Having grown up in the third world, one is used to ineptitude. One of the worst examples of ineptitude is that displayed by congressmen. Opposition parties tend to take the term opposition quite literally, opposing to everything that the Government proposes, regardless of whether its good or bad for the country. I personally witnessed several referenda where people voted one way, and congress failed to enact it just to spite the sitting government.
This sort of behavior is expected in some under-developed banana republic, but when it comes to the 5th largest economy in the world, you’d expect the representatives to be more hands on and less partisan, working tirelessly to enact the will of the people, right?… Wrong!
Almost 3 years ago, the UK voted to leave the EU. The question was simple, and the answer was unambiguous. The then Prime Minister, David Cameron resigned, and his replacement Teresa May took the reins of what would be a “Brexit Government”. She, having campaigned and voted against Brexit, was quick to portray a conciliatory image, seeking consensus among both sides of a divided nation. As a token of her commitment, she ensured her cabinet would be comprised at all times by equal number of brexiteers and remainers.
During her Lancaster House speech, the brand new PM – who until then had used sound bites such as “Brexit means Brexit” – set forth a string of red lines that would not be crossed; vowed to stand up to EU pressure by, if necessary, dropping corporate tax rates to make the UK more competitive and doing so on the EU shores; finally, and probably the most remembered sentence was: “no deal is better than a bad deal”.
Brexit was put into law, and the Brexit date was put set in stone: March 29, 2019 (yes, two years have passed). A few months later, there was a general election, where both major parties ran on manifestos that would honor Brexit, and stick to the departure date.
It is impossible to have a compromise: You are either in, or you are out. You can’t half leave
There is no doubt the PM’s heart was in the right place when she tried to create a compromise, but any normal person would have realized soon enough that it is impossible to have a compromise: You are either in, or you are out. You can’t half leave. Once she realized this, she should have bitten the bullet, and said that it saddened her that a compromise couldn’t be reached, but since Brexit won, and she would be delivering it, the UK would leave without a deal.
But that didn’t happen. Fast forward 2 years, and what have we got? A terrible deal that nobody likes, and has been defeated twice in as many votes in the commons; a parliament that is split 5 ways: Conservative remainers, Conservative brexiteers, Labor Brexiteers, Labor Remainers, and everybody else (mostly remainers); 3 Brexit Ministers; several cabinet and front-bench resignations, and countless votes around Brexit.
“…but please make up your minds in London…” – Guy Verhofstadt, MEP
Most recently, parliament voted against the deal (twice), against leaving without a deal – which is still the default option, against a second referendum, I honestly have lost count of how many things parliament doesn’t want. What they have failed to enlighten the world with, is what they want. As Guy Verhofstadt put it in his March 13th speech when, after offering different reasons for which they would approve an extension he pleaded: “… but please make up your minds in London…”
So, with less than 2 weeks to go, Parliament voted to extend Brexit, while the PM was still planning on passing the same, unamended, bad-deal to the floor once again. What was it that Einstein said about doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results? Before we get philosophical, let’s see what are the options for the next 2 weeks.
On Monday’s developments, the Speaker of The House reviewed protocol and announced that the same deal, or one very similar to the one rejected twice, will be blocked from a vote. That limits the outlook:
- The PM gets the EU to agree on changes to the backstop, it gets ratified by the general counsel, and gets put to parliament. Chances are it will win, and Brexit will be just a few months away.
- The EU doesn’t agree to the changes, and the PM is left with the same deal. The Speaker won’t allow it to go to the house, so the PM can request the EU for a longer delay (maybe a couple of years). It is also very likely they will concede it, but this will mean the UK must participate in the European Parliament elections, and risk disenfranchising many leave voters at home. Brexit will be delayed indefinitely, until the establishment finds a way to thwart it completely. On the flip side, it only takes one of the 27 members to reject the extension, for it to be defeated. There are people who think that Hungary may just do that.
- The PM let’s the clock run out and Brexit happens as scheduled. This is a very unlikely option, but it is still the default option if nothing else is decided.
Depending on your tolerance level, these may be very exiting or very annoying days, what is almost certain, is that the on March 30th, the UK will still be a part of the EU.