Thursday, January 17, 2019

MPs Making Their Minds Up On Brexit.

MPs are split into a number of difficult-to-reconcile camps over Brexit. Then whatever line the Government now tries to take in any further negotiations with the EU, it faces intransigence. For the EU does not wish to make any further concessions which could lead to other member States looking for such favourable withdrawal arrangements.

The current divisions in the Commons cover - (1) Although they were  in a minority on Tuesday; those who accept the deal which the Government has struck. (2) Those who would have accepted the deal if it had not included the backstop arrangement. (3) Those who want a complete break with the EU. (4) Those who wish to retain close links via a Customs Union. (5) Those who wish to obtain a Norwegian type arrangement, which is seen by some as being virtual membership of the EU but without any of the rights of membership. (6) Those who call for a further referendum on the issue - often in the hope that the electorate will now have changed its mind. (7) There might be other "remainers" who feel that if the Commons can't make its mind up, this will lead to a situation which stops us from leaving - or that it may aid other objectives they have in mind, such as moves towards Scottish Independence. (8) Then there are those who are seeking a General Election seemingly on the Brexit issue, but also with many other (not unimportant) issues in mind.

Given the numbers of MPs within each of these categories, how on earth can a parliamentary compromise ever be reached ? Well desperate times call for desperate measures.

What about parliament providing for a ballot (with ballot papers) for its MPs where the above types of options (neutrally worded) are voted upon via the device of the single transferable vote. With valid votes needing to cover all the above type of items by being numbered, say, 1 to 8. Unless the transferable vote finally led to a tie (say 318 each) then the MPs will have made a decision. Otherwise between the last two, the Speaker could pick the winner out of the hat.

If this all sounds to be daft, it at least reaches a position for the Government to pursue. Unlike the current situation it gives a form of clarity.

Added 19th January -

Recorded unemployment is still above twice the percentage that it was in the post-war period up to the early 1970s. Then many jobs are not permanent or paid as well as they were when we had major coal, steel and cotton industries. Trade Union membership has fallen considerably so workers interests are not pursued as well as they were, Many jobs are impermanent, on zero hours and (despite minimum wage legislation) very poorly paid. There are many communities which have been destroyed by such developments. Labour needs to pursue such people's interests and transform their communities away from being areas of serious social depression. In terms of party political advantage it would also help us to maintain a solid base. Such people overwhelmingly voted to leave the EU, we should not seek to alienate them on this, whilst pursuing a Brexit deal that will not further harm them. To pursue the well-being of deprived working class people would also improve effective economic demand and stimulate economic growth.

And Again 19 January : John Major is arguing a similar line to my initial comment. It is either a matter of "great minds think alike" or "fools seldom differ" - although we have had many past disagreements. See here.  

Added 29 March : Today saw Teresa May's third defeat over her exit proposals from the EU, by 344 votes to 286. 34 Conservative MPs voted in opposition to their party whip. Whilst 5 Labour MPs did the same from their position. If those MPs had all followed the line of their front benches, then the vote would have tied at 315 each side. Attention would then have been directed at the 16 or so MPs who abstained. Which of these had a pairing arrangement with their opponents ? Which were deliberate absentions ? And were any just absent without leave ?  I am not aware of anyone voting in both lobbies to show they were making a positive abstention.  

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