May’s UK play in disarray

Developments with Theresa May and Brexit suggest a growing degree  of disarray in the UK.

RNZ: British PM Theresa May pulls vote on Brexit deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May has postponed a crucial parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal because she said it “would be rejected by a significant margin”.

She said MPs backed much of the deal she has struck with the EU but there was concern over the Northern Ireland backstop plan.

Mrs May said she believed she could still get the deal through if she addressed MPs’ concerns and that what she intended to do in the next few days.

However, Speaker John Bercow – who chairs debates in the House of Commons – called on the government to give MPs a vote on whether Tuesday’s vote should be cancelled, saying it was the “right and obvious” thing to do given how angry some MPs were about the cancellation.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government was in “complete chaos” and urged Mrs May to stand down.

The pound fell sharply in response to the reports earlier of a likely delay.

The deputy leader of the DUP – the Northern Ireland party whose backing Theresa May needs to win key votes – Nigel Dodds, said the situation was “quite frankly a bit of a shambles” and the PM was paying the price for crossing her “red lines” when it came to Northern Ireland.

And it appears to be affecting more than the UK:  Dow slides 500 points on Brexit drama, bank selloff

Brexit chaos and sinking bank stocks are combining to deal the stock market another blow.

The Dow fell 500 points, or 1.9%, on Monday. The index tumbled below the 24,000 level. The S&P 500 retreated 1.7%, while the Nasdaq lost 1%.

US stocks hit session lows after Prime Minister Theresa May said she would delay a crucial vote on her Brexit deal. The British pound extended its losses, plunging 1.6% against the US dollar. Sterling is on track for its worst close since April 2017.

“We seem to have taken a turn for the worse because of the Brexit news,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Capital. “Any news that isn’t good is immediately treated as terrible.”

The Brexit chaos reinforces one of Wall Street’s biggest fears: slowing global growth. Germany and Japan are already in economic contraction, while China’s economy has suffered from a wave of tariffs.

 

 

EU leaders agree to UK Brexit proposal

RNZ: UK’s Brexit deal agreed by EU leaders

EU leaders have approved an agreement on the UK’s withdrawal and future relations – insisting it is the “best and only deal possible”.

After 20 months of negotiations, the 27 leaders gave the deal their blessing after less than an hour’s discussion.

hey said the deal – which needs to be approved by the UK Parliament – paved the way for an “orderly withdrawal”.

Theresa May said the deal “delivered for the British people” and set the UK “on course for a prosperous future”.

Speaking in Brussels, she urged both Leave and Remain voters to unite behind the agreement, insisting the British public “do not want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit”.

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.

The EU officially endorsed the terms of the UK’s withdrawal during a short meeting, bringing to an end negotiations which began in March 2017.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said anyone in Britain who thought the bloc might offer improved terms if MPs rejected the deal would be “disappointed.

The UK Parliament is expected to vote on the deal on 12 December, but its approval is far from guaranteed.

Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, the DUP and many Conservatives MPs are set to vote against.

Mrs May has appealed to the British public to get behind the agreement – saying that although it involved compromises, it was a “good deal that unlocks a bright future for the UK”.

At a news conference in Brussels, she said the agreement would:

  • end freedom of movement “in full and once and for all”
  • protect the constitutional integrity of the UK, and
  • ensure a return to “laws being made in our country by democratically elected politicians interpreted and enforced by British courts”.

The agreement, she added, would not remove Gibraltar from the “UK family” – a reference to a last-minute wrangle with Spain over the territory.

The EU leaders have approved the two key Brexit documents:

  • The EU withdrawal agreement: a 599-page, legally binding document setting out the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. It covers the UK’s £39bn “divorce bill”, citizens’ rights and the Northern Ireland “backstop” – a way to keep the Irish border open, if trade talks stall
  • The political declaration, which sets out what the UK and EU’s relationship may be like after Brexit – outlining how things like UK-EU trade and security will work

There was no formal vote on Sunday, with the EU proceeding by consensus.

Britain and EU agree on post-Brexit relationship

Reuters:  EU, Britain agree draft deal on future relations

Britain and the European Union have agreed a draft text setting out a close post-Brexit relationship, though wrangling with Spain over control of Gibraltar must still be settled before EU leaders meet on Sunday in order to rubber-stamp the pact.

“The British people want Brexit to be settled. They want a good deal that sets us on a course for a brighter future,” British Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament.

“The deal that will enable us to do this is now within our grasp. In these crucial 72 hours ahead, I will do everything possible to deliver it for the British people.”

Her spokesman said she believed she could win a critical vote in parliament on the deal, expected next month, but many of those she needs to persuade appeared unconvinced.

Guardian: May defends under-fire Brexit plan: ‘a deal is within our grasp’

Painting the agreement as a bespoke and carefully negotiated plan, May told MPs it disproved the idea that the only relationships on offer would be Norway or Canada. “The text we have now agreed would create a new free trade area with the EU, with no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions. This will be the first such agreement from the EU with any advanced economy in the world – and will be good for jobs,” she said.

“Crucially the text we have agreed has an explicit reference to the development of an independent trade policy by the UK beyond this partnership with the EU, so we would have the abilities to sign new trade deals and capitalise on new trade deals with the fastest-growing economies around the world. We will be able to get on with this negotiating deals during the transition period.”

May said there was “an explicit commitment to consider facilitative arrangement and technologies to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland”, and thanked Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson for their input on that, which was jeered by some Tory MPs. Paterson and Duncan Smith saw the prime minister in Downing Street last week.

May also reiterated that she had held talks about Gibraltar with Spain, saying: “I was absolutely clear that Gibraltar’s British sovereignty will be protected.”

She ended: “The British people want Brexit to be settled. They want a good deal that sets us on course for a brighter future. And they want us to come together as a country and to move on and focus on the big issues at home. The deal that will enable us to do this, is now within our grasp. In these crucial 72 hours, I will do everything in my power to deliver this to the British people.”

Guardian: Brexit political declaration fails to offer frictionless trade

A joint document on Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU fails to offer any hope of frictionless trade, said to be vital to the British economy, but provides Theresa May with arguments to bolster her hopes of selling the deal to Brexiters in parliament.

leaked 26-page political declaration, to be approved by EU leaders at a Brexit summit on Sunday, paints a picture of the future relationship that differs substantially from the proposals made by the prime minister at Chequers in the summer.

According to the declaration the two sides “envisage having a trading relationship on goods that is as close as possible”, but the EU and the UK would be separate markets with inevitable barriers to trade, and there is no reference to a common rulebook.

The document does reassert the plan for both sides to “build and improve on the single customs territory” already negotiated in the withdrawal agreement.

 

France, Germany look to strengthen Euro zone (without Britain)

French President Emmanuel Macron called on Sunday for Germany and France to dig deeper as allies in their bid to spearhead a more united Europe, including by overcoming lingering scepticism on issues such as a euro zone budget.

In a speech to the German lower house of parliament on Sunday at an event honoring war victims, Macron said the onus was on France and Germany to pursue those efforts.

“This new phase can be scary as we will have to share, pool together our decision-making, our policies on foreign affairs, migration and development, an increasing part of our budgets and even fiscal resources, build a common defense strategy,” Macron said at the Bundestag.

“We have to overcome our taboos and overcome our habits.”

Macron, who later met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin for talks, evoked a world “at a crossroad” in his speech, pitting nationalist movements “with no memory” against more modern, progressive ones.

“Europe, and within it, the Franco-German alliance, has the obligation not to let the world slip into chaos,” he said.

Meanwhile: Theresa May to visit Brussels this week as she defends Brexit deal

 

Divided over Brexit but nowhere to run

Financial Times:  Brexit deal crisis: Rudd returns, Gove stays

Theresa May has reshuffled her cabinet as she battles for survival, replacing the two minister who resigned as part of the political fallout over the draft Brexit treaty. The big question still hanging over the prime minister is whether those seeking to oust her can find 48 Tory MPs needed to trigger a no confidence vote.

BBC:

Summary

  1. Steve Barclay is appointed new Brexit Secretary, replacing Dominic Raab
  2. Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd returns to cabinet as the Work and Pensions Secretary
  3. Theresa May answered listeners’ questions on the draft Brexit deal on LBC radio show
  4. Michael Gove ends speculation about whether he would follow fellow Brexiteers out of the cabinet
  5. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox joins Mr Gove in urging MPs to support the deal
  6. More than 20 MPs have called for a no-confidence vote in the prime minister

Also from BBC:

When the UK made a major change in direction towards the EU it created chaos in New Zealand as our biggest marker for produce turned it’s back on us.

Now the chaos is in Britain as they try to exit from the EU, with little effect on us apart from possibly, eventually, providing more trade opportunities.

UK Ministers resign, confidence vote likely for Theresa May

Missy has summarised developments (overnight NZ time) in the UK political split over Brexit plans, with a number of Cabinet Ministers resigning (7 so far), and a confidence vote in Theresa May likely.

(Thanks for this Missy).


Her ‘deal’ has been compared to Chamberlain returning from Munich.

A quick review of this morning’s happenings (rather than re-posting everything I posted this morning).

Five Members of the cabinet have resigned, they are:

  1. Shailesh Vara – Junior Minister for Northern Ireland. He claims that the deal leaves Britain in a half way house.
  2. Dominic Raab – Secretary of State for Exiting the EU. He said the indefinite backstop threatens to break up the Union.
  3. Esther McVey – Secretary of State for Work & Pensions. She said the deal does not honour the result of the referendum.
  4. Suella Braverman – Junior Minister for the Department for Exiting the EU. She warned that the concessions do not respect the will of the people.
  5. Anne-Marie Trevelyan – Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Education Secretary. She said the deal is unacceptable to Brexit Voters.
  6. Ranil Jayawardena – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice. He said the deal does not deliver a fair Brexit.
  7. Rehman Chishti, the PM’s trade envoy to Pakistan and Vice chairman of the Conservative Party for communities has resigned, saying that the deal is contrary to their Manifesto commitment.

May gave a statement in Parliament after which she received no support. During the questions after Jacob Rees-Mogg asked May why he shouldn’t put in a letter to the 1922 Committee Chariman. This is quite a big thing, whatever you think of him JRM has always supported the PM, he hasn’t supported the deal, but he has always said he supports the PM of the day, and that he has indicated in Parliament that he is thinking of putting in a letter of no confidence is quite a big deal, and he has influence among other Brexiters.

When he spoke in Parliament JRM obviously already had his letter written, he has just submitted it to the 1922 Committee. The key part is this: ‘It is of considerable importance that politicians stick to their commitments or do not make such commitments in the first place. Regrettably, this is not the situation, therefore, in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures of the Conservative Party and the 1922 Committee this is a formal letter of No Confidence in the Leader of the Party, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May.’

JRM has said that the Brexit deal has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the PM.

It is expected that the required number of letters will be received by the Chair of the 1922 Committee by tomorrow, and if so then a vote of confidence in Theresa May as leader on Tuesday is expected.

There has been some speculation on who may run for leader, though I think we may get a better idea when the Chair of the 1922 Committee are closer to receiving the 48 letters needed and we see which Cabinet members resign then.

Leading contenders at the moment are:

  • Dominic Raab (odds about 11-2)
  • Boris Johnson (odds about 5-1)
  • Sajid Javid (odds about 5-1) he is the most credible leading contender, despite having voted remain he is against a soft Brexit and for delivering Brexit. He has gone against Theresa May on several occasions, and he was reportedly behind a tougher stance on EU Migrants post Brexit than was originally positioned by TM. Has the advantage of being an ethnic minority (Pakistani parents) and a (non practicing) Muslim, despite having been brought up in a Muslim household he doesn’t practice now, and has stated on a number of occasions the only religion in his house is Christianity (his wife is apparently a practicing Christian). So looks good for the moderate Muslim vote, but isn’t a problem for the extreme anti-Muslim vote.
  • Jeremy Hunt (odds about 8-1) he won’t be a popular choice, he is universally disliked by the public.
  • David Davis (odds about 11-1) he is a popular choice among many party members to bring in as an interim PM until Brexit is done.
  • Amber Rudd (odds about 50-1)

Sources are reporting that Michael Gove was offered the Brexit Secretary job, but he has turned it down unless he can go back to Brussels and renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement.

 

May struggling with Brexit

It is being described as a botched deal or a no deal.

Political will holding up Brexit

Remember Brexit?

“Brexit proposals are not undeliverable but rather it is political will holding up negotiations” – curiously that’s the view of the politician in charge, the United Kingdom’s Brexit Minister Dominic Raab.

Reuters: UK’s Brexit proposals are not undeliverable, it is about political will: Raab

Raab also said Britain shouldn’t have a closed mind in negotiations and was open to listening to other suggestions to help break the impasse on outstanding issues.

Also:

The Independent: Three Tory ministers back new Brexit referendum, Conservative conference event told

At least three government ministers privately support giving the public another vote on Brexit, a former minister has claimed.

Dr Phillip Lee, who quit the government in June in order to speak out on Brexit, said he knew of other ministers who were “on the cusp” of resigning over the issue.

The MP warned a fringe event at the Conservatives‘ annual conference that the party was now “on the side of angry men, against women and young people”.

Asked how many Tory MPs privately support the campaign for a Final Say referendum, Mr Lee told the Conservatives for a People’s Vote event: “I suspect there are significant numbers of colleagues who see the argument for a second vote.

BBC: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU

A referendum – a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part – was held on Thursday 23 June, 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%.

That was over two years ago. Progress is slow.

When is the UK due to leave the EU?

For the UK to leave the EU it had to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which gives the two sides two years to agree the terms of the split. Theresa May triggered this process on 29 March, 2017, meaning the UK is scheduled to leave at 11pm UK time on Friday, 29 March 2019. It can be extended if all 28 EU members agree, but at the moment all sides are focusing on that date as being the key one, and Theresa May has now put it into British law.

So is Brexit definitely happening?

The UK government and the main UK opposition party both say Brexit will happen. There are some groups campaigning for Brexit to be halted, but the focus among the UK’s elected politicians has been on what relationship the UK has with the EU after Brexit, rather than whether Brexit will happen at all. Nothing is ever certain, but as things stand Britain is leaving the European Union. There is more detail on the possible hurdles further down this guide…

What’s happening now?

The UK and EU have provisionally agreed on the three “divorce” issues of how much the UK owes the EU, what happens to the Northern Ireland border and what happens to UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK but talks are now focusing on the detail of how to avoid having a physical Northern Ireland border – and on future relations. To buy more time, the two sides have agreed on a 21-month “transition” period to smooth the way to post-Brexit relations.

 

Brexit is Titanic

“Brexit means Brexit, and we are going to make a TITANIC success of it”.

From Remain to Brexit due to Euro

Missy:

This is a great explanation as to why Brexit is a good thing. This was originally written as a twitter thread, and picked up by a magazine and published as an article. The guy who wrote it voted Remain, he was angry at the result, but now has an understanding as to why the UK needs to leave the EU, and not just leave, but leave cleanly.

Country Squire: From Remain to Out Now

I could never understand why people were anti EU – what a wonderful liberal construct that did so much good in the world. It brought countries together, helped poor ones develop. It made us prouder to be from this continent as we were building something unique.

So, what changed?

In a word, the Euro.

I remember watching horrified as the EU via the ECB removed two heads of state in Italy and Greece. Forced the Irish to take on their entire banking sector’s debt and drove the Greek economy and much of the south into a depression. How could this be happening? The EU were the good guys. They didn’t do this – that was the US; the IMF; the World Bank.

How could all these people be party to this horror? How could they sit by as peoples’ lives were destroyed and, in many cases, finished due to suicide?

This organisation did not give a shit about the south. It was their fault. And I thought “but that is economically illiterate” but by then I had realised they didn’t care – and so we wandered on towards Brexit.

And the results came – we lost! I was angry. So angry that I remember shouting at my best friend who voted leave – and saying he didn’t realise what he had done – I think more in shock – but after I thought you know this could be good this could be what the EU needs – a wake-up call.

And after a time, I began to realise – watching Verhofstadt, Barnier, Tusk et al – they didn’t get it. They didn’t get the anger that was there – for me over Greece and the state of the Euro but for others – migration, democracy, laws. Listening to the shameful descriptions of the UK as an extremist country and that it was an isolated case – I watched election after election and like Chemical Ali they keep parroting the same line – ‘this is an aberration’. Completely ignoring the trends, completely ignoring the facts on the ground and I realised that they were literally cut off from reality – they had no idea what so many people were thinking!

Even if the wanted to know what ‘the people’ thought it would be difficult to understand ordinary people in every country in the EU.

In any case, the bigger the body, the more distant the head gets from the arms and legs.

I want to go vote and hold politicians to account – I want us to trade, cooperate and ally with countries but one where we have control – we the people – and you know what I might lose many of the arguments and this country might not be what I want all the time.

And if those in power get too distant and too arrogant,in democracies people have an ability to rebel via the ballot box.

As for the EU, I feel its dying – the dream started dying 8 years ago and they are damn well doing their best to make sure it stays dead – but you know what … I don’t wish it ill, it doesn’t need any help from me – I just don’t want to be associated with it anymore.

The disadvantages have grown to eclipse the advantages of the EU.

But it starts for me – getting clean Brexit and starting a new exciting conversation – one that I never thought I would suggest we have – it’s strange how life changes you along the way – strange the way important things fade, and new ones emerge.

Regardless of controversy over the Brexit campaign the UK needs to move forward with it.

And a general hope:

But before that – let’s start by being kinder to each other – I have been as guilty as others – but I have realised it is not healthy for me, for others or the country to rage at each other – people hold their views because they care – let’s all try and keep that in mind.

That is good advice for any country. New Zealand political and social discourse would be the better for a kinder approach. The United States in particular, which is struggling with increasing division.