Brexit.

Bartholomew Gallacher

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I really started thining about it when people started discussing social mobility here. The idea that somebody could be against it, came as a total surprise. T
Not somebody, but Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party, which makes it far more worse.
 

Innula Zenovka

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Again? Come on Innula, show me ONE labour MP who has ever suggested that Labour would revoke article 50 if they won a general election.

They won't. They absolutely will not revoke it. 0% chance of that outcome, UNLESS they need LibDems and SNP to form a majority and they make it a precondition of a deal.

A general election actually changes nothing with respect to brexit. The negotiations are over, the only possible outcomes are No Deal, May's deal, No Brexit. Labour will not revoke so no brexit is off the table, it would be electoral suicide for Labour to support May's deal and No Deal burns the country down. Labour will be as frozen as the Tories and will hemorrhage support just as fast.

Winning a GE pre-brexit or early post-brexit will be a poison pill for labour that they will struggle to survive.
One of my cardinal rules in life was well articulated by Michael Corleone in the movie Godfather III:

Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.
and I fear you are allowing your understandable dislike of Jeremy Corbyn -- which I share to no small extent -- to do exactly that.

Let me try to lay out my reasoning as simply as I can. If you see a flaw with it, please tell me what's wrong so I can refine it.

At present, there are three possible outcomes to Brexit -- Parliament accepts WA and we leave, to continue negotiations about a long term relationship as suggested (no more) in the vague Political Negotiation, OR the Government revokes the A50 and we remain, with or without first holding a second referendum, OR the Government either does nothing (indeed some Conservative leadership candidates seem to want to prorogue Parliament to ensure nothing can be done) or asks the EU for another extension and is declined and, we crash out with a chaotic no deal.

Those, to my mind, are the only possible outcomes right now -- all talk of reopening negotiations and tinkering with the backstop and suchlike are simple wishful thinking which the EU has already made clear it won't countenance, and there's no reason to suppose they're anything but deadly serious.

Of the three outcomes, all at present seem impossible with the current parliament -- the Withdrawal Agreement is pretty much dead in the water -- TM couldn't get it passed, and none of the current frontrunners want to try. Even if one of them then resiles from his or her campaign promises and try to succeed where May failed, there's no reason to suppose either the Conservative Party or Parliament in general would allow this to happen.

Similarly, it seems vanishingly improbable that any incoming Conservative PM would have a sudden change of heart and revoke A50 of his or her own volition (and it would probably need Parliamentary approval too).

What then of crashing out without a deal at all, which several of the most front-runners have said is their preferred option? Parliament have already once made it clear they won't allow that, and there's no reason to suppose things have changed to any significant extent.

What can happen, since it seems there is no majority to be found for any of the three possible outcomes?

My answer is that, since we can't change the options -- Withdrawal Agreement/Remain/No Deal -- to make any of them acceptable to the present parliament, then the only way to stop parliament blocking all three is to find a new parliament.

And the only way to do that is to hold a general election.

There's no guarantee that even the default condition -- No Deal -- can hold up, since it's open to parliament to pass a no confidence motion in the government to prevent that happening, thus forcing a general election (in the event of a successful no-confidence motion the government would have to ask for a short extension to which the EU would have to agree -- I cannot imagine anyone on either side, whatever their role or views, allowing the UK to fall off the cliff when it was without a government).

So my point is that all routes to our remaining in the EU, with or without a second referendum, run through a general election and so, too do all conceivable routes to leaving with a deal.

While it may or may not be possible to get as far as no deal without the government being derailed by a successful no confidence vote -- I just don't know -- that's not particularly relevant since we're discussing ways to remain in the EU.

Now, what of the outcomes of the general election? If some combination of the Conservatives/Brexit Party win a majority, then game over, though that seems a very unlikely prospect (maybe first past the post has a few advantages after all?).

While it's possible Labour could win an absolute majority, I very much doubt it's possible, so I won't discuss it here.

That leaves us with some form of minority government, in which Labour is the largest single party by far, relying on the support of the SNP, LibDems, PC, Greens and assorted independents. The A50 notification is still in force, and the clock is ticking.

What happens next?

To my mind, given the views of all the parties on whose support the new minority government will depend -- whether as coalition partners or on a confidence and supply basis, similar to the DUP's agreement with the Tories -- and those of at least three quarters of the Parliamentary Labour Party and the overwhelming majority of the party's national membership in the Constituencies (normally Corbyn's base of support, but not over Brexit), the only possible outcome is that the UK withdraw the A50 notification, whether after a second referendum or -- to my mind far more likely if things have got this point -- after a token attempt at re-negotiation has failed to re-open the WA, simply by agreement of Parliament.

Whatever Corbyn's supposed views or those of people around him, at this stage I think the Remain MPs, both inside and outside his party, would be pushing at an open door by this time, since it would enable Labour to say, quite truly, that the previous administration's failure to deliver Brexit during the past two years, and its failure to prepare beforehand means this attempt to leave the EU on anything like acceptable terms is a failure and there's no option but to accept that.

At some point in the future, he might say, we may reconsider it and again consider leaving, only this time knowing what's possible and what's not, and with a coherent and realistic plan that the EU could accept, but to the time being, Brexit it over.

The UK, he would say, accepts that its future lies in the EU for the foreseeable future, as a fully committed partner that sincerely wants to remain and to work with other EU social democratic and socialist parties, alongside others, to reform some of the EU's various deficiencies and to strengthen it against threats from populist authoritarianism, both external and internal, and to work together on climate change.

Now, he could go on to say, we can go on to try to tackle some of the many huge problems -- inequality, social exclusion, poverty -- that have been allowed to worsen and fester during the last three years and which caused many people to vote Leave in the first place, in the hope that might improve things.

Seems to be a very acceptable and dignified get-out, particularly for a man who has always seemed far more concerned about high-minded causes overseas -- the plight of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, or black South Africans under apartheid, or victims of various South American right-wing authoritarians -- than in the messy and burdensome business of governing his own country.

That's my take on the situation.

If there are flaws in how I read things, please tell me. I am very aware that everything can still go horribly wrong and we crash into a no-deal Brexit by accident (though I am certain that plenty of people in all parties both here and the EU, and plenty very able civil servants and advisors on both sides, are doing all they can to avoid that) but barring something completely unexpected happening, I can't see any route to remaining in the EU that doesn't involve a general election, and once that election is held, it's difficult to see how -- if Labour emerge as the largest party, that is -- we don't remain members of the EU.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Yes but I'm beginning to get a feeling we're comparing apples to oranges here. Or rather that we're talking about single superficial details without considering the context or the historical, geographical and cultural factors our different societies are built on.

I really started thining about it when people started discussing social mobility here. The idea that somebody could be against it, came as a total surprise. To me this is a vital part of the fundament for a thriving society. There's no discussion about the principles there at all: we want people to move forwards and upwards and develop their talents, not only for their own sake but also because that's where the wealth of the nation ultimately comes from.
As a former teacher I see this especially in education, which of course is a very important factor for social mobility. In the USA - and apparently in the UK too - the government spend money on education. In the Nordic countries we invest in it.
No one is saying that social mobility is a bad thing.

What is being said is that successive British governments have been misguided in concentrating on social mobility as a complete panacea that means we can ignore questions of more general social justice.

In your professional experience as a teacher, what would you have made of a government whose policy was to direct resources -- both money and teachers' time -- in trying to ensure the most able students, whatever their background, could rise as far as their abilities and drive took them, while neglecting the less able and less advantaged?

How would you feel about resources in your school -- class sizes, teaching time, teaching materials -- being concentrated on helping the best students excel, at the expense of helping the less able ones to reach their full potential?

I doubt it's an issue in Norway, but would you think that a correct response to complaints about poverty and inequality -- in many British schools now, a majority of children come from families who have to rely on food banks, despite the fact the parents are in work, and girls in secondary education in many schools regularly miss school every month because they can't afford sanitary towels -- was to say that, nevertheless, everything was OK because the government was doing all it could to enable the most talented pupils to achieve their fullest potential regardless of social background?

That's the background here.

You might find this article interesting -- it goes into the UK background in some detail.


I think, in the English context (Scotland and Wales are different, I think) "social mobility" means something very different from what it means in many other European countries.
 
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The biggest problem that I see is that a crash out is still the default option. Parliament can say they don't want a no deal Brexit, but until they can pass a binding vote for one of the actual alternatives instead of a fantasy option (I can see a mandate to renegotiate passing before either the WA or revoking A50) then it is not their call. A new Parliament would have to possess a degree of wisdom and courage not currently present in that body.
 

Innula Zenovka

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The biggest problem that I see is that a crash out is still the default option. Parliament can say they don't want a no deal Brexit, but until they can pass a binding vote for one of the actual alternatives instead of a fantasy option (I can see a mandate to renegotiate passing before either the WA or revoking A50) then it is not their call. A new Parliament would have to possess a degree of wisdom and courage not currently present in that body.
And, while probably it wouldn't come to it, the only way to prevent a new PM who really was determined to crash the UK out with no deal would be for Parliament to pass a vote of no confidence, which would mean, as a matter of law, that a general election would have to be called unless the vote could be superceded by a second vote within (I think) 10 working days (probably because a new PM had been chosen).
 
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What then of crashing out without a deal at all, which several of the most front-runners have said is their preferred option? Parliament have already once made it clear they won't allow that, and there's no reason to suppose things have changed to any significant extent.
Why do you imagine that Parlaiment has any say in it? If the deadline passes and they haven't done A or B, then this is what WILL happen.
 

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In your professional experience as a teacher, what would you have made of a government whose policy was to direct resources -- both money and teachers' time -- in trying to ensure the most able students, whatever their background, could rise as far as their abilities and drive took them, while neglecting the less able and less advantaged?
As a teacher I'd say all children are equally valuable of course. But there's more to it than that. Who knows what kind of skills we will need in the future? And who can tell which children will flourish over time?

I've worked with children suffering from MBD (yes I know that's an outdated diagnosis but it's the most precise in this particular context) and they're a very clear example. They seem hopeless. You teach them something and they get it right away. Ten minutes later it's all forgotten. But if you're patient and give them the best foundation you can, after a few years some switch flips in their brain and suddenly all learning problems are gone as if they never existed. It doesn't always happen of course but often enough and if you don't give them the care and attention they need, they'll all end up as loosers.

When I was a student I attended a course with a well known Norwegian children's choir conductor. He told us that among all the children he had ever worked with, he had only come across two totally hopeless cases. Then he added that one of them was now an active member of a local amateur choir, the other was a professional singer. You may argue (and I may disagree) that singing isn't the most vital skill a society needs but it applies to other fields too.

I once had a student who suffered heavily from dyscalculia. She couldn't barely add two plus two so a typical looser by a traditional view. She was (and still is) actually very intelligent, she just had this thing about numbers. And she had this knack for music theory. All the stuff about how rhythms, harmonies pitches and all that relate to each other she took in ehr stride with no problems whatsoever. I didn't tell her until after she had sorted it all out that what she was actually doing was advanced mathematics way above what you usually expect children of her age to be able to handle. That realization really did help her get ove her handicap. :)

You can't really sort children by talent because you don't really know what they've got inside them. It can take years before it shows and by then it's too late.

---

Now, if I'm to answer your question not as a teacher but slightly cyncially from the perspective from society as a whole, developing skills and qualifications in the population as a whole is never about focusing on the tops anyway. Elevating a thousand chidlren from "Level 0" to "Level 1" is far more valuable to society than elevating one from "Level 1" to "Level 10".
 

Innula Zenovka

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Why do you imagine that Parlaiment has any say in it? If the deadline passes and they haven't done A or B, then this is what WILL happen.
Yes, but until that happens Parliament has plenty of say in it.

They have just rejected, by 309 to 298 votes, what would have been the first step in a Labour measure (backed by all the other parties) to take over HoC business for the day on June 25 which would probably have been used to introduce a bill to prevent the new Conservative leader from trying to bypass Parliament completely (because several of the Conservative leadership candidates are all too well aware that Parliament can, and will, try to stop a no deal Brexit if one appears imminent).

That's by no means the end of the story, though -- it simply means that many Conservative MPs (who were whipped to oppose the measure) are simply keeping their heads down until they know how the leadership contest turns out.

At any point until we leave the EU it is open to Parliament to pass a vote of no confidence in the Conservative government, which would necessitate, as a matter of law, a general election within weeks unless Parliament changed its mind within the subsequent fortnight (to provide an opportunity to form a government of national unity if possible).

The only way round that is for the new leader to ask the Queen to prorogue Parliament, which some leadership candidates have floated as an idea but is so constitutionally grotesque and will be so unwelcome by HM that I can't imagine it would be allowed to happen. Seriously, it's the sort of thing that anyone who has sworn any sort of oath of allegiance and takes it seriously (including me, but, more importantly, all senior civil servants, the judiciary and senior politicians of all parties) would feel duty-bound to do their utmost to prevent.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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As a teacher I'd say all children are equally valuable of course. But there's more to it than that. Who knows what kind of skills we will need in the future? And who can tell which children will flourish over time?

I've worked with children suffering from MBD (yes I know that's an outdated diagnosis but it's the most precise in this particular context) and they're a very clear example. They seem hopeless. You teach them something and they get it right away. Ten minutes later it's all forgotten. But if you're patient and give them the best foundation you can, after a few years some switch flips in their brain and suddenly all learning problems are gone as if they never existed. It doesn't always happen of course but often enough and if you don't give them the care and attention they need, they'll all end up as loosers.

When I was a student I attended a course with a well known Norwegian children's choir conductor. He told us that among all the children he had ever worked with, he had only come across two totally hopeless cases. Then he added that one of them was now an active member of a local amateur choir, the other was a professional singer. You may argue (and I may disagree) that singing isn't the most vital skill a society needs but it applies to other fields too.

I once had a student who suffered heavily from dyscalculia. She couldn't barely add two plus two so a typical looser by a traditional view. She was (and still is) actually very intelligent, she just had this thing about numbers. And she had this knack for music theory. All the stuff about how rhythms, harmonies pitches and all that relate to each other she took in ehr stride with no problems whatsoever. I didn't tell her until after she had sorted it all out that what she was actually doing was advanced mathematics way above what you usually expect children of her age to be able to handle. That realization really did help her get ove her handicap. :)

You can't really sort children by talent because you don't really know what they've got inside them. It can take years before it shows and by then it's too late.

---

Now, if I'm to answer your question not as a teacher but slightly cyncially from the perspective from society as a whole, developing skills and qualifications in the population as a whole is never about focusing on the tops anyway. Elevating a thousand chidlren from "Level 0" to "Level 1" is far more valuable to society than elevating one from "Level 1" to "Level 10".
Thanks. That's pretty much what I thought you would say, and it's also very much why I (and the author of the article in the Guardian to which I linked) would say that, for once, Jeremy Corbyn has go it about right.
 

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Why do you imagine that Parlaiment has any say in it? If the deadline passes and they haven't done A or B, then this is what WILL happen.
Parliament, and the British population at large, will believe that Europe cannot survive, and will not tolerate, a hard Brexit. They seem to think that businesses and governments will sit on their thumbs indefinitely while 650 useless individuals refuse to step up. That corporations, jobs, investments, and securities are steadily being removed from the UK economy is a temporary factor based on the ever present uncertainty of market values in a world economy. We're witnessing teatime with zombies. I feel sorry for them but cannot understand their "hands are tied can't do anything about it until November, January, May, July, October, 2029" attitude.
 

Innula Zenovka

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Parliament, and the British population at large, will believe that Europe cannot survive, and will not tolerate, a hard Brexit. They seem to think that businesses and governments will sit on their thumbs indefinitely while 650 useless individuals refuse to step up. That corporations, jobs, investments, and securities are steadily being removed from the UK economy is a temporary factor based on the ever present uncertainty of market values in a world economy. We're witnessing teatime with zombies. I feel sorry for them but cannot understand their "hands are tied can't do anything about it until November, January, May, July, October, 2029" attitude.
I think this assessment is mistaken, I'm afraid.

The British population at large is simply now so sick and tired of Brexit they just want it to be over, one way or another. The reason a lot of people say they're in favour of "No Deal" is that, in a lot of cases, they think "No Deal is preferable to a bad deal" and that "No Deal" means retaining the status quo -- after all, if I want to trade in my car for what I regard as a better model but can't come to a satisfactory agreement with the car dealership, I can walk away with no deal and keep the old car, and the assumption seems to be that's pretty much what "no deal" means in this context too.

However, even the people who know, or think they know, what "no deal" involves seem to think that, unpleasant though it may be in the short term, leaving the EU on WTO terms wouldn't be as bad as carrying on indefinitely in this cross between purgatory and limbo.

They're mistaken, of course, since no deal would simply prolong negotiations for the foreseeable future, only under much worse economic and political conditions and all sorts of additional complications. People who didn't much enjoy the last couple of year would really hate no deal if it happened.

But the only people other than Farage's BxP who now even say they believe that the EU would, in the event, fold and comply with British demands rather than countenance no-deal are some of the Conservative leadership challengers, and most of their own MPs don't believe for a minute they actually mean that.

Just read some of the background analysis in the serious British press, including normally quite Conservative papers like The Times, and look, at the comments -- both on and off the record -- from Conservative MPs and serving and former ministers they contain.
 
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Bartholomew Gallacher

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Parliament, and the British population at large, will believe that Europe cannot survive, and will not tolerate, a hard Brexit. They seem to think that businesses and governments will sit on their thumbs indefinitely while 650 useless individuals refuse to step up. That corporations, jobs, investments, and securities are steadily being removed from the UK economy is a temporary factor based on the ever present uncertainty of market values in a world economy. We're witnessing teatime with zombies. I feel sorry for them but cannot understand their "hands are tied can't do anything about it until November, January, May, July, October, 2029" attitude.
Oh the European Union is going to survive it, no doubt. The repercussions are going to be hard for everybody, but in the long term the EU26 has to face smaller ones compared to an independent UK´where everybody will most probably suffer.
 
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So how does getting a free trade agreement with the EU work if foods from the UK may contain contaminants barred in the EU?
 
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The Tories are now holding internal test elections to narrow down the camp of May's possible successors. So far Boris Johnson was able to get the best results in these; he got 114 from 313 MP votes, Hunt 43 and Michael Gove 37. This makes Johnson the favorite at the moment. Mark Harper, Ester McVey and Andrea Leadsom were sorted out.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Raphael Behr, in The Guardian, complains there are two Boris Johnsons running for the Conservative leadership:
It gets even harder for whoever else makes it to the final round because he (and it is now guaranteed to be a man) would be competing against two people called Boris Johnson. One served as mayor of London from 2008-2016. He has liberal, metropolitan instincts – broadly pro-immigration, old-fashioned in his use of idiom, but a moderniser at heart. That Johnson was once celebrated by his party as the “Heineken candidate” because, in homage to the old advertising slogan, he could refresh parts of the electorate that other Tories couldn’t reach. He won in the capital, a Labour heartland. Twice.

Then there is 2016-2019 Johnson, figurehead of the Vote Leave campaign, the ultimate Brexit-booster. He is a more aggressive, divisive figure – a partisan of nationalistic culture wars who has consorted with Steve Bannon, the notorious alt-right ideologue inside Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. This is the Johnson who compares Muslim women in burqas to “letterboxes” and who defended the jibe yesterday as a bit of unvarnished plain-speaking – the kind of thing the public prefers to “bureaucratic platitudes”. This is post-truth, Trumpesque Johnson who threatens to take the UK out of the EU with no deal and to renege on financial commitments already made to Brussels. He would build an invisible wall and make Ireland pay for it.

Katy Balls, writing in the Conservative, broadly pro-Brexit, Spectator has some interesting observations:


Briefly, at least according to her, if he wins Conservative MPs are expecting him to call an early general election in October and thus lance the festering boil that is Brexit one way or the other.

I can see the attractions of the Johnson-Trump comparison that several papers, particularly non-British ones, are making but I think there are two important caveats.

The first is that, while he shares many of Trump's qualities, both good and bad, in that he can certainly energise potential supporters many of his rivals in the party can't reach and he's also narcissistic, lazy and completely unhindered by any sense of shame or principle, he's an experienced politician who managed to get himself elected as Mayor of London twice. I can imagine the younger Trump running for Mayor of NYC and possibly even winning once, but not a second time, and certainly not winning in several congressional elections during his career, as has Johnson been elected to Parliament on many occasions for different constituencies.

The second is that the job of PM isn't like that of a President. Theresa May was PM because she commanded support of a majority in parliament, and once she lost the support of enough of her own party's MPs, her authority and mandate vanished. If elected, Johnson won't be able to have standoffs with Parliament in the way Trump has standoffs with Congress and it's pretty easy to replace both him and the whole government if necessary.

When (rather than if) things go badly wrong for him, people don't have to worry about impeaching him or the 25th Amendment or anything like that. The only question is whether they go badly wrong for him while we're still members of the EU.

One gleam of optimism in the whole mess -- the engagingly eccentric Rory Stewart (who seems to be under the impression that he's running for leader of the Lib Dems and is clearly really enjoying himself) is certainly hitting it off with the press and the general public, and he has unexpectedly made his way into the second round of voting.

He's very unlikely to win, though his supporters are talking him up as the candidate other than Boris Johnson most likely to engage uncommitted voters (though he attracts voters floating around on the left of the party rather than the right), but the more support he attracts the clearer it will become how many Conservative MPs are opposed to a no-deal Brexit.

We shall see. Johnson is lazy, vain, self-centred and irresponsible, but he's no fool.

It's entirely possible that he's reasoning -- possibly quite correctly -- that one way or another the present political impasse is poisoning everything and cannot be sustained, and that, one way or another, the Conservative Party in its present form is well and truly fucked (I rarely swear, either here or face to face, but that seems the most appropriate term) and faces electoral annihilation at some point between now and 5/5/22 -- my birthday -- so he may as well go out in a blaze of ... something.

That is, as the Conservative leader who stands the best chance of putting Nigel Farage and his new party back in their box, he has nothing to lose by one final death or glory charge towards victory, by calling a general election in October with a No Deal Brexit if he doesn't get a unicorn, and a pony too, as part of his party's manifesto.

If he wins (by some malign miracle) then he at least has some authority. If not, then he can return to writing and having fun, and will probably see himself as some quasi flawed hero, a bit like Beau Geste leading the last doomed defence of Fort Zinderneuf or Sydney Carton redeeming himself on the scaffold in A Tale of Two Cities.

He may even see himself as a second Earl of Cardigan, leading the Conservatives into the Valley of Death ... after all, who nowadays remembers the other two equally remarkable military engagements, except they were both remarkable in their unexpected success, that day at Balaclava, the Charge of the Heavy Brigade led by General Scarlett or Sir Colin Campbell's Thin Red Line of infantry (Sutherland Higlanders, admittedly) routing a Russian cavalry charge?
 
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