Brexit and surviving Mrs Maybe

Robert Henderson

The shamelessly   anti-democratic remainers are queuing up to cheat the British electorate of Brexit. Those in the media and the likes of Gina Miller  shriek that a hard Brexit is dead and it is already  reported that remainer MPs from both the Tory and Labour parties are plotting to overturn  Brexit and Theresa May knows about it but does nothing.  May’s Chancellor Philip Hammond openly defies her on Brexit by saying that no deal with the EU would be a “very bad outcome”.

In Scotland the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon beats the same drum and the leader of the Tories in Scotland Ruth Davidson talks of legally detaching the Scottish Conservatives  from  the UK  Party whilst  insisting that a hard Brexit should be watered down and stating baldly that  the  13 MPs from Scotland who are now sitting in the Commons should vote according to their consciences not to the dictates of Tory Party whip.

There is also another possible legal challenge brewing with a  claim that the Act passed to allow the letter to be sent to the EU triggering Article 50 did not such thing because it did not  address the question of the legality of the UK leaving the EU.

More immediately worrying  is the proposed supply and confidence arrangement   with the Democratic Unionists (DUP)  of Northern Ireland  and the  concessions the  DUP will insist on and the knock-on effects with Scotland and Wales which will undoubtedly want  for themselves  whatever  the DUP gets or something of similar political value.    The terms of the arrangement have yet to be agreed,  but we can be sure that the DUP will insist on not having a hard border between the  Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . Anything other than a hard border would utterly undermine one of the primary objects of Brexit, namely, control of the UK’s borders.  Nor is it certain that any deal will be made.

All in all a very pretty political mess with no risk free way of escaping.  Calling another election soon  would probably   result in  a Labour win or at least a Labour led coalition government.  At best it is unlikely that it would leave  the Tories in a better position than they are in.  Moreover, the Fixed Term Parliaments Act is still in place. To call an election before the end of the five year Parliament stipulated in the Act  requires a two-thirds majority of   the  full complement of MPs  (currently 650) whether  or not a constituency has an MP at the time of voting or whether an MP abstains.   In short at least 417 MPs  must vote for an election.   There is a good chance that neither  the Parties with seats  in the Commons nor many individual MPs with smallish majorities would want another election soon: the Parties because of the cost (if an election was held this year it would mean  funding three elections in two years) and   individual MPs for  the fear of losing their seats.

There is one way the Tories might be able to cut this Gordian knot because  they are so close to a majority in the Commons the Government is in a much stronger position than might be thought  from the media and general political  response following the failure of May to gain a majority .  May  or a successor could  try governing  without a majority.

The  number of MPs  needed for a Commons majority is pedantically 326. But this is misleading because the  seven Sinn Fein MPs will not  take their seats as a matter of principle (they refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to the Crown)and the Speaker only votes in the event of a tie (when by convention he votes for the status quo). Hence, the figure in practice for a Commons majority is  322. This means the Tories are a  mere 4 MPs short of a majority.

The Tories  could probably govern as a minority government without any support most of the time, because any defeat of  government legislation would require almost every non-Tory MP  to vote against the government. That is not easy to organise day in day out, week in week out.  Moreover, it is most unlikely that MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would want to hold up many of the  money Bills because that would mean their countries  would not get their  part of the money .  In addition, it is likely that the DUP would support the Tories on most occasions simply because they agreed with Tory policies and for the fear of something worse, that is, a Corbyn government. .

The main danger for the Tories  would be a  vote for a motion of No Confidence.   But it would not be easy to marshal the disparate MPs who make up the opposition.  It is possible that some Tories might abstain or even vote against on individual Tory policies , but improbable  that they would vote for a motion of No Confidence.

It is conceivable that a few  Tory remainers might cross the floor of the House of Commons and join a Corbyn  government. This idea  is unlikely  but  not absurd because Brexit is one of those rare defining issues which could cause remainer  Tory MPs to defect.  More probable would  be Tory remainers being willing to vote on  Bills put forward  by a Corbyn government which relate to Brexit.

But let us assume that a motion of No Confidence was passed, what then?  Could Corbyn form a government with a majority? He might well struggle because he  would have to take all the Ulster  Unionist MPs with him. Given Corbyn’s  record of  enthusiastically consorting with Irish Republicans of dubious provenance  it is unlikely he would be able to bring them on board even on the basis of confidence and supply. But even if he could cobble together a government of all MPs other than Tory ones,  it would be hopelessly  unstable because of the vast  spread of political opinions it would have to encompass and the fact that the Labour Party is nowhere near to being able to form a government on its own.   The proposed hook-up between the Tories and the DUP has a much better chance of surviving.

It is possible that no government could be formed which could command  the confidence of the Commons. That would create an interesting constitutional problem because the Fixed Term Parliaments Act  would mean that Parliament could not be dissolved unless two thirds of the Commons voted for it. That would mean that any new election could not be painted as the responsibility of the Tory Party as many MPs other than Tory ones would have to vote for it. That would remove part of the toxicity  of an early election for the Tories.

If May (or a Tory successor) could get through another 18  months in power that might be enough for the public to turn against Corbyn and/or simply get bored with his antics and those of the likes of McDonnell. It would also allow enough to time get the negotiations  for Brexit so well entrenched that it would be difficult to overturn them even if a different government took office. The fly in the ointment is of course the likely attempts at betrayal by the present Government or any successor government  headed by a Tory other than Theresa May.

If the Tory government does survive it must operate  for the foreseeable political future on the basis that Brexit comes before everything else apart from maintaining  the functions of the state and civil order. Any legislation in policy areas other than Brexit which is contentious should be shelved until Brexit is completed.

There must also be red lines drawn. One of the primary problems with May was her refusal or inability to spell out what she would and would not accept when negotiating with the EU.  The government whether led by May or someone else must make clear the following:

That there is no hard and soft Brexit there is simply Brexit

That the UK will leave the single  market.

That the UK will leave the customs union .

That the UK will have full control over her borders for people, goods and services.

That the UK will have full control of her territorial waters including those relating to the 200 mile limit.

That after leaving the UK will not be subject to the European Court of Justice or any other judicial body  linked to the EU or the EEA.

That the UK will not pay any leaving fee.

That the UK will be paid a proportionate share of the EU’s assets.

That would both reassure the majority who voted of Brexit and make any backsliding by the government very difficult.

Posted in Immigration, Nationhood | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

If a Eurofanatic wanted to design a plot to thwart Brexit ……

 Robert Henderson

If a Eurofanatic wanted to design a plot to thwart Brexit they could not do better than contrive the situation Theresa May has wrought. It works like this: 

Stage 1 call an unnecessary General Election when there is three years still to run before an election is legally necessary. 

Stage 2 produce a manifesto which  frightens huge numbers of an electorate, including the natural supporters of your party  by  (1)  promising to reduce pensions and pensioner benefits  and (2) threatening to make anyone who is infirm and aged use all their accumulated wealth to pay for their care until they are down to their last £100,000.

Stage 3. Do a u-turn on some but not all of the threatened charges made in stage 2 to give the appearance of government irresolution.  

Stage 4. Produce no policies which have a broad appeal and make what policies there are vague  and uncosted. 

Stage 5. Make the election all about the leader by sidelining other senior members of the party. 

Stage 6. Devise  annoying catch phrases such as “strong and stable”  and repeat them at every opportunity. 

Stage 7. Keep the leader away from any situation where they might have to debate or explain their position and ensure that the leader acts with the arrogant assumption that a huge win is assured. 

Stage 8. Allow no meaningful discussion of what Brexit will or should  amount to. Keep the leader uttering “Brexit means Brexit”  and  “No deal is better than a bad deal” .

Stage 9. Engage in attacks on the mentality of the leadership and  policies of the main opposing party.  

Stage 10. Having failed to gain a majority the leader should put it about using her subordinates that because there is no majority there is no mandate or practical way of effecting a “hard Brexit”,  by which is meant a genuine Brexit.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland spending much more on public services than they collect in tax

Robert Henderson

The Office for National Statistics (ONS)  has produced  its first regional analysis of UK  public spending  and tax collected. The ONS describes the statistics as experimental and their  methodology can be found here at the beginning of the analysis. Hence, it should be treated with caution.  However, the figures given  by the ONS for Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland are probably broadly correct because the ONS  also give figures for English regions which vary widely and seem to correspond to the economic strength of each region. If the English region figures are broadly correct then so should be those for Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland as they are computed on the same basis.

The ONS  data  shows  public spending of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland considerably exceeds  the tax collected those countries.

Per capita their overspending is as follows in the latest year calculated (2015/16)

Scotland    £2,824

Wales         £4,545

N. Ireland £5,437

The total overspend in each country  calculated  by multiplying the per capita sum by the population of each of the three countries  gives these figures:

Scotland £2,824 x 5,373,000 (population)   = £15,173,352,000

Wales  £4,545 x 3,099,100 (population)       = £14,085,409,500

N. Ireland £5,437 x 1,851,600 (population) = £10,067,149,200

Total of public service spending by Scotland, Wales and N Ireland  over and above the money collected in those countries is £39,325, 910,700

England spent only  £599 per capita more than it collects in tax  in 2015/16.

The population of England is 54,786,300

The excess  of spending over revenue in England is s £599 x 54,786,300 = £32,816,993,000

Total excess of UK spending  over revenue is £39,325,910,600 + £32,816,993,000 = £72,140,190,600

England has 86% of the UK population and 44% of the excess of spending over revenue

Scotland, Wales and N Ireland have 14% if the UK population and 54% of the excess of spending over revenue.

The population estimates for  England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are taken from the  Office for National Statistics

The Treasury payments to each Home Country

The greater overspending per capita in Scotland, Wales and Northern  Ireland than in England  is not simply a matter of  the same amounts per capita being disbursed by the UK Treasury to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland  and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland  running up a larger deficit in their public spending than England because they are poorer than England and consequently generate less tax.  That is part of it but it is also a consequence of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland getting far more generous per capita payments, viz:

In 2015/16, public spending per head in the UK as a whole was £9,076. In England, it was £8,816 (3% below the UK average).  This compares with:

Scotland: £10,536 (16% above the UK average)  -and  thus £1,720 higher than   England

Wales: £9,996 (10% above the UK average)  -and thus £1,180 higher than England

Northern Ireland £10,983 (21% above the UK average)  – and thus £2, 167higher than England

The total difference between the  Treasury disbursement  to England and that to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland  can be calculated by multiplying by their populations  the  difference in the per capita  money Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland receive  compared to England, viz:

Scotland £1720  x 5,373,000 (population)   =  £9,241,560,000

Wales  £1180 x 3,099,100 (population)       =  £3, 656,938,000

N. Ireland £2167 x 1,851,600 (population) = £4,012,417,200

Therefore   for the year 2015/16 the total  Treasury payments to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland  over and above that paid to England was  £16,910,915,200. If the Treasury disbursements to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland  had been  reduced to the  same per capita amount as was  spent in  England  nearly £17 billion would have been knocked off  the UK government’s spending in 2015/16.

The money Scotland, Wales and  Northern Ireland receive and spend over and above that received and spent in England is partly funded by the English taxpayer directly or adds to the UK national debt which is serviced in large part by the English taxpayer. It is also true that if Scotland,  Wales and Northern Ireland  were independent countries they would neither be able to sustain anything like their current levels of funding for public services nor borrow anything like as cheaply as the UK government can (or be able to borrow at any price) to finance a large  deficit .

Posted in Devolution, Economics, Nationhood | 4 Comments

What would be the effects  of a radical reduction in immigration to the UK?

Robert Henderson

Ukip has embraced a nil  net  immigration policy based on a one in one out to leave the population unchanged by immigration. In the year ending Sept 2016   596,000 people came to the UK  and 323,000 left giving a  net migration figure of  273,000 more coming than going.  That is the number of  people  who were not  British citizens  would have been  refused residence under   the scheme proposed by Ukip.

The  internationalists   tell   us  that   the woes  of  the  world will   come upon  us  should we radically  curtail immigration,  although,  like  Lear threatening retribution, (“I will do such things–What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be the terrors of the earth.”)   they are unable  to  say  exactly what the woes  will be.  In fact, I cannot recall ever having seen an article in the British media which goes beyond lazy generalisation about “competing in a global market” or  “driving private enterprise abroad”.    The reality is rather different.

The effects on the British labour market of a radical reduction of immigrants

There would be greatly improved employment  opportunities for the British.  The  labour market would tighten and wages would rise. That would place extra costs on employers but they could be offset by a reduction in taxation due to millions of people being employed who are currently unemployed or underemployed and receiving in work benefits. Nor would  wages rise uniformly. Labour   would  move    into  those   occupations  which  are essential   and  which   cannot  be provided  at    a   distance,   for  example     healthcare     and  education.  We  would   discover    how  occupations   rank in terms of  utility.  Wages  would  rise  in  those occupations which had most utility to  attract  staff from elsewhere. This could have surprising results. We might find that vital jobs considered menial now would pay much more once cheap labour could no longer be brought in.   This would be justice for the many who have seen their jobs undervalued  because of the ability of employers to use cheap immigrant labour.

Employers  would  respond  to labour  tightening   by   using    labour  more  efficiently.   Automation  would increase  and  employers   would  change their attitude  to  the employment of the long-term unemployed,  older  people  and  the disabled. Both  employers and government would  take vocational   training   more seriously.   Government  would  provide  incentives   to  employers  to train  their staff and  increase  the  training  of    public   service   professionals such as doctors and  dentists.

Employers  who could not find the labour to run their business in  this country would have to accept they could not do so.   No one has a right to engage in an enterprise regardless of the effects on the welfare  of the community as a whole which is effectively the present position. Capital which cannot be used in this country can be invested  abroad and the profits from that brought to the UK.  The UK balance of payments would be improved by  a reduction in the  money being remitted abroad by immigrants.

The increase in employment of Britons would  be an immense social good beyond  reducing  the cost to the Exchequer  of  the  unemployed,  for people are generally happier and more  responsible  when employed .

The  pressure  on  public services,  transport   and housing would be lessened making  access  to them  easier  for Britons. An ending of mass immigration would also curtail  the substantial cost of providing  the benefits of the welfare state to immigrants as soon as they gain the right to legal long term residence in Britain.

Fewer legal  immigrants would allow much greater supervision of visitors to Britain – a significant minority of whom are health tourists  or who are here for criminal purposes – and a proper control and investigation of illegal immigrants. No more sending suspected illegals to the Croydon reception office under their own speed or leaving ports and airfields with an inadequate or completely absent Borders Agency  presence.  We could then not only refuse new immigrants but  start removing the  illegal immigrants who are already here.

Would there be an unmanageable  labour shortage?

The  idea  that  Britain  is  short of  labour  for  most  purposes  is   absurd.   The official figure  for those of working  age  ((16-64) who are economically inactive in the UK is  just under 9 million, or nearly a quarter of the age group.  Clearly not all of those would be able or willing to work,  but equally clearly  a large proportion would be able and willing to work  if  the conditions  were  right, for example,   wages  rose,   employers  became  more accommodating  and the benefits system was tightened as the  number  of opportunities for work rose.

The   claim  that  the   indigenous   population   will  not   do   the jobs  immigrants take  is  demonstrably false for in areas of the country with  few  immigrants  native  Britons  do  them  willingly.   In addition, vast swathes of work have been effectively denied to the native population  by collusion between employers and those who supply labour.  This happens both within the indigenous ethnic minorities who only employ from their own ethnic group and within immigrant labour which commonly works through gangmasters who are immigrants themselves. This does not just occur in areas such as fruit picking  and factory assembly work but in areas such as the NHS where we have the absurdity of doctors and nurses trained in Britain having to go abroad to find jobs because immigrants are employed here.

It is also important to understand  that the menial  jobs immigrants  take are worth far more to them than a native Briton because wages are so much higher in the UK than they are in the country from which the immigrant hails.  Take the example of an immigrant who earnings are taxed properly and   who earns the minimum UK wage.  Even if  they earn the UK minimum wage  of £7.20 ph for those over 24 years of age  that is an annual wage for a 40 hour week of £14,976.  The minimum wage in for example Poland is worth around £400 pm (£5,000 pa) , despite the fact that Poland is one of the larger and  better developed economies of the Eastern European countries which supply so many of the immigrants to the UK.  Immigrants coming from less developed countries will find  the differential between wages here and their country of origin much larger, for example,

Many  immigrants live  in  accommodation   either   supplied and subsidised   by  an  employer  or   in  crowded accommodation which works out at  very little per head  rent.   Substantial numbers   work in the black market and pay no income  tax or national insurance.  Quite a few  draw in work benefits such as Child Benefit even if their children are not in this country.  In these circumstances migrants  from the poorer  member states should be able  to save  a few thousand pounds a year from their wages .  If the money is remitted back to the immigrant’s home country or the immigrant returns home  a few thousand sterling will be worth in purchasing power in the home country  multiples of what it is worth in the UK.

As for skilled workers,  most jobs are as they have always been unskilled or low skilled. For those occupations which  are skilled but non-essential , the work can be done by people working abroad, for example, most IT work falls into that category. The skilled occupations with indispensable skills  which  could not be sourced from our own people if training was provided, for example, doctors and nurses.  There are presently  far more applicants for medical training places than are currently filled.

Do Britons want an end to mass immigration?

Concern about immigration has been at the top of issues concerning the British for years; this despite the fact that every mainstream British political party has with the willing collusion of the British media, doing   everything they can to suppress unfettered  public debate about the issue.

In 2014 The think-tank British Future  published  their  report How to talk about immigration based on research conducted by ICM, Ipsos MORI and YouGov.  One finding  is truly startling. Faced with the question  “The government should insist that all immigrants should return to the countries they came from, whether they’re here legally or illegally”  the result was Agree 25%, disagree 52% and neither 23%. (P17 of the report).  In addition, many of those who said no to forced repatriation were also firm supporters of strong border controls and restrictive  immigration policies.

The fact that 25% of the population have overcome their fear of  falling foul of the pc police and say that they do not merely want immigration stopped but sent into reverse is  stunning. Moreover, because political correctness has taken such an intimidating place in British society it is reasonable to assume that a substantial number of those who said they disagreed did so simply out of fear of being accused of racism.

The obverse of the immigration coin was shown by the question “In an increasingly borderless world, we should welcome anyone who wants to come to Britain and not deter them with border controls” (P16 of the report).  The results were 14% agree, 67% disagree and 19% don’t know.

Anyone who believes that the British people welcomed the post-war immigration and want more of it is self-deluding to the point of imbecility.

Posted in Immigration, Nationhood | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

The remainers throw away their best chance of sabotaging Brexit.

Robert Henderson

Astonishingly, the remainers have missed their best chance to hinder the Brexit  process by  failing to seriously oppose the motion  put down by Theresa May that a General Election be held on 8 June. The motion was passed on 19 April 201`7 by 522 votes to 13.

This is an extraordinary result on the face of it. What is even more astonishing is the fact that the remainers could have defeated the motion quite easily. All  they had to do was muster 217 votes or abstentions to overthrow the motion for an early election. Indeed, they could have done it simply by getting 217 MPs to abstain. The Labour Party, with 229 MPs, could have managed the matter on their own, as could a coalition of, say,  two thirds of Labour MPs, the Scots Nat MPs and the LibDem MPs voting against or abstaining.

Let me divert for a moment to explain the status of abstentions in this context. In this vote an abstention has the same value as a vote against. This is  because it is the total number of MPs who vote for the motion that matters, not the percentage of those who actually vote for or against a motion.

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act  two thirds of the 650 member House of Commons have to vote for a motion proposing  an early election.   Two thirds of 650 is 434. Hence one  vote against   or one abstention can make a difference. If 433 MPs vote for the motion with, say,  only 100 voting against but with 117 abstaining,  the motion fails because it is one short of 434.

Even without any party opposing the motion a substantial number of MPs did not vote for it.  Only 13 MPs may have voted against the motion but 115 abstained.  This figure of 115  is arrived at as follows:

522  voted  for  the motion

13  voted against the motion

Therefore 115 MPs are unaccounted for after deducting  those who voted.  Six of these are:

The Speaker (who doesn’t vote unless there is a tie), Eric Kaufman (deceased, and his constituency was  awaiting  a by election), and 4 Sinn Fein MPs  (who don’t take their seats and consequently don’t vote.)

That leaves 109 other wilful or accidental abstainers.

As 115 votes were either not used or used to vote against,  it would only have required another 102 to either abstain or vote against the motion to stop the attempt to have a general election on 8 June. Had the various remainer Party leaders in the Commons put their weight behind a vote against.  the motion it is probable that the motion would have been defeated.

Alternatively, if  remain MPs of all parties had come together they might well have defeated the motion.

The fact that the remainer MPs failed to defeat the motion when it was well within their grasp to do so,  or indeed to make any public noise about doing so, suggests that they were more afraid of losing their seats than they are motivated to carry on the battle against Brexit. Ironically,  I suspect that was a false fear for many remainer MPs because they represent constituencies which voted to remain.

As far as the party leaders are concerned, voting against the motion could have been represented as reasonable both because Theresa May had said she would not call an election as it would be  destabilising and on the grounds that this Parliament is only two years old and the clear intention of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act was  to stop PMs calling elections to suit themselves and their party rather than the national interest.

If the remainer MPs had gathered enough votes and abstentions to defeat the motion it would have placed   Theresa  May in a very awkward position personally and removed  from her the possibility of using a larger majority after an early  General Election  to drive through Brexit. It  is indicative of a  lack of commitment  by remainers to their  cause when it involves any danger or sacrifice. That is very useful to know.  If they have looked  gift horse in the mouth because they did not fancy the state of its teeth once they are very likely to do it again when the pressure is on.

As historians look back at the remainers ‘ failure to keep Theresa May locked in the position she was in before the motion was passed  – stuck with a small majority and  a General Election coming in 2019 just as the Brexit negotiations and the UK’s departure are due to come to a head – they will surely shake their heads in astonishment .  No wonder for it is truly bewildering  that there was no attempt by one or more of the Westminster parties which support the remainer cause  to defeat the motion for an early General Election, thereby potentially greatly strengthening Theresa May and her government’s  position.

Posted in Nationhood | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Theresa May decides to go to the country  – Start counting the spoons

Robert Henderson

Theresa May has announced that she wants an early General Election on 8 June. However, this is no longer a simple matter of the PM going to see the Queen and requesting that Parliament be dissolved and  an election called. Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act  Mrs May will require a two thirds majority in the House of Commons to vote  to call an early election.

The odds are on May   getting  a two thirds majority because the leaders of the Labour and LibDem parties, Jeremy  Corbyn and Tim  Farron have both welcomed the idea of an early election . However, the position  is not quite as straightforward as it might seem. The two thirds majority in the Commons is not two thirds of those who vote,  but two thirds of the entire Commons personnel, that is,  434 of the 650 MPs. If there  is a heavy abstention – the  coward’s way out for an MP – May could  struggle to reach 434 voting in favour.

Suppose that 100 MPs abstain. That would mean May would have to gain 434  votes out of 550, a majority of those  voting of  79%. Only 116 votes against an early   general election would be needed.   If the SNP with 56 MPs voted en bloc against the attempt  to call an early General Election it would require only 60 other MPs to vote against the same way.  Are the SNP likely to vote en bloc? Well, there has been no definitive statement from the SNP leadership but their leader Nicola Sturgeon appears to be taking the proposed General Election as a fact rather than a possibility, viz  ‘[Nicola Sturgeon] said the election would “once again give people the opportunity to reject the Tories’ narrow, divisive agenda, as well as reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists for giving the people of Scotland a choice on their future.”’

All that  seemingly makes a vote against an early election unlikely. However, that is what the party leaders are saying. There is an outside chance that a hardcore of remainer MPs might spoil the party and defeat the motion for an early election.  As the figures above show relatively few MPs would have to rebel either by voting against or simply abstaining. There are strong reasons for them to do so.  Apart from wanting to sabotage the Brexit vote for ideological reasons many remain  MPs also a  venal interest in not having an election now because they fear that they might lose their seats.

If May loses the vote

If May is unable to get a vote for an early election she will be in something of a pickle for her  authority will be diminished and she will then have to endure over three years of the dismal picture she painted in her speech announcing her intent to seek a dissolution of Parliament, viz:

“The country is coming together, but Westminster is not. In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the deal we reach with the European Union.

 The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill.

The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union.

And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way. “

What would be May’s options if she cannot get the Commons to vote itself into a General Election? She  could attempt to repeal the fixed term Parliaments Act which could be done by a simple majority , but she would have to get that through the Lords which  would probably   prove impossible. In theory she could engineer  a vote of no confidence in her own government to bring about an election,  but that would be both absurd and uncertain of success. The reality is that if May  cannot get the motion passed permitting an election on 8 June that will be the end of any immediate prospect of a General Election.

If  a  General Election is called for 8 June

If a General Election is called it is important that  Brexiteers,  especially those who are supporters of the Tory Party, do not relax.   The polls show the Tory Party hugely in front of Labour with an average of five  polls in April having  the Tories at 43% and Labour at 25%.  That looks very solid,   but importantly the proposed  election will be held before boundary changes to constituencies are made.   These  are thought to be worth at least a   a couple of dozen seats to the Tories  and cost Labour a similar number,  so the increase in the Tory majority may not as large as anticipated. .  It is also true that most  Labour seats have sizeable majorities so that gaining large numbers of seats from them  is a big ask. .

A June  General Election now would  not be a normal one. Like the Peers v the People Election of 1910  it will be predominantly  about a single issue, namely, Brexit. Indeed, it  could reasonably be portrayed as a proxy for re-running the EU Referendum.

There is a considerable psychological difference between voting in a referendum with a clear cut yes or no decision for the voter to make and a General Election,  which  is about choosing a people to make decisions on a multiplicity of subjects for several years . Many of those who voted to Leave the EU are not natural Tory voters, especially those working-class  Labour voters who did much to win the referendum. Those voters  may not be anything like as willing to vote for a Tory government as they were to vote for Brexit.

Motivation to vote will also be important.  It is arguable that the remainers will tend to be  more strongly committed  to vote than Brexiteers simply because they  were the referendum  losers and consequently  will be without any feeling of complacency. They will see this as an occasion to vent their anger and frustration. Brexiteers may be more inclined to think that the Brexit   job is, if not done, is at least on a track from which it cannot be derailed and be less inclined to vote, especially if they are the  people who are not natural  Conservatives.

Remainer voters will also be  energised by the fact that May has said repeatedly that she would not attempt to call an early  General Election. Some leave voters may also  feel  uneasy about this and be persuaded not to vote on 8 June.

Finally, there is sheer  voter fatigue. British voters have had a General Election in 2015, the EU referendum in 2016 and face local elections . Scottish voters had  the independence referendum in 2014 and Northern Ireland had devolved elections in March 2017 .  Getting voters out for elections where voters are voting for parties have been in decline since the 1950s. It is probable that the turnout of a June General Election will be significantly below the turnout for the EU referendum which saw a turnout of 72%.  If the turnout was significantly below this the remainers will use it to cast aspersions on May’s claim that she had a mandate from the British people.

All of this adds up to a need for all those who want to see Brexit completed to be both committed to the coming election and to think forward  beyond it.  If, as seems most likely, Theresa May comes back from the election with a substantial  majority that does not mean Brexiteers can relax. A large majority might allow May to push Brexit through but it will also allow her to be dishonest. It should never  be forgotten that she is a remainer and most of her cabinet and Parliamentary Party are remainers.  They would in their heart of hearts like to have something far less than Brexit. Already there have been disturbing signs of May’s r intentions to sabotage the vote to leave. For example, in the prime areas for Brexit of   immigration and the Single Market,   Home Secretary Amber Rudd  says immigration may not drop significantly  after Brexit , while  the supposedly rock solid Brexiteer David Davis suggested in December  that the UK might  pay a fee to the EU to retain access to the Single Market.

The watchword for Brexiteers must be as ever eternal vigilance. Start counting the spoons.



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Funny Business at No 10

Posted on April 13, 2017 by Robert Henderson  

The No 10 petitions unit  rejects  a petition to get the UK out of the EU using the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
On 2nd  April 2017 I submitted a petition to the No 10 website  which hosts petitions created by  any British citizen. My petition, including the further explanatory details which are allowed on the No 10 site,  was this:
The EU can spend two years giving the UK the run around whilst pocketing two years of further UK contributions and obliging the UK to honour all EU laws and regulations including freedom of movement. At the end of the two years the UK is unlikely to have an agreement which will effect Brexit .
More details:
The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties gives the UK ample grounds for repudiating all EU Treaty obligations on the grounds of bad faith by the other treaty members and the failure to apply the rules of the EU, for example, the repeated failure to produce accounts which satisfy the auditors, the multiple breaches of Eurozone rules and the failure to enforce government aid rules against the likes of Germany, France and Italy – see
When I submitted the petition the No 10 website software brought up a message stating there was no similar petition already on the site.
The second  hurdle a petition has to clear is to get five sponsors for the petition. This I rapidly achieved, with a total of 19 sponsors.
When I sent the petition I received an acknowledgement  saying that a decision to allow or disallow a petition “ usually takes a week or less.”
It  took  11 days to reject mine.
The  rejection
My petition was eventually rejected on the single ground that a similar petition was already on the No 10  website.
This is the Petition:
End negotiations with the EU forthwith.
The PM has no mandate to negotiate with the EU. We voted for a hard Brexit and demand it. Time to tell the EU “no deal, end of negotiations, goodbye.”
The reason given for the rejection is literally absurd, for the two petitions do different things.  My petition gives a legal way to leave rapidly, the other petition  offers no legal route out of the EU. In fact it urges the Government to act illegally by breaching a treaty.
The difference between my petition and the  other one is so striking that it is not unreasonable to suspect that the refusal of my petition is for political reasons rather than the reason the No 10 Petitions Unit has given.
What might that reason be? Well, the Vienna  Convention on the Law of Treaties  allows the UK  to  get  out of  the  EU a good deal faster and  with a much cleaner exit. The delay in rejecting the petition is also suspicious as it suggests there was an extended  debate about it taking place.
The other suspicious thing is the fact that the petition which is supposedly similar to mine has only just be posted to the No 10 site. Each accepted petition expires after six months on the site. The expiry date  for this one is 11 October 2017. Hence, it must have been put up after I sent in my petition on 2nd April. The odds are that this petition is one concocted by those opposed to Brexit  after my  petition was submitted to provide an  excuse for rejecting mine.  It is worth  remembering that public servants are generally remainers. 
Whatever the reason is for refusing my petition, it indubitably qualifies to go  up on the N 10 website.  
Let us hope the civil servants responsible for the  petitions  see sense and change their mind. 

   I am waiting for a reply from the No 10 unit to this email

13 April 2017

  Dear Sirs, 

The reason for your rejection is literally  absurd. My petition gives a legal way to leave rapidly  the petition you cite offers no legal route out of the EU. In fact it  urges the Government to act illegally by breaching a treaty.  I would also point out that when I registered the petition with you your own software created a message saying  there was no  similar petition already in existence on the site. 
In the light of these facts I ask you to reconsider your rejection of  my  petition. 
I also ask  you to give me the name of the person heading  your unit  and a phone number on which I can contact him or her. 
Yours sincerely, 
Robert Henderson       
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