Brexit Update

Wow – yet another couple of weeks of unprecedented, incredible scenes in the UK Parliament.  It is dangerous to take your eye off events even if you are getting to the stage where Brexit is the sort of word that stimulates the emergence of hives and breathlessness merely at its mention.

Please accept my apology for the interval since my last post.   I took a greatly needed break in Spain, although the concept of how much more difficult and costly it may be to make the same journey in a year was difficult to get fully out of my mind.  Luckily parliament was on a similar break and not a great deal happened, certainly not in the terms of this year’s political manoeuvrings.  As anticipated however I came back not just to continued full-on debate on Brexit, but a whole new game starting with Proroguing.  This word, which only a few weeks ago was known perhaps to a few dozen people who studied 17th-century history; and a further handful who work behind the scenes to control the workings of ‘power’, is now a household favourite. People on the street can be merrily heard discussing the pros and cons of Proroguing.  The world has become a mad, mad place.

Boris, our Frankenstein’s Monster, of course, is one of the few who probably learnt about proroguing during his Latin lessons at Eton College and then again during his position as Head of the Oxford Union whilst doing his Classics degree at Balliol College, Oxford. I don’t think the term quite constitutes classics, but it comes close, whether you think his politics are more suited to ancient Greece than the modern-day UK I will let you decide yourself. 

On an aside, ancient Greece or Athens more specifically is often put forward as the first democracy which is academically difficult to justify, what is hidden behind the statement is that the Athenian democracy only allowed votes to Athenian landowners and as such excluded much of the population, immigrant workers, women and slaves, so whether it was truly representative of the people is also debatable.  Maybe Boris sees the future UK parliament in a similar ilk (referenced from my four-week Classics course during my foundation year at Keele).

I suppose the real question is, however, where Proroguing has got the new PM, as far as I can see it has sharpened the game but done nothing to alter the odds, in fact, I can’t help feeling that we have moved further away from a No Deal Brexit than we have been for some time.  Parliament appears to have gained the upper hand at present, especially with Proroguing being declared illegal by the Scottish courts.

If this is the case, then it appears unlikely that we will leave the EU on 31st October and more likely there will be a further extension to the date.  This assumes of course that the EU think an extension is a good idea. In the past, I think this would have gone without saying as they would have seen the opportunity of a change around to a further referendum and a potential remain vote.

At present, though it is unclear what the outcome of an extension would be.  It now appears pretty likely that there will be a general election sometime in November, but the outcome of such an election is more difficult to predict.

It is likely that as we would not yet have left the EU that the Brexit party under Nigel Farage would gain some seats in parliament and the Liberal Democrats under Jo Swinson, standing on a remain platform would also likely win more seats than the 14 they already have in parliament.

With the resignation of Ruth Davidson in Scotland the SNP are widely expected to increase their number of MPs all of which means that the two main parties are likely to lose MPs.  With the Tories already split, with a leader who appears to drive wedges rather than make friends, and an opposition leader who doesn’t appear to represent the views of many of his traditional party voters.

Who knows what the final balance of power in parliament would look like after the election.  A loss of only two or three votes away from a Brexit/Tory pact would likely lead to a hung parliament. 

Would Europe see this as an improvement, the potential for even longer wrangling over the in/out debate with a new set of MPs?  It feels that the economies of Europe are already struggling and to what extent this is caused by the uncertainty of Brexit is difficult to assess, but if that uncertainty were to continue it may start to grow in impact.  Given this, Europe may start to consider a No Deal Brexit a more enticing option than the continued uncertainty for who knows how long.  Would it be enough to make Europe take responsibility for kicking the UK out of the EU – that feels unlikely, but who knows in these turbulent political times?

Surely that would be the ultimate irony that the EU who many voters criticised for controlling our political decisions and voted leave to change that control ultimately being responsible for the final say on the Brexit debate.

The final say? – I think the Irish Taoiseach summed it up pretty well this week, in that no matter what happens; this will not be the end of Brexit and the European debate but rather just another stage!

Justin

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