Brexit — a dangerous topic

Charles Moir
We are all tired. (Photo by Sandro Cenni on Unsplash)

I shouldn’t go near it. What am I thinking about, doing this?

It’s a mess. Everyone knows this. But it was entirely predictable when half the country wants one thing and half want something else. There was never was going to be any consensus.

So we find ourselves in an impossible situation. An real-life Catch 22.

When there’s so much noise, it’s sometimes difficult to see the wood from the trees. People are confused by it all, but I think it’s this simple: Most people want to exit with a deal, rather than no-deal. An amicable divorce is always better than a non-amicable one.

But parliament have rejected every deal presented so far.

And the EU has made it clear there’s no more dealing. What’s on the table is it.

Parliament wants a deal so bad it just put laws in place to ensure we do not leave with no deal. Sounds reasonable. But it’s not.

So this the impossible situation we find ourselves:

  • We won’t accept no-deal exit
  • But we won’t accept a deal either.

Stalemate. (Definition of).

Now you might say ‘Ah, but we would accept a new, better deal.’ How does that help when:

a) The other side says there’s no new deal. Take it or leave it.
b) Even if there was a new deal, what chance is there that parliament will ever agree?

They tried to get a deal through three times and failed.

Given the down-the-middle split on everything to do with Brexit, can you imagine any scenario where parliament will ever agree on a deal put forward either by Johnson or by Corbyn? I can’t. Won’t happen.

It seems the point of Corbyn and Labour is to disagree with everything that the Conservatives put forward. And the point of the Conservatives is to disagree with everything Labour put forward.

(It’s the same in the US with the Republican and Democrats. They just cannot, cannot accept anything the other side proposes).

That’s the game they play. And they all treat it as a game. I find the game transparent and so tedious.

It seemed likely to me from the very start there would be no agreement in parliament. Given the ~50:50 split in the country. That it would go to the wire, and beyond.

It did. It went beyond. There was an extension, the wire was moved. Did it help? No. Then another extension to 31st October. Did it help? No.

Why would yet another extension help? Do we think Parliament will change their ways and all-of-a-sudden enough of Labour will agree with Conservatives? Or Conservatives agree with Labour, or leavers agree with remainders?

I don’t think there’s any reasonable expectation of that.

Oh and Boris says he doesn’t want an extension and now apparently Macron says he’ll veto any extension.

So an extension seems unlikely to happen. And even if it does, I predict it won’t help.

Programmer’s view of Brexit negotiations:

1. We want a deal
2. Great, so do we. Let’s agree one. Here it is.
3. No, we want a better deal.
4. There is no better deal. But you can leave with no-deal.
5. No-deal is not an option.
6. Goto 3

Stalemate.

I’ve bought and sold companies. The only negotiation tactic I know that works is to know the worst case you’re prepared to accept, that no one really wants (no deal), and have an immovable deadline. Focuses the mind wonderfully.

But have a movable deadline and negotiations never conclude. Have your hands tied, (parliament takes away your bargaining counter) and the other side takes advantage of your weakness. That’s the way it always works.

The EU wants a deal — we had a threat that we were prepared to walk away — that was the bargaining counter. The EU might, possibly, have realised that if we were serious about walking away, to compromise.

But now that they know we can’t walk away, where does that leave us?

From where we are now there’s no obvious answer. We, parliament, Conservatives and Labour have somehow got ourselves into a no-win situation.

May you live in interesting times”.

Another simple programmer-like description of Brexit negotiations.

1. We have a looming deadline, we need to negotiate a new deal.
2. There will be no re-negotiation.
3. OK then, so we want to move the deadline.
4. We will not move the deadline.
5. OK we’ll walk away with no-deal, that’s bad for you. You’ll regret that.
6. You can’t walk away you just made it law.
7. Goto 1

It’s unclear what happens in this case when the deadline comes, we have no deal and yet also we have laws saying we have to have a deal.

The world, and most of the UK, looks on aghast.

We’re in a pickle.

Charles Moir

Written by

A geek who made good. Started writing machine code, created one of the first word processors and and now designs and directs multi-million line code projects.

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