Brexit

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Re: Brexit

Postby Pedgerow » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:03 pm

It's all been very exciting lately in the world of Brexit. Today, a vote in the House of Commons ruled that the Conservative government is in contempt of parliament, which is pretty grandiose and incredible-sounding. The actual details are that everyone else wants to see some legal advice given to the government about Brexit, and they have demanded it in a way that should not be ignored, but there is a custom in parliament that you shouldn't really do that, so the government ignored it. It doesn't sound as exciting as CONTEMPT OF PARLIAMENT when you put it like that, but still, it's a pretty rarely-used law, and a pretty cool story that the government is now officially conspiring to thwart the running of democracy, however little that actually means.

Meanwhile, we have exactly one week until MPs vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal. The consensus is pretty universal that it will be voted down and rejected, which would mean that we're either getting No Deal or No Brexit, so there's a good chance that things are going to get even more exciting before the new year. Hurray! Unless it all falls apart, of course, and we wind up going full Greece. That's the trouble with brinkmanship.
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Re: Brexit

Postby Absentia » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:24 pm

No Brexit is still the only sane option, just like it was when this whole mess began. And how Theresa May has managed to keep her job is beyond me.
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Re: Brexit

Postby Marcuse » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:01 pm

Absentia wrote:No Brexit is still the only sane option


I respectfully disagree on that point.

I have been thinking though, about the argument that we have to stay in the EU because it would be economically bad for the UK if we left. This is really the primary and only argument for remaining in the EU at this point. If you ask most reasonable people who support remain they won't pretend the EU is a perfect institution that doesn't need reform. The economic argument, dubbed "Project Fear" all too often, is the really central reason why we're told we should remain in the EU.

But we do things which are economically inefficient all the time. We do so because we as a society choose to, and because we think it's the right thing to do. We don't, for example, engage in slavery even though that is very economically efficient. We don't engage in the sale of arms to regimes we think will use them for repression (more or less). We don't purchase things which do not meet our quality standards even though lower quality products would be cheaper. We don't use child labour. And so on.

Framing leaving the EU as a purely economic decision is wrong because the EU itself aspires to be more than a simple economic union. Paring the decision to remain or leave back to economic terms alone misses the point: people want to leave because they don't want to have any further part in the EU superstate project and progress towards the ever closer union EU treaties demand. There's plenty of evidence that this opinion is not unique in Europe right now. At its heart the EU is a political organisation, and the question of whether to leave such an organisation is essentially a political one.

So then what is the problem with a political EU? The problem is that it lacks consent to govern the people it presumes to rule. Regardless of its parliament, whose members are elected in a remote way and play very little part in the day to day lives of people who elected them, the meat of the business of the EU is conducted by the commission, which is opaque and operates in a way that suggests it is on a different plane to the rest of the european governments. The way that it has handled the migrant crisis, the rebellious governments in Hungary and Poland, the budget in Italy and the Brexit negotiations has indicated that it is an increasingly remote and unrepresentative organisation which is determined to rule as technocrats over the whole of the EU regardless of their feelings on the matter. In their minds, and in our law, their rule takes precedent over our own (and that of other member states). To use an example Americans might resonate with, it's as though the individual states joined together and then someone tried to set up a federal government with themselves at the head claiming to be able to override state law.

The problem with the EU as it is currently formulated is that it wishes to override the national sovereignty of the individual countries in Europe on the assumption that they are more able to handle the issues facing the continent than national governments are. In this assumption it has been shown to be wrong many times. In fact, policy decisions are increasingly informed by the desires of a group in one or some nations which are to the detriment of other ones, the CAP and CFP being two prime examples. Policy writ large doesn't work for a continent as diverse as Europe and it's reasonable to make a political argument that unitary government on national lines with strong solidarity and cooperation is far more preferable to large scale federal management of the whole of the current EU. It seems to be a principle that the wider a decision is cast, the less efficient overall it is, and I don't see why that doesn't apply to the EU in particular.

Leaving the EU now is a mess, because of reasons I have gone into before. Part of this is the EU desire to tie the UK into the union by an agreement which does not allow the UK to unilaterally decide to leave. This is characteristic of European politicians insisting on holding the keys to our government for us. It is a definite loss of freedom to be unable to decide within the British parliament whether to cease to participate in a political organisation that the people have (however narrowly) determined they do not wish to be a part of. However economically harmful it may be, it is not worth the loss of freedom that the EU has demanded to remain part of the union or tied to it in the invidious way Teresa May and Michel Barnier have brokered.

how Theresa May has managed to keep her job is beyond me


It is a very sad fact of British politics right now that there is nobody capable of stepping up and taking over. On any side of the house.
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Re: Brexit

Postby Absentia » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:40 pm

Marcuse wrote:To use an example Americans might resonate with, it's as though the individual states joined together and then someone tried to set up a federal government with themselves at the head claiming to be able to override state law.


I'm not saying the situations are exactly parallel, but... you realize you just described the Constitutional Convention of 1787, right? We realized the whole "loose federation" thing was a losing proposition pretty early on.

And frankly I don't see the sense in cutting off your nose to spite the EU's autocratic tendencies. They're going to keep doing their thing, and the only question is whether the UK has a seat at the table or whether they box themselves into a "take it or leave it" position like they are now. Isolating themselves from continental Europe isn't a realistic option.
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Re: Brexit

Postby cmsellers » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:57 pm

Marc, I've become a lot more sympathetic to your position on Brexit, but that said, you picked some really bad examples to illustrate economic inefficiency.

Marcuse wrote:But we do things which are economically inefficient all the time. We do so because we as a society choose to, and because we think it's the right thing to do. We don't, for example, engage in slavery even though that is very economically efficient.

Slavery is efficient for the slave owners, and inefficient for slaves, but it is also inefficient for the economy as a whole, because slave labor is less productive.

Marcuse wrote:We don't engage in the sale of arms to regimes we think will use them for repression (more or less).

Don't we? I think we do more often than not.

Marcuse wrote:We don't purchase things which do not meet our quality standards even though lower quality products would be cheaper.

It may not be in the long run, as Sam Vimes so famously put it.

Marcuse wrote:We don't use child labour.

We let parents use child labor in the family business, as long as they get an education, and we are happy to let companies overseas use child labor. But we generally want children to get an education, on the assumption that it makes them much more productive workers as adults.

That said, there are plenty of cases where we do engage in deliberate economic efficiency, though mostly of the sort I disagree with. We impose tariffs on favored and inefficient industries. We give subsidies for things which range from never returning the investment (stadiums) to the actively harmful (ethanol). We enforce monopolies even when that definitely does not lead to innovation, as with business method patents and copyrights for dead people. We impose largely pointless regulations for the sake of bureaucratic conformity.

And here, I think, is the key issue with the EU. We shouldn't have the government trying to determine what is efficient because it will rarely be as effective as the markets (even though they have plenty of inefficiencies of their own). But we definitely shouldn't have it pushing inefficient policies. And those examples I mentioned? The EU does all of them, a lot. I don't know if British business would be better off without the EU markets and without EU policies, but the world would be better off without the EU's statist economic policy, and while you can make a pragmatic argument for staying in the EU and fighting these changes from the inside, Britain has largely been losing that argument. So I think there is also a principled argument to be made for leaving, and reducing the economic clout of the bloc as a whole.
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Re: Brexit

Postby gisambards » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:15 am

The development of Brexit over the last few weeks has left me entirely unsure about where the country can possibly go from here, and has managed to lower my estimation of Britain's politicians, parties and political activists to by far the lowest it has ever been. In fact, the only politicians I would say I really have any respect for anymore are Theresa May and those few Tory MPs that are sticking by her, because the fact remains that she really is the only person offering any actual solutions at this point, even if they are crap.

There are effectively three choices: we take this admittedly bad deal, we do Brexit with no deal at all, or we try and reverse Brexit. The third of these is not a good option. I supported remaining in the EU at the time and felt we should have done more to try and improve it from within, but I think at this point that's no longer a viable option. If Brexit is cancelled, we've lost any influence we had in the EU and will be entirely at its mercy. The EU is not the friendly, beneficent organisation the Remain supporters are trying to paint it as, and we will be made to regret the referendum if we remain.

I think the situation is similar with no deal. That will be burning too many bridges, and that's a risk I don't think we can take. A newly ex-EU Britain will need to do everything it can to generate trade, and that will mean appeasing the EU as much as one can, at least in the short term. Britain can't actually go it alone from the word go.

So I think a bad deal is all one can expect. There is never going to be a better deal than the one May's got. Certainly, the idea Labour could get a better deal is entirely detached from reality.

But I no longer have any real hope for this going in a stomachable direction. My prediction for the next few months: everything Theresa May is suggesting gets shot down in parliament; there'll be a vote of no confidence which she'll lose; she'll probably actually get replaced by someone fairly credible like Amber Rudd or Sajid Javid but there'll be a general election and Labour will win by doubling down on their promise to cancel tuition fees (but also their promise to not do that) and ramping up their "fake news" rhetoric when it's pointed out that their leader's an incompetent dictatorial anti-Semite who also lost a vote of no confidence; Corbyn will be Prime Minister and in trying to negotiate us out will manage to accidentally negotiate us back into the EU but somehow with even less rights than every other country there; I'll emigrate to America just in time for Donald Trump to get reelected and still feel like I'm in a more sensible country.
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Re: Brexit

Postby Marcuse » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:55 am

CMSellers wrote:you picked some really bad examples to illustrate economic inefficiency.


What can I say, I'm not an economist. Besides, the veracity of those specific examples doesn't negate the overall point that we do things which are economically bad for us because we think they're right. I don't hear any arguments in favour of remaining in the Eu that aren't economic or that it's too hard to negotiate Brexit. I find neither of those arguments to be worth anything to me.

Gisambards wrote:So I think a bad deal is all one can expect.


The problem with the bad deal is that it's going to tie us to the Eu with no say and no way out. They're literally placing us in a position where leaving with no deal is the only way to be unentangled from their institutions and practices. If we allow them to, they'll tie our hands legally and prevent us from ever stopping giving them what they want; our compliance with their laws and our contribution to their funds.
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Re: Brexit

Postby Krashlia » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:06 am

gisambards wrote:
Spoiler: show
The development of Brexit over the last few weeks has left me entirely unsure about where the country can possibly go from here, and has managed to lower my estimation of Britain's politicians, parties and political activists to by far the lowest it has ever been. In fact, the only politicians I would say I really have any respect for anymore are Theresa May and those few Tory MPs that are sticking by her, because the fact remains that she really is the only person offering any actual solutions at this point, even if they are crap.

There are effectively three choices: we take this admittedly bad deal, we do Brexit with no deal at all, or we try and reverse Brexit. The third of these is not a good option. I supported remaining in the EU at the time and felt we should have done more to try and improve it from within, but I think at this point that's no longer a viable option. If Brexit is cancelled, we've lost any influence we had in the EU and will be entirely at its mercy. The EU is not the friendly, beneficent organisation the Remain supporters are trying to paint it as, and we will be made to regret the referendum if we remain.

I think the situation is similar with no deal. That will be burning too many bridges, and that's a risk I don't think we can take. A newly ex-EU Britain will need to do everything it can to generate trade, and that will mean appeasing the EU as much as one can, at least in the short term. Britain can't actually go it alone from the word go.

So I think a bad deal is all one can expect. There is never going to be a better deal than the one May's got. Certainly, the idea Labour could get a better deal is entirely detached from reality.

But I no longer have any real hope for this going in a stomachable direction. My prediction for the next few months: everything Theresa May is suggesting gets shot down in parliament; there'll be a vote of no confidence which she'll lose; she'll probably actually get replaced by someone fairly credible like Amber Rudd or Sajid Javid but there'll be a general election and Labour will win by doubling down on their promise to cancel tuition fees (but also their promise to not do that) and ramping up their "fake news" rhetoric when it's pointed out that their leader's an incompetent dictatorial anti-Semite who also lost a vote of no confidence; Corbyn will be Prime Minister and in trying to negotiate us out will manage to accidentally negotiate us back into the EU but somehow with even less rights than every other country there; I'll emigrate to America just in time for Donald Trump to get reelected and still feel like I'm in a more sensible country.


Gees, I read all that and somehow felt like buying you Vodka for your Vexations.

Marcuse wrote:
Spoiler: show
The problem with the bad deal is that it's going to tie us to the EU with no say and no way out. They're literally placing us in a position where leaving with no deal is the only way to be unentangled from their institutions and practices. If we allow them to, they'll tie our hands legally and prevent us from ever stopping giving them what they want; our compliance with their laws and our contribution to their funds.


Raven-Mytho-princess-tutu-33688492-720-576.jpg
Raven-Mytho-princess-tutu-33688492-720-576.jpg (58.96 KiB) Viewed 698 times

Crappy political cartoon, Object label.

Prince Mytho is US, while the Blonde in the foreground is Post- EUxit countries.
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Re: Brexit

Postby IamNotCreepy » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:27 pm

I feel like (most of) the people who voted for Brexit didn't really realize what they were getting themselves into. It seems like they wanted to have their cake and eat it too by trying to keep autonomy but also take advantage of the benefits of being part of the EU.

May's plan tries to pacify these people, but it's just not realistic. I don't think there is a solution that will please everybody (or even a majority of people).

This Calvin and Hobbes strip comes to mind.


Image
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Re: Brexit

Postby Krashlia » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:13 am

Wheres the compromise or trade off? Who gets what in exchange for taking the "L"?
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Re: Brexit

Postby Pedgerow » Mon Dec 10, 2018 9:18 pm

The compromise is that you get to leave and enjoy all that delicious national sovereignty, but without utterly obliterating the economy. Anyway...

Theresa May has postponed tomorrow's vote, at least for now. Some MPs are up in arms, because everyone's up in arms all the time and they really wanted to vote against this deal. The only reason the vote has been postponed is because it is expected that the deal will not pass, and that would be bad for the government. But it's never going to pass; all the Remainers are going to want the option to vote Remain again, and all the hard Brexiteers just want to sever as many ties as possible and then maybe consider making a new trade deal (because if there's one thing our government is good at, it's quickly and efficiently making new- oh damn it). So all deals are doomed, it seems to me.

If you're like me and you really want a new referendum, here is an article from the BBC website about things that could happen once the doom is acknowledged. The most interesting thing about it is that it's actually too late already to do pretty much anything unless we extend the Article 50 period. Theresa May could press ahead with the parliament vote on her deal tomorrow, lose, resign and call a new general election, or a new referendum, literally all tomorrow afternoon, and it wouldn't be possible to have it organised and carried out before the 29th of March 2019. So that's another reason to be positively seething about Theresa May continuing to insist on her compromise that nobody wants. I also really, genuinely believed that she just wanted to have her deal voted down so she could finally drop this poisoned chalice of a job and let some other masochist step in to attempt the impossible. She's picked a terrible time to decide that she actually wants to be Prime Minister.

By the way, has anybody noticed that John McDonnell is being interviewed on TV far more than Jeremy Corbyn nowadays? I've not seen Jezza for months, and yet you'd expect him to be right on the front line never shutting up about what a catastrophe this all is. That's his job, after all.
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Re: Brexit

Postby gisambards » Mon Dec 10, 2018 9:54 pm

Pedgerow wrote:By the way, has anybody noticed that John McDonnell is being interviewed on TV far more than Jeremy Corbyn nowadays? I've not seen Jezza for months, and yet you'd expect him to be right on the front line never shutting up about what a catastrophe this all is. That's his job, after all.

It's hardly surprising Corbyn is dodging interviews. He's always responded poorly to being challenged on anything, and right now any journalist worth their salt will want to ask him about Labour's lack of a Brexit policy. John McDonnell knows how to play the political interview game and can get around that question in a way that people don't notice he hasn't answered it, but Corbyn would, as I'm sure his press people are aware, almost certainly handle a question like that badly.
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Re: Brexit

Postby Krashlia » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:11 am

gisambards wrote:. John McDonnell knows how to play the political interview game and can get around that question in a way that people don't notice he hasn't answered it, but Corbyn would, as I'm sure his press people are aware, almost certainly handle a question like that badly.


Okay, Its time for me to admit that I just don't get it... Also, that I'm being a bit more of a jerk than I have to be to the british fellows on this board.

I heard that Theresa May "suspended" a parliamentary vote. Is she pro-Brexit or Pro-Remain? What does she get from postponing the vote?

And who is this John McDonnell guy, what is he chosing, and why *is* he getting interviewed so much (is reality getting constructed by media there?)
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Re: Brexit

Postby Pedgerow » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:27 am

Theresa May was originally pro-Remain, but when the shock referendum result happened, a lot of the main political leaders scattered and ran for the hills, and only Theresa May was willing to step up and deliver on The Will of the People™. So she's now pretending she doesn't really support remaining in the EU.

She is postponing the vote because the deal she secured, a compromise which means we do leave the EU but still get to trade with them in exchange for still allowing various EU regulations that a lot of Brexiteers opposed, is opposed by both Remainers and Brexiteers. But it's taken so long to get this far that if her deal is voted down in parliament, then that is effectively a vote from MPs that says she has failed. She's already under a lot of pressure from all sides as it is; if parliament overwhelmingly decides that she has just been wasting everyone's time up to this point, then the pressure is likely to become so great that she is forced out of her job. This will lead to even more political chaos than we currently have, probably culminating in the Conservatives deciding on a new Prime Minister, not elected by the people as a whole, who will undo what Theresa May has created and have to start from scratch with just three months to go. That's not necessarily what will happen, but there isn't a conceivable alternative that won't be chaotic and laughable.

John McDonnell is Jeremy Corbyn's second-in-command. Officially, he is the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, so he's the guy who would be in charge of the economy if Labour were the ruling party. Much like Jeremy Corbyn, everyone's faintly unsure what he stands for, because he is on record as being opposed to globalisation and big multinational corporations and huge corporate profits, but he also supports left-wing ideals and big government and being supported by his hugely Remain-supporting fanbase. I can't confirm that he's being interviewed a lot everywhere, but he's appeared several times on the BBC, providing soundbites that I would have expected to come from the actual party leader. It's possible that Jeremy Corbyn might just not be available (unlikely), or perhaps he's being interviewed on other channels (perfectly plausible, but I get all my news from the BBC), or maybe he's even boycotting the BBC due to the various claims from hardcore Corbynites (utterly unfounded, in my opinion) that the BBC is biased against him.
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Re: Brexit

Postby gisambards » Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:27 am

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-46535739
So now there's a vote of no confidence happening against Theresa May's leadership of the Conservative Party before any of the parliament voting has even happened (note: this is different to the vote of no confidence discussed earlier, which would have been parliament-wide and focused on her government; this is within the party's MPs and focused purely on her leadership of the party, but this does still mean she'd probably be expected to resign as party leader and thus prime minister if she loses). This is an incredibly inopportune time for them to have done it, and it just makes everything even more chaotic. Part of me is, however, hoping that it's so clearly a stupid time to do it that most Conservative MPs will be persuaded to vote against this one, with the caveat that another will almost certainly come at a slightly more opportune moment.
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