Another day, another Brexit vote


Today saw another day of drama and maneuvering in the British parliament (Is there any other kind these days as the March 29 deadline looms ever closer?) with bills and amendments and amendments to amendments. The main item on the agenda was a vote on whether to rule out a no-deal Brexit and net result was a vote of 321-278 in favor. So for those keeping score at home, on Tuesday parliament overwhelmingly rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal, today they again defied her and ruled out a no-deal Brexit, and tomorrow they vote on whether to extend the March 29 deadline. Logically, that would seem to be the only option left and should pass but nothing can be taken for granted anymore. Even voting against a no-deal Brexit seems at best symbolic since, as far as I can tell, if nothing changes by March 29, a no-deal Brexit will go into effect automatically.

Here are the results of today’s vote, the first on an amendment to the motion and the second on the motion itself. The results of the votes are announced with fun bit of parliamentary ritual with the ever-colorful speaker John Bercow presiding.

In the film Brexit that I reviewed earlier about the events leading up to the referendum, there seemed to be little or no discussion about what have emerged as the biggest problems: the Irish border, tariffs, and customs. Instead, the Leave movement focused on a fraudulent claim that leaving would mean that a massive amount of money that was going to Europe would now go to the much-beloved National Health Service while the Remainers spoke of the danger to the economy and jobs which, while definitely reasonable, lacked the emotional resonance of the Make England Great Again sentiment that the Leavers kept harping on, as evidenced by the photo below of an ardent Leaver outside parliament. (I must say that the British religious loonies are a lot better dressed than ours.) It seemed like only the Irish saw the looming problem of the border and customs.

Jonathan Pie is a British comedian whose shtick is to pose as a sober TV journalist who, in between takes, lets loose to his ‘producer’ with rants about what he really thinks of the situation he is reporting on. This one is a month old that he did just after Theresa May’s massive parliamentary defeat of her first Brexit plan on January 15. But I suspect that that the frustrations he channels are similar to what many people feel and his analysis of how the UK got to this position and what to expect in the future are still timely. (Language advisory)

Comments

  1. John Morales says

    The main item on the agenda was a vote on whether to rule out a no-deal Brexit and net result was a vote of 321-278 in favor.

    Way I see that, is that 278 were happy to countenance a no-deal Brexit.

    (Wow!)

  2. jrkrideau says

    @1 John Morales
    (Wow!)
    Every time I take a look at the UK Parliament in full cry it looks like the MPs have lost a rationality and are in some kind of alternate universe.

    May does seem to have mastered the art of the deal.

    The last two years has shown us a UK Govt of astounding incompetence. The professional civil service must be functioning on Scotch and Prozac.

  3. jrkrideau says

    @ Mano
    It seemed like only the Irish saw the looming problem of the border and customs.

    Lots of people did. The EU did. Individual countries such as Belgium and France, are expanding customs facilities at ports.

    A goodly number of companies have or are in the course of moving out of the UK and so on.

    As I mentioned above, the professional civil service must be going mad.

    It is just particularly salient for Ireland, both the Republic and Northern Ireland because of recent history (The Troubles) and the fact that it is the UK’s only land border.

    Perhaps hard-core Brexiters may not have been aware the Northern Ireland is part of the UK?

    May and her cabinet seem to have been thinking that if they ignore the hard border problem it would just go away.

  4. Holms says

    John Morales,
    The impression I get is that those politicians are wealthy enough that they will ride out whatever happens with no real threat of disruption to their lives, and are also disconnected enough that they dismiss that anything will happen anyway. Their attitude may as well be “if harm befalls someone I don’t give a shit about, is it really harm?”

    And the punters that believe them are simply deluded, having bought into the conservative alternative universe wholesale.

    jrkrideau,
    The Brexit fiasco has added fuel to my long time suspicion, that career politicians are generally the least competent and least knowledgeable people in any given nation.

  5. Dunc says

    The impression I get is that those politicians are wealthy enough that they will ride out whatever happens with no real threat of disruption to their lives, and are also disconnected enough that they dismiss that anything will happen anyway.

    In 2007, arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg founded an investment firm called Somerset Capital Management. While he stepped down as CEO after his election to parliament, he remains a partner and a major shareholder. Somerset Capital Management is managed via subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands and Singapore (both noted tax havens), and specialises in investments in “emerging and frontier markets”, which means that it benefits from a weaker pound. In particular, last year it set up two new funds domiciled in Dublin, at least partly motivated by Brexit-related risks. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and he’s made a great deal of money doing it.

    When Nigel Farage made his famous concession speech live on TV on the day of the referendum, he had almost certainly already seen private polling data collected by his hedge fund pals which showed that they’d actually won. That concession speech caused a rally in the value of the pound, which those same hedge funds then shorted and made a huge amount of money on when the actual result was announced. He also knows exactly what he’s doing -- and if you watch him when he’s being interviewed, he looks very much like a man who can’t believe he’s getting away with it.

    They’re not disconnected. They’re laughing all the way to the bank.

  6. lanir says

    If a no deal brexit happens and has the consequences that seem inevitable, won’t the MPs who voted in favor of no deal here have seriously complicated any efforts they might make to get re-elected?

    As incredibly pointless and self-harming as the nationalist movements around the world are these days, it isn’t hard to make a case that the people of Britain voted to leave the EU. But I don’t think anyone could make a reasonable case that the British public is in favor of leaving without a deal. Even the people who feel stuck after having bought into the branding of Brexit and not wanting to admit to a mistake will be able to easily condemn no-dealers.

  7. Dunc says

    If a no deal brexit happens and has the consequences that seem inevitable, won’t the MPs who voted in favor of no deal here have seriously complicated any efforts they might make to get re-elected?

    Nah. Remember, a lot of these people are in seats so safe they would elect a pig as long as it had the right colour rosette on. Also, a depressing number of ordinary people are no-dealers, and they won’t be troubled by conventional notions of causality. Any negative consequences will be blamed on EU perfidy, regardless of how obviously absurd that is. It’s always somebody else’s fault.

    But I don’t think anyone could make a reasonable case that the British public is in favor of leaving without a deal.

    What’s “reasonable” got to do with anything?