What does the EU want out of brexit?

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The brexiter’s have been ratcheting up the rhetoric recently, portraying anyone asking for an extension as “surrender“. And a 2nd referendum they say would be “a betrayal”. Such language is extremely dangerous. Its put MP’s and even their kids at risk. Boris is only a few steps away from becoming a dictator. He suspended parliament and is now trying to find a way to suspend laws he doesn’t like, which would set a dreadful precedence. Woe to the Tories should a hard brexit go through, as they are simply inviting any future hard left government to do the same (or worse!).

But is it really a “betrayal” to want to stay in the EU? There seems to be an automatic assumption that the EU wants the UK to stay. I’d argue that if anything the opposite is true. While yes many europeans would want to avoid seeing the UK leave and we’ve had the odd brain fart from European leaders along the lines of maybe the UK should just stay. But these comments are more exasperation at how messy this process has become.

In truth the EU has long resigned itself to the fact the UK is leaving. After all, its not like the UK was ever the most committed member of the block. And with the UK out of the block, yet probably tied to the EU in some way or form (just unable to veto anything Brussels does), is likely seen as the best of both world’s as far as the Brussels eurocrats are concerned. So the EU wants the UK to leave, but leave with a deal of some sorts. Specifically a deal that doesn’t spark a civil war in NI, or potentially one in Scotland either (given the chances of them leaving after brexit).

But, the brexiters say we don’t want a custom’s union, we want a free trade deal. Well a free trade deal was the EU’s opening bid to Theresa May, but the hard brexiters said no to that. Not because of the backstop, this initial offer contained no such thing. But because it meant NI staying in the single market, with the customs border essentially being at the Irish sea. To the Brussel’s eurocrats this seemed the most pragmatic solution to the problem, given the noises coming out of London. After all, NI’s economy is heavily integrated with Ireland’s and any kind of customs checks would cripple its economy overnight….which would probably lead to NI having a referendum and joining the south.

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The EU’s decision making process and why they felt a Canada style FTA might be the only alternative to no deal

Of course just because Brussels offers you an FTA, doesn’t mean you should take it. Its a good solution…for the EU! It would mean that they’d open up trade with the UK just as much as they need too, but restrict trade in other areas. So they’d allow trade in agricultural products and some manufactured goods, allowing EU states to continue to export to the UK tariff free (but with some customs checks), but then restrict access in other areas (such as finance, seems unlikely they’d concede on this after the cum-ex scandal).

Of course if the UK were to sign similar FTA’s with the US and China, then UK companies would be in the worst of both worlds. Required to meet strict EU standards if they want to export into the block, yet still facing custom’s checks and delays at the border. While also facing competition from cheap low quality products flooding the country tariff free from beyond the EU. Inevitably many UK farmers and manufacturers would go to the wall. After that happens the EU, US and China would carve up what’s left of the UK market between them. I mean why do you think Dyson moved to Singapore and Rees Mogg has relocated his hedge fund to Dublin. They know how its going to go down.

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A FTA is better than no deal, but not by much

This is not too say Brussels is opposed to a custom’s union. Far from it! Their concern is, given how the brexiters claim that the EU is undemocratic (this from a party who has suspended democracy and now wants to suspend the rule of law), you can imagine the fuss the UK will make about being in the situation where they are a rule taker, not a rule maker, yet still paying 90% of what it costs to be a fully signed up EU member.

But yes, if a custom’s union can get voted through parliament then the EU would allow it. In fact I get the impression (from the language in the withdrawal deal) the plan was for May to wait until she was in a position to throw either the hard brexiters or the DUP under the bus (perhaps by doing a deal with Corbyn or winning another post-brexit election), then do a custom’s union and thus negate the need for a backstop.

The reality is that there is only one reason why the UK hasn’t left yet, and its because of the Tory party. If anyone has “betrayed brexit” or “surrendered” (to Putin and Trump) its the Tory party. Had they rallied around some soft brexit option (e.g. the Norway or Swiss model) early on in the process, that would have likely been acceptable to the remainer’s within parliament. And recall, May had a majority at the start of this process. She only pissed away that majority in an effort to win a bigger majority as she couldn’t get the hard brexiters to commit to any softer options. And ironically, the Tories current no deal plans effectively imposes the same status on the NI border as the EU originally proposed.

And those hard brexiters are now taking the hard line position they have now adopted because they are trapped. If they don’t leave the EU by Halloween, they’ll lose support to the brexit party. On the other hand they know they can’t possibly meet all the promises they made in the referendum. Any kind of deal will screw over the UK in some way. So better to go for a no deal then, which would please certain wealthy tax dodgers whom they are in the pocket of (the EU’s tax laws change in January, making it harder to dodge taxes and keep accounts secret, any sort of withdrawal agreement would see the UK still subject to EU laws during this period) and blame the negative consequences of a no deal on the EU, remainers and poor people.

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The downgrading of the UK’s shale gas potential

daryanenergyblog

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While school protests about climate change under way and the country in chaos over brexit, fracking has quietly restarted in the UK…leading to more earthquakes. But a recent report from a pair of UK academics has cast doubt on the amount of shale gas available in the UK. They suggest that shale gas reserves are likely to be just 20% of the size previously estimated. And its still unclear how much of that can be viably tapped.

The problem boils down to how the original estimate was made. It was based on historic knowledge of this shale formation under the UK Midlands (which has been known about for many decades). Compiling the data on this formation, its size was estimated. The amount of gas available was then calculated with the aid of gas density estimates from US shale formations. However it turns out that the shale formations…

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Revoke or referendum, the lib dem’s dilemma

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Normally what’s in the lib dem’s manifesto hardly matters, given the very low probability of them ever being able to implement it. However, with them now vying for 2nd place against labour and the brexit party (and a meltdown with more defections from labour is likely due to heavy handed tactics at conference from Corbyn’s red pioneer brigade), it suddenly becomes a little more relevant. And they’ve promised to not only support a people’s vote, but try to revoke article 50 and cancel brexit altogether.

This has drawn criticism from many quarters, even from other remain supporters, such as Caroline Lucas. And while I would tend to agree, the way out of the current mess is another referendum (preferably legally binding with remain and a definite brexit option on the ballot), but that’s easier said than done. While a 2nd referendum is probably inevitable (even if the UK leaves, there will just be another in ten years time to rejoin), it does not follow through that this will resolve the divide brexit has created in the UK.

To illustrate my point let us suppose that a pro-people’s vote coalition either force Johnson out in October, or win an election. Firstly, in order to have a people’s vote, they need to get another extension. And it will have to be a longish one, ideally a year. The brexiters will run resistance at every turn, slowing down legislation and you need time to run the campaign (the electoral commission says a minimum of 6 months will be needed). Plus, while polls do suggest remain would win, you’d have to allow sometime at the end to get the country ready if leave wins a 2nd time (as there will be no stopping brexit at this point, as its a legally binding poll).

This creates the first obstacle. A long extension might be refused. The eurosceptic nations in the EU want the UK to leave, but leave with a deal, hence they’ve been willing to grant extensions up until now. They might well veto one if its for a people’s vote (especially if its a bearded leftie like Corbyn who is the one asking for an extension). And some of the more pro-EU nations might even veto it, calculating that the remainers will not follow through with a no deal and simply cancel brexit instead.

Granted, they may get around this problem, and a clever PM (which rules out Corbyn!) would find a way to bargain with the EU leaders (or just threaten to revoke article 50 and then re-issue it at a time when it will be most inconvenient for Brussels). But next there’s the hurdle of getting a referendum bill through parliament. Remain’s going to be one option on the ballot, but what about the brexit option?

As I mentioned before, the reason why no other EU state has tried to leave and the reason the UK still hasn’t left is that once you take away the unicorns and start getting specific about which brexit option you want (Norway model, reverse Greenland, Swiss plus, Canada dry, etc.) opinion divides, largely because it means accepting that you are worse off out than in. And as noted, polls do show that once you put a specific type of brexit to people v’s remain, remain typically wins by a comfortable margin.

The brexiters, all too aware of this fact, will therefore be reluctant to commit to any specific brexit option, other that perhaps no deal. This appeals to them largely because its kind of a blank canvas and they can paint on any outcome they like. It sounds like a clean break. In truth however, it just means that when we run out of bog roll, food and medicines the EU will have the UK over a barrel in negotiations. As will the US and the Chinese. Plus no deal is likely illegal. Hence putting it on a legally binding ballot might be impossible, as it will likely be challenged in court.

Some talk of a three way ballot or multiple choice ballots. I’d argue that’s risky. It might confuse voters and you can be guaranteed the tabloids, the brexiters and Putin’s trolls will make damn sure they are given incorrect instructions, as they try to game the outcome they want. As a result it could lead to a messy outcome that makes the current situation even worse. I mean imagine if we had two brexit options that each got 30% and remain got 40% and remain wins by a 10% margin. Or a alternative vote ballot, where remain wins the first round by a high margin, May/Corbyn’s deal gets eliminated, but the transferable votes from it allow no deal to sneak through by a few hundred votes (with claims afterwards of several thousand who were given incorrect instructions by Twitter trolls). There would be howls of protest.

Realistically, the only way to hold a people’s vote is with two options on the ballot, some sort of brexit deal and remain. But who will decide on which? And more importantly who will lead the leave campaign? Corbyn has suggested he’d be happy to negotiate a deal (in other words cross out May’s name and insert his!), but will then hide in his allotment shed for the duration of any referendum campaign. While I’m sure May could be tempted to front such a campaign (she’s a glutton for punishment after all), but the leading brexiters, Farage, Johnson, et al will all refuse to participate and they’ll tell their supporters its a remainer stitch up, boycott the poll.

Why you may ask? Well simple Fabian tactics. If you know you are going to lose (and like I said the polls put remain ahead by +10% over most of the brexit options), why fight when you can just march off the field. And for them brexit is a means to an end. If there were to be a 2nd referendum which they lost fair and square by a comfortable margin, they’re finished. As I’ve mentioned before, a 2nd referendum will be something of a grudge match. While Cameron prevented any “blue on blue” attack ads during the 1st campaign, labour and the lib dems will let lose with both barrels.

After all, the best way to win would be to question the motives of those pushing for brexit (i.e. the fact that are involved with hedge funds who will do rather well profiting from the UK’s decline), while pointing to the hypocrisies of the leavers (e.g. that Farage has a German citzenship). Plus do you really want to trust the country’s future to someone like Boris who isn’t even trusted by his own brother. So many of those in the Tory party who hitched their wagon to the brexit train will be forced to resign and the brexit party will be sunk. Even if by some miracle brexit still won they’ll still take a hit, it would still be a zero sum game for them. Better to stay out of the fight and encourage a boycott.

And yes, the outcome of such a scenario will be remain wins by some massive crazy majority (90% sort of thing). But unless the turn out is suitably high (and if you know remain’s going to win anyway, are people really going to waste their time going to the polls?), the brexiters will argue it wasn’t a fair fight and they can ignore it, promising to re-issue article 50 the first chance they get. In other words you’ve not changed anything.

So given such facts of life, the Lib dems proposal to revoke is actually quite pragmatic. There’s no point in holding a people’s vote if its not going to resolve anything. But I would add a caveat. I’d suggest cancelling brexit, by revoking article 50, but putting a grandfather clause in that requires the government to return to this issue after a suitable delay (say 5-10 years after which the government must pass another bill confirming we are staying in or else a legally binding referendum to leave will be automatically triggered). This means they can say to leave voters, look we wanted to have a 2nd vote and settle this issue, but it takes two to tango and the brexiters just took off their dancing shoes and downed a bottle of scotch. So by deliberately kicking the can down the road the current crisis is resolved, but it leaves open the option to return to the issue at some point in the future.

And delaying a 2nd vote does have advantages. While I’d argue it would be hard to hold a fair and balanced poll now, that doesn’t further divide the country, emotions might not be running so high in the future. Given that presumably such a remainer alliance will have by then, ended austerity and gone some way towards fixing the mess left by the Tories (plus issues like the migrant crisis might well be resolved), a referendum can be held under much fairer and more rational conditions. And simple demographics means that many of these swivel eyed no-deal supporting pensioners will have died off, replaced with younger voters (who tend to want remain, or if they are pro-leave, they tend to want a soft brexit).

In fact its entirely possible that even if a Troy/brexit party coalition could get into power in ten years time they’ll come up with some excuse not to have a 2nd vote (because they know that they’ll lose and even if they win they’ll be throwing away their time in office, repeating the mess of the last few years). So while yes, I support a people’s vote, I think we need to be realistic about how it will be held. And revoking article 50 certainly has to be an option that gets considered.

Why has no other country tried to leave the EU?

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I had an interesting conversation the other day with someone from another EU country (Holland) and it led to something of a thought experiment. Why has no other country ever tried to leave the EU?

I mean its not as if euroscepticism is an entirely British phenomenon. There’s been several occasions where populists eurosceptic parties have held a majority in government, most recently in Italy for example. And polls show there’s a possibility such a thing could go through. Yet despite all the vitriol and anti-EU rhetoric they haven’t put their money where their mouth is and tried to hold a referendum and leave, Why? Well the answer tells us more about the UK than it does about the EU.

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Most EU states are governed by constitutions which would require a legally binding referendum be held, prior to leaving, as an absolute minimum. In fact in some country’s you’d have to get a supermajority to approve it (+50% of the entire population, not just those who bother to show up at the polls, by contrast brexit only got the support of 37%). This is in stark contrast to the UK, whose constitution is a bunch of vague guidelines written on goatskin, which seems to assume any politician is going to be an honourable gentleman who’ll put the country first. And if he breaks the rules he gets called a knave and doesn’t get invited to the Speakers annual garden party.

Hence many of the dirty tricks employed by the brexiters to win the 2016 referendum would not be available to continental eurosceptics, as such antics would get them into very serious trouble. Prison time sort of trouble. The UK’s electoral commission has found that the vote leave campaign broke the law during the referendum. The only reason why the result wasn’t annulled by the courts (and why Cummings, Johnson, Farage et al aren’t serving prison terms) is because it was a non-legally binding advisory referendum. Eurosceptics on the continent dislike the EU yes. But very few of them hate it that much that they are willing to risk ending up in a 6×6 cell, sharing prison showers with a massive tattooed guy called Bubba.

Furthermore with a legally binding referendum you’d probably have to specify what kind of brexit you were aiming for. Otherwise it might be at risk of court challenges before a vote is even held. This was another problem with the referendum, the question asked was too vague, you may as well have asked “do you hate the French?” or “is blue your favourite colour?”. This allowed brexit to become a blank canvas onto which unicorns could be painted. Hence brexiters could sell the idea of the UK leaving, yet keeping all the benefits of staying in, without it costing a penny.

Specifying which brexit you are aiming for would present a problem, because much as the UK brexiters can’t agree what kind of brexit they want, European eurosceptics are as equally divided. The odds are such a bill would fail at the first hurdle as they’d not be able to get behind a proposal through parliament to trigger such a referendum. And once they’d nailed their colours to the mast, polls do show that when presented with a specific brexit option (Norway for now, May’s deal, no deal) support ebbs away (as people are forced to weight up the pro’s and cons). And generally remain wins any side by side comparison (because it means accepting you are worse off out than in).

And as many EU states are federations (Germany and Spain for example) with regional assemblies, they’d have to find a way to resolve what happens if say Catalonia vote to stay and Andalusia votes to leave. Not least because in some cases these regional assemblies might have to approve of any referendum before it can be held (which they won’t do until all the what if’s are resolved), not to mention pass the secondary legislation afterwards to allow the country as a whole to leave. Yes there’s usually a way for central government to railroad things through but, suffice to say, this is opening a massive can of worms. One which is firmly labelled “do not open this can, national self destruction may follow”.

And of course even if you can get the initial bill through parliament, get the public to vote for it (by a significant majority) you’ve still got to go to Brussels and negotiate an exit. And for the UK this is where the fireworks started. Basically this means putting on hold all important business so you can conduct the negotiations and push through the supporting legislation to allow for leaving the EU.

The Tories have gotten away with various dirty tricks to drive through brexit, using the dictatorial Henry VII powers, cancelling votes at the last minute, moving forward a vote when you realise several pro-remain MP’s are off sick, bribing MP’s with promises of peerages, stacking the lords with peers to filibuster any anti-brexit legislation and of course more recently proroguing parliament (i.e. suspending democracy), an act now deemed unlawful as its likely the PM lied to the Queen. Very little of this would be legal in other EU states, nor would politicians find it so easy to get away with it.

And given that many countries on the continent have had more recent experience of living under a dictatorship (fascists, junta’s or communists) electorates tend to be a bit more sensitive about this sort of behaviour. Plus because many European government’s are elected by proportional representation, that means they are often coalitions. And the odds are good that such a coalition would fracture under the strain of an EU exit process. So its possible the whole thing will collapse before the process is complete.

Oh and a just for good measure a 2nd referendum afterwards might also be needed to confirm everything (as its likely what was promised will be different from what exit you actually end up with, or you need to confirm constitutional changes with a referendum). And obviously the whole reason why brexiters in the UK are resisting this option is because they know they will likely lose such a vote.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it would be impossible for any other European country to leave the EU. After all many held votes to join in the first place, or approve the various EU treaties. So with enough public support and goodwill its possible. But perhaps that’s the point, there just isn’t the support for leaving (with the possible exception of Italy). Getting the turkey’s to vote to put the charismatic Mr Fox in charge of the hen house is one thing. Getting them to vote for Christmas is an entirely different matter. And given that leaving sounds a lot like hard work (with the added risk of prison time), most populists would rather not bother trying and instead prefer to busy themselves collecting kickbacks and bribes.

But even if populist eurosceptics could drag their country out of the EU, what then? Who are you going to blame when things go wrong? The EU gets a lot of blame for things because its a cheap shot. They are a large faceless bureaucracy and an obvious scapegoat who isn’t going to fight back. And this cuts to the heart of populism, which is basically about avoiding responsibility and blaming others for your own misfortune.

The economy collapses because you voted in a bunch of incompetent politicians who borrowed heavily and spent like sailors on shore leave? Not our fault, its the fault of the EU (who bailed you out, how mean of them forcing billions into your country’s coffers!)….oh and of course recently arrived migrants, its their fault too. Can’t get a council house? Not your fault for voting Tory (who basically stopped building them in the 80’s and sold off most of the stock) its immigrants and refugees coming in and taking them (actually they are no less likely to get one than a Brit). Late for work? Not your fault, its those lazy immigrant bus drivers….and EU elf N’ safety….somehow! This is what populism is all about, blame somebody else for everything that’s gone wrong. Don’t take responsibility for anything.

So if you are out of the EU, and you’ve deported all the migrants, who are you going to blame when things go wrong? Now granted, its pretty clear Johnson’s plan is to blame the EU for the UK’s post-brexit economic misfortune. However the major threat from brexit isn’t the short term dip afterwards, its the longer term consequences. Its going to be a bit rich 5-10 years after leaving for the Tories to still be blaming the EU every time a UK firm goes bust or for a drop in life expectancy. At some point the penny drops and the odds are the UK will simply re-join the EU under terms less favourable than it currently enjoys.

And this is why, despite all the bravado from continental eurosceptics, there’s been no other attempts to leave the EU. They have better things to do with their time than destroy their own parties and getting themselves arrested. We end up with a cat and dog like situation. The cat and the dog don’t like each other, but they just find a way to get along with one another. Its the same thing with the eurosceptics and the EU. The eurosceptic little doggie is quite happy to bark all day, but his bark is worse than his bite. After all it wasn’t Farage who called the referendum, but Cameron (Farage was quite happy to stay on as an MEP and collect his generous salary).

The only reason therefore the UK is posed to leave without a deal….and the chaos and blow back that will inevitably follow, is because of its broken political system. Leave or remain, these flaws will still exist, even if brexit is somehow swept from the political agenda. This is why reform of the UK’s entire political system is what parliament should be devoting its time towards, rather than arguing over brexit. For it is a symptom rather than the disease itself.

Pre-election analysis – the UK’s Trump v’s the rebel alliance

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So its possible we’ll have an early election, thought probably not as early as Boris Johnson wants. He seems to be hoping that by bringing a bit of Trump like behaviour to the UK he can get a majority, allowing him to force through the sort of brexit he prefers…..which might not necessarily be a no deal mind (if he’s got enough seats then he doesn’t need the DUP or the hard brexiters anymore, he could toss both under the bus and put forward May’s deal again, or the EU’s original proposal of leaving NI in the single market, negating the need for any backstop).

The odds are certainly in his favour, he’s 10% ahead in the polls and such tactics have certainly worked in the past, but its not that straight forward. In fact its a very risky gamble. As I pointed out before, such is the unfairness of the FPTP system its mathematically possible for the Tories to win a majority of seats with only 30% of the vote. However, its also mathematically possible for them to finish 10% ahead of anyone else and yet still not get a majority.

Certainly yes, Boris Johnson is good at one thing and it’s lying. He could sell a clapped out VW Bettle by claiming its actually a classic Porsche…which is pretty much a good description of his likely election strategy! However, the Tories have been trying to out UKIP, UKIP for the last two decades and failed every time. Farage, assuming he fields candidates (and given my point above he’d be very naive not to do so) lives in a glass house and can hurl rocks Boris can’t, while promising bigger and better unicorns. To return to my analogy about the used car, he’s going to be across the street at the election selling an actual Porcsche….which he doesn’t actually own…as he’ll basically be pulling the old pig in a poke scam.

So some significant number of voters will defect to the brexit party or UKIP (so even if the brexit party don’t stand, he’ll still lose some votes). And, as perhaps his recent walkabout should have highlighted, there are some UK voters who fundamentally won’t vote Tory. Even among some leave voters this would be unthinkable (in fact some voted leave to give Cameron & the Tories the two fingered salute). Go into the wrong bar in Glasgow, Leeds or Liverpool, tell them you are a Tory and you’ll hear a click behind you as they lock the doors, cos you ain’t leaving the place alive! Now whether this block of voters is 5% or 25% I do not know. But if I were Johnson I’d rather not find out the hard way!

At the other extreme his Stalinistic purges of moderate opponents is causing many to quit the party. Johnson seems to be confusing Tory members (who are pretty gung ho for no deal yes) with Tory voters (who are a completely different kettle of fish). Ruth Davidson’s quitting alone puts nearly all of the Scottish Tory seats in doubt. His own brother now quitting is also crucial, as he was one of the few moderate Tories left in a cabinet post.

And this business of sacking 21 further MP’s for doing something Johnson regularly did himself (including the father of the house Ken Clarke along with Winston Churchill’s grandson!) is going to have quite an impact. There is nothing to stop any of these MP’s (or other previous Tory defectors), from running again as independent Tory candidates. Or they might simply throwing their weight behind some pro-remain candidate in their constituency. Some Johnson crony parachuted in at the last minute is going to have a bit of an uphill struggle getting elected.

And losing votes from both ends is exactly the sort of scenario where the Tories could lose many of the marginal seats, meaning that they win the battle but lose the war (i.e. top the polls but finish well short of a majority). To make matters worse the election isn’t just going to be solely about brexit. Johnson and his puppet master adviser Wormtongue Cummings know this, so they’ve been trying to out Corbyn Corbyn, with lavish promises of money from heaven. Of course given that a hard brexit will depress the economy and pull down tax revenue, its hard to see how he’ll be able to afford current spending, never mind the sort he’s planning.

But while Boris is promising a few million here, a few there, Corbyn’s promising billions. And Corbyn can claim he has a plan to finance this, he’ll go for a softer brexit (or more likely none at all once his party and coalition partners have their say) and put up taxes for the rich. Now granted there’s a few holes in his proposals (which I’ve discussed before), but the Tories can’t get away with using the magic money tree jibe (not that they won’t try of course!), because they need a forest of them after brexit. So its not certain this tactic will work. It could leave them open to attack by lending more credibility to Corbyn’s proposals. And my guess is the public will find Corbyn’s proposals more appealing.

That said, certainly the Tories main election asset is Corbyn. Poll after poll shows that the public don’t like him, he’s not seen as a PM in waiting. And no I’m not a secret Tory or a lib dem (I usually vote either Green, SNP or labour). I’m simply reflecting the opinion of him you’d hear expressed in any working class pub, food bank or greasy spoon cafe. And these are the sort of people who generally vote labour. In Tory circles he’s the spawn of Satan. If there’s one thing that would cause moderate Tories and centre ground voters (who hate Johnson and don’t want a no deal), to lose their nerve and vote Tory anyway, its the thought of a Corbyn premiership.

And Corbyn’s policy of different forms of fence sitting on brexit (while thwarting efforts to block it) is going to be a major problem in any snap election. His official policy is to have an election, win it, negotiate a new deal with Brussels and put that to a people’s vote. The reality is that, while there will be differences between a Corbyn brexit and a May brexit no doubt (as he’ll go for a customs union, which negates the need for a backstop), the differences aren’t huge. Parliament is as likely to vote against such a deal as it was to vote against May’s deal. And a people’s vote will almost certainly result in remain winning by a large margin (meaning Corbyn then has to resign becoming the 4th PM brought down by brexit). And this assumes his party, who are overwhelmingly pro-remain, and his likely coalition partners (even more pro-remain) are going to be okay with putting his progressive agenda and all other business on the back burner for several years so he can sort out brexit.

The obvious hypocrisies of this policy will be exposed and his position will fall apart within the first week of any campaign, leading him to lose votes in all directions. The Tories and brexit party will say he’s pro-remain, the lib dems that he’s pro-leave. And how can we trust a leader whose still not made up his mind about something this important after 3 years? In which case, labour will haemorrhage seats to all its rivals and that could easily tip the scales Johnson’s direction.

The obvious solution therefore would be for labour to go full on pro-remain, forming an electoral alliance with the lib dems, greens and SNP. That would maximise his gains and minimise his losses. The trouble is that Corbyn lives in a bubble and doesn’t understand any of this. And he has a halo around him (as this piece perhaps shows), which stops his supporters seeing the blindingly obvious. If you’ve wandered onto any momentum blog or twitter feed recently they are wall to wall wailing against the lib dems. You’d swear a no deal brexit, austerity and privatising the NHS was their idea rather than the Tories.

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What remainers need……

And recall Corbyn has his own set of defectors, such as the Jewish MP who quit over anti-Semitism some time ago, who recently joined the lib dems. And he plans to field candidates against them next election, even thought they’ve little chance of getting elected….although they might help a Tory get elected in the process! In short, I get the impression that Corbyn and his red shirts are going to turn the next election into the Judean people’s front v’s the people’s front of Judea, with him and momentum playing the role of the crack suicide squad, with the Romans Tories looking on with bemusement.

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…..but what they might actually get

For the price of the inevitable defeat that will follow such a strategy is going to be high for labour supporters. Johnson gets in with a large majority and implements a hard right agenda that makes Corbyn’s hard left policies impossible to ever implement (as everything in the country including the NHS and public services will now be owned by US multinationals, plus they’ll bring in US style voter ID laws that make it difficult for young people or the poor to even vote). A big block of voters will leave the party in disgust and likely never come back (some polls have shown labour slipping to 4th place behind the lib dems and brexit party). He’ll have to resign, the Blairites will take over and his failure will be pointed to for decades as “proof” that such left wing policies are a route to electoral disaster (which I’d argue will be unfair, the problem is that Corbyn is just a crap leader, not necessarily his policies).

So it is all up in the air. Yes Johnson may succeed in turning the Tories into the US republican party under Trump. He might sell a plan to make the UK great again, which turns out to be a plan to turn the country into the 51st state and a somewhat poor and bankrupt one at that! Or he might find the electorate recoil in horror at such a thought and he’s simply given Corbyn the opportunity to sneak into power as head of a remainer rebel alliance. Delaying the election does on paper decrease the probability of the Tories winning, but it certainly doesn’t rule it out. There’s everything to play for, but do the players really want to play?