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Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Mrs May's Machiavellian Moves (10) - free choice

The UK government is surviving parliamentary votes on Brexit with rapidly diminishing majorities. It seems that UK parliament is in a deadlock: "to describe a standstill, as when two people or sides cannot move beyond a disagreement".

FT 23 July 2018: "The Tories are now caught in a trap — one from which there is no escape, even with a change of leader. They either deliver and own a hard Brexit with all its attendant consequences or they produce a workable outcome which Brexiters proclaim has betrayed the cause."

This FT analysis is rather good but it fails to see the obvious solution. Both Labour and Tories have rebels who both defy their party's voting instructions. These rebels have something in common: either they are pro-Leave or pro-Remain. 

The obvious solution to the Brexit mess is making Brexit a free choice by parliament. This would shift the Brexit responsibility - and blame - from government to parliament. The UK government would still be accountable for executing Brexit. Also see my 2015 blog.

Mr Corbyn is likely to accept Mrs May's offer for a free choice by parliament. Denying free choice might topple his leadership of Labour as denial would be deemed undemocratic. Accepting her offer allows him to vote according to his conscience. 

The outcome of a Brexit vote of conscience in Parliament is unclear. Such a vote could easily follow (ideological) beliefs rather than common sense (my 2015 blog). Nevertheless, the outcome might still mirror the 2016 Brexit referendum: 52% versus 48%, either for Leave or Remain.

A free choice by UK parliament would allow Mrs May to negotiate with Mr Barnier (EU) without 1 or 2 hands tied to her back. This situation would benefit both the UK and the EU as deals would no longer be subject to finding parliamentary majorities in the UK.

Recently, the call for a 2nd Brexit referendum was joined by "the highest profile ex-Cabinet minister". Mrs May replied by saying that this will not happen "in any circumstances" (BBC). Mrs May is quite right as a second Brexit referendum would only open the door to further Brexit referendums (see part 1 of Mrs May's Machiavellian Moves).

I am curious how much more time Mrs May needs to discontinue the stalemate and to gain control over the Brexit debate by offering UK parliament a free choice on Brexit.

Divide and rule, the politician cries; unite and lead, is watchword of the wise. A quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German writer and statesman. 

One (1992) by U2 feat. Mary J. Blige

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you, now
You got someone to blame


Note LO: all markings (bolditalicunderling) by LO unless stated otherwise