Meet the New Plan, Same as the Old Plan

Theresa May’s statement to Parliament yesterday about her Brexit Plan B was a non-event, after a week of even more floundering about than we’ve come to expect. Gina Miller has written about the need for MPs to use the parliamentary sovereignty that she fought for. David Lammy MP argues that even a Norway outcome would be lose-lose. A backbench effort to rule out a no-deal Brexit is supposedly supported in private by much of the government, who don’t want to do it themselves for fear of splitting their party. But might explicitly ruling out No Deal mean that May’s deal ends up getting through?

Meanwhile, UK warehouse space is nearing capacity as firms stockpile for Brexit. Falling house prices in some of the UK’s wealthiest areas suggest the rich are bailing out. (The cheaper houses in question won’t be much comfort to people looking to get onto the property ladder, unless they have a £1m+ deposit.) And EU citizens living in the UK are now able to try out the system for applying for “settled status”, but at least will no longer have to pay £65 for the privilege of gathering years of paperwork to satisfy the award-winning† Home Office. (University EU staff have been able to test it out for months, which means we’ve seen Home Office posters around our buildings showing stock images of shiny happy people having fun. It’s so much fun filling out forms for the Home Office and waiting to hear whether you’ve been accepted for settlement in the country where you’re already settled! Now comes with free Sword of Damocles.)

Among Brexit’s true believers, the founder of Wetherspoons is doing his best to lose his pubs half of their potential customers. A Leaver describes the history of failed Euroskeptic attempts to come up with a plan in the years before the referendum, and what that means for us today.

An important Twitter thread by Jim Grace (unrolled) examines all 72 of the 4514 EU-influenced UK laws that were “forced on us against our will“ (i.e. the UK voted against them). Unsurprisingly, none offer any convincing basis for Leave’s claims of loss of sovereignty.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper writes: “Our cross-party bill ... means that if we reach the end of February and things still aren’t sorted out, then parliament would get a vote on whether to extend article 50 and give everyone a bit more time.” Well, sort of. It would be a vote on whether to ask the EU27 collectively to extend Article 50. But the EU has said all along that an extension can’t just be to allow more time for negotiation, but would need to be for something more concrete, such as a new referendum. So wouldn’t this bill have to be explicit about why we were asking for more time, which would mean having to get Parliament to agree on a course of action, and isn’t the whole point that we need more time because Parliament can’t agree? The only thing that Britain can do unilaterally to buy time is revoke Article 50, but Cooper says that this bill won’t do that.

Explaining the Brexit process through the medium of cakes.

†A member of the government described the Home Office as having “won awards” on a recent BBC Newsnight piece about the scheme. As far as I can tell, this refers to a 2017 UK IT Industry Award for Best Use of Cloud Services.

Adapted from the latest Mefi Brexit thread.

22 January 2019 · Politics