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

September 09, 2019

Chances of no-deal are rising and rising

Boris Johnson will not break the law and go to jail. We note there is a lot of hyperventilating commentary out there that misses the essential point. He will circumvent the law. And it looks like he is ready to involve the EU in this. We have been arguing for a while that Remainers are somewhat optimistic about their ability to force an extension. It is the EU, not the UK parliament or a UK court, that has the final decision. And each member state has a veto.

The Daily Telegraph has a story this morning that Johnson is considering writing two letters - one that follows the formal instruction to ask for a three-month extension, and another saying that the government is not planning to meet the EU’s conditions. We doubt very much that the EU would extend based on such a request, especially if the UK does not fulfil the formal commitments of an extension agreed at the April European Council: to point to a political way forward. The French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said yesterday that France is presently minded to veto. The French narrative is based on lack of progress in the negotiations. This only goes to show that active non-cooperation is a viable strategy for Johnson. Imagine the EU’s response if he threatened to veto every decision in the European Council.

The Guardian ended its story with the remark that France will in the end not veto because Emmanuel Macron does not want to be blamed for a no-deal Brexit. We find that astonishing. Who on earth would blame Macron for Brexit?

Our understanding is that Johnson and his team are pressing ahead relentlessly, despite the largely-negative media commentary. Yesterday he lost Amber Rudd as works and pensions secretary. He may lose a few more ministers. The more he loses, the stronger his position becomes internally. At the end of a week described by the media as disastrous, the Tories' poll rating went up. A YouGov poll has the Tories up by 10pp. We disagree with the evolving media consensus about Dominic Cummings. His disruption is working politically. Media commentators should resist the temptation to overestimate their influence. We note the same tendency in continental newspapers whose outrage is fuelled further by the sudden realisation that Brexit may actually happen.

We would, however, not rule out a three-month extension if coupled with an election - and only if there is no legal way out. It has been the game of Remainers to extend in order to make time for a second referendum, and that would be the scenario if Labour came to power. Would there be a majority in the UK parliament to revoke Brexit at the last minute? We doubt that MPs will be so brave as they would have to confront their electorates shortly afterwards. Also consider that, the more radical the Tories are, the more Nigel Farage will co-operate. There only has to be a single pro-Brexit candidate on every constituency ticket against a multitude of pro-Remain candidates.

We also hear reports that Johnson is ready to involve the Supreme Court, which may struggle to rule on the matter in time. The second half of October could be very messy indeed. We would not rule out a reluctant extension request, drawn up by a UK civil servant on behalf of the government. Other stories suggest that the fall-back position is for Johnson to resign. The Queen might then ask Jeremy Corbyn, as the official leader of the opposition, to form a government. Or someone like Kenneth Clarke. We think there are risks associated with this course of action. Never underestimate the power of a prime minister, even a caretaker, to set the agenda. Active non-compliance within the law seems to us Johnson's better option.

What are the best strategies for the opposition? We argued before that Jeremy Corbyn’s best shot would be to agree to an early election. This is another point where we disagree with the media consensus. The parliament will vote tonight on the government's second request to bring about an election in October.  After last week’s pact by opposition parties, this request is set to be rejected again. Once the vote is cast, we expect the government to prorogue parliament today. Johnson will have five clear weeks, unimpeded by parliament, to set the agenda. 

Show Comments Write a Comment

September 09, 2019

Resist the beginnings

There is a German saying which literately translates as "resist the beginnings". Its origin is Latin, but in its modern guise it is mostly used to warn of early phases of totalitarian infiltration. 

It was this phrase that sprang to our mind when we read about the first coalition between CDU and AfD at local level. It happened in the aptly named town of Frankenstein in the south-western state of Rhineland-Palatinate. It is not really a coalition, but a minority tie-up of only two people, a husband-and-wife team. But it received national media attention because it is the first of its kind. It goes against CDU policy, and the party is now trying to expel the offending local councillor. She promises to resist.

So, is this the beginning of a trend? Or just a case of tragedy turning to farce, not to be taken seriously? We don’t know. Under leaders from Adenauer to Kohl, the party managed to straddle most of the entire conservative spectrum. Angela Merkel, a liberal protestant from the North East, lost the conservatives. Conservatism is as much a force in Germany as it is in England - anti-European, anti-immigration, pro-US, pro-free-market. In the past the FDP managed to reach parts of the conservative spectrum the CDU did not reach. But today the FDP is weak. The AfD has absorbed some conservatives, but is struggling with extremists, as its Bundestag leader Alexander Gauland admitted in an FAZ interview. CDU and AfD will not be ready for coalitions for a long time. But the arithmetic of a parliament with six or seven parties will make such an alliance very likely in the long run.

Without the AfD, the CDU/CSU will never have enough votes to form a coalition with the FDP on its own. The time of two-party coalitions is drawing to a close. Even CDU/CSU and SPD no longer have a majority between them in the polls. If the CDU/CSU wanted to lead a coalition in the future, they would always be dependent on the SPD or the Greens. There will come a time when it could make sense for the CDU/CSU to opt for a coalition of the right. That time is not imminent. But the AfD has become a permanent fixture in the German political scene, and in our view the AfD is also likely to usurp the Left Party. The SPD resisted coalitions with the Left Party, very much to its own detriment. The Merkel CDU has also resisted the AfD. But we are not sure that the CDU will stay so principled in the future.

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

  • 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
  • June 29, 2020
  • Édouard Philippe - mayor or prime minister?
  • Sir Humphrey, R.I.P.
  • October 17, 2019
  • A dangerous game for the EU
  • After Brexit, get ready for a German EU budget rebate
  • February 04, 2019
  • Watch out for the resurgence in Tory unity
  • The gilets-jaunes' effect on the European elections
  • What did he possibly mean by that?
  • May 25, 2018
  • Rejected by US, Germany is turning towards China...
  • ...and France is turning to Russia
  • UK ties Galileo to security partnership
  • Germans are discovering miniBoTs
  • September 14, 2017
  • Bravo Mr Juncker
  • ... what he said about the labour market
  • ... and what his speech means for Brexit
  • 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 02, 2019
  • Will pension reform protests spiral out of control?
  • Malta's PM resigns over murder case
  • 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?
  • September 12, 2018
  • It is easy to criticise Chequers but very hard to come up with an alternative
  • February 05, 2018
  • How big is Germany's external surplus, really?
  • Macron's first election test
  • Coeure's endorsement of a fiscal union
  • July 03, 2017
  • Can Greece exit its programme without a credit line?
  • The softening Brexit
  • Macron's state of the nation address
  • 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 16, 2020
  • Why many of the Covid-19 statistics are misleading
  • September 17, 2019
  • Beware of the diplomacy of humiliation
  • Germany’s climate hypocrisy
  • March 18, 2019
  • May's deal still on the table. Don't rule it out.
  • EPP decision on Fidesz still open
  • On the defeat of liberalism
  • September 21, 2018
  • SPD ministers want to continue grand coalition
  • March 28, 2018
  • The real reason for the sanctions against Russia
  • Wishful thinking: Brexit edition
  • Wishful thinking: Future of euro edition
  • Wishful thinking: Italy edition
  • October 02, 2017
  • Catalonia recalls EU and eurozone instability
  • French trade unions increase pressure over labour reforms
  • Watch out for a political accident in the UK
  • Municipal elections boost Portugal's Socialists
  • April 10, 2017
  • Nein, nein, nein, und nein
  • Sounds like a bad Brexit story, but ain’t
  • On how not to exit the euro
  • 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
  • May 29, 2020
  • Why it is not €500bn
  • Is reshoring the answer to this pandemic?
  • January 22, 2020
  • Erdogan and European Libya diplomacy
  • On the importance of mutual recognition agreements in the Brexit trade talks
  • September 17, 2019
  • Beware of the diplomacy of humiliation
  • Germany’s climate hypocrisy
  • May 10, 2019
  • Target2 debate raises legitimate questions with unsatisfactory answers
  • No more German questions please
  • January 04, 2019
  • Will the AfD become the Dexit party?
  • Romania's corruption problem in the spotlight of its EU presidency
  • August 28, 2018
  • Urban politics and national crisis - the Irish case
  • How anti-semitism became one of the main issues in British politics
  • April 23, 2018
  • More bad news for the SPD
  • Will Theresa May accept a customs union? The Times says yes. We think so too.
  • A comeback for Marine Le Pen?
  • December 21, 2017
  • Catalonia votes
  • A deputy prime minister resigns
  • Will Gibraltar result in another Irish fudge?
  • Blood, sweat and tears
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • December 19, 2016
  • Inside the customs union, outside the single market
  • Back to the future in Italy
  • The lessons from Fillon's first gaffe
  • Montebourg - a bit of everything
  • The Maastricht error
  • If Paul Romer is right...
  • 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
  • July 06, 2020
  • Did Covid-19 escape from a Wuhan lab?
  • What to make of Angela Merkel's U-turn
  • June 11, 2020
  • Europe needs to re-engage in Libya
  • Who should succeed Centeno?
  • May 19, 2020
  • Beware of China's rising influence
  • April 27, 2020
  • The EU’s trickery of a fake MFF
  • Philippe to put down cards as trust evaporates
  • April 06, 2020
  • The feedback loop of Covid-19 and inequalities - part 10 of our series
  • How confinement affects mental health
  • March 16, 2020
  • Why many of the Covid-19 statistics are misleading
  • February 24, 2020
  • Coronavirus comes to Europe
  • Municipal elections - a precursor for Le Pen?
  • Germany and France get involved over Idlib
  • February 07, 2020
  • Is Macron the best guarantor against Le Pen?
  • Catalan turmoil means Spain will struggle to pass a budget
  • January 22, 2020
  • Erdogan and European Libya diplomacy
  • On the importance of mutual recognition agreements in the Brexit trade talks
  • 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
  • December 23, 2019
  • What’s behind the NordStream2 sanctions
  • An important ruling by the Dutch constitutional court
  • This time Popolare di Bari brings EU bank resolution into question
  • The reversal of the eurozone external balances
  • No Christmas truce in France
  • Brace for Erdogan's foreign policy ambitions
  • On the decline of the centrist left
  • December 09, 2019
  • The next three days
  • November 26, 2019
  • Disrupting and glueing: on Anglo-Saxon clichés about France and Germany
  • November 14, 2019
  • Are France and Germany finally converging on security policy? We think they might.
  • November 04, 2019
  • Brexit tactical voting is happening - on both sides
  • Merkel promises 1m charging stations - but doesn't tell us how
  • October 24, 2019
  • Will the Bundestag stop Merkel's 5G unilateralism?
  • October 15, 2019
  • Germany chooses Huawei for 5G
  • US and EU respond to Turkey - too little, too late
  • October 07, 2019
  • What did Conte know?
  • September 30, 2019
  • A pyrrhic victory for Kurz
  • Will there really be UK elections?
  • September 23, 2019
  • Corbyn’s last big battle
  • Germany’s CO2 compromise meets all targets - except the climate targets
  • September 17, 2019
  • Beware of the diplomacy of humiliation
  • Germany’s climate hypocrisy
  • September 13, 2019
  • Protecting our German way of life: on the decline of the car industry
  • September 11, 2019
  • What are the chances of a deal?
  • September 10, 2019
  • Beware of the Salvini trap
  • After the diesel car, now goes the SUV
  • September 09, 2019
  • Chances of no-deal are rising and rising
  • Resist the beginnings