THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Of happiness and hope
Of Brexit and Divorce

In which Tom reflects on the forthcoming General Election

I am sure the Prime Minister has a plan in calling a General Election. She is a religious woman (if the Church of England can these days be characterised as a religious organisation) and no doubt her God knows what that plan is. I do not. The only rational theory I can come up with is that she has taken an enormous bribe from a Liberal Democrat.

I would normally welcome an election. Not, you understand, because I expect any good outcome. Rather I see the process itself as a welcome distraction for our political and bureaucratic oppressors from the evil business of "government". The state's occasional paralysis while its hangers-on pretend to give a damn what we think is a noble thing. The main real purpose of the British (or any) state is to give power to the very last people who should have it, so that they can employ the otherwise unemployable to do things for which there is so little demand that no-one could otherwise be bothered to pay for them.
Any interference with that programme is usually to be desired.
Unusually however for such a self-serving and parasitical institution, the British government is currently in the middle of an arguably important task. The issues around Britain's exit from the European Union will not be clarified by an election. The confirmation biases of the entrenched "Leave" and "Remain" sides will govern their analysis of the election result. Nor will it advance the negotiations triggered with our EU neighbours. So this is surely no time to down tools? 
Fortunately, irritating though it may be, I doubt the election will make any difference in this respect. The Brexit negotiations are anyway pointless. Any useful outcome will almost certainly be a "mixed agreement" in EU terms covering matters reserved to member states. This  means it will have to be signed off by 27 other countries as well as the European Council. One of them – probably some nation usually of no global significance  – is bound to go for its Andy Warhol moment.
There will therefore be a "hard Brexit" (i.e. no agreements to improve upon the World Trade Organisation default terms of trade) regardless of the outcome of the negotiations. We are only performing the Article 50 ritual dance for diplomatic purposes because Britain likes to present itself as a responsible member of the "international community". The truth is that (as there are no mechanisms to enforce it) "International Law " is a myth. To be more polite, it's more a diplomatic than a jurisprudential concept.  So any delay to the negotiations caused by the election doesn't matter.
If Mrs May's intention is nakedly party political; to exploit the Labour Party's disorganisation in order to achieve a massively increased majority, I fear she will be disappointed. I would be delighted to see the Labour Party leave the political stage forever but there is no obvious understudy in the wings and a good 40% of the population is so tribal that it would not vote Conservative to save its own life. Besides, we British love an underdog and the bullying arrogance of Mrs May's action, multiplied by the media's universal assumption that she will win big, will - I hereby predict - annoy us into subversion. 
The Conservatives were safely in power with a majority adequate to deliver on their programme – including their manifesto promise to implement the people's decision on Brexit. They have called this election for their own benefit, not ours, and many of us will be working out how to make them pay for that.


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That would be my preference, James,  but I can understand that as a nation that likes to play the grown up in world affairs, we need to go through the motions. International Law does not really exist except as a diplomatic construct. If you and I enter into a contract there are courts to adjudicate disputes and mechanisms (bailiffs, prison for refusal to comply with injunctions, etc) to enforce their judgements. There ARE courts for international law (more like arbitration panels really as their powers derive from inter-party agreement - i.e. treaties), but the only enforcement mechanism (short of war or other sanctions) is the desire to remain a member in good standing of the "international community". We see ourselves as promoters of the international law myth so are unlikely to cut to the chase here. After all, when it works, an imaginary law is a better way of resolving disputes than war so we probably should set an example! 

A well advised PM would hold a firm line, concede none of the hysterical “divorce” demands and wait for Druncker to make such an ass of himself in public that he gives us good cause to walk away. There’s a good chance of that. In my considered opinion we have no continuing obligations to fund any EU project or institution continuing after our membership ends, whether or not we were party to the relevant decisions on any given expenditure. The treaties always had an exit clause and thus it’s a feature of the treaties that a member might vote for something it would not stay around to pay towards.

Britain’s contribution is greater than that of 26 other nations (i.e everyone except Germany) combined. By the time we leave they will have had quite enough from the British taxpayer. The real problem now for the EU is as to how to replace that contribution. The largest net beneficiary, Poland, will expect subsidies at the same level and that can only be maintained if the only other big net contributor, Germany, steps up or the other nations decide to contribute a relatively higher proportion than they ever have before. The UK has issues to face but they are as nothing compared to the problems the continuing EU faces without us. I would rather be a British than a German taxpayer for the rest of my life, that’s for certain.

james higham

One of them – probably some nation usually of no global significance – is bound to go for its Andy Warhol moment.

The whole thing is pointlessly ridiculous, it's theatre. We need to walk away now and stop paying. End of.

mike fowle

Rather naively perhaps I take politicians at their word until there is definite evidence otherwise. You say that the Conservatives had an adequate majority to get Brexit through, but they are faced with a determined effort by the Lib Dems to grind out the process, plus various other grievance mongers, plus the House of Lords, and the argument (which is nonsense I know) that May was not elected. I do think this election is about Brexit and I do hope that on this one occasion you will support the government.


Thanks for that interesting comment. Of course I think you’re wrong. A recession will come in due course. The last one was in 2008 so the next is well overdue. When it comes, the Remainers will blame it on Brexit. Every bad thing that happens in Britain will be blamed on Brexit for the rest of our lives – it’s the new version of “Thatcher did it”.  

However the fact is that GOVERNMENTS DON’T TRADE. Businesses trade and governments GET IN THEIR WAY. It is precisely because our European neighbours don’t understand this and think of legal rights (including the right to buy and sell ones own goods and services) as gifts of the state - that we need to leave their ridiculous union.

Government is a necessary evil. People attracted to living parasitically on their fellow men while “governing” them are dangerous sociopaths whose role should be minimised. The only sensible political discussion is as to how much of that evil is necessary and how many of those sociopaths must be tolerated as a cost. 

Every indication suggests that markets have priced the risks of Brexit already and are unconcerned. The latest figures show that Britain remains the leading target of inward investment in Europe. We just need the remaining political uncertainty removed as quickly as possible. The best thing Mrs May could do its buckle down and bloody well get to work on finishing these pointless negotiations. I could do it in a week, if I had Tim Worstall as my economic advisor :-)

If this election leads to the demise of Jeremy Corbyn, then it will have been an even more stupid decision on May’s part. If I led the Conservative Party I would want him as Labour leader forever! Of course I don’t think Labour can win but I think Mrs May will be very disappointed with the increase in her majority and expectations are so high than even the best outcome for her will be spun as failure. 

Fortunately I don’t think that Labour can get rid of Corbyn even if they lose big time. Their party has been thoroughly infiltrated. If you want a little flutter I suggest you get odds on his still being Labour leader in June 2018.


With all due respect, I disagree with most of your post. There are several reasons why May's decision is the right one.
It is likely that Brexit will cause at least a minor recession. If eureferendum is to be believed, planes may stop flying from London to continental Europe and lorries will be backed up from Dover to Birmingham. Even if only a fraction of this happens, there will be a recession. The Germans (let's be honest, they're who we negotiate with) will have extra leverage, knowing May has an election just around the corner. She really needs the extra two year breathing space for the repercussions of Brexit to be sorted.
Labour currently has the weakest leader since Foot, totally unelectable and disliked even by the majority of Labour voters. This will not always be the case. However, even Corbyn could possibly win in a Brexit caused downturn in 2020.
Roughly 40% of the electorate may always vote Labour, but that's not important, the marginal seats are. Bet365 have predicted through their odds that the Conservative majority will be 69 seats.
May is an unelected prime minister and election success would give her a clear mandate to proceed with Brexit. Whether she will or not is anybody's guess.
The UKIP vote has imploded for now, and most of them will vote Conservative.
I enjoy a punt, and made a few quid on Brexit and Trump, but I don't see any long odds victories here. The Con majority will be around 70 and Corbyn will have resigned before Wimbledon starts ( I nearly said June 9th, but he's such a prat, he could still try and stay on). He has made a big mistake in not trying to get parliament to go the full term.


Yes that's right unless it's a "mixed agreement" (dealing with matters reserved to member states) as explained in the link in my post. It might well be. Then the 27 need to sign it off too.


" This means it will have to be signed off by 27 other countries as well as the European Council."

I could be wrong, but according to Richard North (, the European Commission conduct the "negotiations" and consults with the other 27 satrapy's - sorry, member states. These states cannot stop the process even if they wanted to, but some of them could put a spanner in the works. It's all so childish it beggars belief. The EU doesn't want to give us a good deal, it wants to "punish" us so that others don't take the same route. What sort of position to take is that for Christ's sake? If that's how they want to proceed then it's a damn good job we chose to get out when we did.

I can't help but think that the EU is cutting of its nose to spite its face. Cutting off the worlds 5th largest economy when their's is struggling, is stupid stubborness. If that's the way the want it, then fine.

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