Before I get into the pantomime of the last couple of days, I’d just like to ask this, does it matter to the world that we’re leaving the EU?  Because it does seem that the UK is a tad obsessed with our self-inflicted dilemma.  I’m looking at someone else’s blog here (see below) and I’d agree with it and say economically, no, it won’t matter. We’ll be a little poorer with a very damaged GDPR, and lower economic growth for some years, but will this affect other countries?  Not a lot! But as far as nationhood and international relations, I’d say yes, it does matter. The EU was always meant to be far more than an economic union. Is it because I’m old (yes, I am saying that) that I think the EU had, and still has, a huge impact on relations between European countries (did International Relations as my degree, btw). And yes, how many of you can remember bomb sites? Actual holes in streets made by German bombs?  Well I can. They were a common sight through my childhood and I haven’t forgotten them. When you holiday in Italy (write in any European country instead apart from Switzerland) do you think of the furious fighting that went on between neighbouring countries. It matters that former enemies sit round table discussing economics, and even, dare I say it, closer union with each other. To not be part of a greater whole? I regret that.

But setting important stuff aside, the last couple of days have been interesting. Parliament will vote on Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday 15th January.  It is probably going to be defeated, although I say probably as Mrs May is playing a dangerous game of chicken hoping that MPs in Parliament will blink and vote for her agreement rather than having a no-deal.

Ah wait, there will probably not be a no-deal as the government got defeated at the beginning of the week by a carefully crafted amendment to a finance bill, which restricts the government’s tax powers unless a no-deal Brexit is taken off the table. So that was the government’s first defeat of the week, and then yesterday (Wednesday 9th) there was, oh joy, another quite important (I’m being ironic) as in, very important government defeat.  Rumour had it that Mrs May, yes, she will most likely be defeated on 15th but, thereafter, she was apparently going to bring the agreement back week after week after week. Now what happened was a typical bear-pit pantomime of ‘oh no, you mustn’t, ‘oh, no you shouldn’t‘, and ‘oh, what have you done!’ versus, ‘oh, yes, I will and you can’t stop me’. Because, horror of horrors, the Speaker acted in the interest of parliament rather than the executive (government) and allowed parliament to vote on an amendment (without a debate) which said Mrs May was to bring a Plan B within 3-days of next week’s defeat.

Oh calamity. It was passed. I mean, there is no Plan B, but in the meantime, much disgust was coming from some MPs, but absolutely not all. To watch the House of Commons live was an education in how our betters do disgust. Kind of wordy and blustery.  But the performance of Mr Bercow, our Speaker, dressed as a Harry Potter character and enjoying every single minute of holding the government to account, ‘I am not’, he shouted, ‘here to act as a cheer leader for the government.’ What a hero!

Interesting, is it not that the Brexiteer MPs wanted their sovereignty back, but when our parliament uses its sovereignty and acts in the interests of parliament rather than the government, and goes against their wishes – ooh, er, no, missus.

You could not make this up.

Penny Kocher, 10th January 2019


For more on the first paragraph read: Tony Barber, Should the world care about Brexit? Financial Times newsletter. January 8th 2019

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9 thoughts on “Another quick update

  • 10th January 2019 at 17:39

    It is a pantomime but it’s difficult to keep up. I have no idea how Tuesday’s vote will go, if there will be a vote of no confidence, if there will be a Plan B (plan A has taken nearly 2 years, where is another plan going to come from?), if there will be an extension to Article 50, if the Speaker will continue, etc, etc.

    And I had lunch with two old colleagues today. One has just got his French nationality and is emigrating, and the other who voted leave (I remember discussing it at the time and disagreeing) admitted that in a 2nd referendum she would vote to remain as she felt she had been lied to. This is the first person I know personally who would change their vote. Sadly I know quite a lot of leavers and so far she is the first to switch.

    But to get back to your first point. No, I don’t think most of Europe is that bothered but the rest of the world is. There was synergy being in the EU and we were more influential for it.

    • 11th January 2019 at 09:34

      It is astonishing that nothing much happened until approximately a month ago and then everything is happening. The options after the defeat (which is highly likely but not totally) are still unknown. The House won’t vote for a general election, so will Mrs May extend the process for a referendum? But she can only ask for an extension as this must have the agreement of all the 27, or is it a no-deal?

      So much is being written but everything is so uncertain. We await further developments.

  • 10th January 2019 at 18:25

    Based on reports that both Putin and Trump favor Brexit, and that Putin apparently supported the campaign financially, one must conclude that they both expect both economic and political weakening of the UK and EU post Brexit.

    Here in the US we suffer from daily outrages by the Trump Administration, so following Brexit manouvering, much less anticipating the consequences, is beyond the bandwith of most of us.

    Thank you for the clarity of your reports here. Following along with The Guardian and The Irish Times can be difficult since many of their references to individuals and parliamentary procdures are opaque to readers in other countries.

    • 11th January 2019 at 09:49

      Sharon – we here in the UK are, at this precise moment, so blinkered as to events outside our country. Mind you , most are so sick of the word Brexit that they might indeed be taking an interest elsewhere, and there is a definite looking away at the current ridiculous antics in our Parliament. But there is so much going on outside our little island. I do feel for the workers in the US who are no longer being paid – it must be ghastly.

      Actually I did read that op-ed you directed me to, but Christmas got in the way, sorry! It was so interesting but and yes, there is a but. It was full of rational arguments and things that are rational to do. This is not such a scenario. I tried to find one particular article for you to read on Mrs May’s personality – because she is not behaving rationally, at all. Couldn’t find it – but this is good and explains a lot

  • 10th January 2019 at 19:37

    It’s so ironic that we will be marking 80 years since the start of World War 2 this year, and the EU (former EEC) was set up to prevent this ever happening again.
    We are too small to be alone in the world and if we are not part of Europe we will have no say in things which affect us.
    Brexit has unleashed so much hate and bad feeling in this country and has shown just how much we have been lied to by politicians and the media.

    • 11th January 2019 at 10:00

      The article I put up in the above comment explains a lot of why we are where we are and why Mrs May is acting in the way she is. But I think so many either have no idea of our recent history and absolutely no idea about European history – and this is where ahistorical politics gets you. Referendums should never ever happen. we don’t know things, and I include myself in that statement.

  • 11th January 2019 at 20:42

    Thanks for the link to the excellent LRB article. The parallels to developments in the US are remarkable. Just as May attempted to override Parliament, Trump threatens to declare a national emergency to override Congress.

  • 12th January 2019 at 23:02

    Penny, to answer your first question, we are currently in South America (yes lucky us!) and I can assure you that nobody has heard of the word Brexit let alone hanging on every word of our illustrious PM, which is quite lucky because I’m feeling quite ashamed to be British tbh. But thanks for enlightening me as to what happened in parliament the other day as I only have sketchy comments on Social media (refuse to look at the news online) but can’t stop being obsessed by the ongoing Brexit shambles.

  • 25th January 2019 at 18:41

    As Pamela says the rest of the World don’t care and why would they every country has its problems. I live in France and recently went to the local town hall to get my proof of life cert for my UK pension. I mentioned the Brexit shambles and the secretary had never heard of it. She knew that la Markle was preggers, though. No man is an island, said the poet but it seems the UK is.


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