There is a staggeringly simple solution to the Brexit impasse

Think about it.

Ken Clarke’s customs union backed by 273 MPs

People’s Vote backed by 280 MPs

May’s deal backed by 286 MPs and falling

All you need to get a majority in the House of Commons is 326.

So at most another 49 votes.

So it is clear that something would pass if it had a People’s Vote attached to it.

I am glad that most of our MPs either voted against or abstained from options that would have had us leave on 22nd May without a People’s Vote.

Ken Clarke’s for example with another 9 Lib Dems and 35 SNP and 4 PC is almost  there if it has a PV attached.

May’s deal with all of the above is there even with some Labour not voting for it and the DUP and ERG is irrelevant.

Of course the simplest solutions are not always easy to make happen. The willingness is there from the opposition parties. Will the sensible voices in the Conservative Party prevail to save us from a catastrophe on the not very glorious 12th.

Personally I would happily just revoke Article 50 and move on but I don’t think the political realities of the situation allow that yet.

Let’s hope common sense prevails – although it will probably require a change of Prime Minister to get any progress.

 

 

 

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

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60 Comments

  • I have expressed my frustration and anger over the party last night, tomorrow is a chance to put it right. Best thing is to vote yes to a Customs Union and Yes to a Referendum. That will embarrass the government and offer a better chance of a Referendum. No wonder Norman Lamb is fuming this morning.

  • Peter Martin 2nd Apr '19 - 8:53am

    “So it is clear that something would pass if it had a People’s Vote attached to it.”

    No it isn’t. Because those arguing for a so-called People’s Vote don’t actually want a genuine vote. They want the electorate to be given a choice between a bad leave option and Remain. There’ll be no contest as Leavers won’t participate.

    Remain being the true objective – of course.

  • Bill le Breton 2nd Apr '19 - 9:23am

    Peter Martin is correct. For every one MP climbing on to the ‘People’s Vote’ boat half a dozen would jump off including the proposer of the option.

    Second, revoking without reference to the people is the most dangerous and irresponsible course of action possible. If this is the view of the Parly Party and members of the Federal Board, then, it would confirm that the Party has become a sect.

  • Malcolm Todd 2nd Apr '19 - 10:00am

    Without endorsing the extremist rhetoric of Peter Martin and Bill le Breton, I have to say this is wishful thinking at best. There are numerous MPs who voted for the customs union but voted against the referendum or abstained, and vice versa. Why on earth do you think that bundling the two together would ensure a majority? Same goes for the other options of course.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Apr '19 - 10:02am

    @Bill le Breton “For every one MP climbing on to the ‘People’s Vote’ boat half a dozen would jump off including the proposer of the option.”
    This is pretty much exactly what Ken Clarke himself said in the Commons after Vince Cable floated the idea in a rhetorical point of order after the results were announced.
    Combining any number of options with a second referendum is not a compromise or change in the Lib Dem position in any way at all and it is at best disingenuous to pretend it is any sort of silver bullet to solve the current impasse in Parliament.

  • So why weren’t MPs putting together options like this after last Wednesday’s exercise, rather than stubbornly clinging to the same choices and same positions as before? To see them wasting time when we are so close to the deadline was appalling.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Apr '19 - 10:29am

    The next thing that happens is a long Cabinet meeting, 5 or 6 hours, with a break.
    Laura K. is forecasting that a general election is increasingly likely.
    As a BBC journalist she is professionally neutral, but her one hour programme yesterday showed some sympathy for the gruelling process which wears people down, including the PM, who has offered her own position to the wolves who are chasing the sled. Do those wolves want her to lead them in an early general election? even if one could be agreed with Labour and the SNP? When the Tory MPs had a motion of no confidence In Theresa May she promised them that she would not call an early general election (again!).
    Some Tory commentators are also ignoring the Fixed Term Parliament Act, which is designed to prevent a PM calling an early general election for party advantage, as a series of PMs from Jim Callaghan to Gordon Brown were tempted to do, (but did not).
    Schadenfreude? Both Tory and Labour parties have lost MPs to the TIG and Nick Boles announced last night that he would become an Independent Progressive Conservative (not TIG).
    Also widely respected is a former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, whose local Conservative Party has been infiltrated by UKIPers.
    Do the Tory hardliners want to be rid of people who speak their minds and turn MPs into robots?
    Do they also aspire to be rid of this (ex-tory) Speaker? (who might retire at a general election?) The next Speaker might be ex-Labour.
    If it is true that voters’ commitments are now more Leave or Remain than previous party, what would Tory Remainers or Labour Leavers do?
    AND will someone please say what the effect was of the AV voting system used in yesterdays indicative votes?

  • John Marriott 2nd Apr '19 - 10:32am

    Instead of having another ‘Free for all’ set of indicative votes why doesn’t Mr Letwin try a preferential vote. Put all the (four?) options on a ballot paper and ask MPs to number them in order of preference. Then count up the votes, eliminate the option with the least number of votes and reapply its second preferences. Count again and repeat the process until one option (hopefully) passes the 50%.

  • @Malcolm Todd – “There are numerous MPs who voted for the customs union but voted against the referendum or abstained, and vice versa. Why on earth do you think that bundling the two together would ensure a majority?”

    Because treating the options in isolation forced some MPs to vote that way. Lib Dem MPs want another referendum so they voted for that, but generally against a customs union because if that “won” then the WA could be amended accordingly and we would leave next month without the desired referendum.

    Likewise there are those who prefer a customs union, so voted for it. But voted against another referendum because if that “won” they risked a referendum pitching May’s deal against Remain, excluding their preferred customs agreement option.

    Combining the two options into customs union plus confirmatory referendum means the two factions can both support it without putting their preferred option at risk.

  • The media will almost certainly see the Lib Dem MPs as holding the balance. If they do not vote for the Customs Union then they will probably cause the PM’s deal to pass.
    It is n o good waiting for a majority on the Referendum, the block of 24 Labour MP’s who are against seem adamant and will not even consider abstaining. So another approach is needed. Put the Government in trouble.

  • If a referendum is secured there will be a lot of risk assessment to be worked through. As Karl Marx, David Cameron and Donald Trump discovered, predicting political outcomes is a risky business at the best of times and this is the worst of times. For example, we might expect that pointing out that Brexit was a millionaire’s project would cut it with those who get to be poorest because of it. But many of those most hard done by will say, “I want to be a millionaire. Good luck them!”

  • Richard O'Neill 2nd Apr '19 - 12:24pm

    Very disappointed that Clarke’s proposal fell short. It is the kind of compromise that has been needed throughout the whole process. Acknowledging the split in the country. Above all it would offer a way out of the current impasse with the clock ticking down.

    But Hard Brexiteers and Hard Remainers both adopt a winner-takes-all attitude.

    And why were Lib Dem MPs not prepared to vote for Boles and Clarke because they didn’t include a referendum, but happy to vote for revoking without a public vote?

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Apr '19 - 12:52pm

    Layla Moran is on BBC2 Politics Live, today, briefly.
    She said she was elected on the 2017 manifesto, “which was TO STOP BREXIT”.
    (So was Vince Cable, who was not then the leader).
    Layla also said that she would vote for the Withdrawal Agreement if it has a confirmatory referendum attached to it. She is happier going back to REVOKE from another REFERENDUM although she would happily vote for both.

  • Instead of having another ‘Free for all’ set of indicative votes why doesn’t Mr Letwin try a preferential vote. Put all the (four?) options on a ballot paper and ask MPs to number them in order of preference.
    Very poor pick-and-mix, given the MP’s won’t have chosen what was in each option.
    Firstly, there needs to be a (long) list of pure options from which MP’s select their favourites. Then having ranked the options, MPs can decide on what mixes might be possible/feasible to arrive at a set of options which, firstly they agree are valid options and secondly on which they can be asked to give a preference.

  • Turns out there’s unlikely to be anymore indicative votes. Which makes last night’s votes even more reckless.

  • Layla was poor and unconvincing on Politics Live. Coburn nailed her on the negativity of her position and she didn’t have an answer. Sadly the LibDems have made themselves part of the problem. If it is indeed true that there aren’t any more meaningful votes then yesterday was not only a waste of time but a dangerous gamble.

    Everything now appears to rest on getting Cooper’s bill through both houses while there is still time AND the EU granting a last minute extension for some yet-to-be-defined purpose.

    In times gone past this is how wars started and young men got sent to their death.

  • Denis Loretto 2nd Apr '19 - 2:09pm

    Having been a member (Liberal, Alliance Party, Lib Dem) for over 50 years I have to say I am ashamed of the party right now. Our 11 MPs managed to vote 5 different ways last night. Tom Brake, Ed Davey, Wera Hobhouse and Jo Swinson not only withheld support from customs union and common market 2 but in effect by voting against they obliterated 4 of the votes those options had received. Vince Cable, Christine Jardine, Layla Moran and Jamie Stone treaded more lightly by abstaining on these 2 options. Tim Farron abstained on the first but voted for the second. Alistair Carmichael did it the other way round by voting for the first but abstaining on the second. Norman Lamb voted for both. Did they at least all vote for the people’s vote and revoking (in extremis) Article 50? No! Norman Lamb abstained on the latter. And we have the nerve to say that the Conservatives and Labour are all over the place?
    These were indicative votes, intended to get the feel as to where MPs stood, not to make final decisions as to detailed agreement. To my mind it was crucial to display the maximum support for options that kept the UK as close as possible to the EU and minimise any idea that crashing out might be a realistic possibility. If either Customs Union or Common Market 2 had got through coupled with strong support for “putting it to the people” the atmosphere of virtual contempt for UK politics worldwide would have been transformed and Oliver Letwin’s bold initiative justified. And everything would still be there to play for.
    There may be one more chance tomorrow. Otherwise I agree with M. Barnier that crashing out with no deal is the most probable outcome.

  • Shambles, piss up and brewery come to mind. There is no real leadership and we are just creating a position that we do not want. Looks now as there will no more Indicative Votes this week. This party and the TIGS carry the responsibility for this situation, it is no good blaming others. What an opportunity missed. What is wrong with us?

  • chris moore 2nd Apr '19 - 3:26pm

    They were indicative votes. Not binding.

    The party should be aiming to facilitate a sensible Brexit – Ken Clarke’s motion would have been OK.

    Common Market 2.0 has the drawback that – to me, at least – it doesn’t respect the expectations of most Leavers.

  • Lynda Glennie 2nd Apr '19 - 3:43pm

    The Libdems need to compromise. All our MPs should have voted for K Clarke’s customs union proposal yesterday knowing that with their votes it could have scraped through. If they get another chance I do so hope they take it.

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd Apr '19 - 3:57pm

    chris moore,

    if you could specify the “expectations of most Leavers”, we could assess whether leaving the EU really “respects” them.

    And, while you are at it: could you explain the concept of “a sensible Brexit”, ideally more specifically than just by advocating some non-sensical concessions to non-sensical people?

  • If we had voted Customs Union as we should have, then todays Cabinet meeting would have had another serious problem with trheir right wing and the way out might have been a Referendum. Do not think 90% of our MP’s have the nouse to think outside a small box of their “Red lines”.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Apr '19 - 4:17pm

    Today was the first performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony,
    in Dubai, with 140 choristers auditioned from several local choirs.
    HERE IN EUROPE, one can turn up the volume on Radio 3 (now BBC Sounds) and enjoy the climactic ending.
    Despite knowing that the unification of Europe was desired by a variety of nasties, including Ulbricht and other horrors, for me the music is about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the preceding holes in the Iron Curtain, such as on the Hungarian-Austrian border, consequent on the peaceful ending of 4-power rule in Austria in 1955.
    The British Group of the Liberal International did a trip to Berlin.
    Funeral in Berlin was a piece of cinema history.
    The facts were that West Germany was paying for the removal of 400,000 Soviet troops to Russia (by sea, not through Poland) and the construction of housing for them in Russia. They also paid for the removal of their capital from its “temporary” home in Bonn to Berlin, which is what they had always said they would do, so they did it.
    The GDR became several, smaller regions in the federal system.
    Democracy is and was a crucial element in all this, from personal freedoms to better design of cars. It is sickening to hear the likes of Nigel Farage proclaiming democracy! when he does not understand it at all. All of the EU member states are democratic, despite their several and collective histories.
    In the UK there is more to do, including reform of the method of electing MPs.

  • It sounds like Norman Lamb is on the verge of resignation from the party, ashamed at the behaviour of the other LD MPs last night?

  • David Becket 2nd Apr '19 - 5:43pm

    David Raw is right. It is about healing divisions, it is about avoiding the cliff edge, it is time to compromise. It is time to support the least objectionable option that might get us out of this. Revoke 50 and Peoples Vote stand as much chance of getting through as May’s option. The referendum vote was close, so go for an option that gets us out but keeps us close, that is grown up politics, and Norman looks the only grown up in our lot. We will end up out with no deal, and it will be the fault of May, Corbyn and Cable plus their hangers on.

  • chris moore 2nd Apr '19 - 5:46pm

    @Martin, you say “Really Norman Lamb should account for how he has voted. If he is now supporting Brexit, sadly it is the case that he should resign from the Party, since this would be in flat contradiction of the Party’s constitution and statement of its values.”

    What Norman Lamb is saying is that by not backing compromise motions – permanent customs’ unión and Common Markt 2.0 – we are making it increasingly likely that there is a no-deal Brexit. He (and I btw) regard this as extremely undesirable.

    As a party, we have got to start being more open-minded about attitudes to Europe.

    1. Many of our former voters voted Leave.
    2. We have already lost Stephen Lloyd. Now some would turf out Norman too.

    We have to allow for dissent, particularly as there are liberal arguments for coming out of the EU.

    I am a Remainer; but we are at the last ditch and have to be seeking compromise.

  • chris moore 2nd Apr '19 - 5:55pm

    Arnold Kiel. Arnold, you say, chris moore,
    if you could specify the “expectations of most Leavers”, we could assess whether leaving the EU really “respects” them.

    Common Market 2.0 that leaves us in the Customs’ Unión and Single Market certainly doesn’t correspond to the expectatons of my many Leave friends and acquaintances.

    You also say, “And, while you are at it: could you explain the concept of “a sensible Brexit”, ideally more specifically than just by advocating some non-sensical concessions to non-sensical people?”

    It’s all relative, Arnold. A No-Deal Brexit, otherwise known as a Barking Brexit, is much less sensible than a permanent Customs’ Unión.

    I’m not saying a Customs’ Unión Brexit is a positive step. I’m a Remainer. But we need to find a compromise.

    Regarding your comments about Leavers being “non-sensical”: That is too strong. As individuals and as a party, we have got to show respect for opposing views.

    A sensible Brexit

  • Leek Liberal 2nd Apr '19 - 5:58pm

    I have a lot of time for Norman Lamb MP, but does he not understand how we Lib Dem remainers who, having fought right from the start to get Labour to support a People’s vote, feel about the idea of backing a Brexit option without a referendum attached to it? I was one of the million marchers in London who think that all the Brexit options are ‘pay and no say’ deals that are in no way as good as staying in and working for reform. Let’s hope that Parliament comes up with some AV options that encourages MPs to prioritise their choices. If, in the end, we cannot get a referendum, then of course we we would wish to leave with a deal that keeps us as close as possible to the EU. We must all hope that Parliament gets it’s act together, but it’s not looking good!

  • chris moore 2nd Apr '19 - 6:01pm

    Having said the above, we should also not exaggerate the importance of the few Lib Dem MPs in all this. We are very small bit players.

    And nearly all our MPs have been consistent advocates of second referéndum on any deal.

  • Jayne Mansfield 2nd Apr '19 - 6:02pm

    @ Martin,
    Surely, the Liberal Democrat MPs realised that this was an indicative vote, that it was a means for them to show their preferences for the least damaging options, given that we are where we are.

    This is the second time your party has thrown a lifeline to a destructive Tory leader, first the architect of this chaos and now the one who, regardless of the damage, is determined that the damage will continue with maximum effect. So far. it is Mrs May’s deal that has garnered the most votes.

    As someone who is a proud Briton, I feel diminished by the behaviour of MPs during the last ( and maybe it will be the last) indicative vote. I can’t see our country regaining international respect during my lifetime.

    What a shower.

  • chris moore 2nd Apr '19 - 6:06pm

    But there’s the rub, Leek Liberal.

    It’s a matter of judgement for individual MPs. Do they bring on a No-Deal Brexit by not voting for a soft Brexit option?

    Norman has taken the line that it does do that. And that a No-Deal Brexit would be a disaster for his constItuents. I think we should respect his view, even if we don’t agree.

  • Jayne Mansfield 2nd Apr '19 - 6:24pm

    @ chris moore,The country is divided, the government is divided, the cabinet is divided, parliament is divided.

    Eventually, we will have to bow to the fact that compromise is the only option.

  • Bill le Breton 2nd Apr '19 - 6:31pm

    Mrs May playing the Ramsay MacDonald gambit.

  • I have just listened to Theresa May;s statement.

    My first impression was “Spreading the Blame”

    My second was, “My god, if only LibDem MPs had put Clarke’s ‘Customs Union’ on the map, Corbyn (who had whipped Labour MPs to vote for CM2.0 and a PV) could have used the ‘Customs UNion’ as his starting point and been one step up the ‘ladder’ a;ready.

    Corbyn will now start off with a ‘Customs Union’ proposal (which has always been his minimum demand) and the chances of getting much further have been diminished. May, because of last night, can still claim the ‘CM’ has already been rejected by parliament and refuse even to concede that small step.

    Thanks LibDems; what a wasted opportunity.

  • Andrew McCaig 2nd Apr '19 - 7:25pm

    Well, that was indeed very disappointing. After nearly 3 years of consistently advocating an Exit from Brexit via a People’s Vote, we suddenly split into pieces with Norman Lamb backing leaving on 22nd May accompanied by some changes to the political declaration that are not worth the paper they are written on.

    The TIGs stayed united and will inherit the Remain vote which is now the majority. And Soubry of course explained very clearly why. “We don’t trust the Tories to enact anything that is not enshrined in law”. You would think that Lid Dems I particular would have learned that lesson.
    The people’s vote got the most support last night and several new Tory MPs supported it. Parliament voted by a big margin against No Deal, and I still think revoke is more probable than no deal

  • Peter Martin 2nd Apr '19 - 8:46pm

    @ Chris Moore,

    I thought I might just let you know that I’m personally OK with being in the customs union. I think it makes sense providing we have the right to give notice of withdrawal – should we wish to do so. So I’m prepared to compromise!

    Arnold views all Leavers as treacherous wreckers. Breaking the Union was the cause of the US Civil War and also the war of Irish independence. Those most in support of a political union can have some very strong emotions against people like myself and your leaver friends. It feels like we’re the enemy in a war!

  • Jayne Mansfield 2nd Apr '19 - 8:47pm

    @ Martin,
    I don’t want a coalition with May’s discredited crew.

    All parties are divided on this issue, I want a meeting of minds between those from all parties who want to find a way out of this divisive issue. I am not a Tory, I don’t agree with Tory philosophy, but I have many decent Tory friends (wets).

    I have given up arguing about ‘trickle down’ economics, or for example, the fact that the State does not diminish personal effort, it provides the environment where those who need it are given the necessary leg-up so that their own efforts can bring personal dividends.

    The reason they are my friends, is that they have the same aims and objective as myself, but we disagree on the way to best achieve them. They are to a man and woman remainers, unlike some of my still Liberal Democrat and Green Party voting friends who are ardent ‘leavers’.

    The coalition seemed to be an actual meeting of right of centre minds, with Liberal Democrats acting as the Tories bag boys, so as I say to frankie, you are comparing apples and pears.

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd Apr '19 - 9:56pm

    One must not confuse a desperate and poorly thought-through agreement between the leavers May and Corbyn (approved by Lamb) in April 2019, that has the main objective of passing the 12th without triggering EU Parliament elections, and thereby make leaving irreversible, with the result negotiated between a Tory PM and the EU by 2021. All “compromisers” will look back at this illusion with profound regrets.

  • Jayne Mansfield 2nd Apr '19 - 10:16pm

    @ Martin,
    No Martin, what I want is an end to the division in the county.

    I have never been other than critical of the behaviour of the Liberal democrat leaders and how they conducted themselves in government, this despite the fact that I initially thought they might be a power for good.

    As far as compromise on the EU is concerned, you may feel it is capitulation, but the clock is ticking, and sometimes the old dictum that in negotiations, when both sides agree to something that leaves them equally unhappy, one has got it about right.

    I have never believed that a ‘people’s vote’ would lead to the outcome that you and I would wish. I think that a lot of people switched off a long time ago, and any new information, has for a considerable time, fallen on deaf ears.

    I just don’t know how much longer the EU can tolerate this ongoing chaos. There are those in the party, who, like the extreme right leavers, believe that the EU leaders think we are indispensable as members. They don’t. They have more pressing issues.

  • @Jayne Mansfield – “Eventually, we will have to bow to the fact that compromise is the only option.”
    Before or after Mogg and co bow to the fact?
    Currently, it does seem that all Mogg has to do is to continue being contrary while everyone else runs round trying to find a compromise which he may favour, but will almost certainly still not be to his liking…
    Given May has added the red line of no consideration of revoke to her proposal for talks with Corbyn, for the sole reason that she has committed to delivering ‘Brexit’, I think the Government and Tory party aren’t yet ready to sit down and honestly negotiate a real compromise agreement, as currently May is only looking for a compromise based on her terms and that isn’t a compromise.

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd Apr '19 - 9:12am

    @ Roland,

    Rees Mogg and his kind are beyond the pale.

    The best way I have found to deal with the subject of that man of the people when people, (not many) , admire his stance, is to ensure that thy are appraised of information about his firm , Somerset Capital holdings, where it is is managed and the amount paid in UK tax. I leave it to others to then consider whether this person has the interests of the UK people at heart.

    I agree that Mrs May is not yet ready to sit down and negotiate a compromise agreement, but one needs to keep battling away, putting pressure on her, her cabinet and party.

    I have lost count of the number of leavers who have argued over the past 2+ years , ‘why can’t they just sit down and agree a way forward’. ( I suspect that some mean their way) but nevertheless, the answer to this, is, in my opinion, to show that one is prepared to forgo intransigence in favour of compromise. The fault lies with others.

    An indicative Vote for the Clarke amendment or C.M. 2 would have shown that level of willingness, a signal to those who make that comment, that they are not all ‘as bad as each other’, that some are prepared to at least consider other least bad options.

    Rather than undermine that argument, it has simply confirmed what those one has been trying to persuade have said.

  • chris moore 3rd Apr '19 - 9:14am

    @ Peter Martin,

    Peter, you say,
    @ Chris Moore,
    I thought I might just let you know that I’m personally OK with being in the customs union. I think it makes sense providing we have the right to give notice of withdrawal – should we wish to do so. So I’m prepared to compromise!

    Thanks for the post, Peter. I appreciate it.

    Being in the Customs’ Unión elminates most of the economic disadvantages of Brexit and also gets round the Irish border issue.

    I think it’s up to moderates on both sides to come to a compromise I also strongly agree that it’s unhelpful to write off the views of 50%+ of the population, (many of whom were once Lib Dem Voters.) even more to deny their rationality and intelligence.

    Remain lost the Referéndum. the closeness of the result has given hope that it could be reversed. Likewise, the Remain campaign was rubbish. They should have laid out the positive case for Europe, and in particular energised young people to participate and vote. This too has meant many Remainers find defeat difficult to accept.

    I think the result of the Referndum must be accepted; but the Lib Dems should rightly campaign for a very good and close relationship with the EU post-Brexit.

    They are our closest friends and allies.

    Have a good day!

  • I, at least, can understand why LD MPs voted against a customs union. It would leave us as rule takers not rule makers. This shouldn’t be about making the best of a bad job it should be about what’s best for the country.
    David Cameron and Theresa May got us into this message. It’s not our job to salvage then or their party. It’s our job to put country first. I firmly believe that we are better in the EU than out. It’s not that I’m an ‘extreme Remainer’ but because I’ve worked in manufacturing and KNOW the benefits of the Single Market. Too many commentators and politicians are taking an ideological view rather than a pragmatic one. Most of the ERG wouldn’t know a factory if they saw one, have little idea how the Single Market works and believe that the UK has a divine right to rule the world. As China, India, Indonesia and the rest of Asia grow a UK outside the EU will become increasingly marginalised. The EU gives us a voice on the world stage. We have increasingly refused to be constructive within the EU. We should be leading the EU into a brave new world not turning our backs and sinking without trace.

  • Peter Martin 3rd Apr '19 - 3:07pm

    @pmknowles,

    “It (being in a customs union) would leave us as rule takers not rule makers.”

    OK, but what would it mean in practice? We might prefer a tariff rate of 30% on cheese but, if the EU said it had to be 45%, then we’d have to go along with 45% too. If we can get a customs deal that, and as chris moore claims should be possible, prevents any re-introduction of a hard border in Ireland then I would say that an extra15% on non-EU and non-UK cheese imports would be a small price to pay.

    The only proviso that I would make, would be that having agreed to be a part of the customs union for a period of time, say ten years, then either side would be free to terminate the agreement after giving due notice.

  • @Peter Martin
    The customs union would have to be permanent as leaving it would mean a hard border in Ireland. A customs union in itself would not stop a hard border as only single market membership prevents that. This is the problem with phrases being bandied around (mainly by Brexiters, in a deliberate attempt to confuse matters) without explanations about what they mean. I have come across people who genuinely think that No deal means ‘stay as we are’.
    You only have to look at the recent YouGov poll where only 25% thought no deal would have result in a good outcome but almost half of the same sample think we should leave with no deal if a deal not agreed by the end of next week.
    When you have £1M being spent by leave campaigners on a no deal Facebook campaign is it any wonder that people worry about democracy?

  • I wonder if the PV is the panacea that many on here believe…Labour held the seat (with the LibDems trailing in 5th place) but, in a city that voted for Brexit, UKip doubled it’s vote from 2017; the Brexit chaos doesn’t seem to have weakened the resolve of ‘Leavers’.

    I note that Jacob_Rees_Mogg posted….”If a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU we should be as difficult as possible. We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes”

    Nicola Sturgeon took the words out of my mouth…”How strange – isn’t this the same guy who said the UK had no power to do any of these things in the EU and that’s why we had to leave.”

  • ”If a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU … We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes”
    Sounds a good idea, can we go for an indefinite extension? Or is Mogg saying that he wants the EU27 to have an army and be better integrated than they are now. 🙂

    I appreciate that he might be saying that as a warning to those who have been fully converted, but I suspect many EU citizens also don’t these things.

  • Bill le Breton 5th Apr '19 - 2:01pm
  • Richard Underhill 5th Apr '19 - 2:32pm

    Polling expert John Curtice was on BBC tv Politics Live 5/4/2019. There is a long term trend benefiting small parties against large ones, in particular, he said, the Lib Dems are gaining at the expense of Labour, and the Newport West bye-election is consistent with that, but “the smaller parties all ran with similar policies” (Lib Dems, Greens, TIG.
    I am not sure whether he included Plaid Cymru). This is an obvious case for transferable voting, and/or co-operation in the Commons.
    In general he said that the polls show that people are looking for “Competence”.
    (After David Cameron resigned I said that, if they have any sense, Tory MPs should vote for competence”. They voted for Theresa May. A cartoon in The Times showed Michael Gove stabbing Boris Johnson, but the knife went through and into himself. Copies of the cartoon have been on sale.)

  • David Raw 5th Apr ’19 – 2:43pm…………[email protected] expats Newport West was a lost deposit and fifth place – so nothing of comfort there. If the Lib Dem Party was a football club the fans would be asking searching questions about the direction and management of the club. Trouble is, not many fans left…..

    Luckily the penguin decided not stand; otherwise, things might have been reeeely bad.

  • Parliamentary By Elections used to be our life blood. As David Raw says a lost deposit, last election these cost us £180K, are we heading for much the same again?

  • Peter Martin 5th Apr '19 - 4:58pm

    @pmknowles,

    “The customs union would have to be permanent as leaving it would mean a hard border in Ireland.”

    It’s not permanent now. We can leave the EU without a deal. So why would it have to be permanent in the future?

    Effectively we can make it ‘permanent’ until we and the Irish government agree on a workable alternative, but we should retain the right to remove it unilaterally even if we never exercise it.

  • @Peter Martin
    What you suggest is one of the fallacies of the No Deal argument. ‘WTO rules’ require countries and trading blocs to protect their own borders (in both directions). Both the UK and the EU (not Eire) would need to ensure goods are not smuggled out of or into their areas. In the (unlikely) event that the UK could arrange an advantageous deal with a third party we would have to ensure that we did not become a method of avoiding EU tariffs for the third country by using a leaky border between ourselves and Eire. The same applies if we had tariffs which were higher than the EU.
    The advent of the Single Market in 1992 was one of the harbingers of the Good Friday Agreement. The IRA was partially funded by profits from smuggling across the border – the Single Market effectively destroyed that lucrative trade.
    You are also incorrect in saying that we could come to an agreement with the Irish government. It would be the border with the EU and it is they that the agreement would need to satisfy.
    The GFA and WTO rules are mutually exclusive. A customs union would still require border checks. No border checks on the island of Ireland would make the Irish Sea the border so there would need to be checks of anything arriving from the island (which the DUP could not support). Single Market membership is the only solution to the GFA (because anything else will make smuggling profitable again).
    People need to realise that to trade with other countries you have to agree to rules. The bigger you are the fewer things you need to accept and/or change. The much maligned TTIP talks with the USA (where the UK press were criticising the EU for the time it was taking) were taking so long because, as the US admitted, the US were used to their opponents were usually smaller and would be steamrolled into agreement. The EU is twice the size and played hard ball.
    The EU will protect Eire from us.
    That’s what we are

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