Greater Chaos

8 January 2019


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Government Loses on Brexit Amendment to Finance Bill


The disaster that will be Brexit moved a major step closer to outright catastrophe an hour or so ago with the government losing a vote on a Brexit-related amendment to the Finance Bill. The amendment set a limit on the amount of money that the government could spend on preparations for a No-Deal Brexit unless Parliament approved the spending. The vote was 303-296, including about 20 Tory rebels. Ms. May's hope for getting her deal approved is getting dimmer with each passing day, but even worse, the ramifications of the departure are growing more ominous.

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted after the vote, "It shows that there is no majority in Parliament, the Cabinet or the country for crashing out of the EU without an agreement." He is right insofar as the tweet goes, but the question for Labour is what does it truly want? Does it want to stay, go, back the deal on the table, leave without a deal, call a general election or hold another referendum?

The Tory rebels include former cabinet ministers Michael Fallon, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Ken Clarke and Oliver Letwin. As Mr. Grieve said, this is a reasonable step given Brexit represents the gravest peacetime threat to the UK in 70 years. The others agree with the sentiment even if they choose to express it with different words.

In one sense, the amendment helps MPs in their upcoming vote next week on the Brexit Deal itself. Spending on a no-deal departure will be limited, so the costs of voting against Ms. May's agreement with Brussels have increased for the nation. Does this put a few more members in the Yea lobby? It is unlikely, but by the same token, it is not likely to move anyone into the Nay camp. What is does achieve is greater chaos.

There are 80 days before Brexit is scheduled to happen. Those of a military mind may think of it as Brexit minus 80. The government is simply out of time. There isn't time to renegotiate the deal even if the EU were willing. There isn't time to arrange for a referendum nor a general election and still have time enough to act upon the results in any meaningful way. There isn't time to figure out how to handle cargo shipments at Dover, borders in Ireland or anything else that will be affected by Britain's departure from the EU. Uncertainty is the only certainty in Britain's future.

The one thing that would save the day, a change of mind, isn't in the cards. The sad fact is that most Britons when polled oppose Brexit now. Yet the government has stated that the will of the people in 2016 overrides the will of the people in 2019. There is a segment of the electorate who voted to Leave based on claims about funding the NHS with money wasted by Brussels who now would opt for Remain because being outside the EU is such a poor deal for Britain. A people's vote is not going to happen.

So, the fate the the UK is more or less sealed here. It is slightly more likely to crash out of the EU without an agreement with Brussels approved by all sides than it is to leave with Ms. May's agreement accepted by the House. In either case, Britain will be a smaller, weaker, poorer country for it.

There is good news if one wants to look far enough out into the future. A country and economy the size of the UK cannot ignore a market the size of the EU for long. Young people prefer being in to being out of the EU. The next election is scheduled for May 2022. That parliament and the one after if might not reconsider membership. But one is certain that in 2032 or 2037, Britain will re-join the EU.

The shame is that there is going to be a lot of needless pain inflicted on Britons by Britons between now and then.

© Copyright 2018 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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