A Softer Brexit ?

Confidence & Supply

theresa-may-speechThe outcome of the 2017 UK General Election was that no party obtained a sufficient number of seats in the House of Commons to govern on its own.  When that  happens there are two established ways of enabling a government to be formed without a re-run of the election:  (i) the greater is a coalition between two or more parties; (ii) the lesser is  an agreement with another party or even just a few MP’s for “confidence and supply”.

Coalitions tend to be reserved for times of great national crisis:  May 1915, December 1918, October 1931, November 1935, and May 1940.  The most recent was the 2010 coalition between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.   However, exceptionally the 2010 coalition was not the result of any national crisis but of a convergence of political views.  Confidence and supply agreements are needed where no party has a sufficient number of seats to form a stable government.  See this Wikipedia article: Confidence & Supply.

The Independent has this: “Teresa May signals austerity is over and overhaul of Brexit plans“.

The Torygraph Telegraph has this: “Government prepared to work with Labour on Brexit, says Michael Gove, as PM and DUP in crunch talks” also this:  “What are confidence and supply deals and what does the DUP want?

The Guardian has this: “Tories may have to ease austerity plans, says Michael Gove – Lack of majority means government will need to compromise on public services and Brexit, environment secretary says“.

ww-westminsterA confidence and supply agreement with the Ulster Democratic and Unionist Party may be reached today.  It is needed if the Wicked Witch’s Government is to survive.  She is 8 votes short of a majority.  Therefore the 10 votes the DUP could bring to the table are the key to the Government staying in power.  Obviously there will be a price to pay.  There is a meeting under way at 10 Downing Street this morning.

Hard or Soft Brexit

Paul Goodman has this on the influential Conservative Home site: “DExEU alert klaxon“. Key points:-

  • The Brexit negotiations begin in five days time.
  • The  political team in the Department for Exiting the European Union – David Davis, George Bridges, David Jones and Robin Walker  was balanced in terms of attitudes to the EU: Bridges was a Remainer, Jones a Leaver.   Over the weekend, Bridges resigned.  And now Jones has suddenly been fired.  Joyce Anelay is Bridges’ replacement.
  • Today’s papers are bristling with stories of Cabinet-level plots to water down the manifesto position on Brexit and keep Britain as a Single Market member and in the customs union.

The Spectator article referred to in the post is here: “George Bridges resigns as Brexit minister – has the unravelling begun?

The Spectator also has this: “Michael Gove signals a shift on the government’s Brexit stance“.

  • Gove made it clear that the final deal needs to gain the ‘broadest possible level of public confidence’. He also refused to rule out a cross-party Brexit commission. This is a good move and also a shrewd political step for the Tories, allowing them not to be forced to own the Brexit process entirely on their own – particularly wise if things start going pear-shaped given the government’s now perilous position.
  • One of the frustrations voters had with Theresa May was her refusal to spell out what Brexit means Brexit actually meant (This was made worse by her subsequent insistence that she had explained exactly what it meant).
  • Yet now the Tories have blown their majority, their only option is to seek out a consensus on Brexit. This is one outcome from last week’s election that we should warmly welcome.

The Telegraph has this: “Tory and Labour MPs plot secret deal to ensure soft Brexit” (£) –

  • Senior Cabinet ministers are engaged in secret talks with Labour MPs to secure cross-party backing for a soft Brexit, it has emerged.
  • Some of the most senior members of Theresa May’s team have been discussing how to force the Prime Minister to make concessions on immigration, the customs union and the single market.
  • There have also been discussions of a cross-party Brexit Commission to agree common ground between the parties and ensure an orderly withdrawal from the EU.

The Guardian has this on Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Tories: “Ruth Davidson is playing the long game. Her influence can help soften Brexit – The Scottish Conservative leader is a pragmatist, unburdened by policy detail, at ease in her skin and she has charm and political instinct that could take her far

  • Davidson believes that Europe should stay together and that single market membership is the best option for the Scottish economy. Given that the SNP has been demanding Scotland stay in the single market post-Brexit, it will do her no harm if she can be seen to have softened the UK government line.

The Independent has this: “Election 2017: Teresa May should admit result is a rejection of hard Brexit, says EU negotiator – “I hope the negotiating position will be more in line with the will and the interests of the British Citizens“.

The Independent also has this editorial: “This is Theresa May’s chance to rescue social justice and a softer Brexit from the election wreckage – The election was, in part, an instruction to strike a different balance in talks with Brussels“.

The Evening Standard has this from the Prime Minister’s new Chief of Staff:  “Austerity and Brexit cost Conservatives their majority, says Theresa May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell“.

The Economist has this on the outcome of the election: “Theresa May’s failed gamble – The Conservatives’ botched campaign will bring chaos—and opportunities“.

  • Mrs May said that her reason for calling the election was to get a mandate to negotiate Brexit along the lines she set out in January: to leave the single market and to press ahead with cuts to immigration that no one considers feasible. During the campaign, she added nothing to her thin Brexit strategy beyond resurrecting the fatuous slogan that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.
  • Let us be clear: after this vote there is no mandate for such an approach. Only an enemy of the people would now try to ignore the election and press ahead regardless with the masochistic version of Brexit that Mrs May put to voters.
  • But the hard Brexit that Mrs May put at the centre of her campaign has been rejected. It must be rethought.

The BBC has this:  “Manufacturers call for Brexit strategy rethink” and the Evening Standard has this:  “‘Brexit squeeze’ hits families as inflation soars to 2.9 per cent“.

Iron-May-smile-v2The Evening Standard has this: “Theresa May’s weakness exposed as Tory leader is forced to listen to demands of Cabinet, DUP and EU“.

So much for “Strong & Stable”.


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