Brexit Crisis – Scenario Mapping

Theresa May’s Brexit plan is dead. It is not resting. It is not pining for the fjords. It is dead.

May may not think so. But it is. So, what happens next?

There are maybe five plausible scenarios for the Brexit deal/outcome.

  1. Remain
  2. No Deal
  3. Canada ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
  4. EEA
  5. May Deal

Remain makes up around 25% of the House of Commons and is only likely to grow if the choice is between that and No Deal. It is currently unclear if the UK can unilaterally revoke A50, I imagine the EU being what it is, they’ll make the law up as they go along and say that of course you can unilaterally revoke A50 but it also removes various UK exemptions from EU policy and the rebate.

No deal probably makes up around 5% of the House of Commons but bleeds into Canada +++++ or whatever it’s called which is probably 15% of the House. No Dealers would be happy with Canada and Canada people could probably live with No Deal.

EEA is currently backed by relatively few but could be backed by a broad swathe of the House if it were put forward as an option.

May’s deal is currently backed by maybe 30% of the House when you take account of the people who just want it done and the payroll vote.

There is almost certain to be a leadership challenge. If May falls then the May deal is either replaced with something else or moves to one of the other four.

If May doesn’t fall, she is safe for a year, she can then use her position to make the deal more Remainy to make it more palatable to Labour, but does this just lose her votes across the aisle in the Tory party? Does it just destroy the Tory party?

I think May survives a leadership challenge. She needs 158 votes of confidence. I reckon there’s a big enough “eugh, just get on with it you tossers” contingent to back her. I then reckon her deal fails to get past the House. Which means we’ve wasted a month in having it rejected by the House, and we’re back to four options. She could resign then, but she’s likely to want to press on. She has to either move on immigration, which opens up the path to Remain (still very unlikely) or EEA. But because she’s an immigration obsessive this is doubtful. She could move on Northern Ireland and go for Canada but this requires abandoning any sense of being a unionist party and would break the party just as much as Remain. So No Deal then becomes the default.

I hope May is ditched. I hope we go for the EEA option. But I think we’re far more likely to end up with a variant on No Deal.

The Homeless Liberals

I’m a liberal – free markets make for free people, the cycle reinforces itself with free people demanding further freedoms.

There is no political home for me in the UK Рthe Liberal Democrats are liberal in the loosest possible sense, but are not democratic and cannot hope to represent me. Labour are led by a man who wanted the IRA to win, who glorifies terrorism, and who takes money from Iran. UKIP are dead and have in the last five years gone from a party of fun if occasionally embarrassing semi-libertarians to the racist demagogues they became in order to win a few extra votes.

The Tories – ah the Tories – I’m a member of the Tory party. I will vote Tory in the coming election. But I am not a fan of Theresa May – her authoritarian instincts, her anti-market manifesto, and the continued ignoring of the importance of the deficit makes a mockery of the history of the party pro-market and pro-freedom.

It is not the place of government to inspire the country, to have a mission for the country. But a party should have an inspiring vision that drives it’s plan in government. There’s nothing wrong with having an ideology. With knowing where you want the government to go. With knowing that your plans are right and deserve to be implemented.

Under the strong and stable leadership of Theresa May, there will be no ideological crusades.

Be still my beating heart.

Because Conservatism is not and never has been the philosophy described by caricaturists. We do not believe in untrammelled free markets. We reject the cult of selfish individualism. We abhor social division, injustice, unfairness and inequality. We see rigid dogma and ideology not just as needless but dangerous.

Speak for yourself – free markets are conservative. Because they allow everything else to be paid for. Selfish individualism is the only thing that keeps the world pushing forward to the brighter future that generations of visionary capitalists have given us. Inequality isn’t an evil in itself – only if intergenerational inequality has become engrained to the point an oligarchy stifles growth and creative destruction. So long as there is equality of opportunity, inequality is not an issue. And dogma and ideology are not dangerous – but the way change can be forced through against inertia and resistance within the civil service. Michael Gove’s changes to the education system were ideological, dogmatic, and good.

There’s plenty that is fine within the Tory manifesto, scrapping the triple lock and the tax lock are smart. Changes to pensioner benefits are good. The social care policy is complicated but good. Scrapping Leveson 2 is good. These are the few bright spots in an otherwise statist manifesto.

Theresa May is likely to walk away with a triple digit majority – this is a chance to recast the UK, reforge it in the fire of Brexit as fit for the 21st Century. It is disappointing to see our authoritarian PM still insisting the internet needs regulating, not committing to get rid of the deficit as soon as possible, not committing to having tax as a percentage of GDP lower – even if individual taxes rise. There is no vision for the future of the NHS, tinkering around the edges of social care, and nothing new on autonomous cars and the data revolution that is increasingly moulding our world.

I’ll be voting conservative, but with David Cameron I had the idea of an ambitious vision for the UK – even if I disagreed with him over Brexit, I was happy to support him. Theresa May is a tedious authoritarian who will get good support in the shires and in the north of England, but refuses to be honest about the challenges facing the UK and thrust the UK unashamedly forward with the radical changes the country needs.

Go back to your constituencies and prepare for boredom!

Tory Manifesto – A Wishlist

Apparently, the Tories are planning to fight the coming General Election on much the same platform as the last. One imagines the commitment to the single market will be removed and the immigration pledge will be altered.

This is a mistake.

I will be voting Tory, unless it makes sense in my constituency to vote Labour or Lib Dem to prevent an SNP victory. But they get plenty wrong. They should be willing to admit this and change course.

My wishlist for five things to be removed from, and five things to be added to the manifesto.

Removed

  1. The Pensions Triple Lock
    1. Possibly the most expensive and ill-thought out commitments a government has made. Committing them to raising pensions at 2.5%, wages, or inflation – whichever is greater. Constantly ratcheting up the cost of pensions at a time when the government should be attempting to wean people off dependence on the state in their dotage. A transfer of wealth from the young to the old. And this is the perfect election to get rid of it, the idea that the over 60s are going to vote for the IRA candidate is for the birds.
  2. Get rid of the no increases in taxes pledge
    1. Pledges like this can only lead to backfires. A chancellor should not have their hands tied to the point that they cannot vary the rates for 75% of government revenue is ridiculous. I’d prefer to see taxes lower, but circumstances can change and the government needs flexibility
  3. HS2
    1. An expensive boondoggle that will be overtaken by the market in autonomous cars. There is no need for it or for any mid-distance point-to-point infrastructure investments. Edinburgh/Glasgow – London/Birmingham, sure. But London-Birmingham? Please. Autonomous cars and new ownership models for cars will mean people can travel quickly, cheaply, and in privacy within our current/slightly expanded road system.
  4. Inheritance Tax Changes
    1. The Tories should be the party of earned, not unearned wealth. Yes – parents should be able to give a certain amount to their children without incurring IHT. That rate should be increased with inflation (as should all tax thresholds). But for the party to truly ‘solve’ intergenerational inequality, they need to increase the churn rate of money between generations. More sales of property from the newly dead would increase the number of homes on the market for the newly wed, decreasing prices and increasing the efficiency of the market.
  5. “make sure no-one is forced to sell their home to pay for care”
    1. This goes against Tory ideals that people should be responsible for themselves. People should be incentivised to save throughout their lives for the end of their lives. The family unit should also be placed at the centre of care for the elderly, with the state only intervening when there are no children to help. Making parents the responsibility of their children as in Singapore would lessen the burden on government and prevent feckless children pawning their parents off onto the state

Added

  1. Tax deductibility of mortgages for people fewer than five years into home ownership
    1. Previously I leaned towards total mortgage tax deductibility. This would lead to an incentive to take out mortgages and an increase in the inefficient allocation of capital by banks (more mortgage lending, as it’s safe and into fixed assets which banks can reclaim, means less lending to riskier enterprises that will have greater payback). But making mortgages tax deductible for anyone who has owned a property for fewer than five years would massively decrease the cost of getting onto the ladder and increase their spending power as they got onto the market. It would be costly and would increase house prices, but combined with a campaign to build millions more houses by reforming the planning system this would dramatically improve the fortunes of the young in this country.
  2. Crossrail 2/Heathrow Expansion/Planning Reform
    1. London risks becoming unattractive in the future as a result of Brexit. It will remain one of the two global cities, but could decline relative to Paris and Tokyo to become closer to them and less like New York. This is unacceptable. London pays for the rest of the union. From Cornwall to Clackmannanshire, London pays for it all. An investment in Crossrail 2, in two new runways at Heathrow, a new runway at Gatwick, and a rapid transport system between the two, and a change in the planning system to favour development unless the area is of special significance would save London from any decline and revitalise it – the young could afford to live there, the 30-50 bracket would no longer abandon it. We could steal aviation market share back from Dubai. London is our national champion, and yes there is too much focus on it and not enough on Glasgow, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Newcastle – but we cannot focus on those without London paying for them.
  3. Remove students from any immigration cap/quota
    1. It’s a stupid policy. The one group of immigrants the country is in favour of. And we’re saying to Chinese and Indian students that they’re not welcome here when we need them to pay for our universities. Change it. And in any immigration reform have any student completing a Masters or PhD offered permanent residence.
  4. Merge DfID, FCO, DfIT under the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
    1. DfID needs reform. The DfIT should sit under the Foreign Office anyway. And the FCO needs investment. Bringing the DfID under the FCO should not be seen as a way to scrap the 0.7% target but to make it more effective. With true business cases used for every project and recognition that if the 0.7% target isn’t reached in one year it could be set aside for projects in the future or for acute crisis response.
  5. Diesel scrappage combined with a low cost incentive scheme for PV and EV and a countrywide commitment to autonomous vehicles
    1. Air quality in London and other major cities has become a bigger theme recently. Changes to the Congestion Charge should be combined with a generous scrappage scheme for older diesel and some older petrol cars with an added incentive for anyone turning a diesel over for a new, autonomous ready EV. We should aim to become the global centre for autonomous vehicles, stealing the lead from California with a permissive testing system. As part of our Brexit strategy we should be establishing free ports and should incentivise builders of autonomous vehicles to establish in these zones for export.

 

 

Conservative Leadership – Kieran

So, it seems my brothers have pipped me to the post.

Unlike Connor I will not be supporting Andrea Leadsom. Unlike Liam I know who I would prefer as leader.

I’ll deal with the candidates in increasing order of preference.

Liam Fox – Disgraced former Cabinet Minister

Liam Fox, disgraced former Cabinet Minster, who had to resign in disgrace following the controversy over the financial relationship with Adam Werritty¬†can be dismissed straight away. Yes, he’s a Brexiteer. Yes, he has sound conservative credentials. But being forced to resign in disgrace is hardly what is needed for the next Prime Minister.

Andrea Leadsom

I know relatively little about Mrs Leadsom. She is relatively inexperienced and has never held a cabinet level post. What really puts me off supporting her is the apparent support from Aaron Banks – the odious Mr Banks who is such a supporter of Farage’s UKIP needs to be kept far, far away from the levers of power. Without denouncing Banks and refusing all support she cannot be fit to become Prime Minister.

Theresa May

Theresa May is a formidable politician. She has survived at the Home Office for six long years with few memorable scandals. She has been on the frontline of Tory politics since the early 2000s. The Home Office normally eats Secretaries of State for breakfast – the 13 years of Labour government gave us six. Surviving in this post indicates she is able. She supported the Remain side during the referendum yet I am sure would be a strong negotiator, able to broker an excellent deal for the UK. However, the authoritarian bills emanating from the Home Office, particularly in the realm of internet law indicate a flavour of conservative politics that I cannot support. I believe Mrs May will make it onto the ballot for members but unless disgraced former Cabinet Minister Liam Fox or Andrea Leadsom are on the ballot I will not vote for Mrs May.

Stephen Crabb

The Crabbid ticket is interesting. Both are relatively untested, less so than Cameron and Osborne when they lead the Conservatives from 2005 onwards yet these are times when being a tested politician is more important than ever. I place Stephen Crabb so high on the list because of his likely ability to save the union (I do not believe the union is in as much danger as many others but it is a risk). Despite being a remainer I believe he would enact the will of the people without destroying the economy. With a strong negotiating team on his side he would do well as PM.

Michael Gove

The Gover – as he was called by his erstwhile comrade Boris Johnson – would be my favourite candidate for PM. His reforming zeal and thick skin make him ideal to continue the reforms from the Cameroon era. The One Nation conservatism may not be obvious but with his reforms to the education system applied to prison system we’re likely to see a reduction in recidivism and a decrease in the cost of crime to the state. A Gove Premiership with reforms to the tax code, to the NHS, to every aspect of the British state along with renegotiating our relationship with the EU could truly revitalise the UK in a way that no other could.

David Cameron

My ideal candidate would be the PM we already have – yes, he advocated to remain, yes, he did so with gusto. But Cameron is a patriot who recognises the will of the people and would work hard to develop the best possible deal for the UK. After six years of service he has decided this loss means he cannot serve any longer. I disagree but fair enough. He’s earned a break. However, any candidate for the Leadership should remember just how good a leader Cameron was and is. Holding the party together, winning a majority. He has served well and built relationships with foreign leaders. He should be a key part of the negotiation team with our partners in Europe.

Boris

Note that it’s only Boris – stabbed in the front, back, sides by Gove his political career is seemingly at an end but cannot be written off. I do not believe Boris is fit to lead. A series of entertaining columns does not a PM make. With a good team he could have been a capable leader – but this is not the time for a clown.