Saturday 24 November 2018

Back to the Negotiating Table

Drew's 8th Law of Politics runs thus:  a narrow victory is more significant than a landslide, which betokens little more than that everyone knew what the result was going to be and piled in behind the obvious winner.

The Noes to the Left - and to the Right, and the Centre
She's playing the 'only plan in town' card for all it's worth: but the way things are going, May's deal might get the landslide treatment in Parliament, if every MP decides it's going to fail anyway.  They've all got perfectly good (if wildly different) reasons for opposing at least some aspect, and eventually they may just all stream in to the Noes.  And the more they pile in, the less it means.

In particular, as stated here before I don't see it necessarily results in a GE.  It could force May out, of course, but it's a truly anarchistic Tory MP who wants a GE.  Far more likely is that everyone leaves the chamber chorusing Back to the Negotiating Table! 

And who knows what they'll find there?  An angry Spaniard?  No Irishman at all, his having been bound and gagged by Merkel and placed in a darkened room?  An entirely empty room with a rude hand-written message on a post-it note and no coffee?  Or the proper negotiating forum that Cameron strove to convene in 2015, and failed so utterly and ignominiously to achieve?  

I certainly don't know.

I do know it is the latter that Brexiteers of all stripes, most specifically including John McDonnell, are pinning their hopes on.  So let's look at Labour's official position, as maintained by Corbyn & McDonnell (not Starmer) throughout.  They want two things.  They want them very badly, and one makes no sense to them without the other.  

They want Power; and, since what they mean to do with that power would be endlessly challenged under EU law, they want out of the EU and the ECJ.  This very week, McDonnell has summarised their position as being: they want to stay permanently in "a" customs union, and (he means 'but') no ECJ jurisdiction.  Hah!  Has anyone bothered to explain to him that not a single word issuing from Brussels over the past two and a half years gives an iota of comfort that such a deal could be achieved?   

They'd take Power, of course, as a down-payment on their dual desiderata.  No GE in prospect?  That's why McDonnell is talking up the 'constitutional' argument that if May's deal falls in Parliament, the next step must be 'give the other lot a go'. 

Which is where we come back to the size of the prospective Parliamentary no-vote.  If it's overwhelming (e.g. with most Tories agin it or abstaining), it is May that has to go, not the Tory government.  

So, right now, pending a Spanish veto or a Merkel no-show tomorrow, I reckon a reasonable scenario is this:
  • everyone 'signs the deal' tomorrow (for whatever that's worth)
  • Parliament rejects the deal next month
  • May resigns
  • Labour tables a vote of No Confidence which is defeated
  • Happy Xmas Mrs Merkel, because it's Back to the Negotiating Table!
But, like I said - who knows what you find when you get there?  

There's a lot more brinkmanship to come.  Stockpile food and meds in Jan and Feb, I'd say.



Anonymous said...

Why stockpile? There will be no shortages in Estoril so you can sit it out in peace and quiet.

Bill Quango MP said...

The “people’s vote” is on brought up every hour on the bbc,
By their key political commentators Cliff Hedge. Alphard Boerder. The Irish Jack Strop. And Ash Out without Adele.

It’s relentless

Without the support of the state broadcaster the 2nd referendum would be just a comfort blanket fantasy of Adonis.

As it is, despite it being the worst possible option that would solve very little for either side, it’s been allowed to be presented as if it were a possible thing.
And that could be something the Maybot latches onto. As it’s that or quit.
And she won’t quit. But will always choose a terrible option.

Anonymous said...

May has just conceded to Spain over Gibraltar.

What next? Free movement in perpetuity? Extension of Article 50? Second referendum with loaded questions?

The BBC must be wetting their pants with excitement.

K said...

The more I learn about the deal the more ambiguous it seems. I can imagine a lot of MPs being convinced that good lawyers can get what they want out of it and so will play it safe and vote yes.

To me it seems like can kicking rather than selling out. Even the Gibraltar thing today is really just an agreement to argue about it later.

Tony Harrison said...

@K: is May even bright enough to distinguish between "can kicking" and selling out, and could she decide her way out of a wet paper bag? The longer this goes on, the more I am astonished that even the moribund Tories put her into Number Ten - then let her stay. I mean, are they just your average cowards, or mentally defective?
Re ND's closing suggestion, if Team UK had someone coaching it in summer 2016 with balls, gumption, and an aggressive determination to win, I think Team Berlaymont - not exactly the All Blacks, after all - would have caved quickly. As things are, emboldened by 2.5 years of May's truly, madly, gobsmackingly pitiful incompetence, they're rubbing their moist little palms with glee and sucking one another's members at their good fortune... They probably think it's all up for Les Rosbifs, we've shot our bolt, and they can handle a May replacement the same way they did her. So forget "renegotiation" they'll say: think D.Cameron Esq. At which point, we have to trust that the new PM will show some bulldog spirit and call their bluff very severely. One can but hope.

Nick Drew said...

Gib was always on the menu, we predicted it here. I'm surprised the Spanish didn't take money fron the Argies to chuck the Falklands into the pot.

However ... some deals are just too rich for their own good. The EU may just have overcooked this one.

andrew said...

The eu is a rules based institution.
The members (including us) set the rules of membership and of leaving.

You are correct. Remainers do not want this deal as it is not remaining. Brexiters do not want the deal as it is not really a full exit and absent ending freedom of movement delivers nothing but downsides.

In any negotiation you need to understand what the other side wants.
What does the eu want?
What can we do for them?

Personally i think (at the moment) they simply want to continue to exist roughly as is.

Remaining delivers that
Leave on the current deal just about delivers that.
No deal does to the extent that the rEU will see a case example of how bad life can be. But there will be a country to the west that has a bigger economy than russias that also has a somewhat malign influence (in their terms)

So yes back to the negotiating table.
Please not david davis. Preferably someone who turns up.

But (key point) ... events ... italy and hungary and german banks and...

Tony Harrison said...

I've seen and smiled at comments from "Andrew" before, but in his latest he makes the mistake of repeating the old canard (more a dead duck) about the EU's being "rule based". This claim would be amusing satire were it not so wilfully daft. The EU has consistently shown itself ready to dump and distort its "rules" at the drop of a hat, particularly fiscal/economic ones. Greece and the Euro, anyone?

E-K said...

Remember ?

I said if Cameron lost the referendum he would say in lofty tones "This gives me good grounds to go back and renegotiate with the EU..."

Except I've a feeling he was forced out of office.

Re-May-ner was installed in office and said "This gives me good grounds to go back and negotiate with the EU..."

No. Thrice No.

Leave meant No Deal. Cameron had already tried to deal and failed.

Under May (because of May) we get thirty-year-old asylum seeking men joining classes of fifteen-year-old girls and boys. This is ignored by government and officials in order to make our membership of the EU alright.

These are the sorts of distortions and denials Remain are prepared to go through for the EU.

That 'Leave' on the ballot paper was undefined is one of cognitive dissonance - it was THEY (Remain) who were at pains to tell us what it meant during the referendum.

andrew said...

Greece is tiny
I do not think there was a vote that needed to be ratified by all 27 (even on a qmv basis).

In cases like this negotiations have to be rule based in its approach to us otherwise barnier and his team would have no way to negotiate.

The 'rules... are for others' comment refers to the way the larger countries behave in terms with compliance with their internal rules. And you may be right.

Tony Harrison said...

"Andrew": Greece is “tiny”? So what. And QMV is neither here nor there. After Greece adopted the euro in 2001, it consciously boosted public spending and government borrowing, in the expectation that Germany (mainly) would bail it out. A few years later the Greeks admitted their books had been cooked, and it was an open secret in Brussels. Hah – up shit creek when the global financial crisis hit. Greece has been kept on life support by bailouts from the EU, the ECB, and the IMF: the latest “austerity measures” condemn Greece to several decades’ worth of vassalage – rather like Mrs May’s crap deal for UK if it came to pass… Even Merkel admitted several years ago (forget when) that admitting Greece was a mistake, and she blamed Schroeder. She failed to acknowledge that Germany should feel any guilt over ramming through Greece's accession to the Euro in defiance of those impressive "rules". The EU is corrupt at its core, as well as at the Club Med periphery, and any suggestion that it is following any set of "rules" in dealing with May and Team Crapola is very na├»ve.

Raedwald said...

You need to understand the language.

Proclaiming you have a theoretical commitment to a set of rules devised by unelected bureaucrats rather than a commitment to popular democracy allows the unelected officials discretion on whether or how to apply the rules, or indeed to ignore them.

Democratic accountability allows one no such freedom.

The ECJ is an openly political court charged with implementing the objectives of the EU rather than in dispensing justice. Indeed, in the WEF's annual analysis, most EU national courts are found to be politically corrupted - the NL being the notable exception - but the UK's courts are almost wholly judicially independent.

Remember that even Nazi Germany had the Rule of Law - with Roland Freisler sending children to the Fallbeil entirely in accordance with Statute.

Law and Justice are not synonymous.

James Higham said...

She's playing the 'only plan in town' card for all it's worth

I'm just beyond words now, openjawed.

andrew said...

Never said the rules were ones you would approve of
Just that there are rules
If you want a good deal you need to understand the rules.
Otherwise you end up with unralistic expectations.

Nick Drew said...

Andrew - examples of how they break their own rules at the drop of a hat are legion (including some really serious ones - accession of Croatia being a monster)

but here's a highly germane example of the emptiness of the charade. Every time Cameron asked for anything he was told that all he could have was some comforting statement of vague intent, because nothing could be legally binding without a treaty, which required much solemn pratting about and would be subject to various vetoes, and referenda in Malta and Cyprus etc etc

but mysteriously, whenever they've wanted anything out of May, her concession becomes legally binding within the blink of an eye


E-K said...

Stockpiling ?

With the wankers we've had in charge I've always done it.

Illuminati said...

I'm with Andrew on this one for the simple reason he was descriging the underlying legal systems - rule based code and common law.

As regards quoting the WEF's "opinion" on anything, I'd point to the comment about WEF in Wikipedia.

"The Transnational Institute describes the World Economic Forum's main purpose as being "to function as a socializing institution for the emerging global elite, globalization's "Mafiocracy" of bankers, industrialists, oligarchs, technocrats and politicians. They promote common ideas, and serve common interests: their own."

WEF are not exactly honest brokers.

andrew said...

About 2 years ago one of my colleagues was off sick and another had a child that was likely to die. The entire project fell to me. After 4 months of 18 hour days, I made one mistake and the first time a large transaction was made the money (millions) came out of another client's account.
Happily client liked me and $employer covered it up but a short note appeared in Private Eye.
A board level investigation / regulatory witch hunt was commissioned. I looked around. I thought I could have 'allocated' around £60m to myself and emigrated.
Waited for my P45.
Obtained the report about 2 months later.
My name was not even mentioned.
It turned out that there were 3 checking stages where ... the checks were not done - and one of those people had left - and a couple of other places where there should have been checks.
In the meantime something else really bad happened and so no-one cared that much.

The experience taught me a number of valuable lessons

- You think you are the star. You are not

- Pretty much everything is driven by Rules
- However, rules are devised and implemented by people

- The person who is leaving/just left will be blamed

- Events

I am just waiting for the "events" bit to happen.
Something will happen between December 18 and March 19 that will change things - no I have no idea what.

Nick Drew said...

andrew - a great anecdote (as things turned out) and some useful lessons you've summarised there (see also below): but I still don't buy the "EU = rules-based" line

(a) that's certainly how they sell the vision
(b) there are 'constitutionalist' supporters of the EU (if I'm not much mistaken, our old friend Hatfield Girl is in that camp) who reckon it's their major selling-point - a bastion of orderliness & the Rule of Law in a crazy world
(c) in fairness, it's how the boring 99% of routine EU business is handled, just look at the lengthy judgements that come out of the EC
[(d) even then, our Common Law approach to these things is better than their Civil Code approach]

BUT the moment anything gets political, all this rules-based stuff goes out the window: and that's when the Rule of Law actually matters**, any fool can be a pedant when nothing much is at stake

PS - there's another possibility in how your anecdote played out: a Good Chap will be OK in circumstances that will sink other people (Drew's 10th Law of Politics)

** this point is contestable philosophically but it's what I reckon