Just read this and didn't feel it really fitted in the other thread so starting a new one.
may 28 2019, 5:00pm, the times
There’s no avoiding election or a second vote
Tory leadership hopefuls can talk about no-deal or renegotiating Brexit but the same stark choice confronts all of them
Every profession has its jargon, designed to allow insiders to talk to each other without accidentally enlightening outsiders. My first jobs were in computing, a field which raises jargon to an art form. But when I started in politics I found that didn’t do too badly either.
The most important technical term I was taught was “LTT”. This stands for line to take: the position every leading member of a party should take on any given issue. There is an LTT for everything, even the smallest question a politician might be asked. It is usually a single paragraph and then, to help if further detail is sought, a couple more paragraphs are provided under the heading “if pressed”.
When someone in politics is described as “a safe pair of hands” it means they are able to remember the LTT on anything, even under pressure. They can make it sound convincing and as if they’ve just thought of it, even when, as is often the case, it isn’t and they haven’t. I recall one minister in the Lords following the LTT and then reading out loud the words “if pressed” before reciting the rest. This person was not “a safe pair of hands”.
During the Tory leadership election each candidate will have an LTT for themselves and their followers about Brexit. A single paragraph that sets out their position and a couple more paragraphs if pressed.
Jeremy Hunt gave his LTT an outing yesterday, announcing that no-deal is a disaster, no Brexit an equal disaster, and Theresa May’s compromise deal dead. So he proposes going back to Brussels to get a new deal. When pressed, this LTT creaks but it doesn’t break. Nobody can say for certain that Europe will not offer a new deal. It seems to me incredibly unlikely, but who can be sure?
As a result, this idea about going back to Europe will feature in the LTT of most of the candidates. Others will argue that no-deal can indeed get through the House of Commons, or even that Mrs May’s deal can get through the House of Commons without her presence to hold it back. And provided their assertions about the future aren’t actually physically impossible, they will get through their interviews.
The leadership election will thus consist of a great deal of dancing around the topic that really matters. What would the leading candidates do in the position they are actually likely to face?
Here is the choice that I think really faces the new Conservative prime minister. Try to resolve Brexit by holding an election or try to resolve it by holding a second referendum.
Look at the alternatives. Might a new government that looks serious about no-deal get a proper fresh offer from Brussels, one that changes things? Just about tenable but improbable. Could a no-deal government just power on without parliament’s support and without falling? Possible, arguable, but probably not. Could a new leader get Mrs May’s deal through in his or her honeymoon? Could get you through two minutes on BBC Radio Kent, but far fetched.
The reality is that in this parliament there isn’t a majority for any solution to Brexit. Yes, you can argue that somehow there might be, and maybe that will turn out to be the case, but we all really know that is pretty unlikely. So you either change the parliament or you seek to make the decision outside parliament. That’s the choice. An election or a referendum.
No Conservative MP wants a general election. Boris Johnson might well lose even his own seat in an election. It’s really quite possible that in an election fought before the government has delivered Brexit, the Conservatives will not merely be defeated but actually flattened.
So the LTT of all the no-deal candidates will simply deny that their policy would produce an early election. But they are all perfectly well aware that it is highly likely that it will.
The government has a majority of just five and this is not big enough to do what is necessary to ram no-deal through a parliament that doesn’t want it. No-deal Brexit itself might provoke some MPs to withhold their confidence, but what is even more likely to produce such an outcome is the constitutional issue. I do not believe the government would survive trying simply to ignore parliament on the way to no-deal.
So if the government cannot get no-deal through without an election, can’t change the deal, can’t get the deal through and can’t fight an election until it has achieved Brexit, there is only one option left. A referendum.
Just as none of the no-deal candidates want to talk about an election, none of the anti no-deal candidates want to talk about a second referendum. They think it would mean certain defeat in the leadership race and they are probably right. When I suggested in this column a referendum just between Mrs May’s deal and no-deal (in other words without Remain on the ballot), more than one contender said to me that even mentioning the word referendum would be curtains for them.
Yet if trying no-deal means an election, and the Tories would lose an election, a referendum is in the obvious interests even of Tory Brexiteers. Jeremy Corbyn would fight, and probably win, an election on a platform of renegotiating the political declaration and then having a referendum. No-deal wouldn’t even be on the ballot. The choice would be between a soft Brexit and Remain.
As the leadership candidates carefully craft their LTTs they will ignore all this. They will advance positions that are plausible, but unlikely, and then refuse to answer further questions, dismissing them as defeatist.
But with Mrs May’s deal sadly and stupidly rejected, the chance of a “get out of jail free card” is small. In real life the next leader will in all likelihood have to choose between an election and a referendum, with an election probably leading to a referendum anyway (just a soft Brexit one with a Labour government).
For any candidate to say this is to court defeat. I know that. But Tories should reflect on this — that things are in a bad state when telling it how it is makes you a certain loser
Nonnie Wed 29-May-19 16:56:27
Framilode Wed 29-May-19 17:33:36
GrandmaKT Wed 29-May-19 18:17:46
LarrythecatknowsitAll Wed 29-May-19 18:24:48
LarrythecatknowsitAll Wed 29-May-19 18:25:19
LarrythecatknowsitAll Wed 29-May-19 18:26:03
GrandmaKT Wed 29-May-19 18:52:37
crystaltipps Wed 29-May-19 18:53:20
Grandad1943 Wed 29-May-19 19:31:28
MaizieD Wed 29-May-19 20:21:59
jura2 Wed 29-May-19 20:37:53
Grandad1943 Wed 29-May-19 21:08:03
MaizieD Wed 29-May-19 21:55:56
Grandad1943 Wed 29-May-19 22:14:25
MaizieD Wed 29-May-19 23:12:03
Nonnie Thu 30-May-19 12:31:23