Brexit Groundhog Day # 402 (Or Whatever): MPs Attempt Brexit Process Takeover

-edited

Brexit silliness has been ongoing for at least a year. I made up a number. MPs voted to take control of Brexit. So What?

402 seems like reasonable number to start with, if for no other reason than to emphasize the endless groundhog nature of these daily charades.

The Guardian Live Blog reports MPs Start Debate on Indicative Votes as May Hints She Might Reject What Commons Chooses.

The key point is these indicative votes are not legally binding. May has already stated she might reject them. This is just like allegedly taking no-deal off the table in theory but not practice.

These clips are roughly in time order. I find many of them amusing. They are all meaningless.

The bottom line is the UK parliament succeeded in a vote to wrest control of the Brexit process from May. But it's not really binding.

Another Day, Another Resignation Threat

At various stages in the Brexit process there have been reports about pro-European ministers threatening to resign en masse if they don’t get some concession from the government. Those threats have always been withdrawn - normally (but not always) after Number 10 shifted a bit towards what the pro-Europeans wanted. According to ITV’s Robert Peston, something similar seems to be happening again.

Meaningless Circles

More He Said, She Said Silliness

A government source has denied Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that Theresa May suggested splitting the vote on the withdrawal agreement from the vote on the political declaration when they met at lunchtime earlier. The source said it was simply being explained to Labour side that the EU summit conclusions published last week - which could see article 50 extended to May 22 - referred only to the withdrawal agreement. “It was a clarification that came up in the course of a wider conversation,” the source said. The source said that in order to satisfy the terms of the EU Withdrawal Act, the Commons “meaningful vote” had to cover both the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration.

Questions and Fears Over Meaningless Indicative Votes

MP Owen Smith says he made the case for a second referendum when he challenged Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership unsuccessfully in 2016. Speaking in favour of the Lewin amendment, he says he is worried that, if there are indicative votes, the government will try to “bamboozle” MPs by offering them a whole smorgasbord of options, including a second referendum. But that would be “tricksy” and “deceitful”, he says, because a second referendum is a process matter, not an eventual outcome. He says he hopes the speaker would not allow this.

Jenny Chapman, the shadow Brexit minister, says different MPs have different views on how indicative votes could be carried out. She says the Labour amendment and the Letwin amendment both avoid being prescriptive on this point.

No One Willing to Accept the Results of the Indicative Votes

Ken Clarke, the pro-European, asks Barclay when the government will schedule its own indicative votes process. He [Barclay] says Labour criticised the government for not committing to definitely accepting the results of the indicative votes process. But Sir Keir Starmer said Labour would not automatically accept the results either.

To Get the Results on the 10 O'clock News

The debate is over. Labour decides not to move its amendment. That means MPs go straight on to the Letwin amendment, which is being voted on now. This means, if the government does get defeated on Letwin, the result will get onto the 10 o’clock news.

Resignations

Business minister Richard Harrington resigned to back the Letwin amendment.

Letwin Results

May suffers fresh Brexit defeat as MPs opt to take control of indicative votes process by majority of 27

MPs has backed the Letwin amendment by 329 votes to 302 - a majority of 27. That is a much bigger margin of victory than many people were expecting.

Three ministers resigned to back Letwin amendment: Richard Harrington, the Foreign Office minister, Alistair Burt, Minister of State for the Middle East, and the health minister Steve Brine.

Dame Margaret Beckett’s Amendment

Beckett’s Amendment would allegedly force May to recall Parliament from Easter recess to request a further extension to Brexit if there is no agreed deal seven days before the new April 11 cutoff date.

This pertains to the Easter Recess Schedule of April 4 through April 23.

The Beckett Amendment went down in flames 314-311.

Real Cutoff Date

The real decision cutoff date is up to Theresa May. If she desires, it's April 4, not April 11.

Bucking the Whips

Eight Labour MPs did not vote for Letvin. 30 Tories did vote for it.

There is no logic to backing Letwin and not Beckett. But this all appears meaningless anyway.

Hooray! This will make the 10 o'clock news.

Bottom Line

Here's the bottom line that few seem to realize.

MPs can instruct the Prime Minister to do something but they cannot force the PM to do it. The EU deals with heads of states, not MPs.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (38)
No. 1-22
mpowerOR
mpowerOR

Waiting for the inevitable twist when Brussels changes its' mind and tells May/UK, "...um, upon further reflection, we'd rather not have you in... Sorry!".

Mish
Mish

Editor

mpower, they cannot say that directly. They don't want to accept the blame. France may very well feel and act that way. Germany won't

Mish
Mish

Editor

I added this important conclusion to my post to explain why it isn't binding:

MPs can instruct the Prime Minister to do something but they cannot force the PM to do it. The EU deals with heads of states, not MPs.

avidremainer
avidremainer

Mish You couldn't be more wrong. If your Prime Minister acts like Charles I or his son James II or George III then the lesson has to be taught all over again. Parliament is sovereign or in your case the American people are sovereign. All these Tory ministers are fools when they say it is only a motion of the House it is not binding. They had better obey or Parliament will introduce laws to make them obey. You witnessed a very British coup and were absolutely unaware what was happening.

Mish
Mish

Editor

"You couldn't be more wrong."

No, you are wrong.

  1. Precisely how can Parliament force May to do something? Yes, they can remove her, but that is it.

  2. When have heads of foreign states or foreign processes (the EU) ever taken orders from Parliament not the PM or Chancellor, or Congress not the President?

How about never? But you can prove me wrong.

caradoc-again
caradoc-again

It's all orchestrated. The outcome is known, just needs to be made to look like there was a struggle before the conclusion.

Every single Prime Minister since Thatcher doesn't want to see Brexit, neither does the Civil Service. They won't let the people get in the way.

Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron have all let it be known. May was on the staying in side too but wanted to be a PM so has gone along but gradually dumped all her hard Brexiteers on the way to where we are. A slow manipulation.

They will ask for a longer extension that the EU has said would only be granted if there was a good reason. 2nd referendum will be offered as the reason in order to get the extension. The need for a longer extension, and it's need to have a good reason in order to be granted, will be used as excuse for a new vote.

Etc etc.

Letwin is well connected. Not at all a bad chap, a thinker, but wet.

caradoc-again
caradoc-again

avidremainer is correct.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Eurointelligence agrees with me. So I guess we agree to disagree.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Let me put this a bit differently.

  1. May said she might not honor these votes
  2. Perhaps she does, but if not, it is 100% guaranteed the EU will not start negotiating with the UK parliament
Mish
Mish

Editor

On the Guardian right now:

"The government would not be obliged to accept any plan deemed most popular with MPs, and in fact May strongly hinted this afternoon that she would reject what many expect might emerge as the most widely-supported idea - staying in a customs union with the EU."

I agree 100%. Nothing can Force May

I do have a way forward that I believe is bulletproof. If those disagreeing with me are from the UK and understand the rules, please email me.

This is what I have in mind. The Tories change the rules in which they can oust May say from once in 12 months to once in a calendar year. Then they dump her.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Anyone from the UK please comment on my idea:

The Tories change the rules in which they can oust May say from once in 12 months to once in a calendar year. Then they dump her.

This would likely put a pro-Brexit MP in charge of things - but it also risks an election

stillCJ
stillCJ

Editor

If I were Theresa I would tell the MPs: You can have it, as long as we leave. Good luck!

Mish
Mish

Editor

From the New York Times

"Speaking before lawmakers passed the amendment, Mrs. May said she could not commit to honoring the outcome of any of these nonbinding parliamentary votes, particularly if they contradicted the pro-Brexit stance in the Conservative Party’s manifesto for the 2017 general election."

That's it. No one can force May to honor those votes. And if she doesn't, the EU will not be negotiating with the British Parliament.

Period!

avidremainer
avidremainer

Nick Boles a Tory rebel MP was asked by Emily Maitlis on BBC2 at about 22:50 what would happen if Theresa May ignored the result of the indicative vote, he replied thet We would enact legislation to force her to go back to Brussels." You quote the NY Times and the Guardian. Why you should believe these teenage scribblers I don't know. According to them Hilary was going to trounce President Trump and oh my God you mean that President Trump is not going to be impeached. Sadly the MSM is about as rubbish as it gets in both our countries. Next you will be citing Rachel Maddow in your support. Dear me.

Mish
Mish

Editor

"he replied that We would enact legislation to force her to go back to Brussels."

Lovely. So bleeping what?

What if she doesn't go?

The only option, as I said is to remove her.

Mish
Mish

Editor

"Next you will be citing Rachel Maddow in your support. Dear me."

Dear me, why the Flying F do you believe rebel Tories?

Answer the real question: How the F does someone force May to go to Brussels if she refuses.

You can't. Period. End of Story. Why the F do you believe obvious Remainer Bullshit?

Mish

Mish
Mish

Editor

Answer the damn question or stop!

I am interested in a real question: Can the Tories easily change the rules to hold a second vote on a leadership challenge?

Yancey_Ward
Yancey_Ward

Mish is correct here- May doesn't have to do what Parliament directs her to do with regards to negotiating with the EU. Mish is also correct that really take control of the negotiations, Parliament will have to remove May as PM. If they aren't willing to do that, then she is in control of the process.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Boles wants a softer departure Now you brink up Blunt. You still refuse to answer the question. Answer it or shut up. How do you force May to do anything?

You cannot answer that you just spew bullshit.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Financial Times just seconds ago

"The so-called indicative votes, tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, would not be legally binding on the government but could be the strongest indication yet of what kind of Brexit deal could pass the Commons."

NOT LEGALLY BINDING

What the hell about this does anyone fail to understand

Mish
Mish

Editor

The Guardian

  1. The government would not be obliged to accept any plan deemed most popular with MPs, and in fact May strongly hinted this afternoon that she would reject what many expect might emerge as the most widely-supported idea - staying in a customs union with the EU.
leicestersq
leicestersq

I listened to the Big Lie that remainers keep telling on Radio 5 today. That lie is that Brexit will be economically disastrous. They say that the Government estimates the UK GDP will fall from 6 - 9%.

This figure sounds terrible, and must scare a lot of people. But of course things are not what they seem.

First of all they are dealing with GDP, not GDP per capita. That latter figure is the important one. Brexit was all about decreasing immigration, and of course that means that GDP will be lower than it otherwise was. But GDP capita wont be affected. In fact immigration brings more and more marginal gains to GDP, so we wont lose much here.

Secondly, it is a government prediction. They lied about the economic disaster that would ensue if we voted for Brexit. The proof is that today the UK economy is doing pretty well since the vote. Why on earth do we trust the government when the people in it have a clear remainer agenda?

Thirdly economic models are based on assumptions. As no one has seen an economy leave the EU before, there is no experience on how to model that. So what do they do? They simply assume an economic hit to the economy, and hey presto it is in the eyes of the economic model a disaster if we leave.

If you look at the real effect of leaving the EU, it is very benign. Firstly there is the deadweight of all that money we pay to the EU. Not paying that is a free boost for the UK, and the multiplier effect will magnify the benefit to the UK.

Secondly, we can either go for reciprocal tariffs or negotiate zero tariffs. The first option gives the UK free money from the EU as we are a net importer from them. Very nice, and it will boost the economy some more.

Most importantly, sans the EU, we will restore the single chain of command through the economy. Our government will no longer be able to blame the EU for not sorting problems out. Over time that economic effect will outweigh the two stated above.

It is a shame that the economic argument for leaving the EU isnt put forward and used to shut down the remainer nonsense that leaving is bad. It isnt.