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Assuming that it is accepted that there is very little to no chance of being able to re-open negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and UK, what do Tory leadership candidates hope to gain by promising to do so?

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    Is "The Job" too flippant? – Jontia Jun 18 '19 at 21:17
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    Votes. Any other questions? – Joe C Jun 18 '19 at 21:42
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    @alec maybe, but can they really be that stupid? Surely they know that refusal to pay will just result in legal action and refusal to do any further deals, including Boris's beloved GATT24 – user Jun 19 '19 at 7:53
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    @user it doesn't even need legal action. The UK will eventually have to have a trade deal with the EU. If the UK goes no deal and refuses to pay then that Bill will be the first item on the table at trade talks. So the UK looks 1) dishonest and 2) stupid because they refuse to honour their agreement, but still have to actually pay the bill. – Jontia Jun 20 '19 at 6:57
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    The points that the British government wants to have changed in the withdrawal agreement have been rather often featured in the past months in the media. – Trilarion Jun 20 '19 at 21:33
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They hope to convince Conservative MPs and members that they have a chance to convince some of the electorate who intend to vote for a Brexit party candidate to vote for a conservative candidate instead. Even if the latter (convince UK electorate) is infeasible what matters is whether conservative party members believe it to be possible.

Becoming PM appears to be an accomplishment that is prized by some politicians, no matter the circumstances or potential ignominy.

Britain's future prosperity and relations with the EU seem to be at best a secondary consideration (if at all). This seems to be discreditable but I suppose we should remember that an MP who wishes to improve the lot of their constituents is best placed to do so as the member of a party which forms a government, or failing that, as the second biggest party and therfore official opposition.

Although I personally cannot conceive how anyone can believe that it is likely that the EU will be willing to renegotiate this agreement in the next few months, maybe there are some PM candidates who genuinely believe this is possible. However, even if they believe it, the reason they need to tell us so is as above.

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  • I'm still learning the intricacies of UK politics. "...convince some of the electorate who intend to vote for a Brexit party candidate to vote for a conservative candidate instead." But is this really a concern? Can they be forced into a general election? I would have thought they can just continue to dither around beating a dead horse attempting to negotiate a non-negotiable 'deal' (as it sounds like they plan to do) indefinitely. – ouflak Jun 19 '19 at 8:17
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    @ouflak Parliament can force a general election at any time through a vote of No Confidence. That does require some Tory MPs to vote for an election which they expect to lose, which is why it's not happened yet. It could also happen if the DUP switch sides. Crucially, none of these people can become PM without winning a confidence vote! – pjc50 Jun 19 '19 at 8:47
  • @pjc50, "...That does require some Tory MPs to vote for an election which they expect to lose..." So reading this, I think my assumption is correct then? They can waste time indefinitely? – ouflak Jun 19 '19 at 8:49
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    Eh? Citation? Everything I've heard says they are not willing to keep granting them indefinitely, that's why this one was longer than the one asked for. Mind you, I'll take endless stalling over No Deal – pjc50 Jun 19 '19 at 9:53
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    @outflak: The current set of MPs could theoretically stall and stall, and if the EU granted extensions, continue to do so until the fixed-term limit for UK governments and the next election. I imagine most MPs would expect at that point the electorate would utterly destroy the major parties as a punishment for endlessly stalling. – RedGrittyBrick Jun 19 '19 at 10:10
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They hope to negotiate something that satisfies a majority of MPs, so that they can get it through Parliament - which Theresa May's agreement failed three times to achieve.

But it is a vain hope, since the EU are adamant that the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be changed.

Moreover since the ad-nauseam repeated objectives of Brexit were to "retake control of our money, our laws and our borders", it is difficult to understand how an open-border in Ireland would satisfy those requirements. However, oddly and ironically, it is Brexiters who maintain that a hard border is unnecessary.

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    Just wanted to add that it is also the WTO who have stated that a hard border is unneccesary. Even officials in the EU have stated that they will not advocate such a thing. There are many many forces against a hard border. One would have to convince the UK government, the Irish (Rep and North), the WTO, and probably even the EU to put one up. I don't know how that happens without all of those groups agreeing. – ouflak Jun 19 '19 at 8:09
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    @ouflak You hear so many conflicting claims about the WTO, both as to what it is, and what it thinks, that I am beginning to wonder if it actually exists.The vast bulk of what crosses the border is agricultural produce. And how you control the flow of live pigs without someone to count them, I'll never understand. That border has the most notorious history of smuggling - cattle driven across at night, fishing boats on the lochs carrying contraband. With no controls it will be chaos. I can't think that is what EU "officials" have in mind. Who are they anyway? – WS2 Jun 19 '19 at 8:32
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    @ouflak I could think of a solution to the whole problem of the Irish border, instantly. Why don't we just stay in the EU? Job done! – WS2 Jun 19 '19 at 8:37
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    I think you bring up a valid point. The fact is, there are contols in place right now. The HMRC is active and conducts raids and 'surprise' (usually been tipped off) inspections and other operations in Northern Ireland as we speak. So in or out, this is already happening. Why not just keep doing what we're already doing and move on? – ouflak Jun 19 '19 at 8:56
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    @ouflak What are the NI HMRC looking for? Presumably people avoiding excise duty on imported wines and spirits. I cannot think that it can be easy collecting that. But if we find ourselves in a situation with the EU where tariffs are imposed - e.g on beef, no one would have a hope in hell of collecting it without counting the animals or carcasses. The fact is that as long as the Irish Republic is in the EU, then Northern Ireland virtually HAS to remain in. It would be far easier to police a border in the Irish Sea - but the DUP won't have it. – WS2 Jun 19 '19 at 10:06
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They hope to convince their voters that the EU is blocking a better deal.

As the current deal is unacceptable - voted down three times - the only thing left that fulfills the Referendum outcome would be a no-deal Brexit.

Afterwards, they can blame the EU for any problems caused by a no-deal, if any.

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