No Deal as a threat

Jonathan Portes rightly remarked in response to my last post that he had had similar thoughts on the ECJ ruling now improving the UK government's bargaining position. This is as Theresa May could now threaten to rescind Article 50 in the event she does not gain concessions, and restart the process. Thinking about this a little more, I am no longer sure this is correct.

Firstly, as a number of commentators have pointed out, the withdrawal of Article 50 may not allow for gaming in this way.

Secondly, it it is not clear why the rest of the EU would see this as a threat at all. Wouldn't most EU member states be quite happy for the UK to withdraw Article 50, particularly in this embarrassing way?

Thirdly, and most crucially, it undermines the greatest threat in her arsenal, the so called "No Deal" threat. This is an option so insanely damaging (and so much more so to the UK than the rEU) that no sane government would opt for it. The threat is not so much achieved by sayin…

Initial Thoughts on the Implications of the ECJ Ruling (short)

So it's official. The UK can unilaterally withdraw Article 50. What does this mean?

It somewhat increases the odds of a second referendum with a remain option on the ballot, as this is now a clear legal possibility. However, the political barriers to this are still sufficiently robust that this still seems unlikely. The timeframe of the Article 50 process also may not allow for a referendum to be held in time anyway.
However, it does have other, perhaps more significant implications. Firstly, it means that in the event that May's deal does not pass, and no deal is on the horizon, as the March deadline approaches, there will be significant pressure to simply revoke Article 50. This could plausibly be supported by MPs still advocating Brexit eventually, if they use it to argue that a better deal could be negotiated by a completely new process (the fact that this may be a political non-starter with the rEU won't matter, as few current MPs have ever taken such considerations s…

Socialism in the 21st Century

Brexit and Politics of Bad Faith

A couple of months ago I wrote a little polemic arguing that a second referendum should be considered democratically legitimate, or at least, not illegitimate. A number of other articles have advanced similar arguments, and I don't think what I did was anything other than rehashing some standard ideas about where, if anywhere, elections get their legitimacy from. One thing bugged me, thinking back to it. The arguments, like many others, are primarily about preference aggregation, how elections may or may not do this, and the legal status of the vote. But I think I missed or on some level was dishonest about what really annoys me about Brexit qua Democracy in action: democratic theory has trouble dealing with people acting in bad faith.

By this I don't mean political lying. Some of the worst lies of the 2016 referendum actually came the closest to what, had they been true, might look like valid arguments (extra money for public services is a reasonable enough motivation for doi…

A less discussed consequence of ‘views disagree on the shape of the Earth’ style of reporting

Edgar’s Algorithm

Business interests and the Conservative Party

One of the most striking features of the modern Conservative party is how little resemblance it bears to many left wing caricatures. And I don't mean that in a good way. If Marx was right, and"the executive of the modern state is but a committee for the managing of the collective affairs of the bourgeoisie" then the British Conservative Party isn't much of a party of government*. In the In the last two years, Conservative backbenchers, the Conservative backing press and party membership have forced the government to relentlessly pursue a form of Brexit which will result in profound economic dislocation in the short term in order to achieve a significantly less favourable set of economic arrangements in the long term. As Chris Dillow also notes, one could scarcely imagine a policy less driven by business interests. And it's not as if this is a question of a kind of false consciousness of the high capitalist: with the notable exception of a manufacturer of innovat…