Well that was something! That was an enormous vote against the Prime Minister’s plan. It was some amazing theater as well to be honest. PM May gets up and says (correctly) that this vote does not say what people and MPs will support, just that they do not this plan. I also loved how she effectively dared Corbin to put forward a no confidence motion. In what has been a long series of political missteps that one was done right. This outcome leaves the future even less certain than we were already.
May’s party cannot try to oust her for a year. It seems unlikely that the no confidence motion will pass unless there are defections out of the conservative block which seems very unlikely. The only way that would happen would be with some calculation that you can get the government to fall but still win the general election and then be in a position of strength. I cannot see anyone thinking this is a good strategy. Well…maybe Boris Johnson.
There is little clarity about a way forward and from within Parliament and I am pretty sure the EU will be unwilling to further negotiations at this point. Realistically the only way May is out is if she agrees to step aside, but I am not sure anyone would want to take over this exercise in cat herding at this point. Well…maybe Boris Johnson.
In the current negotiations the EU is sitting there thinking they are negotiating across the table from someone who does not know what they want as their end deal. In such a situation they will sit there and rightly suggest they already negotiated a deal and there is no need on their part to change, or ask that UK negotiators provide specific changes. Other than Boris Johnson can you name someone that thinks they can come into this situation and make a positive impact?
This raises the question of whether there is a possibility of a positive impact at all. If the goals of Brexit are ill-defined, and I think in terms of clearly measurable data they are, how can you effectively negotiate a deal that will satisfy enough MPs to win a vote. May’s suggestion that she will reach across party lines is the proper sentiment at the wrong time. It is far too late for her to do that effectively now and I do not see a character like Boris Johnson being able to execute that strategy. I may be wrong, and I certainly think Mr. Johnson believes he can do that.
The way I see it these are the options:
- Go back to the EU and attempt to start negotiations anew.
- Crash out of the EU without any deal.
- Extend the timeline of Article 50.
- Go back for a second referendum
Looking at this I see no clear favorite or avenue of least cost or risk. The EU parliament is set for new elections soon which will complicate matters. Crashing out is an enormous risk, though many seem to think it is alright and the best way to go. I am pretty sure the pro-Bret groups will view options 3 and 4 as a “betrayal” of the referendum outcome. There are certainly some other options as I would not suggest I can come up with a complete list.
I mean at this point it is entirely possible, if improbable, that the Vogon Constructor Fleet shows up and makes this entire discussion moot by destroying the Earth for a bypass. Don’t Panic! Just make sure you have your towel.
My forecasting class has a fantastic time discussing Brexit this last few days on the discussion boards, especially from the perspective of forecast uncertainty. This multifaceted problem is very exciting in that context and we get a gift that it is not going away just yet. I think we will need to continue the discussion as these events unfold.