Brexit ‘s Red Lines

The Brexit talks have, once again and to no one’s surprise but the Brexiters, gone rather pear shaped. The problem, you see, are the ‘Red Lines’. This week, all those Red Lines met with Real World, and it didn’t go well. Almost everyone has at least one big Red Line in this debate. The Ultra Brexiters, lead by the likes of Rees-Mogg and Gove, have created a web of red lines with a spirograph, carefully ruling out any possible outcome at all. Which is their favourite outcome.

Theresa May, who started all this Red Line business, has drawn more than her fair share of them. She then retreats to her office. Has a quiet sob. And then finds that all her Red Lines are smudged with her tears. David Davis has a bunch of Red Lines. But he won’t let anyone see where he has drawn them, in case it helps the EU. Every now and then, someone will ask Jeremy Corbyn if he has any Red Lines, but the useless git just starts singing verses from the Red Flag.

It turns out the DUP also have a Red Line. Their’s is drawn in crayon, because they’re a little bit too closely related to a terrorist organisation and not allowed to use any implements that can be turned into shanks. It’s best for everyone involved, but if they learn to behave, then they might be allowed to use big boys writing pens one day.

Damian Green felt a bit left out and wanted some Red Lines to call his own, but somehow ended up on Red Tube instead. Now the police have his computer and he just has a bit of a Red Face instead. There are some other Tories, who will remain nameless, who at one stage showed some interest in Red Lines. However, they quickly lost interest when they discovered that these new fangled Red Lines are not supercharged variants of the white lines they are more familiar with.

You might think that this sounds like talks are just going round in circles. But that’s over complicating matters. Picture a game of musical chairs. Everytime the music stops, everyone tries to grab a seat, but there is one seat less than last time. Who will grab the winning chair? I can answer that now. I could have answered this in June 2016. The EU will be sitting in the winning chair. Because they were sat in it from the word go. They haven’t ever gotten out of it, even when the music restarts after each round.

Unlike everyone else, they aren’t playing a game. Because they know that, actually, there are no ‘negotiations’. The EU has no Red Line. They simply have conditions which must be met. Not positions to be discussed. This is win-win for them. Either we pay them tens of billions and give them a bit of our trade. Or we pay them nothing and they take tens of billions of our trade.

This is the only plausible explanation for the way Brexit has developed, from before the referendum to the present day. Maybe one day we’ll look back at this sorry saga and find it funny. But I won’t take much credit for it. This Brexit Comedy just writes itself…

7 thoughts on “Brexit ‘s Red Lines

  1. I have to ask: being the betting man that I am, What are the odds of an exit at all? I was skeptical before the vote because I thought it was a dumb idea. I thought Trump was a dumb idea as well so I have a lot of dumb ideas. Anyway, my friend, who makes the trains run on time, What are the odds on the divorce from the EU?

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    1. Ain’t that just the million dollar question. Seems to me that there are currently five possible outcomes. A No Deal Brexit. A Hard Brexit – exit Single Market and Customs Union with FTA. A Soft Brexit – stay in SM and CU. Or No Brexit. In the last few days a fifth possibility has emerged through ‘regulatory divergence’, which is a fudge between Hard and Soft. But whatever, the Brexit we get will largely depend on who is in government when the music stops.

      If Theresa May survives, then I’d say the odds are 10% No Deal, 45% Hard Brexit, 45% Fudge Brexit. In all conceivable ‘normal’ circumstances, May would already be gone. She’d certainly not make it much past Christmas. But these are not ordinary times. The DUP would gladly sink her, but fear that doing so would lead to a Jeremy Corbyn government. The same applies to the Ultra Brexiters, who are also probably not convinced that a bid from them to topple her would quite come off as they would wish – they are the more vocal side of the party and claim to have a mandate (the EU referendum) but are the Leavers are still in the minority in the Tory party, But still. One more disaster, and the opportunities for a huge disaster increase by the day, then she might go. Possibly by her own accord.

      If May quits, she probably calls a General Election. If she’s toppled, a Brexiter might try and form a government, but may be forced into an election anyway. If it’s the latter and a government is formed, then the odds are probably 30% No Deal, 60% Hard Brexit, 10% Fudge Brexit. It’s also quite possible that in the event of a General Election, the Tories are returned with a majority and a Brexiter in charge. That makes things worse, and it’s then probably 50/50 between a No Deal and a Hard Brexit. In theory, parliament could (and seems inclined to) vote down a No Deal Brexit. But time is a factor and it’s not on the UK’s side. A No Deal Brexit could happen just by running down the clock.

      If Labour win a majority at the election? Things change dramatically. Labour’s Shadow Brexit minister, Keir Starmer, is one of the few people in parliament who is coming out of this well*. The guy is extraordinarily smart, a slick political mover and does seem to be steering Corbyn away from Hard Brexit. I think with Labour in No 10, then we have a 90% chance of Soft Brexit, 10% Fudge Brexit.

      So who wins the election, Labour or the Tories? I’d say it’s 50/50 who’ll be the larger party. If one were to win a majority, I have a sneaky feeling it would be the Tories despite the bookies saying the opposite. I think we may already have seen ‘peak-Corbyn’. It’s more likely that whoever comes out on top will need to form a coalition, which is where things could get interesting. If Labour need the Liberal Democrats or SNP (and if they need a partner it will be one or both of them), then it is likely that they’ll have to hold a second referendum on the final Brexit deal which will include the option to Remain. At that point, I think the most likely outcome would be Remain.

      I think in a second referendum, Remain would win quite handily with between 55 to 60% of the vote. I do not know a single person who voted Remain who would now vote Leave, although I’m sure some must exist. On the other hand, I regularly speak to Leavers who would switch their vote. There’s certainly a sizeable core Leave vote who will not change their mind, and they are mostly of one type – getting on in years, prejudiced, blind to the facts and dreaming of the past. But there’s an important chunk who cast a protest vote, or voted without knowing the facts, or voted believing the Leave hype, or who have simply seen that the process of leaving is a farce. I was speaking to a colleague who I get on pretty well with yesterday. He spoke quite passionately of why he voted leave. When I asked him, knowing what he knows now, would he vote leave again – he laughed. ‘No mate. Not a chance.’ I know this is anecdotal, but I also think it is fair and representative of the feeling of a lot of those swing leave voters.

      This is probably a longer response that you were expecting. It’s certainly a lot longer than I intended. It’s been a slow day at work so far. But in short, Norm, I’d keep your money in your pocket with this one. Too many variables, too many conflicts, way too much uncertainty.

      • Ken clarke is another. Possibly the greatest PM we never had. He ran for Tory leader three times, but was too pro-European at a time when the party had moved to the right.

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    2. A topical addition to the subject and a good, although far from exclusive, example of what a farce Brexit is:

      A month or two ago, the Brexit minister, David Davis, was asked if he’d actually done any impact assessments regards Brexit. Why of course we have, he said. Sectoral analyses had been done on 58 key economic areas, he said. Has the PM read them, he was asked? Well of course not – they go into excrutiating detail, he said. Can we see these impact statements, he was asked? Of course not, they’re top secret, he said.

      Freedom of information requests followed, which confirmed their existence but denied access to the documents due to release being against national interest. The parliamentary Brexit committee demanded them, unredacted. They were produced, heavily redacted. But there were no impact statements, just details on British industry and services. Today Davis turned up to the parliamentary committee and declared that no such impact assessments have ever existed.

      So here we are little more than a year before exit. And the chief minister in charge of Brexit has lied to parliament about a fundamental aspect of his job. And no one really knows what is more worrying: that he is still lying now, even though he knows he’s been caught out, and does have the impact statements. Or that he was lying back then, and actually hasn’t even looked at how Brexit might impact the economy.

      It is a shambles.

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  2. If Labour need the Liberal Democrats or SNP (and if they need a partner it will be one or both of them), then it is likely that they’ll have to hold a second referendum on the final Brexit deal which will include the option to Remain. At that point, I think the most likely outcome would be Remain.

    I agree in spades with this comment. The Tories are not going to get any kind of majority in any election called in the next year. My guess is a hacked up government that has no mandate asking for another vote based on information in hand today that was not in hand at the last vote. They will blame it on the Russian trolls, wave a few red herrings about and 65% of your citizens will wipe a bead of sweat from their brows.
    Some time ago you drifted into a bit of demographics: the idea that enough of the leavers have passed on to change the vote.
    Corbyn seems unelectable from this side of the pond but he may gather enough votes to put together a cobbled together government. Keir Starmer, may be your wild card in somehow salvaging the status quo.
    From here, on the hillside in Ohio, odds look similar to what they were before the referendum.
    And: A slow day at work is a good thing when you have something creative to do to kill the hours. My steel job was like that, insane rushing about and then “well what shall I read today?”.

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    1. I personally would be very hesitant to state that the Tories could not win a majority. On what platforms will the parties run their election campaigns? We can pretty safely assume the Tories run with Brexit. If Labour run with a policy of reversing Brexit, they might find they lose an important chunk of votes to the Tories without much gain elsewhere – the Remainers largely went Labour last time. If they run on a pro-Brexit campaign they may alienate those same Remainers and lose votes to the Lib Dems. They need to run a very smart campaign, offering something to everyone without being overly committed to anything. Which is a terrible way to run a campaign, but hey ho.

      They need to let Keir Starmer lead on the topic of Brexit. Corbyn has been the spanner in the works for Labour. His fans are still cheering his performance last time, but they seem to overlook the fact that we run a first past the post system and he was handily beaten by a very poor, very weak and very dividied Tory party. I quit Labour last year. I voted Lib Dem this year. I will again. But I’d be back in the Labour fold with Keir Starmer in charge.

      But regardless, given everything – a second referendum is the only morally acceptable path to either Brexit or ExitBrexit. Not least because of one fact which isn’t being talked about enough – we just don’t have the capability to Brexit in any sane, rational manner.

      I work at an end of the line along the coast, serving tourists escaping London for a bit of sea and sand. Needless to say, at this time of year, we’re not overly busy.

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    2. Incidentally, that there is one scenario where I see Remain being the most likely scenario doesn’t mean to say that I think Remain is the likely scenario full stop. I’m 90% to 95% certain that we will leave the EU as things stand. Last nights ‘deal’ seems to me though to be promising a bit of everything to everyone. In other words, somethings got to give, but they’ve kicked it down the road a bit…

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