A Second Referendum is the Front Runner in a Close Race

Whatever the Brexiters say, we aren’t leaving the EU on the 29th March. There will be an extension of Article 50. The question is whether this is a short technical delay to pass necessary legislation, or a longer one that takes us beyond the European Parliament elections on 23rd May.

You may have thought Theresa May’s deal is dead. I did. But a hand has just burst through the sod by the headstone, so it still needs a stake through the heart. Or maybe a cricket bat to the brain-stem, depending on whether you think the deal is a vampire, zombie, or a monster assembled from corpses. The Prime Minister may yet get the bloody thing passed, in which case, fair play to the old girl. I’ve long admired her resilience. There are a number of ways she might achieve what would be an astonishing feat of necromancy.

Theresa May’s plan ‘A’ relies on the European Research Group of 60-120 MPs, the core of the foaming-at-the-mouth hard brexit nut-baggery to vote for her deal, a deal they previously described as “vasselage”. They aren’t going to get a time-limit on the backstop, and the best they can hope for is some form of intent written into an appendix that the “backstop” isn’t meant to be permanent. A climb-down by them on such a feeble codicil will be utterly humiliating, and I suspect many will abstain rather than abase themselves. Many of this group will follow what the Democratic Unionist Party do. Even if these loonies do vote for it, May’s Majority is, following defections, just one. There will need to be Labour rebels to push the deal in its current or slightly amended form over the line, even if all the Tory brexiters fall into line. Are there enough Labour rebels to counteract the Tory ones? No-one knows, but possibly.

Labour’s wishlist of the softest-of-soft Brexits will not be seriously entertained, so they are effectively on their final fall back position: backing May’s deal, subject to a referendum: Deal, or Remain. Jeremy Corbyn is too busy burning synagogues and glad-handing terrorists to pay much attention to Brexit, but he’s finally been dragged kicking and screaming to back a “people’s vote”. Nevertheless, there is Theresa May’s plan ‘B’. There could very easily be a parliamentary majority for the deal subject to a second referendum. The Independent Group of MPs (TIGgers) will mostly vote for this option. Labour MPs would mostly vote for it, but there are a significant number who don’t want a referendum, who may abstain or vote against. The SNP want a second vote (and not just on Brexit…), as do Greens, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats (remember them?). Sinn Fein will abstain. Jared O’Mara will stop masturbating, pause his game of Fortnite and get his mum to drive him to S̶c̶h̶o̶o̶l̶ Parliament to vote for the referendum.

What the majority of Tory Party MPs will do I don’t know. Many will vote for the deal, subject to a people’s vote, and it’s even possible this Deal or No Brexit referendum becomes the Government position. Between squeaking over the line and offering the refererndum, this deal passing, somehow, is the most likely outcome.

The idea a second, legally binding referendum is “undemocratic” is just absurd, but that won’t stop the Brexiters grunting this nonsense ’till they’re blue in the face. It asks the people, who now know what a dreadful shit-show brexit is, whether they still want to go ahead with it. It looks like it’ll be 52:48 for remain, for the lolz. Many Brexiters will boycott the vote. I don’t think they really want to win any more.

The current score in EU referendums is 1:1 with ‘leave’ ahead on the away goals rule. I’m quite looking forward to the decider.

Here’s what I think the current probabilities are:

  • Leaving with May’s deal before the European elections: 30%
  • Referendum & leaving with May’s deal 25%
  • Referendum & remain 35%
  • No deal 10%

One way or another, Brexit in some form is the most likely outcome. And we’re more likely than not to have a referendum at this stage. Feel free to argue about these probabilities. What have I missed?

7 replies
  1. PJH
    PJH says:

    Doesn’t a delay require, for example, the French and Spanish to agree to such?

    Yes, a vote to try and delay is undoubtedly a shoo-in in Parliament, but I’m fairly certain it’s not a unilateral decision that can be made…

    Reply
  2. PJH
    PJH says:

    “All the key players have said an extension would be granted”

    Interesting.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-article-50-extend-macron-merkel-theresa-may-france-germany-eu-talks-a8799506.html

    “Brexit delay: France would block Article 50 extension ‘without a clear objective’, Macron says”

    “Speaking at roughly the same time in Madrid, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez warned that Theresa May would merely be “prolonging uncertainty” by requesting a short Brexit delay without a realistic plan.”

    One could see how Gibraltar could figure into Spain’s vision of ‘a realistic plan.’

    Reply
  3. Malcolm Bracken
    Malcolm Bracken says:

    Brexiters want the EU to ride to the rescue? This is just the German car manufacturers all over again. The EU 27 don’t care all that much about Brexit. For them, it’s outsourced to Barnier et.al. and they will do as they’re told. We have, for two and a half years seen not one example of opportunism from Spain (who have their own problems with Catalonia) or France. And if they do block the extension, parliament will revoke. And that will be that. Unless May’s deal goes through, brexit is dead.

    Reply
  4. PJH
    PJH says:

    “We have, for two and a half years seen not one example of opportunism from Spain”

    Indeed. We’ve seen a few.

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1093302/Brexit-news-Spain-Gibraltar-visa-free-travel-UK-EU-latest

    “Madrid has made numerous attempts to use Brexit in its efforts to snatch back sovereignty of the Rock from Britain.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/24/brexit-may-gives-way-over-gibraltar-after-spains-veto-threat

    “Theresa May has given way to Madrid’s demands over the future of Gibraltar after the Spanish prime minister threatened to “veto” the Brexit deal due to be signed off by EU leaders on Sunday.”

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/brexit-news-latest-gibraltar-spain-british-colony-crown-travel-a8757926.html

    “A senior EU diplomat told the newspaper: “The Spanish are gearing up for a Gibraltar fight when there is an extension request. It could be dangerous.””

    Reply

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