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    • Agreed. To call "Prisoner Dilemma" scenarios right you have to have a good understanding of the other side's (i.e. the EU) motivation and philosophy. As it stands, I am not as sure as I would like that they won't refuse to negotiate further and provoke a no-deal just out of stubborn political dogma.

    • So, current agreement was non-binding on parliament, and can be ignored? Well, remember what else was non-binding on parliament? Freaking Brexit referendum! For which there would surely not be support any more.

      But, then there's this:

      BTW, this Jacob guy (for US-ians watching in amusement) stands to gain a substantial amount of money if the UK crashes out of EU without a deal. He has a company that bet against the British pound. He's also a member of the UK government.

    • Well, the May Withdrawal Agreement was subject to parliament approval, so whichever way you look at it, there is no obligation to comply until it is ratified as such. May only agreed the terms she was prepared to lay before the house - it was not an agreement to be bound by the terms per se. It has been voted down three times, so it has to be concluded that it will not be ratified in its current form.

      As for Rees-Moggs's comments, I didn't hear the whole interview, so cannot tell whether there is any editing out of context. He is surely correct, though, to note that you cannot keep having referendum after referendum just because one side (whichever one) is unhappy with the result.

      Given this, he had no reason to add that he did want a second referendum "because people would vote to stop it". This was unnecessary and compromised his credibility. His first point was sufficient.

    • Thinking that the EU is refusing further negotiation out of stubborn political dogma (again, after three years of the UK just dragging its heels and basically refusing to engage) may be a grave miscalculation. It is in vital EU interest to play hardball with the UK, because if they prove to be pushover, tomorrow they might be in a similar situation with some other member state. So, yeah, the UK might be made an example of how it really is a bad idea to leave the EU.

    • Exactly. Over here in mainland Europe, there's very little public talk about how "we" should give in to UK's demands because that would be better for everyone, but instead statements along the lines of the UK already having the best deal they can get, and that it would be near impossible to re-open talks and come to some other result.

      In terms of the aforementioned Prisoner's Dilemma, as I see it we have the following cases:

      (EU/UK)

      A - Cooperate/Cooperate: UK exits with the deal they already have.

      B - Cooperate/Defect: UK refuses current deal, EU gives in

      C - Defect/Cooperate: UK revokes article 50 and stays in the EU

      D - Defect/Defect: No deal

      Just as in the canonical Prisoner's Dilemma, the UK considers B to be better than A (B>A), while the EU obviously favors C over A (C>A). There doesn't seem to be much controversy about that, either.

      Apparently, though, the UK believes that they can use the threat of "no deal" as leverage, which means that they consider D>C (for themselves) but not D>B (for the EU) to be the case. Basically, it seems as if they don't see the situation as a PD scenario at all.

    • I think @jpop made a good point - the UK has, under Theresa May, spent 3 years kicking the can down the road. Whether they were waiting for a miracle to deliver them from the burden of having to actually do something, who knows. A more pro-active government 3 years ago would have seen issues ironed out over a (relatively) calm, longer period.

      The problem the UK has with the Prisoner Dilemma is that the "deal it already has" is not one they can accept. The fact that this deal may oblige the UK to stay in the customs union until the EU consents for it to leave, makes this so.

      In fact, if we go back to November 2018, when the withdrawal agreement terms were first released, Mr Macron publicly referred to how France would use the trap of a perpetual customs union to force the UK into an acceptable agreement on fishing rights.

      The real problem is that we have to seek a revised withdrawal agreement because we cannot accept being trapped in a customs union with no legal way to exit. I am not being funny here; the UK cannot "leave" the EU by agreeing to be tethered with no departure rights. It is a fundamental non-starter, as both our government under Theresa May and the EU fully realise.

      A "no deal" outcome is a bad one, yes, and I hope we can avoid it. But is it as bad as being chained to the EU customs union until they say we can leave? Probably not.

      Still, at least we can say Boris Johnson is a principled politician. By signalling he is prepared to call a snap election soon, and thus opening up the prospect of being the shortest-serving prime minister in the UK's history, he cannot be accused of introspection.

      Or can he??????

      I am sure the possible reactions are endless.

    • Wow, fascinating analysis from a mathematical mind.

      It blows all the circuits in my brain to try and understand the players and machinations behind Brexit. Sometimes I think it’s hopeless because I’m American, but I can’t seem to look away.

      It’s hard for me to understand how, now that the public is more fully informed, a second referendum is a bad idea.

    • Does this mean a second referendum is becoming likely?

      Not in the near term. The parliament will likely pass some sort of anti-no-deal law, which will be totally meaningless but might be sufficient to reset the deadline and allow for new elections. However if current polling data is accurate, Johnson may retake the majority and the rescind the anti-no-deal law and proceed to crash out anyway, which is clearly what he wants. I think there may be growing sentiment among the EU citizens that no more extensions should be given, but the elite is rightly concerned about the impact of no deal on the European economy. Italy and Germany are especially vulnerable at the moment.

    • I can’t seem to look away

      I know the feeling. It must be similar to me going to Florida on vacation and spending hours in front of the TV watching The Weather Channel coverage of the hurricane of the day. It's oddly hypnotic...

    • I don't understand the polling. According to The Independent, voters do not want a no deal.

      And yet polls seem to indicate Johnson's party would gain seats in a snap election. Am I reading that correctly? How does that make sense?

    • One of the reasons might be that the alternative to BoJo is Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party. He has heavy baggage of his own (not the least of that he himself was in a favor of Brexit). If someone more palatable to general audience was at the head of Labour, they might have trounced the Conservatives in the last snap election.

    • We have arrived! Probably still page 7 of the NY Times, though.

      Very funny, and a welcome tonic. Love the "spotted dick" reference. Nothing is so serious that a well timed "knob-gag" can't alleviate the pressure.

      And as for speaker Bercow - now all of the USA can see where the real dramatic performances come from. The man is an idiot show-boater, but we are stuck with him.

      Or are we?????? More Brexit shenanigans to come, perhaps?

    • Well, yesterday Boris Johnson's *brother* resigned from his government and left the party because he could not support him any more, so it looks like shenanigans ahoy...

      Of course, it quickly prompted many, many people to notice his brother being the first politician ever to resign in order to spend less time with his family. ;-)

    • Colbert had Graham Norton on his show last night and asked what the Hell is going on over there. Graham couldn't explain but hilarity ensued. I think this should start at 2:40 when Colbert asks the question:

    • This is still in play, as the decision will be appealed to the UK supreme court. There have also been two other decisions that contradict the latest Scottish decision. Until the high court rules, nothing will change. One question is whether Boris Johnson lied to the Queen about the reasons for suspending parliament, and if so, does that invalidate the suspension? Or was it illegal simply because it thwarted the parliamentary process? Another question is whether the courts have any business in the internal affairs of parliament. If the high court rules against Johnson, it will create additional pressure on him to resign, though I wouldn't count on that.

    • Yep, it ratchets the pressure on BoJo, and also gives Nicola Sturgeon (Scotland PM) better case for the argument of taking Scotland out of the UK because they are systematically ignored and not represented by the UK government (Scotland overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU).

      This also happened, also not helping BoJo at all:

      And Johnson was also visiting Ireland this week (Ireland is crucial in approving any possible deal, as their border with Northern Ireland is one major stumbling block), and certainly did not have a jolly good time:

      Uk government was also forced to publish the 'Yellowhammer Report' detailing potential disruptions and problem in case of no deal crashing out of the EU. It was not pretty at all.

      I think it's fair to say that Boris Johnson did not have a good week.

    • I've been reading The New York Review of Books ever since my college days for its thoughtful coverage of the arts, history, science and politics. Jonathan Freedland, a columnist for The Guardian has a longish article in the current issue that is an exellent summary of the history and current political forces affecting Brexit. Recommended.

    • Well, it was his decision to hold the Brexit referendum, thinking it has no chance of passing. Decision made for purely political reasons, in order to 'clean house' in his political party. It backfired spectacularly, and as an end result of that political miscalculation the UK might cease to be. So, yeah, he is not exactly in a position to speak about this academically and bemoan the wrong choices by the current prime minister.

    • It's official--the UK has left the EU. Sort of.

      As of today, very little has changed. There will be an 11 month transition to work out the details of the future trade agreements. The EU has already said that this does not allow enough time, so it could easily be extended. In the meantime, the UK will continue to pay its share of the EU budget but will no longer have a vote on EU policy. Brilliant work, Boris.