Friday, 13 December 2019

We Are Leaving...At Last!

Fortunately I still have a pretty good memory...in June 2016 we voted to leave the EU. For many people, especially in the North of England,  it was a long-awaited chance to make the powerful elites in London listen. Shamefully, our politicians failed to take on board the simple message given to them by the people and we spent the next three years going round in circles.


After losing her majority in an ill-advised general election in June 2017, Mrs May spent the next year putting together her Chequers Agreement with the assistance of arch-remainers Phil Hammond and Olly Robbins - a deal of sorts which pleased neither remainer or leaver and wasn't really Brexit. The deal could have kept us trapped in the backstop arrangements and undermine our negotiating position with the EU over a future trade deal. Fortunately our remain Parliament rejected this deal - three times, and Mrs May was forced to agree to extend the leaving date from 31st March to 31st October. She then decided to step down and hand over the reins to Boris Johnson who promised to ditch the backstop and renegotiate a better deal. He promised to take us out of the EU 'do or die' by Halloween!

Much to everyone's surprise, his team did manage to negotiate a new deal and actually succeeded where Theresa May had previously failed by getting the new deal approved in Parliament at its second reading with the help of some Labour MPs from leave voting areas. Unfortunately time was tight and the remain Parliament voted for more time to debate the bill which Boris was not prepared to offer and eventually he was forced to apply for a further Brexit extension to 31st January. The opposition then eventually agreed to the PM's demand to dissolve Parliament and call a general election for 12th December to try to resolve the Brexit deadlock.

This would be the Brexit election - the most important general election since 1979 and the first GE in December for almost a century. The lines of demarcation were clear - the Tories wanted a clear majority to complete the 'oven-ready' deal already negotiated and leave the EU by end January 2020 "Let's get Brexit done". Labour's position was less clear - they would renegotiate a further deal with the EU (no certainty the EU would negotiate a third time), then put this new deal to the public in a second referendum with 'remain' on the ballot and Mr Corbyn would remain 'neutral' on the question of whether to leave or remain although many senior figures say they would campaign to remain. The Lib Dems would revoke Article 50 if they won the election and remain in the EU - no second referendum.

So, a weary nation returned once again to the polling stations and guess what...they voted to see the back of Brexit rather than more delay. The Tories won 365 seats (+47), Labour 203 (-59), it's worst result since 1935 and the Lib Dems a paltry 11 seats and their leader lost her own seat. In Scotland the SNP made a little progress on their ticket to avoid Brexit and push for a second independence referendum and raised their seats to 48

Therefore a majority of 80 for Boris Johnson and it can now surely be announced that we are, at last, after three long years of delay, uncertainty and frustration, leaving the EU on 31st January 2020!

Brexit clearly played a big part in how people voted but I think the other defining factor was the rejection of a hard left Corbyn government and lots of feedback from Labour canvassing which suggested many voters just did not see him as a credible leader of the country. Mr Corbyn has already announced he will not lead the Party into the next election so it will be interesting to see whether they persist with the same formula which has lost them the last three GEs. They now have five years to get their act together...next GE will be 2024 (December again?).

We had the vote in 2016

So a good night for those who want us to leave the EU and a bad night for those who refuse to accept the referendum. In 2015, we voted for the party which promised us an in/out referendum on the EU. In that referendum of June 2016 we voted to leave the EU. We had another election in 2017 where 85% of the MPs were elected on manifestos promising to respect the referendum result, 500 MPs voted to trigger Article 50 and now we've voted overwhelmingly for the only party promising to deliver Brexit. I'm hoping the liberal graduate remainers from London and Oxford have finally accepted that the majority of the people of this country want to leave the EU...but somehow I doubt it.

I can just see Barry Blimp metaphorically raising the Union Jack up the flagpole and waving a two finger salute to that People's Vote poster on his office wall which he's been using as a dart board! He allows himself a self-satisfied smile at the thought that democracy has finally prevailed - as he always knew it would.

OK it's not all done and dusted - so now we have to move on to the next stage of trade negotiations with Europe and with other nations around the world which could be just as tricky but the log-jam of the past couple of years is released and I really hope our new parliament can move on to address other important issues - especially the climate emergency.

Feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts on Brexit and the general election.

29 comments:

  1. If nothing else, hopefully the UK has moved a step closer towards establishing a greater sense of clarity around its direction of travel. Out of interest, what are the arguments that lie behind your view that the UK is better served by leaving the EU rather than remaining?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried to articulate some of my thinking around my preference for leaving in an article before the referendum back in June 2016

      http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2016/06/eu-referendum-in-or-out.html

      I'm not sure whether we will be better off after we leave - we probably won't know this for a generation. But at least the result of the referendum will now be respected and I'm sure the vote yesterday was to remind our politicians who is in charge.

      When you give the people a vote and promise to implement whatever they decide, that promise has to be honoured otherwise trust in our politics is undermined and that would be very corrosive to democracy.

      Delete
    2. I would also argue that history favours capitalism over socialism as a strong reason why leave is the best answer!

      Delete
  2. well its a good day to own the ftse 250

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Certainly, but ironic that the day after we voted to leave in June 2016, the FTSE 250 fell sharply. It's a funny old world...

      Delete
    2. Buy on rumour, sell on news

      Delete
    3. followed by a bad day to own the ftse 250. which leaves me very much in agreement that it's a funny old world. I think Boris == Volatility. Hope your environmental tilt does well in 2020.

      Delete
    4. I guess there's bound to be some locking in of gains as we reach the end of the year. FTSE 250 up over 20% plus divis can't be bad.

      Thanks for the good wishes on climate-focus investments. No guarantees they will do better than the wider market but certainly makes me feel a lot better having my investments aligned with my values. Hopefully there will be a greater emphasis on fossil fuel divestment in the coming year. I see that Goldman Sachs have decided no more support for oil companies drilling in Arctic so signs of hope!

      Delete
  3. Oh look, a 'people's vote'! Fancy that. Cue the usual rants about electoral fraud, misinformation, racism, blah, blah, blah from the usual cretins. LMFAO

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well said, sir!
    A wonderful day to be English and a proud member of the UK.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Unfortunately, the result of the GE does not prove that the majority of the country want to leave the EU. For sure our electoral system means it is going to happen so is noa an academic point, but still considerably less than 50% of voters voted for leave parties. Fact is that 3.5 years after the referendum no-one knows (including me) what the will of the majority is over Brexit right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had a vote to change to a Proportional Representation model for General Elections back in 2011, which was clearly rejected. The Brexit Referendum returned a majority in favour of leaving, albeit by a small margin. If people are not prepared to engage in the voting process, they must abide by the decision of those that do. As the electorate, we were never asked on the form of any Brexit, and I doubt we ever will ... that is a decision for the 'grown-ups' in Westminster!

      Delete
    2. It really doesn't matter what the will of the people is 'right now'. What mattered was on 23rd June 2016. And in that referendum every vote counted, unlike a general election.

      Delete
    3. Surely the GE "first past the finishing post" system of voting was mandated by the people by the Alternative Vote referendum, so we can hardly complain now if it doesn't give us the outcome that we wanted.

      Delete
  6. I understand that, people have different views on whether the 2016 vote defines the only will of the people that matters. I was just picking up on your hope expressed in the article that remainers "have finally accepted that the majority of the people of this country want to leave the EU". I agree with your doubts on this as the GE does not demonstrate this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, the effect of waylayng the Brexit vote by the remain supporters on hindsight seems to have been to purge both parliament, and more importantly, the Conservative Party itself of all moderating influence.

      Delete
  7. Yes a good night also for the nationalist voters in N Ireland who now have more seats than the Loyalist parties. With Boris Johnsons "oven ready" withdrawl deal creating a customs border down the Irish sea it sets the scene for unification with the Republic of Ireland. Good night also for the SNP, come the 2021 elections for the Scottish Parliament the SNP can only increase their share of seats building up pressure for another Scottish independence referendum and ultimately Scottish independence. A good night for English, Scottish and Irish Nationalism.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I must agree with a couple of the commenters here. Over 50% of the vote share went to Remain/2nd ref parties. Conservative and Brexit Party vote share was around 46%. So if we are talking 'will of the people' then it is clear that there is a small majority against Brexit.

    You can raise the point of FPTP as much as you like but that doesn't give you the right to make claims that Brexit is the undeniable direction the country has chosen. It is not. It has been decided by a daft voting system and a divided Remain/2nd ref vote (which could be seen by the scramble to get people to vote tactically at the last minute).

    It's sad that the media (and this article) are reporting it as the country giving full backing to Johnson and Brexit when the truth is far more murky and we remain as divided as ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess we start to become less divided when remainers accept the fact that when it mattered - June 2016 - we voted in a referendum, where every vote counted, to leave the EU. It is unfortunate that the majority of MPs have attempted to frustrate the process over the past two years assisted by Mr Bercow, but that log-jam has now been cleared away.

      When we have a once-in-a-generation referendum with a binary choice, it beholds the losers to gracefully accept the decision if democracy is to mean anything. Otherwise people lose faith in the process which is far more corrosive to society than whether we are in or out of the EU.

      Delete
    2. "MPs have attempted to frustrate the process" - Yes, that's definitely what it said in the Daily Mail and in those Facebook groups. Watching from afar, I saw a parliament who voted OVERWHELMINGLY to trigger article 50 (498 to 114 - how frustrating!), who tried to make sure we didn't leave on a no-deal basis (as per guarantees made by the leave campaign), and who ultimately voted FOR Boris Johnson's Withdrawal Agreement.

      We can start to become less divided when both sides accept objective reality and stop pitching opinions as facts.

      Delete
  9. For someone so worried about climate change it's strange you seem to be so happy about the reelection of a government who does things like ban on shore wind and try to push through fracking despite massive public opposition.

    Is Brexit really more important to you than that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the election of a Party that was the only one promising to deliver on the referendum result of 2016. What is important to me, and I am sure many other ordinary people, is respect for democracy - something the People's Vote lot seem to lack.

      I see no contradiction in standing up for democracy and concern for climate change.

      Delete
  10. "I see no contradiction in standing up for democracy and concern for climate change."

    You may be doing that personally which is obviously fine and dandy, but the Tories are demonstrably not, they put Brexit far ahead of any environmental concerns.

    So if you voted for them because you wanted to "respect democracy" then in my book you are actually not walking the walk that you talk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never disclosed how I voted in the election so you may be seeing things that aren't there. As for walking the walk, that's not really for you to pass judgement but let's leave it there...

      Delete
  11. The English public clearly voted against remaining in the EU - and the slogan of "get Brexit done" is so easy to understand.
    But what exactly does the Tory party stand for? What did people vote for (as opposed against?)
    The answer is anyone's guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure Brexit was a big factor and thatslogan clearly resonated with many - especially outside of the M25. But also, I believe this country would never elect a hard left Labour Party so regardless of what's in the Cons. manifesto, they have a two goal advantage before the kick-off.

      And the way things are shaping up with Long-Bailey in the running to replace Corbyn, we could see the same outcome in 2024. Labour can only win an election from the centre-left and I believe they would do better to have someone like Lisa Nandy from Wigan but I doubt she would be acceptable to the London-based clique who seem to run things.

      Delete
  12. At least now there is a definite direction, with a certain outcone. There was so much dithering about the whole process in the past it was making the UK look stupid in the eyes of the world.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I previously commented on your blog that referendums have no status in British democracy, whatever people say. However General Elections do, and for good or ill the die is cast.

    It is curious that Johnson's "oven ready deal" is in essence one Theresa May had rejected (and had reportedly been vociferously opposed by Johnson himself) before arriving at the Chequers agreement. But rightly or wrongly, she put more emphasis than Johnson on preserving the integrity of the United Kingdom.

    We will see how it all pans out. Dire predictions tend to ignore the fact that actions for mitigation will be put in place, but on the other hand optimistic predictions seem to be based on fantasy. My guess is that the country will muddle along somehow, but continue to fall back from where it would have been if Cameron hadn't set off an issue that made people on both sides adopt ever more extremist positions.

    Anyway, have a good Christmas DIY! I admire (but do not follow) your brave stance on conscience grounds in becoming an active investor in individual niche companies rather than taking the generally advised path of looking for wide diversification via low fee index funds.

    Jonathan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jonathan, I have appreciated your various comments these past couple of years even though I have not agreed.

      For me, regardless of the rights and wrongs of offering a referendum, when June 2016 came around and the majority of the people voted to leave the EU, that decision simple had to be honoured and respected by our politicians.

      I do not know if the decision to leave will work out for the best - as you say we will probably muddle through - but I do know the outcome of this election is far better than another hung parliament and it means we are now leaving and the referendum decision delivered as promised.

      As for ditching the index funds...when I came to appreciate the role of the fossil fuel companies in relation to climate change and also the banks which continue to fund their operations, I simply could not continue to profit from holding in my portfolio. I do not want to have a stake in Exxon or Saudi Aramco - so my conscience is clear!

      Likewise all the best for Christmas - a good time to reflect upon an eventful year!

      Delete