May loses Brexit vote badly, now faces no confidence vote

As expected the Withdrawal Vote (Brexit plan) was defeated in the UK parliament, the only surprise being how badly the loss was:

  • Ayes 202
  • Noes 432

That’s the worst defeat by a Government in Britain in 95 years. In normal times that degree of humiliation would result in a rapid resignation by the Prime Minister, but these are not normal times. Theresa May is hanging on defiantly.

Soon after the loss Jeremy Corbyn and party leaders tabled a vote of no confidence:

This will be debated and probably voted Wednesday in the UK (Thursday NZ time). It is predicted that May may survive this, but her Government and the Brexit plan (or lack of) are both in tatters.

Telegraph:

Theresa May’s future rests in the balance after Jeremy Corbyn tabled a no-confidence motion on Tuesday night, just minutes after the Government suffered an unprecedented defeat over its Brexit deal.

With MPs voting by 432 to 202 to reject the draft withdrawal agreement, Mr Corbyn raised a point of order requesting that a vote be held on Wednesday,  after Prime Minister’s Questions.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Corbyn highlighted that the defeat was the largest inflicted on any Government since the 1920s, adding that Mrs May had “lost the confidence of this House and this country.”

We may find out by morning, NZ time.

Morning update from BBC:

  • Government faces vote of no confidence after PM’s huge parliamentary defeat on Tuesday
  • The Commons rejected Mrs May’s EU withdrawal agreement by 432 votes to 202
  • MPs now debating Labour’s no confidence motion ahead of vote at 19:00 GMT
  • Government expected to survive, with DUP and Tory Brexiteers backing PM
  • Labour says further no-confidence votes could follow if this one fails
  • European leaders have reacted with dismay at the voting down of the deal

Guardian – Brexit: MPs debate no-confidence motion after May’s deal defeat

MPs should be given indicative votes on what happens next, says Brexit committee

Next move ‘has to come from London,’ says EU

It isn’t just the Conservatives who are divided.

John Woodcock, who was an elected as a Labour MP but who now sits as an independent after leaving the party because of his opposition to Jeremy Corbyn, has told the Commons that he will not be voting for the motion of no confidence in the government this evening. He said he thought Corbyn and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, were not fit to hold high office.

Here is the full transcript of what Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, told the European parliament this morning about the Commons Brexit vote. He said “the risk of a no deal has never been so high.”

Withdrawal Vote expected in UK today

The vote in the UK parliament on the Withdrawal Agreement, which is crucial for Brexit, is expected this morning New Zealand time (after 7 pm Tuesday evening UK time).

Missy reports:


The vote on the Withdrawal Agreement will take place sometime after 7.00pm local time.

Yesterday the PM presented to Parliament letters from Donald Tusk and Jean Claude Juncker stating that the intent is that the Irish Backstop is not meant to be permanent. This has not appeased those against the agreement as it is not a legal document but rather a political assurance, meaning that if there is a dispute the letters will not hold up in court.

Some of the MPs that will be voting against the agreement believe that the EU will come back to the UK with last minute concessions to the agreement. They point to precedents set by the EU where they have agreed to concessions in international agreements at the last minute making way for the agreements to be passed. The most recent example being the Canadian FTA where they agreed the day before Canada was due to walk away.

The EU do respond to brinksmanship, that the UK Government and Remain MPs are not willing to do that is cowardice. They have been brainwashed by the fear mongering, most of which has been debunked.

It will be interesting to note Ireland’s reaction to a vote against the deal, so far they have played the brinksmanship game the best. Ireland have told the EU they will need millions in bailouts and aid in the event of a no deal Brexit, that Ireland have been the most stubborn on the backstop has meant they have garnered very little sympathy in Britain. However, it is possible that if the deal is voted down and a no deal looks more likely then Varadkar would be more inclined to compromise. The next election for Ireland is in 2021, so two years after Brexit, if Varadkar is any sort of politician he will be looking to that as any downturn in the wake of a no deal Brexit may harm him if he is seen as the cause of it.

One of the biggest mistakes that May made was postponing the vote on the deal. If she had held the vote last December and it had failed by a very large margin then she could have used that as leverage to try and get the EU to agree to concessions.

By postponing the debate she has led to the problems of MPs trying to usurp her – and the Government’s – authority on Brexit.

 

Brexit vote imminent, no win situation for May and UK

No matter what the outcome of the crucial Brexit vote in the UK Parliament this week the outcome may be bad.

There is the potential for financial catastrophe if the deal passes, and the complete decay of democracy if it fails. The country voted in favour of Brexit in a referendum and democracy-wise Parliament has a duty to act on that majority decision.

 

Missy:


Tomorrow is the ‘meaningful vote’ on the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

It is getting a little complex with machinations of some of the MPs trying desperately to stop Brexit. A group of MPs are reportedly going to use the Parliamentary Liaison Committee, (a committee of the chairs of all 32 select committees), to take power away from the Executive to manage Brexit. I am not sure if this is possible and haven’t had a chance to read up on the Standing Orders around this, but it is being described as a coup by some.

A Government whip has resigned in order to vote against the Government on the deal, and it is reported that at least 112 Government MPs have declared they will vote against the agreement.

Jeremy Corbyn has said that if the Government is defeated he will be calling a vote of No Confidence in the Government. Conservative MPs have been told if they vote against the Government in a Confidence vote they will have the whip withdrawn and be kicked out of the party. The DUP have previously stated that they will vote with the Government on a Confidence vote if it is called in the event of the withdrawal agreement being voted down. In theory the Government should win a vote of No Confidence in these circumstances.

If the agreement passes it has been suggested the DUP will call a vote of No Confidence in the Government in which they are likely to either vote against the Government or abstain. This will no doubt depend on Labour and how confident they are going into a General Election knowing that there is a deal they voted against already agreed. If they want to bring down the Government at any cost then the DUP will either hold their nose to vote with them, or most likely abstain, (since they have said they will never vote with Labour on matters of Confidence, and would abstain first). This also will depend on the Greens and Lib Dems, and what chance they think they have of stopping Brexit altogether.

In the event of a General Election Article 50 can be delayed until after the election.


In response to Facing loss on Brexit vote May warns of catastrophic failure:

Higher likelihood of catastrophe if the agreement is passed than not, higher likelihood of complete decay of democracy in the UK if the agreement is not passed.

It is a no win situation, May has botched this completely and put herself, and worse her Government, in a tenuous position.

Alan Wilkinson:

Surely it is impossible for her Brexit to pass? Everyone hates it. She seems to have stacked her Cabinet with Remainers and failed to get them on board anything approaching a saleable Brexit. Every move she has made seems to have weakened her position.

It is seemingly impossible for it to pass, but there are some unknowns in the mix.

1. numbers on the Conservative benches are based on rumour and estimates, and to be honest the media have been shocking at reading how some of the MPs will vote.

2. No one is sure how the Lib Dems and Greens will vote.

3. Despite Labour saying they will vote against the deal there may be some that are anti Corbyn and will vote for it in the hopes it will prevent a Confidence vote and GE. There are only about half a dozen Labour MPs for sure that will vote against the deal.

4. No-one is sure what the Tory rebels will do. They may vote for the deal as a least worst option, or they may try to go for the nuclear option and vote against to try and force Article 50 be cancelled.

“Anything less than a clean break from #EU will be a betrayal of the Referendum vote”

It’s not surprising to see that a majority those who voted for Britain leaving the European Union think the referendum should be honoured.

‘Remainers’ lean strongly towards their EU preference rather than the referendum.

Britain trying to go global after Brexit

The British Secretary of Defence has said that Britain needs to ‘recast themselves in a different way’, turning from European to global influence – something they retreated from when turning way from their prior colonies to embrace Europe starting in the 1970s.

The Telegraph:  Britain to become ‘true global player’ post-Brexit with military bases in South East Asia and Caribbean, says Defence Secretary 

Britain will open two new military bases in the Caribbean and South East Asia as the country looks to step up its military presence overseas after Brexit, Gavin Williamson has revealed.

The Defence secretary urges Britons to stop downplaying the country’s influence internationally and recognise that the UK will stand tall on the world stage after leaving the European Union.

In an interview with The Telegraph in his Ministry of Defence office, Mr Williamson says: “We have got to be so much more optimistic about our future as we exit the European Union.

“This is our biggest moment as a nation since the end of the Second World War, when we can recast ourselves in a different way.”

New Zealand relied heavily on Britain for export and import trade as a colony and later as a semi-independent country, but were dumped when Britain united with Europe.

We may see some advantages in improving trade with Britain now, but that will only be as one of a number of trading regions and partners, if it gets anywhere.

I don’t know how a greater British military presence will be seen in South East Asia, but that shouldn’t cause us any problems here.

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.

 

Britain’s way of life threatened

“Britain’s way of life is threatened by a culture with strange accents, wearing unusual clothing, who attended special schools and are part of a closed society that doesn’t integrate with the rest of us.”

We don’t have much of that problem in New Zealand.

Impact of social media on mental health of young people

This is from The Economist on showing the effect of various social media platforms on young British people.

According to a survey in 2017 by the Royal Society for Public Health, Britons aged 14-24 believe that Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter have detrimental effects on their wellbeing. On average, they reported that these social networks gave them extra scope for self-expression and community-building. But they also said that the platforms exacerbated anxiety and depression, deprived them of sleep, exposed them to bullying and created worries about their body image and “FOMO” (“fear of missing out”). Academic studies have found that these problems tend to be particularly severe among frequent users.

From How heavy use of social media is linked to mental illness

The Antipodes, and having the feet opposite

I sort of find this interesting but it’s not really relevant to anything. A bit of geographical and language trivia.

New Zealand (and Australia) have been referred to as The Antipodes, because we are roughly on the opposite side of the world to Britain. The word antipodes actually means ‘direct opposite’. Origin (Oxford):

Late Middle English: via French or late Latin from Greek antipodes ‘having the feet opposite’, from anti ‘against, opposite’ + pous, pod- ‘foot’. The term originally denoted the inhabitants of opposite sides of the earth

No part of New Zealand nor Australia are directly opposite Britain.

Ten years ago I wrote:

If you sail out into Biscay Bay
And anchor on the edge
Drill like crazy finding maybe
Biscay Bay Antipodes

The Bay of Biscay is to the north of Spain, and some point there happens to be the opposite side of the planet to Dunedin. The antipodes of most of New Zealand lies across Spain. None of Australia lines up with an opposite land mass.

What I find most interesting about this is how little of the Earth’s land mass lies opposite to land. Not that this means a lot in the whole scheme of things.

If you dug a hole straight down and ended up in China you would have to be in the southern half of South America, in Argentina or Chile, which seems odd as they all border the Pacific Ocean. But the Pacific covers about a third of Earth’s surface, is nearly a half (46%) of the total sea area and is larger than the whole of the planet’s land mass

General details here: https://www.antipodesmap.com/

British court rules Parliament must vote on Brexit

A High Court has ruled that Parliament must give permission (vote) for Britain to ext the European Union. Prime Minister Theresa May had argued she had the authority to proceed without a parliamentary vote.

This has ruffled up the issue.

Guardian: Article 50 ruling leaves Theresa May facing potential MP revolt

Theresa May is heading for a rebellion over her Brexit strategy after the high court ruled that the UK could not leave the European union without the permission of the British parliament.

Three senior judges ruled on Thursday that the government could not press ahead with triggering article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, the formal process for beginning Brexit, without first consulting MPs and peers in the Commons and Lords.

The decision, made after a legal challenge brought following the EU referendum result in June, is a dramatic setback for the prime minister, who had argued that she had the personal authority to begin the process without a parliamentary vote on the issue.

Downing Street has said they will challenge the judgment and an appeal with the supreme court is expected to be lodged. But David Davis, the Brexit secretary, acknowledged that the ruling (pdf) as it stood meant the UK’s departure from the bloc would require the consent of both MPs and peers through an act of parliament.

May is determined to stick to her schedule: Brexit timetable still on track despite article 50 ruling, Theresa May to tell EU

Theresa May is expected to tell the president of the European commission that her timetable for Brexit is still on track despite Thursday’s ruling in the high court, although a leading Conservative peer has called for a delay.

The prime minister is due to telephone Jean-Claude Juncker to say she still plans to trigger article 50 by the end of March, notwithstanding the court ruling that parliament must vote on when the process can begin.

On Friday the Welsh assembly announced that it would seek permission to intervene in any government appeal against the ruling, further complicating the Brexit process.

The Westminster government has said it will challenge the judgment in an appeal expected next month, but some senior Tories have welcomed the ruling as a boost to parliamentary sovereignty.

More: Follow our live updates on the impact of the Brexit ruling