Last week was bad enough, but this is agonising. Either Theresa May is bluffing and wasting two billion pounds we can ill afford to waste, or she isn’t and we’re utterly screwed. Either MPs cave and accept her deal and we’re screwed, or they don’t and she isn’t bluffing and we’re utterly screwed. Or they don’t and she caves† and revokes Article 50 on 29 March 2019‡ and we’re saved, except not, because so much damage will already have been done and half the population who still believe in unicorns will feel they wuz robbed. For at least the next month we’ll feel the impact of preparations for No Deal, and depending what happens in Parliament in the week of 14 January could see full-blown panic after it.
†Quite likely, given her track record of U-turns.
‡Quite unlikely, given how hard she opposed the legal case about revocation and how doggedly she’s pursuing her anti-immigration/anti-immigrant agenda.
A brilliant Twitter thread from Schona Jolly: “Impassive Aggressive” is a fitting description of Theresa May... she settled on the parade of Brexit instead of the process.
Brexiter and cabinet minister Liam Fox “welcome[s] the approval of the EU-Japan economic partnership agreement ... which could boost UK GDP by up to £3bn in the long run”. Could it just. We’ll get all that in the agreed transition period before we leave, will we? Or in the next three months before we crash out?
Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU until January 2017, delivered a Heseltine Institute Public Lecture about Brexit at the University of Liverpool last Wednesday—here’s a full transcript (or pdf).
Some highlights (but do read the whole speech):
It was obvious, reading the December 2017 Agreement document from outside Government that this must lead inexorably to where we have now reached. There was no other endgame from that point. Which was why, a year ago, I started telling corporates they were really seriously underestimating the chances of a “no deal” outcome.
Before we have even left, we have seen, in the last 2½ years, the most anaemic boost to UK net trade triggered by ANY major sterling devaluation since World War 2. For politicians not completely blinded by their own rhetoric, the warning signs for the UK economy as we worsen our trade terms with the Continent are there to see.
Markets continue to react, or have until this week, as if something must turn up and that “no deal” is a virtually unimaginable scenario for politicians professing to be serious, to contemplate. That risk has therefore been seriously underpriced for a year or more, because we are dealing with a political generation which has no serious experience of bad times and is frankly cavalier about precipitating events they could not then control, but feel they might exploit. Nothing is more redolent of the pre First World War era, when very few believed that a very long period of European peace and equilibrium could be shattered in months.
Anne Perkins at the Guardian: “Westminster is stagnating completely. In the shadow of the immediate Brexit crisis, its opportunity costs—the bills left unprepared, let alone debated and passed—are not often considered.”
Jolyon Maugham: “If the government will not listen, if it refuses to recognise the supremacy of parliament, we must have a general strike.” Absolutely. I’ve long wondered if it would have to come to this. The week of 21 January would seem the obvious time, if there’s no resolution by then. I’m in.