Author Topic: Various bits re Brexit and Economics  (Read 20564 times)


seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #61 on: March 26, 2019, 02:07:35 PM »
•   https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/26/disappointing-mps-like-jacob-rees-mogg-lack-nerve-see-brexit/

Andrew Lilico
26 March 2019 • 1:08pm

 Was all that talk of how May’s deal was a “vassalage” just hot air?
But even an embarrassing Brexiteer climbdown can't saved  the PM's deal

Disappointingly, a number of pro-Brexit Conservative MPs, including most notably Jacob Rees-Mogg, are now apparently considering switching to backing May’s deal. That won’t make her deal pass. Even if every pro-Brexit MP had switched to backing May’s deal at the second vote, it would still have been defeated by its pro-Remain opponents. And since that time, the pro-Remain Conservative rebels’ ranks have expanded.

Last night 30 rebel Remainer Conservative MPs voted for the Letwin-Benn amendment, granting the House of Commons control of the “indicative votes” process this coming Wednesday. They now expect to be able to cancel or utterly neuter Brexit. Why would they want to switch to backing May’s deal now?
Similarly, why would Labour’s front bench now start to back May’s deal, since the Government is disintegrating under the pressure and the Conservative Party is on the point of splitting?
Of course, even if some more pro-Brexit MPs panic and switch to backing it, there will still be a hardcore of 20-30 Conservative pro-Brexit rebels who will not back the deal under any circumstances. They apparently call themselves “the Spartans”, alluding to the 300 Spartans whose glorious defeat at the famous battle of Thermopylae was the salvation of Greece, and indeed European civilisation more broadly, from the Persian invasion.
That is a pleasing historical reference, but I think a better name would be the “Old Whigs”, after the party that in 1679 supported the Exclusion Bill seeking to prevent James II becoming king. On that occasion the issue was whether England should be party of the pan-European political structure (in those days the Papacy). Those who said we should accept England falling under that pan-European structure were called “Tories”. Those who said England should be sovereign unto itself were called “Whigs”. Sound familiar?
Historical references aside, the right Leaver strategy now is as follows. Vote down May's deal. Force opponents of No Deal to revoke Article 50. By revoking they render themselves and their parties politically toxic, dooming their electoral chances. Win a general election with a Leaver party. Leave instantly with no deal and no negotiations. Job done.
But winning by forcing our opponents to render themselves politically toxic by overturning democracy, so in due course we win a general election, is not a strategy for which everyone will have either the nerve or the stomach. We have seen some of that overnight, with those switching to backing May’s deal for fear that Brexit being cancelled is the only alternative.
Such despair may indicate either a lack of faith in the voters — as if the 2016 majority to leave the EU was a freak never-to-be-repeated result, and this is the one chance ever to leave. It may also indicate a lack of stomach , because the way forward to victory will probably entail destroying the Conservative Party.
It is also frankly rather disappointing. For all that talk of how important the Union is and how we could never accept Northern Ireland’s people having their laws set by the EU with no say, when it comes to it apparently that’s not all that important.

For all the talk of how weak May supposedly was for backing down on the backstop in her deal, when it comes to it these pro-Brexit MPs are backing down too. For all the talk of how May’s deal was a “vassalage” worse than Remaining, when it came to it that and the rest was all just hot air.
Well, when I said May’s deal was worse than Remaining, what I meant was that May’s deal was worse than Remaining. When I said we’ll inevitably leave the EU regardless of whether Brexit is cancelled now, because there will be no place for a non-euro EU as the Eurozone integrates, I meant that. And when I said MPs should vote down May’s deal and force our opponents to cancel Brexit, if they must, rendering themselves and their parties politically toxic, I meant that as well.
The Spartan Whigs are right. Defeat here, in the form of Brexit being cancelled, will empower our cause, not finish it. Vote down May’s deal, and let the deluge commence.
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #62 on: March 27, 2019, 03:11:56 PM »

The Tory nightmare

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/27/promising-deliver-brexit-won-tories-legions-new-voters-must/


Promising to deliver Brexit won the Tories legions of new voters, we must not betray them now
Ben Bradley
27 March 2019 • 1:06pm
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The media descended on my Mansfield constituency in the Spring of 2017. It featured almost daily on the news or in the papers when the Conservative party were 20 points ahead in the polls, but as the national picture steadily declined the press grew increasingly sceptical about our chances there.
Despite the national swing, in seats like mine we still went on to secure unexpected victories. From the many days and weeks we spent out on the doorsteps talking to local residents I know that there were two reasons for wins such as mine: Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn. Those two things were the catalyst for a place like Mansfield, a seat that had been Labour for 100 years and literally never had a Conservative MP before, to make a huge shift in its politics.
Those issues overcame decades of emotive politics around Thatcherism and the mining industry, the closure of the pits and everything that came along with it. For the first time the Conservative Party was speaking to Mansfield in a way that Labour could not under Corbyn’s leadership.
My experience growing up just a few miles from Mansfield, and of all my career in North Nottinghamshire politics, is that these traditional working class communities are actually largely socially conservative. They agree with my party on issues like personal responsibility, on making work pay, welfare reform and supporting the military, and they’re generally a patriotic bunch. History rather than policy had led many of them to vote Labour, but Corbyn is anathema to those values. His Labour party flies in the face of everything they believe. In fact, I regularly heard it very directly: "I’ve always been Labour but I could never vote for HIM!"
Labour were out of touch, and where Labour had lost the respect of communities like these, we were promising to deliver for them. Mansfield voted 71 per cent leave in the referendum, and in 2017 I campaigned on a promise to deliver Brexit. It was hugely important to my community, who after decades of feeling that nobody listened had finally found a voice and been involved in shaking up the status quo. It was an issue and an outcome that had brought them hope that they could actually play a part in democracy. As David Cameron had said, "This is a once in a generation choice. The Government will implement what you decide."
This is what I fear ministers don’t understand. They focus on all of the economic angles of Brexit without considering the emotional ones. We made a promise to communities like Mansfield, that we would implement their decision and leave the European Union. We promised that we would leave on March 29, and we said that "no deal is better than a bad deal"’.
Whilst I and many colleagues have stuck by the commitments we made in our manifesto, the Government is currently reneging on those promises. As a result of decisions they have taken, we are now no longer leaving on that date, and the Prime Minister has not stuck to her word.
My voters trusted us for the first time ever to deliver for them, and if we don’t then they simply will not trust us again. In seats like mine we were elected because we promised to deliver Brexit. Pure and simple. Three years and much "can-kicking" later we seem no clearer about just how that will happen, and I have to say that near enough every single conversation I have with constituents ends with "just get us out".
They say they did not vote for a "deal" or a "fudge" or a compromise, and they certainly have no appetite for Parliament "taking control" or holding indicative votes. They voted to leave. Leave the institutions, stop paying them the money, stop taking their rules. A clean break. There were 11,500 Ukip voters in Mansfield in 2015, and now just 2,500. If ensuring Brexit is delivered is still the defining issue at the next election that will mean we have failed, and it means those voters will return from whence they came.
As a Tory MP, I find myself now in an invidious position, torn between voting through a deal that - as I have written before - is riddled with grievous flaws, and choosing to face an uncertain future in which Brexit will inevitably get softer and possibly will be scrapped entirely.
I understand the frustration of my constituents; they often say ‘’just leave with no deal’’ and I wish it were that simple, but the truth is that Parliament will bring the Government down before it allows that to happen.  Having been boxed into a corner in recent days by the Prime Minister, it is with a heavy heart - and against all of my instincts - that I feel the deal may be our only way out of this crisis. Delivering a clean Brexit is the priority, but I fear if we don’t get one foot out of the door now, to give ourselves the breathing space to reset and try again, then the whole thing will be lost. 
Ben Bradley is the Conservative MP for Mansfield
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #63 on: March 28, 2019, 04:29:59 PM »
https://www.ft.com/content/efabc5ac-50d4-11e9-9c76-bf4a0ce37d49

   What’s behind the big bond rally?

Dovish central bankers and lukewarm economic data have driven debt markets higher
The bond market rally is fast gaining momentum

Robin Wigglesworth and Colby Smith in New York

The 2019 bond market rally is gaining momentum, pushing down yields and lifting the value of the fixed income universe by roughly $1.6tn since just the beginning of March. Why are debt markets on fire, and what does it say about the health of the global economy?Why are bond yields falling?Fixed income markets have been buoyant for much of the year, as bond investors remained fairly downbeat about economic growth, and therefore inflation and the likelihood of central banks raising interest rates. Rising bond prices mean lower yields.That pessimism has been largely validated by disappointing economic data in China, Europe and the US, and by a marked shift in the tone of the European Central Bank and Federal Reserve. Earlier this month both central banks surprised investors by just how downbeat they had become, with the former restarting a crisis-era bank lending programme and the latter dropping plans to raise interest rates this year and scaling back its balance sheet reduction programme.Indeed, the extent of the U-turn alarmed some investors, who rushed for the safety of highly rated government bonds such as Treasuries, and triggered hedging by mortgage investors fearful of a wave of refinancing, which then exacerbated the rally.“Why did the Fed need to out-dove themselves?” asked Seema Shah, global investment strategist at Principal Global Investors. “And if you put that with the ECB downgrading its growth forecast much more than people expected, you ask yourself, ‘What do they know that we don’t know?’”Did growth fears drive the global bond rally this week?The fading-growth narrative was reinforced by New Zealand’s central bank on Wednesday, when it unexpectedly hinted at forthcoming interest rate cuts and warned that “the global economic outlook has continued to weaken, in particular amongst some of our key trading partners including Australia, Europe, and China”. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that there are few central banks that want to be caught on the wrong side of the Fed,” said Brad Bechtel of Jefferies. “Meaning, why would you remain neutral or hawkish when the Fed is sitting neutral to dovish?” As a result, New Zealand’s 10-year government bond yield dropped to a record low of 1.74 per cent on Wednesday, a move that then rippled out to Australian, European and US bond markets. Yields continued to move lower across much of Asia and Europe on Thursday.“The trigger . . . is what happened in New Zealand with the central bank becoming much more dovish,” said John Taylor, co-head of European fixed income at AllianceBernstein. “Australia rallied in sympathy, and that mattered for the US because the 10-year note was sitting close to 2.40 per cent, an important technical level. When it broke through there, it had scope to rally.”Are central banks right to worry?The near-euphoria that surrounded the global economy a year ago has been replaced with gloom, as financial markets became more turbulent and a string of economic releases have come in well below expectations.The IMF in January cut its forecast for global growth this year by 0.2 percentage points to 3.5 per cent, and there has been little good news since then. Citigroup’s global Economic Surprise Index, which measures how often data comes in better or worse than forecasts, has been in negative territory for almost a year. That is its longest sub-zero stretch since 2008.At the same time, the US “yield curve” has inverted, a classic omen of a coming recession. The yield curve consists of Treasury yields of various maturities, and normally slopes upwards as longer-term US government bond yields are higher than short-term bill yields, to compensate investors for inflation and locking up their money for a long time. But when the curve flattens it indicates that investors think growth is slowing, and when it actually inverts — in other words, when yields on bills are higher than on 10-year Treasuries — it has proved an accurate predictor of downturns.The US yield curve inverted last week, as investors sharply marked down their expectations for growth, inflation and interest rates, and stirring concerns that the post-crisis economic expansion — which this summer will become the longest in history — is heading for a grisly end.
            What does this mean for stock markets?Equities have proven sensitive to higher interest rates, with last year’s turmoil initially kicked off by a sharp rise in US bond yields in early October. But falling bond yields are not necessarily good news either, given the message it sends about the global outlook for economic growth.Many analysts and investors remain sceptical that the yield curve’s current shape is meaningful, pointing out that whether it is inverted depends on what arbitrary maturities one picks. Moreover, they argue, the global bond market remains distorted by post-crisis quantitative easing programmes, which render redundant any discussion about the shape of the curve
.However, it is clear that stock markets are on edge, with the FTSE All-World index tumbling 1.4 per cent last Friday, when the US yield curve inverted. It fell another 0.4 per cent on Wednesday, its fifth decline in the eight trading days since last week’s Fed meeting and denting its 2019 recovery.“We think that the ongoing flattening, or outright inversion, of the US Treasury yield curve is a bad sign for equities, as it usually has been in the past,” Capital Economics said in a note. “While there is some evidence that post-financial crisis regulatory and monetary policy regimes are keeping the curve flatter than it might otherwise be, we are still wary of the idea that ‘this time is different’.”So is it time to head for the investment bunker?Probably not. Professor Campbell Harvey at Duke University, who wrote the seminal paper on the predictive power of the yield curve in the 1980s, points out that the curve needs to be inverted for at least a quarter before it is a reliable gauge of recession, and even then a contraction can take a year or two to materialise.

Moreover, there are reasons to believe that bond markets might be overreacting to cues from the global economy. China is slowing but in a gradual way, Europe is weak but still seems unlikely to face a recession and the Atlanta Fed’s “nowcasting” model indicates the US economy is expanding at an annual rate of 1.53 per cent.The Fed Funds futures markets indicate that traders think the US central bank will cut rates at least once this year, and possibly more, but some fund managers argue that looks excessive in the face of slower but still resilient growth.“The bond market is sniffing out a global recession, but a little too aggressively,” said Abhay Deshpande, chief investment officer at Centerstone Investors. “We’ll probably see a muddle-through, slower growth and some growth scares, but I think the Fed may have averted the worst-case scenario.”
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #64 on: March 28, 2019, 04:31:14 PM »
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/03/27/mario-draghi-has-let-deflation-take-hold-now-impotent-spectator/

A big bazooka that's turned into a popgun: The ECB has let deflation take hold and is now an impotent spectator
•   
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

27 March 2019 • 9:06pm



 Mario Draghi has lost his magic. The ECB withdrew stimulus too soon for political reasons and has tied its own hands as recession threatens
The European Central Bank has reached the end of the road. It no longer has the monetary levers or the political authority to launch another ‘shock and awe’ rescue if the eurozone tips into recession.
Mario Draghi tried valiantly to bluff his way through the ECB Watchers conference on Wednesday, laying out his surgical toolkit should the worst happen. “We are not short on instruments to deliver our mandate,” he said.
“What instruments?,” asked Ashoka Mody, the former deputy-director of the International Monetary Fund in Europe. “Aside from its jumble of words, the ECB has nothing else to offer.”
The eurozone’s 5-year/5-year forward inflation ‘swaps’ have collapsed over the last five trading days to 1.35pc. The contracts are pricing in a Japanese deflation trap as far out as 2024. Markets are screaming policy failure.
The 10-year Bund yield - the eurozone fear gauge - has fallen to minus 0.08pc. It is a headlong scramble for safe-haven assets. Risk spreads on Italian 10-year bonds have jumped to 260 basis points.
“The ECB has lost its ability to act as a normal central bank. Its forward guidance is meaningless since markets know that it cannot raise rates,” said professor Mody. The ECB has frittered away its firepower and allowed a deflationary psychology to take hold.
Prof Mody said that for the last six months it has refused to acknowledge the recessionary storm clouds in plain view. “Riven by conflicting national interests, it always acts late. This pattern of repeated denials, delays, and half-measures is the antithesis of risk management,” he wrote for Econbrowser.
Mr Draghi argued that the eurozone region has seen 50 “growth slowdowns” since 1970 that are comparable to the current dip. Only four of these led to recessions. “The euro area faced an analogous situation in 2016, when the economy also went through a soft patch triggered by a contraction in world trade,” he said.
What he did not say is that the eurozone was then firing on all four cylinders, enjoying a rare moment of self-propelled ‘endogenous’ growth as it closed the output gap after the Long Slump. An oil price crash - thanks to Saudi efforts to flood the market - was then acting as a ‘tax cut’ for European consumers. 
Above all the ECB was buying €80bn of bonds each month. This spigot has been turned off. The ECB halted quantitative easing in December for political reasons, justifying this violation of monetary science with Panglossian growth forecasts that were patently false even at the time.
It has effectively tightened monetary policy into the teeth of a eurozone industrial recession (as it did in July 2008, with dire consequences). This is a very dangerous step to take given that policy lending rates are still stuck at minus 0.4pc. 
“They pulled QE too soon,” said James Ferguson, a monetarist at MacroStrategy. “The underlying economy is not fixed and the banks are not fixed. The chances of a deflationary bust have increased massively.” 
Mr Ferguson said the ECB misread its own M3 monetary data. The institution does not strip out the distortion of ‘intermediate OFC’s’  - hedge funds, finance vehicles, etc, - that cause double-counting. The Bank of England’s M4x is a purer measure.
This means the ECB overstated M3 growth by roughly 1.5pc annually. It is the difference between escape velocity and economic stagnation.
Nor is the global picture remotely akin to 2016. As we learned again this morning, China is not coming to the rescue this time. The profit growth of Chinese industrial companies crashed to minus 14pc over the January/February period from a year earlier, the worst earnings since May 2009.
Nomura said its ‘credit impulse’ measure in China has risen just 2.5 percentage points in the latest burst of stimulus. This compares to 14 points in the reflation episode of 2015-2016, and 30 points in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
The ECB has proffered a fresh round of cheap funding for the banks (TLTROs) but that is life-support. It is not a monetary propellant. “The TLTROs are an admission that the banks are still broken. They still cannot get money from the market at viable cost,” said Mr Ferguson.
Mr Draghi knows - but cannot admit - that the ECB was forced to shut down QE prematurely under pressure from Germany and the northern bloc. The real motives were political, rooted in the dysfunctional character of Europe’s half-built monetary union and German fears of debt union by stealth.
The longer QE continued, the more it looked like an Italian bail-out. This was tolerable - up to a point -  so long as reformers held sway in Rome. It was intolerable once the insurgent Lega-Five Star alliance took power in open defiance of EMU budget rules.
The end of QE means that there is no longer a buyer-of-last resort standing behind eurozone debt markets or the Italian treasury. This too is dangerous. Bond vigilantes know that the ECB is not allowed to buy the debt of a country in distress without formal activation of the eurozone bail-out machinery (ESM-OMT), under strict conditions and requiring a vote in the German Bundestag.
The Germans, Dutch, Finns, and allies may ultimately agree to restart QE if the downturn spins out of control but by then it is too late. Nor is it clear whether much can be achieved by plain vanilla debt purchases when the bonds of core Europe are already trading at negative yields and the ECB’s balance sheet is nearing technical limits at 43pc of GDP.
It would take ‘helicopter money’ or people’s QE injected into the veins of the real economy to pull Europe out of a deflationary vortex in today’s circumstances. That would breach the Lisbon Treaty and precipitate a storm in the German constitutional court.
For now Mr Draghi is having to put the best construction on the miserable options left to him, a little tinkering here and there to separate the ‘refi’ and ‘depo’ rates to help banks, a twist or two in forward guidance. None of this has macro-economic significance.
Antonio Garcia Pascual from Barclays has spelled out the ECB’s final lines of defence if the storm hits. It can “actively manage” its €2.6 trillion QE portfolio, compress credit spreads, relaunch QE, and ultimately broaden the menu of assets to include equities. In my view, events on the ground would overrun such plans.
Europe’s only option is a fiscal stimulus but this brings us back to the elemental failings of a monetary union composed of sub-sovereign borrowers with vastly different levels of legacy debt, but with no joint budget, shared borrowing mechanism (eurobonds) or a common ‘safe asset’.
The Stability Pact and Fiscal Compact make it impossible to launch Keynesian counter-cyclical stimulus a l’outrance in an emergency. If weaker states go it alone they will be picked off by markets. As rating agencies discovered in the Greek saga - to their astonishment - these countries are no different from cities or private companies. They can spiral into bankruptcy.  That is the euro’s design-flaw.
The ECB says fiscal loosening this year amounts to 0.4pc of GDP across Euroland, mostly from Emmanuel Macron’s danegeld to the ‘gilets jaunes’, the much-reduced spending spree of the Lega-Five Star, and higher public wages in Germany (€30bn). This may cushion a soft patch. It is no defence against a global slump. 
It might be a stretch to say that a no-deal Brexit would bring these hopeless vulnerabilities to a head in short order but it is not a big stretch. Nobody knows whether EMU’s fragile edifice could withstand such a shock if Brussels really acted on threats of a quasi blockade. EU leaders should be thankful that Britain’s parliament is unwilling to test the matter.
In a sense Europe is paying the price for policy errors made almost a decade ago. The ECB should never have raised rates in 2011 and triggered EMU's double-dip recession. It should not have delayed QE for five years after the Fed had already  shown the way.  This inertia - or hubris - allowed 'Japanese' pathologies to take root. Now the task is becoming impossible.
Events have come a long way since Mr Draghi uttered the words “whatever it takes” in July 2012, and magically brought the eurozone debt crisis to a halt. It is of course a mythical episode. The real decision was made in Berlin when contagion threatened to engulf Spain and Italy - which is not to deny that Mr Draghi was skillful.
The Kanzleramt lifted its veto and allowed the ECB to act as a lender-of-last resort (subject to conditions). I know for certain it was pre-cooked because I was in the room three weeks earlier when the head of German finance ministry told a dinner group in London that something big was coming. He even stated - accurately - that “nothing flies in the eurozone without German permission”.
Seven years later Mr Draghi is little more than a spectator. Judging by the action this week in the bond markets, his words now have the potency of a popgun.
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Denn Forever

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #65 on: March 28, 2019, 05:50:58 PM »
So is a world wide recession a la 2008 in the offing?  How quick we forget.
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #66 on: April 04, 2019, 12:27:37 PM »
   https://www.ft.com/content/e4b113f0-5552-11e9-91f9-b6515a54c5b1

   Goodbye EU, and goodbye the United Kingdom
The invented identity of ‘Britishness’ is unravelling as English nationalism takes hold
Philip Stephens

During the spring of 1975 the Wall Street Journal ran a powerful headline. “Goodbye Great Britain”, the American business newspaper declared. The UK was known as the sick man of Europe. Investors were taking flight in the face of its ruinous economic performance and endemic industrial strife. Greatness had made way for spiralling decline.The prediction proved premature. Britain was bailed out by the International Monetary Fund and subsequently saved by North Sea oil and, some would say, by Margaret Thatcher’s economic revolution. In any event, a decade later Thatcher was dancing on the world stage with US president Ronald Reagan.Britain faces another existential moment. The Brexit story was supposed to be about leaving the EU. It has turned into a runaway national crisis. The forces driving Brexit look set to sweep away much more than the institutional machinery, economic relationships and political ties created during decades of EU membership. Goodbye to Brussels is shaping up as the first act in a two-part drama. The second may well wave goodbye to the UK.The other day I listened to Mervyn King say that the government should dispense with further talks with Brussels and opt for a no-deal Brexit, albeit after a six-month period of preparation. The costs, the former Bank of England governor said, would be manageable and temporary. Given Lord King’s complacency about the stability of financial markets before the 2008 crash, many will discount his economic judgment. What struck me, however, was his insistence that Brexit was really about identity and culture.Though he sits on the opposite side of the European debate, the former Conservative chancellor Kenneth Clarke agrees. The impetus for Brexit, Mr Clarke says, comes from a resurgence of the rightwing English nationalist wing of his party. The project reflects a strain of Conservatism that has never come to terms with the loss of empire.  Leaving the EU — Independence Day, the Brexiters call it — is rooted as much in nostalgia as in the populist revolt against elites and outsiders that has supplied the European debate with such visceral anger. Hence the Brexiters’ fantasy of a new “Global Britain” and the ubiquitous allusions to the second world war and Winston Churchill’s readiness to stand alone. The bluster conceals a cry of pain.
            
Brexit is an English rather than a British enterprise. More specifically, it belongs overwhelmingly to provincial England. With the exception of Birmingham, the nation’s great cities — London, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle among them — were on the side of Remain. They were outvoted by Leavers in smaller English cities and towns and in rural areas. Scotland backed Remain by a large margin. Pace the Brexiters of the Democratic Unionist party, Northern Ireland voted for continued EU membership. Wales followed England out.Scotland voted in 2014 to stay in the union of the UK. It is hard to imagine it would do the same in another referendum. Five years ago, unionism offered proud Scots two supplementary identities. They could be at once British and European. After Brexit it will be either/or. The 1707 union with England handed Scotland an international role as a partner in empire. Outside of the EU it will be cut off from the rest of Europe. Theresa May’s government insists that powers returned from Brussels will be hoarded at Westminster rather than shared with the Edinburgh parliament and other devolved administrations.

The prime minister wants sharply to reduce immigration. Scotland wants more newcomers to oil the wheels of the economy. Why would that nation, with a political culture steeped in social market centrism, shackle itself to the rule of English nationalists?Nor can Northern Ireland’s place in the UK any longer be taken for granted. The DUP has made a great fuss about ensuring that a settlement with the EU27 does not differentiate between the province and the rest of the UK. But their hostility to the EU is a minority position in Northern Ireland itself. Nothing has done so much as Brexit to reopen the question of Irish unification. Britishness is an invented identity. It is deliberately expansive, calculated during the 19th century to cast empire as a joint project of the four nations of the UK. More recently, as the empire came home, it has provided a welcoming mantle for immigrants from former imperial outposts. British citizens of overseas heritage overwhelmingly identify as, well, British. Allegiance to England is seen predominantly as the property of the nation’s white communities.The Leave side understood this during the 2016 referendum. It made two promises: to spend more money on the National Health Service and to shut out an (entirely imagined) influx of migrants from Turkey. Better to spend money on the health service, the less than subtle message ran, than see hospitals overrun by foreigners. The distance between such sentiments and the overt racism of extremists such as the English Defence League is perilously short.To watch Britain’s descent into chaos in recent times has been to see the threads of Britishness, woven over centuries, unravel. Identity politics has elbowed aside common purpose. The tears in the fabric run alongside borders and within them. It is hard to imagine how they can be repaired. philip.stephens@ft.com
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #67 on: April 04, 2019, 12:42:37 PM »
https://www.ft.com/content/e4b113f0-5552-11e9-91f9-b6515a54c5b1

   Marshfield Tory 5ptsFeatured19 minutes ago In 2030 Ulster will  have a Catholic majority.  Wages and salaries in the Republic are 60/70% higher.    That makes it likely that a referendum would pull Ulster southwards particularly because of the EU benefits.   The DUP are sitting on a timebomb.


   
   https://www.ft.com/content/e4b113f0-5552-11e9-91f9-b6515a54c5b1

   RePS 5ptsFeatured14 minutes agoAt the time of the partition of Ireland, Northern Ireland was among the wealthiest parts of the UK, indeed of the world. It was vastly more prosperous than the southern part of the island and this divergence was among the drivers for partition.Today NI is an economic basket case. Productivity is miserable even by UK standards. This is partly due to underinvestment but the poor work ethic also plays a role.The union has been a disaster for Northern Ireland. Combine this with changes in ethnicity and the disastrous handling of Brexit - change is inevitable.The DUP (and unfortunately most of the other political groups there) are unable to address the fundamental issues of the economy, remaining mired in yesterday's history.
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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #68 on: April 04, 2019, 02:30:13 PM »

seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #69 on: April 05, 2019, 08:33:34 AM »
https://www.ft.com/content/9496494c-56da-11e9-a3db-1fe89bedc16e

   May’s Brexit talks with Labour make little progress
PM and Corbyn facing increasing opposition to cross-party initiative

George Parker and Jim Pickard in London and Alex Barker in Brussels

Theresa May’s hopes of securing a deal with Labour on Brexit before a crucial EU summit were fading on Thursday, after a second day of cross-party talks broke up without agreement and opposition to the initiative hardened.Downing Street said negotiations with Labour would continue on Friday and that both sides were “mindful of the need to make progress” ahead of the European Council meeting next Wednesday, where the prime minister is expected to ask for a delay to Brexit beyond the scheduled date of April 12.But while the initial talks between Mrs May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday were described as “constructive”, there was less optimism on Thursday as the two teams struggled to find common ground on a Brexit Plan B.The apparent lack of progress was reinforced when attorney-general Geoffrey Cox told the BBC that if the talks failed the prime minister would be forced by EU leaders to accept a “long” delay to Brexit. “I mean longer than just a few weeks or months,” he said.Mrs May announced talks with Mr Corbyn on Tuesday after she admitted her Brexit deal was deadlocked in parliament. Downing Street said she was approaching the talks in a “constructive spirit” and took care not to close down any plan B options.But the prime minister’s move has been fiercely criticised by Tory MPs, with threats of a full-scale revolt if she accepts Labour’s proposal for a customs union between the UK and the EU after Brexit.
Many Labour MPs believe Mr Corbyn should play no part in helping Mrs May to deliver Brexit, and the party is split on whether it should demand a second “confirmatory” referendum on any exit deal.“The government and the opposition hope to meet again tomorrow for further work to find a way forward to deliver on the referendum,” Downing Street said in a statement after senior Conservative and Labour figures held talks lasting more than four hours on Thursday.But one shadow cabinet member said the government had not proved it was “prepared to flex over any lines we have called for”.
Much focus is on whether Mrs May and Mr Corbyn can agree to a customs union as the basis of a future relationship between the UK and the EU.It is strongly opposed by Eurosceptic Tories, but Downing Street suggested it might be acceptable on the grounds that future parliaments “in generations to come” might decide to pull out of the customs union.Cabinet ministers are deeply divided on how to break the Brexit impasse at Westminster. Chancellor Philip Hammond said on Wednesday that a second referendum was a “perfectly credible proposition”, but health secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday he was “very, very strongly against”.Another cabinet minister said there was no way Mr Corbyn would help Mrs May out of her Brexit crisis “It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Labour politics,” he added. “There’s a complete lack of strategy.” The shadow cabinet is also divided. Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer, backed by shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, wants a second referendum on any exit deal but others are opposed.Some 25 Labour MPs — including former minister Caroline Flint and others representing Leave-voting seats — wrote to Mr Corbyn on Thursday, saying another referendum should not be part of a deal.If the talks between Mrs May and Mr Corbyn fail to produce an agreed Plan B, she has promised to test parliamentary opinion for different forms of Brexit — including her deal — in a series of Commons votes, but time is now short before Wednesday’s EU summit.
   
         The earliest the votes could take place would be Tuesday. Such a step would be highly risky, not least because if Mrs May held indicative votes and no Brexit option received a Commons majority, she would arrive in Brussels with no agreed plan.Since the EU is demanding to know from Mrs May what she would do with any extension to the Article 50 divorce process, Downing Street hinted that she would hold in reserve the idea of asking for a new Commons process.“The European Council is likely to be looking for clarity on steps going forward in the UK parliament,” said Mrs May’s spokesman.
Ahead of the EU summit, Mrs May will have to formally request an extension to Article 50 in a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk, with Eurosceptics cabinet ministers opposed to a long delay to Brexit.The prime minister will stress that Britain must be able to terminate the extension when — or if — her withdrawal agreement is ratified.Senior EU diplomats are concerned that Mrs May will avoid explicitly requesting a long Article 50 extension to avoid upsetting Brexiters.But London has been warned by Brussels not to expect EU leaders to impose a long extension without Mrs May asking for one. One EU diplomat said he could see why Mrs May would “want Europe to set the date”. “That is very dangerous and will not work,” added the diplomat. “It is not possible.”
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #70 on: April 05, 2019, 08:45:55 AM »
https://www.ft.com/content/ad283ac4-561c-11e9-91f9-b6515a54c5b1

   Opinion
   Brexit
A long Brexit extension offers a chance to think again
The withdrawal agreement does not command the needed support in parliament or country
Martin Wolf

Theresa May’s overture to the Labour leader shows, at least, a hideously belated recognition that crashing out without a deal would be utterly irresponsible © PA
            Having been rejected three times by her party’s Brexiter fanatics, Theresa May has at last decided to try something else. The prime minister’s overture to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn shows, at least, a hideously belated recognition that crashing out without a deal would be utterly irresponsible. But, having burnt her bridges with the hardliners, she has to go further. It is not enough to ask Mr Corbyn for help, which might well be unforthcoming. A reason has also to be given to the EU for asking for the long extension the UK clearly needs. That should be another referendum.Let us look not at today’s sorry spectacle in Westminster, but at the broad options available to the UK: a no-deal exit; a softer Brexit acceptable to the EU and the British public and parliament, for which an exit agreement is a necessary condition; and continued membership of the EU. Crashing out is unacceptable. The withdrawal agreement does not attract the needed support, for very good reasons.

That leaves EU membership as the one sane option.According to a recent paper from the Centre for European Reform, the UK economy is already some 2.5 per cent smaller than it would have been if Britain had not decided on Brexit. The knock-on effect on the public finances is, it argues, £360m a week, almost exactly the sum that the fount of economic wisdom, Boris Johnson, promised would be available after Brexit. The figure is in line with other reasonable estimates. Philip Hammond, chancellor of exchequer, used to say that the British people “did not vote to be poorer”. But they did. Alas, it could get far worse.Last week, Mr Johnson argued: “It is time for the [prime minister] to channel the spirit of Moses in Exodus, and say to the Pharaoh in Brussels — LET MY PEOPLE GO.” The view that the British people are enslaved by the EU is laughable. But the analogy is better than Mr Johnson knew. The freed Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. That was not the promise of the Brexit campaign. But it is probably accurate. A no-deal Brexit is likely to deliver a large negative shock, followed by decades of weaker growth in an economy with reduced access to its natural markets and shorn of global confidence.The prime minister is absolutely right to reject this option, though that has come far too late. The natural tendency then is to seek some sort of soft Brexit. But there is a problem with this, indicated by the reaction to the withdrawal deal itself. Any soft Brexit — staying in the customs union, staying in the single market, or staying in the customs union and the single market — requires the UK to accept a wide range of EU conditions, regulations and rules, without enjoying a say in them. The only exception would be a Canada-style free trade agreement. But the EU has made it clear that such a deal would only be possible if Northern Ireland were treated separately from the rest of the UK and so there would need to be a customs and regulatory border in the Irish Sea. But that has, in turn, been unacceptable to parliament.It is a reasonable judgment, supported by behaviour in parliament, that such a halfway house is very unlikely to be acceptable in the long run. The UK is not a small country, in the European context. It is most unlikely to accept such subordination to the EU political process in the long term. It will probably not accept it even in the medium term. It would indeed be “vassalage”. If no-deal Brexit is insane and a soft Brexit ultimately unacceptable, the only sensible option becomes staying inside the EU. But that would only be possible after another referendum, conducted on the basis of the options we know: a no-deal Brexit; the prime minister’s withdrawal deal; and withdrawing the application to leave. Such a referendum would be complex, but not impossible.How should the EU confront such a possibility? The starting point is that it only makes sense to offer a long extension if something might change. Another referendum would be such a change. A general election might also be such a change. But the crucial choice for the EU is this: should it be rid of this impossible, even unhinged, country, even though a no-deal Brexit could do significant harm to the bloc and perhaps even to the credibility of the European project? Or does it offer a lengthy extension in return for the UK’s willingness to rethink what it wants to do, including another referendum?Who, the EU must constantly have wondered, will rid us of this turbulent country? Happily, comes the answer, it is willing to do so itself. Yet think again: just as the UK will always be European, so will the EU always have the UK as a neighbour. This may be the last chance for the two sides to rethink. Take it
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #71 on: April 05, 2019, 09:20:23 AM »
https://www.ft.com/content/a190dac8-576f-11e9-91f9-b6515a54c5b1

   Donald Tusk offers UK flexible extension to Brexit
      
               Proposal aims to overcome doubts over EU divorce delay in Europe and London

Alex Barker in Brussels and Henry Mance in London
Donald Tusk is offering Britain a one-year delay to Brexit that could be shortened if the House of Commons passes an exit treaty, a proposal aimed at overcoming reservations about a long extension in London and other European capitals.The European Council president has told colleagues the idea of such a “flextension” — which runs up to April 12, 2020 — is the “only reasonable way out” of the impasse over Brexit with Britain’s withdrawal treaty still stuck in parliament. Negotiators representing Theresa May, the prime minister, and the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are to meet again on Friday for a third day of talks, although there has been little sign so far that they are close to a Brexit compromise that could pass the House of Commons. A bill, led by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, compelling the prime minister to seek an extension to the Article 50 divorce process was delayed in the House of Lords on Thursday, and will now not become law until Monday at the earliest. Mr Tusk’s idea of a “flextension”, first reported by the BBC, remains controversial both in London and the EU. Brexiters fear the long extension is a ploy by pro-EU MPs to reverse Britain’s decision to leave. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has warned Britain not to take a long extension “for granted”, saying the EU will not accept being held hostage to a Westminster crisis.Mrs May is expected to send a letter to Mr Tusk on Friday requesting an extension to Britain’s April 12 exit date. With cabinet divided over what end-date to put on the extension, EU diplomats are concerned it will only ask for a short delay to May 22 or June 30, the day before the new European Parliament is inaugurated. Mr Tusk’s proposal is aimed at finding a middle ground between those in the EU who are unwilling to approve a series of short extensions and Brexiters who want to leave the EU as soon as possible. Any change to Britain’s exit date requires unanimous agreement between the UK and the 27 remaining EU leaders, who will discuss the issue at a summit on Wednesday.
One senior EU official said Mr Tusk told colleagues: “We could give the UK a year-long extension, automatically terminated once the withdrawal agreement has been accepted and ratified by the House of Commons. And even if this were not possible, then the UK would still have enough time to rethink its Brexit strategy.” “Short extension if possible and a long one if necessary,” he added. “It seems to be a good scenario for both sides, as it gives the UK all the necessary flexibility, while avoiding the need to meet every few weeks to further discuss Brexit extensions.”There is no impediment to bringing forward Britain’s exit date in Article 50 of the EU treaty, which sets the terms for exit negotiations. It lays down an extendable two-year limit on negotiations but makes clear that a member state can leave “from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement”.Mr Tusk will face a bigger challenge convincing other EU leaders to demand a long extension, even if Britain is requesting a short delay. One senior EU diplomat said he could not see why Mrs May would “want Europe to set the date”. “That is very dangerous and will not work. It is not possible,” the diplomat said. Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, has at the same time made clear that a short delay to Brexit would be dependent on the Commons passing a withdrawal agreement by the end of next week.
         Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is open to offering the UK more time, putting her at odds with Mr Macron, who has been vocal about his reservations.The French president wants Britain to offer a clear justification for any extension and would be expected to question why the EU would offer a longer delay if Mrs May is unable to make a case for it. The EU would require Britain to hold European Parliament elections if any extension goes beyond May 23. Downing Street has made clear it will continue with election preparations and issue an order for the election poll by April 11.Several member states also want assurances from the UK over how it would use its voting rights during a long delay, especially during negotiations over the EU budget or in selecting the leaders of EU institutions.
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #72 on: April 08, 2019, 11:32:22 AM »
https://www.ft.com/content/4e252d4c-579e-11e9-a3db-1fe89bedc16e

   Cross-party Brexit talks strengthen case for an extension
      
               May and Corbyn only need to agree on the political principles underpinning the UK’s withdrawal
      
         Wolfgang Münchau

A scent of compromise hangs in the air. The talks between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn could be the decisive moment. I have no idea whether the UK prime minister and the leader of the opposition will succeed. Maybe not. But they stand a good chance of accomplishing a critical immediate goal: an agreement on Wednesday by EU leaders in the European Council to extend Friday’s official Brexit deadline. At their last meeting, the council insisted on a political way forward as a condition for a longer extension. Here it is: a cross-party process. This has not been tried before.It reduces both the chances of a no-deal Brexit and of a second referendum simultaneously. Neither the UK nor the EU are prepared for a no-deal Brexit. Experts in the medical equipment sector fear critical supply shortages that would occur in both directions under no-deal.

Potential supply bottlenecks into the UK were well known, but I was not aware that the EU, too, was reliant on imported medical kit from the UK. It would be irresponsible for politicians to seek a no-deal Brexit given that such risks are not yet fully understood.The other extreme option would be a second referendum. It could have stood a chance if pitched against a no-deal Brexit once all the other options had been eliminated. But events have intruded. Mrs May is right to conclude that the preservation of Conservative party unity can no longer take precedence after MPs rejected the withdrawal agreement three times. Her leadership of the party and her time in office will end this year. She has concluded that she needs to co-opt the opposition leader to achieve a cross-party majority. What happened in the UK reminds me a little of Germany’s grand coalitions, which happen whenever it is impossible for one or the other large party to find a majority. It is deeply ironic that at the point of its departure the UK is becoming so very European in this respect.I would advocate either June, as suggested by Mrs May, or the end of December as extension dates. A June deadline makes sense because whatever needs to be decided now can be decided within a few weeks. Mercifully, there is no need for Mrs May and Mr Corbyn to agree on the specific contents of a soft Brexit. I liked the rather vague proposal by Kenneth Clarke, the Conservative MP and former chancellor, in favour of a permanent customs union. There is no point in discussing specifics at this stage because any agreement will take years of negotiations. All Mrs May and Mr Corbyn need to achieve is to find consensus on the political principles underpinning Brexit. Mrs May will have to remove one of her red lines. Labour will need to drop the second referendum, probably not a problem for Mr Corbyn personally. Both already agree on ending free movement. The hardest question will be: would a new Conservative leader and prime minister still respect the compromise?

This is why the extension date matters so much. The EU should consider carefully the consequences of a very long extension. The most logical long extension date would be end-December, with a final decision taken at the European Council’s December meeting. Mrs May cannot be removed by her party beforehand. A December extension would take EU leaders beyond a critical period in the autumn, during which they need to settle important issues: appointments of the presidents of the European Commission, European Council and European Central Bank. They will also need to deal with the aftermath of the European elections.If the European Council were to extend into 2020, they may find themselves with Boris Johnson as Conservative leader and a full voting member of their illustrious circle. EU leaders should treat December as the outer limit of Mrs May’s own departure date because they want to ensure they make the deal with her. An extension based on cross-party talks should satisfy Emmanuel Macron.

 The French president is right to oppose an unconditional extension. But he should agree to an intelligent compromise. As a quid pro quo he could insist that EU leaders commit not to extend the deadline again. This might also help focus confused minds in the UK parliament, and spare us from further silly amendments like those that seek to take no-deal off the table.Mrs May’s strategy is not foolproof. The cross-party talks might fail. There could be a political accident in the European Council. There could be a general election in the UK.The hardcore supporters of a second referendum will not support this. Nor will the no-dealers. What I do not know is whether those willing to compromise will outnumber those who do not. But what I am certain of is that a cross-party compromise is the only path towards an agreed Brexit this side of a general election.
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #73 on: April 08, 2019, 04:36:11 PM »
   https://www.ft.com/content/d9bba980-5794-11e9-a3db-1fe89bedc16e

Global economy enters ‘synchronised slowdown’
Disappointing indicators show similar picture in US, China and Europe

            Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, said the IMF would cut its growth forecasts © AFP
Chris Giles in London
yesterday
The global economy has entered a “synchronised slowdown” which may be difficult to reverse in 2019, according to the latest update of a tracking index compiled by the Brookings Institution think-tank and the Financial Times. Sentiment indicators and economic data across advanced and emerging economies have been deteriorating since last autumn, suggesting fading momentum in global growth and the need to resort to new forms of economic stimulus. The worsening outlook has sparked warnings from Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, who said the fund would cut its growth forecasts later this week, and the World Trade Organization which has said the continued threats of trade skirmishes had weakened forecasts. The findings follow generally disappointing economic indicators over the past six months that have shown a similar picture in the US, China and in Europe. Professor Eswar Prasad of the Brookings Institution said the slowdown did not yet appear to be heading for a global recession, but all parts of the world economy were losing momentum.
 “The nature of the slowdown has ominous portents for these economies over the next few years, especially given present constraints on macroeconomic policies that could stimulate growth,” he said. The Brookings-FT Tracking Index for the Global Economic Recovery (Tiger) compares indicators of real activity, financial markets and investor confidence with their historical averages for the global economy and for individual countries.The headline readings slipped back significantly at the end of last year and are at their lowest levels for both advanced and emerging economies since 2016, the year of the weakest global economic performance since the financial crisis.The index fell partly because hard data indicating real economic activity has been weaker, with countries such as Italy falling into recession and Germany narrowly avoiding one and with the US economy losing steam as the effects of Donald Trump’s tax cuts wear off. Although economic sentiment remains high in advanced economies, it has fallen from its peaks and has plummeted to well below normal levels in emerging economies, led by fears that China’s years of rapid economic growth are coming to an end. Athough China’s economy has been showing signs of improvement following government efforts to stimulate capital spending and the US Federal Reserve’s reversal of its plans for further interest rate rises this year has had a steadying effect, economic confidence has taken a knock over the past six months. Growth indicators in Europe have been disappointing, Prof Prasad said. Globally, only India stands out as an exception to the slowing trend, boosted by fiscal and monetary stimulus ahead of national elections starting later this month. Delays in the anticipated trade rapprochement between the US and China have also raised questions over the prospects for greater momentum in the world economy in the second half of the year. “Trade tensions and the uncertainty they have spawned are likely to leave a long-lasting scar on the world economy. This uncertainty is undermining business confidence and depressing private investment, which has implications for longer-term productivity growth,” Prof Prasad said, He added that any weakness might be amplified by policymakers’ inability to provide effective stimulus to boost prospects later this year. “High levels of public debt are likely to limit the ability of major advanced economies to counteract a slowdown with fiscal stimulus,” he said. “Conventional monetary policy remains constrained in many advanced economies where policy rates are close to or below zero, while any further unconventional monetary policy actions present significant risks and uncertain pay-offs.”
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #74 on: April 08, 2019, 06:03:42 PM »
https://youtu.be/tg00YEETFzg

https://www.ft.com/content/d2708be8-59d6-11e9-9dde-7aedca0a081a

Conservatives will pay a heavy price for weaponising Brexit
      
               Letting hardliners frame the debate has exposed the UK to division and humiliation
      
         Robert Shrimsley
Robert Shrimsley
 “There must have been a time, in the beginning, when we could have said — no,” says one of the eponymous heroes of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in the seconds before his execution. “But somehow we missed it. Oh well, we’ll know better next time.”When, before long, the Conservatives stand facing their moment of electoral oblivion, what will they identify as that missed moment of the Brexit process since the 2016 referendum that might have made everything different?This is not merely a historical inquiry. If the UK is now heading into a lengthy Brexit extension, we will be doing this all again, but under a different Tory leader who disavows Theresa May’s new consensus-seeking approach.The process has deepened division, seen decent MPs held in disdain, threatened and abused.

A recent poll shows voters tempted by the idea of a strong leader less beholden to parliament. At last, the prime minister has reached out to Labour to “break the logjam”. It may be far too late and far from certain to end well, but already her move has shown what might have been and thus the scale of Conservative culpability.So here, then, is the answer to the Guildenstern question. Mrs May’s crucial decision came in the months before her 2017 snap election: that her party would own and weaponise Brexit. This was a political calculation, first to secure herself the leadership, and then to create divisions for party advantage.The Vote Leave campaign had already brilliantly exploited voter anger by effectively offering Brexit as the answer to austerity.

The Tories tried to repeat the trick. Brexit became their differentiation from Labour, the answer to the cry for change; no longer a national challenge but a political weapon. The tactic crushed the UK Independence party and secured 42 per cent of the vote, but drove Remain voters to Labour. We can only guess how it might have played had Mrs May offered a gentler Brexit. She would have lost some votes but might have saved others in places that mattered more and prevented the demographic shift that is turning her party into the refuge of the old and angry. Before the election, when Mrs May seemed at her most powerful, was the moment for a new direction. She chose not to take it. Afterwards she was too weak to alter course.Hindsight is always 20:20 and there was a logic to her choices.
But by making Brexit an entirely Conservative conversation she framed the choice as between a hard and very hard Brexit. Mrs May was always going to face hardliners, but the larger, quieter mass of Tory MPs was ready to back any sensible proposition had it been pointed in that direction. What is now a split might have been only a splinter. Instead, she let Brexit be defined by preening ultras, unmoored from accountability, too visibly enjoying the media spotlight, whose idea of debate is saying “up yours” to the chancellor of the exchequer. One can see why Mrs May did not want to work with Jeremy Corbyn. Oppositions don’t tend to bail out governments and the Labour leader has been cynical, but Mrs May never challenged him to be otherwise.
Imagine if, having won the leadership, Mrs May had made a real effort to seek consensus. Britain’s position on Brexit would have been framed, not as a choice between two harsh exits, but as an accommodation that befitted a 52:48 outcome. On the day after the referendum, even leading Leave supporters were entertaining the compromise of remaining in the EU’s single market. It was only later that positions hardened.A joint commission on Brexit, including senior Labour moderates, could have shaped the UK’s position. The Brexit ultras would have been marginalised. The entire nature of the debate would have changed — focusing on models of co-operation, customs union versus the single market, perhaps.

Instead many Remainers who initially accepted defeat, have been pushed into fighting for a second vote. There is no longer any credit for the Tories in owning Brexit, not least because so many of its leaders decry what they may deliver. Instead they face an electoral reckoning for the damage done in trying to weaponise the process. It is a double blow for Britain that the result may be a Corbyn government.Maybe the alternative vision is too optimistic. The extremes of an argument often pull their sides away from the middle ground. But letting hardliners frame the debate has exposed the UK to more division, anger, humiliation and economic damage. So yes, there was a moment when things could have been different. Oh well, we’ll know better next time.
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