Friday, May 24, 2019

Brexit, Further Facts and Speculations

In Brexit, Facts and Speculations, written last February, I explained why the UK would not leave the EU. Astute observers of the political scene may have noticed that March turned into April and we did not leave.

Theresa May has succeeded in avoiding our departure but with her own departure a new paragraph might be in order.

It has been re-emphasised that the Withdrawal Agreement did not have Parliamentary support and there is no Parliamentary majority for a no-deal Brexit. Any new PM will be faced with two alternatives:

1. Attempt to pursue the default position of no-deal Brexit on October 30th,
2. Revoke Article 50.

The first would trigger a vote of no confidence followed by a general election and risk the installation of a Labour government with Corbyn as PM. Any new Tory PM would seek to avoid that.

Revoking Article 50 would be an embarrassment, especially, as seems likely, the new PM will be someone keen to leave the EU. But once we reach the wire even Boris (who, we recall, was a remainer four years ago) might find a way to explain that #2 is the preferred alternative. Embarrassment has not been a concern of his in the past.

The third possibility, once the first two have been shied away from, is that the new PM washes their hands of the decision by calling for a new referendum.
I concluded my February blog thus:

"Then we will have a second referendum, remain will win. We will see which party comes out of it all worst. But that's for future speculation."

I still see a new referendum with remain winning as the most likely outcome but there is now more evidence that Labour will come out of the process on top. Corbyn's fence-sitting tactic may prove in the end to have been successful. He managed, as best as was possible, to avoid alienating the Brexit supporting Labour voters. With the success of Lib Dems and Greens in the local and then the EU elections and the utter failure of the Conservative Party to 'sort the mess', he will be able to support Remain unequivocally in the new referendum and win the following general election, the rump of the Tory Party, after defections to Lib Dem and Brexit Party, quite unable to form a government.

That last paragraph is, of course, speculation, but it arises from the facts outlined above.


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