What a day! – May you live in interesting times as the Chinese would say. As almost everyone knows by now Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been torpedoed by a House of Commons vote of 432 to 202.
Where to now?
Regardless of which side of the Brexit debate you are on – we are all agreed on one thing – it is a complete mess.
The question I find myself asking is how would I play this out if I had no skin in the game. If you were indeed, to treat the scenario as just that – A game that has to be won.
Then, I think, there is only one salient query to ask tonight and it is a simple one. Who is more terrified of the NO DEAL Brexit scenario?. For my money the European Union are more frightened of this event than even the UK. Tonight that is Theresa May’s only trump card and it is time to start playing it.
People must remember that although the UK are the only country leaving the EU there are sizable portions of many EU countries looking very closely at what is going on, in relation to their own futures within the block. In the short term a no deal Brexit will screw up the economies of a number of the larger EU countries. Specifically Germany and France. Politicians in these two countries cannot allow that to happen. I do not believe Angela Merkel will allow it to happen. The German economy is the engine that keeps this whole EU rodeo riding.
The EU tactics up to this point has been to keep the political discussion and turmoil focused almost entirely on Northern Ireland and the backstop. The tactic has worked but only up to this point. The UK house of Parliament has been consistently in a frenzy of indecision which has led to a situation where a softish Brexit deal has been rejected due to the terms of the backstop.
Here is a fact. You cannot leave and have a border without having a fucking border!
The question now for parliamentarians is what they do with this irrefutable fact. Early indications, post the Brexit deal defeat, are they’re going to AGAIN choose the most damaging course of action. Media correspondents and many politicians are lining up saying that Theresa May should come out publicly and give assurances that she will not allow a NO DEAL Brexit solution to arise.
She should absolutely do nothing of the sort
This is now a game of wits. The side that blinks first is going to cough up signifcant losses. While it is likely that the UK will suffer more in the short term by the calamity of a NO deal Brexit, in the longer term Brexit will more than likely lead to a huge increase in competitiveness for them in the global economy. The EU knows this.
The European Union despite appearances want the UK to go back and have a second referendum and apply for an extension to the March 29th deadline. Maybe throw in a general election for good measure. In short – Either Leave on the impossible set of circumstances we have laid out or do not leave at all.
Who knows perhaps a second referendum is actually the best course of action. I do not know what the current mindset of the British electorate is on the subject but I would be surprised if it has shifted significantly in 3 years.
If you look at this situation as a political game that has to be played out to the end, with the end being March 29th, then you do one thing. Very little.
Now that the Commons vote has been defeated a new clock is ticking. One on the European union side. They have to ask themselves – How long do we let the clock run down before we start making concessions?. How long before we sacrifice the Republic of Ireland?
I believe that they will get the Republic to move on their backstop stance if and when it comes to the crunch. But it will need to be the crunch.
Early indicators from European officials and parliamentarians like Vice President of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness – goes something like this –
- The issue isn’t all about the backstop
- maybe the UK need to go back to the people
- Maybe work harder at the existing deal
The summary of the position is that this is YOUR problem not ours. It’s a nice trick if you can pull it off. The minute Theresa May makes an announcement that she will not allow Britain to enter a No Brexit exit – she loses massive bargaining power.
Privately, of course this is her position but to publicly announce it now will not help her. You can make the announcment at 11:55pm on March 28th. The Europeans will happily make arrangements to extend the deadline at ANY time between now and then. It is time to start realizing that their hand is not as strong as they are playing it.
Now of course that leaves the UK public and business in an ever increasing sense of crisis everyday, but I believe it will take the EU less than a couple of weeks to come back to them if they just start running down the clock.
At any rate keeps your eyes open……….. because someone is going to blink and very soon.