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Brexit: France activates no-deal plan (bbc.com)
60 points by pseudolus 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 115 comments



It is interesting to note how Ivan Rogers, someone who arguably understands Europe more than anyone else in government estimated it would take up to 10 years to come up with a satisfactory deal. But he was essentially pushed out as he was generally considered by the government to be too pessimistic about the whole affair..

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/15/post-brexit-trad...


I can strongly recommend Tim Shipman's "Fall Out: A Year of Political Mayhem" for an account of the post Brexit vote annus horribilis.

The only thing to look forward to with Brexit is reading his account, some time next year, of the current antics.


Agree. I have just finished reading it.

It has left me wondering, are all administrations this shambolic - we are all humans after all - and this book is just a rare glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes, or is this just an exceptional circumstance? Maybe a bit of both. It would be interesting to read about what goes on behind a really well run government - should one exist..


I recall a US general who thought it would take more troops and time than the POTUS wanted to manage the situation in Iraq before the invasion.

He retired.... years later we sent in a ton more troops and arguably never accomplished the goal and it is still a mess.


In some way Vietnam demonstrated that you could add more troops and time and still not get what you wanted :)

Did we know what we wanted in Iraq? Does anyone know what they want from Brexit?

I'm not convinced any of this was well thought out..



I thought so at the time... In my defense I was 15 or so :)

But why did set these objectivea in Iraq, we could have picked so many different places, with lot worse people than Saddam.

Just saying, there is not of examples of wheels starting to spin and being hard to stop.


The objectives are not the reason. According to the Wikipedia, the reason was a decade-long plot against Saddam, to support the Saudi interest.


True about Vietnam.

With Iraq the issue was just the lack of manpower to maintain control security and manage various factions (providing them a sense of security). In Iraq more troops did actually (for the time being) provide a lot more control and stability that was sorely needed.

Long term it may have been doomed to fail no matter what.

I agree, the goals of both were not thought out and likely not attainable, ever.


USA should have Saddaam 2.0 ready to take over.

All top military and tribal people should have been bribed to go along. Democracy is hard and USA can't do it everywhere. Not that democracy yields great results everywhere. In a lot of countries it's two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner.


It might have worked to do what we did at the end of WWII to Germany and Japan: occupy in overwhelming force for at least a decade, changing both the culture and the machinery of government before we left. The US didn't have the political will to do that in Iraq, though.


>>changing both the culture and the machinery of government before we left

If we invaded then for a 100 years, maybe.


The culture in Japan and Germany is very different...

And the war that was fought was more even.

Did the US every win in Iraq or did most of the Iraqies refuse to fight?

Note. I not suggesting war is ever a solution to anything :)


> Does anyone know what they want from Brexit?

It always seemed to me that this is what the referendum should really have been. Not "should we leave the EU" but "what should our relationship with the EU be?". The problem was that the politicians who proposed the referendum were convinced they could win and there would be no consequences.


So true..

It's easy to say "leave the EU" as rallying call. It's much harder to say: "tweak the EU so that this and that is a little different".

But good things come when we improve them.. it's not always a solution to move you kids to a better school, when you could just improve the school :)


> Did we know what we wanted in Iraq?

Saddam was a dictator with a history of reneging on promises, playing the international community for a fool, terrorizing his own people, who might be harboring WMDs [1], and who is vulnerable to an attack with overwhelming force. There was no competent planning of what to do after removing Saddam from power, though.

[1] In retrospect, we know he wasn't. But at the time, he was definitely trying hard to play up the idea that he might have them, probably to try to gain leverage in international negotiations. Even the UN weapons inspectors had to conclude their report with "we couldn't find anything, but the Iraqis are being so shifty we can't be sure."


I wonder if it would make more sense to instead of having the UK leave the EU, have England and Wales leave the UK with the UK (Scotland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar) remaining in the EU.

That would certainly seem fairer to the Scots, who rejected their independence vote largely because they weren't sure that they would be able to remain in the EU if they left the UK.


A great example of the fundamental schism here. We've already had a Scottish referendum, indicative of long-standing friction between Scotland and the rest of the UK (primarily England, arguably more specifically "the South" of England). Whilst passionate, that was at least executed with some level of respect and decorum.

Brexit has driven another, othogonal, wedge through the UK population. In fact it's quickly becoming several: remainers, "soft" brexiteers, "hard" brexiteers and various flavours of each. In comparison with the Scottish referendum, it has been marred by illegal campaigns, fanciful claims and a complete lack of accountability by the main protagonists.

It has also split the political spectrum in 4: the pre-existing left/right split, and now a horizontal brexit/remain split. Each of those quadrants is moving away from each other, creating a sanity void in the middle. That, in turn, is being amplified by media gorging on the extremist personalities (Reece-Mogg etc.).

I live in Scotland. I have never felt less represented by the Westminster Government or Parliament. My personal values are far more aligned with those of the wider Europe. So I am emotively attracted to solutions that see Scotland retaining affinity with Europe in preference to the neoliberalism that seems inherent in Brexit.

And yet, I also know that some kind of European Border between Scotland and England is as impractical and damaging - both economically and socially - as a hard border between the UK and Europe.

The entire situation is a mess that is destructive, damaging and divisive. Whatever the outcome, the social and political rifts will take years to heal.

Which is appalling in itself.

It is unconscionable in a wider context where the big questions of global warming and globalisation are the real challenges we should be confronting.

I have never felt so angry at, and unrepresented by, Westminster politics.


Fairer, most definitely. But also something that would be undesirable for the UK.


Not if you live in Scotland would it be undesireable so it can't be said that it would be undesireable for the UK, just for unionists.


"they weren't sure that they would be able to remain in the EU if they left the UK" - to be more precise, they were 100% sure that they will never be allowed into EU, Spain would never agree for this, as this would open path for Catalonia to leave Spain and join EU.


The Spanish government have since signaled, back in 2017, that it won't veto any attempt by an independent Scotland to join the EU.


I'm very skeptical about this, but since it's a statement about the unknowable future it's hard to prove either way.


That would create nightmare borders.


Not as much as the British border in Ireland, i think.


Why Scotland? Why not go into every village and have them in the EU or out depending on how they voted?


Scotland is a nation state, in a union with other nations. I'm sure you are aware of that so I'm not sure of what point you were trying to make.


I’m not sure if I’ve been stuck in an information silo and have totally lost the plot, but there seems to be substantial circumstantial evidence that Russia interfered in Brexit, which throws into question whether the result can be accepted.

I’d be interested to know whether people on here think I’ve strayed into a very plausible conspiracy theory or whether this is something real and of concern. I feel I could accept a result in which there was not some effective psy-ops campaign being run, but cannot accept a result which is “not the will of the people”.

[Edit: spelling correction]


It's certainly true that the UK and USA policy is anti Russian. and the Russians do try to meddle. But.

It's also putting too much credit on a foreign state, and is used to abdicate responsibility. We all laughed when Saddam, Gadaffi and Mubarak claimed the west were manipulating their population and elections.

Why dont we laugh when our politicians say the same about the Russians? To me it feels like the new bogey man. Some evidence but the impacts are grossly overegged.

(Edits, worth saying that in its not our politicians in power that are claiming this though, which is different)


I'm not sure I understand the western election interference comments because the west installed those people. The west did interfere in their elections at least once.


The result was advisory anyway so it was always up to the party in power whether they recognised the result or not. As it is, the result was almost certainly skewed by the cheating of the leave campaigners. If you cheat in a race, you are disqualified. The UK parliament has its own ideas about that.

Brexit: Vote Leave broke electoral law, says Electoral Commission[0] Leave.EU donor Arron Banks 'must explain Russia link'[1] Brexit: Leave 'very likely' won EU referendum due to illegal overspending, Oxford professor to tell High Court[2]

[0][https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44856992] [1][https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44428115] [2][https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/brexit-leave-very-like...]


I have not seen a lot of "circumstantial evidence" of Russian interference as you are describing. However that is not to say that there has been none whatsoever and regarding the very close result of the vote this could theoretically have changed the outcome.

But in my opinion the main point to your concern is that even if there was some evidence that Russia interfered in the referendum and if there was for example a medium sized probability that this changed the outcome: It should not matter.

Elections are a tricky thing because they are _the_ constitutional element of the whole system. If people don't trust the outcome of the voting, there will be no trust in the system as a whole. But trust in the election system is what keeps the whole thing running. Questioning the outcome of a democratic process should therefore only be possible if there is a clear violation, it should only be done by an independent Court and there should be a clear time limit.

Considering that the referendum has been held two years ago, that there is circumstantial evidence at best and that it has already immensely shaped British politics, I think it is not reasonable to go back and talk about the validity of the vote. Elections are not a scientific method to determine the true "will of the people". They are an event where people cast there vote and the democratic process gets an outcome to work with.

My takeaway from the possible Russian interference would rather be that there have to be measures in the future that prevent meddling and also to prevent the perception that there could have been meddling.


No, I don’t think this is a particularly conspiratorial theory. There’s shedloads of weird money floating around which was used for funding advertising campaigns in the run up to the referendum. Not to mention it’s a policy that would be welcomed by Russia, because it destabilises the EU.

The problem is that nobody knows if that influence affected the outcome. There’s little popular movement to push back against the result on that basis, which has led us to the current clusterimpasse.


> I feel I could accept a result in which there was not some effective pay-ops campaign being run

Define "effective". How do you know it was effective? If we invalidated results based on some peoples' assumed effectiveness of external interference, we'd invalidate all results.

> but cannot accept a result which is “not the will of the people”.

How do you define "will of the people"? How do you know that the result is not the will of the people? If another vote comes up and I find significant campaign spending by outsiders, can we assume it was not the will of the people and get another vote?

I find the dichotomy strange. On one hand it is said that people are so easily externally influenced, then on the other they assume that the next election that won't be the case. Which is it? Can people be trusted to think for themselves in the face of a constant barrage of "scary EU" or "scary Russia" or not? If you believe they can, you have to accept the results and if you believe they can't, no number of elections will change it.


it’s pretty obvious to me ( european) that russia tries to undermine Europe and USA to make them pay for the economical measures it has taken against it since the ukraine incident.

Yet to say that this is not the will of the people look like a bit of a stretch. Nigel farage isn’t a russian spy, trump didn’t invent the issues with taxes and immigration at the mexican border.

What russian sponsored media only need to do is to let local people whose opinion are generaly banned from the mainstream media speak freely and reach the general audience.

It forces mainstrem political party to stop being lazy, and talk about the real everyday issues, instead of relying on what’s morally right or wrong to think.

Call me an optimist but i truelty think that it could in fact save europe and democracy in the long run.


Russian involvement seems to go a bit beyond that, there seems to be a lot of money flowing into Europe right now into far right and anti EU movements. Take for example those mysterious payments to the AfD via Switzerland, and it's likely that this is only the tip of the iceberg. That's not just Russian money or influence, though. Take a look at Steve Bannon's activities, his goal is to destroy the European Union in order to make European states as weak as possible.


Sadly, there's no evidence at all that Russian influence was extensive enough to have affected the outcome. After all, who needs to deploy hackers when the UK's own tabloid press was doing the job perfectly well.


Yes, there was proven Russian involvement which could have been decisive, given the close margin. This is not a conspiracy theory.

However, there seems to be some agreement, driven by May and her party, that a second referendum would be even more disastrous to democracy, since in any case the outcome would be close and keep the UK divided (as polls indicate) and at the same time a second referendum would cause people to question the legitimacy of the whole process.

Foreign involvement in elections or referenda is a tricky thing, as it happens everywhere in one form or another and the legality of it is often in a grey zone rather than it being clearly illegal.


Is there any mechanism in Westminster politics, or any democratic political system for that matter, for invalidating election results if it is determined that an external state interfered with the process?

If it was found that Russia interfered in some capacity, would/could anything be done?


The Electoral Commission can void elections in the event of fraud: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_fil...

One of their most high profile cases: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erlam_%26_Ors_v_Rahman_%26_Ano...

I don't think either of these apply for nebulous "external interference", but certain actions such as running unlawful electoral advertising should count.

Vote leave have been fined and referred to the police: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/journalist/ele...

BUT: these apply to elected positions. Referendums don't really have a strong constitutional place in the UK, and the Brexit referendum was "non-binding": the result did not legally oblige anything specific to happen.

Brexit is a choice of the government. No-Deal Brexit is also a choice of the government, made two years ago when sending the A50 notification without a viable plan.


The only real weight that the referendum has is the public sentiment it represents. If that was called into question it would lose most of it's power without anything needing to be done. It's not legally binding.

I'm not convinced that the idea that Russia interfered is worth taking that seriously though. You don't need to go very far to find real people who are very pro-brexit. IMO it's the newspapers (rupert murdoch, etc) that had more influence, but I'm not sure what you can do about that.


Given that the Brexit referendum was legally non-binding (unlike an election), the only mechanism needed is political will to ignore the result


I don't think there is a mechanism for invalidating general election results. The parliament can vote to hold new general elections.

For the Brexit referendum, there is no need to invalidate it, as it was an advisory opinion poll rather than a binding public vote for the government. The UK government could ignore the results or call for a new referendum if they wished to.


the referendum was non-binding so there would not need to be a formal process in this particular case - however it probably would cause a lot of upstir anyways.


Russian is so conveniently used for everything these days. Terrorists were wearing off I guess, and too limited.

I feel like watching old documentaries from the 50-70's, where everything bad hapening was because of the communists. And nobody questioned it. They had evidences. And certitudes.


Most people don't really have a narrative that explains the recent rise of nationalism. In America, they blame Russia because that's easier than taking a critical look at why a voting majority of people in their country think building a whites-only wall is a good idea.


There is far more evidence that the same happened for the US election, and yet you won't see a change of President because of that.


What evidence? The russia-brexit narrative is as flimsy as the trump-russia narrative. Some russian company spent a few thousand dollars on facebook and google and that means that russian interfered?

What about when obama openly campaigned against brexit? What about when our politicians and business moguls openly campaigned against brexit? What about the billions spent by US/Europe politicians against brexit. Is that foreign influence?

There was obviously foreign interference in brexit and the US election. Most of it didn't come from russia, a country with an economy the size of australia or spain. It came from the anti-brexit side.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nomi...

The russia narrative is simply propaganda by the powerful pro-globalism state and corporate institutions. Also, the idea of brexit is a pipe dream. The EU and corporation powers will never let britain leave.

The US, EU, China, Saudi Arabia and every major corporation has come out against it. It will never happen. Everyone knows what is going to happen. The EU will force a revote like it has done every time they didn't get what they wanted.


I think there's a crucial difference between legitimate open campaigning and deceitful clandestine campaigning. The former is an investment toward making certain facts and, possibly controversial, opinions made known to a wider, perhaps targeted, audience and the ultimate motivation for this is transparent. The latter is a deliberate attempt to sow disinformation and confusion to particularly vulnerable audiences to achieve an outcome for which the ultimate motivation is troublingly obscure. They are total opposites - truth and lies.


In the world of politics and propaganda, it's pretty much all lies. Just like the narrative that russia controls trump or russia is behind brexit. If you think one side is offering truth and the other lies, it's most likely because you favor one side over the other. Objectively, it's all nonsense.

What our "state" propaganda on both of the atlantic have been saying is something all states do when things don't go their way. Blame the "other". The chinese do that to crackdown on muslims, falun gong, etc. The russians do that for separatists. The turks do that. The nazis did it. The japanese did. We did it many times. Everyone does it.

The simplest and most effective way to manipulate and control the public is to present an external threat. It's propaganda 101. But of course, we only call it propaganda when others do it. When we do it, it's news/facts/truth.

But maybe I'm just naive. I'll wait with bated breath to see how a relatively poor country like russia has taken control over the politics of regions that are collectively nearly 40X as wealthy as russia. It's a notion as absurd as dirt poor north korea controlling china, but anything is possible.


"Flimsy"

Sure, we'll see how flimsy this is once everything comes to light


We pretty much already know it's flimsy. It's been nearly 3 years and we've had nothing. Now, the question is whether it is outright propaganda on the level of mccarythism or yellow cake.

That a country with a GDP the size of australia is dominating britian and american politics seems laughable to me. But perhaps that's just me being naive.


"We know", speak for yourself

The GDP of the country has not much correlation with their geopolitical capabilities


I can't belive there isn't a viable candidate taking up something like:

"I'm not going to drive us face first into the ground because of a referendum the promised somethings that can't happen with a brexit. We're going to come out with the short end of the stick here if we're not smart. We need to work out a new deal where we stay but address some concerns."

Hopefully the EU could be adult about it and throw them a bone or two and let things settle.


Sometimes part of your life needs go to wrong for some time so that later, you can do the right thing in another part of your life.

Sometime you have to loose something to perceive it value.

I think there is a possibility that this whole thing improve the state of the rest of the UE. Making the EU citizens understand more the fact they are part of something beautiful.

Something that allowed us to come from a time where my grandpa had a number tatooed on his wrist, to a time where my brother made a kid with a german girl.

The best benefit of Europe is not the money, the passport or the common laws. It's how it brought people together.

And I really hope brexit will make people wake up to this, because we heard a lot of anti-euro sentiment lately. And they exist because problems exist, problems that can be solved only if we work together, not if we build walls.


Leaders of both main parties are in a similar position. Cross-party compromise would be required, but if either joins forces with their opposition, it will fracture their own party, possibly for good.

Party survival is obstructing finding a common solution.

Tony Blair had a reasonable proposal on the radio this morning: a series of free ranked-choice indicative votes to produce a shortlist of possible outcomes, eg no deal, loose FTA aka 'Canada+++', EEA/EFTA membership aka 'Norway+' or Remain. Whichever wins, you would still need to put the result to a 2nd ref.

The XXXXing frustrating thing is, this should have been done 2 years ago, without all the political mayhem driving it.


The UK had over the years gotten all sorts of special considerations to get them in and to stay and the end result was that they caused a bunch of chaos, if they want to remain they will get no benefits that any other nation does.


The EU court has already stated that the UK can revoke A50 and continue as before.


hmm, I wasn't aware that had been stated, but I guess since it can be done unilaterally it makes sense. Do you have a link to the decision?


The referendum was a vote to leave; reasonable people can disagree about what form that should take but the referendum result clearly rules out remaining in the EU, in the most simple of terms.

May has negotiated the only practical set of terms. If Corbyn was as serious about ruling out a no-deal Brexit as he claims, his party would've voted for May's deal. The part I find incomprehensible is that the remain lobby refuses to acknowledge that if we vote down every possible deal then the result will be no deal.


I don’t really agree with this analysis.

A vote was held, and the decision was to leave. That’s fine - we should not have run that referendum in the form it was, but we can’t deny the result.

The problem is, Brexit was an entirely empty vessel into which voters’ fantasies were poured. The outcome in no way resembles any of the ideas that were articulated before the referendum. There is now a concrete plan that basically everybody hates, because it’s the worst of both worlds.

There are three realistically possible options right now. The UK either exits with the agreed deal, exits with no deal in a disorderly fashion, or cancels Brexit and remains in the EU. The first option is bad because nobody wants that deal. The second is bad because it would be obviously catastrophic. The third is terrible because it directly contravenes the outcome of the referendum.

In short, all the options are fucking awful. There’s no real democratic legitimacy for any of them. Under these circumstances, having a second referendum that says “this is what we were able to negotiate, now do you want to go through with it or forget the whole thing” is possibly the least shit option. I hope it will be cancelled, but at least if it’s not I can be sure that it was voted for with knowledge of what was to come.


> A vote was held, and the decision was to leave. That’s fine - we should not have run that referendum in the form it was, but we can’t deny the result.

> The problem is, Brexit was an entirely empty vessel into which voters’ fantasies were poured. The outcome in no way resembles any of the ideas that were articulated before the referendum. There is now a concrete plan that basically everybody hates, because it’s the worst of both worlds.

I don't see any material change in circumstances that would justify redoing the referendum. The deal on the table looks to be very much the kind of deal anyone who thought about it for a few minutes at referendum time would have expected. It may well be the case that some of those who voted leave were hoping for no deal and some were hoping for a deal like this, and neither alone would have got a majority - but the proper time to address that was when drafting the referendum question. I agree we shouldn't have run the referendum in the form it was, but as you say, we can't deny the result.

> There’s no real democratic legitimacy for any of them. Under these circumstances, having a second referendum that says “this is what we were able to negotiate, now do you want to go through with it or forget the whole thing” is possibly the least shit option.

There's no democratic legitimacy for a referendum that includes remain - we already had that vote. If we really wanted democratic legitimacy we could have a referendum between the proposed deal and no deal, but you'll notice that no-one's arguing for that, because none of the people pushing for a referendum actually care about democracy.


> I don't see any material change in circumstances that would justify redoing the referendum.

Other than, as noted elsewhere:

1. It was an advisory vote, not constitutionally binding 2. The leave campaign broke the law 3. To quote the parent post "Brexit was an entirely empty vessel into which voters’ fantasies were poured. The outcome in no way resembles any of the ideas that were articulated before the referendum".

If that's not 'material'...


> 1. It was an advisory vote, not constitutionally binding

Parliament can't bind itself, so all referendums in the UK are advisory; indeed the UK has no constitution as such. In any case, what would be different in a re-run?

> 2. The leave campaign broke the law

You're talking about the breach of spending limits? Those limits are important and those who break them should be punished; at the same time small-scale breaches of the limits are relatively normal occurrences that we've never redone an election over. I'm pretty sure all the main parties have broken them at some point or another (and been duly fined for doing so).

> 3. To quote the parent post "Brexit was an entirely empty vessel into which voters’ fantasies were poured. The outcome in no way resembles any of the ideas that were articulated before the referendum".

Like I said, what do you think has changed? The predictable consequences of Brexit now are much the same as the predictable consequences of Brexit at referendum time. The no deal outcome is the same as it ever was, the deal on the table is the deal anyone who thought about it would have predicted.


> The deal on the table looks to be very much the kind of deal anyone who thought about it for a few minutes at referendum time would have expected

Implying that the majority of voters thought about it for a few minutes? Of the people I've spoken to, it seems that ~90% of them voted based on whether they read pro-EU or anti-EU newspapers, without any thought given to the specific details of this particular situation...


True enough, but that's the nature of a referendum, and applies equally to both sides.


Why not just accept the deal, and then negotiate better terms down the road? Is there something binding in it that would make it hard to renegotiate once the pressure of the clock has been removed, and you possibly have better leverage?


One binding piece is the "backstop", which is in there to guarantee no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It essentially forces the UK to remain in the customs union if they can't work something else out with the EU.

There are many and various extremely good reasons for the backstop, but its very existence is anathema for many Brexiters, since it would force the UK to follow EU regulations indefinitely. Alternatively, the UK could put a customs border in the sea between NI and the rest, but that would put NI in a different regulatory regime, and that's anathema to the Tories' partner in government, the Northern Irish DUP, which will not accept anything that could move NI closer to the RoI. So 1) most Brexiters don't like a customs union and don't care about NI 2) the DUP don't want any borders on either "side" of NI (but want Brexit anyway).

https://www.apnews.com/eb12b6eb1da3436cba22bd64de6d9ec8

The actual contours of the UK/EU relationship after Brexit would otherwise be mostly up for negotiation. If you didn't mind a possible permanent customs union, then exiting with May's deal followed by a bunch more negotiations would seem like a sane thing to do...


So what happens to the border in a hard Brexit? A hard border between NI and Ireland? Does DUP prefer that?


That is what happens, yes. The DUP prefers that because it pushes NI away from ROI.


So who is a hard border unacceptable to?


Lots of people, but the people that matter in the negotiation are the Republic of Ireland who will not accept it, full stop. And that means the EU is not going to negotiate a deal that doesn't include the backstop. The EU throwing Ireland under the bus would severely damage its credibility with its smaller member nations. The EU does a lot of things by consensus and voluntarily throwing RoI into economic and political turmoil to appease a country that is trying to leave the EU is a nonstarter.

There's also the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland. A hard border would easily be seen as a betrayal of it and could plausibly cause it to collapse.

The whole thing is just an impossible trilemma. Can't have a border on the island, because RoI will not let the EU sign that deal. Can't have one in the ocean, because the Tories need the DUP votes in Parliament (they don't have a majority, and the government will fall if the DUP pulls out). Can't have a backstop because it could mean a permanent half-in half-out twilight where the UK stays in the customs union forever and hard Brexit parliamentarians can't swallow that. Three totally incompatible red lines.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_border_question

The default, if no deal is signed, is a hard border on the island. Which is bad, but not obviously that much worse for the RoI than a deal with a hard border. So the RoI won't settle for a deal without a backstop.


I honestly don't know, they are not out there campaigning for one. Their current position seems to be that either way it wouldn't be their fault if there was one:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/dup-doubles-down-on...

They certainly don't seem to want a hard border with RoI, but they will sooner chop an arm off than accept a hard border between NI and the rest of the UK, so given the choice I think they'd take the former. They're the Democratic Unionist Party, keeping NI an integrated part of the UK is literally their entire reason for existing.


I am not sure why hard exit is going to be "catastrophic". There are many countries outside EU doing just fine and doing business with EU countries. Plus nothing stops UK from signing bilateral trade deals with EU countries and I wouldn't be surprised if Germany and France were first in the row do sign such deal (loudly crying at the same time how important is the EU solidarity).


There is no such thing as a bilateral trade deal with an EU country. Trade deals are with the EU overall. Yes, they will want a trade deal - but the UK will be in a vastly weak negotiating position, as (I think) the only country with literally no trade deals in place on exit day. Who is going to get the upside of that deal?


It has been explained multiple times to several people (Donald Trump, one of them), that for EU countries is impossible to establish individual trade deals, they must do as part of a block.

https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-trade-merkel-germany-e...

It would defeat the purpose of a common market. What stops UK from doing so is EU laws.

But I agree it won't be catastrophic. UK will survive, the EU will survive.

But jobs will be lost in the process, economies will be affected, quality of life will be lowered.

And people voted for this to happen.


Both the UK and EU will survive, but I think that’s an awful metric.

I have a startup in the UK. We employ EU citizens, sell products and services to EU customers, buy products and services from EU suppliers, and receive EU grant funding. A disorderly Brexit will affect us in unknown, possibly terminal ways.

Aside from that personal issue, I t’s possible in the worst case that hundreds of people may die due to lack of medication. The economy will be affected to the time of 10% of GDP over 15 years, by the government’s own prediction.

I think that counts as catastrophic.


The referendum wasn't binding in any form. It's also clear that there was a lot of misinformation during the original referendum, and that Brexit is going to be very different from what much of the public imagined it to be. Now that 16-17 year olds can vote, I'm sure e the referendum would have ended up much differently.

At the very least there should be a second referendum, but even better, the referendum should be discarded completely--there's a reason things like constitutional amendments require 2/3rds majority in the U.S.


There was never a 2/3rd majority for joining the EU; IIRC opinion polls have generally hovered around 55% approval at the best of times. If leaving is such a major constitutional change to require a 2/3rds majority, surely entering was too.


No-deal is the least popular option among voters, given the high risk of tanking the economy.

If the government and parliament can't agree a deal I think the only sensible way forward is another referendum.


Thanks for exemplifying all the naivety of leavers

Before the referendum Norway "was out" and it was all good for them, recently any form of CU agreement is "in" (like May's deal). Funny how leavers forget that, seems like comprehension of anything besides "in" or "out" is too much for them.

"result clearly rules" hilarious, just hilarious. Even Farage said a close result would end up in more discussions. But of course they like to "forget" that.

We agree on Corbyn being a waste of space though.


> Before the referendum Norway "was out" and it was all good for them, recently any form of CU agreement is "in" (like May's deal).

It wasn't leavers who voted down May's deal. Or do you think Parliament has a 230 majority for leaving with no CU agreement?

A 230 majority de facto voted to leave without a CU agreement. I don't know which possibility is more worrying: that they did so by mistake, or that they did so on purpose.


It was leavers (just check how the DUP and Tory brexiters voted) and some remainers together that voted down that agreement

> Or do you think Parliament has a 230 majority for leaving with no CU agreement?

Well, at least against that deal, that is a fact, more than 400 votes were against May's deal.


> Well, at least against that deal, that is a fact, more than 400 votes were against May's deal.

Do you think there is any deal that the remainers who voted against May's deal would vote for? Do you think they want a no-deal outcome? Do you think there's any other plausible outcome?


> Do you think there is any deal that the remainers who voted against May's deal would vote for?

I think a lot would vote for a "Norway" deal if it were available, but that would mean May and the anti-immigration faction surrendering.

My hypothesis is the "meat grinder": what has to happen is the slow wearing down and obliteration of options. The only way to get to Remain is for all the other options to be infeasible. Eliminating the deal raises the chances of both "no deal" and "remain". Similarly, "extend" would greatly increase the chances of "remain".


There was a slim chance for a no-confidence vote, then a re-election, a regime change, and then a cancelling of Article 50.

A slim chance.

Voting for that would have been a political vote though.


Also don't forget that "No deal is better than a bad deal"


The problem I see is that some people voted leave but they were promised some things, probably there are a few camps that each want a different thing, if the referendum had details like leave with condition 1, leave with condition 2 etc then it would be clear what is the will of the people.

It is not the will of the people if the chosen leave option is the one liked by a small group, it is the contrary.


The 2016 referendum was flawed in its formulation and execution, and was itself already the 2nd referendum on the topic.


> The 2016 referendum was flawed in its formulation and execution

Agreed, but having asked the question and got the answer we have to implement it if democracy is to have any credibility.

> and was itself already the 2nd referendum on the topic.

Hardly. The EEC was a very different institution from the EU (indeed I'd say the closest modern equivalent is the EEA or EFTA).


> Agreed, but having asked the question and got the answer we have to implement it if democracy is to have any credibility.

To paraphrase a famous quote, democracy is not a suicide pact.


There is indeed precedent for suspending democracy in times of war. Suspending it over customs arrangements seems a little more dubious.


Direct democracy does not scale to running a country. Effectively, the task of making, deciding, and implementing policy is very much a full-time job, and most people cannot devote the time it takes to be sufficiently informed to make decisions. Decisions that require a lot of careful policy crafting and negotiation to implement are not good candidates for referendums, especially when the cutoff is as low as 50% + 1. In jurisdictions with saner direct democracy mechanisms (say, Switzerland), there is substantial filtering of any proposals through the regular legislature process so that referendums are less "implement this policy" and more "this is something that is important to us, please figure out what needs to be done here."

With respect to Brexit in particular, the government made a grave error in triggering Article 50 prematurely. May then called an early election to strengthen her negotiating position which actually weakened it instead. There is substantial cover for saying "We clearly need more time to figure out how to do this, and the March deadline is too soon to get this done. Let's pause this process for now." Sure, a lot of people will be pissed, but we're at a stage where any action (including inaction) will piss off at least 30-40% of the population.


> Direct democracy does not scale to running a country. Effectively, the task of making, deciding, and implementing policy is very much a full-time job, and most people cannot devote the time it takes to be sufficiently informed to make decisions. Decisions that require a lot of careful policy crafting and negotiation to implement are not good candidates for referendums, especially when the cutoff is as low as 50% + 1. In jurisdictions with saner direct democracy mechanisms (say, Switzerland), there is substantial filtering of any proposals through the regular legislature process so that referendums are less "implement this policy" and more "this is something that is important to us, please figure out what needs to be done here."

Agreed; we should never have had the referendum in the form we did. Nevertheless, we can't undo it now.

> There is substantial cover for saying "We clearly need more time to figure out how to do this, and the March deadline is too soon to get this done. Let's pause this process for now." Sure, a lot of people will be pissed, but we're at a stage where any action (including inaction) will piss off at least 30-40% of the population.

I think delaying Brexit at this point has far less credibility than any kind of leave (even no deal). There's no way for it to not look like an elite stitch-up.


At this point, they should just do a new referendum to ask if people really still want to leave. I'm rather sure that the stay would win


It won't happen but I agree. It's like asking someone if they want to go out for dinner, then finding that the only place open is a place with a zero star hygiene rating. At that point it's reasonable to ask, "shall we just stay home instead?"


And if the public keeps giving the "wrong" answer do we keep holding more referenda until they give the "right" one? To do a new referendum when the first one hasn't even been implemented makes a mockery of the whole thing.


That is the traditional EU approach, c.f. the Constitution of Europe, Treaty of Lisbon and so forth.


Unfortunately, there isn't enough time.


> We need to work out a new deal where we stay but address some concerns.

This is virtually impossible. To change the treaties, one needs the agreement of the 28 members. What one country sees as an issue (e.g. not properly taxing big tech companies) another sees as a great thing. That has nothing to do with being an adult or not. Each country is protecting its own interests.


UK already was somewhat an oddball.

It doesn't have to be some huge issues, some symbolic stuff to give the UK politician some cheap political points.


They did. This was David Cameron's renegotiation before the referendum. The public didn't want those symbolic changes, they wanted a whole bunch of other things.


Considering that most of the complaints I've heard about the EU were along the lines of "we hate the goal of ever-closer union" and the renegotiation had the EU explicitly say "Britain gets a permanent opt-out of ever-closer union," it ought to have mollified a lot of critics. But the critics weren't actually complaining about the EU as it actually is but about the EU as they constructed it as a bogeyman, the truth be damned.


Exactly. It's a Quixotic battle against our collective myths of the EU. It can't be addressed by the actual EU.


What would be an example? I fail to see what could be strong enough to make the "ruse" viable, but not require any change in the treaties.


We are constantly told that the UK could have imposed temporary restrictions on immigration from newly joining countries (particularly Romania and Bulgaria), could have limited immigrants' access to benefits, could have limited immigration of those without jobs arranged, could have issued blue passports, all while remaining in the EU.

I think it's significant that we didn't. In the run up to the Scottish independence referendum the political establishment went for maximum compromise, promising that "devo max" would offer everything that independence advocates wanted whether they left the UK or not. By contrast those pushing the EU referendum had no interest compromise; the referendum was set up to deliver a minimally-nuanced result that would make a clear victory for one side over the other and allow those on the winning side to pursue whatever policies they wanted. Which backfired when the public refused to give them the result they had intended.


> promising that "devo max" would offer everything that independence advocates wanted whether they left the UK or not

This was, of course, not meaningfully delivered. Including all the promises that the only way to remain in the EU was to vote no.


The conflict is now too entrenched. Nobody is in the mood for compromise. The DUP, who view any form of compromise as surrender and treason, are critical to propping up the government. The rightwing press has been pitching all the practical objections as "sabotage".

There are two un-appeasable factions, one of which wants out of the single market so they can turn us into the 51st state(+), and one of which wants out of free movement so they can deport anyone born east of Vienna or south of Gibraltar.

Those in power would absolutely prefer a troops-on-the-streets fiasco to anything so contemptible as compromise.

The callups are already starting: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/no-deal-brexi...

(+) in reality we'd be more like Puerto Rico: subordinate to US power but with none of the benefits and intermittent electricity


I'm most disappointed in Labour and the Liberal Democrats here. The Conservatives are kind of locked in as the Euroskeptic party at this point so they're going to stick with the party line that referendum is binding and they'll crash out of the EU over not leaving.

But where is the opposition saying that the referendum was nothing more than a protest vote against immigration, 52-48% is a narrow split, we can't possibly have our cake and eat it too (eg on freedom of movement) and that pursuing some Norway like model combines the worst of both worlds (eg maintaining membership of the EU customs union and being subject to its rules without having the power to vote on and control the EU agenda as a member would).

The backstop is nothing more than kicking the can down the street and the ultimate result is probably reunification with Ireland, which is why the DUP in particular and the Conservatives in general don't want it.

The only alternatives are hard exit and remaining.

Why hasn't the opposition been more vocal about this? All I see is hand-wringing and non-committal rhetoric from Corbyn.


Corbyn doesn't want to remain in the EU, and even if he did, his whole narrative is that he wants a democracy that's more representative of ordinary people over Westminster elites. If he tried to offer a policy of technocrats overruling the will of the people he would lose all credibility.

The Liberal Democrats are pro-remain I think? But they're an irrelevance at least parliamentarily.


> But where is the opposition saying that the referendum was nothing more than a protest vote against immigration, 52-48% is a narrow split, we can't possibly have our cake and eat it too. Why hasn't the opposition been more vocal about this?

I think it might be something like an idea that if your reaction to a protest vote by people who feel like they aren't being listened to, is to turn around and say "we're not going to take your vote at face value, and we're going to do something else anyway", then they (quite justifiably imo) might not take it very well.

It's tricky, because I agree with you that a good proportion of the leave vote doesn't care specifically about leaving the EU, but associates it with other issues (although I think a fair chunk of the leavers actually did vote leave knowing what they were getting). And I also think that Corbyn vould have done more than he has.

I don't really know what I'd like to see.


So much of our bad politics since WW2 comes from this feeling of being "locked in" to a certain position, too afraid to admit it was a mistake or at least problematic. Can't give anything up, ever, that makes you weak according to statistical game theory and everyone is playing the same dumb game.

1984 but with lots of stats.


It is funny how people question democracy when they get results they are uncomfortable with :-)


In a decade when EU economy start collapsing, British people will be for another vote but this time EU soldiers will be restoring ordnung and make sure the outcome is the only right one. It's the UK last chance.


>less and less unlikely

I hate phrasing like this




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