Open thread: Brexit


in Economics, Law, Politics, The environment

Will it really happen? Or will the U.K. find some way to pull out before invoking Article 50?

The consequences of the leave vote were evidently predictable. This is from June 18th: “If Remain wins on June 23rd, Brexiteers will tell voters they were conned. If Leave wins, Mr Cameron will go and his successor will negotiate a Brexit that does not remotely resemble the promises of the Leave campaign, which trades on the lie that Britain can have full access to the European single market without being bound by its regulations and free-movement rules.”

Also — what impact will this have on global climate efforts? Early signs are not encouraging.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

. July 16, 2016 at 9:20 pm

Commenting on the need to act to stabilise the economy, Mr Haldane, said: “Put differently, I would rather run the risk of taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut than taking a miniature rock hammer to tunnel my way out of prison – like another Andy, the one in the Shawshank Redemption.
“And yes, I know Andy did eventually escape. But it did take him 20 years. The MPC does not have that same ‘luxury’.”

. July 16, 2016 at 10:57 pm
. July 19, 2016 at 4:33 pm

UK’s new premier axes Department of Energy and Climate Change

The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been scrapped and its brief folded into the newly created Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) department. The formation of BEIS, which was announced yesterday following Theresa May’s appointment as the new British Prime Minister, adds energy-related matters to the remit of its predecessor the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

. July 19, 2016 at 4:55 pm

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has not changed the country’s commitment to investing in low-carbon energy, including new nuclear, nor its efforts to tackle climate change, Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom told members of parliament (MPs) today. Meanwhile, a report issued by the National Audit Office (NAO) says the UK “lacks a proven, skilled supply chain to support the construction of a new power station”.

She said: “The UK’s climate change commitments are grounded in the UK 2008 Climate Change Act, which commits us to a reduction in emissions of 80% by 2050, from 1990 levels. Our membership of the EU has no impact on our commitment to this Act, as shown by our decision to accept the Committee’s advice on the level of the 5th Carbon Budget just two weeks ago.”

. July 19, 2016 at 4:57 pm

The Brexit effect on UK nuclear

EDF Energy, NuGeneration and Horizon Nuclear Power have all stressed their commitment to the UK’s nuclear new build program, despite the country’s decision to leave the European Union. Nevertheless, the majority vote in favour of ‘Brexit’ – decided in a national referendum held yesterday – may have implications for investment in new reactors and nuclear research, as well for the UK’s future role in meeting climate change targets, industry participants said.

. July 28, 2016 at 2:01 pm

You interviewed Chris [Hayes] about Brexit and I just want to submit to you that the mistake the U.K. media and U.K. elites made with Brexit is the exact same one that the U.S. media and U.S. elites are making about Trump. U.K. elites were uniform, uniform, in their contempt for the Brexit case, other than the right-wing Murdochian tabloids. They all sat on Twitter all day long, from the left to the right, and all reinforced each other about how smart and how sophisticated they were in scorning and [being snide] about UKIP and Boris Johnson and all of the Brexit leaders, and they were convinced that they had made their case. Everyone they were talking to—which is themselves—agreed with them. It was constant reinforcement, and anyone who raised even a peep of dissent or questioned the claims they were making was instantly castigated as somebody who was endangering the future of the U.K. because they were endorsing—or at least impeding—the effort to stop Brexit. This is what’s happening now.

But this gets back to the point I was trying to make earlier, which is, if you are someone who wants to stop Trump or Brexit, your goal should be to communicate effectively with the people who believe it is in their interest to support Trump or Brexit. I think in general there is no effort on the part of media elites to communicate with those people and do anything other than tell them that they are primitive, racist, and stupid. And if the message being sent is that you are primitive, racist, and stupid, and not that you have been fucked over in ways that are really bad and need to be rectified, of course those people are not going to be receptive to the message coming from the people who view them with contempt and scorn. I think that is why Brexit won, and I think that is the real danger of Trump winning.

. August 8, 2016 at 5:03 pm

Perhaps. But there is another side to the story. A Europe with the Britain sucked out of it will take a distinctly dirigiste turn, warns Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Estonia’s president. Its ambitions on trade, the digital single market and energy—precisely the sorts of programmes the low-growth EU ought to be focusing on—will shrink without their largest champion, and the band of smaller liberal northern countries who have traditionally looked to Britain for a political steer will find themselves exposed to the protectionist instincts of the southerners. Add to that the time, resources and energy that will be poured into the extraordinarily complex task of disentangling the two partners of this 43-year-old relationship, and it becomes clear that Brexit is good for no one.

It may be for this reason that Project Denial is in full swing throughout Europe. When the moment comes, say some, no British prime minister will pull the trigger pointing towards his or her head. Others wonder if a lifeline might be thrown to Britain in a year or two; perhaps a concession on migration could be sold to voters in a second referendum. Meanwhile Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson, a possible successor to Mr Cameron, persist in the illusion that they can secure an exit deal for Britain that contains everything they want, including access to the single market, and nothing they dislike, such as free movement for EU workers.

Europe’s other leaders laugh at that idea. Perhaps they suffer from ideological rigidity; perhaps they are defending core European values. Either way, it illustrates the gulf of mutual incomprehension that has finally doomed this gainful but troubled relationship. Alas, there will be lots more misunderstanding in the years ahead, as Britain attempts to extract the maximum advantages from its withdrawal and the remaining countries close ranks. The best hope for both sides is that they can reach an arrangement that resembles but falls well short of what they have left behind. That will be a sad requiem for a partnership that once promised, and delivered, so much. So don’t forget to hug a Brit.

. August 11, 2016 at 9:35 pm
. August 11, 2016 at 9:40 pm
. August 16, 2016 at 11:59 am
. October 13, 2016 at 12:29 am

Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, moved to quell dissent over Brexit at a cabinet meeting to brainstorm plans to leave the EU. She was clear that there would be no second referendum and that Britain would not attempt to stay in the EU “by the back door”. Mrs May also ruled out holding an early election. A vote now could give her Conservative Party a sizeable increased majority: opposition Labour MPs are still trying ineptly to get rid of their hapless leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

. October 13, 2016 at 12:34 am

AFTER Britain voted to leave the European Union on June 23rd, financial markets took fright. Sterling lost one-tenth of its value in two days of trading. The FTSE 250, an index of domestically focused firms, fell by 14%. Remainers predicted that Leave voters would soon suffer from an acute case of buyer’s remorse. Yet as the summer has worn on, the mood has changed. Companies have not fled Britain en masse. The pound has stabilised and the FTSE 250 is up on its pre-referendum level. Polls suggest that few Brexiteers regret their vote: indeed, many of them now argue that the pre-referendum doom-mongering was overblown, and some even detect the beginning of a “Brexit boom”. What is the reality?

What of exports, which Brexiteers forecast would soar following a fall in the pound? A survey of manufacturing firms on September 1st showed strong growth in sales to places like America and China. Yet hopes of an export boom should be tempered. A high proportion of exports’ content is made up of imports, which are now pricier. And British exports compete mainly on “non-price” factors, such as quality and customer service, making them insensitive to currency fluctuations. When sterling fell by a similar amount in 2008-09, net exports barely responded.

. January 26, 2017 at 6:51 pm

The curious thing is that Brexit was supposed to be about “taking back control”: immunising the country from foreign whim and interest, while asserting national dignity and independence. Increasingly that looks like a bad joke. The British elite feels it has no choice but to prostrate itself before an American president it clearly finds odious. To keep businesses from moving elsewhere, Britain may have to shadow EU regulations and pay into EU programmes without the chance to shape either. Its trade deals will be forged with a fraction of the negotiating force that has long promoted its interests. That means more concessions to the tariff and regulatory preferences of foreigners. Its application to become a full member of the World Trade Organisation is yet another opportunity for others to impose conditions and costs.

And pause to contemplate Mrs May’s threat to turn Britain into a tax haven if it gets a poor deal in Brussels. The prime minister is politically almighty. She faces virtually no serious opposition or credible rivals within her Conservative Party, which is close to record highs in the polls. Her premiership’s raison d’être is to make the social safety net stronger for “just about managing” citizens. Yet if foreign leaders decide not to make concessions, she says she will be forced to rip up that plan and do the very opposite: slash public services and regulation. Some “control”, that.

. March 29, 2017 at 8:21 pm
. April 18, 2017 at 3:24 pm
. June 9, 2017 at 9:32 pm

Brussels is not cheered by Theresa May’s weakened mandate

The EU worries that Britain’s political chaos will make Brexit negotiations even harder

. December 31, 2017 at 1:21 am

“I think, unfortunately, it is of a piece with the nervous breakdown that has taken place across Whitehall since Brexit,” Adonis says. “The senior civil service is now totally drained physically and psychologically by attempting to deliver the impossible with Brexit, such that it is no longer able to deliver the ordinary business of government. This is now apparent department by department, and in the Department for Transport it is why we have had the breakdown of good government over the East Coast line and the threats to me. It is deeply unpleasant.”

He paints a picture of a political system that is consumed by an impossible goal of securing a Brexit that is good for the UK economy, and a civil service at war with its governing masters.

“Good government has essentially broken down in the face of Brexit. Normal standards of conduct are not being observed. Independent advice is being dismissed because, remember, experts were supposedly part of the problem.

“There is very low morale in Whitehall because almost no civil servants agree with the policy of the government. I do not think there has ever been a period when the civil service has been more disaffected with the government it serves. I do not know a single senior civil servant who thinks that Brexit is the right policy, and those that are responsible for negotiating it are in a desperate and constant argument with the government over the need to minimise the damage done by the prime minister’s hard-Brexit stance.

. February 20, 2018 at 3:14 pm
. July 10, 2018 at 3:52 pm

Theresa May survives a Brexit rebellion for now as Tories face spectre of losing power

British Prime Minister Theresa May has survived a threat to her leadership and plans to press ahead with her Brexit strategy despite growing opposition and a tricky upcoming meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Ms. May looked to be on shaky ground on Monday after three pro-Brexit cabinet ministers resigned, including leadership rival Boris Johnson, and several Conservative members of Parliament called on her to step down. The departing ministers quit in protest over what they see as Ms. May’s growing softness on Brexit and her latest proposal, which includes a customs arrangement with the European Union. The “dream” of Brexit was “dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt,” Mr. Johnson said in his resignation letter.

. August 20, 2018 at 3:39 pm

The difficulty is deciding how to pick a winner. Peter Kellner, a polling expert and Prospect columnist, notes that a single set of results could produce three possible winners, via first-past-the-post (picking the option with most first-preference votes), alternative vote (adding the second preferences of the bottom-ranked option to the tallies of the top two) or a Condorcet system (picking the overall winner of the three possible head-to-head contests). A poll last month for The Economist by YouGov, asking voters to rank hard Brexit, soft Brexit and Remain, returned exactly such a result (see chart). With a second referendum, “there is already potential for a crisis of democratic legitimacy,” notes Akash Paun of the Institute for Government, a think-tank. A complex vote with multiple interpretations would not help.

Such a referendum would also introduce dangers that might make Remainers think twice. One is that the EU would have less incentive to offer a good deal if a referendum was on the cards—indeed, it might have an incentive to offer a bad one, in the hope that Britain would therefore choose to remain, as most Eurocrats would prefer.

It would also be fantastically risky to put “no deal” on the ballot, giving voters an option that no one except the loopiest Brexiteers supports. Ms Greening calls such an option a “clean break”, a phrase which Malcolm Barr of J.P. Morgan, a bank, describes as “a big misrepresentation”. Trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms is one thing. Leaving with no agreement on anything from aviation to citizens’ rights and radioactive materials would be dramatically worse, and not a “clean” break at all.

. March 10, 2019 at 8:41 pm
. July 18, 2019 at 4:19 pm

Police in Britain reported that two devices planted on rail tracks to cause disruption were related to Brexit, as one had a note attached threatening to bring the country to “its knees if we don’t leave”. The troublemaker’s plans were derailed because of EU safety regulations to detect sabotage.

. August 13, 2019 at 10:56 pm
. August 26, 2019 at 10:31 am

For however passionately Mr Johnson wants to leave the European Union—which, given his historical willingness to adjust his beliefs to circumstance, is probably not very—his interests are different to the hardliners’. Their priority is to leave the EU, and damn the consequences; his is to stay in power. And the contingency plans for leaving without a deal that the mandarins will show him over the next few weeks—which, according to leaks, include imposing direct rule on Northern Ireland, averting widespread bankruptcies and managing civil disorder—will make it painfully clear how much could go wrong. He will be responsible for whatever happens, and many voters will be very angry with him.

. August 29, 2019 at 1:09 am

Robert Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, said Whitehall would have to think carefully about whether to put ministers’ instructions into effect. “We are reaching the point where the civil service must consider putting its stewardship of the country ahead of service to the government of the day,” he said.

Milan September 1, 2019 at 7:53 pm
. September 3, 2019 at 1:32 pm

Such uncertainties explain why many mps now talk of a vote of no confidence. The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, promises to propose one soon after the Commons returns on September 3rd. Mr Johnson’s government has a working majority of just one, so it requires only a handful of Tories to switch sides for a vote to succeed. Yet Mr Johnson will say he needs more time to secure a deal. It is hard for backbenchers to vote down their own government, which may be why since 1945 only one vote of no confidence has succeeded, against Labour’s James Callaghan in 1979.

The rules were also changed by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act of 2011. Previously, any vote of no confidence would trigger the prime minister’s resignation and a general election. But the 2011 act allows a period of 14 days during which either the sitting prime minister or an alternative tries to form a government that can win mps’ confidence. Only if these attempts fail must an election be called, on a date fixed by the outgoing prime minister. As Catherine Haddon of the Institute for Government, a think-tank, notes, it is not even clear under the act that the prime minister must resign, though a refusal to do so would produce a constitutional row that might even involve the queen.

. September 9, 2019 at 4:24 pm
. September 26, 2019 at 11:50 pm
. May 16, 2020 at 4:39 pm

At the same time the wild men of Brexit have been consigned to the shadows. Jacob Rees-Mogg and Mark François have disappeared entirely; Priti Patel, the home secretary, emerged briefly to perform poorly in a press briefing and has since vaporised. Even hard-core Brexiteers have begun to treat Donald Trump as a mad uncle in the attic rather than the leader of a global realignment. And more moderate Brexiteers have transformed themselves into centrists. On leaving hospital Mr Johnson delivered a rhapsodic—and moving—address about the NHS (“the best of us”). Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has taken to calling the TUC “social partners” in a way that makes him sound like a German Christian Democrat or pre-Thatcher Tory.

. July 11, 2020 at 8:57 pm

Britain formally left the eu on January 31st, and is now in a transition period until the end of the year, during which time a deal on future relations is meant to be thrashed out. If it is not, and Britain ends that transition without a trade deal, the impact on the economy is likely to be painful.

The prospects are not good. Talks are deadlocked. The two sides have taken extreme positions on fisheries, governance and competition. The chances of sealing a deal in six months look slim. The first, supposedly easier, stage of Brexit talks on withdrawal took 30 months to finish. Negotiating this stage remotely is an unwelcome complication.

Under the withdrawal treaty, the two sides can choose before the end of June to extend the transition for up to two years. After that, any extension would need a fresh treaty and the approval of all 27 national and some regional parliaments. That makes brinkmanship risky. The obvious solution is for Mr Johnson, when he meets eu leaders virtually next week, to ask for an extension. Voters think he should, according to most polls. Yet he refuses to do so.

. October 15, 2020 at 1:19 pm

Britons alarmed by unpleasant border infrastructure they demanded

Kent, in southeast England, voted overwhelmingly for Brexit. Now they get to watch their green and pleasant land replaced by the sprawling border control infrastructure this entails. Pictured here is a local newspaper cover showing the sheer vastness of one parking lot required to host trucks that can no longer simply roll off to Europe. I’m sure the smell will be lovely, too.

They are holding a “public consultancy” about the development, but construction is already well underway. Second thoughts are … verboten.

“It is not an opportunity for the Remainers to have a go at Brexit,” said a local official, Paul Bartlett, quoted in The Kentish Express. “But it is an opportunity for the people who want to genuinely have a say about the impact it will have on the community.”

. February 20, 2021 at 1:06 pm

Ports feel the chill as trade re-routes around Brexit Britain | Business | The Guardian

. March 22, 2021 at 1:24 pm

Brexit: Rotting fish, lost business and piles of red tape hit Britain – CNN

. May 4, 2021 at 9:41 pm

Mr Biden’s biggest threat, though, is not to the pace of Brexit but to its meaning. With the election of Mr Trump in 2016, Britain could claim that it was in the slipstream of history, as one of the first to abandon a collapsing global order; the election of an inveterate multilateralist like Mr Biden would make it look as if it is stuck in a cul-de-sac while America moves on. Brexiteers hoped that Brexit would have a series of knock-on-effects: the contraction of the European Union as other countries looked for an exit, the rise of the Anglosphere, as Britain forged close relations with the old colonies (including America) and the restoration of self-confident nations at the centre of the global order. But the EU is looking stronger, not weaker, as a result of Brexit, and a Biden administration would push history further in the opposite direction, reinforcing global institutions and making talk of the Anglosphere sound out-of-touch if not barking mad. Indeed, the combination of Biden and Brexit would further erode the central pillar of the Anglosphere: Britain’s special relationship with the United States. Mr Biden and his foreign-policy team want to rebuild the old multilateral system, particularly the Atlantic alliance, but, at the same time, adapt it to the needs of a changing world.

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