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    • When I mean a quantitative argument, I should emphasise that this rules out anything from the government. Too many vested interests to trust anything from that source.

      And that is part of the problem; there are few sources that are not biased in some sense. When the Japanese PM says he wants the UK to remain in the EU, he is NOT saying it is better for the UK to do so. Rather, he is saying that Japan prefers to use the UK as a gateway to investing in Europe rather than another member state. Bias.

    • Bias can certainly be an issue. I'm not sure how you can avoid it completely. Is there some institution you trust more than the government? Oxford or Cambridge economists perhaps? Or being academics are they likely to have a pro-Europe bias? Podcasters?

      I think the inherent unreliability of economic forecasting is more problematic than bias. On top of that, there are also some big unknowns here. Are we to assume that the UK is going to remain intact, that Northern Ireland and Scotland will not leave in five years? Will there be a world-wide recession next year and if so, how long will it last? Obviously, nobody knows, but surely these possibilities overwhelm any modeling bias.

      In any event, it does not look to me as if attitudes towards Brexit depend very much on how GDP might be affected. Given the uncertainty, economic arguments are best understood as rationalizations for more tribal impulses.

    • Agreed. If you asked Leave supporting UK voters if they would be prepared to add another penny onto the income tax rate in order to "afford" a no-deal Brexit many would, I am sure, accept the cost without question or grumble. It is tribal, and it is about sovereignty.

      As for favoured non-biased "expert", I genuinely think that there isn't one. The IMF possibly comes closest, but even they have a political as well as economic agenda. What is needed is for supporters of each side of the argument to go out, look for, find and publish their quantitative justifications. The rest of us can evaluate the data, such as it is. The problem is that the political classes are allergic to "doing their homework" and will issue qualitative off the cuff soundbites rather than putting the graft in.

      Forecasting is a lot about assumptions. Since we cannot know whether the Union will survive another 10 years we simply make the assumption on both sides of the argument that it will. That way no systemic bias comes into play.

      I now have a strange craving for beer, salty snacks and people discussing nothing more complicated than football.

    • Bias can certainly be an issue. I'm not sure how you can avoid it completely. Is there some institution you trust more than the government? Oxford or Cambridge economists perhaps? Or being academics are they likely to have a pro-Europe bias? Podcasters?

      If everyone is biased, some sort of meta-analysis might help. Is there any organization or political actor (outside of a bunch of "Brexiteer" MPs) who speaks out in favor of a no-deal, hard Brexit?

      If there is, what are their biases, and how do they align with what the UK as a nation would want if it actually spoke with a single voice?

    • It's anybody's guess, I think. I'd be surprised if they made a deal in time to avoid the European Parliamentary elections, though. Maybe those will show some new path forward, but I wouldn't count on it.

    • I've seen it put at even odds that Brexit is going to happen at all. As time passes, and the magnitude of that lunacy slowly becomes apparent, the chance of leaving gets smaller still.

      Personally, I'm lately coming around to the opinion that they should leave (already!). They need to have an internal 'house cleaning' get they priorities in order and then come back. Otherwise, they'll never stop being a spoilsport and a drag on everything EU does (as they already were for decades).

      I'm terribly saddened for the young generation in UK, who voted *overwhelmingly* to remain in the EU and who are the ones who will have to actually live with the consequences (vast majority of 'leave' voters will literally be dead in a decade or so). But, until they kick the Brexit crowd to the curb, they should stay out.

    • The latest polls show that Nigel Farage's "Brexit Party" is having more support than Conservatives and Labour combined. Oh my.

      Direct consequence? Pretty sure UK is about to break up, since Scotland will definitely have none of that nonsense.

    • Things are a little murky regarding partisanship. Both Labour and Tory members are fleeing because of dissatisfaction with their leaders' Brexit positions. In the recent local elections, both parties lost support--but especially the Tories. While the leaders claim that it showed that people just wanted to "get on with Brexit" the fact is that it was the Lib Dems and Greens that picked up the most seats, both of which oppose Brexit. Even the extreme right UKIP lost seats. Yet current polling for the European Parliament shows Farage with a strong support. We'll see what the actual results look like. It might just be an artifact of his one-dimensional appeal.

      As for Scotland leaving the UK, well, stay tuned. The Cameron government was reasonably confident that Scotland would reject independence, so they allowed the referendum to occur in 2014. You're certainly right that Scotland is opposed to Brexit, and that could make them want to leave the UK once it leaves the EU. But next time, they might not get permission, so it could turn into something like the Catalan situation in Spain. Even if it did manage to secure independence, it would take several years to become an EU member. And once in the EU, the whole Northern Ireland border issue would be replicated at the Scottish border with England. It might be more trouble than it's worth for Scotland.

    • Yep, Labour position on Brexit is such a colossal self-own, it's beyond belief. Corbyn single-handedly resurrected LibDems and Greens.

      Scotland leaving is not a matter if UK giving permission, there's not much they can do - situation is very different than in Spain. If Scots overwhelmingly decide to leave, what's UK going to do? Occupy them? And you can be sure the EU will trip over themselves to grant Scotland fast-track membership. As far as more trouble than it's worth, well, that remains to be seen.

    • The Scots could hold a referendum, but without the agreement of Westminster, it would not be legally binding. This is, in fact, quite similar to the situation in Catalunia, Spain. I agree that if push came to shove, an actual revolution/occupation seems unlikely. However, Scotland would have little chance of becoming an EU member if its exit from the UK was not by mutual accord. Spain would veto it for sure. None of the members favors unilateral dissolution of existing EU member states. So regardless of the legality, as a practical political matter Scotland needs approval from the UK. The alternative would leave them completely on their own, which seems a poor choice.

    • ungovernable Parliament

      May not be the best phrase, as the prime minister doesn't govern the parliament.

      May's gamble on the General election after becoming PM didn't pay off. The tories lost a lot seats, and effectively lost their majority, so in that respect parliament had difficulty in governing

    • She knew exactly what was she getting into, and then managed to do an absolutely terrible job with it. I say good riddance.

      I only feel sorry for the British people who will be handed an even worse deal, with Boris Johnson replacing her.

    • She was widely considered ineffective, but I'm not sure anyone else would have done any better. Speculation has it that Boris Johnson is up next. While there's a remote chance that could unite the opposition, he's more likely to guarantee a no-deal conclusion. It looks like Brexit is a bad idea whose time has come.

    • No doubting it was a difficult brief. However, in the infinite multiverse there is a version of reality where Ms May did prevail. Success was always possible in our reality but Ms May chose (i.e. was not forced) to act in a way that made this a non-starter.

      1. She was a "Remainer", so how likely was she to be able to deliver Brexit?

      2. She surrounded herself with "Remainer" advisers and a predominantly "Remainer" cabinet.

      3. She got through 3 Secretaries of State for Brexit - this should not be possible in a closed issue.

      4. Her third Brexit Secretary resigned after Ms May agreed the terms of a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU that he was largely unaware of. Why would Ms May adopt such a despotic approach to negotiation in a parliamentary democracy? Could it be it was because she was not intending to act democratically (see point 1)?

      5. She agreed terms of a Withdrawal Agreement in secret, surely knowing that it would never receive majority support. This suggests she is utterly out of touch with her electorate and her party.

      6. She took "no-deal" off the table. Even the weakest negotiator will tell you that, if you give away your currency of negotiation, you will not get a deal. Ms May was obviously under the impression she was playing "happy families", rather than poker.

      It did not have to be the way it is ended up. Whilst I do not discount the very real difficulties faced when negotiating with 650 loose-lipped and self-serving idiots telegraphing your every move, Ms May could have made a better job of it. She is rightly being held accountable for that.

    • My daughter lives in Edinburgh. She and her friends seem to be resigned to a no-deal exit, mostly because Parliament seems incapable of anything else. Well, not exactly resigned, as she is joining the SNP (which opposes Brexit). She opposed independence in 2014, but Brexit has changed the calculus for her and many others, apparently.