More Richard Armitage on Brexit

Screen shot 2016-07-12 at 9.54.04 AM Screen shot 2016-07-12 at 9.53.47 AM

~ by Servetus on July 12, 2016.

34 Responses to “More Richard Armitage on Brexit”

  1. Do you think by ‘the Brexiteres have abandoned ship’ RA thinks its not going to happen? Or am I reading wishful thinking on his part incorrectly. I think RA is savvy and I don’t really know much about it so I am probably reading that tweet wrong. Don’t they have no choice but to go forward with it?

    • I suppose it depends on what you think the point was for him of citing that editorial, which makes the point that May is not a Thatcherite; she has some ideas that could be productive, “But the reality is that her government’s agenda will be dominated by Brexit, on which she has uncharacteristically painted herself into a corner with the promise that the UK’s withdrawal will be in the hands of [a] leaver.” He might be pointing out that with Leadsom’s resignation from the Tory leadership race (and all the other resignations last week — Johnson, Gove, etc., Farage although he’s not a Tory) there are no “leavers” left among the major political / Parliamentary figures of the Tory party to manage the Brexit. So I’d guess he’s saying that the UK press should stop raising the problem of whether May will handle Brexit adequately because after yesterday, she is left with no choice but to do so.

      I read his comment about “no choice” as resigned bitterness, not as the belief that there will be no Brexit, but rather that what happens now will not be result of planning but of people who sit down to figure out what to do.

      as to the technicalities — the referendum was only advisory and Parliament could choose to ignore the advice. However, if Parliament does not act on the vote the likelihood of even greater uproar is severe, so it is almost unthinkable that they wouldn’t start the process to leave. At the same time, there are various possibilities about how to trigger Article 50 as no one really knows who is responsible for doing so or whether a parliamentary vote would be required. How exactly to do it is likely to be the object of litigation; there is already one lawsuit underway to try to answer that question.

  2. I think he means that those politicians who supported Brexit left the (sinking?) ship once they got what they’d (in some cases purportedly) wanted. Johnson, Gove, even Farage did so. Johnson and Gove seemed to aim at becoming Prime Minister but then withdrew from the political race for that post after the referendum.

    Since May has made it very clear that she will pull Brexit off – RA links to websites that mention this – it’s not likely that he thinks she’ll give up on this. But I can’t read his thoughts, naturally.

    Lastly: Theoretically, the UK doesn’t have to withdraw from the EU as a result of the referendum. It was advisory and as such not legally binding, so Parliament could decide against it, they could arrange for a second referendum, who knows what else. But the general consensus seems to be that it would be inappropriate from a democratic point of view to simply overrule the referendum – no matter the consequences or the fact that a lot of voters didn’t think before voting or simply didnt go to vote because they didn’t take this seriously enough.
    My impression was that at first RA really hoped that this decision could still be changed somehow, but recent tweets sound more resigned and along the lines of limiting the damage that’s sure to come. Again, that’s my interpretation, I could be mistaken.

    • Thanks for the comment and welcome. It looks like we read this more or less the same way.

  3. Hello and thanks for the welcome.
    Yes, I actually wouldn’t have written the comment if yours had already been there since they’re so similar, but we seem to have posted at pretty much the same time.

  4. This from itv today… maybe there is still hope if it is true they will begin a debate for another referendum?

    “MPs will debate calls for a second EU referendum after a record-breaking online petition was signed by more than four million people. The petition was set up by a Brexit supporter ahead of the referendum calling on the Government to order another public vote if the majority result was less than 60% on a turnout under 75%. The May 23 referendum returned a 51.9%-48.1% result in favour of Britain leaving the EU after a turnout of 72.2%. Remain voters angry at the result rallied behind the petition to demand a repeat public poll.

    The Commons Petitions Committee confirmed the scale of support for the appeal justifies a House of Commons debate.

    • I think this is a gesture, personally (sort of like the Labour party in the Commons voting for a motion to secure rights of EU citizens in the UK).

    • On the page of the online petition, the House of Commons made it clear shortly after Brexit that if they debated this they couldn’t get another referendum started anyway (some legal thing about who can make such decisions, the way I understood it). So this discussion is basically a nod in the direction of the 4 million who signed the petition but it can’t really change anything.
      To quote from the petition website:
      “The Committee has decided that the huge number of people signing this petition means that it should be debated by MPs. The Petitions Committee would like to make clear that, in scheduling this debate, they are not supporting the call for a second referendum. (…) A debate in Westminster Hall does not have the power to change the law, and won’t end with the House of Commons deciding whether or not to have a second referendum.”
      “The Prime Minister and Government have been clear that this was a once in a generation vote and, as the Prime Minister has said, the decision must be respected. We must now prepare for the process to exit the EU and the Government is committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for the British people in the negotiations.”
      Those are – from my point of view unfortunately – pretty clear words.

      As much as I’d love it if there still were a way out, I don’t see how this could be done. Things were already ugly before the referendum and finally escalated into the murder of a politician who supported remain. I can only imagine how the leave-supporters would react if their win in the referendum was overthrown.

      • They passed a special law just to hold this referendum:

        so presumably they’d have to pass another, which I can’t imagine owuld happen, even as a consequence of this debate.

        re, how Leave supporters would react — I think they would be angry with justification. I don’t support their position but I am in favor of adhering to the rule of law.

        • I see this with mixed emotions.
          If I myself, my family, or maybe my colleagues and I had made a decision that turned out to be not well informed and influenced by untruths, I would hope we would have the common sense and courage to take a close look and maybe change our decision even if it was a hassle and embarassing too.
          But on this much larger, political and nation-wide scale, one must honestly say that it would undermine the idea of democracy to disregard the referendum because it had a result that a lot of people (including many Members of Parliament) didn’t want or expect. Add the aggression you could expect from the leavers and this would really be problematic.
          So in the end I agree with you, but I’m not comfortable with it since adhering to (generally very good) principles and a decision that is already causing damage is likely to do a lot of harm in this case.

          I get the impression that after his first shocked reaction – something must be done against this – RA is now resigned to it, too. Since May promised to go through with Brexit he would hardly have spoken of her as the best option left in this situation otherwise.

          • I really think (and this is admittedly based on seeing this in terms of historical comparison vs focusing on this moment) that the only way that we can guarantee that others follow the rules when they don’t like the outcome is that we must do so ourselves. It’s a basic principle of political theory since the 1750s or so, that in popular sovereignties we make no law binding on others that we are not willing ourselves to obey if enforced on ourselves. I agree that this is a devastating, world altering (at the very least — I’m just reading what British economists think this will do to British agriculture, and it’s frightening) decision but it was made lawfully. Calling for do overs simply delegitimates the legal process and I do not believe that anyone really could want that in this case. I’m frustrated by the people who say “just get over it,” because I think the Remainers have the absolute right to express their dismay at the result — and to use any legal means within their hands to change it — but it’s really at points like this that we see whether our democratic systems are actually functioning. Apart from any particular political circumstance of the moment, the rule of law and functioning politics are things we can count on passing on to our posterity.

            I share your read of Armitage. I don’t think he’s a May fan but unlike many people I’ve seen commenting in his Twitter stream, he understands the rules and believes that the UK should abide by them.

            • Whilst I agree that it’s wrong to pick and choose when to behave democratically, it’s also wrong to tell blatant lies ( or make ‘mistakes’ as Farage would have it) to affect the democratic process. In a week where Tony Blair’s decision to take Britain into war based on untruths has been heavily ( and rightly) criticised, here we are again with a disastrous situation at least partly brought about by politicians misleading voters. In this case they didn’t even try for a cover up – within days Farage was saying that the Leave campaigns advert that $350 million per week could be spent on the NHS was a mistake. I don’t know about the other readers here but if I tell lies in my job I would certainly be fired and I could also face criminal charges. but it looks like the Brexiters will be allowed to slink off leaving an unholy mess for others to sort out.

              Like Armitage, I’m not a Tory and I’m no fan of Theresa May ( she was my MP when I lived in the UK and she was a lowly backbencher) but to give her her due she has stepped forward to lead at a time when no one else wants to grab what seems like a poisoned chalice.

              • I agree that it’s wrong to tell lies, but all politicians lie, so I would say that it is the responsibility of an informed voter to determine what is truth and what isn’t. In this case the lies were pretty obvious, IMO. The bigger problem, I think, is the “false consciousness” problem, i.e., people vote against their own interest (or are said to), but I think that is a right that we give them in democracies and it has to be upheld or else we’ll be run over by technocrats.

                • ‘All politicians tell lies’. Exactly. And so no one in Parliament is going to set a precedent that calls the liars to account.

                  • No, but I don’t think that’s really their responsibility. It’s ours (as citizens).

                    We’ve gotten very heavily into the US into the whole “who’s lying?” thing in our media analysis. There’s an organization called that “checks” lies (associated with a media institute), but in essence what they find over and over again is that (a) politicians are rarely lying in the conventional sense and (b) even those politicians who lie consistently — Donald Trump is the big one at the moment — are not perceived as lying by those who agree with them. I’m a big fan of a media critic by the name of Jay Rosen who says that the real problem here is a media that insists on a “fair and balanced” approach that magnifies outlier positions in politics, making certain interest groups look both larger and more rational than they really are. In other words, the problem isn’t so much the politicians as the mechanisms that deliver us their words — and our failure to ask common sense questions about what politicians say if we already agree with them.

                  • Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying that I don’t wish we had more integrity among politicians. The problem, though, is that every politician thinks s/he is a person of integrity. Including the liars.

                  • Perhaps of interest:

  5. I read it as, stop questioning her commitment because she is part of the remain camp. The votes has been counted, the main Brexit campaigners have gone and now we need to move forward with May regardless of her initial thoughts on the referendum.

  6. Have you read David Allen Green’s Twitter? It’s tremendously useful and quite funny. He has this Waiting for Godot take on Brexit. I think he’s quasi-serious about the government never invoking Article 50.

    He’s also linked to this article:

    At one point they tackle the possibility of Parliament simply discounting the referendum because it’s dumb – they don’t say that this option would undermine the rule of law; in fact, our rule of law gives Parliament the right to do so. Our rule of law has to be more robust than Parliament being bound by an advisory referendum.

    There are practical difficulties to ignoring the referendum which is why Brexit must happen. But I don’t think Brexit must happen because if it doesn’t then it would undermine the rule of law.

    At one point I thought a general election would have to be called. But I’m clearly wrong. In fact, an election would probably be easier for May to handle then getting an Act through Parliament. Because an Act is going to require a clear plan whereas during an election party rhetoric permits the fudging of specificities.

    • It would absolutely undermine the rule of law as currently any second referendum would be extralegal. The first thing they would have to do is pass a new law to follow a new referendum.

      The next thing they have to do is figure out the result of the litigation pending on now any Brexit would occur, such as this: I think there are five of these suits pending right now (haven’t had a chance to read about it today yet).

      Once they know what the actual mechanism is for exiting, they could talk about legal paths for preventing that, but you can’t make new rules up after the fact to prevent an outcome you don’t like — that is extralegal as well.

      As to the possibility, could Parliament simply not respond to the advisory referendum — yes, that would be legal. They could ignore it. It would, however, absolutely undermine the rule of law by delegitimating Parliament and the entire role of democracy in UK society to do that. If it is decided that Parliament needs to ratify this decision, and it fails to do so, that would be legal but again would be self-delegitimating.

      It really comes down to this for me — in a democracy, either you have elections and you follow the rules for the elections and their outcomes, or you don’t. If the point of the referendum was for the voters of the UK to advise the Parliament about their preference and urge action on that preference, they have done so. If you say, oh, no, we didn’t mean that, let’s have another referendum, then you’re acting undemocratically in contravention of the entire system you say you support. What was at stake was not hidden to anyone. I don’t even live in the UK and I knew what was at stake. I saw the article you cite a few days ago and I disagree with them. I think I also sent you the link to the article — the government took advice about this and they are not required to call a general election.

      I have seen some “Waiting for Godot” cartoons on this topic.

      • Am not advocating for a second referendum. And people who are saying to ignore the first referendum are also not necessarily calling for a second referendum. If they have to do it again then they should do it as a general election, not an advisory referendum.
        I disagree that a binding election can be treated the same as an advisory referendum. The act permitting the referendum did not relinquish Parliamentary sovereignty to the result. I cannot see how it is delegitimizing for Parliament (if it had the will to do so) to make another act permitting a second advisory referendum. Just like it’s within Parliament’s power to ignore the results of the first referendum. I think there may be a disconnect in the ways that
        Americans and the Commonwealth countries perceive democracy.
        However, from a practical and political perspective it’s not a good idea. I think everybody has accepted that Brexit will happen. The cases as I see it are all about whether the Government can unilaterally give Article 50 notification under the royal prerogative or whether notification requires an Act of Parliament (they’re not calling for a general election). As David Allen Green notes there are practical reasons for the Government to agree to Parliament voting on notification, and as Elliot (proponent of view that notification can be done under royal prerogative only) has conceded there is a normative argument to be made for Parliament to vote on the issue even if legally notification can be done under the royal prerogative. The judges are not going to decide whether article 50 must be ratified; they’re just saying ratification can be done unilaterally by PM or voted upon by Parliament.
        Potentially MPs can vote to reject notification and face the consequences at the general election for going for/against their electorate. That’s perfectly legitimate because they are a representative not direct democracy. Potentially royal prerogative argument would win, but Teresa May could decide not to give notification ever if to do so would be against UK’s interests. It would be an abdication of their sovereignty to act against the country’s best interests although the majority of people wanted the self-destructive course of action.

        • I don’t think there’s any problem with Americans understanding democratic principles.

          Parliament makes a law creating the option for an advisory referendum. The referendum is held. Parliament disagrees with the result or perceives that parts of the electorate disagrees. It therefore makes a law allowing a second referendum on the same topic. Why should anyone participate in the second one? Holding a second advisory referendum absolutely delegitimizes democracy because it says either that the referendum results are meaningless OR that they’ll keep holding a referendum till they get a result they like, which means they weren’t taking the vote seriously anyway.

        • There’s a very similar principle in jurisprudence, incidentally: res judicata.

  7. I have an idea for a “do over” that is not a referendum. How about an election call? (this assumes that Labour gets its act together). Main issue: stay or go. The population gets another shot at it without a second referendum. Plus, the new PM is someone the electorate did not vote for. (ya, I know, Parliamentary democracies do not vote directly for the PM. But the party leaders are a major factor in peoples’ choice of which party to vote for – witness what happened in Canada last fall. ) That on its own should be enough of a reason to go to the polls.

    • Per the most recent electoral law:

      to call an early election they must have a vote of no confidence (which hasn’t happened since 1979 and is usually targeted at a minority government) OR 2/3 of the MPs in Commons must call for it.

      But that would be legal, were it to occur.

    • It occurs to me that if May can’t successfully form a gov’t she could be targeted with a no confidence vote. That seems to me the most likely possibility — that the Machiavellianism of the last two weeks in the Tory ranks isn’t over yet.

      • Ah, Canada has a slightly different approach. There are fixed term elections, but the PM can still perogue (sp?) and ask the Governor General (Queen’s rep in Canada) to dissolve Parliament, so there is flexibility. The 2/3 vote is interesting. I am just wondering how you get the vacant seats to agree;)

  8. AND… now B. Johnson is Foreign Secretary in her cabinet. What’s the saying – There’s still life in the old dog yet! Oh my 🙄

    • maybe she’s trying to trigger a no confidence vote, lol. Kinda makes you wonder if there wasn’t a backdoor deal on his resignation — or if Murdoch / Dacre didn’t somehow play a card.

      • I still don’t know whether to laugh, cry or just go slightly mad… unbelievable
        (It’s a good time to start praying again.)

        • maybe this is a signal that the UK is withdrawing from being a foreign policy heavyweight and focusing on international trade …

          • I shouldn’t laugh but… LOL

            • No more Iraq escapades? It could be a good thing.🙂

              They just need to hire like 200 trade negotiators. Probably will have to rely on immigrant labor though🙂

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