Tuesday, 10 July 2018

So what's going on with the UK Government?

It's not my writing (@ldobsonhughes) but it explains everything that's going on with respect to brexit right now:

It took the Cabinet 18months to agree on what Brexit should look like. The entire government has been consumed with Brexit and held hostage by hardline Brexiteers in the Tory party.

Cabinet agreed on a soft-ish Brexit last weekend (some Freedom of Movement and Goods). Also, 'Soft' is Overton Window stuff as 2 years ago, we'd have labelled the plan extreme and hardline.

The problem is, the plan would still have been rejected by the EU as the EU won;t allow its four freedoms to be divided. So it took the Cabinet just 18months to come up with a plan that may as well have been dancing unicorns.

In any case, the plan lasted 48 hours before the Brexit minister resigned. No. 10 talked a good game going into the weekend about calling Ministers' bluff, providing taxi numbers for those who wanted to resign and lose their ministerial cars.

So Ministers took their chauffeured cars back to London and then resigned. The EU really doesn;t care about resignations - they've always negotiated with the senior civil servant. And it's of little impact to them if Britain crashes out without a deal.

This is all internal Tory politics playing out on a national and international stage. The wild card was Boris Johnson. Boris was never particularly a Brexiteer, He was and is a Boris-eer. He'll do and say whatever advances his own interests. Boris resigning means he thinks there's a good chance of dumping may and stepping into her shoes (although why anyone would want to lead the bag of angry cats that is the Tory party right now is anyone's guess).

Funnily enough, the Fixed Term Parliaments Act now becomes crucial. There are only two ways an election can be called, and neither of them are normal ones. It makes it very difficult to trigger an election to dump May.

The powerful 1922 committee could call a leadership vote for May, but there's no guarantee a replacement Tory leadership could command the confidence of the House. May is reliant on the loyalist DUP to govern as it is.

If a hardline Brexiteer is elected leader, there is zero chance they can push through a hard Brexit. Mainly because it is literally impossible. It's like demanding ninety-six dancing unicorns, a personal miniature dragon and intergalactic flight for each household.

Hard Brexit is also impossible because the EU will simply reject it. They hold nearly all the cards and they know, even if hard Brexiteers deny it, that no deal is economic suicide for the UK.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage is threatening yet another political comeback if magical fantasy Brexit isn't delivered. Which is news to the British public who firmly wish that at some point, he'd actually gone away, which is a necessary part of staging a comeback.

To underscore, May did not have to trigger Article 50 (which started the two year countdown to automatic ejection from the EU) when she did. She could have waited until there was an actual plan.

When May triggered Article 50, neither she, nor anyone else in the Cabinet or the Brexit campaign had the faintest, serious idea of what they wanted or their negotiating position. Even last weekend, when Brexiteers were told to put up a realistic, serious plan, or shut up, they couldn't come up with a position. They fell back on rejecting everyone else's plan and cries of 'freedom!'

At the heart of all this, Brexit was always ancillary to, or a vehicle for, the leadership ambitions of a series of Tory men. It was always a pipe dream, and a convenient way of achieving power.

I see we're now talking about confidence votes. Reminder, the Fixed Term Parliament Act overturned most of the conventional ways we think of withdrawing the confidence of the House. Budget and supply votes are no longer confidence votes. (@PhilippeLagasse is your go-to for this.)

Meanwhile, Trump visits in 72hours, and there was effectively a Russian assassination on British soil a few days ago. The bandwidth of the May goverment has been beyond filled by Brexit since its formation. It's sucked all the oxygen out of British politics for two years.