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So what now? Whither Brexit? - ePepys

15th Jul 2016

12:03 am - So what now? Whither Brexit?

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Along with many of you, I’ve been pondering how we can get out of the mess that David Cameron dumped us in three weeks ago. I think I’ve found a way, which crucially might actually be agreeable to everyone who has a say in the matter. It gives us two possible outcomes: leaving the EU without too much pain, or remaining without too much strife.

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Current Mood: hopefulhopeful

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From:vicarage
Date:15th July 2016 07:29 am (UTC)
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A very clearly phrased argument, but of course it suffers because you don't really want any change at all (as do I). A light migration brake that might not activate is not what Leavers want. They require a strong restriction on migration, which is not acceptable for EEA or EU admission.

I suspect EU politicians want us in the EEA, same trade and migration terms, higher contributions to the budget, no ability to be a thorn in their political side. I think this is the best we can hope for now. I don't see why they should offer more.

Few politicians want to publicly say they won't respect the will of the people, the question is what they think privately in a social circle none of us are members of. Some Remainers may be hoping that a slowed British economy and uncertainty over prospects will put off Europeans coming, so EU migration will drop dramatically, and the issue goes away. This would require May to bite the bullet on non-EU migration too, a nettle Cameron wouldn't grasp.

As for who decides, it will be parliament if the Tory rebels are squashed, by dictat if not. I can't see a second referendum when 48% of people won't want either option presented. In the old days May might call a General Election too boost her majority against Labour remain in chaos, but the fixed Parliament changes have rather scuppered that.
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From:pmcray
Date:15th July 2016 11:15 pm (UTC)
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Even the invisible Farron has called for an early election, so I doubt there'd be much opposition to the abolition of the act for fixed terms. And a technical Vote of No Confidence could be arranged (where the governing party votes "against" itself). I understand that has happened in Germany.
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From:e_pepys
Date:15th July 2016 11:50 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I think there are so many loopholes in the Fixed Term Act, that it is easy to hold an election if the governing party really wants to.

I think the good purpose of the Act was to make the expectation of 5 years in normal circumstances. That means the PM can't call an election without good reason (and "I think I could win now" may not work).

I've worried that if we held an election now, then the 5 year cycle for "evermore" wouldn't be on memorable multiples of 5.
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From:pmcray
Date:15th July 2016 11:53 pm (UTC)
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I think the greatest exiistential crisis the country has faced since WWII would be enough of an excuse. May need a new mandate to get Brexit legislation through the Commons unless the new thinking really is that Article 50 wil never be triggered.
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From:e_pepys
Date:16th July 2016 12:16 am (UTC)
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Sorry, I got carried away by the constitutional question (my favourite!). I agree with you that it would be easy to call an election now, Fixed Term Act or no. But I don't think the Government should call an election.

I think mine is a better solution, that even most Tories can get behind.
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From:e_pepys
Date:16th July 2016 12:09 am (UTC)
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As I commented in another place, the migration brake will not convince hard-line Leavers. But it will help convince Parliament to hold a new Referendum, and it will help swing a few votes to Remain. It only needs 2%, and maybe less given all the regretful Leavers.

As for the EU leaders, I think most still would prefer us to Remain, and some want it a lot. I think that is clear from their words and hinted by their actions after the referendum. As I think I said in my piece, many fear that Brexit will encourage their own (or partners') populists - witness Le Penn and Wilders. Others fear the EU sans UK will be more dominated by Germany, while Germany often finds common cause with the UK.

I agree this negotiation will be tricky, and may not work. I think we should still try.
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From:zengineer
Date:15th July 2016 08:05 am (UTC)
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I think you are missing the exit point. It is not about economics. Anyone who looked at the economics sees that remain is the sensible option. Those that voted to leave (the majority) want more control over how money currently sent to the EU is spent, over sovereignty and immigration. The only sensible options are to remain (that you and I favour) or to leave the EU and the EEA. If we leave the EEA the government will be better able to control immigation (though there will be less control than leave people think) and there will be an economic cost, certainly in the short term and probably in the long term. We will join EFTA but not the EEA and will have to establish a free trade block that includes services and will probably take decades to work. Your option 2 will be worse in every way than remaining in the EU under our current terms. We will have no more control over immigration, no lower costs and no say in how the EU runs. It will lead to a huge backlash from voters who think the government failed to do what was needed. UKIP will have a massive increase in MPs.
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From:e_pepys
Date:16th July 2016 01:09 am (UTC)
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I see the EEA as the option that satisfies the 23 June Referendum result, with limited economic cost. I agree it is not attractive, but is better than the no-EEA option. If that were an option, I don't think it would receive a majority, but probably would have substantial support.

I agree that my Option 2 is worse than the current terms - for me. But I think it is an option that crucially helps justify a new referendum, and would help swing more votes to Remain.

Your last point about a backlash (among a large *minority* of voters) and massive increase in UKIP MPs is a big concern. emily_shore and I had a long discussion this evening, and she raised the same point.

First, I think just because a lot of people will object and nasty parties will be elected, is no reason not to do the right thing (even if you are a Tory PM). Second, maybe it's wishful thinking, but I think UKIP is just as likely to fade away without it's unaccountably-charismatic leader. But maybe there's something else that can be done. Do you have any ideas?

You are an engineer, fix it! Please suggest improvements or alternatives to my idea. It's more fun to build a clever plan than find more reasons why we are all doomed.
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From:zengineer
Date:16th July 2016 09:54 am (UTC)
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I think you know my solutions. My preferred solution is for the government to set up a negotiating team and invoke article 50 as soon as it is in Britain's best interest. My personal view is that it will not be in Britain's best interest for the foreseeable future so problem solved. Markets will be volatile and don't like uncertainty but have short attention spans.
If article 50 is invoked then it is in the EUs interest to only offer a deal that is not in the UKs interest. You should never accept that kind of deal so we walk away free but poorer. I would suggest at that point we set up some kind of socialist utopia, ideally without money but I imagine less idealistic voices will prevail and that is probably for the best.
The biggest problem here is people thinking something has to be done. Cameron thought we had to have a referendum to finally stop Conservative grumbling. Voters thought we had to reject the EU to control immigration. Most often the best solution is to make small changes in the right direction.
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