Beware the Ides of May

Written By: - Date published: 11:09 pm, January 15th, 2019 - 41 comments
Categories: conservative party, Deep stuff, Economy, elections, International, Jeremy Corbyn, Politics, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, uk politics, workers' rights, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , , , ,

Sometime around breakfast time here in NZ, Theresa May is going to have her Brexit plan flushed down the Westminster dunny.

May is on a hiding to nothing, the nothing being a No Deal Brexit, which will cripple the British economy and possibly re-ignite the Troubles and maybe even end the United Kingdom.

Jeremy Corbyn is being pushed hard to do something, anything. There’s a reasonable chance that by our morning smoko, he’ll have tabled a no confidence motion in the Tory/DUP Government. It’ll probably fail, but maybe not if there are enough arch Brexiteers in the Conservatives who are willing to cross the floor.

All in all, it’s a spectacular mess.

There’ll be live coverage at the usual places; the Guardian here, the BBC here and the Mirror here.

Meanwhile, here’s a useful explainer about the options and this is a short video about the possible outcomes:

However it ends for May in the next 12 hours, Britain has lost influence, lost credibility and lost its way.

There’s no shame in having a fresh referendum. The shame is that there was ever one in the first place.

UPDATE: Vote at around 8.30 am. And the DUP, whose votes are crucial to the Tories, have said they will not support a No Confidence motion if Labour put one up.

UPDATE: Theresa May’s plan has been rejected by 432 votes to 202 – a majority of 230. This is the largest defeat of a Government proposal in 95 years.

41 comments on “Beware the Ides of May”

  1. Morrissey 1

    Britain has lost influence, lost credibility and lost its way.

    That happened a generation ago, when that brave Mr Blair committed other people’s children—not his own, of course—to the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

    “I like Tony ‘cos he tells the truth!”

    —-President George W. Bush, outside No. 10 Downing Street, 2003

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    I think we’re 13 hours ahead currently, and the vote is scheduled for 7pm there, so the result ought to come through sometime after 8am. If she wins, pundits will be surprised and history will render her a competent PM. If she loses, the converse applies.

    “Voting will start at about 19:00 GMT, starting with votes on three or four backbench amendments that could reshape the deal and then the vote on the withdrawal agreement itself.” https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-46868194

    The impression I get is that parliamentarians want to sort the mess out themselves. Since it is their sovereign right, hard to blame them. The system has given May the authority to represent them and decide for them, but she hasn’t done it very authoritatively – because consensus has been impossible to create.

    So can parliament reach consensus via its crowd-sourced wisdom? That’s the question. If she fails, and it succeeds, we’ll see regeneration. The spirit of democracy to the fore.

  3. Sacha 3

    Heh. From the Guardian link (settle, Mr Breen):

    Theresa May stands up, to loud and sustained applause from Conservatives.

    (Note to readers unfamiliar with the loyalty of British parliamentarians: this does not mean she is going to win the vote.)

  4. Ad 4

    It doesn’t make up for the damage, but it’s great to see the English-speaking deregulator conservatives go through catastrophic political failure at the same time.

    Trump is now a one-term President who will enable the left-leaning revival the Democrats have been waiting for, Scott Morrison can’t even fake his way into a magazine, May has a very good chance of splitting the Conservative Party.

    Up to US Democrats and UK and Aussia Labor to actually force this mess into a real change in power though.

  5. Dennis Frank 5

    “7:51 [BBC live] Speaker calls for ‘zen’ in chamber.

    Speaker John Bercow is trying to calm down MPs in the House of Commons as the prime minister speaks. “Zen. Restraint. Patience,” he beseeches. ”

    I doubt anyone seriously expects British politicians to be able to do zen. They would only know how to do that if they had learnt it. I very much doubt any have even called for it to be incorporated into the British education system.

    I know, I’m just being silly, assuming politicians can grasp the relation between cause and effect. But he could suggest they all attend night classes in zen.

  6. Dennis Frank 6

    “MPs are currently voting on Conservative MP John Baron’s amendment.” If it succeeds, they might elevate him to the House of Lords, after which he may become Baron Baron.

  7. Dennis Frank 7

    “8.39 The government is defeated on its proposed Brexit deal by a majority of 230.
    The result of the vote is 202 in favour and 432 against.”

    Apparently this sets a new record for votes against the govt. “Financial Times chief political correspondent tweets… Worst-ever defeat for a British government was 1924 when Ramsay Macdonald’s Labour minority government lost by 166 votes.”

  8. Tiger Mountain 8

    “Eh oop lads”…our mushy pea, chip buttie and Curry loving Brits, appear to have snookered themselves good and proper!

  9. Jeremy Corbyn has tabled a motion of no confidence. It’s also signed by the leaders of the LIb Dems, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens.

    It will be debated tomorrow, our time.

    • Dennis Frank 9.1

      Excellent. I’ve been out gardening & wondering if the pc-leftists would be defeated by the common-sense leftists.

      Pc-driven groupthink requires Labour to set up a committee, which would then organise focus groups to see what people want Labour to do. I was hoping Corbyn would demonstrate leadership instead, and promptly organise a no-confidence vote. Now that has actually happened, we can be reassured that Labour MPs with common sense are prevailing.

      I presume the Tories will now agonise over whether to endorse May’s `keep calm & carry on’ strategy. It would help if she were to start wearing a hat, like the Queen. Then people would be able to expect her to pull the consensus rabbit out of it at any point, despite her 2.5 years of failure thus far.

      I expect Tory leadership candidates will be doing the numbers already! If she loses the vote tomorrow, what’s the likeliest outcome? Does Labour have a strategy in place? Will there be an election?

      • Dennis Frank 9.1.1

        BBC 9:43 “What happens with a vote of no confidence? Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011, UK general elections are only supposed to happen every five years. The next one is due in 2022. But a vote of no confidence lets MPs vote on whether they want the government to continue. The motion must be worded: “That this House has no confidence in HM Government.”

        “If a majority of MPs vote for the motion then it starts a 14-day countdown. If during that time the current government or any other alternative government cannot win a new vote of confidence, then an early general election would be called. That election cannot happen for at least 25 working days.”

      • Draco T Bastard 9.1.2

        Now that has actually happened, we can be reassured that Labour MPs with common sense are prevailing.

        Would that be the UK Labour MPs who still have faith in the failed status quo?

        • Dennis Frank 9.1.2.1

          Yes. Common sense always motivates folks to stay with the status quo, which is why it usually persists. Those of us who seek to replace it with something better usually get traction only when normalcy fails.

          • Siobhan 9.1.2.1.1

            No, not ‘common sense’, its a failure to adapt, the ‘normalcy’ of free market open border neoliberal capitalism has already failed…its why the planet is doomed..

            https://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2015/10/17/the-science-behind-why-we-fail-to-adapt/#41e546704d56

            • Dennis Frank 9.1.2.1.1.1

              I agree. But both/and applies. If you ask them, common sense is the explanation they give. And doom is but one likely future, of several such.

              That mixing of skills result was dramatic: “they most likely diminished the effectiveness of individual units. However, as a collective, his forces increased their efficiency by a factor of seventeen, measured by the amount of raids they were able to execute.”

              I’ve long been pushing the multi-disciplinary way to go. He took it further, by changing the operational context. Clever! But it really just illustrates that leadership is vital, that it must be innovative, and incorporate lateral-thinking. A recipe that democracy is designed to eliminate.

    • Ad 9.2

      Looking forward to the Conservative Party splitting.
      Ideally, dying.

      • Dennis Frank 9.2.1

        Today’s vote split them 196:118 which is 62%:38%. However tomorrow’s won’t necessarily be similar. If the rebels vote her out that would suggest a viable replacement is in their minds, and I’m not aware that any dissident leaders have attained that status yet.

        They’ve got 24 hours to get their act together and agree on a candidate. Either that or rely on the darwinist selection strategy of a lottery with no preference agreed in advance…

    • Tiger Mountain 9.3

      “Oh Jeremy Corbyn…”…would love to see Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn, deal to Thatcher and Blair’s corrosive legacy, but it will be a difficult road indeed with Brexit fallout

      Britain’s Military establishment has openly threatened a coup if Mr Corbyn ever became PM so it will be scintillating if he does manage it–can a right social democratic party under leftist renewal effect real change? Corbyn will have only one chance to find out…

      • I think the problem is that Corbyn is heavily conflicted. As an individual, he’s pro Brexit. Yet he leads a party which is not. Add into that the undeniable fact that a lot of Labour voters in the North of England voted to leave and you’ve got a real conundrum.

        I think Corbyn has done the best he could in the circ’s, which, so far, has been to stand aside and let the Tories wallow in their crapulence, while trying to avoid being hit by flying shit.

        However, at some point he is going to have to join the call for a fresh referendum, because it’s the only way out.

        • Tiger Mountain 9.3.1.1

          yes, it is a situation almost needing a Lenin like tenacity and political ability, to sort through the contradictions and possibilities for coming up with a path forward a majority can support

          a second vote appears necessary one way or another, but how would the question be put? “stay–with a commitment to challenge the bureaucracy”? if Brexit had never happened, the neo lib EU structural elements would still need to be tackled, and all the other domestic matters that are Thatcher and Blair’s legacy

          • Bill Drees 9.3.1.1.1

            Corbyn has already lost a lot of support as a result of his “conflicted” Brexit position and cat&mouse Parliamentary tactics. May and her cabinet are the greatest Tory numpties in a generation and yet Corbyn is 12 points behind and Labour is 2-6. Corbyn is the Labour problem and part of the English problem.

            And more… Corbyn is a dyed-in-the-wool Unionist. preserving the ****ing Precious Union is in his blood. Corbyn is held with contempt in Scotland and in Northern Ireland (for different reasons).

  10. Paaparakauta 10

    A massive loss of mana for May and the hapu of Ingarangi.

    We do not need civil war among our whenua.

  11. Dennis Frank 11

    SNP Leader tweets: “Enough time has been wasted. It is time to stop the Article 50 clock and put this issue back to electorate. Scotland voted to remain in the EU and we should not be dragged out against our will.”

    The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says MPs have “done the right thing” by rejecting Theresa May’s deal. “It is absolutely vital that the prime minister acts immediately to take any prospect of a no-deal Brexit off the table for good. That means withdrawing Article 50.”

    The Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable says Theresa May’s “options are narrowing” and that while she “may perform a miracle in Brussels” there’s “no evidence that is in prospect”. “One of the biggest steps is to take no deal off the table,” he says. “She needs to take action to remove it. That can only be by stopping or postponing Article 50.”

  12. Dennis Frank 12

    The market is often a good indicator of mass psychology. It’s verdict is that the Brits are resilient enough not to be downcast by the vote. See this from the beeb:

    “Why did the pound gain after May’s defeat? [Simon Jack, BBC Business Editor]

    “The markets were prepared for her to lose – but the scale of her defeat took most by surprise. But more surprising still was the fact that the pound – the first financial responder to political events – gained in value after the vote – despite many, most, confidently predicting a crushing defeat would send it down.”

    “Using the benefit of hindsight, some are saying that the recent display of animosity in the House of Commons to the idea of a no-deal Brexit, something markets are most wary of – has convinced them that outcome is very unlikely. The other new line is that this crushing defeat for Mrs May’s Brexit deal, makes no Brexit – at least not on March 29th – a growing possibility.”

  13. Draco T Bastard 13

    May is on a hiding to nothing, the nothing being a No Deal Brexit, which will cripple the British economy and possibly re-ignite the Troubles and maybe even end the United Kingdom.

    It may do but it probably won’t.

    Contrary to what some people think the economy and society isn’t really based upon deals.

    However it ends for May in the next 12 hours, Britain has lost influence, lost credibility and lost its way.

    Contrary to popular belief small countries don’t really have a lot of influence. And has the UK ever really had any credibility? They had an empire which carried out atrocities against many peoples/nations. They’ve lied and cheated throughout the centuries. So, yeah, not really seeing any credibility there.

  14. Dennis Frank 14

    BBC: “Shadow Chancellor tweets… No Prime Minister has led a government to this scale of defeat in living history. Usually the PM would have resigned immediately. Instead we’ve a government staggering on, directionless and unable to govern. This can’t go on. Contact your MP and tell them we need an election now”.

    “Guy Verhofstadt, chief Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament, tells the BBC that British political parties must put aside their differences for the good of the UK and EU. “There is a need for cross-party cooperation so that the national interest of Britain and in the interest of the European Union prevails. And that is not the case today,” he says.”

    Bipartisan collaboration is not part of the design of democracy. MPs not in govt are part of the Opposition. Democracy requires them to oppose the govt. So his wish for a fairy-tale transition from fighting each other to intelligent governance doesn’t factor in that participants are hard-wired to conform to the system.

    • Bill Drees 14.1

      Guy Verhofstadt also said

      The UK Parliament has said what it doesn’t want. Now is the time to find out what UK parliamentarians want. In the meantime, the rights of citizens must be safeguarded. #Brexit
      @guyverhofstadt

  15. Wayne 15

    The Conservative govt will survive tomorrow’s vote of confidence, so solving Brexit remains a Conservative govt problem.

    How will they solve it?

    May has to present Plan B to Parliament next Monday. Maybe it is the current deal with all the objectionable bits excised. In that case, in theory, it could pass with DUP support, maybe a few Labourites as well (3 did vote for the current deal). May could then present that to the EU, saying it is this deal since no other will get through parliament. The alternative being no deal.

    The next most likely possibility is a new referendum, That would require at least 15 Conservatives to vote for it. They won’t do that until it is clear that Plan B has failed.

    • millsy 15.1

      Delay Brexit by 12 months. Gives everyone breathing space. That is the most realistic outcome.

      • SPC 15.1.1

        A bit difficult to do, if the EU will only delay for another election or another referendum.

        The Tory right want the UK to leave without a deal and they are winning to this point. However victory can be snatched from them if the UK leaves ther EU in March but remains in ths single market until any other arrangements are made (if ever).

  16. CHCOff 16

    Like in electronics, when the system drifts, you need a reset signal to line up on track and get things working together again.

    A new election is the equivalent to the situation, to give it clarity and project confidence of general competence winning through to a result – which i’d say is the most important thing.

  17. Sanctuary 17

    Novara media have an interesting socialist perspective, including why a second vote would be playing straight into Conservative hands.

    Remainers don’t consider that a) Leave might win again and b) the political consequences of a close vote to reverse Brexit.

  18. Bill Drees 18

    The best coverge of Brexit from a non London perspective is from Tony Connolly of RTE.
    The BBC has been appaling: repeated false statements by Brexiteers go unchallenged. Brexit has damaged the BBCs reputation as much as it has shredded the reputation of the English leadership.

    https://www.rte.ie/news/brexit/2019/0115/1023303-brexit-europe/

    https://www.rte.ie/news/analysis-and-comment/2019/0115/1023474-brexit-vote-analysis/

    • Ad 18.1

      That’s the first useful commentary l’ve seen linking the UK Brexit politics to potential impact on the upcoming EU elections, and the impact of an unfinished Brexit on MEP seat redistribution.

  19. DS 19

    May will survive the Confidence vote. Terror of Corbyn keeps the Tories afloat.

    I think a No Deal Brexit is pretty much inescapable at this point. The EU has said it won’t extend the exit date, except for another referendum or a new election. The Tories don’t want another election (terror of Corbyn), and May knows that a second referendum will split the party… so it isn’t happening. That leaves dithering around until 29th March.

  20. Nic the NZer 20

    “May is on a hiding to nothing, the nothing being a No Deal Brexit, which will cripple the British economy and possibly re-ignite the Troubles and maybe even end the United Kingdom.”

    Not that actual facts should get in the way of a good story, but according to latest statistics (and since the referendum) the UK is presently economically outperforming Germany (which is presently entering technical recession) and more broadly the EU.

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=41343

    • greywarshark 20.1

      From the bilbo economic link above.
      I suppose Brexit is to blame for the fact that Britain is now growing faster than the major European economies. The latest ‘monthly’ GDP figures show that the British economy grew by 0.3 per cent in the three months to November 2018 and will probably sustain that rate of growth for the entire final quarter of 2018. This is in contradistinction to major European economies such as Germany (which will probably record a technical recession – two consecutive quarters of negative growth) with France and Italy probably following in Germany’s wake.

      I have made the point before that the growth trajectory of the British economy (inasmuch as there is one) is very unbalanced and reliant on households and firms maintaining expenditure by running down savings and accessing credit – which means ever increasing private debt burdens. With private credit growth weakening as the debt levels become excessive and the rundown of saving balances being finite, Britain will face recession unless the fiscal austerity is reversed.

      Earlier in 2018, the Guardian Brexit Watch ‘experts’ were continually pointing out that Britain’s growth rate was at the bottom of the G7 as evidence that Brexit was causing so much damage. So now European G7 nations are starting to lag behind, these commentators will have to find another ruse to pin their anti-Brexit narrative on. We also consider in this blog post some more Brexit-related arguments – pro and con – which reinforce my conclusion that a No Deal Brexit will not cause the skies to fall in.

      It isn’t hard to see why no-one in the UK can work out what Brexit will do and what path to follow. The excerpt above starts off saying that the UK economy grew by 0.3 % in the 3 months to November 2018 and that this is better than the EU which seems to be sliding to a technical recession.

      He says. “Britain will face recession unless the fiscal austerity is reversed.” Is that austerity being forced by the EU, as it was in Greece? Leaving the EU will be unlikely to turn that around surely; is the word out there that the EU is causing the cutbacks on social welfare including hospitals? If so, has the UK got the will to increase spending and increase job building if there is such a thing, and be prepared to pay gradually increasing wages. And ensure that they aren’t all soaked up by rising house prices?

      Then he says that the UK economy is unbalanced and reliant on consumer spending which is being funded by the people ‘running down savings, accessing credit with ever increasing private debt.’ So that this growth in the economy is off people spending their all and borrowing. Not a healthy economy or sustainable.

      Finally he refers to Brexit Watch concerned that Britain’s growth rate being bottom showing that Brexit was causing damage. The fact that other EU nations are dropping is supposed to indicate that anti-Brexitors have now no case. But he infers that Britain is erratic, and that the current growth is drawing on reserves and borrowing. He then says “reinforce my conclusion that a No Deal Brexit will not cause the skies to fall in.”

      On what basis has he made that conclusion? What twaddle these financial columnists can come out with, and so po-faced.

      • Nic the NZer 20.1.1

        “The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.” – Joan Robinson

        Though Bill Mitchell is trying to be clear, not deceptive. The difficulty is there is a lot of prior background material and terminology he is referring back to.

        “He says. “Britain will face recession unless the fiscal austerity is reversed.” Is that austerity being forced by the EU, as it was in Greece? Leaving the EU will be unlikely to turn that around surely;”

        I was there and witnessed in person the initial bout of fiscal austerity in the UK, and its entirely home grown. At the time the Chancellor was making some decisions about hacking into the public sector, particularly councils budgets. They discussed this on the BBC, the commentators were quite clear that the UK economy was still weak and this strategy risked a double dip recession. About 6 months later the UK recorded a double dip recession.
        Unlike the situation in Greece this was an entirely voluntary decision by the Chancellor (there were no negotiations between the elected govt and un-elected EU and IMF bureaucrats about what the country should put in its budget. This is because the UK is using its own currency the pound, rather than an external currency the Euro so it doesn’t need to maintain good terms with its central bank, the UK parliament just tells the Bank of England what to do to support its needs. Leaving the EU won’t resolve this, but it does separate the UK from the EU countries on going contest in national austerity.

        “But he infers that Britain is erratic, and that the current growth is drawing on reserves and borrowing.”, It is but its important to recognize that the reserves and borrowing are the UK private sectors saving reserves and borrowing. Supplementing these will require the UK public sector to increase spending and run a sustained deficit until the UK private sector repairs its balance sheet (by saving and paying down debt). Even in the UK which is not constrained by the euro the public sector is not spending enough to back up the growth, but the reason this should be contrasted with Europe is that the EU is dragging down the whole of that economic zone with their economic behavior and the national contests in public sector austerity which are how the euro-zone game is operated. One of the main dynamics is that people laud Germany due to their trade surpluses, but they are equally in violation of EU regulations for that as other countries are for their deficits. But there is no pressure there to rectify the destructive behavior causing EU economic imbalances (this is what the EU regulations are supposed to solve), so the whole economy just keeps on shrinking or at least maintaining severely restricted growth rates and high unemployment.

        On the back of this is the reason EU politics is getting so ugly. Afd and similar parties are getting most of the political benefit from this.

  21. mike 21

    Everyone but Theresa May in this sad debacle has been a man.
    Men started it from the anti-eu back bench of the torys through all those years, weirdo cameron played a ridiculously dangerous game to placate them, and haystack head and the evil farrage lied happily.
    What we have seen is that while shit has been poured on may from every fuckin direction she has defeated the ludicrous ‘euro sceptics’ in her party. Unlike the cocks of the republican party in the us. The Jacob Rees-Mob can never win from here.
    So let’s hear it for a fantastic political performance from a woman who was against all this childish stupidity from the start.
    Oh yes, the other man behaving like the ghost of christmas past is the scintillating corbyn. That cobwed has given millions of labour citizens absolutely nobody to vote for.
    Thank christ its not happening here.

    • tc 21.1

      +1 mays done a sterling job and shown thatcher like resolve in dealing with the bucket of shit Cameron and co dropped them all in.

      Maggie would be proud and if alive IMO she’d bury those Tory agitating pricks rhetorically seeing the shambles they’ve become.

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