what you call a hard border, with border inspections and all that shit, and the people can’t cross between Ireland and Northern Ireland easily any more”.
    May: “We can’t have a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, it’s out of the question”.
    Juncker: “Then you will have the hard border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain instead?”
    May: “…”
    Juncker: “So have Northern Ireland leave Britain and reunify…”
    May: “No, that’s never going to happen”.
    Juncker: “Then tell them to bend over”.
    May: “…”
    May: “What if we closed the other borders but kind of… not that one?”
    Juncker: “You mean let people cross freely from Ireland to Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland to Ireland?”
    May: “… yes”.
    Juncker: “And from Northern Ireland to Great Britain and back?”
    May: “…… yes”.
    Juncker: “That’s not a solution at all. You’re not blocking immigration from the EU at all then, you’re leaving a gaping hole through Northern Ireland”.
    May: “Perhaps we could call it a backstop?”

  4. says

    “I assume that there is some orderly way that they can proceed”

    Your assumption is wrong. There’s no set procedure for this. They (UK politicians) are all making it up as they go along. The vote next Monday is the “meaningful vote” on the deal that the government has negotiated with the EU. If it doesn’t get a majority in the House of Commons, then the deal is dead.

    No-one has any idea what will happen next. One of the recent votes that the government lost in the commons was about how long they have after losing the vote to come back to the House with a new idea. Three working days.

    So by Friday next week, if the vote is lost, the Government is supposed to come up with another workable idea that has eluded them (for the reasons given by file thirteen) for the past two years.

    There are really three options, since the EU has ruled out any renegotiation of the deal

    1. The UK leaves the EU on the 29th March with no overall deal in place.
    2. The UK negotiates an extension to the two-year article 50 negotiation time.
    3. The UK withdraws it’s notice on intent to leave, and stays in the EU.

    It’s impossible to say what will happen. Truely, no-one knows, as there doesn’t seem to be a majority in the House for any option. It may be that option 1 will happen by default.

  5. fentex says

    But at least their government is open, so there’s that.

    Westminster parliaments don’t have “Government Shutdowns” as the government is the Members of Parliament given authority by Parliament to tax and spend.

    If they stop doing that job, they stop being the government.

    As to why Brexit is such a mess, it’s simple -- Brexiteers have no interest in the situation of UK citizens (being separate and privileged people who won’t suffer) and who are grandstanding on an idea at a remove from the reality of events, daydreaming it makes them historical figures. They are like generals proudly standing on the bodies of the troops they threw at maxims to pose for their portraits.

    The actual idea of refusing political domination by Europe is not outrageous, but achieving political independence without damaging trade relations is a tricky needle to thread and David Cameron utterly screwed the pooch with his insane referendum that didn’t ask EXACTLY what people wanted -- he’s the very worst Prime Minster the UK has ever had.

  6. sonofrojblake says

    Agreed. Worse than Chamberlain. He appeased Hitler and led us into a world war. But you can WIN a war.

    Cameron appeased Rees-Mogg and led us into this shitshow. Nobody can win Brexit.

  7. says

    “But at least their government is open,”
    You mean like a gaping pit full of snakes in the dark??

    sonofrojblake: “R**s-M*gg” I thought obscene language was frowned upon?

  8. KG says

    Nobody can win Brexit. -- sonofrojblake@7

    On the contrary. Pure win for Trump, Putin, and their admirers and dupes everywhere.

    Theresa May has received some major setbacks due to losing key parliamentary votes, but what exactly happened, what it means, and what the next steps are is hard to decipher. -- Mano

    As EigenSprocketUK@1 says, these votes were a belated attempt by the Commons to take a degree of control over the chaotic farce over which Theresa May is presiding. They were also attempts to prevent a disastrous “no-deal Brexit”, which is actually the default future: unless the UK either makes a withdrawal agreement, secures an extension of the negotiating period (which requires the unanimous agreement of the 27 other EU members), or revoke the invocation of Article 50 (which can be done unilaterally, as ruled by the European Court of Justice in a case brought be a gaggle of Scottish politicians over the strenuous efforts of the UK government to block them), the UK falls off the white cliffs of Dover on 29th March. The first vote was largely symbolic. The second was more substantive, ordering the government to table a motion setting out its plans within 3 working days of May’s plan being voted down next Tuesday (not Monday as Paul Durrant said@5) -- it will be voted down unless May refuses to allow the vote. She’s promised not to, but so she did last month before changing her mind at the last moment. Moreover, the motion will be amendable, so alternative plans can be put forward. However, even a positive vote for some alternative would not oblige May to follow it. So what happens after Tuesday is indeed completely unpredictable, as all informed commentators seem to agree. My own hunch is that we will indeed fall off the cliff unless the Commons passes a vote of no confidence in the government. And what would happen after that is also unpredictable. If no replacement government wins a vote of confidence within 2 weeks, we’d be into a general election, but there’s a possibility some temporary replacement coalition would be cobbled together.

  9. Mano Singham says

    Thanks to all those who clarified what all these votes in parliament were about!

    It does seem like a mess.

  10. lanir says

    I feel like comparing the Trump administration and the Brexit leadership to clowns does a grave disservice to the clowns. After all, they are highly skilled workers. As such, if we had actual clowns in charge of either government, they would probably do a better job.

    Consider for example, that people who work for a living like clowns do understand how important it is for workers to be paid. I find it highly unlikely a clown administration would actually cause a loss of income for their fellow hard working countrymen. And while clowns and other comedians do some crazy skits for laughs, I have never heard of clowns splitting from the circus they perform in.

    So to summarize: Let’s fix these political disasters. Send in the clowns!

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