The Soft Brexit Solution Struggling to get out?

There is a majority in Parliament – in both Houses – for some form the ‘soft’ Brexit. The question is, can it get out?

Let’s be clear – the Brexiteers are right about one thing: the majority of MPs stood on manifestos committing us to leaving the EU. But they did not commit themselves to any old Brexit Theresa May and David Davis decide we’ll get. Labour’s manifesto was ambiguous and many individual candidates entered their own local caveats.

The majority in the House of Commons would probably now vote for something like this:

We formally leave the EU in April 2019.

We agree an “interim” deal to remain in the EEA or EFTA (or both) and the customs union pending further negotiations.

Such a deal could satisfy soft Leavers and Remainers. For now. Continue reading

Passport to Remain – how would the UK process residency rights for 3 million EU27 nationals?

[see important Update at bottom]

Settling the position of EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU is at the top of the agenda for the Brexit talks that have just started. Good.

Let’s assume, as everyone seems to be saying, that a generous settlement is reached which allows all of them to stay where they are now if they want to.

If that does happen then the UK would need to come up with a process to grant them the right to remain and documents – preferably simple – that would show they had such a right.

It needs to do it quickly – assuming this part of the negotiations is settled by say October that will give the UK about 18 months to process this. Remember, as soon as we withdraw from the EU in April 2019 three million EU27 residents of the UK would legally have no right to be here.

So how could it be done? Continue reading

The asymmetry of potential Tory rebellions over Brexit (spoiler: hard Brexiteers look away now)

First a quick reminder of the balance of power in the House of Commons:

The Tories have 316 voting MPs, the ‘rest’ have 313 (323 with DUP).

If the DUP

Abstain = 3 vote Tory majority.
Vote with the Tories = 13 vote majority
Vote Against = 7 vote minority

(For full explanation see my previous blog here) Continue reading

Have the Lib Dem’s blown it? Trying to monopolise the Remain vote may have backfired on them and ‘Remain’?

Over the past 18 months the Lib Dems have increasingly positioned themselves as “the Party of the 48%”, of Remain and as “the real Opposition” to the Tories hard Brexit.

On the face of it this seems a sensible strategy – trying to do what the SNP did in Scotland after IndyRef – coral the defeated side behind one Party whilst the ‘victors’ remained divided.

Amongst the 48% were large numbers of previous LD voters, some moderate Tories and about two-thirds of Labour voters.

It seemed to be working – in Richmond they overturned a 23,000 Tory majority and defeated Zac Goldsmith using this approach.

But did they get carried away with this initial success and inadvertently limit their own chances, and, probably more significantly, undermined the campaign of resistance to Brexit? Continue reading

The General Election About Brexit without Brexit

Theresa May’s extraordinarily Downing Street statement, it which she threw out wild accusations against various ‘Europeans’ in many ways summed up this General Election.

It is the election about Brexit in which real, actual, material Brexit does not feature.

The simple truth is we have not left the EU and we will not do so until 2019. We are in a “phony war” period in which Brexit has been declared but has not happened. And the main political debate is avoiding what real, actual, Brexit will mean. Continue reading

Full steam ahead for Brexit – A personal elegy for a cosmopolitanism that perhaps never was


Now it is almost official, after 461 to 89 MPs backed the government’s Article 50 Bill yesterday: Brexit will happen probably sooner than many expected, and more authoritarian and undemocratic than ever thought possible by those who believe in due democratic process.

Photo: Stefan Boness, Photo: Stefan Boness,

Brexit will in essence be negotiated by a Prime Minister not even elected by ‘the people’ in a real sense, ‘the people’ we hear so much about these days, and whose will the PM now proclaims to carry out. One can have different views on what democracy is, and how democratic a referendum, fought on a single issue and based on false facts (or ‘post-truth’), as later frankly admitted by those who propagated them, really is – and I am among those critical of such versions of democracy.

A remain-politician, before the first vote on Article 50 in parliament, explained why he would vote…

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