Simon Usherwood Profile picture
Oct 9, 2018 18 tweets 2 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
While I kick my heels for a meeting, let's think about Brexit and inevitability:

Let's start off by noting that I'm not a big one for inevitability, in any political situation

It's a throwing up of the hands and submitting to forces beyond our control: 'there's nothing to be done'

Personally, I think there's always something to be done

Of course, not accepting inevitability isn't the same as saying some things aren't very likely indeed, which'll feel like a semantic point, but it's still an important one

Any way, from the general to the particular

Inevitability has reared its head several times in the Brexit debate

There's a whole debate about whether it was inevitable that the UK would vote to leave in #EURef: island history, the fundamental rightness of nation-states, stuff like that

Since #EUref, there's been another debate about whether Brexit is inevitable, ie that the UK must now leave given the vote.

This suits those who want leave, appealing to democratic norms and to the previous inevitability debate

However, it's also much more challenged, by those who wish to remain in the EU, again appealing to democratic mechanisms for accommodating changes of mind

What's interesting in this is the extent to which the frame of inevitability can be made to stick in public discourse

The political advantage of owning a narrative of inevitability is that it actively disempowers your opponents: we're all just being swept along by the tide of history and there's nothing to be done

If one can construct this as the predominant frame, then it becomes very hard to overturn

Broadly speaking, you either have to appeal to some fundamental value or something seemingly trivial

Eurosceptics took the former route in the 2000s when they reframed the inevitability of EU membership by appealing to 'giving the people a vote'

anti-communists in the 1980s took the latter one by using the pursuit of environmental protests as a path to more systemic critiques

Again, not all such efforts are successful, and often beyond on things changing in the wider context too, but equally they aren't all failures

Not sure there's any great point to this, but worth reflecting on next time someone says something's inevitable


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More from @Usherwood

Oct 8, 2018
So, what to make of today?

Over the weekend, lots of +ve optics and warm words, to get mvt from the conference-season slump

But lots of reining in during the day

Partly, it's sensible expectation mgt: one might have had the impression that suddenly everything was hunky-dory and the work of a moment

Read 13 tweets
Oct 5, 2018
Possibly more for me than for you, let's try to pull this week together a bit:

Let's start with the EU side

Having largely kept heads down during conference season, yesterday's Tusk/Varadkar presser demonstrated that EU is keeping the pressure on

The tension seems to be between COM/EUCO and IE, as @pmdfoster explained well yesterday: IE making conciliatory noises, central EU bodies pushing EU integrity line

Read 17 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
Let's just work through this one, given the attention it's getting
By taking the CON rebels' terminology, Tusk is making a point

But what point?
As we know from the infamous Barnier Steps, the EU offer is conditioned on UK red lines as much as anything

Read 8 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
Interesting to see how it's just as UK debate sits down for a bit on Brexit, to recover from conference season, negotiations w EU step up
If past fortnight has been about domestic management, then coming fortnight will be about UK working w EU to find ways to get mvt on WA/PD
Because of that hiatus after Salzburg, there's now v.little time left to achieve mvt in time for Oct #EUCO, hence the rush now
Read 11 tweets
Oct 3, 2018
So, the CON party conference and Brexit:

Back in Sept, there was much talk about this being a crunch point in the UK debate, as May would come under fire for Chequers and there would be scope for changes/realignments/whatever

Certainly that first bit has happened, with numerous op-eds over the weekend and assorted fringe events (inc. yesterday's Johnson speech)

Read 15 tweets
Oct 2, 2018
Johnson's speech in full: via @PoliticsHome
@politicshome Essentially, we're back in "Australian points-based system" territory

Don't sweat the details, but trust my plan with the Anglo-friendly name and show some bulldog spirit
@politicshome As a challenge to May, it's got legs (because it's Johnson and because he can articulate much of the unhappiness others feel towards her)
Read 6 tweets

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