I was planning to write a follow up post on yesterday’s ran across two good posts on Brexit today via Twitter.
The first was a post from Tom Hayes on his Beerg Brexit Blog. Hayes’ rounds up the disconnect between the EU and UK positions going into Salzburg. Hayes’ post is well worth reading in full and I encourage you to do so. I cribbed his three points around Tory misconceptions that got them in their current mess so that I could discuss them here. (It’s more than I would usually quote, but they’re important points and I didn’t want to lose context.)
1. The Language Barrier
“First, with a handful of exceptions, no one in the UK political and commentariat class speak any European languages. They, therefore, don’t read French or German or Spanish or any other European country newspapers. Their understanding of the positions of European leaders is derived from what they read in UK newspapers or see on UK television. What they read and see is reflected through the prism of UK cognitive bias.Tom Hayes
This is similar to Fox News’ current effect on US politics. No, it isn’t Fox News in general, but a YouGov poll taken just months before the EU referendum found the British press to be the ‘most right-wing’ in Europe.
2. Misreading the Terrain
The UK has always misunderstood the dynamics of the process. UK politicians believe that they are engaged in a negotiation of equals and that it is a “classic” negotiation in which both sides move towards one another incrementally. I make an offer, you make a counter offer. On the eve of Salzburg the UK mantra was that its position had “evolved” and now it was up to the EU to respond.
For the EU Brexit was never a negotiation. It is a damage limitation exercise.
While the EU’s interests are not fully straightforward—they have dual mandates of limiting damage from the UK’s departure, while also keeping the rest of the countries from leaving—those goals are likely well-aligned. The EU wants to limit it’s direct damage from the UK’s departure, but it will not do so in a way that encourages others to leave, so the real calculus involves not only the direct hit from the UK leaving, but also the expected follow-on effects.
3. Lack of Constitution(al) Crisis
The third reason why we are where we are is that the UK has no fixed constitution, no written rules by which politicians have to abide. To put it bluntly, they make up the constitution as they go along. All that counts is that the government has a majority in parliament. If it has a majority, it can more or less do what it wants. There are no real checks and balances built into the UK system.Tom Hayes
This is the wildcard. The lack of a constitution means public sentiment will likely be a major driving force behind what happens next. Tory and Labour leaders are now ramping up a high-stakes game of kabuki theater. The outcome of which will either nudge the UK back into the EU, or send it crashing out. These circumstances highlight the dire need for an upgrade to the UK’s “unwritten constitution.”
What Options Remain?
I was going to detail the state of the UK’s proposed options, but Mike Galsworthy already took care of that, so I thought I’d just share his video. He highlight’s the DUP’s hammer nicely herein. (May’s snap election folly comes home to roost.)
Galsworthy also discussed the desire of neoliberals to get the UK out of the EU so that they could engage in a bit of “never waste a good crisis” shock doctrine work. That might sound a bit far fetched for some, but here’s Home Secretary calling for just that. (Here’s the source article.) A Tory manufactured crisis would likely benefit a few people in the UK. (Like any investors who are getting their money out of the UK via the Irish funds that Jacob Rees-Mogg’s investment fund set up. Meanwhile, most would be on the losing end after already having suffered through so many years of austerity.
Yesterday I wrote that there was blood in the water after Salzburg and that because of that Labour could be expected to call for change. Today, Jeremy Corbyn seemed to confirm that as he came down off the fence to state that Labour would back a second referendum if their members called for it, and that Labour is “absolutely ready” for a general election. He further noted that there are Tory MPs that are angry enough that they might be ready to back a “no confidence” vote.
Tomorrow should be interesting.
Also published on Medium.