While the cuckoo PM May is not for turning, nor yielding, two other women of stature most surely are. Margaret Thatcher, famed for her redolent lack of turning, is most surely turning in her grave,RIP. And Queen Elizabeth, who seems to be in a minority of two when if comes to putting the country and parliamentary democracy before themselves, may be ready to turn. Set your DVR – you won’t want to miss an episode.
The path towards the white cliffs of Dover
The twists and turns, subplots, and of course farce, of the Brexit process must be mind-boggling to all. Only yesterday, when it seemed likely the 48 letters of disgust were in, we had hoped the PM would “do the honorable thing”. Then again most thought the politicians that hold her fate would do “something right”. It wasn’t to be. Now, Thelma and Louise style, we set sail towards the cliffs. The white cliffs facing Europe.
Boys from the other black stuff
Alan bleasdale’s play and tv series, Boys from the black stuff, was synonymous with the 1980s crisis of identity in Thatcher’s UK. Liverpudlian likely lads looking for work as tarmac layers (black stuff). Seems apt given the proximity to, and migration from, Northern (and Southern) Ireland that is the very fabric of Liverpool. And a reminder that Britain is not just London and the SouthEast. No, this is a Union.
So it’s again apt that it’s this border with Europe that has been the major roadblock to PM May’s various “deals” and agreements, most of which seem to the many, bordering on sell out, and to others, just plain fantasy.
In this excellent piece, Owen Polley makes a compelling case that the Northern Irish are being sold down the river for political expediency. Imagine if this were part of Yorkshire? Or Surrey ( we’ll then it wouldn’t be a problem). He argues;
- There’s nothing unreasonable about unionists’ objections to the backstop
- If you think the DUP are irreconcilables, imagine the reaction if the backstop applied to an English county
- Look past some cosmetic changes and the backstop is a breach of Theresa May’s own red line
He also warns “unionists will still be asked to rely upon unenforceable promises, at a time of political chaos, secured by a prime minister who has appeared anything but confident, dependable or secure in her job.” While a wounded animal is dangerous, it’s still wounded.
Similar, there is growing evidence that some have been trying to make sure this is a “roadblock” too far, perhaps even ensuring that Brexit remains simply “too hard” to achieve.
And of course the EU have detailed exactly how a soft border would work from their perspective.
Kamikaze May or Gollum May ?
It’s hard to like PM May. Indeed, foreigners can just settling on being utterly confused by her. And as a public serving, one wants to understand and sympathize. Would you want that job?
So when we all saw the brutal skit on “Gollum May” any decent person squirmed.
But when you compare the image portrayed with the example set over the last 24 hours, “it’s my Brexit” seems strangely and sadly apt.
But is there another May ? A Kamikaze version that plays the game of politics in one dimension – May way or the highway, or worse… Thelma and Louise’s way? Which brings us back to those cliffs.
We now have to expect the worst – more May days and more uncertainty for markets. Despite hanging on, her “newly EU-approved deal is not going anywhere in this parliament and one can expect the chaos to continue.
But will Labour bring a vote of confidence ?
If they did, and with the current Irish backstop unacceptable to the DUP why are we certain they won’t bring the Government down? It seems unfathomable that the British electorate, already once having demonstrated that they won’t be hoodwinked by duplicitous Tories, would give them another mandate.
Then again, Labour hasn’t exactly won any hearts or minds. A hung parliament seems possible if not likely. More uncertainty, awful economic policy and we doubt, a Brexit.
There may be another solution. The UK is fast becoming a laughing stock and a danger to global stability. With London the center of global finance (for a little while longer anyway) the kamikaze behavior can no longer be tolerated. This is bordering on a constitutional crisis. And as such, it befalls the Monarch, Her Majesty, to consider stepping in.
This would be unprecedented in over 300 years, and rightly has been avoided.
But one of the lessons of the great financial crisis (GFC) which Her Majesty clearly understands, is that it’s better to act too soon than too late.
This crisis is a clear challenge to the Union, and if the leaders of the NI parliament, or even just the DUP go to the Queen and present this as a threat to the Union, how can Her Majesty stand aside?
Will Her Majesty act ?
That’s the 64k question and we are aware we rightly face ridicule questioning the possibility. Without precedent, at least in the past 300 years, even the constitutional lawyers prefer to err on the side of “silly question”. If you’re intrigued, check the links above. But don’t expect to be the wiser.
Her Majesty has steered the country through difficult times without ever reaching for the wheel. One has to imagine the Queen is waiting for things to get so bad that she’s compelled to act. We may not be far from that. But in doing so the Queen risks irreparable damage to the UK, both at home and abroad, economic and social.
House of Cards
For fans of the (original ) British tv drama, the analogy with current events is both comical and saddening. There are many Nigel Richardson characters – minor politicians of too many years, climbing on the ranks to reach PM. Too many. But this fiasco has exposed two things about UK politics;
1 the duplicity and ineptitude of UK politicians
2 the threat that globalization poses to the nation state, esp those nations or unions laced with stark cultural differences – proof that Kenichi Ohmae was right.
Pound the pound
The safety valve remains sterling – we may not have been bearish enough in our recent post and one has to now countenance the sort of “accident” that has global ramifications.
Whether it’s through bad or weak economic policy, or threat of kamikaze negotiations on Brexit, this government is unlikely to be positive for Sterling.
As to uk financial markets more generally, their fate is more likely bound up in the prospects of their global brethren, at least until the fate of sterling becomes the preeminent contributor.
Our optimism for the solution – a second referendum vote – wanes.
But even if one took place, polls point to a small remain win, far from conclusive. Take for example the Nov. 5 poll of 20,000 people by national broadcaster Channel 4 which showed 54% of voters would choose to remain.
That said, it’s popularity with the electorate is growing, as the recent march of 600k shows
But our desire to see another vote is independent of the outcome. Some of us truly believe in democracy. And those with a hammer in their hand see every option as a nail of contention, to be hit. It’s understandable.
But it’s time to put the hammer away.
In the same way no one can prove Brexit will be an economic or social disaster, ex ante, no one can prove #MeRef2 won’t be an economic and social disaster either. Is there ever any certainty?
Democracy in This Secptic isle
As to the question of whether such a vote would be democratic, ask yourself this? Is changing one’s mind democratic? Is freedom of will to do so, democratic?
If they are, and from the vote we find sufficient leavers have changed their mind during this near 2yr period where “experts” have sought to explain to them preciselym what they had voted for, then I’d say that’s democracy defeating the snake oil salesman. Only the very few, and they, possibly misguided, feel they know more about Brexit than they did in June 2016. Everyone is more tired of it.
Similarly, what are they frightened of? Surely it’s obvious it’ll be 70/30 leave now? Given the validity of the arguments leavers made, can be seen with one’s own eyes every day.
No, we have advocated #MeRef2 since Sep 2016, as we saw no way “out” that kept the country together (ie NI and Gibraltar) while allowing trade and commerce latitude to adjust to the real changes and challenges – those brought upon by globalization and technological advance.
So we have to conclude that few have bothered to take the time to understand the issues and the threat, and instead sing songs, call names, and wrap themselves in the flag.
They have every right. But that doesn’t make it right.
May some day they understand that right. Lest we forget.