Monday, September 24, 2018

Goodbye to All That

Via DepositPhotos.

There was some news from Britain with a kind of family resemblance to good news, if you read it all together, starting with the report this morning from The Mirror, as members of the Labour Party converged on Liverpool for the annual party conference, that leader Jeremy Corbyn is ready to accept the party's will on the question of whether to have a second Brexit referendum, what they're calling a "People's Vote", if they demand it at the conference, as they apparently will; confirmed later on in the Telly Graf:
Labour is poised to back a second referendum after Jeremy Corbyn confirmed he is prepared to commit to a major policy shift if the party’s members vote for it.
On the eve of Labour's annual conference, Mr Corbyn said he was "bound by the democracy of our party" and would "adhere" to "what comes out of conference", although he insisted he would rather bring about a general election.
The general election in question was one he was said to be planning to force by joining with the violent Conservative faction of Jacob Rees-Mogg to defeat Prime Minister May's "Chequers proposal" for the Brexit, in which Britain was going to get a relationship with Europe something like Canada's, except for Northern Ireland, which would sort of remain in Europe for certain purposes—a proposal which, I should add, has already been totally rejected by the European Union, as well as May's own Secretary of Brexit, which seems to be a new cabinet department, Dominic Raab, so don't ask me why the hell Parliament should be voting on it. I know, as we anglophiles like to say, a dead proposal, and I'm looking at one right now. That proposal is definitely deceased. Its metabolic processes are now history! It's off the twig! It's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain, and joined the bleeding choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PROPOSAL!!!

The other news, though, is that May's strategists seem to have decided to have an election anyway,  according to The Metro, which is not a train; what they call a "snap" election, which is kind of like punting, except there's a hope that the other team might not get the ball. In fact, when the prime minister calls a snap election, the normal hope is to get such a big majority that the MPs you hate in your own party will no longer be able to thwart your every desire, but that would not be the case here.

The fact of the matter is that this ill-considered initiative of Britain's departure from the European Union is careening toward a very real disaster, a deadline of 29 March 2019, when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will no longer be a part of the European Union with or without a deal, meaning, according to The Week,
Without a bilateral trade deal with the EU, Britain would be subject to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. UK exports would face the same customs checks and tariffs as other countries outside of the EU. Experts agree that the overnight end of frictionless zero-tariff trade would be likely to increase the price of some goods, lead to shortages, and cause significant delays on both sides of the Channel.
Leaked research carried out by the UK’s own Brexit department suggests that without deals on customs and trade, parts of Britain would run out of food and even medicines within a fortnight of the present agreements lapsing, according to a recent editorial in The Guardian. “And that is not the worst possible scenario: it is one that lies in the middle of the range of possibilities,” the newspaper adds.
The UK has just over six months to prevent this from happening, and a government that is wholly incompetent to stop it, under a ruling party divided between lunatics like Rees-Mogg and Boris Alexander De Pfeffel Johnson on the one hand and time-serving zombies like Theresa May on the other, who cannot even internally agree on a proposal, let alone sell it to the EU. I'm saying May cannot live with this idiotic situation, and an election is the only thing that can change it. May may be addicted to power, like any politician, but she doesn't have any power under the current disposition, so she won't really be losing any, under whatever outcome.

May says, of course, that no such thing is going on:
A spokesman said: ‘It is categorically untrue that No 10 is planning a snap election.’ After a chastening week dealing with EU leaders, May released a statement calling for unity. She said: ‘Now is the time for cool heads. And it is a time to hold our nerve. I have said many times that these negotiations would be tough, and they were always bound to be toughest in the final straight. ‘But what’s also clear is that many in Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP are trying to thwart Brexit at every step and seeking to exploit this moment for political gain.’
She added: ‘This is the moment to put our country first. This is the moment to set aside our differences and come together in national unity. This is the moment to do what is right for Britain.’
There are moments, naturally, when a Conservative might prefer to do what is wrong for Britain, but this is not one of them, as far as Prime Minister May is concerned. Good to know.

Then again, that's what she said last time:

If only because she doesn't actually have a plan she could save without radical changes both in the Conservative Party and in Brussels, it's time to throw the dice and create a different situation.

Whether Labour (or a coalition between Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the fiercely pro-Europe Scottish National Party) can indeed pick up the ball remains unclear. Corbyn, the presumptive PM, has been so iffy about the EU himself (it really is "neoliberal", I'm not gonna lie, though I still believe its greatest problems are not with the neoliberals running regulation in Brussels but the conservatives running finance in Frankfurt) that it will be difficult for him to champion it.

Which is why the promise announced today is so promising. If there's a November election, four months in advance of the Brexit deadline, and if Labour wins, there will be a way out of this mess. The original Brexit horror arose when Tory prime minister David Cameron unwisely promised a Brexit referendum in the course of an election campaign; another referendum in the next six months could undo the damage (though only if those under 30 vote, hi, kids, that means you).

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