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Brexit (the EU Referendum debate)

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dr.bob
1329980.  Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:03 am Reply with quote

I am suggesting that Labour have been quite clear that they are in favour of a general election, but that if they voted for one now, they don't trust Boris Johnson not to simply set the election date to after 31st October and use it to try and force a no deal Brexit by default. Given how often the PM has lied and changed his mind*, they seem to me entirely justified in not trusting him.


*Such as stating categorically that he doesn't want an election a mere two days before his first attempt to call a general election.

 
PDR
1329983.  Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:51 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
The fact that nobody knows for sure how many of the 17,410,742 wanted to leave with a deal, and how many would prefer to remain than leave without a deal, is what's caused 3 years of political chaos and economic uncertainty. Another, better organised, referendum would be the simplest way of determining what the people actually want, which is about the most democratic way I can think of to sort out the mess.


I agree, and would add that it is essential for a second referendum to address the deal/no-deal thing as well. As someone who has previously expressed rather distainful appraisals of alternative voting systems, I suggest this is a case where they could definitely help solve the political 3-body problem. I suggest people will be asked to place three options in order of preference:

1. Leave without a deal
2. Leave with a deal
3. Remain

The first preferences are counted first. If this produces >50% result then we have a winner. If it doesn't then the second preference results are counted and added to the scores. If there still isn't a majority then the third preference votes are counted.

People can choose to leave 2nd and/or third preferences blank - for example of you want remain or failing that leave with a deal, but would never ever want leave without a deal your votes would be:

1. Remain
2. Leave with deal
3. <no vote>

On the other hand if you feel that "out means out" and a deal is "Brexit in name only" then your votes would be:

1. Leave without a deal
2. <no vote>
3. <no vote>

This is probably the only sensible way to approach a 3-option problem IMHO.

Now in view of the criticality of the issue I would like to see the "majority" being an absolute majority of the electorate rather than just a majority of those who voted. But this is no longer a "do/do-not" vote so we can't assume an abstention or spoiled paper is a vote for "do-not", which gives rise to a risk that there could be a null result - a majority for one option but not enough to be an absolute one.

My suggested approach to this issue is (unusually for me) a tad draconian. I suggest we make voting in this election compulsory, with people who have not voted being tracked down and dragged to the ballot (or have the ballot dragged to them, in the case of the infirm or immobile. I further suggest that we eliminate the possibility of spoiled ballots either by the use of voting machines (a choice I don't like) or by having each votor presenting their ballot to an official and only allowed to leave the booth if the official accepts it as a valid vote. It would be quite possible to maintain the anonymity of the voter by use of screens with a small hatch through which the ballot paper is passed (or similar) and "the official" could be multiple people with partisan observers if we felt the need, but it could indeed be done. In fact in this scenario the actual vote count could be performed as the ballots were accepted, giving rise to a much quicker result.

If we implemented this solution then we could drop my requirement for an absolute majorty because any majority would inherently be absolute anyway. There is still a mathematical possibility of a hung vote, but I think the probability is sufficiently small to make it safe to leave worrying about it unless/until it actually happens.

I commend this proposal to the house.

PDR

 
Celebaelin
1329984.  Mon Sep 16, 2019 7:43 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
For the record "Mount Fuji" is not a tautology.

OK, Mount Fujiama then if you must - despite what we were told in the C series; I think the point is that brexit is jargon used to refer to the withdrawal of the UK from the EU however that may be achieved.

 
Celebaelin
1329985.  Mon Sep 16, 2019 8:05 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
The UK is free to choose to not apply tariffs to EU goods, but WTO rules would force them to apply those same "zero tariffs" to every other country that it doesn't have a trade deal with, ensuring UK markets would be flooded with cheap foreign imports, thereby sounding the death knell for British manufacturing.

Celebaelin wrote:
'Intends' seems to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting there.


Merely reflecting the fact that what Mr Johnson says is not always (or, indeed, very often) what he does. As explained above, reducing tariffs for EU goods to zero would be catastrophic for British industry, so I'd be surprised if even Mr Johnson would be really prepared to go that far.

And thereby we approach an important point. The EU does impose tariffs on non EU countries* and were it possible free marketeers would like not to. A reciprocal arrangement on trade tariffs is a lot of what we're talking about regarding a deal, potentially even a zero tariff agreement (unlikely but theoretically possible). That the WTO will not allow a country to set tariff levels on an case by case basis except through a negotiated deal is a measure put in place to prevent protectionism, which is the antithesis of free-market thinking.

Quote:
The government has set out its plans for tariffs in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Its temporary schedule would mean that 87% of imports by value will be tariff-free, compared with 80% before Brexit.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45112872

References to 'no deal in time for brexit' in the above article refer to the March 29th 2019 brexit date.

* and internally, to safeguard jobs etc, EU countries apply tariffs on other EU countries as well to the extent that, as evidenced by the 80% vs 87% comparison, a further 7% of the value of imports will, under WTO rules, become tariff-free. These are tariffs currently set in place by the UK on EU products that the WTO rules say can (and without a trade agreement presumably must) be abolished. Who the hell wanted a 24% tariff on imported EU jams, jellies and marmalades?! George Robertson (Hamilton)? Paul Rose (Manchester Blackley)? J.R. bloody Hartley (old 'BT' advert for Yellow Pages)?


Last edited by Celebaelin on Mon Sep 16, 2019 8:07 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
dr.bob
1329992.  Mon Sep 16, 2019 10:31 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
* and internally, to safeguard jobs etc, EU countries imply tariffs on other EU countries as well to the extent that, as evidenced by the 80% vs 87% comparison, a further 7% of the value of imports will, under WTO rules, become tariff-free. These are tariffs currently applied by the UK on EU products that the WTO rules say can (and without a trade agreement presumably must) be abolished.


I think you may be misunderstanding the figures in that article. Certainly, if you click through on the bit you quoted: "The government has set out its plans for tariffs in the case of a no-deal Brexit." you'll see an article that states:

Quote:
Under a temporary scheme 87% of imports by value would be eligible for zero-tariff access.

At the moment 80% of imports are tariff free.

[...]

It would mean 82% of imports from the EU would be tariff-free, down from 100% now.

92% percent of imports from the rest of the world would pay no border duty, up from 56%.

(my emphasis)

The whole point of the single market is that no tariffs are levied by EU countries on each other.

The fact that 7% more goods will be tariff free is because the number of EU goods which would now require a tariff would be more than balanced out by the larger number of goods that would be imported from countries we currently levy tariffs on.

 
suze
1329995.  Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:25 am Reply with quote

Quickly on PDR's proposal. For a start, it would need primary legislation; good luck with getting any primary legislation through the current House of Commons even when it is sitting. For another thing, compulsory voting might raise a human rights issue. Is there a right to choose not to vote?

Even if we can get past those obstacles I'm still not keen on the proposal. What do we do about the people - and their number is probably in the seven digits - who don't understand the question? At "best" they will vote randomly; at "worst" they will vote as the Daily Mail and The Sun tell them they should.


I'd take a different route, much as I do hear those who question its compatibility with the process of democracy. When you were at primary school, you probably heard a dialogue which went something like this:

Teacher: Pupil, why did you do that?
Pupil: Because Other Pupil told me to.
Teacher: And if Other Pupil told you to stick your head in the oven, would you do that?

That. The government does not have to do a stupid thing because 37% of the electorate told it to. And if it does do it, it need not suppose that the 37% of the electorate will say "That's fine, after it all it's my own fault" when doing the stupid thing does indeed turn out to have been akin to sticking the country's head in the oven.

 
Celebaelin
1329996.  Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:28 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
Quote:
Under a temporary scheme 87% of imports by value would be eligible for zero-tariff access.

At the moment 80% of imports are tariff free.

[...]

It would mean 82% of imports from the EU would be tariff-free, down from 100% now.

92% percent of imports from the rest of the world would pay no border duty, up from 56%.

(my emphasis)

Not only your emphasis but also your words in large part - the portions which you have put in quotes but I did not include do not appear in the article I linked to. What does appear in it is the following

Quote:
The average EU tariff is pretty low (about 2.8% for non-agricultural products) - but, in some sectors, tariffs can be quite high.

so your assertion that
dr.bob wrote:
The whole point of the single market is that no tariffs are levied by EU countries on each other.

is entirely untrue.

dr.bob wrote:
The fact that 7% more goods will be tariff free is because the number of EU goods which would now require a tariff would be more than balanced out by the larger number of goods that would be imported from countries we currently levy tariffs on.

That doesn't make any sense whatsoever. The subject matter is the percentage of the value of goods imported from the EU and applies only to that consideration. The article is clear enough if interested parties would care to read through it - that article and at least some of the links provided from it are well worth a read.

 
dr.bob
1330049.  Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:43 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
Not only your emphasis but also your words in large part


No, these were words from the BBC article I linked to.

Celebaelin wrote:
the portions which you have put in quotes but I did not include do not appear in the article I linked to.


Indeed, I thought I had made it clear that I was quoting from a different article that was linked to from the article you linked to. I even supplied a link to the article I was quoting. Here's another link to the article I'm talking about to avoid confusion.

Celebaelin wrote:
What does appear in it is the following
Quote:
The average EU tariff is pretty low (about 2.8% for non-agricultural products) - but, in some sectors, tariffs can be quite high.



That is talking about WTO rules and what tariffs the EU charge to goods entering the single market from outside the single market.

Celebaelin wrote:
so your assertion that

dr.bob wrote:
The whole point of the single market is that no tariffs are levied by EU countries on each other.


is entirely untrue.


It really isn't. It's entirely true.

I'll refer you to the Wikipedia entry for the EU single market which clearly states:

Quote:
Article 30 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union ("TFEU") prohibits border levies between member states on both European Union Customs Union produce and non-EUCU (third country) produce. Under Article 29 of the TFEU, customs duty applicable to third country products are levied at the point of entry into EUCU, and once within the EU external border goods may circulate freely between member states.


It also states, which I was unaware of previously, that:

Quote:
Article 30 of the TFEU prohibits not only customs duties but also charges having equivalent effect. The European Court of Justice defined "charge having equivalent effect" in Commission v Italy.

[A]ny pecuniary charge, however small and whatever its designation and mode of application, which is imposed unilaterally on domestic or foreign goods by reason of the fact that they cross a frontier, and which is not a customs duty in the strict sense, constitutes a charge having equivalent effect... even if it is not imposed for the benefit of the state, is not discriminatory or protective in effect and if the product on which the charge is imposed is not in competition with any domestic product.


Celebaelin wrote:
The subject matter is the percentage of the value of goods imported from the EU and applies only to that consideration.


I think you may have misunderstood. The article you linked to is clearly about WTO rules and what tariffs would apply to UK goods in the EU after Brexit.

Celebaelin wrote:
The article is clear enough if interested parties would care to read through it - that article and at least some of the links provided from it are well worth a read.


I couldn't agree with this statement more.

 
Celebaelin
1330059.  Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:01 pm Reply with quote

It's getting problematic and I don't like it to be that obfuscatery frankly. Disguising your error is not the same as not making one.

However...

Substantiate and explain your view please because as far as I can understand it you're not even remotely close to the truth. That, essentially, is all I have to say and ideally others will judge our discourse on the strength of the support provided by your provided links compared with mine - as in truth I have. Those who cannot be bothered will have to judge on instinct.

 
PDR
1330069.  Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:08 am Reply with quote

To dugress to the matter of the case currently before the Supreme Court:

The argument from the plaintiff is that the PM should not be allowed to invoke the royal prerogative (proroguing Parliament) for political reasons and/or to prevent Parliamnetary scrutiny of the Executive.

The argument from the defendant has yet to be heard, but in the lower courts was based on two aspects - that the PM has the right to request prorogation at any time and of any duration for any reason whatsoever, and that this is a political rather than executive issue which should therefore not be open to judicial review (or other intervention by the courts).

I can see both arguments, frankly - it's an example of hard cases making bad law. I have no idea how the judges will dugest it, but for me there is a killer argument in favour of the plaintiff:

If it is found that the PM has the right to see Parliament prorogued at any time, for any duration and for any reason she/he sees fit 6then there would be no barrier to the winner of an election immediately proroguing parliament for five years. This would leave the PM free to rule by executive authority alone without any scrutiny by, or reference to Parliament (or even their own party). Parliament couldn't even unseat the PM because they can only hold a confidence vote when the house is in session.

The PM would not be able to pass any legislation, but as we do not operate by annual "appropriations" (like our colonial cousins) there is no actual necessity even to pass annual finance bills to secure revenue so this constraint wounldn't necessarily be a showstopper.

Are we really suggesting that our constitution should allow a PM that much power?

PDR

 
Alexander Howard
1330072.  Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:26 am Reply with quote

As I recall from my constitutional law lectures, the Queen is free not to call Parliament, and the government could carry on just with the executive authority it has from existing laws. However all taxes would soon expire, and the army and air force would be disbanded when their statutory authority expires.

 
PDR
1330076.  Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:51 am Reply with quote

Alexander Howard wrote:
As I recall from my constitutional law lectures, the Queen is free not to call Parliament, and the government could carry on just with the executive authority it has from existing laws. However all taxes would soon expire,


As far as I am aware UK Tax legislation does not "expire" unless there are explicit sunset clauses in the particular acts (which are rare). There is a custom that tax legislation is amended annually as part of the annual financal review drumbeat, but the major part (allocation of cash to spoending departments) is done by the executive rather than by legislation anyway.

Quote:
and the army and air force would be disbanded when their statutory authority expires.


I was unaware of any periodically-renewed statutory authority for the armed foces - could you point me to it?

PDR

 
Alexander Howard
1330077.  Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:10 am Reply with quote

Quote:
and the army and air force would be disbanded when their statutory authority expires.


Quote:
I was unaware of any periodically-renewed statutory authority for the armed foces - could you point me to it?

PDR


Yup - the Armed Forces Acts. The Bill of Rights 1688 forbids the maintenance of a standing army in the realm in time of peace without the consent of Parliament, so the Armed Forces Acts gives that consent but for a limited time, for example the 2016 Act (which I think is the current one) was for one year but extendible up to 2021:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/21/section/1

Taxes are defined by Acts which last, but they have their rates set for just one year, so my understanding is that if Parliament does not pass a new Act each year then the tax expires, and the money stops.

 
barbados
1330078.  Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:27 am Reply with quote

One thing of interest to me on the matter of the court case is one of the plaintiffs Sir John Major, former PM has apparently suggested that it is unlawful to prorogue for political gain.
The same (then) John Major who prorogued parliament to prevent the cash for questions scandal to break before the 1997 election, fat lot of good it did him, but I wonder if the reason this instance wasn’t mentioned yesterday when all of the other occasions were brought up.
Do you think it might have been so Mr Major could be asked in person when he appears today?

 
Celebaelin
1330079.  Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:37 am Reply with quote

Firstly I should like to apologise to dr.bob for the tone of my last post (and for misspelling obfuscatory) and to say that I am now convinced by his argument and indebted to him for his clarification. I should also like to retract my praise for the BBC article which is not, it seems, as clear as I had thought and actually is open to misinterpretation by the particularly hard of understanding.

To put it briefly I was wrong; so sorry about that.

I’d explain the source of my error but that would be pointless weaselling and it’s better for everyone if I just suck it up and admit that I did indeed misunderstand the article.

However...

As regards there being no tariffs within the EU the Wiki article also states

Quote:
A charge is not a customs duty or charge having equivalent effect if:

• it relates to a general system of internal dues applied systematically and in accordance with the same criteria to domestic products and imported products alike

which leads us back to the “non-tariff barriers” section of the article I cited whereby rules applied internally in certain member states can lead to a de facto tariff (that is not called a tariff).

Other “non-tariff barriers” that involve actual payment of a charge not considered to be a tariff occur

Quote:
• if it constitutes payment for a service in fact rendered to the economic operator of a sum in proportion to the service or
• subject to certain conditions, if it attaches to inspections carried out to fulfil obligations imposed by Union law.

I don't really understand what those two mean however.

 

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