quinta-feira, 17 de janeiro de 2019

UK: What happens now?

Telmo Azevedo Fernandes

A convite do Blasfémias, o Diretor Executivo do Adam Smith InstituteEamonn Butler , escreve um novo texto original sobre o futuro do Brexit, já conhecido o resultado da votação na Câmara dos Comuns.

So what happens now? Theresa May’s government suffered a record defeat by a majority of 230 votes in the main chamber of Britain’s Parliament, the House of Commons. So then the Opposition tabled a motion of ‘This House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s government’. But losing a confidence motion means you have to step down—either to re-jig the government with a new leader such that the House of Commons decides it has confidence once more, or to hold a fresh election.

Of course, that was a non-starter. A group of MPs in Mrs May’s Conservative Party already had a go at unseating her a few weeks ago, and it came to nothing. Under the Party’s rules, they can’t try it again for another year. If Mrs May does not want to go, there is no way that her Party can push her. Also, any one of those MPs who voted against the government would ‘lose the whip’—in other words, they would be expelled from the parliamentary Party, and would become an ‘independent’. Not only would they lose several hundred friends, they would also have to face the next election as an independent, fighting a much better resourced, new Conservative opponent. Not a happy prospect for a politician.

In any case, Conservative MPs do not want a new general election because of the chance of the Opposition winning it—accidents do happen—and the awful prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister and his deputy John McDonnell becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer, Britain’s finance minister. Both of them are ardent socialists. Corbyn would like to get out of the EU so that he could start nationalising the railways, utilities, banks, the Royal Mail and much else without the EU’s ‘state aid’ regulations preventing him. McDonnell, meanwhile, thinks that Marxism is one of the biggest influences on his and Corbyn’s Labour Party, and cited Marx, Lenin and Trotsky as the most significant influences on his own thoughts. When asked by an interviewer if he saw his job as to overthrow capitalism, he cheerfully did not deny it. Both have defended socialism in Venezuela, complaining only that the current regime have not been “following the socialist policies that Chavez was developing”.

If Conservatives look on the prospect of a Corbyn government with horror, their coalition partners, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, look on it with terror. Corbyn was a notorious friend of many of the extremist politicians who backed the Irish Republican Army that caused so much bloodshed in the province during the 1970s and 1980s in particular. And he has an equally open attitude to other revolutionary movements associated with acts of terrorism.

So what next? 

Well, Theresa May remains as Prime Minister. But the House of Commons has decided it does not like the UK-EU deal that she has negotiated. In particular, many (including about 80 Conservatives and all the DUP) really hate the ‘backstop’ provisions, designed to kick in if there is no agreement about goods passing over the Irish-UK border. Others say the deal will sign the UK up to years of having to accept EU regulations, and will prevent the UK from negotiating trade deals with other countries.

But then again, the majority of MPs do not like the idea of leaving without any deal at all—and have already passed a finance measure that would make such an outcome difficult for the government. Add to that, there are MPs advocating a Norway-style arrangement; or a Swiss arrangement; or a ‘Canada +++’ arrangement. No plan at all can command a majority. It’s deadlock.

That is why another strong minority of MPs say the issue should go back to the people in a second referendum, a ‘People’s Vote’. To which others say we already had a ‘people’s vote two and a half years ago, and the majority want to leave the EU: Parliament had already pledged to accept the result (on the blinkered Establishment assumption that it would be an overwhelming victory for Remain), so now they should deliver on it. And if a second referendum voted Remain, what then? There would be turmoil. Best of three?

But that’s not going to happen, either. It took seven months to organise the last referendum. It would take another seven just to decide the question this time, there being so many options on the table. And the clock is ticking down to 29 March…

So now the front runner is that the EU graciously decides to stop the clock and give the UK more time to come round to its way of thinking. I am sure it will be offered, but will Mrs May accept…and prolong the agony even further. There’s a growing ‘Leave. Then negotiate’ mood around.

I voted Brexit to get the UK out of the EU’s political and regulatory spaghetti. And because I thought it would be interesting. I didn’t realise it would be this interesting…
Blasfémias, 16-1-2018

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