Category: European Union

European Union

Herr Oettinger seems a bit confused

Herr Oettinger doesn’t have any input into what the British credit rating is. The European Union doesn’t, nor even the European Commission or the European Central Bank. Any and all of them can refuse to deal with Britain, the British Government, and of course we all desire that they do. But a credit rating is not something determined by a government in the slightest. It’s a market response.

Tim Worstall

Brexit punk!

The Guardian’s John Harris is a lefty, a Remainer, and a fine journalist. He saw Brexit coming, and, little though I agree with his political views, I think he sees a certain raw truth about our new Prime Minister in this piece:

“Boris Johnson is channelling a punk ethos to force through Brexit. It could work.”

Not a headline one sees every day. Mr Harris writes,

This is an increasingly familiar populist trick: encouraging a set of voters to relish taboo-busting as a kind of surrogate for a lost sense of economic agency and power. This version of taking back control is not to do with jobs, wages or houses, but the licence to say anything you want, whatever the consequences. Anyone who is offended is dismissed as a puritanical defender of joyless political correctness.

Punk spirit, cavalier style and wilful provocation will all inform the manner in which Johnson and his allies frame their greatest challenge of all: how on earth to deal with the very real crisis of Brexit and honour the Halloween deadline that the Tory party has so stupidly fetishised. And they look set to play a crucial role in gaining consent from those who have most to lose from crashing out of the EU. Faced with a set of impossible challenges, Johnson will present himself as the flamboyant, verbose, rule-breaking Englishman, positioned against the washed-out logicians of the EU machine, who were never going to help in the first place.

I heard they were going to get the bus out of mothballs, the bus, the £350-million-for-the-NHS battle bus that has caused such outrage, and drive it round the country all over again. Back in 2016, the only effect the suggestion that our departure from the EU would mean that we could pour yet more money into the black hole of “our NHS” had on me was to make me a fraction more likely to vote Remain. But upon hearing this news I still thought, yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah, please, dear Lord, let me be there when they take it through Cambridge city centre.

Oh God save history / God save your mad parade / Oh Lord God have mercy / All crimes are paid / Oh when there’s no future / How can there be sin / We’re the flowers / In the dustbin / We’re the poison / In your human machine

First time round, I wasn’t a fan. But it’s growing on me.

The ruling class of an unrecognised state

In today’s Sunday Times, Matthew Goodwin reviews, favourably, The Great Betrayal by Rod Liddle. Goodwin writes,

Brexit was always destined to bring Britain to a constitutional crisis. After all, it was the first moment in British history when a majority of people outside of parliament asked for something that a majority of people who had been elected to represent their fellow citizens in parliament did not want to give. This profound disconnect is why, as my academic colleague Vernon Bogdanor argues, what happened on that fateful day in June 2016 is probably the most important constitutional event in Britain since the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. In one fell swoop, the shock vote left a lot of people who were used to feeling like winners suddenly feeling like losers and a lot of other people who had grown used to feeling like losers suddenly feeling like winners — at least for a while. For all of these reasons, what happened next was never going to end well.

Here I must interject that “it” has not ended yet. But Mr Goodwin is on to something with his focus on the shock and disbelief felt by those whose previous experience of electoral defeat had been the relatively trivial one of seeing “their” party dislodged for five years by some very similar people from the other party.

Just after the referendum Rafael Behr wrote a piece for the Guardian called “How remain failed: the inside story of a doomed campaign”. Behr, a convinced Remainer, saw the same phenomenon then as Goodwin sees today:

But over the course of the campaign, the most senior remainers found collegiate sympathy in a shared world view. As one put it: “We were the pluralist, liberal, centrist force in British politics.” Pro-Europeanism became a proxy for the fusion of economic and social liberalism that had been a dominant philosophy of the political mainstream for a generation, although its proponents were scattered across partisan boundaries. These centrists were the ruling class of an unrecognised state – call it Remainia – whose people were divided between the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems; like a tribe whose homeland has been partitioned by some insouciant Victorian cartographer.

And yet I suspect from his more recent writings that Mr Behr regards talk of a “deep state” as Trumpian paranoia.

Culturally, and in some respects politically, I am closer to the ruling class than to most of those who wounded it so deeply on June 23rd 2016. Goodwin goes on to write,

Liddle chiefly rails against what one might call “double liberalism”, the relentless pursuit of social and economic liberalism and all that flows from it

and

On economics, meanwhile, most people worry about the growing gap between the rich and poor, between London and the regions, and have no problem with more equitable taxation and nationalisation.

I would put “equitable” in quotes and I do have a problem with nationalisation. I would be quite happy for our relentless pursuit of social and economic liberalism to end by successfully catching them both – though I mean “liberal” in the old sense. I would know the right answers to the questions on the Remanian citizenship test. I even believe some of them. But however wise and sensible and liberal it is, I do not accept that the “ruling class of the unrecognised state” is entitled to hold on to power after being voted out.

What would Boris lose by calling an election timed to take place just AFTER 31 October?

There has been speculation everywhere that Boris Johnson will call an election in order to get a parliamentary majority to secure Brexit. Some have said he would need to make an agreement with the Brexit Party before the election, others that the pact would need to come afterwards – but most of what I have read seems to assume that the order of events in the plan is: Call election > Win election (possibly with help) > Leave EU.

Have I missed something? Because it seems to me that Mr Johnson would get a better shot at all his goals by calling an election timed to occur just after Brexit.

The entry for Dissolution of Parliament on Parliament’s own website says,

What happens to Parliament at dissolution?
Parliament is dissolved 25 working days before a general election at a minute past midnight.

The formal end to the parliamentary session is called ‘prorogation’. This may take place a few days before dissolution.

So Mr Grieve’s ingenious scheme to make it harder for Parliament to be prorogued is rendered void. While MPs are locked out of the building, the gears turn unimpeded and eventually the great or terrible hour strikes.

House of Commons
When Parliament is dissolved, every seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant. All business in the House comes to an end. MPs stop representing their constituencies. There will be no MPs until after the general election.

And until after Brexit.

MPs can come into Parliament for a few days after dissolution to clear their offices.

Those who wish to be MPs again must stand again as candidates for election.

They will be standing and campaigning for a seat in the post-Brexit House. The whole political environment will be different, and much more favourable to the Conservatives. If Brexit seems inevitable, much of the justification for the Brexit Party’s existence melts away, and so does the incentive for pro-Remain parties to unite in an electoral pact to stop Brexit. To an exhausted electorate “Rejoin” is a much less appealing message than “Don’t leave”, and the attitude of the major opposition parties to it is more split. The Liberal Democrats would want it, but Labour, especially if Mr Corbyn is still at the helm, would probably be happy to kick it into the long grass as a vaguely worded aspiration.

Role of the Commons Speaker at dissolution

The Speaker is no longer an MP once Parliament is dissolved.

Like every other MP, the Speaker must stand for re-election. The Speaker will stand as ‘Speaker seeking re-election’.

However, the Speaker retains responsibility for the management of the House of Commons as they remain the chair of the House of Commons Commission until a new Speaker is elected.

In the circumstances I have described Mr Bercow’s long-delayed departure would be seen by the Tories as the icing on the cake.

It might be that Mr Johnson could be stopped from holding a general election by the opposition voting to deny the government the two thirds majority that the Fixed Term Parliament Act requires it to have to call an election. But when I try to imagine Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell going through the division lobbies to deny themselves the chance of power, or stranger yet to protest that they do indeed have confidence in a Johnson government, I cannot make the vision form.

I probably have missed something quite obvious. Tell me what it is and I will get on with my day.