Brexiteers Bearing Broken Promises should not underestimate the iceberg threatening their Titanic

I know British media and voters are less used to coupling the behavior of European Parliament grandees and domestic, Westminster Parliamentary Parties but it is high time they did.

At least the Dutch media pay close attention to how the group(s) of MEP(s) from each Dutch political party behave and vote in Brussels and Strasbourg. If they diverge from the line their national parliamentarians behave and vote (or the other way around), a big stink can follow, embarrassing national party leaders. In France the link is even stronger. Their MPs from the Assemblee and even national party leaders like Marine Le Pen sit in the European Parliament as well, and thus are obliged to vote similarly in both assemblies.

So it was very unwise, uninformed, very egocentric (in short: very Brexiteerish) for the May government to pooh-pooh the opinion piece by a number of prominent MEP’s in The Guardian last week. In it, they warn that between 67 and 77% of MEP’s would block any Brexit overall deal if EU citizens in the UK continue to be pestered  by Home Office shenanigans, and if the UK maintains the unsettled “settled” status that  EU Brexit Negotiator Barnier complaints can be scrapped at will by any British parliament after Brexit.

As I quoted in my earlier post, this uncertainty is helping to sour EU expats’ views of Britain, its government,  encouraged by the attitude of the ever so moderate, always respectful British tabloids of “Up Y**** Delors” fame .

I strongly urge British politicians to see the positioning of the European Parliament group leaders and grandees as warning about their member parties’ positioning if national parliaments decide about the final Brexit deal. To give you a flavor, look at four states: Germany (leader of Europe), Netherlands (faithful ally of Britain against Louis XIV, Napoleon and De Gaulle), Spain and Ireland (with border issues around Brexit). Which parties in those parliaments will/could follow Verhofstadts veto threat?

  1. In  the German parliament: CDU/CSU, SPD, Greens, Die Linke, even the Pirates, and after the next election FDP will be back;
  2. In the Netherlands: VVD, CDA, D66 (now the hard core, 95% of the upcoming majority government), Labour, Greens, SP, PvdD (lefties). The upcoming Dutch line is clear.
  3. In the Spanish one: PP, PSOE, Ciudadános, Podemos/IU; all four main parties.
  4. And in the Irish and UK/Ulster parliaments: Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Fein….

And who’s not vetoing? In Germany only the AfD and NPD (Neonazi’s), in Greece only New Dawn’s bullies, and in the Netherlands Geert Wilders won’t go along with this, and thus are on Theresa May’s side.

* Bernard Aris is a Dutch historian (university of Leiden), and Documentation assistant to the D66 parliamentary Party. He is a member of the Brussels/EU branch of the LibDems.

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  • Bernard, I’m very sympathetic……. but……… ‘broken promise’ is not unique to Brexiteers.

    A strident cry about ‘broken promises’ is not the strongest card the Lib Dems could play in the UK post 2010-15.

  • ‘Follow the money’ is a bit of a cliché, but it’s useful to shed light on potentially concealed motivation. I’ve noticed that two major contributors on LDV feverishly trying to show the British the error of their ways over Brexit are German and Dutch.
    A quick Google on who are high ranking net contributors to the EU coffers, show Germany, UK, and Netherlands amongst others. So when the UK contributions stop arriving on the EU doormat, which are the likely EU countries that will be pressured to fill the financial shortfall?
    Whilst a sceptic might be barking up the wrong tree, they would surely feel the need to delicately ask our German and Dutch friends if their anti-Brexit hysteria reflects deep affection for their British friends, or possibly fear for their Dutch and German taxpayers’ pockets when the UK money stops coming.

  • So it is reasonable for the MEP’s in question to threaten to veto any deal should they not get their way but egocentric for May to do the same…. Sounds hypocritical to me but then I think both sides are utterly wrong both in their approach and their choice to negotiate through the media. Blackmail is what is being attempted by both sides and both sides look increasingly likely to suffer for their inept leaders.

    In part, this shows why we got in this mess, too many in the EU machinery do not get the British Physche… Threats like this did Farrages’ job for him in the referendum and will only harden opinion in large parts of the UK and make it harder for a reasonable agreement to be reached. And it simply is not reasonable for one side to expect to adjudicate any final agreement. Reasonable would be a joint body to adjudicate once the local routes for appeal have been exhausted.

    If they are going to veto any agreement that doesn’t accept ECJ why bother expending any more energy on negotiations? No deal is looking more and more likely and whatever our views on Brexit we need a government to be planning on that basis.

  • Antony Watts 19th Jul '17 - 7:57am

    But my friends the money won’t stop coming in for the EU, as we will be paying either to stay in the single market, or paying tariffs. And the tariffs will generate more income than the £8.5bn/year we now pay.

  • So either way it would appear Sheila we will be paying but with no influence. As to hypocrisy on who gets to set the rules, it’s not hypocrisy it’s just realpolitik, those with the whip hand get to set the terms. I fear however realpolitik is something brave Brexiteers struggle with. There sense of we are special is palpable and very misguided.

  • With tariffs we charge as well as pay so the only winners are the beaurocrats who administer them. With the current trade deficit it may even be better than cost neutral to us.

  • Gordon Lishman 19th Jul '17 - 12:03pm

    Sheila: “the need to delicately ask our German and Dutch friends…….”. This isn’t delicate; it’s an insulting smear which ludicrously alleges that ordinary citizens in other countries are primarily motivated by a national financial calculus and it carries the entirely indelicate implication that whole nations of individuals and parties can then be ignored because someone has found an argument of self-interest that over-rides everything other consideration. I don’t know about Sheila’s experience of those nations, but mine does not give me a basis for apostrophising German and Dutch people as hysterical and feverish! Rather to the contrary. Nor do those adjectives seem to apply to Bernard’s piece.
    One characteristic of modern internet-based debate is well-illustrated here. That is that an argument of “interest”, financial or other, automatically trumps any consideration of the content of an argument. It’s deeply corrosive of intelligent debate, rarely substantiated and wholly pernicious.

  • Gordon Lishman

    If debate is not allowed to be forensic, then it’s nothing more than idle chat. I prefer forensic, and make no apology for it.
    Let’s remember, it was only forensic pursuit of Tim Ferron’s real motivation for avoiding straight answers on gay sexuality which brought what we all pretty much knew to be the truth in the end. He finally admitted to having deep conflicts between his politics and his faith.
    In fact Gordon, have you not done exactly what you accuse me of doing? You have made an ‘insulting smear’ that my motivation is to apostrophising [All ] German and Dutch people as [All] being hysterical and feverish. Did I actually insult two whole nations?
    A simple re-read of my comment would show that I limited my forensics to the possible alternate motivation of just TWO article writers on LDV.
    Maybe it’s just me, but when I read a piece, I ask myself, ‘What is NOT being said?’, because I find that human nature tends to hide a lot of it’s real meaning in the silent gaps between the words.

  • Bernard Aris 19th Jul '17 - 2:15pm

    @ Gordon Lisham
    Thanks for defending the Dutch and Germans, but after opposing Geert Wilders for 15 years, we at D66 are more than used to insinuating, conspiracy-theory and other unreasonable accusations.
    The only time Dutch go bananas, get hysterical, is when the Dutch (men’s) footbal team wins a championship, or when a Dutchman wins the Tour the France (daily live reports on Dutch public broadcassting; like Wimbledon with you). I am waiting with bated breath what will happen when the Dutch womes football team wins the European Championship, coincidentally being played out in the Netherlands.
    Both British cricket and Dutch football show the same pattern: the womens national teams do a whole lot better than the men’s teams.
    If I was as prejudiced (and thought not in individuals, but only in big groups: “The Dutch without exception are hysterics”), I would conclude that that pattern is a miracle, because all women without exception are hysterical virago’s, unable to keep their cool on the playing fields.

    But luckily I’m a Social Liberal (OK, another collective), so I look primarily at individuals.

    If you look at an earlier LDV posting, enumerating the British problems already caused by the approach of brexit ( ), and if I were British, I should be enormously grateful if German and Dutch Anglophiles and fellow-Social Liberals warned against going on with the Brexit harakiri (suicide purely for a sense of honor).

  • Their MPs from the Assemblee and even national party leaders like Marine Le Pen sit in the European Parliament as well

    We have a term for that… ‘double jobbing’. It is frowned upon.

  • Bernard Aris 19th Jul '17 - 3:07pm

    @ Gordon Lishman
    Sorry for misspelling your name.

    @ David Raw
    I completely agree that the broken promises in the Brexit debate (or in any political debate, come to think of it) are not on one side only. If you’re implicitly referring to the Tuition fee LibDem debacle: Ok, broken promise, scandalous and all that; but not one the LibDems put in two foot high letters on all their battle buses.
    Just as the color of that battle bus (red als the flag in the Labour anthem; not a color you usually associate with the politics of a Frarage, a Gove, a Johnson), it was a blatant piece of false advertising.
    If you look at the negative results the negotiating about Brexit (Mr. Barnier had his issue files ready; Brexiteer minister Davis and his top team did not have a scrap of paper on their side of the table) already are having on British society and macro-econimics, enumerated in the above mentioned LDV posting, , the accusations that many of the Brexiteers promises were patently false surely holds.

  • Ok, broken promise, scandalous and all that; but not one the LibDems put in two foot high letters on all their battle buses

    One they were all photographed holding up in big letters with their personal signatures on, though.

    So, you know. Six of one.

  • Bernard, the point that broken promises are not unique to Brexiteers can be applied to unionists.

    Unionists, including your Liberal Democrat friends told us before the referendum in 2014 that the way to guarantee Scotland’s place in the EU was to vote no to independence. We have since seen that they deceived voters and the real threat to Scotland’s place in the EU came from remaining in the UK.

    Brexit is dragging Scotland out of the EU against its will. How can it be right that Wallonia can effectively veto Brexit but Scotland’s views are completely ignored?

    It is only, as Guy Verhofstadt put it, the Dual Kingdom of England and Wales that wants Brexit. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. Yet your friends in the UK Liberal Democrats continue to campaign to deny the Scottish people a say in their future. Despite its title, in relation to Scotland at least, you are supporting an illiberal and undemocratic party.

  • Al
    It was not a parliamentary vote. It was not based on seats. It was a one person one vote head count. Nowhere voted for anything. The only reason reasons votes were counted using the boundaries of parliamentary seats was because this was the easiest way of counting millions of individual votes. A majority of British people voted to leave the EU. The irony is, that more commonly than not, a lot of people who argue for PR, because votes in safe seats can count for nothing, use the boundaries designed for the FPTP system to argue that this seat or that seat voted Remain.
    Also I note that SNP vote went down, not up and that Scottish independence actually now looks less rather than more likely.

  • Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU

    Overwhelmingly? Are you sure? 62% to 38% could definitely be described as ‘decisively’, but it’s hardly ‘overwhelmingly’.

    I also note that in the Scottish independence referendum, Edinburgh voted to remain in the UK by, coincidentally, 62% to 38%. Presumably that means that if there is a second Scottish referendum (seems unlikely in the near future, but hypothetically) and the result in Edinburgh were to be unchanged but the overall result were to be pro-independence, you would be campaigning to ensure that Edinburgh was not ‘dragged out of the UK against its will’?

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