Brexit Day

It’s here! Triggered a whole 21 months of a lifetime ago, we have finally arrived at March 29th, Brexit Day.

Then it was delayed until April 12th because the Brits couldn’t get it together in time. Maybe even May 22nd? See the EU, like a doormat of a teacher accepting a late essay, said “alright… look we know we gave you two years to figure it out, but we’re gonna give you two more weeks. And if you can show us some progress, we’ll even give you until May!” And the Brits were like, “Great, love it, we’ll just schedule a quick vote… really meaningful one this time… tally up the ballots, and…”

And, today, they failed to pass Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal. For the third time. You know the joke about the definition of insanity?

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And here’s the wildest part: they were only voting on half of the deal. There’s the withdrawal agreement, which is legally binding and covers short term issues, like the Irish border, the exit payment, and the length of the transition period; and then there’s the political declaration, basically a wish list of negotiating items about the future of the relationship to be addressed over the next couple years. They needed both passed to get the May 22nd extension, they only voted on one, and even that failed.

Parliament can’t agree on anything. They hate what Theresa May has negotiated, and how she’s done it, but refuse to remove her as Prime Minister. She even offered to step down if they agreed to her plan! They voted on eight different indicative measures, just to take the temperature of the room and see what option people supported — all eight failed.

So now there are two weeks left, and the risk of a hard Brexit, the worst-case scenario, grows higher and higher. The government’s plan has failed. No one wants Theresa May’s job. The Labour Party has been milquetoast at best in its opposition, supporting a second People’s Vote. Meanwhile, the demographics of Brexit haven’t changed, so who’s to say a second vote would change anything? The same people believe the same things they did in 2016, and opinions have ossified, if anything. Despite 80% of Brits being unhappy with how the government has handled Brexit, both Leavers and Remainers, no one has let the reality of how it’s been handled dictate what they think should happen.

IMF projections of the effect on British output of reverting to World Trade Organization-level tariffs

IMF projections of the effect on British output of reverting to World Trade Organization-level tariffs

So start your timer. Two weeks, and then…

Honestly? In all likelihood, at this point, the UK crashes out. The IMF projects a 6% loss in GDP over the next decade or so. No one has any idea how to model the short-term effects: massive delays and chaos at the ports at Calais and Dover. Shortages of medicines and perishables. Potential conflict at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. But hey! At least the financial sector will be okay — the Treasury assures us they’ve provided for financial stability in the event of a hard Brexit.

I’m flying to London tomorrow. I guess I’ll let you know how they’re doing. #fpf