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Boris Johnson Leaves Again

Both the minister responsible for “Brexit” and the Foreign Secretary have resigned [1] from Theresa May’s government:

Boris Johnson resigns as UK Foreign Secretary, following the resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis.

The resignation of two top members of her government shows a clear lack of confidence in May’s leadership and a rejection of her handling of “Brexit.” Davis’ resignation was damaging enough for May, and it showed how dissatisfied many in her own party are with her handling of negotiations with the European Union. James Forsyth explained [2] Davis’ reasons for quitting:

Davis has gone because he could not stomach the opening UK negotiating position agreed at Chequers. Davis has long been clear that he wanted a final deal that was, essentially, a souped-up version of the Canada free trade deal. But the position agreed at Chequers envisaged a relationship very different to that, one far more firmly in the EU’s regulatory orbit. As Brexit Secretary Davis was meant to promote the Chequers plan at home and abroad. He clearly didn’t feel that he could do that.

It seems that Johnson couldn’t bring himself to defend the plan, either. Johnson’s resignation makes it look as if the government is collapsing under the pressure of “Brexit.” Forsyth looks ahead [3] to what this will mean for May’s future:

The question now becomes, how does Mrs May pass her deal with the EU, if she can get one? It is becoming increasingly likely that even with the DUP, she won’t have the Tory votes to do it. This makes Brexit far more unpredictable than before—both no deal and no Brexit are more likely than they were. The other big question is whether we are looking at 46 letters going in at some point in the near-future. At the moment, May would almost certainly survive a Tory vote of no confidence. But it would further weaken her.

The resignations create more uncertainty about the future of May’s government and Britain’s relationship with the EU after two years of political and economic uncertainty created by the EU referendum result. Both May and the U.K. are running out of time to secure an agreement to salvage something from the shambles that her government has made of this process.

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19 Comments To "Boris Johnson Leaves Again"

#1 Comment By Kurt Gayle On July 9, 2018 @ 11:11 am

Brexit means Brexit — not some May-cooked deal that leaves Britain under the thumb of Brussels.

The British people voted to leave the EU. The government of Britain should respect that vote.

#2 Comment By Roy Fassel On July 9, 2018 @ 12:08 pm

The Brexit vote was manipulated by Putin and Russia. That is a confirmed fact. Brexit will never happen. The massive of voters were totally misinformed on this matter by the social media etc and manipulated by outsiders trying to break up the European unity.

Brexit will never be completed.

#3 Comment By Anonymous On July 9, 2018 @ 12:42 pm

Ireland makes Brexit practically impossible anyway, as has been clear for about a year now.

#4 Comment By b. On July 9, 2018 @ 12:45 pm

Sinking ship, rats. There is too much credit given to imaginary mammalian cunning here, or even, spare me, “principles”.

#5 Comment By liberal On July 9, 2018 @ 12:45 pm

Kurt Gayle wrote,

The British people voted to leave the EU. The government of Britain should respect that vote.

I would have thought that something as drastic as leaving the EU would require a supermajority. Then again, there were all kinds of votes regarding countries joining or strengthening ties to the EU that were conducted on a simple majority basis.

#6 Comment By b. On July 9, 2018 @ 12:50 pm

However far off, this might well be closer to reality. Watch Murdoch et.al.

“If I’m right, then over the next four to eight weeks the wrath of the British press is going to fall on the heads of the Brexit lobby with a force and a fury we haven’t seen in a generation. There may be arrests and criminal prosecutions before this sorry tale is done: I’d be unsurprised to see money-laundering investigations, and possibly prosecutions under the Bribery Act (2010), launched within this time frame that will rumble on for years to come.”

[4]

#7 Comment By rayray On July 9, 2018 @ 12:57 pm

Brexit made no sense. Still doesn’t. Never will.

I remember Andrew Sullivan pointing out during the campaign that while Brexit was clearly stupid, there were no good emotional arguments AGAINST Brexit. The EU is a particularly bureaucratic and bloodless organization. However, the only thing worse than the EU is leaving the EU. But unless you truly understand the geo-economic issues, (and few do)…well…

And boy, when it comes to stuff like this, Putin really knows what he’s doing. He played the UK like a fiddle, and he played the US like a fiddle.

#8 Comment By I Don’t Matter On July 9, 2018 @ 1:27 pm

Brexit will never happen. Northern Ireland makes it impossible unless the U.K. is willing to go back to a bloody civil war. Does not seem to be the case now. Of all the countries in the EU, UK is the only one that really can’t leave without breaking apart.
This was obvious from the beginning, and the fact that Brexiteers managed to ignore this impossible obstacle speaks volumes about their competence to run a government. These clowns couldn’t run a McDonald’s.

#9 Comment By grumpy realist On July 9, 2018 @ 2:25 pm

It may not be something that the Brits have any control over at present. They may crash out accidentally.

What if the EU decides it’s had enough of the whining and complaining and “special offers” and decides, naah, we’re going to kick these people out and not let them back in?

Historically Britain has a tendency of assuming everything is a bluff. Doesn’t work very well.

#10 Comment By kevin on the left On July 9, 2018 @ 6:40 pm

“The British people voted to leave the EU. The government of Britain should respect that vote.

They voted on the understanding that what will come next is a deal in which they will get all the benefits of the EU, but none of its constraints. And that’s something no government on earth can deliver.

#11 Comment By cka2nd On July 9, 2018 @ 10:00 pm

liberal says: “I would have thought that something as drastic as leaving the EU would require a supermajority. Then again, there were all kinds of votes regarding countries joining or strengthening ties to the EU that were conducted on a simple majority basis.”

And there have been a series of votes regarding the Euro, the EU and what not over the last 20+ years where the people of France and other countries voted against what the elites wanted and were forced to vote over and sometimes over again until the voters got said elites’ version of “the right answer.” The campaign to force another vote on Brexit is straight out of that same undemocratic playbook.

#12 Comment By cka2nd On July 9, 2018 @ 10:31 pm

b. says: “https://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2018/06/the-pivot.html”

Per Charles Stross, “Although the referendum was framed as advisory and limited to leaving the European Union, it was received as a mandate by the Conservative hard right and their hard-left opposite numbers in Labour (who have their own reasons for disliking what they see as a neoliberal right-wing institution)”

The EU is seen that way by the hard left because it IS a neo-liberal, right-wing institution, at least economically speaking. It exists to lower wages and benefits, to open up markets for industrial, agricultural and finance capital, to clear the countryside and manufacturing plants of its new member states, and provide capital with an ever-expanding pool of educated labor to further undercut working class solidarity and the standards of living of workers, farmers and the petite bourgeoisie. It exists to serve the interests of capital, Big Capital, above all else.

Hm. I wonder if the EU can be seen as a modern version of Southern U.S. chattel slavery in that it must grow to survive? In the case of American slavery, the cultivation of “King Cotton” so ruined the land that new slave states were constantly needed so that the old slave states could convert from raising cotton to raising the slaves those new states needed to raise cotton. In the case of the EU, is its relentless campaign to expand, to rope in new countries, driven primarily by the need to suck up successive waves of educated labor, to replace the Polish and Baltic workers and ex-farmers with Ukrainian workers and ex-farmers and then replace the Ukranians with Serb and Kosovar workers and ex-farmers?

It’s just a thought, but then again, the main reason to oppose the “Maidan Revolution” of 2014 – aside from the overthrow of a democratically elected (if corrupt) government, in part by modern-day fascists and funded by that paragon of virtue and democratic values, the U.S. government – was that the EU deal on offer would have wiped out Ukrainian industry and agriculture and resulted in the economic migration of millions of Ukrainian workers and ex-farmers to the EU. Russia’s economic deal was simply better and didn’t preclude economic deals with other entities the way the EU’s exclusive deal did. It certainly wasn’t because Putin was any more attractive than the EU’s bigwigs and central bankers.

#13 Comment By Colin Chattan On July 10, 2018 @ 9:32 am

As Peter Hitchens has noted, invoking the Eagles, “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” Faustian bargains are, by definition, hard to get out of, and the British people made their Faustian bargain via Edward Heath and their referendum back in the 70’s. But then, the British (along with Britain’s daughters in the old Empire, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) had really lost their soul much earlier, with consequences frighteningly prophesied by Rudyard Kipling in 1897 in the Recessional:

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

We forgot.

#14 Comment By Argon On July 10, 2018 @ 10:19 am

I think it’s a sign of weakness in the Tory party that a twit like Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was ever allowed within 100 miles of the committee for implementing Brexit.

#15 Comment By Argon On July 10, 2018 @ 10:27 am

ck2nd: “The campaign to force another vote on Brexit is straight out of that same undemocratic playbook.”

Supermajority requirements have an established role in government. It does protect against the vagaries of the moment by creating a slight buffer. It’s a matter of stability vs. expediency. However, I would agree that a supermajority requirement should need to be enacted by a vote of the same proportion.

#16 Comment By TheSnark On July 10, 2018 @ 11:08 am

It is really tragic that Britain has, within one century, gone from the most important world power to voting herself into irrelevance.

Brexit is a failure of the British political class. David Cameron called an unnecessary referendum in the first place, and made only a weak case for remain. Boris Johnson pushed Brexit for his personal political gain, while denying that there might be any costs. The Labor party put Corbin in place, and has been taken over by a gang who thinks Trotsky was the leading intellectual of the Enlightenment.

The real indictment of the current state of British politics that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, is far better than any of the alternatives. While she is a plodding, politically inept mediocrity, at least she is honestly trying to make the best out of this impossible situation.

#17 Comment By Jakob On July 10, 2018 @ 6:36 pm

The problem is that the forms that Brexit can take are pretty limited. First the UK can of course choose to remain.

It can also (re)join the EEA which, along with membership in the customs union would secure Northern Ireland and mean a minimum of economic disruption. Britain would regain some of the powers that are vested in the common structures, but would lose influence over rules and regulations regarding the common market, which it nevertheless would need to adopt.

This would be a ‘soft’ Brexit, and is close to how non-EU states such as Norway operate (although they aren’t members of the CU, but Britain would probably need that due to industry and NI). Some wiggle-room may exist such as in the Swiss case, but essentially, the four freedoms are indivisible – and ceasing being part of the single market, along with the customs union would mean hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and a decimation of the British car and aerospace industry along with the City.

Then you have a free-trade agreement similar to the Canadian one. Britain would then have its own trade policy and is not particularly regulatory bound by the EU, nevertheless the economic disruption would be monumental and there would be a need for a separate agreement for Northern Ireland, due to the Good Friday agreement – essentially, NI would need to remain within the single market and the customs union regardless of what the rest of the UK decides. A free trade deal would take several years to negotiate and Britain would operate under WTO rules in the meantime. That would, among other things, mean tariffs on EU imports of various products that may be assembled in Britain but largely sourced from various plants on the continent. Apart from the problems with customs there’d be a strong incentive to relocate the plant as the loss in sales would be less if the tariffs apply to consumers in the smaller market. Waiving the tariffs isn’t an option – under WTO rules they’d have to be wavered for _all_ countries, not just, say, Britain. (It’s pretty unlikely Britain would waiver its tariffs as well.)

So, well. There may be some wiggle-room, but it’s limited. And the Tories have generally not been willing to engage with the options actually on the table, although May has shown some willingness to do so lately.

The rest of the EU are pretty flabbergasted at the circus that is contemporary British politics, I suppose. It’s no wonder that Euroscepticism is at a record low in the EU – even in Italy less than 1/4 would support leaving the Euro, much less the Union. Several large populist parties such as FPÖ in Austria, Jobbik in Hungary (Fidesz has always been pretty pro-EU) and Lega in Italy have abandoned their earlier positions demanding an exit from the EU (although e.g. Lega is still pretty ambivalent about the Euro) and instead try to change EU policy to better suit their goals, mostly regarding non-European immigration (which _is_ vastly impopular in a number of countries); they mirror how some Green and Leftist parties in the 90ies shifted from an Eurosceptic position to a more pragmatic one (or sometimes to a straight-out Europhile one).

And, cka2nd, that is a gross misrepresentation. There’s always been renegotiations before anything has been put to another referendum, such as in the Irish case. Where’s the fault in that? Moreover, such as when the Constitution was shelved, no further suggestions were put before those that had rejected it as it wouldn’t be feasible to renegotiate.

#18 Comment By Tom Cullem On July 10, 2018 @ 9:19 pm

Britain should never have joined the EU in the first place. It never quite fit in.

The tragedy of post-World War II Britain is that the thing the country was really best at, that gave it its mojo, was being British. When the country was convinced by blindered leadership that there was no place in the modern world for a very British Britain, it slowly began to wilt under the glare of self-doubt. Britain tried to become something else, a smaller America, a cog in the new wheel that was Europe, and accepted the narrative that it could become multicultural, “global”, a member of a political entity dedicated to the erasure of the nation state, yet still remain Britain.

Britain, led by craven politicians, surrendered the very thing that that gave it its soul and character, and then found that the replacements for them never materialised.

It really doesn’t matter any longer what kind of deal Britain gets or doesn’t get from the EU. Britain is a ruined country and that’s the real triumph of the internationalists over the last 50 years. Brussels has contempt for Britain not because it voted LEAVE – it is merely taking Britain at its own valuation of itself: a once-great country who knew who it was and believed in itself but no longer does.

#19 Comment By rayray On July 11, 2018 @ 2:48 pm

@TheSnark
Other than some broad, nationalist emotional concept, I’m not sure what “being British” means in this context. What Britain was best at was colonizing the world and dominating the seas, both of which became either less relevant or less appropriate in the modern era. Dominating the seas was a useless drain on an already exhausted economy, and maintaining colonies was more of the same as well as morally indefensible.

Other than that they need what every modern nation needs, access to markets, rational regulation, etc. etc. and all the rest…

If Brexit interferes with those things then Brexit is stupid. Full stop. The rest is cultural humbuggery.