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Reader Views

  1. Conspiracy Idea: What would May have done different if she wanted to create an exit plan that Parliament would vote down at every turn?
  2. Accident Idea: I think you underestimate the insider will of a majority of UK MPs who instead of the accidental hard Brexit will deliver an accidental revocation of Article 50, which then means UK participating in EU elections.

The theory behind viewpoint number one is that May is purposely doing everything she can so that her deal is voted down and the UK stays in the EU. This can be on her own accord or with the explicit help of the EU, I don't know which, so we will explore both ideas (May acting by herself and May acting with the help of the EU).

The result of theory number 2 is the same as number although it does not propose May is doing this on purpose.

Conspiracy Ideal Rebuttal

The immediate problem with #1 is an assumption of guilt. It's like saying drug pushers always obey traffic signals and do not speed then concluding that everyone who does the same is a drug pusher.

Even if May would not have done anything differently, one cannot assume guilt, especially compared with the simple notion that May is a fool who does not know how to negotiate.

Second, May's actions dramatically increase the odds of no-deal.

Don't Take Macron For Granted

The single biggest risk to the entire process remains astonishing ignorance of facts and a narcissistic tendency to indulge in silly procedural games in the House of Commons.

We believe the UK should not take for granted the possibility of a longer extension. Emmanuel Macron is the most vocal member of the European Council to insist there will be only a short delay unless there is a clear majority for an alternative mandate. This has not happened yet. Also, even if the UK were to propose a second referendum a longer delay is not guaranteed. Nathalie Loiseau, who leads Macron’s party into the European elections, called a second referendum a denial of democracy. Even if it is only her personal view, you can imagine that this argument will have some traction in France and elsewhere.

The situation therefore remains highly dynamic. We would urge readers to distrust the argument that a no-Brexit cannot happen on the grounds that the UK parliament has voted to take it off the table.

Those comments are from Eurointelligence. They echo similar comments that I have made.

May's actions, unless Macron and other are in on the grand scheme, dramatically increase the odds of no-deal. The UK parliament cannot take that off the table.

If May wants either a soft Brexit or a no-deal she can deliver. Instead, she sticks with her binary choice option at risk of an accident unless Macron and Juncker are in on it. The more people involved the messier it becomes.

If May has acted alone, she increased the odds of no-deal. Thus, she would not have followed the precise path she took.

Is Macron's Threat Believable?

  • Yes! France picks up seats in the European parliament, Germany doesn't.
  • France and Germany are at odds on the way forward in the EU. The UK sees things more like Germany. It is in the French best interest to have the UK out of the EU.
  • France wants a European Army. The UK doesn't want the cost.
  • Neither France nor Germany wants UK representatives like Nigel Farage disrupting things. Theresa has no control over UK representatives in the European parliament.

My base assumption is that France now wants the UK out of the EU, it just does not want the blame. Yet, things have no gotten so ridiculous, France may be willing to take the blame.

Accident Idea Rebuttal

Unless the UK parliament votes to hold EU parliament elections by April 11 and Macron sticks to his guns, there won't be EU parliament elections and there will not be a lengthy extension either.

For reasons noted above, France does not want the UK in the parliament. France has no choice if two things happen.

Long Extension Request Requirements

  1. The UK agrees to parliamentary election by April 11
  2. The UK parliament votes for an option that May will accept and that the EU accepts, again by April 11.

Those could happen, but there is no particular reason to believe both of those will happen.

On the probability of a No-Deal Brexit

In his FT column, Wolfgang Munchau [Eurointelligence founder] makes the argument that a no-deal Brexit is possible even if it is nobody’s first choice. He says the probability of a no-deal Brexit has grown since the EU summit last week. For starters, Theresa May can have a no-deal Brexit if she wants to. The UK parliament does not have the legal tools to stop it. One of the biggest and most persistent misunderstandings about Brexit is that the whole business of extension is between the prime minister herself and the European Council.

There is a reasonable chance that the indicative votes won’t get the job done. The Tories have no mechanism to oust her now. A parliamentary vote of no-confidence is technically possible, but too much of a nuclear option to be credible. Munchau’s overall conclusion is that a no-deal Brexit is not the first choice of any of the decision-makers involved, but the more relevant point is that they are not ready to pay a high political price to avoid it.

The likelihood of a no-deal Brexit has risen further in the last few days, as the European Council appears resigned to that outcome.

The odds of a referendum have collapsed. Not even Labour leader Corbyn wants that outcome. He does want a customs union.

Perhaps there is support for a customs union, but that alone is insufficient. May has to agree to it.

"One of the biggest and most persistent misunderstandings about Brexit is that the whole business of extension is between the prime minister herself and the European Council."

The UK parliament cannot and has not taken no-deal off the table. Nor has the UK parliament taken control of anything.

Accidents Can Happen

Interestingly, MPs who believe they have taken no-deal off the table and MPs who believe May has to accept the results of non-binding indicative votes along with delusional Remainers hoping for another referendum, increase the odds of an accident.

That accident will not be a referendum, but rather "no-deal".

Meaningful Vote Three Goes Down 344-277: The Result Isn't Meaningful

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On Friday, I commented Meaningful Vote Three Goes Down 344-277: The Result Isn't Meaningful

Support for May's Deal Increases

People who voted against the deal at Meaningful Vote 2 but for it this time include: Lucy Allan, Richard Bacon, Crispin Blunt, Conor Burns, Rehman Chishti, Simon Clarke, Damian Collins, Rosie Cooper, Robert Courts, Richard Drax, Iain Duncan Smith, Charlie Elphicke, Michael Fabricant, Sir Michael Fallon, Jim Fitzpatrick, James Gray, Chris Green, Mark Harper, Gordon Henderson, Eddie Hughes, Boris Johnson, Gareth Johnson, Daniel Kawczynski, Pauline Latham, Andrew Lewer, Ian Liddell-Grainger, Jonathan Lord, Esther McVey, Anne Main, Sheryll Murray, Tom Pursglove, Dominic Raab, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Grant Shapps, Henry Smith, Royston Smith, Bob Stewart, Ross Thomson, Michael Tomlinson, Craig Tracey, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Shailesh Vara, and John Whittingdale.


34 Tories voted against the deal, five Labour MPs backed the deal.

Scorecard Analysis

May's deal lost 344-286. That's a total of 58 votes, but it's closer than it may look. May needs to filp 29 votes and DUP is wavering.

More Brexiteers Fall in Line

The lead image shows two more hard Brexiteers supporting May's deal, announced today.

Boris Johnson and others no-deal Brexiteers came out supporting May's deal earlier this week.

On Friday, Brexit Central founder, MP, and hard core Brexiteer Jonathan Isaby published this Brexit Central editorial: Why I’ve reluctantly concluded that MPs need to vote for Theresa May’s deal.

Threats as a Means to an End

Theresa May still has the means to pressure either Labour or the Tories by one of three means.

  1. Threaten to resign immediately
  2. Threaten to back a customs union
  3. Tell Labour and the Tories that she will not honor indicative votes. Rather they have to choose between her deal and no deal.

Threat 1 puts Labour at the risk of Boris Johnson if they do not vote for her deal.

Threat 2 puts Tories at risk of a customs union.

The problem with threat 1 is hard core Tories would love to have May out of the picture.

The problem with threat 2 is no one in Labour would then vote for her deal.

However, the threats can be combined or mitigated behind the scenes.

For example, May can go to select Tories and threaten action 2 without stating so publicly. In this option, she would only talk to those on the fence, threatening a Customs Union.

Watch for a UK vote on EU parliament elections. That needs to happen by April 11, if it is to happen at all.

Option number three would cause huge disruption in Parliament, but if that is what May wants, she can have it.

Meaningful Vote #4 - Binary Choice

It is easy to believe believe that May is a poor negotiator and all she wants is a Binary Choice.

Moreover, May's actions are consistent with the Binary Choice theory not conspiracy silliness or even act-alone ideas.

As such, and given the obvious nervousness of many Tories (and likely some Labour as well) it is highly likely there will be a meaningful vote number four.

Forcing MV4

Can may force MV4?

Yes, despite what Commons Speaker Bercow says, and despite any indicative votes.

Even assuming there is Parliament support for a customs union, all May has to do to force MV4 is go to Europe to "discuss" things then come back on April 10 with reasons she did not accept Parliament's plan.

She can blame the EU for any number of reasons, real or imagined.

MV4 would happen in a flash.

MV3 was important in one regard. May now knows just how many votes she needs to pick up.

My Expectation

If Parliament cannot come to agreement by April 11 or if May manages to delay the final Meaningful Vote until then (and she has a means to do just that), she can then force Parliament to the binary choice that she wanted all along: My Deal or No-Deal with no time left to do anything else.

With no time left, MV4 would likely pass, reluctantly, with enough support from Labour. Alternatively, no-deal would win out. Either way, May would then resign, effective May 22.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock