Brexit, EU & UK 2019

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The Guardian Brexit
BBC: Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU
‘Order! Order!’: Parliament Speaker Is Brexit’s Surprise Star and Villain
Brexit, EU & UK 2018
What Next? How Brexit May Impact the UK Aviation Industry

How a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit Could Open a Path to Irish Unity
(NYT) …the increasing possibility that Britain will leave the European Union on March 29 without an agreement has rallied both moderates and extremists in the united-Ireland camp behind renewed talk of a single Irish state.
…lurking in the background of the debate is the possibility that the imposition of a hard border between north and south, with physical checkpoints, could reignite the violence that largely ended in 1998 — fears that were underscored by a recent car bombing in Londonderry and several hoaxes.
Given the choice between that and reunification, people across the island of Ireland have shown a preference for unity, though neither government has expressed the same enthusiasm.
Not helping matters, the regional assembly for Northern Ireland, based in Stormont, has been suspended for two years because of political feuds and scandals. And Northern Ireland’s fragile balance of power between Irish nationalists and pro-United Kingdom unionists has been upset, if not altogether destroyed, by the agreement of the conservative Democratic Unionist Party to prop up Prime Minister Theresa May’s minority government in London.

Inside Theresa May’s mind
Would the British PM really drive the UK over the cliff edge? Even her closest political friends don’t know.
(Politico Eu) Her choice: the economic catastrophe of no-deal or the national — and personal — humiliation of a last-minute climbdown to ask Brussels for a Brexit delay.
British government is Cabinet government — the prime minister is merely the first among equals. Without the support of a Cabinet, a prime minister cannot survive.
The obstacle to revoking Article 50, however, is legal as much as political. Even revocation with Cabinet support does not change the law, as set down by the EU (Withdrawal) Act, under which EU law ceases to apply in the U.K. from 11 p.m. on March 29. To remain in the EU but not abide by its law would cause a crisis of its own. In other words, May alone cannot stop Brexit — only parliament can.
The Cabinet, though, can authorize the PM to ask for a delay. Few believe they would not. And the assumption is that in such dire circumstances, the EU27 would unanimously agree such a request. Under the terms of the EU (Withdrawal) Act, the government can amend exit day to delay Brexit without primary legislation.
At the heart of the argument is the claim that May is first and foremost a patriot consumed by her duty to protect national security and the union between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Labour’s Keir Starmer, who worked closely with May as director of public prosecutions when she was home secretary, has publicly insisted the PM takes her national security considerations too seriously to actively pursue a no-deal Brexit, which would leave Britain’s security services outside key intelligence networks.
Not everyone is so sure.
On January 21, the Evening Standard, the newspaper edited by former Chancellor George Osborne, published an editorial declaring May would go for no-deal to protect the Tory Party.
“Mrs May will never be the Prime Minister who forms a parliamentary majority at the expense of her party,” the editorial declared. “She will always, when the chips are down, put short-term Conservative unity first above what the national situation demands.”

1 February
The collective madness behind Britain’s latest Brexit plan
The nation is ignoring reality as deadlines loom
By Ian Dunt, editor of, author of “Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now?” and a host on the Remainiacs podcast.
(WaPost) On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May demanded that her party reject her own Brexit plan so she could go back to negotiations with the European Union and dismantle an agreement that her government reached with the continent, on an impossibly fast timeline, during talks that have already been ruled out. On every level, it is an insane way to behave. The British government is actively sabotaging the work it has spent the past two years completing and then doing a victory dance.
The problems all lie with something called the Irish backstop. You wouldn’t know it, given how deranged the party has become about it, but it is a Conservative idea. Their problem was simple: They wanted two contradictory things. On the one hand, the Brexit campaign during the referendum promised to “take back control” from Brussels. That meant returning regulatory decision-making to London. But on the other, it promised that everything would continue as before, with no effect on trade. That is impossible, because as soon as you take back regulatory powers, you have delays on the border with Europe.

Jeremy Kinsman: The end of Britain as we know it?
The Brexit mess. I went to London to see it up close. Pretty gut-wrenching, really. I imagine some people are all fired up over Brexit. But most I met – including some “leave” voters are sick and sad over the partisan politics and lack of creative and unifying leadership.
(Open Canada) The UK needs a deal defining its trade and other engagement with the EU by March 29 or it will crash out of the customs union with the bloc that represents 44 percent of its markets. The UK government must retain membership in the EU free trade area, if not in a full customs union that also obliges the free movement of labour, or sink or swim in the trading and economic world as a no longer very large, autonomous, single economy.
Moreover, in a hard Brexit, the UK would have to accede to a “hard” border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, thereby erasing one of the achievements of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended decades of deadly conflict between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. May’s “deal” on the other hand provides a “backstop” to permit free trade across that border, subject to some inspections of goods coming into Northern Ireland from the UK. …
Both Dublin and Brussels have made it clear further EU concessions are unavailable. The Europeans have held their unity during these trying negotiations. They have protected the EU by not enabling the British to leave the EU on terms any other EU member would wish to emulate. But as a senior EU figure allowed recently, their firm line has been a “catastrophic success,” in that the UK could now crash out without a transitional or replacement deal March 29 to almost certain chaos and deep cost, including to the EU itself.
There is in Britain an over-abundance of immersion in the past. Novelist Paul Scott, in his Raj Quartet about the expiry of British imperial occupation of India, wrote that the British had come to “the end of themselves as they were.”
So it is again today. They need a wrenching effort to re-align themselves positively looking forward, with realism and without the hubris of gilded memories. They need to play a leading role in Europe in the twenty-first century by whatever institutional arrangements and ties are effective. Whoever can convince them of the substance and urgency of such a plan, over the tinsel of a remembered past, might indeed make Britain great again.

British parliament voted to renegotiate their Brexit deal. Within minutes, the EU said no
(Quartz) Despite voting to leave the EU, they can’t prevent a “no deal” Brexit. They also can’t reopen negotiations with the EU over the terms of the deal that they’ve already rejected or take out the Northern Ireland backstop agreement, which would keep the UK in the EU customs union and shackle Northern Ireland to single-market rules.
This evening (Jan. 29), in a series of votes, members made their views known on a variety of these issues—though the outcomes are almost entirely symbolic.
Politicians voted against leaving the EU ”without a withdrawal agreement and a framework for the future relationship.” But though this may look like a statement of intent, “simply opposing ‘no deal’ is not enough to stop it,” British prime minister Theresa May said afterward.
A similar vote called on May to return to the EU and renegotiate the deal while leaving the Northern Ireland border open. It was championed as a sign of cross-party cooperation—but rejected by the EU in a matter of minutes. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said the deal was “not open for re-negotiation” and “remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.”
An amendment proposed by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, which would have postponed Britain’s exit date, narrowly failed, sending the pound plunging to a trading-session low as investors brace for a chaotic exit.

27 January
CEOs step up warnings about Brexit
(Globe & Mail) The crisis over Brexit is growing across the United Kingdom as companies begin moving operations, cutting back on investments and issuing dire warnings about cutbacks if the country crashes out of the European Union.
Business leaders have been fretting for months about the possibility the U.K. will leave the EU on March 29 without any arrangements for trade, border controls, banking and a host of other services
The mayhem has led many companies to start taking action. Last week Sony said it was moving its European headquarters from London to Amsterdam while freight giant P&O announced plans to shift the registration of its six English Channel ferries from the U.K. to Cyprus in order to keep its financial operations inside the EU. Several car makers, including Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Jaguar Land Rover Ltd., have also said they will shut their U.K. plants for up to three weeks in April to assess the impact of Brexit and Ford Motor Co. said a disorderly Brexit could cost the company US$800-million.
The starkest warning came from Airbus chief executive officer Tom Enders. In a message posted on the company’s website last week he raised doubts about the future of Airbus in the U.K. and its 14,000 local employees.

22 January
Labour Calls For Vote That Could Spark Second Brexit Referendum
(Bloomberg) With Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans in disarray, Parliament is plotting to wrest control of the process for leaving the European Union. That includes opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who’d been ambiguous on Brexit but last night backed for the first time a plan that could trigger a second referendum. While it’d be unlikely to pass, his Labour lawmakers may feel emboldened to back mechanisms that lead to a softer divorce.
Reuters: With little time left until Britain is due to leave the European Union, embattled UK Prime Minister Theresa May sought to break the Brexit impasse in parliament by proposing to seek further concessions from the EU on a plan to prevent customs checks on the Irish border. Britain’s statistics agency also sought to settle another Brexit debate by declaring that was no evidence Brexit was to blame for so-called “shrinkflation” – the shrinking of product sizes in the UK. “There was no trend in the frequency of size changes over this period, which included the EU referendum,” the agency concluded.
The shareholder puzzle facing airlines after Brexit
(Reuters) – Airlines that will no longer be majority owned by EU nationals once Britain leaves the European Union face the threat of losing their right to fly within the bloc after Brexit due to share ownership rules.

17 January
How Britain embraced referendums, the tool of dictators and demagogues
(The Economist) …there’s nothing new in recent warnings, from Barry Gardiner on the left or Theresa May on the right, that a “People’s Vote” would be “a gross betrayal of our democracy” that “undermines the whole principle of democracy in this country”. Yet the referendum is now an established part of our constitution: for better or worse, a tool that has been used 12 times since 1973 can no longer be described as “alien to all our traditions”.
From Harold Wilson to David Cameron, prime ministers have repeatedly called in the electorate as a political bomb-disposal unit, tasked with defusing explosive issues on their own backbenches. Yet in deploying the referendum as a tool of party management, they have failed to evolve any serious rules about when to use them, why or how. The history of Britain’s referendum debate offers some useful pointers, both on how we might use the device in future and on how a second referendum could avoid the pitfalls of the first.
The 2016 vote … reduced a question of mind-bending complexity to an abstract proposition, onto which voters could project incompatible versions of Brexit. It placed extraordinary power in the hands of two campaign vehicles that were under no responsibility to deliver on their promises; indeed, within days of the vote, the winning side had erased most of its website. …
Trying to solve the problems of one referendum by launching another might seem the political equivalent of drinking through a hangover. But Parliament is deadlocked and no party has a united position that it could put to a general election. We cannot break that deadlock by repeating the flawed exercise of 2016. But the Diceyan model of a “People’s Veto” offers something more hopeful.
A vote on a concrete proposition, whether Theresa May’s deal, “Norway Plus” or an alternative, would focus debate on the strengths and weaknesses of a specific policy, not on the abstract utopias (and dystopias) that predominated in 2016. Its advocates would be those charged with implementing it, in the knowledge that their claims would be judged against results if they won. The principle of responsible government could be enhanced, not diminished, by such a vote.
At present, both Mrs May and Mr Corbyn oppose a further referendum. If that changes, it will not be for reasons of constitutional principle, but because they cannot make a decision on Brexit without blowing their party to pieces. If we want to avoid deepening our political crisis, we need to think more carefully about the form such a referendum might take.
The path from “the People’s Vote” to a “People’s Veto” marks a return to an older constitutional tradition. It might just turn the referendum from a problem into a solution.
The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class
With Brexit, the chumocrats who drew borders from India to Ireland are getting a taste of their own medicine.
By Pankaj Mishra
(NYT Opinion) Britain’s rupture with the European Union is proving to be another act of moral dereliction by the country’s rulers. The Brexiteers, pursuing a fantasy of imperial-era strength and self-sufficiency, have repeatedly revealed their hubris, mulishness and ineptitude over the past two years. Though originally a “Remainer,” Prime Minister Theresa May has matched their arrogant obduracy, imposing a patently unworkable timetable of two years on Brexit and laying down red lines that undermined negotiations with Brussels and doomed her deal to resoundingly bipartisan rejection this week in Parliament.
Such a pattern of egotistic and destructive behavior by the British elite flabbergasts many people today. But it was already manifest seven decades ago during Britain’s rash exit from India.
May’s Brexit Deal Failed. What Happens Now?
Parliament voted to reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal just 10 weeks before Britain was scheduled to leave the European Union. Here’s what could happen next.

15-16 January
EU and UK are nearing a ‘no deal’ Brexit neither want: Moscovici
(Reuters) – The European Union and United Kingdom are getting close to a “no-deal” Brexit that neither party wants, in the wake of Prime Minister Theresa May’s parliament defeat, said EU economics commissioner Pierre Moscovici.
Asked whether Britain could have a second referendum which could result in a U-turn and a decision to stay in the European Union, Moscovici replied that European legal bodies had said this was possible.
British politics goes over a cliff
Despite the defeat of historic proportions, the prime minister’s aides intend to resuscitate the Brexit deal
By Tom McTague, POLITICO’s chief U.K. correspondent
(Politico Eu) British politics is broken. It may not be fixable in time to solve the Brexit mess.
The U.K. wakes up Wednesday with a government unable to govern — in office, but without the numbers to fulfill its central purpose: a negotiated exit from the European Union.
A defeat of previously unimaginable proportions Tuesday — 432 to 202 — has left the country adrift, floating towards no deal, with no party or faction in parliament able to command a majority for any way of moving off the course it has set for itself. The only thing MPs can agree strongly on is a desire to avoid an economically damaging no deal, but they currently can’t settle on a mechanism for how to do so.
Brexit massacre and Chinese heavy hand against Canada: on CTV’s diplomatic community (video)
Jeremy Kinsman and Lawrence Haas weigh in on Theresa May’s record defeat of her Brexit deal and ongoing tensions between China, Canada and the United States.
Mayday tumult across the Atlantic. The Brexit Deal’s Historic Defeat
For years, British Prime Minister Theresa May insisted that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” Her adversaries used those words against her in Parliament.
(The Atlantic) On Tuesday, British lawmakers overwhelmingly voted against May’s negotiated agreement with the EU, delivering a damaging (albeit foreseeable) blow to her Brexit strategy. The deal, which outlines the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU and paves the way for the next phase of negotiations that will decide their future trade relationship, was reached by negotiators late last year. But it still needs to be ratified by both the British and European Parliaments before it can go into effect, and without such an agreement in place, the U.K. will leave the bloc without a deal on March 29.
May and Brexit Face Uncertain Future After Crushing Defeat in Parliament
(NYT) Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday suffered a humiliating defeat over her plan to withdraw Britain from the European Union, thrusting the country further into political chaos with only 10 weeks to go until it is scheduled to leave the bloc.
The 432-to-202 vote to reject her proposal was the biggest defeat in the House of Commons for a prime minister in recent British history. And it underscores how comprehensively Ms. May has failed to build consensus behind any single vision of how to exit the European Union.
Now factions in Parliament will offer their own proposals — setting off a new, unpredictable stage in Brexit, the process of withdrawing from the bloc.
“She has completely lost control of the process, and her version of Brexit must now be dead, if she loses by 230 votes,” said John Springford, deputy director of the Center for European Reform, a London-based research institute.

8-9 January
Brexit: PM may have to draw up new deal three days after Commons defeat
Amendment wins cross-party backing to stop government ‘running down clock’ to no deal
MPs will attempt to force the government to return with an alternative to Theresa May’s Brexit deal within three days of her plan being defeated in parliament.
Another five-day debate leading up to a vote on May’s deal on 15 January will start on Wednesday, opened by the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay.
The amendment says that following defeat of the government’s plan, which is widely anticipated, “a minister of the crown shall table within three sitting days a motion … considering the process of exiting the European Union under article 50”.
Theresa May suffers Commons defeat by MPs fighting to block a no-deal Brexit
(Business Insider) Theresa May’s ability to pursue a no-deal Brexit has been dealt a major blow after the House of Commons voted for an amendment designed to bring parts of the UK government to a halt if it attempts to crash out of the EU.
The cross-party amendment to the Finance Bill, brought forward by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, is designed to prevent the government from budgeting for a no-deal Brexit.
MPs voted by 303 to 296 votes to support the amendment in the clearest sign yet that there is a majority in the House of Commons to block a no-deal Brexit.

Bloomberg Politics: The respite is over in British politics, as Parliament returns and lawmakers are thrust straight into the Brexit quagmire. The next three months will shape the country’s history — one way or another — for years.
The U.K. is due to leave the European Union on March 29, and will crash out into legal limbo unless Prime Minister Theresa May can get politicians to back the Brexit agreement she negotiated with Brussels. But the concessions she promised to secure from the bloc haven’t (yet) materialized, and it looks likely her deal will be rejected when it goes to a parliamentary vote next week.
The battle lines are being drawn for what happens after that. More than 200 members of Parliament have written to May urging her to rule out a no-deal Brexit, while a cross-party group of high-profile lawmakers is trying to use a separate vote this week to make crashing out of the EU impossible without the approval of the House of Commons.
The campaign for a second referendum is also not going away, bolstered by a YouGov poll over the break that showed Remain would win if another vote was held now. At the moment, it’s an issue putting the most pressure on opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who looks unwilling to support another plebiscite despite growing demand from his members.
Meanwhile, May is plowing on, warning lawmakers they will plunge the country into “uncharted territory” if they rebuff her deal. It arguably already is. – Stuart Biggs

4 January
Hard Brexit Truths
By Bill Emmott, former editor-in-chief of The Economist.
Though UK Prime Minister Theresa May has struck a Brexit deal with the EU, the chances that it will gain parliamentary approval on January 14 seem vanishingly slim. Instead, the UK increasingly seems to be facing a choice between two extremes, each of which would likely involve another referendum.
(Project Syndicate) In 2016, Northern Ireland voted by a clear margin of 56%-44% to remain in the EU. Though the minority Conservative government is being propped up by the ten MPs representing Northern Ireland’s pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party, an even larger majority of Northern Irish voters would probably choose the EU today.
An honest Brexiteer should therefore admit that leaving the EU on their terms may well lead to the dissolution of the UK. Irish reunification would almost certainly make another independence referendum in Scotland irresistible, though it is impossible to know which way it would go.
Last June, when asked about business leaders’ fears over Brexit, Johnson infamously declared, “Fuck business.” If he were honest, he would apply the same crude dismissiveness to Northern Ireland and Scotland. At least then it would be clear where the Brexiteers actually stand.

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