Indicative Votes – An alternative to the Meaningful Vote, Three

There is an old saying that goes “You couldn’t make it up” the drama of the last few weeks in parliament where Theresa May has been trying to get her deal passed has, in my opinion, been scandalous. May in her first attempt suffered the largest defeat in parliamentary history, followed by a second attempt when she faced the fourth largest defeat in history. Theresa May has not changed any of her red lines and then went on national television to blame MPs (how to win friends and influence people, Theresa May style). The only reason some of the MPs seemed to have changed their votes for the deal, I suspect, has been because of a possibility of a  general election and the consequence of leaving with a no deal before the local elections.

Parliament with the help of the Tory Oliver Letwin is looking to take control of the process through a series of votes on alternatives that will happen later today. Interestingly, instead of using the division the votes will be cast on paper. The ERG is now considering voting for May’s deal in lieu of a no deal exit, and even the DUP are thinking about it but want a longer extension for future negotiations (which will mean having Euro elections).

What are the alternatives for the indicative votes for the MPs to consider (as identified by Sky News):

  • The first one is No Deal. Some Tories would happily go out with no deal. However, most feel that it be severe for the economy and there would be instant price rises that will make the Tories very unpopular. This could happen on 12th April;
  • Another option is to leave with a Free Trade Agreement. This is a standard free trade agreement that is tariff-free trade between the UK and the EU. This would leave the backstop arrangement in place;
  • The PMs deal which has been rejected twice. If accepted, then we would leave the EU on 22nd May. The UK will be able to start trade negotiations with other countries outside of the EU but will have to accept the NI backstop;
  • Have the PM’s deal plus customs union. This option allows free movement of goods, but it won’t let the UK negotiate its own free trade agreements (this is a big No No for the Tories). This option will resolve the backstop issue;
  • PM’s deal, plus customs union and membership of the European Economic Area. Again, this solves the backstop issue, allows free movement of goods, services and people. This is still unacceptable to many of the leavers;
  • Peoples Vote. This is an option to give the people another vote on the deal agreed by May or leave with no deal or not to leave the EU (as we now know a lot more about what the issues are). We would have to ask the EU for more time to hold a referendum;
  • Revoke article 50. This allows us to cancel Brexit and we won’t need the permission of the EU 27 to do that.

The government has already said that they cannot commit to honouring the outcomes of these indicative votes. However, whatever happens, tomorrow it will, I believe, only cause further confusion and a power struggle between parliament and the government. I hope that we don’t fall between the gap and end up with a no deal and exit the EU.

 

* Tahir Maher is a member of the LDV editorial team and the Chair of the English Party

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45 Comments

  • Thought for the day
    “The Labour Party is not a remain party”
    Barry Gardiner.

    Perhaps our posters who have been cheepping, “Your too hard on Labour” might wish to avoid looking in a mirror today, I doubt they’d appreciate the imagine looking back at them. Still cheer up we can all be played for fools and we all often are. Could be worse you could have actually joined and voted for them, the howls of anguish are a wonder to behold. I would recommend looking at the Labour party Twitter feed, I really feel for the person running that, they must be well roasted by now.

  • William Fowler 27th Mar '19 - 8:11am

    Boris on TV reckons we can still go for no-deal, only way to do that is to have no deal versus remain second referendum. That would have remainer Tories happy and brexiteers full of hope, perhaps – though they will have to get over their child-like repeated demand that we leave on Friday despite being told that under international law that date has already been changed. Parliament does not want no-deal but neither does it want May’s deal so may as well go all out or all in, so to speak. No-deal could be made less cliff-like by having a 21 month extension so that if it wins after six months for the referendum then have 15 months before we actually leave to get ready. My guess remain would win 65/35 and the Left would be happy as it would destroy Boris’s career if he led the no-deal side. Whilst parliament is in control they could also let 16-17 year-old votes. So that is my hope, a second ref will be the only one with a majority and it can be made acceptable to the Brexiteers as above.

  • frankie 27th Mar ’19 – 8:05am
    Thought for the day
    “The Labour Party is not a remain party”
    Barry Gardiner.
    Perhaps our posters who have been cheepping, “Your too hard on Labour” might wish to avoid looking in a mirror today, I doubt they’d appreciate the imagine looking back at them.

    Expose’….The Pope is Catholic!

    Barry Gardiner has always believed that the EU referendum result means Britain must leave the European single market and customs union.He has said so on numerous occasions. In January he said Labour could campaign on a promise to negotiate a better Brexit deal than that secured by Theresa May, and said he personally believed that any such deal could then be put to the public.

    Peter Kyle says Jeremy Corbyn WILL order Labour MPs to back his and Phil Wilson’s motion pledging that any Brexit deal passed by the Commons must be put to the public in a confirmatory referendum.

  • I think the only outcome that doesn’t lead to another referendum (or a GE fought as one) is firstly for May’s Withdrawal Agreement to top the charts in the indicative votes (and this must be a distinct possibility if the ERG cave in). Secondly, the WA is then voted on again next week and passes this time (again, a possibility with ERG support and enough Labour rebels).

    If the WA does well against a fragmented field in the indicatives votes, but then gets voted down again next week, then surely the only way out of the impasse is another referendum?

    If some form of soft Brexit involving a customs union and/or single market membership wins the process, then it will look too much like Corbyn’s plan for May and the Tories to countenance implementing it, so we will have a long delay for a Tory leadership contest and a General Election. And then a hung Parliament completely unable to get anything done, resulting in another referendum…..

  • Hope springs eternal Expats, is not Mr Gardiner the Shadow Trade Minister, is he not known as “Jeremey Corbyns attack Dog”? Just asking for a friend.

  • It is quite obvious that a lot of MPs are intent on wrecking this process and producing an afternoon of chaos. There is a stack of procedural wrangling that has been tabled as well as many non-options full of unicorns and pointless posturing.

    The Speaker’s job is going to be almost impossible, and our politicians could easily look even worse in the public’s eye by the end of the day.

  • Peter Martin 27th Mar '19 - 8:52am

    Instead of all this navel gazing, why doesn’t LDV, just occasionally, take a look at what is happening over on the other side of the channel? It could even help us decide what to do ourselves. You never know!

    Larry Elliott in the Guardian makes the point that

    “Much less attention…….has been paid to what is happening in the rest of the European Union, where the recent news has been poor.”

    For LDV we could read “zero attention”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/24/the-europe-union-has-bigger-problems-to-deal-with-than-brexit

  • Peter Martin 27th Mar '19 - 9:08am

    “The Labour Party is not a remain party”

    Or is it? There isn’t a simple answer:

    The leadership in Westminster is more inclined to Leave.
    The PLP, as a whole, is heavily inclined to Remain.
    The wider political party membership is less heavily inclined to Remain.
    Labour voters are just about more inclined to Remain than Leave. But there are important regional variations. In places the Labour vote is strongly pro-Leave.

  • Chris Bertram 27th Mar '19 - 9:10am

    @frankie: ‘Thought for the day
    “The Labour Party is not a remain party now”
    Barry Gardiner.’

    Start writing the leaflets from that today, folks.

  • John Bicknell 27th Mar '19 - 9:11am

    Nick – I don’t think the WA will be one of the options in the indicative votes to be tabled today. It is likely to be brought back to the Commons later, and I have a sneaking feeling that it will get through, particularly if Theresa May confirms a date for her departure at 5pm today.

  • Denis Loretto 27th Mar '19 - 9:19am

    I gather from the brief interview with Vince Cable this morning that the Lib Dems are going to vote only for people’s vote and revoking Article 50 today. In a multi choice situation where you can vote for any number of the alternatives selected by the Speaker this is downright dangerous. Surely in the event that our “remainer” preferences fail to get widespread support we must regard some of the other preferences as better than others? There is a real danger that “no deal” will emerge as the biggest single vote.

  • frankie 27th Mar ’19 – 8:42am…………..Hope springs eternal Expats, is not Mr Gardiner the Shadow Trade Minister, is he not known as “Jeremey Corbyns attack Dog”? Just asking for a friend…………

    Cherry picking quotes from the wide range of views in a party of about 230 MPs, and around 25 Shadow ministers (of which Gardiner is about 10th in the ‘pecking order), seems more like ‘point scoring’ than serious analysis.

    Still, if it makes your friend happy, go for it.

  • Daniel Walker 27th Mar '19 - 9:53am
  • John Marriott 27th Mar '19 - 9:54am

    Here we go again. Another article about Brexit and the usual suspects start posting comments. On one extreme we have ‘frankie’s’ attempts at sarcasm mascerading as humour and on the other extreme Peter Martin, who would seem to share a certain former MEP’s view that the EU is the reincarnation of the Anti Christ. All we appear to be missing at the moment is for ‘glenn’ to join the fray.

    Seriously though, just how many more arguments can you wring out of Brexit without beginning to repeat yourself? And, by the way, Mr Loretto, what you are describing is basically how PR works, isn’t it? As someone, who quite likes the idea of preferential voting, maybe you don’t always get what you want; but, as the song goes, sometimes you get what you need.

  • @Peter Martin

    Thanks for highlighting the Guardian article and if LDV is not paying enough attention to the continent then it is reliant on the articles that get written for it so write an article! Or make comments!!!!

    I have to say that the Guardian article mainly on the Eurozone is not convincing with no facts or statistics. It may be that the Eurozone doesn’t work but in recent years GDP growth in the Eurozone has been better than in the UK
    https://tradingeconomics.com/euro-area/gdp-growth
    https://tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/gdp-growth

    So if the Eurozone isn’t working then we certainly aren’t!

    The Eurozone though is an irrelevance. We are never going to join and only one of the other 7 countries meets the criteria to join!

    The other issue raised in the Guardian article is that Europe have been poor at modern technology but with no statistics to back it up. Clearly the biggest players – Google and Facebook have been American and it is interestingly why that is. I would suggest two factors may be a large single market and immigration – they have often been founded by second generation immigrants. But there are hundreds of big UK and European tech players. And Europe — the UK and Germany in particular – are strong in pharmaceutical R&D – a key high tech sector.

    The “gravity” model of trading is often cited. The sun exerts a powerful force on the Earth – more than other bigger stars because it is closer. Europe is big – over a fifth of the world economy and very close!

    It will exert a big force on the UK whether we are in or out of the EU. I just think it is better to be in as we are already seeing good jobs in key sectors – car manufacturing and financial services being shipped abroad because of Brexit.

  • John Marriott 27th Mar ’19 – 9:54am….It seems that this party has only one song on it’s hymn sheet; Brexit.

    I note that on the Guardian’s, ‘Outrageous’ and ‘disgusting’: segregated playground sparks fury” there are quotes and condemnation from Labour and Tories but anything from this party is conspicuous by it’s absence.
    Has the leadership or even any LibDem MP spoken out?

  • Daniel Walker 27th Mar '19 - 10:09am

    @expats “Has the leadership or even any LibDem MP spoken out?”

    Yes, the deputy leader, in fact

  • Peter Martin 27th Mar '19 - 10:28am

    @ Michael1,

    “…. if the Eurozone isn’t working then we certainly aren’t! The Eurozone though is an irrelevance. We are never going to join …..”

    The fall-out from the EZ doesn’t stop at EU borders. So even if we never do join, and even if we leave the EU, it is still important to us. It consists of a mixture of mercantilistic and depressed economies so is a poor export market. We are always going to have a large deficit with them which creates a debt problem.

    If the EZ was functioning well they’d be no Brexit. Yes there would be free movement but that wouldn’t be problem without UK austerity. The austerity caused by our debt problem. There would be a less asymmetric pattern of migration too if there were more opportunities for UK young people in the EU.

    I have written a few articles for LDV but the last couple I sent in were knocked back. Unsurprisingly, I have to say. I know I’m not in tune with the LDV editorial line.

    @ Daniel Walker,

    I’ve seen these figures too. I’m sceptical. It is hard to find working class supporters for the EU around where I live in the North for example. Some may have voted Remain on balance but they are far from enthusiastic. I know it’s easy to mock the Remain marchers as the “Waitrose Set” but there is some truth in that.

  • Looks tro me as if the PM’s deal will go though, only obstacle will by whether the Speaker allows it. If not presume the MPs will introduce a motion to by pass him. The best we can hope for is a Final Say Referendum as part of an almighty compromise. Perhaps we should go for that to get it over the line.
    Then perhaps we can move on to more important social issues. Homelessness, street begging, poverty, children so affected etc etc etc
    I will now put my tin helmet, and ghet down behind the barricade!

  • Daniel Walker 27th Mar '19 - 10:47am

    @Peter Martin “I’ve seen these figures too. I’m sceptical. It is hard to find working class supporters for the EU around where I live in the North for example

    a) Your part of the North is not necessarily representative of the whole region;
    b) I commend a healthy scepticism but you need to indicate where you believe the methodology is wrong;
    c) You didn’t say “working class”, you said “Labour voters”.

  • @ Peter Martin. Peter, you say,
    the EZ …. consists of a mixture of mercantilistic and depressed economies so is a poor export market. We are always going to have a large deficit with them which creates a debt problem.

    it creates a current account déficit.

    We have trade surpluses with some of these countries and trade deficits with others, notably Netherlands and Germany.

    Neither Germany, nor Netherlands, nor Spain, nor several others correspond to your description of “mercantilist, depressed economies.”

    Nor is it set in stone that we will always have a “large” overall trade déficit with the EZ. Spain is a good example of a country that has gone from having a marked current account defcit with other EU countries to having a modest surplus.

    You also say, “There would be a less asymmetric pattern of migration too if there were more opportunities for UK young people in the EU.”

    There is a cultural factor at play : there is a defeatist attitude to language learning in the UK which seriously reduces the possiblities for British youngsters to work abroad.

    Have a good day

  • nigel hunter 27th Mar '19 - 10:58am

    The ‘playing in the park’ is outrageous.It is segregation in society.us and them. Planning contracts should have written into them ONE play area FOR ALL CHILDREN TO SHARE. I have been listening to the Victoria Derbyshire programme that has been discussing this item. This problem must be stamped on NOW to stop it spreading.

  • PS As you may remember, I agree with your comments re ignorance in the UK about the EU and individual EU countries.

    It’s exactly the same here in Spain re the UK. Brexit has attracted some attention in the media, normally accompanied by clips of various well-known MPs – Boris, Moggy, May, Jezza, – all inevtiably looking semi-deranged.

    On a personal level, i am constantly teased along the lines of, “You are buggered now, old son. Your country has abandoned you.”

  • Peter,
    The article in the Guardian is from Larry “Lexit” Elliot, another brave Lexiteer shouting “Look a squirrel”, rather than “Look what a mess my Lexit dream is”. It is a mess, own it, it isn’t anyone elses fault tis yours and those that voted to open Pandora’s box. I get you don’t like the outcome, but hey you voted for it and as Brexis and Lexis are fond of saying ” We won” enjoy the victory.

  • @Peter Martin

    Thanks for your further comment. It is a fair point that the UK MIGHT be depressed because of Eurozone not working. Of course, equally, the Eurozone MIGHT be depressed because of non-Eurozone countries not working! In general in recent years EZ growth appears to be higher than the UK.

    I would have been more impressed with the Guardian article if it marshalled even a solitary fact or statistic in support of its arguments.

    But the Eurozone is a complete red herring. They are probably not going to disband it and if they are it is a question for them and we can only get them to do so by moving en masse to Germany and organising a referendum to get them to leave! And we are NEVER going to join.

    Whether or not the EU and Eurozone are terribly run economies – they represent over 40% of our exports and an awful lot of jobs. Ironically the single market was very much a British initiative to open up the EU to areas where we were strong such as financial services. It seems short-sighted to be leaving it. It may be that we run a (small) deficit with the EU but actually the best strategy in a modern economy is to do those things that you do well and let other countries to do those things they do well even if it means a deficit. And I suspect that the deficit may increase if we are shut out and good jobs are shipped abroad.

    Let me say I accept but disagree with your view that trade completely WTO rules is better and we can have that argument again but it is a tad repetitive.

    I am sorry if your articles have been turned down by LDV. If I can be so bold you probably have made up with it by number of comments – (some at least) are useful giving different viewpoints which are always very useful to help thinking about things – indeed the only way one does ever think about things.

  • Denis is right – the LibDems should be backing all of the options that are more acceptable than May’s deal and the hard Brexit choices.

    They need to think how this will be reported and influence future events.

    Firstly, the process needs to work – there is a clear risk of chaos with so many Tories out to wreck the whole thing.

    Second, it would be better if the Commons can get last rejecting everything and start to demonstrate that alternatives other than May’s deal might get through.

    If everyone just votes for their one favourite option instead of all of those they’d find acceptable, no progress is going to be made.

  • @Martin – being in the customs union will mean frictionless trade – therefore the borders are open. Hence the backstop is not an issue (or at least that is my understanding of it)

  • Richard Underhill 27th Mar '19 - 12:07pm

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Win_Friends_and_Influence_People
    I have a copy of this book and have read it. It provides solutions to difficult problems.
    I am watching BBC2 Politics Live and PMQ. MPs, today of all days, should remember that this PM has been found in contempt of Parliament, so they should INSTRUCT the PM to do what Parliament decides.

  • aniel Walker 27th Mar ’19 – 10:09am
    @expats “Has the leadership or even any LibDem MP spoken out?”….Yes, the deputy leader, in fact……..

    Ah, twitter. A piece for the ‘faithful’….Where, in the main media, is there anything?

  • Peter Martin 27th Mar '19 - 2:01pm

    @ Chris Moore, @Michael1

    I probably should have said mercantilist OR depressed economies. I do accept that it is possible for any one particular country to solve its own eurozone problems by deliberately running a trade surplus. In other words it’s mercantilistic . But by its nature, by definition, it’s not a good export customer.

    If a country can’t do that, and of course not everyone can due to the laws of arithmetic, then it ends up being depressed in the eurozone as its euros leak away to the mercantilists. Again it’s not a good customer. It doesn’t have money.

    What matters for the UK is the trade balance as a whole. Not any one particular country. It’s been in overall deficit for far too long.

  • @Peter Martin

    You use mercantilist as derogatory and to denigrate Germany etc. which is fair enough.

    If they are then it is better to be inside the tariff barriers of the EU trading with them than outside.

    I appreciate that you say that the UK should trade with the whole world with no tariffs at all. The disadvantage is that the EU will maintain its tariffs on our goods. And perhaps more importantly they will be checks, friction, delays and non tariff barriers. As I say the single market has been a major boon to the UK economy.

    The business minister who resigned said he had seen a part in the mini production line that had crossed the channel five times.

    Another MP highlighted how a single parent in their constituency had a good comparatively well paid job in car manufacturing that she could fit their childcare responsibilities with. Already and understandably financial services companies are setting up office and shipping some jobs in the EU and we have seen many car manufacturing jobs leaving the UK. These trends will accelerate after Brexit if it happens.

    Trading even if you run a deficit can improve people’s “utility” and how well off they are. An example is if I want to have a fruit salad and am happier and better off than just eating one fruit then it is worth my while trading some of my strawberries for another country’s bananas which are difficult to grow in this country. And it may lead to a trade deficit which I appreciate has by definition to be financed. But it doesn’t make me worse off.

    Probably by your definition the UK is a depressed and mercantilist in itself. In that the “depressed” rest of the UK probably runs a deficit with a mercantilist London and the South East. I am doubtful that the North and the Midlands (or even Scotland) declaring UDI and leaving the UK single market would make them better off.

  • The speaker has selected the following propositions with the estimates from the @ElectionMapsUK twitter account below in brackets – they have proved quite accurate in the past on Brexit votes but I would think there is more guesswork involved than before.

    B – No deal
    (ElectionMapsUK twitter account estimates Yes – 91, No — 547)
    D – Common Market 2.0
    (Single Market and Customs Union, ElectionMapsUK estimate – Yes 321, No – 317)
    J – Customs Union
    (Yes – 278, No – 360)
    K – Labour’s Alternative Plan
    (No estimate)
    L – Revocation to avoid no deal
    (Yes – 66, No – 572)
    M – Confirmatory Public Vote
    (2nd Referendum: Yes – 297, No – 341)
    O – Contingent preferential arrangements
    (No estimate)

    Remember there doesn’t have to be a majority in favour (more yeses than noes) for them to go on to round 2 on Monday – just the best performing propositions.

    The intriguing aspect will be how many votes the softer Brexit propositions and second referendum will get – especially from “loyal” Tories who are closet remainers and haven’t had the opportunity to express their views (without being disloyal) until today. Against which, these Tories may not want for the party to lose votes to UKIP and among Leavers.

    Even more intriguingly the BBC is reporting that there might be a statement from the DUP soon and cabinet ministers are saying the Tories may bring back MV3 Thursday or Friday and ERGers are increasingly saying they will back May’s Deal.

    It does look as if May’s deal is getting close to passing even if the Speaker has said that MV3 might be difficult but ultimately I think they will meet the Speaker’s test on being different.

  • Ethicsgradient 27th Mar '19 - 4:55pm

    Hi,

    with all the chaos going on I thought I’d give an update from my view point (a leaver). My preference is still leave no-deal, then a series of bilateral deals(to keep the most vital thing s running) while we sort out a comprehensive free-trade agreement over 2 years or so with the EU.

    However it seems this will not be happening. So my 2nd preference would be to remain in customs union as it for now while leaving the political structures of the EU. I appreciate we would lose our voice in the EU, but the UK will never except full integration the EU requires to become a functional federated country (the Euro, schengen area etc).

    For myself this would be better than May’s deal because we would at some point in the future still have the chance to either fully leave or fully integrate. May deal (binding treaty) remains the worst of all choices. I would compromise my position and move to something around the current customs union.

  • Denis Loretto 27th Mar '19 - 5:01pm

    Listening to the debate I am struck by the completely different atmosphere in the House- much more constructive and deliberative than usual. Importantly this is not PR. It is a list of motions, only a few of which will survive to the next stage. I am convinced that it is essential for our representatives to vote for all of the least worst options in order to stop the worst options from getting to the next stage.

  • For completeness I missed out that
    H — Remain in EEA and Rejoin EFTA

    has also been selected.

    I think that @Ethicsgradient makes a fair point – there are leavers and probably more than the 4% majority that want a softer Brexit – and presumably if it was a choice then virtually all remainers would prefer a softer Brexit to a harder Brexit.

    It is worth pointing out that a closer EU is much further off than some people make out. It will be at least 20 years in my view before any of the non-Eurozone countries join if then – and us effectively never. The UK joining the Euro or Schengen would require a referendum in the UK – as would anything of significance as it requires a treaty change. And winning any referendum in the UK for a treaty change would be .. um… very difficult which is something good that has come out of the referendum.

    Indeed if you don’t want a closer EU it might make sense for the UK to remain to maintain its veto.

  • Ethicsgradient 27th Mar '19 - 5:33pm

    Yes, I would accept moving to EEA/EFTA as a holding position while this country takes a few years out to decide if the country would go fully independent (my preference as I am a free-marketer and libertarian – hence my problems with what I consider the unnecessary EU politician insinuations for what should be a free-trade agreement, the original common market. They only exist to be able to form a federated country called Europe- which some might like) or wishes to fully integrate into the EU.

    I still want to be fully out, and be a fully dynamic liberated economy. Yes Singapore/Hong Kong style. And what would be wrong with that, they are some of the richest and highest performing economic areas in the world. The EU is essentially protectionist, which I am against on principle as it harms economies in the longer term. Italy still hasn’t effectively grown in 20 years.

  • I think it does look as if May will now get her deal through or it will get close as ERGers are backing it and even more now she has told the 1922 Committee she will stand down as soon as the deal goes through – giving the chance for a Brexiteer to be PM.

    Some 20 ERGers may hold out and they MIGHT just abstain. They will be balanced by about 20 Labour MPs voting for the deal. Obviously it depends on what the DUP do but their leverage is diminishing and they MIGHT plump for something else – they MIGHT need something face-saving to justify the climb down.

    Oddly we MIGHT at the same time in tonight’s indicative votes see a majority for a softer Brexit and possibly a second referendum – although I think Tory Remainer MPs who in their heart of hearts want a referendum may largely stay “loyal” and not vote for a referendum.

  • Peter Martin 27th Mar '19 - 6:09pm

    @ Michael 1,

    “You use mercantilist as derogatory and to denigrate Germany etc. which is fair enough.”

    It’s probably not complimentary. But there’s two ways to look at always wanting to swap more goods and services for fewer goods and services and take the IOUs of others in return. One is to say that it makes no real sense for anyone to do that, and it makes no real sense for us to worry about accumulating debt if we know they’ll never want to spend it. The other is to say it creates an imbalance in world trade.

    If they are then it is better to be inside the tariff barriers of the EU trading with them than outside.

    It probably won’t make that much difference. Tariff barriers restrict international trade. In the limit they are high enough they can reduce it to zero. So, logically there can be no surpluses or deficits. But, in reality, they will reduce it by a finite amount. Say they only reduce it by 10%. In that case, the surpluses and deficits will fall by the same amount too.

    The only real way to consistently run a trade surplus is to manipulate your currency level downwards.

    I appreciate that you say that the UK should trade with the whole world with no tariffs at all.

    I didn’t say that. Our agricultural sector probably needs some protection.

  • Bless ethics you don’t get your fantasy Brexit, you get the Brexit you are given, how many times do you have to be told that. You don’t get to pick, you get what you are given.

  • Peter Martin 27th Mar '19 - 8:00pm

    @Michael1

    “It will be at least 20 years in my view before any of the non-Eurozone countries join if then – and us effectively never.”

    It won’t wait that long. I do think Martin Schulz was quite right to use the word ‘must’.

    “The EU must become a United States of Europe by 2025, says Angela Merkel’s planned coalition partner Martin Schulz. Social democrat leader says countries that do not adopt new treaty should be kicked out of EU”

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-brexit-united-states-of-europe-martin-schulz-angela-merkel-coalition-spd-cdu-german-elections-a8097356.html

    And we all know what the New Treaty will include. That is the course the EU has set for itself. It’s U.S.E. or bust. Martin Schulz knows that. Even if it’s probably not going to happen quite in his timescale.

    My guess is bust. I don’t want to be a part of the United States of Europe and neither do I want to be a part of the EU if it goes bust!

  • Peter Martin 27th Mar '19 - 8:23pm

    @ Michael1,

    “Mercantilism is a national economic policy that is designed to maximize the exports of a nation My emphasis.

    That’s the first line of the Wiki entry on the topic. It possibly made some sense when gold was used to settle trading accounts. Any nation that built up a large reserve of gold was well placed to survive if military conflict broke out. It could use the gold to finance imports especially of war materials. But now there’s no gold, just the IOUs of the deficit countries there seems little point. Maybe Arnold Kiel could clarify why Germany is so keen to swap more for less and make up the difference with IOUs?

    However, a region – like the SE of England can’t be mercantilistic. Yes it’s the wealthiest region in the UK. In any common currency zone there will always be such a region. The function of the Government is to counteract the natural tendency of currency units to gravitate together and spend it in the opposite direction. So in England money raised in the SE will be spent in Wales and Northern Ireland. And so it should, because we are all part of the same country.

    That’s a lesson Germany needs to learn re the euro but probably won’t.

  • @Peter Martin

    Thanks for your further comments and I apologise for the delay in replying.

    The only accurate thing in your comment on the Eurozone IMHO is that it seems the leader of SPD did say that.

    There is no mechanism for kicking out a member of the EU. The UK would have a veto on treaty changes and treaty changes now have to put to a referendum under a law introduced during the coalition. So ever closer union against the wishes of the British people is impossible if it remains in.

    Of the non-EZ countries only one meets the criteria to join the EZ – Denmark and they have an opt-out.

    On mercantilism I was picking up on your use of it and probably should have put it in quotes to indict that I wasn’t applying it of course totally accurately. And no country even operates in the way of mercantilist states of previous eras. And trade was then seen more as a zero sum game and less so now.

    If Germany is being in your view “mercantilist” through manipulating currencies then the best thing would be to be in a common currency with it!

    I was pointing out that there is some debate as to whether (especially in your terms) London and the South East should be in currency union with the North and Midlands. Many here have lambasted London and the South taking all the investment in railways etc. and the UK not having a strong enough regional policy. The EU also has a regional policy and Germany is I believe a net contributor to the EU budget.

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