The Only Brexit Update You Need

The People's Vote campaign sent us a hamper.

06 December 2018, 10:37am

Photo by the author

Are we there yet? An entire nation’s eyes have already glazed over just as things are finally get exciting. Mainly because in recent months the insiders, the wonks, have taken their ball and run so far off ahead of the public with their dense private language of EFTAs and Backstops and ECJs that they’ve stopped explaining anything.

Worse – Brexit itself is no longer just one story. It’s about six, all happening simultaneously, but in very different locations, with very different characters. Northern Ireland. Trade. The Tory Civil War. The Ultra-Remainers. The Labour Party. And whatever celebrity numbnuts has piped up this week. It’s like solving a jigsaw that’s on fire, over the phone.

This column is designed to be the antidote to that. The same questions. The big ones. Every week. Until we either figure it out or Britain falls into the sea. Short and dumb. The Arlene Foster of words.

Anything Happening On Trade?

They’ve announced Hard Brexit will destroy the economy.
But they also have no factual basis for that claim. Bank of England governor Mark Carney came out with new predictions for the following year, suggesting that trade would fall off a cliff in the event of a No Deal Brexit. But these figures were soon savaged as alarmist by some unusual suspects – Mervyn King, Carney’s predecessor as governor, and Paul Krugman, a pro-Remain, Nobel Prize-winning trade economist, who said he just ”doesn’t understand” how Carney got to his numbers.

Is May More Toast Than She Was Last Week?

As toasty as she’s ever been.
Having seen off Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Eurosceptic coup, she still finds herself at sea and drifting. As it stands, her deal, due to be voted on December 11, has no arithmetic. She needs 320 votes to cross the line. As it stands, there are 345 against, 71 undecided, and 223 for. In other words, even if she converts every undecided, she still loses by 26. She lost three big votes inside an hour this week – so it’s unclear whether she can even govern longer-term.

When she loses the big vote, she’ll likely face a No Confidence motion, which would trigger a general election. Everything now rides on the DUP’s sagging support.

Whatever Happened To That People’ s Vote Thing?

They sent me a stunt press release.
The People's Vote campaign sent me beer, mayo, Nutella, and “horrible surprise” Brexit Xmas crackers, all in a shopping basket. Apparently this is something to do with “prices going up” post-Brexit. Perhaps as a consequence of the civil war brought on by a second referendum?

Though they will be happy that EU has issued its own legal advice – suggesting that Britain can cancel Brexit without their say-so. If they choose to. Which would require a new Act of Parliament. So will never happen.

What’s Labour ’s Latest Incoherence?

They now hate the European Court Of Justice.
Opening the first day of debates, responding to May, Jeremy Corbyn denounced our continued subservience to the ECJ in the Deal – a classic case of “not invented here”.

Which is also Labour’s whole strategy. Shadow Attorney-General Shami Chakrabarti repeated her magical thinking approach: they would go back to Brussels, “be nice”, and “get a better deal”. Jeremy apparently has “a better relationship” with the EU – picture the cards scene in Casino Royale, basically.

Are We Going Back To The Semtex Years In Ireland?

Never, if Parliament backs the deal. The Backstop – the question of what happens to the Irish Border if we tumble out without agreeing a deal – has taken centre stage again. But in a more roundabout way.

This week, the fighting has focused on the government’s legal advice: What did the lawyers say would happen if we do go with May’s Draft Agreement?

It has taken the unprecedented measure of a vote in Parliament to find the government “in contempt of Parliament” to wheedle the full version out. And the answer is: “we will be stuck indefinitely in the Backstop unless the EU tells us otherwise”. This has enraged Brexiteers, who have always claimed this is exactly what would happen.

What’s The Numbnuts Celebrity Intervention Of The Week?

Michael Sheen’s Sex Life.
The actor apparently moved back to Britain in 2016 to “address some of the reasons people voted for Brexit”. Unfortunately for him, girlfriend Sarah Silverman decided to slave over a similar hot political clusterfuck in America. This decision to live in separate countries seems to have led to the end of their relationship. Yet Sheen still wanted to have a go at the Telegraph, who ran with the headline: “why Brexit led to his break-up”, tweeting back: "What utter bollocks!”

It’s OK mate, we get it. You decided it was easier to move to another country than to break up with her. No shame there.