Our final PEB: What happens if we get a bad Brexit deal?

Here’s a clip from our final Party Election Broadcast of the campaign which is airing today:

It’s certainly well made and captures the sense of horror that we may feel in two years’ time if the Brexiteers don’t deliver on their assertions.

If there’s nothing we can do about it, how are we going to feel.

Launching the broadcast, Ed Davey said:

The look on peoples’ faces as the news sinks in says it all. We want to bring home to people how incredibly irresponsible Theresa May is being, and how she is risking peoples’ jobs and livelihoods. This is what will happen if she is allowed to stitch up a deal and deny the people a say on the final deal.

She is pursuing Nigel Farage’s cold, mean-spirited, extreme Brexit agenda which will leave our schools and hospitals facing savage cuts. Nigel Farage told you everything you need to know about Theresa May when he tweeted: ‘Theresa May is using the exact words and phrases I’ve been using for 20 years.’

This is a powerful, well-made film that will make a major splash in the campaign, reminding people that only the Liberal Democrats are offering the people a say on the final deal.

What do you think?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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39 Comments

  • So let me get this straight… Liberal Democrats want to Remain. They are campaigning for a referendum so that a bad deal can be rejected and we can choose to Remain instead.

    Therefore… the Liberal Democrats want Theresa May to get a bad deal?

    Because if she did manage to get a good deal, then there’s a chance people might vote to accept it, and leave, and the Liberal Democrats want it to be rejected, so they can remain.

    Have I got that right? The Lib Dems want a bad deal?

  • Well, I mean, even if you think that any possible deal is bad, this makes it look like you want May to fail.

    Even if you think that failure is inevitable, it’s possible to look like you think that’s a bad thing, that you would prefer Britain to succeed and you regret that you don’t think that’s possible.

    But this makes it look like you’re crowing about it; just waiting for the inevitable (you think) failure because it will allow you to say, ‘See? We were right all along! You should never have voted to leave! Now you can have a second chance to vote right this time!’

    It comes over a tad… smug? Maybe a little… unpatriotic?

    Not a great look in an election campaign.

  • Peter Martin 2nd Jun '17 - 10:36am

    As I understand the workings of the Lisbon Treaty, Article 50 is designed to avoid countries handing in their resignation, entering into negotiations with the EU and then deciding they might want to stay in after all. May they could manage to squeeze some concessions or life outside the EU might be less appealing than it might have appeared originally.

    That’s why it’s called a trigger. Once a trigger is pulled it can’t be unpulled.

    So we’ll just have to wait and see. My expectation is that the EU won’t negotiate as Mrs May and others might wish. We’ll be offered a take-it-or-leave-it deal which will almost certainly be rejected because it’s just too bad. We’ll then be trading on WTO terms for a time.

    That won’t be the end of it though. Once the EU has made its political point the real negotiations will be able to begin.

  • @Simon Shaw:

    It looks to me like the lib dems just want to stop Brexit at any cost. It’s like they believe staying in the EU is the right thing and that it shouldn’t even have been decided by referendum and the vote on the deal is just another chance to stop it.

    If this is the case then why did they vote with the government to put the question to the people in the first place when the government made it clear that they would implement whatever the people decided?

    I think this has made people less likely to trust the party and will cost the party seats. I do not understand why the party decided to harm its self like this?

    If I have understood correctly, why didn’t the 2015 manifesto say “we strongly believe it is best for the UK to remain a member of the EU, we will vote against any vote to settle the issue by referendum and in the event that the people or parliament try to leave the EU (either by parliamentary vote or by referendum) we will fight that decision tooth and nail as the passionately pro EU party that we are”?

  • If there is a minority Cons government led by Boris then this issue will probably not arise, he and they will find a reason to stay in the EU.

  • Surely, all both sides can really do is wave a somewhat empty threats at each other.

  • Alan Depauw 2nd Jun '17 - 10:55am

    @ Dav:
    I am sure Liberal Democrats could live with a good deal. The definition of a ‘good deal’ would be along the lines promised by Brexit leaders such as David Davis and Boris Johnson: keeping all the good bits without the constraints.

    More likely however, not least because Theresa May has repeatedly said she would accept it, is no deal.

    But whatever it turns out to be, it is surely reasonable to demand the deal be submitted to the British people for their approval.

  • The first bit of the PB didn’t really make the point all that well. The second section was very effective and attention-grabbing.

    I am all for staying in but would accept staying in the single market and the customs union as a “good deal” if we have to leave.

  • Alan Depauw 2nd Jun '17 - 11:30am

    @ Peter Martin:
    The word ‘trigger’ does not appear in Article 50. The correct term is ‘notification’. The relevant sentence is “A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention.”

    There is plenty of legal advice that, during the negotiation process but not after it, Article 50 is revocable. For example, Lord Kerr, who devised it, has said “you can change your mind while the process is going on”.
    The advice sought by the House of Lords concluded “It is absolutely clear that you cannot be forced to go through with it if you do not want to: for example, if there is a change of government” and “There is nothing in Article 50 formally to prevent a member state from reversing its decision.”
    Jean-Claude Piris, former director-general of the Council of the European Union’s Legal Service, has said that “there is no legal obstacle to the UK changing its mind.”
    Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council, has expressed a similar view; that once exit discussions are over Britain can “assess the outcome of the negotiations and determine if Brexit is really in their interest.”

    It is not surprising that the government has ignored such advice and is asserting the Article is irrevocable. But the least that can be said is that their stance is questionable and Lib Dems have plenty of evidence to question it.

  • Seen the latest Ipsos Mori poll, Cons 45, (down 4), Lab 40 (Up 6). Will Labour be in the lead in a weekend poll. Everything may be up for grabs a week today.

  • Peter Martin 2nd Jun '17 - 12:28pm

    @Alan,

    I’m sure Art 50 will be taken to mean whatever the PTB in the EU want it to mean in two years time. I did read through the wording some time ago and it all seemed pretty vague. So you could well be right.

    IF the talks do take place under a different Government then I’d hope that they could be about at least the possibility of us staying in. We’d need to say what kind of EU we would want to remain part of. As President Macron of France argues: at the heart of the current problem is German , and to a lesser extent Dutch, mercantilism which means running a large trade surplus just for the sake of it. When gold was involved in international trade it perhaps might have made some sense. Mercantilist countries could stockpile large quantities of gold. Now they just stockpile other countries’ IOUs. Mainly US Treasury bonds or UK Gilts.

    If a country stockpiles UK Gilts, it follows that our Government has to assume that debt. The total debt is just the sum of all previous deficits. So it doesn’t make any sense to say, as I understand Lib Dem economic policy to be, that it doesn’t much matter if the UK has a high trade deficit but it does matter if the Budget deficit gets too high. So the EU is at least partially responsible for our current debt problems too.

    The BIG problem with the EU at present is that there is no legal way for a deficit country to correct its trade imbalance, if it is part of the eurozone or if its currency is pegged to the euro, without throwing its economy into severe recession.

    It is possible for the UK to correct its trade by devaluing the pound, or leaving the EU to enable us to put up some tariff barriers, but those are not Lib Dem policies either.

    So something has to give somewhere! If the EU is to have any future at all the problem of trade imbalances has to be fixed and soon. Fix those trade imbalances and the economies of the EU countries will all improve. Migration to and from the UK will be less asymmetrical than it has been in recent years. The EU would become a good market from UK exports and well as the UK being a good market for EU exports. UK trade would move closer into balance. Government deficits would fall.

    IF we could negotiate all that then there would be no reason for anyone to oppose membership. But I’m not holding my breathe on that!

  • Peter Martin 2nd Jun '17 - 1:30pm

    @ Alan,

    It’s always worth taking a look at what Art 50 actually says. As you rightly point out the word “trigger” isn’t used. It does refer to Art 49 though which is covers the procedure for (re) application. My guess is that this could be quietly overlooked but only if the EU wants it to be overlooked in 2019.

    1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

    2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

    3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

    4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

    A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

    5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

  • Peter and Alan,

    When does the EU consider the date of UK withdrawal to be? When the notification is given, or two years afterwards?

  • My guess is that this could be quietly overlooked but only if the EU wants it to be overlooked in 2019

    I can’t imagine any circumstance in which the EU would not agree to let a cowed UK withdraw its notice of quitting, given that otherwise they are looking at a massive hole in the EU budget.

    Indeed all the EU’s actions since the referendum seem to be based on the assumption that the UK will eventually back down, just like Greece.

    They may be intending to try to exact a price, of course: loss or reduction of the rebate, say. It depends how confident they are feeling.

    They don’t seem to realise the the UK will be leaving, deal or no deal.

  • ‘My expectation is that the EU won’t negotiate as Mrs May and others might wish. We’ll be offered a take-it-or-leave-it deal which will almost certainly be rejected because it’s just too bad. We’ll then be trading on WTO terms for a time.’

    Absolutely. The sooner people get this in their heads the sooner people will see how utterly vacuous this ‘Choose Theresa May so we get a tough negotiator’ really is.
    This game is not going to end on 8th June. If we elect another Tory government, the shock waves of what this really means will start to roll out. The releavers and many others will start to engage again. If this party does not have the courage of it’s convictions (and it’s looking a bit wobbly at the moment) it will not survive. We cannot go on trying to straddle this ‘accept the outcome of the referendum’ and ‘Want a referendum on the deal’ argument. Andrew Neil was absolutely right to pinpoint this issue in his interview with T.M. last night. It’s an argument that is veil thin. We will have to choose.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jun '17 - 2:41pm

    Caron and anyone who thinks even so we should be openly saying we want to stay in no matter what, have not grasped why Labour are doing better than any could think , and we and the Tories , the reverse! Brexit!!! The public are fed up of it !!! So am I !!! Labour are too !!! They have moved on !!!

    Got the message , Article triggered , let’s get a good deal !!

  • Peter Martin 2nd Jun '17 - 2:49pm

    @ Jeff,

    I don’t think the date for withdrawal will be considered to be March 2017. Art 50 uses the word “intention”. Neither might it be after two years. The phrase is “or, failing that, two years after ”

    So if there is a successful agreement, even a provisionally declared one, it is quite possible that the UK could retain membership for a longer period.

    The important thing is to maintain cordial relationships with the EU and use the negotiations to help fix everyone’s problems. Not just the UK’s. Part of me feels that it is expecting far too much. But all of me is of the opinion that Theresa May and Boris Johnson just aren’t the best people to obtain the best outcome in the talks.

  • Alan Depauw 2nd Jun '17 - 2:52pm

    @ Jeff:
    Peter Martin gave the answer in para 3 of his comment above:
    “The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.”
    As it is highly unlikely that an agreement is arrived at before the two years are up, the formal date of withdrawal will be 30 March 2019, unless all parties agree an extension.

    @ Peter Martin:
    I think we can agree that the process to revoke the Article before formal withdrawal would be easier than that afterwards of seeking to rejoin the EU. Of course none of this matters if Parliament refuses to allow the people a say, or of course if it does and the people accept the deal.
    In all likelihood, if the Tories win, the principle of party before country will have them accept whatever the government tells them. The opportunity for the electorate to contest the deal (however bad it may be, or indeed no deal) and to think again about leaving the single market would simply not arise. In other words, if the Tories win, there will be no going back on the road to national impoverishment.

  • @Lorenzo

    There’s no such thing as a good deal. Are we supposed to lie to the public?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jun '17 - 3:14pm

    N, Andrew , supporting the policy means we have to be open to a good deal, say what you like , if we say that is not feasible we are saying we are doom and gloom merchants, not popular as a strategy , as May on pensioners is discovering !

    I do not believe Corbyn is the right man to be pm, nor on many policies , the Labour manifesto right, yet they are offering criticism of the government and the possibility of good times ahead .

    Say that is not even at all feasible on Brexit and you are trashing hope.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jun ’17 – 3:14pm…………I do not believe Corbyn is the right man to be pm, nor on many policies , the Labour manifesto right, yet they are offering criticism of the government and the possibility of good times ahead………..

    There are two choices for PM; May or Corbyn…If you don’t want Corbyn you must want to settle for May.
    Verbatim from Tory HQ…”.”The public want to see a leader who can stare down the EU 27 at the negotiation table,……” A great starting point for any ‘deal’..

    BTW ” Labour offering criticism of the government”…It’s what they are supposed to do
    and as for “possibility of good times ahead”???? May said yesterday about ‘No deal’ that the UK would be even more prosperous than we are today…

    Corbyn said that “No Deal is a Bad Deal”…I’d suggest a claim a lot, lot closer to our position…

  • Peter Martin 2nd Jun '17 - 4:00pm

    @ Alan,

    We mainly agree. Except that I’m not sure about:

    “Of course none of this matters if Parliament refuses to allow the people a say…”

    Parliament could well allow the people to have “a say” on the outcome of the talks but then the EU could then just ignore that “say” and insist that all negotiations have to be via the UK Govt rather than directly with the people.

    That’s why we have to ensure, after these elections, that the UK Govt is neither overly hostile to the EU nor overly compliant. We want the best deal for everyone. Including the EU too. We don’t want to rule out staying in the EU if the terms are right.

  • We don’t want to rule out staying in the EU if the terms are right.

    Actually we do, because otherwise the EU will assume that if they give us a bad enough deal we will remain, and therefore that will be their aim. The only way that they will negotiate in good faith is if they know that the UK is definitely leaving.

    I don’t like the divorce analogy, but imagine saying to your spouse, ‘I want to divorce you, but if you don’t give me a good enough deal on our assets then I leave open the option of staying married to you after all.’ Of course the spouse in that case is not going to have any incentive to give a good deal, and instead will have every incentive to drag their feet and try to give no deal at all or a very bad deal.

  • @ “Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jun ’17 – 2:41pm
    Caron and anyone who thinks even so we should be openly saying we want to stay in no matter what, have not grasped why Labour are doing better than any could think , and we and the Tories , the reverse! Brexit!!! The public are fed up of it !!! So am I !!! Labour are too !!! They have moved on !!!”

    If the parties true position is stay no matter what, which I think it is, then they should be honest with the voters and say that.

    This however does lead me to question why, if the party was determined to resist any and all attempts to leave the European Union, then why did they have referendum commitments in various manifestos and why did they vote in parliament to have a referendum in the first place? Advisory or not the government were clear that they would implement the result whatever it was and the voters clearly expect the majority decision to prevail.

    I believe most voters now believe that the lib dems do want to stay no matter what and that this has damaged trust in the party. On the eve of the referendum I believed that the lib dems were prepared to unconditionally accept the referendum result as final no matter how small the majority. I now feel misled. And you want me to vote lib dem in six days time?

  • ‘Theresa May is using the exact words and phrases I’ve been using for 20 years.’
    Only whereas Farage wanted a ‘Norwegian-Style’ arrangement ie. remain in the Single Market, May seems to actually want to leave the Single Market…

    So Dav, I suggest May is currently on course to get a ‘bad’ deal, by having seemingly made up her mind to leave both the EU and the Single Market…

  • Andrew McCaig 2nd Jun '17 - 6:57pm

    If we leave the best possible deal will to be to stay in the Single Market, like Norway. May and Corbyn have both ruled this out, so they are not even trying to get the best deal, because they are both too scared of UKIP. To any Remain voter it should be abundantly clear that we will not get a deal as good as that, or as good as staying in. That is what Tim tried to make clear last night while being shouted down by Andrew Neil.
    Currently only about 35% of the British people are in favour of another referendum. However if the deal proves to be rubbish as this PPB suggests, opinion will change as it did on the Iraq war. Predicting a rubbish deal is a very different thing from wanting one, of course. I want the best for Britain but I do fear the worst…

  • @Lorenzo

    Thing is that’s basically lying to the public. What does “being open to a good deal” actually mean. I feel we’re neither honest nor do we “play politics”- the result being we are seen as dishonest and unpopular. Our handling of the whole Brexit issue has been so poor. Maybe it’s the way decisions are made but there is no joined up thinking. If it was so important we remained then why on earth did our MPs agree to ask the public?

    Nobody wants a second referendum because that will give the EU no reason to negotiate and possibly the UK government no reason either. It’s just a way of trying to have a second referendum to overturn the result. People resent being treated like idiots. Clearly what we want to do is ask the EU to let us withdraw the article 50 notice and remain.

  • Peter Martin 2nd Jun '17 - 8:39pm

    What Vince should be saying is:

    The UK Government is monetarily sovereign. It has the exclusive, monopoly authority to issue British pounds. Pounds come from nowhere else. When the UK Government spends, it is literally spending pounds into existence to ‘pay for’ programmes. So, the question of ‘enough money’ is entirely irrelevant to the UK. When it comes to government spending, it is always a question of real resources: Enough workers, enough steel, enough food, enough hospitals, enough medicines, enough cars, enough of everything but ‘money’. Pounds are merely a tax voucher that the government manufactures to purchase goods and services created by the private sector.

    Because the government taxes and declares a punishment for not paying the tax, people are then forced to obtain pounds. They do that by selling their goods and services to the UK Government and the government then manufactures pounds to pay for them. By being the sole, exclusive issuer of the Pound Sterling, the UK Government always ensures that it can purchase whatever it needs to function as government in perpetuity without fear of going ‘broke’. This is the entire point of the British pound – to provision the UK Government with goods and services.

    This is what every economist knows to be the case. When there’s a major war in progress it’s all taken as a given. But when peace breaks out tunes change. But nothing really changes in the way the economy works. It’s resources that dictate what we can and can’t afford.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jun '17 - 9:07pm

    El Sid

    I read your comments on Labourlist, I would like you to support this party if , as there you have something to contribute, moderation and sense ! We need both. You have not been misled by me , nor do I think by anyone I know , or know of. I do believe some want to say stay no matter what, they are making a travesty of our second word Democrats ! They are few , and need to wake up , smell the coffee!!

    Andrew T

    This applies to your response too, you are talking from a position of mainstream intelligent analysis.We lack it in politics and all parties , even this one !

  • Little Jackie Paper 2nd Jun '17 - 9:25pm

    Firstly, it is I think worth noting that Tim Farron appears to think an A50 notice can be reversed – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38240121

    More generally, I agree with an earlier comment. Essentially the question here is about a two-speed EU and whether that can be sustained. Or, put another way, what is a place in the ‘outer’ tier like. The only way I can see for the structural problems in the eurozone to be resolved is to have something like a single EU finance minister with a single EU treasury. That would have fiscal powers and would oversee transfers well in excess of current structural money. Probably there would need to be some sort of collective debt arrangement and, I would argue maybe even common welfare for free-movers too. Perhaps there might need to be an EZ parliament and that would subject the contributor/recipient split in the EU into real scrutiny.

    All of this, of course, would need referendums.

    At that point I’d have to ask what being in the ‘outer’ tier is worth that a Norway option wouldn’t give. Given the choice between Norway and a hard remain I can’t see where the votes for the former would come from.

  • paul barker 2nd Jun '17 - 10:27pm

    Most voters have almost no interest in Politics & find it boring or actually distasteful. British Politics has been dominated by Brexit for more than a Year now & nothing much has actually happened, its hardly surprising that Voteres are “over it”. That will change when Brexit starts to have real effects like rising Unemployment Or a Property Crash. At that point Voters will want to know why they werent warned & will be unreasonably cross with all the Politicians who didnt warn them. That is why we have to bang on & on about Brexit even when everyone else is tired of it.

  • Well-made. Excellent & focused!

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 3rd Jun '17 - 9:57am

    The trouble is, this raises the obvious question : If we were offered such an awful deal, would we really want to stay in the organisation that had offered us such an awful deal?

  • @ “Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jun ’17 – 9:07pm
    El Sid

    I read your comments on Labourlist, I would like you to support this party if , as there you have something to contribute, moderation and sense ! We need both. You have not been misled by me , nor do I think by anyone I know , or know of.”

    People don’t expect to agree with everything a party wants to do otherwise we would need 60 million parties. But they do expect to be able to trust a party, lack of trust is fatal in politics. This is why tuition fees was so damaging, people believed that no increase in fees was non-negotiable for the lib dems and that they would vote against increasing fees no matter what. It’s also why I say that a party should never “play to the audience” by putting out leaflets in one area that they would want to hide somewhere else. It is also why Teresa May announced the dementia tax and an end to the triple lock before the election, it’s not a vote winner but the Tories knew that if they lead people to believe benefits for the elderly would continue as they were then introduced the dementia tax and end the triple lock the resulting loss in trust could destroy their party. And say what you like about Corbyn, he’s never hidden who he is and what he believes.

    It seems crystal clear to me that the lib dems want to remain in the EU regardless of what the majority think about it and the only reason that they are calling for a second referendum is to try and put us on a course that gives them a chance to get what they really want, us remaining after all. They should say so if that is the case. They should say we want to remain no matter what. Voting for a referendum the of which result they could not bring themselves to accept as final has already damaged trust. That is no reason to do the samething again. I’ll say it again, lack of trust is fatal in politics, so be clear to all about what your true intentions are. If the party want to remain no matter what they must say so.

  • David Harris 3rd Jun '17 - 2:16pm

    Ref your suggestion of another referendum. I have voted to leave the eu, and am committed to it. Imagine I do not like the deal offered. Please explain how my views would be represented in a vote where the choices are 1) accept the deal offered, 2 Remain in the EU. Your request for another ref are completely silly and would mean that possibly ‘the 52%’ who voted leave may not be accurately represented in another vote. Now do you understand why your ratings have plummeted? I voted Libdem for 20 years, but NEVER again.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Jun '17 - 2:29pm

    Peter Martin

    The UK Government is monetarily sovereign. It has the exclusive, monopoly authority to issue British pounds. Pounds come from nowhere else.

    What about when a bank gives someone a mortgage? Suppose the mortgage is used to buy a house sold by someone who already has another house so isn’t using the money to buy a house themselves. They then have a lot of pounds to spend. Weren’t those pounds created by the bank?

  • John Littler 5th Jun '17 - 3:11pm

    The Washington Journal reported that EU leaders had decided that there was going to be no compromise deal offered to the UK and that a hard line would be taken.

    It was the Leave Campaign who promised something for nothing deals, that “trade would continue as it is” (Fox) and that they needed us more etc (Farrage) . They also said that leaving would be as simple as repealing one act ( Farrage) and that the Single Market added bureaucratic burdens to firms( Leadsom). The fictions went on and on.

    They said it would be better coming out. The Remain side said it would be much worse. It is still possible that Leave will have won the battle but lost a long running war. The
    LibDems could get a bigger boost than after the Iraq debacle when they won 63 seats.

  • Peter Martin 6th Jun '17 - 10:15am

    @ Michael Huntbach,

    ” Weren’t those pounds created by the bank?”

    The commercial bank creates its own IOUs denominated in pounds. They aren’t the same as the pounds issued by the Govt owned BoE.

    If commercial banks could create money in the way some might suggest they could never go broke!

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