UK politics: Now what?

To say it has been an interesting, even tumultuous, week in UK politics would be an understatement. As readers of this blog are quite likely aware, earlier this week the PM, Theresa May, called off the “meaningful vote” on the Brexit deal her government and the EU had negotiated. A day later she survived an internal party no-confidence vote, which revealed that those who want her not to remain Conservative Party leader amount to 37% of the caucus.

So, what happens next, both for her government and for the Brexit process?

I am interested in the expectations and assessments of readers of this blog.

As an aide, I was just looking at what I said when the results of May’s snap election in 2017 were known.

What will it mean for policy, especially Brexit? I can’t claim to know! But the DUP does not want a “hard border” with the Republic of Ireland, and that implies a “softer” Brexit. On the other hand, if the main motivation May had in calling the election was to boost her standing against restive members of her own caucus who want a harder Brexit, she failed. It will not be easy governance or policy-making for May or an intraparty successor.

I guess that much still stands as of this week. Especially the first two sentences.

12 thoughts on “UK politics: Now what?

  1. Did all the MPs in her caucus who voted for Theresa May vote for her, or did they vote to simply not have an external, self-selected group “elect” a replacement for her at this moment? I no longer feel that Theresa May holds the confidence of parliament. She merely continues to govern because she does not have an active majority prepared to vote no confidence in her. Though I invite proof that I am wrong, I think she survived, at least in part, because no one could mount an Australian style attempt to replace her.

    If people want candidates bound to a party leader and a party manifesto, that is their choice. Two talking heads yelling at each other for five years in preparation for an election campaign while a few other party leaders vie for attention might work in ordinary times. But when the biggest issue of the day, and one that cuts across almost every other issue, is beyond the usual channels between the government and opposition benches, Westminster-presidentialism is unfulfilling.

  2. I expect that, one way or another, the UK will revoke Article 50 before it takes effect. At some stage the parliament will probably call a second referendum where Leave will be defeated. A no deal Brexit is unthinkable and would put the Conservatives in opposition for a generation, assuming that is, that the party actually survived.

    • Regarding a second referendum, some might find it ironic that the Daily Mail has expressed concern about the voting method for a referendum between No Deal, May’s deal, and Remain on the grounds that a FPTP vote between the three would “not produce a conclusive result”. The article suggests a two-round system as an alternative.

      • Henry, that’s exactly how I think the AV referendum should have been run – by combining it with the Tories’ demands to cut the size of the Commons. Three options – A. FPTP for 600 Commons seats, B. FPTP for 660 Commons seats, C. AV for 600 Commons seats. The option with the most votes wins… what could possibly have been fairer? I mean, that’s how Conservatives and Labour all choose their own party leaders… right?

      • The article is here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6500029/Theresa-Mays-Deputy-Prime-Minister-Chief-Staff-plotting-second-vote.html
        This part is hilariously funny:
        “… Therefore there could even be multiple rounds of voting, like a French presidential, [sic] election that would see No Deal go head-to-head with Remain in round two, if Mrs May’s deal was rejected in a first vote…”
        As long as you use Xs instead of numbers, it’s fine for Some People To Get Two Votes!

      • … Although to give the Daily Mail credit, while its reporters’ grasp of voting systems is below a second-grade level, it must be acknowledged as the world’s premier media authority on Kardashian Baby Bumps and TOWIE Bikini Bodies.So its analysis must be taken seriously.

    • At this point, if I were in charge, I would almost consider sending out feelers about well revoking Article 50… and then immediately invoking Article 50 and a fresh two year countdown would go over.

      • I’d think the UK electorate and the EU itself would take a fairly dim view of an attempt at Permabrexit.

      • I’m not saying it is a good idea. But if I wanted to Brexit to happen, which I don’t, and to happen neatly with minimal damage, which I do, a “ReBrexit” may be easiest way to extend the timeline.

      • That could well be the case, but it seems to me that Britain has run out of credibility.

        Ireland has just announced that rejecting the current deal would require an entire new proposal. Britain cannot avoid a hard border in ireland without retaining a customs union with the EU. A hard border in Ireland would amount to ripping up the Good Friday Agreement, and with it much of the Irish peace process. The leave camp appears not to have taken Ireland into account at all.

        The Norway plus idea was rejected by a senior member of the Norwegian governing party last week, on the grounds that the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) has no enthusiasm for admitting Britain with a veto, which is understandable. I predict we will hear about Switzerland plus at any moment. And Andorra plus will not be far behind. Or perhaps Norway minus where Britain joins the EFTA without a veto.

  3. I think a grand coalition would have been better, because it’s an exceptional phase the UK is going through.

    Brexit is the most important fork in their road since Dunkirk (Churchill had a coalition with Labour too) and once decided, the deal will be very difficult to reverse. So a one time near-consensus is better suited for this kind of decision than shifting bare majorities.

  4. Before Brexit, Westminster politicians could safely ignore Northern Ireland, but now the tail (Irish border issue) is wagging the dog (domestic policy in the rest of the UK: under what terms can they leave the EU).

    In the meantime, May is doing a great job wasting time so that there is no time left for an alternative (2nd referendum, renegotiation, preparing for No Deal) and her deal remains as only option.

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