Machiavellianism and Brexit 542

A Cabinet Office source tells me today No. 10 is considering agreeing a second referendum with three choices: No Deal Brexit, May’s Deal or No Brexit. It would be by alternative vote, ie you rate your preferences 1, 2. The thinking is that the first round might go No Deal 23, May’s Deal 37, No Brexit 40. The second round would then go May’s Deal 60, No Brexit 40.

They claim there is opinion poll evidence to support this. But I see a flaw. It is predicated on the current situation, where a lot of Remainers are prepared to support Brexit, to respect the referendum result. But surely a second referendum would release that psychological constraint and the overwhelming majority of Remainers would seize the opportunity to try and ditch Brexit?

The advantage of the ploy from May’s viewpoint is that it presents her “deal” as the only alternative to No Deal or No Brexit, and in an AV vote the compromise position is always boosted. What is more it keeps the numerous other options for deals outwith her red lines – eg EFTA, Single Market, Customs Union, EEA – all off the ballot paper. This limited choice referendum thus appeals to May as “out-maneuvering” the opposition parties. The idea is to sucker them in to talk on a second referendum, then produce this slanted one.

This has not been adopted as policy yet, but No.10 and the Cabinet Office are working on the practicalities of this option.

There will almost certainly be a vote on a second referendum amendment in the government motion debate now starting on 29 January. One very close adviser to Jeremy Corbyn is suggesting to him that he gives a free vote, in order to prevent the row that the convoluted Conference motion tried to put off by focusing on process not substance, but on which time is running out. The adviser’s take is that the Tories will whip against the “People’s Vote” and a Labour free vote will lead to the second referendum being defeated. He was not however aware of the possibility the Tories will push their version of a second referendum, and I was able to brief him on that.

Today I walked down to Tesco to get my milk and, as every day, I passed the huddle of homeless people who sleep in the close. It illustrated vividly how disconnected Westminster is from the very real problems of desperate poverty that exist in our society. Observing the UK in the last phases of decline of a once great Empire, with its entirely dysfunctional political system and its fractured society, I cannot shake the impression of how small and sordid it all is.

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542 thoughts on “Machiavellianism and Brexit

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    • Martyn

      It means we Remain. And it’s more closely aligned with views in 2019, not the out-of-date views from 2016.

      • N_

        Would that be Remain on “Dave’s Deal” “special status” terms, including the opt-out from “ever closer union”?

    • Deb O'Nair

      It means UK voters can carry on sending the idiots from UKIP to the European Parliament in order to project their vague, nebulous discontentment with their own country onto someone else.

      • michael norton

        The upcoming Euro Elections will likely return many MEPs who are against the E.U. like Nigel Farage.

  • Tom Welsh

    The Brexit controversy has highlighted a chronic problem with the British constitution.

    The referendum gave the entire electorate a chance to vote on the question of whether to stay in the EU, or to leave. By a relatively narrow – but still quite decisive – majority, we voted to leave.

    But now we come to the British interpretation of “representative democracy”. As Edmund Burke explained in his speech to the electors of Bristol (at that time a fairly select group), if elected as their MP he would not undertake to argue their views and wishes in Parliament. Instead, he would do something much better for them: he would give them the benefit of his superior experience and judgment, and vote as he thought best. (Although certainly in their interests and those of the country at large).

    The two interpretations of democracy – the referendum and Burke’s view – mix like oil and water. In one system, the wish of the absolute majority of voters must be carried out. In the other, all the voters are allowed to do is pick someone they trust to go to Westminster and do their thinking for them, while they carry on making money and tending to their families at home.

    The Brexit referendum has brought those two incompatible views into direct collision in a kind of political short circuit. The PM says – quite rightly, I think – that now the wishes of the electorate have been sought and given through a plain “Remain/Leave” question, it is the government’s duty to make sure that the UK leaves the EU. (Personally I interpret the referendum result as necessitating a “No deal” exit, but that may be too hard for our masters to arrange).

    Yet the great majority of MPs, elected by that same community of voters, would prefer to remain in the EU!

    Is it a good idea for MPs to follow Burke’s ideas and represent their constituents’ interests as they see them, not as the constituents themselves would like? I’m not sure. But it cannot be a good idea to have the entire electorate vote for something which the House of Commons opposes and would like to prevent.

    It’s really all David Cameron’s fault. As if motivated by a desire to destroy the UK’s constitution by reductio ad absurdum, he set up the referendum that has brought about this catastrophe.

    • seydlitz

      Explain to me what is the benefit for the mass of working people staying in the EU and leaving, is it cheap airfares or gap years for the affluent students and cheap holidays.

      • Jo1

        Now be clear Tom. It was an advisory, non-legally binding referendum.

        Please also check out the definition of “decisive”. For 51.9% – 48.1% doesn’t even come close. It’s just about half and half!

      • AliB

        Keeping their job / not having to deal with Universal credit/ keeping a roof over their heads / being able to afford to feed their family.
        No doubt you’ll say this is project fear. I suggest you start looking at what real businesses are saying and doing – eg those that have anything to do with supplying this counry- booking extra warehouses / starting to stockpile. As this is costing them millions somehow and I rather doubt the Tory party are overing the costs to assist with a “project fear” agenda .

    • Loony

      No Constitutional problem arises with the EU referendum.

      Parliament decided to seek the peoples specific guidance with regard to continued membership of the EU. At the time of the referendum it was made clear by the government that they would act on the advice of the people. The people voted to leave the EU and the vote to leave the EU represents the single largest vote for anything in the history of the country, It eclipses by over 5 percentage points the vote share garnered by the Labour Party in the 1945 “landslide” election.

      Post the referendum a General Election was held in 2017. Both the Labour and Conservative Parties stood on a commitment to exit the EU. In aggregate these 2 parties garnered some 80% of the votes cast.

      The problem is that manifestly a number of elected MP’s stood on a false prospectus – and a large number of them are doing everything in their power to frustrate any UK exit of the EU. There is no constitution in the world that can protect people from their choosing to believe the lies told by liars.

      People choosing to believe lies – as they did in 2017 will naturally have constitutional implications. It is not yet clear how this issue will be resolved. There are 2 obvious alternatives

      The people will accept the situation. In other words the inaction of the people will constitute their forfeiture of sovereignty and the UK will be governed by technocracy who need have no future regard for the views of the people in any matter.

      Alternatively the people will choose to vote for people who will represent their interests. Should this happen then the Conservative Party will most likely be permanently destroyed, and material doubts will exist as to the viability of the Labour Party. The destruction of the Conservative and Labour Parties will reassert the sovereignty of the people and destroy the 2 institutions most prone to infiltration by technocrats. What comes after is anyone’s guess – it will most likely not be pleasant.

      Current politicians are essentially all in. On the one hand the permanently defenestrate the electorate and proceed to absolute power and on the other they act as the agents of their own destruction.

      • Glasshopper

        At least most Tory MP’s support most Tory Voters. Labour have a far worse problem because they have almost no Leave MPs and 5 million plus Leave voters. The party is a complete farce.

    • N_

      It’s really all David Cameron’s fault. As if motivated by a desire to destroy the UK’s constitution by reductio ad absurdum, he set up the referendum that has brought about this catastrophe.

      Britain hasn’t got a constitution. A constitution is a set of higher laws that all projected lower-level laws must comply with, and if one doesn’t comply with the constitition then a more stringent process needs to be followed to get the constitition changed before the projected lower-level law gets accepted. Ever heard of the Supreme Court striking out an Act of Parliament as unconstitutional? No, because Britain hasn’t got a constitution.

      Politics students are just getting the piss taken out of them when they are taught that Britain has a special kind of constitution called an “unwritten” one.

      And I wouldn’t let people who voted for the Tories in 2015, including for the referendum promised in their manifesto, off the hook.

      None of us know what will happen over the next few weeks, but I reckon a complete sloughing off of 50 years of lies, hypocrisy and looking the other way regarding the problems attendant on ethnic mixing in Britain isn’t going to happen.

      About the only thing I’m pleased about is that Tommy Robinson, while he may be able to have photos taken of himself surrounded by soldiers, and to travel across the country to threaten the family of someone who has sent a tweet he doesn’t like, doesn’t seem to be able to call up a massive army of political supporters at the present time. Although when it comes to it he may find that all the doors open to him rather as they did for Marinus van der Lubbe in 1933. (This should not be taken as criticism or in any way an expression of disrespect towards Van der Lubbe who was a council communist factory worker and a very good lad indeed. It’s just that dropping a flaming handkerchief in a building that your enemies have soaked in petrol without your knowledge and disposing of means that are way out of your league doesn’t make you the prime cause of the building’s destruction.)

      • mark hamilton

        Congratulations N_. Yours is surely the most perceptive view yet, in my opinion. As I posted some days ago: There is much more to Brexit than meets the eye. You have put it most succinctly.

    • Dungroanin

      “By a relatively narrow – but still quite decisive – majority,”

      ONE vote in 33 cannot be considered decisive – it wouldn’t even muster a verdict from a jury in a serious criminal case.

  • Doghouse

    Tried to reply to this commenter –

    “I feel also that the Queen should abdicate, as her government is a shambles….”

    ‘Her Government’ being the operative term, and ‘shambles’ being a matter of perspective based on the misguided premise that the desires and opinions of the plebeian voters from whatever camp, bear any relevance on the final outcome. Shambles from the public perspective, all tickedy-boo from another, ship simply in the process of righting itself to the captain’s satisfaction after being thumped by a rogue wave.

    The answer of where it will all end would be found in answering the question of why the referendum in the first place? Does anyone seriously think Cameron could authorise such a monumental move by force of his own hubris? Or was he compelled to do so? If so why, find the answer to that, and there lies the answer to where it will all end. If it was intended as a remain vote to being the next step in full monetary union or similar then that is where it will end, albeit retarded somewhat. If it was the intention to leave the EU, then that is what will happen, and all we see before us is charade, with May playing her part as ordered.

    For me, May’s actions, or total lack thereof are a real indicator as are conditions in the world in general. The order of the day is consolidation of more and more to a tiny minority, vast amounts of power and wealth where the opinions of you, me, May or Cameron have absolutely no bearing whatsoever. None. Where in that plan does devolution of any kind stand other than by simulation or promise? The same old clever criminals have been raping the people and land for an eternity and it is never enough. This position has been in the making centuries, nay millennia, not merely a few years.

    • seydlitz

      Do not you are not understand you, being played by the the ruling class you have no choice,what. ever way the result goes they will not be effected .

    • charming

      Why would anyone with any sense give money to the poor who will only waste it? If they are poor it’s for a reason, so if you want a nation to thrive support those people with self made wealth and don’t encourage begging and scrounging. Put the taxed money in the hands of those who will generate more for society. Welfare only leads to dependence and idleness. Labour doesn’t talk about productivity, innovation or the promotion of talent and wealth creation only stories of failure, pity and entitlement – a party of old men and young women parachuted to supine northern hells where they ‘feel their pain’. This is the time of Goves and Rees-Moggs and there’s more house cleaning and sterilisation to follow.

      • Greg Park

        UK productivity is the lowest in Europe thanks to another near decade of Tory rule and their creation of crap dead end jobs.

        • charming

          the country of manufactures has long given way to a land of consumers of cheap foreign made products and ‘services’. it will never come back – coal and steel industries and their connected trades are kaput. there is no useful or meaningful work to do for hundreds and thousands of citizens and the state makes no effort to address the problem – unless of course they are going to set the robots on them and make it a sporting event. the nature of previous manufacturing meant that many individuals did not have portable or adaptable skillsets so were lucky to get the security guard job patrolling the vacated industrial estates empty buildings. Dumped, as women were after the wars. Even war doesn’t present an employment opportunity on any grand scale. Aging society, falling birth rate, client state.

      • Republicofscotland

        “Why would anyone with any sense give money to the poor who will only waste it? If they are poor it’s for a reason, so if you want a nation to thrive support those people with self made wealth and don’t encourage begging and scrounging. ”

        Oh you sound a real Charming character, by scrounging do you mean the House of Lords, or the largest recipients of state benefits ever the Royal family. If so then yes I agree.

        If however you are referring to those less fortunate, the sick, disabled, zero hour contract workers, the working poor etc then you’re no better than the vile Tories and their terrible ideology against the less fortunate in society.

        • charming

          Oh you sound a real Charming character, by scrounging do you mean the House of Lords, or the largest recipients of state benefits ever the Royal family. If so then yes I agree.

          That’s right, as I said they don’t generate any wealth, social or material.

        • Tatyana

          *not about begging, but about social payments, as long as it is the same money-giving from the public pocket.

          Me working and paying taxes, including pension fund, social fund, medicine fund – once I turned to the social center to learn out if I could send my child to a sanatorium. He needed special treatment to improve his health and me being a bit short of money decided to use, once in my life, this benefit, guaranteed by my state.
          I met in that center Eugenia, a woman whom I know, living near me. She has been retarded from her childhood. She has 4 children, all are also retarded, different fathers. Their status is ‘disabled’. Annually they get these medical vouchers to visit seaside spa resorts, twice a year.
          No free vouchers were available for me, all of them were spent for disabled children.

          Another example is a man, who drinks too much alcohol and once, having drunk extremely much he had a heart attack. Surgery paid by social fund, limited work capacity, then medical comission, status ‘disabled’ and – increased pension.

          Another is a woman, who eats too much and becomes obese, and thus it leads her to diabetes II, problems with legs, eyes, disabled, increased pension.

          I don’t know what is humane way to deal with such people. But for sure, what we have now is not fair. I supposed that those disabled may live on payments from rich people, like charity or something of that kind, instead of taking more money from working class?

          • Tatyana

            bj, I mean a very simple illustration – people who write laws for me, they spend public money for luxury dinners, luxury cars bought for public money are ready to their service, they spend their holidays at luxury resorts. The cost of one such a journey could cover medical vouchers for 3 or even 5 children.

      • N_

        If they are poor it’s for a reason

        That phrase is beloved of schoolteachers who don’t know the reason for something.

        The rich are rich for a reason, which is mainly that they inherited wealth from their parents and inherited wealth is used to support a social system such that inherited wealth continues to be inherited.

        “Talent” and “wealth creation”, my arse!

        As for “entitlement”, aren’t all human beings of this world equally entitled to the goods and joys of this world?

        • charming

          As for “entitlement”, aren’t all human beings of this world equally entitled to the goods and joys of this world?

          They are equally entitled if they pay for them – wealth is unequally distributed. I don’t know how much ‘joy’ costs, possibly priceless.

        • Ingwe

          N_I agree with you. I’d love to put those “wealth creators” on an uninhabited island and let’s see them ‘creating wealth’.

      • Londonschild

        Problem is it is equally wasteful to give money to the idle rich the money touches down briefly in the Home Counties then wings off to Germany for cars, Italy for fashion, Japan for electronics and assorted tax havens. Only a very small percentage of the rich are ‘self made’ most are rentiers etc., On the other hand when the poor acquire any level of surplus income they go straight down to the local shops and spend it, maybe on booze and tobacco but what on earth has that to do with you? ‘Scroungers and beggars’ applies equally to the ‘self made’ industrialists who pay minimum wage and count on the taxpayer to top up their poverty wages. Apart from the satisfaction you appear to derive from punishing the poor I cannot see any social or economic benefits from your ‘solutions’ only disaster and misery for all including the Rich who end up self imprisoning themselves to shelter from the consequences of their folly.

        • charming

          ‘Only a very small percentage of the rich are ‘self made’ most are rentiers etc.,’
          I live in rented property and it fulfils a social need – fair renting is a different issue

          ‘On the other hand when the poor acquire any level of surplus income they go straight down to the local shops and spend it, maybe on booze and tobacco but what on earth has that to do with you?’
          Because I don’t like to see people dying early from alcohol and tobacco use and the strain it puts on the health service – and I don’t like to see people sick, unhappy and unfulfilled, that ‘has to do with me’

          ‘Scroungers and beggars’ applies equally to the ‘self made’ industrialists who pay minimum wage and count on the taxpayer to top up their poverty wages.’

          I believe in fair pay and that all people should pay their taxes

          ‘Apart from the satisfaction you appear to derive from punishing the poor I cannot see any social or economic benefits from your ‘solutions’ only disaster and misery for all including the Rich who end up self imprisoning themselves to shelter from the consequences of their folly.’

          Poverty is an unnecessary evil which gives me no satisfaction. Dignity, work and fair pay for all.

      • Ken Kenn

        We’ve done that many times since the late Seventies and the latest outcome was a financial Crash and ordinary people bailing out the ” Smart people “.

        This led to austerity ( the people paying the bailed out people’s losses ) which led to 17.5m people being more left behind than they were under Thatcher.

        The clever trick from the Tories is to get way with failed trickle down ( as did Blair) and unfortunately a lot of voters still believe that this can work one more time at least.

        By the way most wealth is inherited by class status or inheritance of a business assets or investments.

        See Cameron and Osborne as an example.

        The two “smart people ” who only discovered the Chinese market in 2015.

        Sharp as a sausage the pair of them and more of their kind unfortunately populate the Commons.

        This is why we are where we are.

        Give me a Patrician Tory anyday than this PR lot.

      • Jo Dominich

        Wrong Charming – quite the opposite is true, Labour are talking about innovation and production – try other sources than the MSM – you will find a wealth of talk about and strategies to encourage and fund them. Thing is MSM choose not to print anything that will put Labour in a favourable or competent light – better to protect a fascist, single focus Government headed by a grossly incompetent imbecile and a cabinet of old Etonians who are also idiots making up a Government who has absolutely no idea as to how to Govern a nation in the interests of the many not the few. In fact, to Govern a nation at all. Bunch of posh spivs

  • Wikikettle

    The Establishment have a huge problem. Normally they just replace one failing party with another as both Leaderships are in ‘safe pair of hands’. When it comes to matters of foreign policy, nuclear power, wmd and tax havens a Labour leader has to obey. If Tom Watson (LBJ) was in place or Hilary Benn all would be ok to throw bread to the deplorables at the games….

    • N_

      @Wikikettle – I wish I understood your last sentence.

      I thought for a moment you might be referring to the time in 1936 when Tory scum at the Carlton Club showed what it means to be Tory scum when they hurled bread rolls at the Jarrow marchers, who were facing starvation.

      In “Charming’s” view those Tories were probably creating wealth or demonstrating talent that they had won through such hard work, right?

      • Wikikettle

        N_. Sorry. I lack the of eloquence of contributors to Craig’s site. For LBJ I meant as in JFK. For bread I meant the Roman Games. I wonder how many LBJ’s are already in place in the SNP ?

        • N_

          @Wikikettle – Thanks!
          I’m not sure what leading SNP figures might do next. I’m still reeling with disgust at Vince Cable. Backing a new referendum is good, but saying he will help the Tory government survive in future no confidence motions if he doesn’t get one is a disgrace.

          • Wikikettle

            N_. Yes, Vince Cable used to be Labour. He was part of the “Pre Blairites” , Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rogers and Shirley Williams. A safe pair of hands. Indeed the SDP or Moderates paved the way for Thatcher. No doubt Hilary, Watson, Kinnock and Co are thinking up names for a new Moderate party.

  • Greg Park

    Do the numbers exist in parliament to approve a 2nd referendum? It was being touted yesterday that at least 100 Labour MPs would declare today in favour of a 2nd referendum; as it turned out just 71 did. But even if as many as half the Labour’s MPs voted for a 2nd referendum, that would still be less than a fifth of parliament; well over 100 Tory MPs would have to support it too. It is difficult to see that happening, meaning that Labour would risk alienating its leave voters (and losing 65% of its seats) for nothing.

    • Wikikettle

      I agree. Galloway urges Jeremy to be hard Brexit so he can keep Labour Brexit supporters voting Labour. However Jeremy is not driven by power at any cost. He is always trying to do the right thing. Being honest and offering his leadership to an indifferent population. Even if this means pointing out the potential risks of a hard Brexit at the political cost to Labour. Our electoral system has failed. It is no longer a representative democracy. The Establishment controls the media which manufactures consent. Corbyn spoils the whole sham. He speaks for voiceless. Great respect Jeremy. Keep safe.

      • N_

        While I join you in wishing Jeremy all the best, you gotta agree that it would be nice if there were a popular leftwing movement capable of taking to the streets and not limited to showing support for any particular bunch of politicians.

        When food is scarce, combativeness rises for a while and then falls as body weight falls. A lot may depend on whether strands of “knowing shit from sugar”, “not doing everything Google and Youtube tell you” and “not allowing the controllers to decide what you take to be the main issues” are successfully nurtured NOW.

  • Dungroanin

    The coup is underway.

    Side lining the only genuine political alternative for 50 years, by refusing to have a general election.

    Getting the rump blairites in the govt camp. Hoping to split Labour membership solidarity.

    Hard Brexit – full steam ahead. Martial Law at the ready

      • Ken Kenn

        Well we might need a load of shallow boats for deep ports.

        We do have an aircraft carrier ( big and roomy due to no planes being on it ) the only problem is its hull is very deep and Ramsgate Harbour is a bit of a bugger to turn a big ship in.

        Any ideas greatly welcomed.

        Actually Red Cross parcels greatly welcomed too.

        Modest one’s of course.

      • Dungroanin

        Yeah whatever!

        ‘While a Ministry of Defence source told the paper “no formal request” had been received, it is understood that existing plans used in civil emergencies would be put into action.

        A minister told the paper: “There is a lot of civil contingency planning around the prospect of no deal. That’s not frightening the horses, that’s just being utterly realistic.”

        Retailer Amazon is said to have warned ministers earlier this month that its own plans for a ‘no deal’ Brexit included preparation for “civil unrest” within two weeks of the UK and EU failing to strike a deal.’

        And that was last summer!

      • Jo Dominich

        Charles, not so rubbish as this Government have made a statement haven’t they that the army is being put on alert in the event of a No Deal Brexit to contain any civil disobedience or protests. It’s the start isn’t it?

  • Martyn

    I notice a few people don’t appreciate the timescales required. A reminder of what the Constitution Unit at UCL said in October. Note additional time required for a multi-option referendum:

    “While preparations for a new referendum could take place more quickly than those for previous polls, the minimum time for these combined processes would be around 22 weeks, with additional time required if the referendum question were to follow a multi-option format.”

  • Dr. Jutta Stoll

    What would be good in the UK to establish is a constitutional court – an institution which has proven very helpful in other democracies. This court, if applied to by one of the state organs, e.g. the government, the parliament, political parties/factions, would have the authority to decide about the constitutionality of all acts of state institutions, including laws and regulations, and, notably, the validity of referendums. In our case, such a court could very well have declared the BREXIT REFERENDUM illegal and void, e.g. because the underlying law was flawed (no 2/3 majority, no quorum, not properly financed, voters were deceived, the questions were not properly framed, etc. etc. etc.) Such courts, in their judgements, also usually give guidelines for future action,

    • Charles Bostock

      Not quite sure how a Constitutional Court would work in a country which doesn’t have a written constitution (which basically means that the constitution in such countries is a mixture of precedent, law and what the government of the day says it is).

      • N_

        A constitution means a set of laws higher than other ones. See the more precise definition in my post at 5.31pm. What you describe in brackets isn’t a constitution.

        • Charles Bostock

          I agree it’s not a constitution according to your definition. But it’s still a constitution in terms of what a constitution exists for (ie, seen functionally).

        • Casual Observer

          The ‘Founders’ of the USA thought that way, it led them to pen a written constitution that was in essence a replica of the constitutional rights enjoyed by Britons of the day. It has since proved to be a good living for an endless army of lawyers hired by those groups wishing to argue the meaning of very simply understood words 🙂

          • Charles Bostock

            And what’s more, it’s been amended quite a few times (as indeed have many other written constitutions – where they haven’t been replaced wholesale, periodically; eg France, Soviet Union).

            So perhaps the UK’s constitution, which evolves constantly, is not so very different?

        • Charles Bostock

          Yes, that’s what I meant when I wrote “… a mixture of precedent, law and what the government of the day says it is).”

          Note the word “law”.

          • Charles Bostock

            And precedents are of course also written down, they’re not just passed on orally, are they.

            Wake up!

          • Dr. Jutta Stoll

            Art. 50 para. 1 says:
            “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”
            Therefore, ironically, it could be even the European Court of Justice incidentially deciding what the constitution of the UK says! The application of law which is not in writing is daily routine of courts all over the world, including, notably, the International Court of Justice!

          • Charles Bostock

            ” ironically, it could be even the European Court of Justice incidentially deciding what the constitution of the UK says!”

            No, it couldn’t. What is meant in Art, 50 is that due process has to be observed in the Member State concerned.

  • Charles Bostock

    “Hilary Benn pays a visit to No 10. ”

    Thus apparently defying Mr Jeremy Corbyn’s demand that no Labour MP should accept the PM’s invitation to talks unless the no-deal option is taken off the table.

    It is good to see that the Labour Party still contains members who are prepared to put their country’s interests before squalid party-political maneouverings. Hilary should enter Downing Street singing “Don’t cry for me, Jeremy”

      • N_

        Hilary Benn is the chair of the Brexit Select Committee, which also makes him a member of the Liaison Committee, which is made up of the chairs of all the Select Committees. See Standing Order 145 for more details on the LC.

        Chairs of select committees are pre-vetted: there is a pool of MPs who after vetting (presumably with MI5 involvement) are decided to be suitable for serving in that role. The process of becoming a “suitable” is even more hush-hush than “the usual channels” and it has never had any light of day thrown on it.

        What’s happening? Possibly a Government bill, or one that is supported by the Government, may be about to be rushed through Parliament. (Note to politics students: no, that doesn’t have to take 17 weeks or whatever your lecturers told you. It could in principle get all three readings in both Houses within a matter of hours.)

        • Charles Bostock

          ” It could in principle get all three readings in both Houses within a matter of hours.)”

          Correct. I believe that one of the first anti-terrorism acts was passed in a day.

          • Charles Bostock

            And perhaps also DORA (the Defence of the Realm Act) and the Official Secrets Act.

    • bj

      Considering your unconditional solid stance behind a murderous regime guilty of war crimes,
      it is hardly any surprise that you broadly gloat when the murderous faction, guilty of war crimes,
      in a political party, gets its –what you think is their, and your– way.

      Personally I think –in your moment of smugness– you let your guard down: you gloat too soon.

      • Charles Bostock

        What are you talking about, bj? Please show me where I have ever supported the Chinese, Burmese or Syrian governments (to name just a few of the governments responsible for war crimes and crimes which some on here would call “genocide”)

        • Borncynical

          I think you’ll find that @bj is referring to the UK Government, and I totally agree with him/her. In case it had escaped your notice, CB, the Burmese and Syrian Governments strenuously deny any wrongdoing and in both cases TPTB in the West, supported by the MSM, choose to believe without question ‘evidence’ and testimonies supplied by Islamic extremists, their families and supporters; we are constantly expected to believe that these people could themselves not possibly be lying or guilty of any crimes against humanity, including against their own families, friends and neighbours. I know who I believe.

  • John Goss

    “Today I walked down to Tesco to get my milk and, as every day, I passed the huddle of homeless people who sleep in the close. It illustrated vividly how disconnected Westminster is from the very real problems of desperate poverty that exist in our society.”

    Unfortunately this is pandemic throughout the realm. Homeless people have nowhere and nobody to which to turn. Here is the text of a letter I sent to my MP yesterday.

    “Recently a man has been sleeping rough in C. B. Common. I’ve spoken to him and supplied him with a few things, occasional food and drink. However he is not my responsibility.

    From what I can gather he was born in H. Road, is 53 years old, has not worked in any meaningful way in which he might have contributed to NIS and therefore cannot claim any money (apart he said for about £3.50 if he makes a journey to Selly Oak). He tells me he used to have a caravan near the canal where the barges are opposite Cocks Moors Woods golf course but the council towed it away. He then had a tent which got burnt down (arsen). He now sleeps in the open on a bench even on very cold nights.

    I have asked him about hostels but he does not like them due to drugs’ issues. On asking he said he did not use drugs himself. I mentioned the Church sleeping schemes which he knew about but said they were over the other side of the city. I think this is true. I am concerned that one day he will be found dead from hyperthermia and will become another statistic of an uncaring society.

    I guess his Catch 22 is he has no address so could not get legitimate employment even if he was considered a suitable employee. Other than what he’s told me I know nothing about him. He should not have to rely on the good-will of one or two individuals who have their own commitments. Neither should he have to sleep in the open.

    Any advise would be welcome.


    With the sentence “However he is not my responsibility.” I ought to have made it plain that he is not just my responsibility because collectively he is everybody’s responsibility.

  • freddy

    I’m curious as to why the cabinet would leak to Craig on this issue. It’s not like he’d be their first choice for most things.

  • Willie

    The first referendum was was as good as asking the question if you wanted to make Britain Better – yes or no?

    And the response at 51.9 % Vs 48.1% was nothing but a split vote on a nebulous question.

    No wonder the Wonder House Parliament is tearing itself apart. The morons and biggest have just started to wake up – just like the equally moronic.

    So yes, unless and until the populace give an indication of what they want the Wonder House will be able to agree nothing whilst the Bewildered Theresa will be nothing more than a monkey on a stick.

    And all driven by English xenophobic hatred of foreigners.

    I truly hope that the bastards wreck their economy and slip down the rankings to the busted flush of a nation that they are.

    Just a pity about their neighbours who are going to have to sustain some of the fall out.

    High time for a united Ireland and an independent Scotland and let Johnny Englander get on with his self harm suicide plan.

    • michael norton

      Diane Abbot as Primeminister of the United Kingdom
      shudder a thought,
      if you imagined Aunty May was an idiot rabbit staring into the oncoming car crash
      Diane Abbot would open the flood gates to let all speeding traffic in to run her and Jeremy over, whilst shouting
      “Let them all come”

    • Charles Bostock


      far be it from me to support any potential Labour cabinet minister (under the present leadership, at least) but there are many worse than Diane Abbott,

      OK, she may not be the sharpest blade in the drawer (but then, how many of us are?) but my impression is that she means well and is fundamentally honest.

      As such, she contrasts starkly with some of the other uber-twisters on the Labour front bench, who are wholly without principle, petty party politicians to the core and fundamentally dishonest, as events over the last 48 hours have amply shown.

      Even Mr Jeremy Corbyn had to be maneouvred into putting down a motion of no confidence, he was hoping to keep it in his arsenal until Theresa called him out.

    • Casual Observer

      Seems hard at this point to believe that they could be any worse than the current crowd ?

  • lissnup

    There isn’t enough time availabke before 29 March for a (legal, properly organised) referendum. The Tories used delaying tactics to ensure that. They could use a (likely rigged) poll to claim support for it, thereby creating an excuse to ask the EU states to universally support an extension of the A50 notice in order to allow time for it.
    On another subject, how many homeless people are there on the street where you live, and how many homes/households? I’m wondering if you residents all couldn’t band together to help them.

    • Charles Bostock

      “On another subject, how many homeless people are there on the street where you live, and how many homes/households? I’m wondering if you residents all couldn’t band together to help them”

      You must be joking – too much like hard work. Posting on the internet is much less stressful. Unfortunately.

      • Charles Bostock

        And an even larger percentage are not.

        But I hadn’t realised that devolved powers didn’t cover homeless people who are ex-servicemen, so thank you for setting me straight.

        • JOML

          Charles, I think you have misread my post as I didn’t state anything about devolved powers. However, I pleased that you feel able to move on.

  • JOML

    Duke of Edinburgh rolls his Range Rover today. I strongly suspect he was not asked to blow in a breathalyser…

      • Deb O'Nair

        But probably didn’t. If the police were to ask him to blow into a breathalyser he would tell them to “fuck off” and that would be the end of it.

      • JOML

        Apparently he didn’t suffer a slight stroke, so it must have been a combination of his driving skills, road conditions and perhaps the other vehicle. Regardless, drivers are breathalysed in these circumstances but his like are above the law.

  • Michael Droy

    I doubt you see the fury of ordinary people against the MPs.
    And a 3-way vote would go 2% no deal, 60% May’s deal, 38% remain.
    Done and dusted (if it were feasible to do anyway).
    Heaven help the future political careers of anyone daft enough to campaign in England on behalf of remain – probably sitting Labour MPs only (ahead of de-selection)

    • michael norton

      I presume Corbyn has been so modest ( pathetic) because he is only nominally the leader of the Labour Parliamentary Party,
      half are still lap-dogs of Tony Blair, if there is to be yet another G.E. it would seem the Remoaner M.P.’s will be wiped from existence both Labour and Conservative.

    • SA

      You really believe that all those MPs got it so wrong that there was such against the May deal that the electorate would then support it in the first round?

  • SA

    I think there should be a referendum with a single question:
    Do you think Theresa May has done a good job trying to deliver Brexit?
    My private polling tells me that the answer will be a resounding 99.9 percent No with T and P M voting yes plus a few others well wishers.

    • able

      “I just wonder what it would be like to be reincarnated in an animal whose species had been so reduced in numbers than it was in danger of extinction. What would be its feelings toward the human species whose population explosion had denied it somewhere to exist… I must confess that I am tempted to ask for reincarnation as a particularly deadly virus.”

      HRH Prince Philip, Foreword to “If I Were an Animal”(1987), by Fleur Cowles, ISBN 9780688061500.

      Make of it what you will.

      • N_

        Make of it what you will.

        It’s probably common among those who fantasise about killing millions of their fellow human beings for them to believe that they are fighting for right against wrong, or to put the world the right way up again, or that they will be the instrument that gives to the human species what it has had coming to it for a long while, or that they must ask the Deity first in the belief that the Deity would say “sure Philly Boy, go right ahead”.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    That is absolutely outrageous. You are clearly splitting Brexit voters whilst not splitting Remain voters.

    You have a first question: Mrs May’s deal or No Deal?

    That then gives the binary question to be asked, if it really has to be asked, which is (selected form of Brexit) vs Remain.

    Remain on what terms? Those we left on? Worse? Saddled to the European Army? Etc etc.

    There is no shame too great for those who cannot respect democracy.

    Do you remember Mrs Thatcher vs SDP vs Michael Foot? Mrs Thatcher vs SDP vs Kinnock?

    We know how those turned out: more voted against Thatcher but the anti-Thatcher vote was split.

    The same will happen here.

    You have first vote one Thursday, second vote following Thursday.


  • michael norton

    I am not sure what is going on ( other than speculation) but the pound is the same rate against the Euro as it was twelve months ago, I would have thought uncertainty would have reduced the humble quid?
    Or possibly there is as much uncertainty in Euroland, I have heard that France and Italy and Germany are also on “The Skids”

    • Jo Dominich

      Michael, the pound is so volatile at the moment it’s hard to tell what is going to happen. I will say this though, we are crashing out on a No Deal basis because May and her Cabinet do not have a single clue as to how to sort this mess out. Firstly, I would say well done to Jeremy Corbyn for standing firm and to the Conference’s agreed stance. Secondly, there is so much corruption and indecision on the part of this Government headed by May and her utterly corrupt Cabinet, the pound will continue to fluctuate. I strongly suspect when the No Deal crash out becomes a reality the pound will take a nose dive because there will be a severe impact on our manufacturing industry and the financial sector. Our economy is so aligned with the USA thanks to two successive grossly incompetent and corrupt Tory Governments who have no idea bout responsible stewardship or Government, the pound will be made even weaker as the USA stock exchange is also in massive fluctuation the USA/China trade war started by Trump being a key factor. If you read some of the mainstream financial press you will see that the pound’s partial recovery was in part due to a possible delay in the Brexit process and a suspension of the trade war between Trump and China. However, the international financial press are showing that the USA has now had to start increasing interest rates which has had an immediate and sharp impact on the economy. As this Government has managed this economy on the same basis as the USA, you can expect more fluctuation and possible collapse of Sterling.

  • Tom

    Agreed, Craig. It feels like the crew arguing as the Titanic goes down. Look at our appalling media too, all day trying to blame Corbyn for the Tory debacle, including, most shamefully, our national broadcaster, with its constant leading questions, snide comments and pro-Tory interviewees.
    I’m honestly starting not to care very much one way or the other about Brexit. It’s plain the country needs a complete reboot and perhaps a No Deal Brexit will precipitate it.

    • Jo Dominich

      Tom – agreed. The MSM and BBC are shameful disgraces and are not reporting impartially. I suggest Ofcom receive many many complaints about these institutions which they will then have to investigate the outcome of which, of course, will be that Ofcom, decidedly not independent of this Government, will quietly negate.

  • kula

    Grey. It is all stony grey, just like the tenements and church on the Royal Mile. Add the wind, a bit of Leonard Cohen and it’s off to slash my wrists. We need a new government, a harrogate agenda, and the spoilt brats clinging to power need a trial by fire. The loss of Empire is just. so. lowering.

  • Casual Observer

    At this time the EU are in the driving seat, as they have been all along in reality. Looking at things from the EU side of the fence, there does not seem to be much merit in allowing Article 50 to be extended unless there is some meaningful change in the negotiating stance of the UK. And given the time remaining, and the lack of any consensus in Parliament, it seems no change of position will emerge.

    The UK could do well to remember that leaving the EU will open avenues to the other big players of the group that would have been unthinkable with the UK having a big say at the table. on the economic side, the news may well be brighter for the EU than many ‘Leavers’ would have us imagine. Its not inconceivable that Britain crashing out to go on WTO terms would have the effect of British domiciled, but foreign owned companies, being lured to the former Communist parts of the EU ? We can already see Jaguar Landrover (Tata) setting up a factory in Slovakia. Such moves would be a big gain in the EU’s efforts to bring the eastern economies to a level comparable to those in the western parts. And no doubt suitable monetary inducements would be available to encourage such movements.

    Then of course there is the exemplary effect that Britain crashing out, and enjoying maybe a decade of hardship prior to the promised renaissance would have ? At a time when so called populist forces are whipping the hoi polloi into thinking that the EU may be a cause of their misfortune, the sight of a member leaving to enjoy bitter fruit could well be valuable beyond price.

    Clearly the 27 will go out of their way to appear sympathetic to the UK’s present plight, but the reality must be that a so called disorderly exit could fit the EU’s pistol quite nicely 🙂

  • The 62%

    Looks more like there will be a second referendum or election. If no extension of article 50 by mid February, prepare for Summer of discontent and economic recession. (China seems to be in consumer recession already).

    If there is to be another vote, some positive messages for remaining would be:

    1. More chance of continued peace in Europe and no war. Remember that millions died for us.
    2. Freedom of movement for young people to live where they want, and for older people to retire in the Sun.
    3. Continued free and open trade with some of the largest economies in the world.
    4. Scots as Europeans, as the majority of us voted still to be.
    5. As someone just said to me: “You are better with the devil you know, than the one you don’t”
    6. Re-form the EU as part of it. Not as an isolated outsider.

  • nevermind

    That would be a no Brexit as my number one choice. To actually use.your second and third vote would be foolish as it skews the most favourite choice.

    What would be important to know is whether just a single option vote would count.
    If they disqualify single votes then this referendum is useless. Whatever is wrong with a majority vote?

    It is indeed small and sordid, once again the wretched AV raises its disproportional horse trading qualities, for the power mongers to fool the masses.

  • Hieroglyph

    In some ways, May is quite remarkable. Not in terms of talent, or political skills, or intellect, or charisma or anything of that nature. No, she has a rare arrogance, and stubbornness. Quite Thatcherite actually. Within a day of being humiliated, the spin was already ‘let’s do this again’, as though that was the most obvious thing in the world. And now, this machiavellian ruse. It’s clear to me May has that central weakness of autocratic executives: the belief they are the smartest person in the room. But, they never understand it really depends which room.

    Unfortunately, negative selection is rampant in parliament, otherwise May would be oen of those shouty backbenchers whom nobody likes, apart from the feminists at the Guardian. Instead, she is PM. I suppose I’ll give her team some credit for using fear of no-deal Brexit to push her peculiar angle, but the truth is, no-deal is not the big bogeyman they claim. Indeed, many in the UK would accept no-deal, though of course there would be consequences. Personally, I suspect those ‘consequences’ would be a short-term shock, but not the sci-fi-style existential threat they are painted as. But, who knows really? Not May.

    On this, I actually support Corbyn. A common-market, “Norway’ solution, with controls on immigration, appears sane. Others may disagree.

    • Charles Bostock

      “In some ways, May is quite remarkable. Not in terms of talent, or political skills, or intellect, or charisma or anything of that nature. No, she has a rare arrogance, and stubbornness..”

      I believe the above was inspired by something Philip Larkin once wrote to Kingsley Amis (about John Wain).

      Am I right?

      • Ken Kenn


        Simple fact ( a bit like Macron ).

        At the moment no-one wants to replace her and that is THE reason she still remains in place.

        Except Corbyn and he’s the wrong type of unclubbable chap don’t yer know.

  • fwl

    If we get an A50 extension beyond the May EU elections when would be the latest date for us to say that we are taking part in those elections.

    Should we take part in EU election? It could serve as a referendum, or a referendum could be attached, or

    should we await the outcome of the EU election so that we can see how things have changed i.e. because it is anticipated that there will be some significant changes and it may be that the people with whom we negotiate will have chang (though they may’ve changed here too)?

    [A lesser question but if we take the latter route, do not take part in the election but then elect to remain how do we go about getting our EMPs elected and in place?]

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