We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.
close

January 10, 2019

Another quiet day in the Commons

Even for close Brexit observers these are extremely confusing times. As ever, it is best to stick with what we know rather than to extrapolate from what we hear. Looked at in the cold light of the morning, not all that much changed yesterday. We knew before that Theresa May had lost her Brexit majority in the House of Commons. We know that her deal is very likely to be rejected next Tuesday. What has changed is the post-defeat procedure: she will now have to say by the end of next week what her alternative plan will be. We suppose that she would choose between two alternative paths: the first is a promise to go back to Brussels and to open up the political declaration to allow alternative constructions for the future relationship. The second is that she could propose that parliament hold a series of indicative votes on alternative outcomes, coupled with a promise that she would implement whatever emerges as the majority view of the parliament, or else proceed with a no-deal Brexit. The latter seems to be a risky option for her, as it hands control to parliament, but it might be the smartest choice under the current circumstances.

What has not changed is the brutal logic of Art. 50 and the accompanying UK legislation: the UK leaves the EU, by law, on March 29. There are only three alternative outcomes - deal, no-deal, or revocation. To complicate things further, the EU is also an important party to this (see our story on this below).

But the legal fact remains that no-deal is the default position, and to overturn it would require a positive parliamentary majority in favour of a single alternative strategy: outright revocation, a second referendum, or one from a menu of alternative future relationships like Norway. On the second referendum, there would also have to be a majority in favour of a specific set of questions. 

Another possible procedural path is a new election. The Daily Mail has a story of cabinet ministers urging the nuclear option - a general election on April 4 - that would leave the UK without a parliament during March and into Brexit. We see this as unlikely - not least because that, too, would require a parliamentary majority of two thirds. The reason we see an elevated probability of no-deal is our belief that parliament may struggle to come up with the necessary majority for any alternative.

There are already behind-the-scenes efforts under way in the parliament to seek out an alternative Brexit deal. But there is little room for manoeuvre. The EU will not reopen the withdrawal agreement. Only the political declaration is up for grabs. But even though a change to the political declaration seems at first to be the path of least resistance, it is far from clear that it will produce a Commons majority.

Anand Menon and colleagues have carried out research among MPs and found out that the math for Norway or a customs union does not stack up. If May went for the customs union, she would lose more Tory votes than gain Labour votes.

May's former adviser, Nick Timothy, writes in the Telegraph that May will not knowingly endorse a no-deal Brexit, and that she will take instructions from parliament - whatever they may be. But Timothy, too, insists that parliament will first have to find a consensus. Where he takes a different view from us is in his assertion that this might be more probable than it appears at first. As the UK approaches the deadline, the Commons may just find the necessary votes, he writes. The reason we are sceptical is the numbers. The amendments of the last couple of days passed with narrow majorities. Almost every one of those MPs in favour of the amendments would need to line up behind one of several alternative options.

Show Comments Write a Comment

January 10, 2019

From Rome with love

Matteo Salvini and Luigi di Maio openly support the gilets jaunes as self-proclaimed representatives of the French people. By doing so they cross a red line in a European politics, where leaders are not to interfere in the internal affairs of another member state. The French government's response to this provocation was restrained, as after all the Italians are looking for maximal publicity ahead of the European elections. While united in their support for the gilets jaunes, Salvini and di Maio do have different motives: di Maio is dreaming about an offshoot of the Five Star movement on French soil, while Salvini seeks a stage for his opposition against Emmanuel Macron to get an alliance of nationalists and populists going, writes Étienne Lefebvre in Les Echos.

The Italian support is not only an invitation for the gilets jaunes to organise themselves so that they could eventually form an alliance in the European parliament. They also support the movement's causes, which include as fringe demands the removal of Macron as president and the overturn of the French Fifth Republic. 

The Five Star movement offered the gilets jaunes logistical support with its internet platform Rousseau, to help them organise themselves as an open-democracy political force. Some of the representatives of the gilets jaunes (by far not all) are ready to meet up with an Italian representative this week. 

The platform Rousseau designed by Gianroberto Casaleggio, the late co-founder of the Five Star movement, not only offers an online voting system which could allow the sort of citizen referendum the gilets jaunes were advocating. This platform also allows a choice among previously unknown representatives, to design an electoral programme from scratch, and to crowd-fund electoral campaigns. Italian critics say the system lacks transparency and is biased and censored in its content. A French philosopher also warns that this could be prone to manipulation or abuse by wild-card candidates or even hackers. Whether anything comes out of this meeting, or whether the French gilets jaunes can indeed agree on taking something from the Italian government, is another matter.

Back in France we also note that general support for the gilets jaunes. The Elabe poll for BMFTV shows that those supporting the movement are now at 31%, a drop by 10pp, while those sympathising with them remain stable at 29%. Conversely, there is a rise of the disapproval rate by 9pp to 31%. This includes the 15% (+4pp) who oppose the movement and the 16% (+5pp) who are hostile.

From Italy to France, to the UK? Le Monde reports that this coming Saturday there will be a protest in London, organised as an anti-austerity march by the People's Assembly, who invited protesters to wear the now famous yellow traffic vests. It seems to us, though, that the affiliation is symbolic only. 

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.

 

Recent News

  • May 18, 2020
  • Why this won't be a symmetric shock
  • Towards a new cold war
  • January 07, 2019
  • What to look out for in the Brexit debates
  • Macron's last-resort tool for the gilets jaunes
  • August 31, 2017
  • Where are the Républicains?
  • Poland unmoved by EU rule-of-law sanctions
  • May will stay through Brexit, and then fight the 2022 elections
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 03, 2020
  • After medical concerns, economic concerns take centre stage in Greece
  • New momentum to exclude Fidesz from the EPP
  • The Swedish experiment
  • December 12, 2018
  • 48 letters
  • A sense of deja-vu
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • February 02, 2020
  • Is Sinn Fein the Irish anti-establishment vote?
  • Don’t assume that nobody will follow the Brits
  • October 29, 2018
  • Why the EEA is no longer a Brexit option
  • Behold the rising superpower: post-catholic Ireland’s European miracle
  • July 27, 2017
  • Löfven's move
  • The nearing end of petrol and diesel engines
  • Why a second referendum in the UK won’t happen, and why it would be wrong
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • December 12, 2019
  • Greta is right - the EU’s fight against climate change is most likely a PR exercise
  • September 25, 2018
  • Be careful what you wish for - second referendum edition
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 17, 2019
  • A dangerous game for the EU
  • After Brexit, get ready for a German EU budget rebate
  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • June 20, 2017
  • How to soften Brexit?
  • The deep roots of Brexit: Thatcher and the Germans
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • July 09, 2018
  • German panic about Target2
  • AfD level with SPD
  • How the EU could fail
  • May 31, 2017
  • Getting real in the debate on the euro's future
  • Russia's growing influence in Italy
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 18, 2019
  • Retaliation threats over drilling
  • May 28, 2018
  • A no-confidence motion that could backfire
  • The political repercussions of a historic referendum in Ireland
  • Why the lack of an international role for the euro matters
  • May 10, 2017
  • PSOE primary campaign in full swing
  • Czech government crisis escalates
  • Backroom dealing on electoral reform in Italy
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 06, 2020
  • The feedback loop of Covid-19 and inequalities - part 10 of our series
  • How confinement affects mental health
  • April 09, 2019
  • What can go wrong now?
  • April 13, 2018
  • German support for eurozone reform next to zero...
  • ... and no support for France on Syria either
  • A French sermon
  • Why the euro endures
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • January 06, 2020
  • A decade that started with a bang
  • What to expect of Spain's next government
  • Divide et impera: Macron's pension reform strategy
  • January 29, 2019
  • What comes after plan B fails? Plan C, of course. C for cliff-edge
  • Gilets jaunes, how to structure a movement in free flow?
  • European Court of Auditors criticises Juncker’s investment fund
  • February 26, 2018
  • Angela Merkel's cabinet
  • March 27, 2017
  • Governing formation troubles - Northern Ireland edition
  • Did Trump present Merkel with a bill for Nato?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 23, 2019
  • Corbyn’s last big battle
  • Germany’s CO2 compromise meets all targets - except the climate targets
  • November 13, 2018
  • Peak Salvini?
  • Protest uberisation
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • February 28, 2017
  • Is Hamon losing the right wing of his party?
  • Something we just don’t understand
  • Solve the problem
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • March 11, 2020
  • While Italy is in lockdown, Germany allows football matches
  • Ireland grand coalition
  • May 31, 2019
  • Salvini’s frightening strength
  • The significance of Corbyn’s latest flipflop on the referendum
  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • November 09, 2017
  • From street protests to road closures
  • What Russia wants
  • January 31, 2017
  • Project fear against Italexit
  • On how not to frustrate Brexit
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 21, 2019
  • Philippe to brace for more union protests
  • Greens are the electorates' new favourite
  • February 07, 2019
  • Forget Tusk - the real action is elsewhere
  • On David Malpass and the Trump legacy
  • May 28, 2018
  • A no-confidence motion that could backfire
  • The political repercussions of a historic referendum in Ireland
  • Why the lack of an international role for the euro matters
  • September 15, 2017
  • Juncker dragged into the Catalan fray
  • What to say in Florence
  • How to fill the gap left by the British MEPs
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • December 03, 2019
  • What to look out for in the last week of the compaign
  • Trump threatens tariffs on French luxury exports
  • April 26, 2019
  • How Brexit has given rise to different perceptions of reality
  • The EP, not Madrid, will boost Spanish clout
  • How realistic is a Gaullist Europe?
  • September 17, 2018
  • About the new partnership between Russia and China
  • EU ponders Irish backstop protocol to help May
  • February 07, 2018
  • A short note on bitcoin
  • July 04, 2017
  • On the CDU’s programme
  • Macron defines his presidential style
  • Why do we criticise modern macro?
  • November 28, 2016
  • And now what Monsieur Fillion?
  • The inescapable logic of an interim agreement
  • On Germany's foreign policy post-Trump
  • How to lose against the populists
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • March 25, 2020
  • Scientific advice and politics
  • Why the Oxford study is so useful
  • September 26, 2019
  • Could Johnson be headed for an electoral landslide?
  • Macron's conquest of public opinion over pension reform
  • Marion Maréchal keeps dream of political comeback alive
  • March 29, 2019
  • Don't take Macron for granted
  • Green is EU's future - Loiseau takes a stance
  • October 01, 2018
  • After the referendum, more turmoil in Macedonia
  • What will happen if the UK parliament votes No?
  • Barnier's no-thanks works much better than a yes-please
  • April 03, 2018
  • Is the time for Brexit revocation running out?
  • October 04, 2017
  • On why Theresa May is likely to survive
  • On how to resolve the Brexit talks
  • Social housing - not a good start for the French government
  • April 11, 2017
  • What to expect, and not expect from Schulz
  • The view from Berlin
  • The view from Moscow
  • October 17, 2016
  • Ceta is dead for now
  • L’après-Hollande, c'est Hollande
  • SPD against Russia sanctions
  • Nissan to join customs union and other fanciful tales
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • February 10, 2020
  • A new era in Irish politics with Sinn Féin
  • More fish, please
  • October 02, 2019
  • What Boris wants...
  • Ditched again - the decline and fall of Manfred Weber
  • May 27, 2019
  • The rising chances of a no-deal Brexit
  • January 18, 2019
  • Why Dublin won't yield on the backstop
  • Town hall debates vs street protests - who is winning?
  • September 13, 2018
  • Bravo Mr Juncker for raising the issue of the euro’s international role. But what now?
  • Are the eurosceptics imploding?
  • May 10, 2018
  • Time for some clear thinking on Trump and Iran
  • Will Corbyn accept the EEA? Brexiteers can relax. He won't.
  • What next for the DUP?
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • August 24, 2017
  • Legislative hyperactivity for Tsipras' new narrative
  • On the deep causes of euroscepticism
  • April 23, 2017
  • The demise of the AfD has accelerated dramatically
  • On how France will need to confront Germany
  • December 21, 2016
  • A culture of denial
  • Ukraine agreement hangs in the balance
  • Valls U-turn on 49-3
  • Beware of exotic Brexit options
  • August 22, 2016
  • Gold for Brexit
  • EU and Turkey talking past each other
  • Switzerland is the next migrant transit country
  • On the death of neoliberal economics
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 29, 2020
  • Will the first be the last? Virus edition
  • Don't hurry your exit strategy
  • March 31, 2020
  • Orbán's power grab
  • Why we would like to share the optimism on eurobonds, but can’t.
  • March 02, 2020
  • What the return of the refugee crisis tells us about the EU
  • Does the UK really want a deal? Does France?
  • February 02, 2020
  • Is Sinn Fein the Irish anti-establishment vote?
  • Don’t assume that nobody will follow the Brits
  • January 06, 2020
  • A decade that started with a bang
  • What to expect of Spain's next government
  • Divide et impera: Macron's pension reform strategy
  • November 28, 2019
  • Merkel’s legacy
  • November 04, 2019
  • Brexit tactical voting is happening - on both sides
  • Merkel promises 1m charging stations - but doesn't tell us how
  • October 10, 2019
  • What if UK parliament rejects both elections and the second referendum?
  • Should Europeans really look forward to President Warren?
  • September 18, 2019
  • No doubt, this is a constitutional crisis
  • Macron's immigration bid
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • August 06, 2019
  • Macron's next bet: municipal elections
  • A victory for Salvini and his coalition
  • July 17, 2019
  • The dreaded scenario
  • Meet the Labour no-dealers
  • June 28, 2019
  • In Osaka
  • June 10, 2019
  • How to create Brexit facts
  • The new Alde is already in trouble
  • May 24, 2019
  • Rising campaign stakes are a double-edged sword for Macron
  • So May is going. And now what?
  • It's beginning to look a lot like Brexit in Switzerland
  • May 09, 2019
  • The EU's impossible dilemma
  • The horsetrading starts in Sibiu
  • May to bring withdrawal bill to Commons week after next
  • April 24, 2019
  • May's final and biggest gamble
  • Will the EP be Brexit's great parliamentary beneficiary?
  • Can Loiseau fight the far right given her past?
  • April 08, 2019
  • Welcome to the new Brexit grand coalition
  • Waiting for Macron's next move
  • March 26, 2019
  • No, the UK parliament has not taken control
  • Barnier for president?
  • March 14, 2019
  • A very meaningless vote
  • March 04, 2019
  • Macron's two-month sprint
  • May's numbers are not there yet
  • Greening QE
  • On the "hope" of a rate raise
  • February 22, 2019
  • The maths of a Brexit deal
  • Does public protest crowd out of climate change?
  • February 14, 2019
  • What will Jeremy Corbyn do?
  • Juppé, now a sage rather than Macron's man in the EP
  • February 07, 2019
  • Forget Tusk - the real action is elsewhere
  • On David Malpass and the Trump legacy
  • January 31, 2019
  • EU will play hardball until February 14, and stick to backstop beyond
  • French left and right moves ahead of EP elections
  • Tighten the belts as the economy prepares for landing
  • January 25, 2019
  • Is this the beginning of the end of the gilets jaunes?
  • Kurz speculates about longer Brexit delay
  • January 20, 2019
  • Groundhog Britain
  • January 17, 2019
  • How Irish insistence on backstop backfired
  • Will Germany blink? Probably not
  • How Tsipras' confidence vote and Prespes vote are linked
  • January 14, 2019
  • Our Brexit predictions
  • 1789 - Macron's version
  • Tsipras calls confidence vote after Kammenos pulls out
  • January 11, 2019
  • What if May loses by 200 votes?
  • Why the departure of Mattis is a big headache for Germany
  • January 10, 2019
  • Another quiet day in the Commons
  • From Rome with love