Trick Not Treat

11 April 2019


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

EU Gives UK Brexit Extension


The EU summit last night granted the British a further extension for its departure from the bloc. The new Brexit Day is October 31, 2019. Halloween is rather appropriate for this trick, but not treat. The British can leave sooner if Parliament will approve the withdrawal agreement. In the end, however, this merely gives all sides more time to waste. The underlying problem remains; there is no majority in the House of Commons for any post-Brexit relationship.

The Europeans probably did not want to extend the agony that is Brexit, but they were faced with the choice between another extension (March 29 was extended to April 12) and Britain crashing out of the EU tomorrow night. Leaving without an arrangement on future relations would result in chaos across the British Isles and at the North Sea and Channel Ports. Economic collapse would be putting it too harshly but not by much.

Ms. May wanted an extension until June 30, but that would only buy the EU enough time to hold elections to the European Parliament before having to refocus on Brexit. France had proposed a shorter extension, until some time in May. President Emmanuel Macron's reasoning was simple, "We have a European renaissance to lead. We don't want the Brexit problem to block us on this point." Other EU countries would have been happy to extend the deadline to the end of this year.  In the end, Halloween was a compromise.

European Council President Donald Tusk stated, "I have a message to our British friends. Please, do not waste this time." It is hard to see a sudden breakthrough, however. Nothing in the UK has changed since the deal Prime Minister May agreed with the EU failed in the House of Commons for the third time last week. Unless and until there is some significant change in the situation in the UK, the time cannot be used productively.

The political landscape of the UK cannot change without a new prime minister or a general election or both. When she engaged with the Labour Party last week to find a cross-party solution, Ms. May appeared not to have bent in the least. She had invited Labour to talk about how Labour was going to back her plans. It seems clear that the lady is not fur turning; she will race off the edge of the cliff.

Removing her is not possible until the first anniversary of the coup attempt against her that backbench Tories mounted in December. Party rules say she is safe until then. She may resign, however. She has lost three times in the House of Commons on the Withdrawal Bill, and she has not resigned over that. She even offered to quit if the House would pass it. How she is convinced to depart is impossible to say.

A general election could change the situation, but calling a general election is not easy, thatnks to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. Labour could table a no-confidence motion that passes the House and, unless a new government could win a confidence vote within 14 days, a general election would follow. Alternatively, a 2/3 vote could simply demand an early general election.

The great danger here is that the PM could go to the country, and the voters could elect a hung parliament. The nation would go through the negotiations of a coalition or a minority government, and then, the status quo ante would be re-established. Time wasted. Nothing accomplished.

In the end, a referendum appears to be more and more vital. A referendum got Britain into this mess, so it is only fitting if another is called to resolve matters. If the people vote one way or another, the matter would truly be settled.

The trouble is what would the question or questions be? Would remain be an option? Would it be a choice of May's deal or no deal at all?

One expects 6 months of indicative votes that continue to fail.

© Copyright 2019 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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