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    • Thanks, @Chris. You can always count on John Oliver for great gallows humor.

      It's looking pretty grim at the moment. While it's always possible that the MPs will come to their senses before it's too late, the TLDR guys just posted this game theoretic analysis that points to a no deal resolution:

      I don't think prisoner's dilemma exactly applies here, as there will most certainly be communication among the MPs, which violates the assumptions of the game. However, one can see how that logic might influence some members. No deal seems too bad to be true, but then, there weren't any good arguments for WW I either.

    • I'm travelling around the UK at the moment and in talking to a lot of people the consensus seems to be that people mostly care a lot less about which way it goes, they just want a decision made so they can get on with it one way or the other.

    • Further thoughts, as a citizen of a Commonwealth nation I kind of hope Brexit goes through.

      Since Great Britain joined the EU it's relationships with it's Commonwealth partners have ranked a very distant 2nd to those of the EU. If Brexit goes ahead it's possible that Great Britain will re-seek stronger relationships with it's fellow Commonwealth nations.

      Oh, and....

    • Whatever happens, relationship with a continent with 300 million people, a couple of miles away, is always going to be more important than with any other nation, thousands of miles away, Commonwealth or not.

      Now, if only British politicians understood that...

    • I am not convinced that "no-deal" would ultimately be that bad for Britain. I am very surprised and disappointed that nobody (on either side) has made an attempt at a reasoned economic argument for or against no-deal. All we get is platitudes, hyperbolae, and bravado sound bites that have absolutely no substance.

      Europe is likely heading for a recession and even the German economy is slowing. Economically speaking, this may be exactly the time to effect a hard Brexit.

      In the event of a no-deal all that would occur would be a series of individual mini-deals or moratoria.

      What would be absolute madness would be to capitulate on the current Withdrawal Agreement that binds us to the EU customs union unless and until the EU say we can leave. That is not "leaving" in any sense and would represent the biggest surrender of sovereignty outside of war time.

      It is all well and good saying that the EU will negotiate an exit from the Withdrawal Agreement "in good faith", but one has to recall Mr Macron, the French President, reacting to the original Withdrawal Agreement format. He publicly said it was a good agreement because France could hold the UK to ransom over fishing rights, condemning the UK to a perpetual backstop unless their demands were met. Good faith? From his reaction, there was none in evidence then, which would have to make one sceptical for future dialogues.

      If someone can post some unequivocal, reasoned argument that is based on facts and figures (not bluster, cliché or soundbite), then I would be interested to read it, whichever position it took on the effects of a no-deal.

    • I am not convinced that "no-deal" would ultimately be that bad for Britain. I am very surprised and disappointed that nobody (on either side) has made an attempt at a reasoned economic argument for or against no-deal. All we get is platitudes, hyperbolae, and bravado sound bites that have absolutely no substance.

      Europe is likely heading for a recession and even the German economy is slowing. Economically speaking, this may be exactly the time to effect a hard Brexit.

      In the event of a no-deal all that would occur would be a series of individual mini-deals or moratoria.

      I'm no expert, but the argument that being part of a union around a magnitude bigger than oneself (both in terms of GDP and population) is better than having to work out a ton of individual deals makes intuitive sense.

      If the UK no longer is a part of that union, is it really reasonable to assume that it would simply be able to maintain status quo with all other players?

    • If the UK leaves it cannot do deals with the remaining 27EU members. There would only be deals on a variety of issues between the UK and the EU, the latter representing the others.

      The arguments need to reflect the relative balance of trading flows between the UK and EU, and incorporate the possibility of better trading status with non-EU countries. As member of the EU we are forced to comply with EU trade agreements with non-EU states.

      There is also the argument that a free UK could adopt a low or no tariff approach to world trade, which might have a very large effect on trade balances - for the positive.

      Still further, a free UK might also decide to move toward a lower tax model, which would be of interest to inward investors. This is particularly interesting as this might even see some corporations moving to the UK from Europe.

      I am sure it is becoming obvious that there do need to be some serious quantitative arguments applied to the Brexit issue....

    • The UK Government itself projected a 7.7% to 10.7% decline in GDP after 15 years under a no-deal scenario. As Mrs. May just lost again today in Parliament, we may well find out whether the predictions are correct.

    • 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.