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
Here’s why the tiny peninsula of Gibraltar is having an outsized effect on Brexit

The humbling of Britain
The “enemies of the people” are not those opposing Brexit, but the reckless politicians who have brought us to this act of self-harm.
(New Statesman) This is not “taking back control”. This is not the proud, independent, liberated Britain that the Brexiteers promised. It is grotesque, calamitous, an epic act of self-harm brought about not by some war or disaster but by our own stupidity. And the true “enemies of the people” are not those opposing this catastrophic Brexit. They are not the million decent people from every background who marched in London last Saturday, or the five million who have petitioned to revoke Article 50, but those whose lies, zealotry, and political recklessness have all but broken Britain. For posterity’s sake, those self-styled “patriots” who have so grievously betrayed their country should be named and shamed.
The public was not clamouring for a referendum on EU membership. Cameron called it for the narrow purpose of uniting his party and fending off Ukip. He offered an ill-informed electorate a binary choice on an extraordinarily complex issue of profound constitutional importance without even the safeguard of a 60 per cent threshold for approval. 27 March 2019
John Keiger: How Brexit could lead to Frexit
(The Spectator) Similar geographies on the northwest European continent, similar populations (66 and 67 million), economies (5th and 6th by GDP), colonial histories, 3rd and 4th nuclear powers, two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, leading members of Nato and, until 2019 (probably), equally prominent members of the European Union. The similarities continue to trip off the tongue: the Commonwealth and Francophonie; trade patterns characterised largely by trade surpluses outside the European Union; historical communications and undersea cable networks dating from empire that still dominate international traffic; and a military-industrial partnership second to none.
… what if Britain leaves the European Union and makes a success of it? What if the EU, as seems not unlikely, plunges further into political and economic crisis? What if France, that other state with a heightened tradition of national sovereignty, also comes to realise that the European community years should merely be a parenthesis? … What then if Brexit led to Frexit? And what if the two exits led to a Franco-British Union with a combined GDP ranked 3rd in the world, military power arguably second – and a formidable rugby team. (8 April 2019)

Theresa May announces she will resign on 7 June

Prime minister to leave Downing Street, drawing three-year tenure to a close
Andrew Sullivan: Good-bye, Theresa. Hello, Boris?
(New York)  Theresa May made one final bid for consensus this week, trying to woo Labour into backing her E.U. withdrawal agreement by allowing Parliament a vote on a second, confirmatory referendum. All this did was outrage her own party, which gave her notice in a particularly brutal and humiliating way. She announced her resignation today — but will stay in office until the Tories pick a new leader. My bet is that Boris Johnson will be prime minister by midsummer. Yes: Boris. And he will do his best to deliver a no-deal Brexit. The idea that he could renegotiate a better Brexit deal with the E.U. than May is absurd.
Deal or no deal: what next for Brexit, the Tories and the country?
Things will have to move fast if the new PM is to take the UK out of the EU before 31 October
Now that Theresa May has announced her resignation date, what happens next?
Initially nothing. She will remain in post to bear the burden of the European election results, which will be announced on Sunday night and are widely expected to be grim for the Tory party.
She will also greet Donald Trump when he visits and stand alongside the US president and other world leaders for the D-day commemorations in Portsmouth on 5 June.
Theresa May never had a grip on the crown that fell into her lap

22 May
Bloomberg Commentary:
Theresa May is facing her final humiliation. After almost three years as British prime minister, the 62-year-old vicar’s daughter took one final gamble yesterday to win support for her Brexit deal. It backfired instantly.
The question now is this: Can anyone rescue Brexit or will the U.K. ultimately be forced to crawl back to Brussels and cancel the divorce?
May opened the door to a second referendum in a bid to to resolve the impasse in Parliament, but her offer convinced nobody. With European Parliament elections this week expected to be catastrophic for her Conservative Party, the pressure is growing on May to quit now and make way for a new leader.
What Brexit looks like will largely depend on who gets her job. Pro-Brexit former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson is the favorite — and he wants a quick, clean break.
The European Union could simply decide to extend the October exit deadline yet again. But, as May noted yesterday, that will come at a cost. “Extending it for months more — perhaps indefinitely — risks opening the door to a nightmare future of permanently polarized politics,” she said. Britain’s bad dream continues.

17 May
Jeremy Kinsman: The Last Piece on Brexit?
{Policy Magazine May/June) The House of Commons that has been trying to wrest control from the manipulative and embattled crew at Number 10 may yet vote to support a customs union with the EU or another formula that would keep essential U.K. interests intact, including an open Irish border. Britain would still sacrifice its enormous leverage as a lead member of a 500-million strong European Union, and could be adrift diplomatically for a generation. But the U.K. would be more likely to keep Scotland and Northern Ireland in, and with wise and innovative policies could channel its human capital toward strong business outcomes.
Brexiteer hardliners and May herself decry any such compromise as betraying “the decision of the British people” to seek freedom from all EU regulations and end free movement of EU workers into the U.K. (as if that is what 52 percent meant by voting “leave”). Alternative scenarios are not rosy. Given the shambolic process, in London and with EU partners, relations with Europe are apt to be bitter for years without a successful compromise. Just as the world is beginning to look at Trump’s reign in America as being not in spite of good Americans but because of dumb Americans, so the British image in Europe is deteriorating. The 27 remaining EU members want to move on to their own pressing challenges. Wistful Euro-regrets about Brits leaving the family (though British Eurocrats are opting for Irish and Belgian passports in droves), cede to overwhelming impatience to get it done.
In Brussels this month, I found a certain humility and determination to address reforms, especially the need to correct the impression of a democratic deficit in EU decision-making. Leaders accept that with the U.S. evacuating leadership and China bristling with ambition, the EU also has to face up to its internationalist leadership responsibility (to which Canada is gravitating as a core ally). The Brexit experience has at least turned off any urge anywhere else in the EU to imitate pulling out. Public support for the EU is higher than in years. The populist nationalism of which hard Brexit and Trump are partnered versions has probably hit its high-water mark, though populists Salvini, Orban, LePen, and their new guru of destruction, Steve Bannon, may not yet have the memo.

8-9 May
Brexit: Behind Closed Doors Part 1 (video)
The gripping untold story of the Brexit negotiations… from the other side. For two years, Belgian film-maker, Lode Desmet, has had exclusive access to the Brexit co ordinator of the European parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, and his close knit team. This revelatory fly-on-the-wall film captures the off-the-record conversations and arguments of the European negotiators as they devise their strategy for dealing with the British. Episode one watches as the Europeans’ respect for a formidable negotiating opponent turns into frustration and incredulity as the British fail to present a united front. At moments funny and tragic, it ends with the debacle in December 2017 when Theresa May flies in to Brussels to finalise details of a deal and is publically humiliated by her coalition partner, Arlene Foster of the DUP, who refuses to support the deal.
Brexit: Behind Closed Doors Part 2
Episode two follows the rollercoaster events from December 2017 to the present day. Europe watches on incredulously as divisions in the British parliament and cabinet become more bitter and leave the talks paralysed. Eighteen months after the referendum, Britain still does not know what it wants and spends more time discussing internally than negotiating with Europe. Respect for Britain turns to irritation and finally ridicule with the conclusion that the Tories are useless.

3 May
New poll finds 61% would back Remain in a second referendum
(New European) The YouGov survey for KIS Finance found that between the choice of Theresa May’s Brexit deal or remaining in the EU, 61% of those who confirmed they would vote stated they wanted the UK to stay in the European Union.
When a no-deal scenario is added into the mix, 53% of people would vote to Remain, while 34% would vote for no-deal, and just 12% would vote for Theresa May’s deal.
The research also uncovered that 1 in 10 have put off important financial decisions, such as buying their first home, moving house, spending money on home improvements, investing and making major purchases such as a car, until the future of Brexit is clear.

11-12 April
What are PM’s Brexit options now that EU has granted extension?
Theresa May has until 31 October to get her deal through parliament – but the way forward remains unclear
After the EU granted a Brexit extension until 31 October, or sooner if Theresa May can get a deal through the Commons before then, we look at the embattled prime minister’s options
The Guardian view on the Brexit impasse: trust citizens to judge the evidence
(Editorial) The familiar methods of British politics have failed to find a solution. Parliament must have the confidence to innovate
Extending the time available to make a decision does not increase the range of Brexit options, but it allows for a more honest account of those choices and perhaps a more deliberative, less aggressively partisan evaluation of their merits. The real opportunity represented by the EU’s deferral of the UK’s departure date is to reset the way in which Brexit is debated, not just the object of debate.
So now Brexit could fall on Halloween. How very … appropriate
Andrew Martin
From Jacob Rees-Mogg’s undertaker shtick, to IDS’s summoning of the spectre of the far right, fear stalks Brexit

TV fans delighted as Brexit renewed for another season
(NewsThump) Fans of Britain’s long-running comedy-drama Brexit are today overjoyed after learning that another season of the popular show has been commissioned.
Just when it looked like the UK’s telly addicts would need to find another boxset to binge it has been announced that Brexit – possibly the greatest farce since Fawlty Towers and a fantasy to rival Game of Thrones – will roll on for at least one more season.

Reuters: The European Union has given Britain six more months to leave the bloc, more than Prime Minister Theresa May says she needs but less than many in the bloc wanted. The prime minister was keen to stress that the extension to October 31 did not mean she would not deliver Brexit sooner and before, as she promised her rebellious party, she steps down. The extension comes with conditions: Tthat May holds European Parliament elections on May 23 and that the UK does not to disrupt key EU decision-making.

9 April
EU rejects Theresa May’s bid for short delay to Brexit
Britain’s membership could be extended to March 2020 after PM fails to sell her plan in dash to Paris and Berlin
Theresa May’s request for a short Brexit delay has been torn up, putting the EU on track to instead extend Britain’s membership until 2020.
Despite the prime minister’s desperate dash to Paris and Berlin, to convince leaders of her plan to break the Brexit impasse, the European council president, Donald Tusk, signalled EU politicians’ lack of faith in her cross-party talks.

3 April
Last-ditch move | U.K. leader Theresa May tore up her two-year Brexit strategy yesterday and asked her arch-rival, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, to help write a new plan. While this will mean another delay to Britain’s departure, it could result in a much softer break-up, including a permanent customs union with the European Union.

1 April
Brexit’s Endgame
The next ten days will bring to a head the Brexit drama. It has strained the UK’s constitution, threatened its social cohesion, terrified its businesses, appalled its friends, and delighted its
(Carnegie Europe) Each morning, the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary email a word of the day to their subscribers. It is often a little-known word with topical relevance. On Saturday, March 30—the day when the UK was scheduled to wake up for the first time to life outside the European Union—the word of the day was “kakistocracy.” It is a nineteenth-century noun, which the OED tells us means “government by the least suitable or competent citizens of a state.” It stems from the Greek kakistos, meaning “worst.”
It would be unfair to damn all, or even a majority, of British MPs in this way. But collectively, they have managed to lead their country to the edge of disaster.
Brexit deadlock: MPs reject all remaining alternatives to Theresa May’s deal
(Business Insider) Members of Parliament have rejected all the remaining alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal after also rejecting that agreement three times in a row.
The House of Commons on Monday took part in another series of “indicative votes” on Brexit alternatives after rejecting the Withdrawal Agreement the prime minister has negotiated with the EU for a third time last week.
MPs voted against remaining in the EU customs union, against remaining in the EU Single Market, against holding a second EU referendum and against cancelling Brexit.

29 March
MPs reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal by 58 votes
PM says implications of third Commons defeat for her agreement with EU are ‘grave’
(The Guardian) MPs have rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a third time, by 344 votes to 286, despite the prime minister’s offer to her Tory colleagues that she would resign if it passed.
A string of Brexit-backing Conservative backbenchers who had rejected the deal in the first two meaningful votes, including the former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, switched sides during the debate to support the agreement.
But with Labour unwilling to change its position, and the Democratic Unionist party’s 10 MPs determined not to support it, it was not enough to secure a majority for the prime minister.
Brexit: as May’s deal is defeated for the third time, the next steps explained
The scenarios still on the table after MPs voted down the withdrawal agreement on Friday
It was by all accounts a “sobering” meeting between the 27 EU ambassadors, the bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the most senior of its officials, Martin Selmayr, on Thursday afternoon. No deal was now regarded as the “most plausible outcome”, Barnier warned. But the decision by the EU’s leaders at the summit in Brussels last week to give Theresa May an unconditional article 50 extension pushing the Brexit cliff-edge from 29 March to 12 April leaves all scenarios open.

27 March
No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! Commons votes down EIGHT different Brexit proposals
– including second referendum AND no deal – leaving EU exit plans mired in new level of chaos
(Daily Mail) MPs have voted on eight different alternatives to May’s Brexit deal tonight to canvass support for rival plans
All eight plans were rejected. A second referendum got the most votes overall but still lost 295 to 268
Labour is ordering its MPs to back Corbyn’s Brexit plan, a second referendum and a UK-EU customs union
Jess Phillips said she expected up to 10 frontbenchers to quit in protest at party’s support for public vote
Came after shadow frontbencher Barry Gardiner said Labour would order MPs to vote against stopping Brexit
He said this morning: ‘That implies that you are a Remain party. The Labour Party is not a Remain party’
Mr Gardiner’s comments upset remainer Labour MPs, who fear some could quit party in protest if true
Earlier in the day Theresa May said she would quit as Prime Minister once her Brexit deal is delivered
But dashing the PMs hopes shortly after the DUP confirmed they are still unable to back Mrs May’s deal

Bercow strikes again! Speaker throws May’s deal into new chaos by saying it MUST have changed for a new vote – just as she considers QUITTING to get it across the line before Friday deadline
Theresa May will address her MPs at 5pm tonight and is under growing pressure to announce departure
Speaker John Bercow says the government must change May’s deal to bring a third vote this week
Tory leader used PMQs to hint third vote on deal is imminent and didn’t rule out leaving if it finally succeeds
Jacob Rees-Mogg says Remainers will thwart referendum if deal doesn’t pass by the end of this week
He said that ‘all other potential outcomes’ set to be voted on in Parliament tonight are worse than this deal
Chief Whip Julian Smith reportedly believes that this would convince as many as 20 Tory MPs to switch sides
Boris Johnson may fall into line. Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘There’s good chance the deal is going to get through’
British lawmakers to vote on 8 different options for leaving EU
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow selected the motions on Wednesday from 16 proposals submitted by lawmakers.
The ones to be considered include calls to leave the EU without a withdrawal deal, to stay in the EU’s customs union and single market, to put any EU divorce deal to a public referendum, and to cancel Brexit if the prospect of a no-deal Brexit gets close.
The “indicative votes” are intended to reveal if any kind of Brexit plan can command a majority in Parliament. Lawmakers have twice rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the bloc.
The government has promised to consider the outcome of the votes, but not to be bound by them.

25 March
MPs vote to seize control of Brexit from Theresa May
Theresa May suffers Brexit defeat after Members of Parliament back a plan to hold a series of “indicative votes” on her plans.
The votes will allow Parliament to guide the government’s “next steps” on Brexit after May’s deal was twice defeated.
Business Minister Richard Harrington resigns in order to back the amendment.
The result means the prime minister has lost control of the parliamentary timetable, with just days to go until Brexit.
It came after May was forced to abandon her plan to hold a third vote on her Brexit deal this week.
MPs voted by 329 to 302 to back an amendment which will allow the House of Commons to stage a series of “indicative votes” later this week, which are designed to guide the government’s next steps on Brexit.
The result means the House of Commons will on Wednesday have the power to vote on alternatives to May’s plan which are expected to include a softer Brexit, a second referendum, and potentially revoking Article 50.

24 March
Brexiters pile on pressure as May’s deal drifts away
High-stakes Chequers summit breaks up without agreement
Theresa May’s prospects of getting her Brexit deal through parliament this week dramatically receded on Sunday night after a high-stakes summit with Boris Johnson and other leading hard-Brexiters at her country retreat broke up without agreement.

22 March
Conrad Black: Brexit’s a mess, and here’s what’s coming next
I predict that there will be no agreement in Parliament next week, nor prior to April 12, and that crashing out will be almost completely painless and imperceptible, and May will either take the hint that she has a serious confidence-problem and go, or fumble along until November and be handed a bus ticket. In either case, the new prime minister will be a compromise candidate but a leaver, such as the former Brexit ministers, Dominic Raab and David Davis (both of whom quit in disagreement with May’s concessions to Brussels). The British will be much happier with the Americans and ourselves than they have been with Brussels, and will negotiate trade arrangements with the EU similar to those of Norway and Switzerland. As in many things, the imagination of Brexit will be more torturing than the reality.

The Economist: Theresa May’s request for a three-month extension of the Brexit deadline was rebuffed last night at a summit of EU leaders. She was granted an extension to May 22nd, but it will be shorter if Parliament refuses to pass the Brexit deal next week—and longer only if Britain agrees to hold European Parliament elections (an idea unpalatable to Mrs May). So the risk of a no-deal Brexit remains, and there were signs this week that the prime minister might not pull back from such a potentially damaging choice
Bloomberg Politics: Even in giving a short period of grace to May, there are serious doubts she can deliver. French President Emmanuel Macron told his counterparts he thought there was a 10 percent chance of the deal passing. After speaking with May, he revised it down to 5 percent, one official said.
In London a brutal fight is brewing. There are no guarantees staunch Brexit supporters can be cowed into agreeing to the terms of May’s deal. Meanwhile, pro-EU ministers plan to confront May over her strategy of flirting seriously with crashing out of the bloc with no deal at all.

What happens next on Brexit?
(Reuters) – European Union leaders have given Prime Minister Theresa May a two week reprieve before Britain could leave the bloc without an exit deal if she fails to win parliament’s backing for her agreement with Brussels.
EU leaders have agreed to delay Brexit to May 22, from March 29, on the condition the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by parliament next week.
The government has yet to schedule a day for a vote but it will have to notify parliament the day before it plans to hold one. Tuesday had been the day most widely expected but with the threat of a no-deal exit on Friday now removed, some believe it could be later in the week.
If parliament does not support May’s deal next week, the EU has agreed to delay Brexit until April 12 – the day on which Britain would have to give legal notice that it was taking part in EU elections on May 23.

Theresa May asks EU to delay Brexit until June 30
“As prime minister, I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than the 30th of June,” May told a rowdy session of Parliament.
British leaders struggle to deliver Brexit after being tripped up by obscure parliamentary rule
(WaPost) May huddled with her advisers for hours to try to devise a new strategy for getting lawmakers to sign on to the divorce deal before Britain’s scheduled departure from the E.U. on March 29. Her old plan — not that it appeared popular enough to succeed — was upended Monday by the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, when he said he would not permit a third vote on a divorce deal British lawmakers have already twice rejected.

Photo credits Getty
18 March
France’s EU minister names her cat ‘Brexit’ because when she opens the door ‘he stays put’
Nathalie Loiseau, France’s minister for European affairs, told Le Journal du Dimanche this week that she has named her cat “Brexit” because he is often reluctant to leave.
Her comment comes after the British Parliament narrowly rejected leaving the European Union without an exit agreement last week.

Constitutional chaos after third vote on Brexit deal blocked
Prime minister likely to have to request long article 50 extension after Bercow intervenes
(The Guardian) With 11 days to go until Britain is due to leave the EU, May was forced to pull her plans for another meaningful vote because John Bercow said she could not ask MPs to pass the same deal, after they rejected it twice by huge margins. EU officials, meanwhile, were considering offering her a new date for a delayed Brexit to resolve the crisis.
Bercow’s surprise intervention means May is likely to have to go to Thursday’s Brussels summit with a request for a long extension to article 50, which could mean the UK has to spend more than £100m on participating in European parliament elections.

13 March
MPs set to reject no-deal exit as Brexit unknown looms
(Reuters) Yesterday, today and tomorrow might go down in history as some of the most important days in British politics, as parliament makes a series of votes to decide how Britain will exit the EU. Yesterday, lawmakers voted against PM Theresa May’s deal 391 votes to 242. Today, lawmakers vote on whether the government should pursue a no-deal Brexit, meaning they will leave the EU in 16 days without an agreement. Critics warn that such an exit would cause an economic shock, but some Brexit supporters say it is the only way to break from Brussels. If that vote is not passed, the government will hold a vote on Thursday to ask parliament whether Brexit should be delayed. Ministers have argued that a delay would open the door to Brexit being reversed through a second referendum.
‘House of fools’: what the papers said about May’s Brexit defeat
The word ‘humiliation’ features strongly on today’s front pages as PM’s woes show no signs of easing
Theresa May looks downcast on the front pages of most of the papers today, which all focus on the defeat of the Brexit deal in the House of Commons last night.
The Guardian reports the vote as “Another huge defeat for May. And just 16 days until Brexit”. The paper says the prime minister pleaded, “with her voice cracked and fading”, with the House of Commons to pass the deal and that its failure to do so was “humiliating”, a “crushing new blow” and “a catastrophic defeat” for May.
Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas weigh in
No kind words for Theresa May
Brexit: MPs to vote on no-deal after rejecting May’s plans
(BBC) MPs will vote later on whether to block the UK from leaving the EU without a deal, after they again firmly rejected Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement.
The deal was defeated in the Commons on Tuesday evening by 149 votes.
The government will publish guidance for businesses on tariffs and proposals for the Irish border in the event of no deal on Wednesday morning. The cabinet is due to meet at 08:00 GMT.
The EU said no deal plans were “more important than ever”after the defeat.
Britain Squirms After Another ‘No’ on Brexit
With 17 days to go, Parliament rejects Theresa May’s latest plan
(NYT Editorial board) Often lost in the cacophony of the intra-British debate is that the other 27 members of the union also have a major voice in disentangling an enormously complex relationship, and are not prepared to let the British pick and choose from the agreement they reached with Mrs. May. “On the E.U. side, we have done all that is possible to reach an agreement,” said a spokesman for the European Council president, Donald Tusk. “It is difficult to see what more we can do.” That was a point Mrs. May also tried, repeatedly and unsuccessfully, to drive home, that the deal she put to Parliament was “the best, and indeed only deal available.”

12 March
Theresa May’s Brexit deal faces fresh vote in UK parliament
Irish PM: Brexit backstop not undermined by additional assurances (See Financial Times: What is the Brexit backstop and why is it so important? The exit deal’s most contentious feature forces both sides to make big choices)
8 March
‘A slap in the face’: Barnier sets May on course for Brexit defeat
Prime minister rebuffed as she pleads for last-ditch EU concessions before MPs vote
(The Guardian) The EU’s chief negotiator said in a series of tweets that the EU was committed “to give the UK the option to exit the single customs territory unilaterally, while the other elements of the backstop must be maintained to avoid a hard border. [The] UK will not be forced into a customs union against its will.”
The Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, immediately replied: “With a very real deadline looming, now is not the time to rerun old arguments. The UK has put forward clear new proposals. We now need to agree a balanced solution that can work for both sides.”
The Northern Ireland-only backstop was vehemently rejected by the government’s partners in the DUP, who fear that it would effectively sever Northern Ireland from the rest of Britain by requiring checks as goods pass back and forth. …
In the United Kingdom, too, an antiquated party structure prevents the popular will from finding proper expression. Both Labour and the Conservatives are internally divided, but their leaders, Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, respectively, are so determined to deliver Brexit that they have agreed to cooperate to attain it. The situation is so complicated that most Britons just want to get it over with, although it will be the defining event for the country for decades to come. But the collusion between Corbyn and May has aroused opposition in both parties, which in the case of Labour is bordering on rebellion.
Why a no-deal Brexit is raising talk of a united Ireland
Calls for a referendum on re-uniting Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as negotiations continue
(CBC/Day6) Many Northern Irish voters who weren’t eligible to vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum are now coming of age — and according to McCormack, they’re unhappy with the events unfolding.
For them, older voters unfairly determined their futures with the vote, McCormack explains.
That’s because many have become accustomed to the benefits of being part of the European Union, like the ability to travel, work and study freely within the EU’s member countries.
“What you’re hearing from them now is that if there is any chance at keeping those benefits, then a united Ireland might be the way to go,” McCormack said.
What’s the outlook on a referendum?
Ultimately, McCormack said the decision for a referendum comes down to Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State Karen Bradley, a Conservative minister in Theresa May’s government.
Under the Good Friday Agreement, it’s her responsibility to call a referendum if she feels, at any point, that a majority of citizens in Northern Ireland would vote in favour of a united Ireland.

27 February
A ‘clean’ Brexit doesn’t exist. May finally admits it now
By Rafael Behr
(The Guardian) Nothing about Brexit means it can only happen on 29 March 2019. There is no rare alignment of the planets to make that a uniquely auspicious date for leaving the EU. Britain’s relationship with its nearest allies is not settled by astrology. The March deadline is simply a feature of the negotiating apparatus and, as the prime minister conceded in parliament yesterday, it can be moved. Leaving in April or June is still leaving.
It is the psychology of letting a deadline slip that makes Theresa May’s concession so significant. If Eurosceptics were interested in divorce on civil terms they would endure a short technical postponement to get it right. They would not resent the vote on a deferral that May has offered to MPs in the event that her deal is rejected. Article 50 extension has looked inevitable for weeks, if the objective is smooth passage to whatever comes next. So it is instructive that so many Brexiteers hate the idea.
Theresa May offers MPs a vote to delay Brexit and prevent no-deal
(Business Insider) Prime Minister Theresa May has offered MPs a binding vote to delay Brexit and avoid leaving the European Union without a deal, a dramatic change of policy designed to prevent a new wave of Cabinet resignations.
Ready or Not, A New Independence Day Awaits the U.K.
The date Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union technically doesn’t matter—but postponing it does.
(The Atlantic) …just because leaving the EU on March 29 is Britain’s legal default doesn’t mean it will necessarily come to pass. Most Brexit analysts will tell you it’s highly improbable—if not totally impossible—that the British government will ratify a withdrawal agreement (which has yet to be approved by Parliament) in the time remaining. This is especially true after the prime minister announced on Sunday that a parliamentary vote on her negotiated deal with the EU would be delayed further to March 12, a mere two and a half weeks before exit day.

25 February
Labour Party Leader, Under Pressure, Backs a New Brexit Referendum
(NYT) Britain’s opposition Labour Party said on Monday that it was prepared to support a second referendum on withdrawal from the European Union, a shift that could have significant ramifications for the fate of Brexit and for the country’s future.
After the resignations of nine Labour Party members last week, and amid the prospect of more, the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, dropped his longstanding resistance to a second vote on leaving the bloc.
Getting an amendment for a new vote through Parliament any time soon is unlikely, but Mr. Corbyn’s support for one will cheer pro-European Britons, who have been fighting to reverse the outcome of the 2016 referendum decision. Without the support of Labour, there is no chance of a second referendum ever being authorized by lawmakers.

21 February
For the Dutch, Brexit is a mistake – and a big opportunity
Politically, the Netherlands has a very simple ambition here: to take the UK’s place in the EU.
(The Spectator) Whatever the reality, most Dutch people are convinced that the UK will be the biggest Brexit loser (with or without a deal). It’s not hard to see why they might think that: while the British government seems unprepared for the scenario of no-deal, contingency plans in the Netherlands are well underway.  The country is among the best prepared in Europe for no-deal. Preparations for border and customs issues that might arise if Britain’s departure is acrimonious are in place.

18 February
Seven lawmakers quit UK Labour Party citing Brexit ‘betrayal’, anti-Semitism
(Reuters) – Seven Labour lawmakers quit on Monday over leader Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit and a row over anti-Semitism, saying Britain’s main opposition party had been “hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left”.
United by a desire for a second referendum on Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, they acknowledged that their resignations would not change the arithmetic in parliament, where there is as yet no majority for such a vote.
But their move underlines the increasing frustration within Labour over Corbyn’s reluctance to change his Brexit strategy – the leftist leader and long-time critic of the EU has stuck to his preference for a new election or his plan to leave the bloc.

The Atlantic: The trajectory of Brexit may threaten hard-earned peace in Ireland. Brexit drama, before the March 29 deadline when Britain is set to legally withdraw from the EU, has taken on the thrum of a dull, persistent headache. A withdrawal with no formal terms in place will affect every aspect of life and commerce in the United Kingdom, from the makeup of its workforce to drug testing to supermarket food prices. But the spikiest issue in negotiations is the question of the return of a “hard border”—customs and surveillance checkpoints and all—between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The sectarian violence around the decades when a real, tangible border existed is a recent memory for many, who now worry what horrors a deal-less Brexit might bring back.

15 February
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.

Letter from the U.K.
Did Britain Overhear Theresa May’s Brexit Plan in a Hotel Bar?
By Sam Knight
Most rational people think that Britain and the E.U. will still avoid the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit. But most rational people also thought that Britain would vote to stay in the E.U.
(The New Yorker) A reporter for ITV News, one of Britain’s main news channels, was sitting nearby and overheard portions of their conversation, in which Robbins outlined the likely endgame to May’s torturous attempt to steer her Brexit deal through the House of Commons. As things stand, Britain will leave the E.U.—with or without an agreement—at 11 P.M. London time on March 29th. In the bar in Brussels, [Oliver Robbins, Theresa May’s chief Brexit negotiator,] said that May is planning to make members of Parliament wait until the very last minute before giving them a choice between her unpopular compromise package with the E.U. or a lengthy delay to Brexit, during which the already agonizing negotiations would continue. “If they don’t vote for the deal,” Robbins is reported to have said, “then the extension is a long one.”

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 Politics.co.uk, 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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