The US Elections
Real Clear Politics predicts that Hilary Clinton will win 333 Electoral Votes in the Electoral College as against 205 for Donald Trump. Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight blog gives Clinton an 86.5% chance of winning the US Presidency. It also seems likely that there will be a small Democratic Party majority in the Senate. So the nightmare of a Trump presidency is receding – which is good news for the free world.
Teresa May’s first session as Prime Minister at the European Council did not go that well, especially when the difficulties of negotiating a bespoke trade deal with the EU were highlighted by the collapse of the EU-Canada negotiations.
See this in the Telegraph: “EU is ‘impossible’ to do deals with, Canada says sparking fears about Brexit negotiations” and this in the Guardian: “Theresa May’s awkward EU meeting sees little progress on Brexit”. The Financial Times is a bit more measured: “May’s first EU summit ends with warning of rough road ahead – European leaders adopt tough stance on Brexit talks while leaving door ajar“.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Teresa May is finding that membership of the EU is akin to having checked into the Hotel California in the Eagles great track available on YouTube – “We are programmed to receive / You can check out any time you like / But you can never leave!“.
The Prime Minister is not yet able to trigger the Article 50 process. The Divisional Court has heard the arguments and will now be considering its judgement. When that is delivered there may well be a “leapfrog” appeal to the Supreme Court which would be likely to be listed for hearing in December. For so long as the EU refuses to negotiate prior to the delivery of the Article 50 Notice, the government is inhibited by the proceedings from making any progress.
If the Courts rule that the Article 50 process may not be commenced without the authority of Parliament, then the Prime Minister may very well have to convince Parliament that it is appropriate to serve an Article 50 Notice. Of course the Conservative Eurosceptics will make common cause with the lone UKIP MP and other odds and sods, but at the moment there may not be a majority for service. Members could plausibly refuse to authorise the Article 50 process until there was some degree of certainty about what the future regime would be.
The Teresa Mayfly will be aware that there are two voting schemes used in the EU Council. Unanimity is required for some decisions. Other decisions proceed by way of Qualified Majority Voting. Mrs May therefore has the possibility of making trouble (De Gaulle fashion) if the EU Council does not make life a little easier for her: – for example by agreeing a Brexit Scenario before the delivery of an Article 50 Notice. It’s a strategy worth thinking about.
In this article in The Sun “Power of the City will get us a fair Brexit deal as EU chief Donald Tusk’s call for ‘hard Brexit’ spells trouble for the Euro, the columnist James Forsyth (or perhaps a sub-editor) asserts that “BRITAIN is now engaged in a game of Brexit chicken.” On past performance, that is a game Mrs May will not loose.