Brexit: this is it?

by John Quiggin on November 15, 2018

Since the Brexit referendum was hailed by many as representative of a new force in global politics, it’s of interest even on the far side of the planet, and I’ve watched the slow-motion train wreck with appalled fascination.

So, as far as I can tell, the Brexit deal Theresa May has come up with is pretty much the super-soft version. About the only immediate change it will produce is a return to blue passports in place of the EU burgundy, which, it appears, were always optional. And, it appears, the new passports will be printed in France.

All that assumes that the deal will go through. In this context, I’ve been struck by a lot of commentary supporting the deal on the basis that a second referendum isn’t feasible due to the timing requirements of the Referendums Act. Am I missing something here? Isn’t Parliament supreme? And given that this issue has consumed British politics for the last two years or more, can there really be any significant ambiguity about the possible choices articulated by May today: her deal, no deal or no Brexit?

Feel free to comment on these or any other aspects of the issue.

{ 125 comments }

1

Murali 11.15.18 at 6:36 am

Is no brexit even an option? I thought that after article 50 is triggered there will be some kind of brexit. Either a “no deal” or “some kind of deal”

2

Thomas 11.15.18 at 7:08 am

Bound as members, but without a vote and without the right to settle where we like in Europe. I’d like to look each and every leading Brexiteer in the eye, and thank them for their heroic multi-decade struggle, and suggest that next time they perhaps listen to when people try to explain things to them.

3

Luke Silburn 11.15.18 at 11:16 am

@murali
Per the text of article 50 you are correct, but there seems to be a generally accepted assumption that if the UK rescinded their declaration before the end of March (after a 2nd referendum say) then the EU27 would go along with it.

On balance I think that’s probably correct, but I strongly suspect that the UK would find that their weight within the EU going forward would be sharply reduced and that a number of their carve-outs would end up being less generous when they come up for renewal.

Regards
Luke

4

MisterMr 11.15.18 at 11:19 am

From what I can understand by reading comments who actually have read the 500 pages deal, it isn’t that bad:

1) It ha sthe NI backstop, but since Eire would never accept anything without it there was no way for the UK to get a deal without it;
2) The UK stays for a while with a foot in the single market, but has not to accept freedom of movement; this pisses me off because I think FoM is the most important part of the EU and the UK shouldn’t be allowed to keep a feet in without keeping FoM. On the other hand the UK has to accept a lot of regulation coming from the EU as long as it wants to keep a foot in.

So on the whole I think that this a very advantageous deal for the UK, the UK parliament should be crazy to reject it (which automatically means no deal).
However a lot of commenters (the same from whom I get my information) are up in arms saying that this is a national humiliation, it’s due to May’s inability in negotiations etc., in my opinion just because this is the narrative that was estabilished until now, so it’s still possible that the UK parliament votes it down.

Until two days ago, I estimated the likeliness of a no deal to 90%, now I see a 50%/50% chance of this deal being accepted.

If I see things from the point of view of the wellbeing of people in the UK, I think I should root for the deal to be accepted; on the other hand, given the present political climate, this is certain to create a “knife in the back” mentality in many in the UK and also in many eurosceptics in the EU, so from the point of view of the wellbeing of the EU, where I live, I should root for the deal to be rejected.
I’m quite torn.

5

Salem 11.15.18 at 12:23 pm

It’s not at all clear this is it, because it looks very unlikely this deal will go through. I don’t want to make any foolish predictions, but it looks like this deal is DoA in Parliament, with only May’s hard-core supporters in favour, and everyone else, from Jacob Reese-Mogg to Dominic Grieve, united in opposition.

It looks like this is it for May, though.

6

Harry 11.15.18 at 1:41 pm

Except for people with an unknown form of colour blindness, there will be no return to blue passports. Passports were black. (Well, some people say they were navy, but I have stared at mine many times, and it looks black to me, and to all the women in my family who claim to be better at discerning colour than I am). The blue passport cover is just another bit of Brexiteer myth-making…

7

Harry 11.15.18 at 1:43 pm

I was going to post a brexit thread of my own but I’ll just ask the question here. In the unlikely event that you woke up tomorrow as leader of the Labour Party, what would you want:
1) an election, the best possible result of which is that you have to deal with this mess, without any mandate to reverse Brexit?
2) a second referendum, the worst possible result of which is that these people have to continue dealing with this mess?

8

Z 11.15.18 at 2:00 pm

you woke up tomorrow as leader of the Labour Party, what would you want:

An election, and then you go through with Brexit in name only (the current deal+freedom of movement)?

9

nastywoman 11.15.18 at 2:26 pm

@7
In the unlikely event that you woke up tomorrow as leader of the Labour Party, what would you want:
1) an erection, the best possible result of which is that you have to deal with this mess…

and sorry about the old joke but sitting at the Montreal Jazz Cafe at Kloten (Zürich airport) – ready to board teh plane to London Luton – and having a blond Brit -(and his Swiss girlfriend) just telling me:
Everything is under control –
(as I have predicted) – and even British politicians are soooo silly – so in about a year or so Great Britain will vote again –
(this time to exit from the Brexit) –
as tonight we -(4 Brits – 1 French gentleman – 2 Germans an Aussie and an 1 and a half American will chant -(in a Peruvian restaurant): …

Carry on!

Just Carry ooon!!
-(or as Andrea Merkel once said: Die Karawane zieht weiter!)

10

SusanC 11.15.18 at 2:38 pm

It looks like the worst of both worlds on the Irish border: it puts enough barriers between NI and the rest of the UK that the DUP won’t support it, and it ties the rest of the UK to EU regulation sufficiently that the English Brexiters won’t support it. At least one of those groups was going to be upset under all likely options, but if you loose the support of both of them…

Personally, I think its better than a crash-out hard Brexit, but I don’t think the brexiters will be on board. And if you’re going to upset the Brexiters anyway, you could just as well cancel Brexit entirely.

11

Frank Wilhoit 11.15.18 at 3:04 pm

“…Isn’t Parliament supreme?…”

Not since the referendum… … … …the 1975 referendum. Never mind having a third one, the first one was one too many.

At that time, the Tories were (on the whole) the pro-Europe party and Labour, in those dear dead days Before Maggie, were (on the whole) the anti-Europe party, as the unions thought that aligning with the European regulatory regime would be a net step back for them.

But the key phrase is “on the whole”, as both parties had serious internal stresses over Europe and therefore both parties had fallen into a reactive posture of trying to prevent a realignment on the issue. When Harold Wilson complained to Roy Jenkins that he (Wilson) spent most of his time wading in shit to keep the Labour Party together, the rejoinder should have been that that was not the right goal.

In the vacuum created by the inward focus of both parties’ leadership, the 1975 referendum may have seemed like a plausible attempt to cut a knot; but, as you say, Parliament is nominally sovereign, and the appearance that it was abdicating its responsibility out of weakness and confusion was fatal, not only to the authority of the Commons, but to the legitimacy of the referendum result.

Flash forward a few years and Thatcher emerged as a bigger threat to (lower-case l)abour than the European regulatory regime, which began to look like it could put a floor under the free fall of union power. So the party positions on Europe reversed, both both remained conflicted, and preventing a realignment still remained the foremost goal of the leadership of both parties.

Flash forward to the current decade and suddenly the Europe issue is entirely reframed. Now it is a simple and very, very brutal matter of making the City of London safe for laundered Russian money. Full stop. Nothing else. Everything else is a smokescreen.

The Commons is still paralyzed and the precedent of the 1975 referendum is used to legitimize the non-legitimizable notion of another referendum, which leads directly to the current impasse.

12

Pittsburgh Mike 11.15.18 at 3:29 pm

I really don’t know why there isn’t a second, detailed, referendum, asking people to choose between specific choices, since it is clear that there was no real understanding among the Brits what they were voting for. Choices like:

1 — No BrExit

2 — Brexit with no customs union or freedom of movement

3 — May’s Brexit — with customs union, but no say in drafting economic policy, and no ability to join treaties independently of the EU.

As an aside, is there really no Freedom of Movement in May’s document? Will Brits have to leave EU? EU members leave GB?

13

Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.15.18 at 4:38 pm

In the unlikely event that you woke up tomorrow as leader of the Labour Party

Total outsider view here, but here’s my guess – considering the long-term position of lefty-Labour and a desire to see a slow-down / reversal of corporate globalism, I think the best outcome is number 2. Let the Tories hang themselves, all while delivering an EU exit that will be blamed on Conservatives for years to come. Then afterwards, once the divorce is “finalized”, that’s when Labour wants back in to government. Where they can make all sorts of Freedom of Movement “concessions” and “give ground” on the other stuff like environmental regulations and worker protections. And that should help them shape post-Brexit UK-EU relations in a manner closer to their liking.

Is “no deal” going to result in a ton of chaos and short-term pain? Absolutely. But that pain is going to be owned by the Tories, as it rightly should. And while it may be a cold realpolitik position, the fact is that the public gave the Tories this mandate. Yes May lost her majority with her foolish election call, but the Conservatives still took pluralities in both seats and the popular vote. So it’s not like Labour has any public endorsement to stop this now anyways.

So it’s probably best for Labour to let the Conservatives work out whether to throw the Brexit-purists under the bus or to boldly march their island nation into the uncertainty of having no trade agreements with anyone. The upside will be in “cleaning up the mess” – plus having your nemesis forever tied to the disaster that Brexit is.

On the immediate question – I think they should support May’s deal. This is their opportunity to tell the Brexiteers that they don’t have any actual power. Some of Keir Starmer’s Six Tests are pretty qualitative, so one could argue both pass or fail for some of them – but from my understanding of the deal, it’s not a bad position for Labour to start working from starting the first election after March 30th. It’s certainly better than “no deal”.

14

Thomas Beale 11.15.18 at 6:19 pm

This situation is a lamentable disaster, and the harrowing punishment of the PM in the commons today as unedifyinga spectacle as anything I’ve seen for a long time. She was given an impossible puzzle to solve, and not being a creative visionary (indeed, the very opposite), she doggedly stuck to a self-written script with no exit scene. The satirists will have a field day.

All entirely predictable from the outset.

The first point is that the original referendum could not possibly be called ‘democratic’ because voters were manifestly uninformed: there was no definition of Brexit, or transition-to-Brexit on the table (there still is not today, really); worse, the campaign was actively and wilfully misinformed by various interested parties. And then there’s the basic problem that a referendum is the wrong tool for asking a general question, as opposed to a very pointed one such as ‘do you support gay marriage?’ All that could be surmised from the original result is that some people were unhappy about immigration, and that probably a lot were unhappy with their own economic situation.

I’ve been on the recent march and other demonstrations asking for a People’s Vote (aka another referendum). This at least would be somewhat informed, with the documents of the current exit agreement available, plus a reasonable amount of economic modelling and business forecasts, 90% of it negative. NB: this is not a Brexit deal, it’s 600 pages on the transition period arrangements during which a deal is supposed to be negotiated. Today there is still no definition of the final state, or true costs of transition. So a new referendum must have as a choice: remain in the EU.

The underlying problem here is that this is an assymetric decision. The entire notion of Brexit is an unknown, and therefore needs to be defined in some detail along with solid economic modelling before there is anything that could be put up against the current status quo, which is 100% known, to be a credible binary choice. This means the onus was on Brexiteers to come up with their model. Note, not much of the decision has anything to do with the many problems of the EU (democracy deficit etc), because we can only compare two real situations, not the current situation with a fantasy alternate reality.

I don’t discount that someone could come up with a credible definition of some kind of Brexit, but that is what would be required to actually pursue that route. Brexiteers, if there are any left, should cede the argument now (respect a referendum result that is likely to be ‘stay put’) and spend their next 5 years building their case. The result of us could then get on with a) getting far more involved in the EU and trying to fix broken bits (there are so so many), and b) rebuilding and strengthening the thousands of educational, research, science, security and business networks currently dissolving before our eyes.

15

Glen Tomkins 11.15.18 at 6:37 pm

Well, if there is to be an election because the current govt loses a no-confidence vote, there is a case to be made for Labour to take a categorical no Brexit position, rescind the notice of withdrawal and ignore the referendum. Sure, no one seems to think this would fly today, but go along with me as a purely abstract exercise, for now.

That stand might win Labour the election. Maybe the electorate has been educated by the events of the last two years about what Brexit would actually mean, and will make a more informed choice than it did in the referendum.

Maybe that loses the election, because people haven’t been sufficiently educated yet, or they actually want the real world results of Brexit. The Tories then go on to continue to try to get some deal through.

Maybe they can’t get Parliament to agree on that deal, and there’s another election after a period of the electorate getting some more education on this subject, and maybe Labour and No Brexit win that one.

It the Tories win again, the cycle is repeated as long as the EU will grant delays (temporary exit deals that leave the UK bound to every current requirement) until they lose to No Brexit, or they finally get a Parliament that lets a deal through.

If the EU does not allow delays, then it’s a No Deal exit. Then the UK does well or it doesn’t under such a Brexit.

If the Tories do get some deal, the UK either does well under it, or it doesn’t. The whole conflict over getting to this deal has been such a big deal itself, that the electorate is likely to give them clear credit or blame for how the UK does post-Brexit. If it’s blame, and hard, bitter, substantial enough blame that the Tories lose the next election, then Labour undoes Brexit by rejoining the EU.

If you are convinced that any exit deal is going to result in the UK doing clearly worse, you should be for Labour running any election May has to call because she can’t get the exit deal through on a No Brexit platform. There may be immediate losses, but the electorate will come back to Labour in the end. The worse you imagine that post-Brexit UK looks like, the more certain that is.

That’s how it games out long-term. Of course Labour is not a unitary actor, and presumably cannot be made at this stage to get behind categorical Ignore the Referendum and Bremain. I’m just setting forth how this games out. People unable or unwilling to take the long view won’t or can’t follow the advice yielded by this exercise. Perhaps if the Tories can’t get an exit deal through Parliament even after one iteration of calling an election and the new Parliament can’t do it either, then maybe there will be sufficient appeal to exiting this whole Brexit mess that people will start to take the long view.

Call it Brexexit. The longer this goes on, the more appealing Brexexit is going to get.

16

novakant 11.15.18 at 8:39 pm

Right now a large majority of Britons prefer to remain in the EU and to hold a second referendum. Barely anybody supports May’s deal.

New Sky Data poll:

Of the Brexit outcomes May says are available, would you prefer:

Her deal 14%
No deal 32%
No Brexit 54%

Would you support or oppose a referendum choosing between May’s deal, no deal, or no Brexit?

Support 55%
Oppose 35%
Don’t know 10%

17

Dipper 11.15.18 at 10:44 pm

@ Frank Wilhoit “Now it is a simple and very, very brutal matter of making the City of London safe for laundered Russian money.” would that Russian Money be the €200,000,000,000 that was laundered through the Estonian branch of Danske Bank?. Not sure how the UK is to blame for the failure of the EU to notice a sum deposited in Estonia of roughly the GDP of Estonia over many years.

@ Thomas Beale “The first point is that the original referendum could not possibly be called ‘democratic’ because voters were manifestly uninformed … The entire notion of Brexit is an unknown” One of the issues with the referendum is that we were told the EU was a known thing, and that known thing did not involve an EU army . Well, it now appears there will be one. . Remainers were promising a future in the EU they have no control over, so if anything were offering a more uncertain future than Brexiteers.

18

Bartholomew 11.15.18 at 10:54 pm

‘About the only immediate change it will produce is a return to blue passports in place of the EU burgundy’

And with two mottos on the cover – IN FRENCH!

I still can’t decide if the whole saga is hilarious or desperately sad.

19

fautusnotes 11.16.18 at 1:55 am

As someone at the Guardian noted, it is telling that at no point in this omnishambles has anyone from the leave movement been willing to take responsibility for getting Brexit to happen. It’s no surprise that one of them recently admitted he had no idea how important Dover was. These people don’t have a clue how anything works outside of a PPPE class, and they have never done anything useful with their lives (BoJo can’t even organize beating up a journalist with even a modicum of stealth).

I would like to feel sorry for May but she didn’t have to take on this shitshow, and she certainly didn’t have to hold a general election that left her in thrall to the religious nutjobs from NI. It seems she has done her best, but if this is the best that doing your best can get you, you’re probably working on the wrong project.

I wonder if given the circumstances Labour are morally bound to vote for this terrible deal, because reversing brexit is not on the cards, and a no deal brexit would be a tragedy. The really horrible part of all this is that of course, if Labour vote to sink this deal, and then no deal brexit is as bad as we expect, in 10 years’ time all the newspapers will be blaming Labour for having let it happen, because conservatism can never fail – it can only be failed.

20

John Quiggin 11.16.18 at 6:06 am

@19 “reversing brexit is not on the cards”. Why do you assert this?

@18 It’s only one poll. But I suspect a lot of Leave voters who haven’t been paying much attention have suddenly realised that May’s deal is nothing like what they were promised, that no better deal is going to be on offer, and that no deal really is scary.

21

Birdie 11.16.18 at 6:43 am

Maybe the Queen could issue a Proclamation and everyone could say “Well, Her Majesty, you know, there was nothing we could do.” The other day I saw a picture of her laughing at a joke, so it could happen.

22

Dipper 11.16.18 at 6:52 am

Lots of discussion about reversing Brexit, and the UK remaining a member of the EU. This is presented as a known option, a kind of security blanket. But are people really happy with the direction the EU is taking?

So all you folks in North America or Australasia, or Japan, and like to pick over the bones of Brexit, how about you switch your attention to the EU itself and pronounce on that? We have a resurgent and dominant Germany, an increasingly dominant continental parliament, a European army being constructed, an Eastern Partnership that has already sparked one proxy war, and a range of countries with mass youth unemployment, overwhelming debts, and no way out. Do you think this is all heading in the right direction? With the USA withdrawing from much of the world, do you think Germany plus satellites rising again as a superpower is to be welcomed?

23

bad Jim 11.16.18 at 8:26 am

Fintan O’Toole, at the New York Review of Books:

In Anthony Barnett’s blunt and pithy phrase from his 2017 book The Lure of Greatness: England’s Brexit and America’s Trump, “Unable to exit Britain, the English did the next-best thing and told the EU to fuck off.”

There is stark and overwhelming evidence that the English people who voted for Brexit do not, on the whole, care about the United Kingdom and in particular do not care about that part of it called Northern Ireland. When asked in the recent “Future of England” survey whether “the unravelling of the peace process in Northern Ireland” is a “price worth paying” for Brexit that allows them to “take back control,” fully 83 percent of Leave voters and 73 percent of Conservative voters in England agree that it is.

24

nastywoman 11.16.18 at 8:28 am

– @19 “reversing brexit is not on the cards”

as the type of ”Brexit” the so called ”Brexiter” were thinking about never ever will be able to happen – and reality has this wonderful ability to teach US (nowadays) that such an ”interconnected thingy” as the EU -(or the world?) – works in such a wonderful (mysterious) way – that one (still) can try to be a ”Small Minded Nationalist” -(or just the dude who runs against a wall trying to enter Hogward) – it actually doesn’t matter if there will be another referendum or not –
as there never ever EVER will be any ”reality” of the type of ”Brexit” the Brexitere were thinking about.

It’s just not possible – and anybody who ever have visited London –
(a YUUUGE city in the UK) – right away would have understood this… fact.

Why a lot of (mainly old) of our British friends tried to exit from reality anywhoo – must have to do –
with this dude who tries to run into Hogwarts on Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4.

It’s on you tube and you guys -(especially Dipper) should watch that – as it is faaar more entertaining and funny than Mr. May trying to solve ”a puzzle” which can’t be solved…

25

novakant 11.16.18 at 8:31 am

There are more polls with very similar results.

26

fausutsnotes 11.16.18 at 9:00 am

John I assert that because it seems to be what everyone with the power to make decisions is saying. Obviously it’s possible, but not so long as the leavers are obsessed with leaving no matter what the cost to everyone else. Obviously there’s some possible pathway in which the government collapses tomorrow, holds a snap general election, Labour win on a platform of reversing the entire stupid thing, and the EU accept it and welcome the UK back in, but this doesn’t seem very likely to me. As far as I can see the only options left open to the UK now are everyone backs May’s half-arsed agreement and the European leaders think it’s good enough, or the parliamentary vote goes awry and the UK gets hard brexit with all the consequences.

But you can bet that whatever decision Labour makes in the parliamentary vote, 10 years from now the Telegraph will be saying it was the wrong one and it was all Labour’s fault. Just as nobody remembers that Gordon Brown and Labour were the ones who saved the Tories from themselves in the Scottish independence referendum.

27

TM 11.16.18 at 9:18 am

Must read:

How Brexit Broke Up Britain
Fintan O’Toole
https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/11/13/how-brexit-broke-up-britain/

“But that’s not actually what Brexit is about. The real agenda of the Hard Brexiteers is not, in this sense, about taking back control; it is about letting go of control. For people like Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, the dream is not of a change in which regulation happens, but of a completion of the deregulating neoliberal project set in motion by Margaret Thatcher in 1979. The Brexit fantasy is of an “open” and “global” Britain, unshackled from EU regulation, that can lower its environmental, health, and labor standards and unleash a new golden age of buccaneering hyper-capitalism. Again, this is a perfectly coherent (if repellent) agenda. But it is not what most of those who voted for Brexit think it is supposed to be. And this gap makes it impossible to say what “the British” want—they want contradictory things.

The second question is who is supposed to be taking control: Who, in other words, are “the people” to whom power is supposedly being returned? Here we find the other thing that dare not speak its name: English nationalism. …

When asked in the recent “Future of England” survey whether “the unravelling of the peace process in Northern Ireland” is a “price worth paying” for Brexit that allows them to “take back control,” fully 83 percent of Leave voters and 73 percent of Conservative voters in England agree that it is.”

28

Faustusnotes 11.16.18 at 10:52 am

Otooles work is spot on as it describes dippers fantasies – see eg his comment just above.

29

Thomas Beale 11.16.18 at 12:43 pm

Dipper @17
“Remainers were promising a future in the EU they have no control over, so if anything were offering a more uncertain future than Brexiteers.”

Not even close to reality. There was no such thing as a ‘remainer’ until ‘Brexit’ became an ideology (or perhaps a pathology). People who prefer to remain are not subscribing to any ideology or program; many just think that the current arrangement is known and works well enough to stick with it. Many know how bad the EU is, but realise that constructing an entirely new, supposedly better reality is a complete unknown and likely to be hugely costly and destructive (as indicated by nearly all legal and economic experts to date). Others do actually believe in things like a European defence force etc.

The point is that even if there is some available better reality in which the UK is outside the EU, the Brexiteers have the responsibility to show how this can be achieved, in detail, without ruining the relative prosperity that we enjoy, despite the downsides of the EU. So far they have offered nothing but handwaving and nonsensical rhetoric about ‘taking back control’.

30

bob mcmanus 11.16.18 at 1:05 pm

22:I hate agreeing with Dipper.

Been thinking on recent history all night long, because I have no answer. I don’t know how large the educated cosmopolitan class fraction is, center-left say between Blair and Corbyn, between Clinton and Sanders. I view this group as largely apolitical, or active mostly on identity issues. Call them all over Europe the courtier class: Remainers.

The history of “resistance” to neoliberalism over the last decade from the remainer class is pathetic.

They didn’t help Spain; they didn’t help Syriza in Greece; they didn’t help Hollande when he tried Keynesianism; they didn’t fight EU/GB austerity; couldn’t stop Macron; they haven’t stopped the neo-fascist ascendancy in maquilero Eastern Europe, or Finland or Sweden;they didn’t stop Libya, Syria, IP; the record on refugees is terrible.

And here on a site I consider part of that managerial class (including me, maybe) there is no discussion of Italy’s current problems or global warming civil disobedience in Britain. Or the godawfulness in Poland.

So if Corby gives Remainers their dream: Labour Government, Prime Minister referendum re-do, No Brexit; I feel I know almost as a certainty that the first moment Corbyn butted heads with Brussels over re-nationalization say the Remainers will betray him and install a Macron type. I am sure Corbyn knows this too.

Varoufakis remains optimistic and determined to find a way within the system and I will defer to him for now but my heart is in Lexit and blowing it all up.

31

Dipper 11.16.18 at 1:47 pm

@TM – ” Who, in other words, are “the people” to whom power is supposedly being returned? … English nationalism. … “

Can you explain please why being an Irish nationalist, a Scottish nationalist, even a Welsh Nationalist, is seen as being progressive, but being an English nationalist is not? Is Merkel not a German nationalist? is Macron not a French nationalist? And for the record, I don;t think the Brexit was specifically about being English.

and by “the unravelling of the peace process in Northern Ireland” would you mean a return to political assassinations and bombings? Are you arguing that is a valid response to the UK wishing to leave the EU?

@ novokant “There are more polls with very similar results”/ these polls are also all consistent with the polls taken before the 2016 Referendum.

32

Harry 11.16.18 at 1:58 pm

“Can you explain please why being an Irish nationalist, a Scottish nationalist, even a Welsh Nationalist, is seen as being progressive”
They’re not.

“Is Merkel not a German nationalist? is Macron not a French nationalist?”
Not as far as I can see. At least not in public.

33

TM 11.16.18 at 2:41 pm

31: Since you are asking me directly: I don’t consider any brand of nationalism progressive (and I can’t speak for Fintan O’Toole but I don’t think he does). There are some who do, true. Some have rationalized that “underdog” nationalism (depending on one’s preferences, e.g. Quebec or Scottish or Catalan) may be justified as some sort of antiimperialism. I disagree on principled grounds. But it is a difference whether one’s nationalism aims for one’s nation to go its own ways, or whether it aims at domination over other nations. O’Toole argues that Brexiteers are motivated by the desire for English dominance and disregard for the interests and preferences of Scots and Northern Irish.

Let me also point out that O’Toole specifically criticizes what he considers the dishonesty of the Brexit crowd. One can argue for deregulation but Brexiteers haven’t made that argument; they have concealed their true goal of deregulation with a rhetoric of “taking back control”, while really wanting to give up control to the forces of international finance capitalism. Likewise, O’Toole says that Brexiteers make a show of caring for “this precious, precious Union” but really they are undermining it by promoting English nationalism.

34

TM 11.16.18 at 2:48 pm

McManus: “educated cosmopolitan class fraction”

When your whole outlook is based on such a godawful class theory, no wonder what follows is BS.

35

Faustusnotes 11.16.18 at 2:50 pm

Bob McManus, how were the British remainers supposed to fight fascism in Eastern Europe? What’s the mechanism, and if they weren’t in Europe how would it have been easier for them to fight fascism? How were they supposed to stop macron, and if the uk wasn’t part of Europe would it have been easier for the British left to stop macron? Have you stopped to consider, just paused to think about, how your conditions for the success of the remainer class are utter bullshit?

36

Faustusnotes 11.16.18 at 3:10 pm

McManus ‘s comment really pisses me off as an example of the magical thinking of the revolutionary set. Suppose I’m a remainer in somerset, surrounded by leavers. How on gods green earth am I meant to stop the pis in Poland? First of all by McManus own lights, if we’re all devolving into nationalist leftist states, isn’t that the responsibility of polish people, not me? And if we have some pan European solidarity I’m meant to act on, why shouldn’t we formalize that into a union? And if we formalize our solidarity in a union isn’t there a risk it will be take over by our enemies? So doesn’t that invalidate all of your concerns? But if we don’t have a union, how am I meant to help? Sure I could travel to Poland for a demonstration (many women did a few years ago during the abortion debate) but isn’t that much easier if we have free movement? That you, bob McManus, oppose? And what protections do I as a British person have if I go to Poland to do this? Presumably they’re much greater if I am demonstrating ina shared European polity? No one suggests British gays should go and demonstrate in Dubai , for very good reasons . But here we have McManus ignoring all these issues and blaming pis on the weakness of some remainer in somerset. This is so breathtakingly rude that there’s no word for It in the English language. But it makes me confident of one thing: for all his posing, McManus has never engaged in a single piece of real activism in his life. No one who has would write such cynical junk!

37

MisterMr 11.16.18 at 3:46 pm

@bob mcmanus 30

” my heart is in Lexit and blowing it all up.”

I largely agree with you in general but, in my opinion, “brexit” is totally not going to blow up neoliberalism, but actually to boost it.

Let’s put it this way:
– suppose that my ideal is a 100% socialist government.
– But, alas!, I’m stuck with the EU government, that is only 30% socialist. This sucks!
– But if as a revolt against neoliberal EU I vote for Lega, that is only 10% socialist, things can just become worse. This is true even if I dislike the EU or Renzi’s center-left government.

Unfortunately many people on the left, due to their hate for neoliberalism and neoliberal institution, seem not to realise that they are buying Dicken’s liberalism in place of neoliberalism, hardly an improvement.

38

Scott P. 11.16.18 at 4:46 pm

One of the issues with the referendum is that we were told the EU was a known thing, and that known thing did not involve an EU army . Well, it now appears there will be one. . Remainers were promising a future in the EU they have no control over, so if anything were offering a more uncertain future than Brexiteers.

The UK had a veto over the creation of an EU army, until they gave it away for nothing…

So all you folks in North America or Australasia, or Japan, and like to pick over the bones of Brexit, how about you switch your attention to the EU itself and pronounce on that?

North American here. My #1 geopolitical goal is a World Government, so I see the EU as a tentative, small-bore but worthwhile step in that direction. I’d like to see clearer lines of authority, with a true central governing body operating in a regional federated framework. It would be nice if the EU Parliament had true power delegated by the member states and actually made policy rather than rubber-stamp policy made elsewhere. I’d like to see more accountability. But it’s a useful experiment.

39

bob mcmanus 11.16.18 at 5:14 pm

Ian Welsh notices Article 17 in May’s “soft Brexit” and sums up the implications.

And also notices Macron and Merkel calling for an EU military.

Get out while you can.

40

nastywoman 11.16.18 at 6:18 pm

and @30 might be the perfect example why people are so confused – as some truly think that this Brexit-thing is/was some kind of:

”educated-cosmopolitan-class-fraction- courtier-class=remainers-thingy”? –

and they love to bring up all this ”history of resistance to neoliberalism” – while ”WE the people” are mainly worried that the NON-remainers are trying to cut US off from each other and we just would like to keep all these NO borders – not only in Europe but preferable also in my homeland the US of A – and as so often ”politics” are mentioned jut – Sorry – it’s just tooo late to dream about some – any – ”walls” – and about all of this:
”they didn’t help Spain; they didn’t help Syriza in Greece; they didn’t help Hollande when he tried Keynesianism; they didn’t fight EU/GB austerity; couldn’t stop Macron” –
my American grandfather and grandmother used to tell me that everybody in Europe helped everybody tremendously in the last 50 years –
as 50 years ago – when Americans traveled to Spain and Greece – these countries were in American words ”dirt poor” – and even France – supposedly was a YUUUGE bargain.

And now – let’s meet in Athens or in Barcelona and all these other European countries ”they” supposedly didn’t help and let’s even compare some NOT having stopped some ”neo-fascist ascendancy in maquilero Eastern Europe, or Finland or Sweden” to the NOT having stopped a Von Clownstick and his ”record on refugees”.

It’s ”terrible” and some places it’s a lot less ”terrible”.

And here on a site I consider part of that managerial class (including me, maybe) – there is always somebody who brings up ”Italy’s current problems or global warming civil disobedience in Britain. Or the godawfulness in Poland”.

So if Great Britain gives ”Remainers” their dream of open borders and a very peaceful way dealing with it even dudes like Varoufakis can remain optimistic and determined to find a way within the system and NOT blowing it all up.

41

MisterMr 11.16.18 at 9:58 pm

@bob mcmanus 39
“And also notices Macron and Merkel calling for an EU military.
Get out while you can.”

Gentiloni, premier of the former center-left italian government, already said months ago that he hoped brexit opened the way for an european military, it’s not something limited to Macron and Merkel.

I am a bit ambivalent about this because, while I really don’t want an adventurist EU (that might be a possibility), I would like anu unified EU, something like “United States of Europe”, and in this scenario an unified military is necessarious.
Furthermore the defence of many EU countries is based on Uncle Sam, but it seems that Uncle Sam isn’t much interested in this after the USSR is gone, so in some sense it’s an obliged step.

Why do you think that an EU unified army would be a bad thing?

42

Ken Purdye 11.16.18 at 11:16 pm

Does it really matter? There are two non-communicating tribes in the UK. Leave vs. Stay. A new referendum will change nothing (55-45/45-55 , it will stay the same). It’s tribal. Like Trump/no Trump. The issue is how you solve this divide. I don’t see anyone addressing this. But until we do, the problem won’t go away. Maybe crashing out and a crisis? But think of the suffering.

43

Orange Watch 11.17.18 at 2:39 am

Ken@41:

Fracturing the UK might be sufficient to make the problem of the balanced uncommunicative factions at least one of simple majorities. And a particularly bad Brexit may be enough to make that seem like a markedly more palatable option to those not beholden to English nationalism.

44

Collin Street 11.17.18 at 6:09 am

I mean, for an idea to be tribal it has to be _rejected_ by one side of a social faultline, right? entirely or near-entirely; if there’s supporters on both sides then you can’t wedge the crack open.

But this only happens if the idea is without merit. Any merit and there’ll be people in any background who find that merit and support that idea , there’ll be supporters on both sides. “Tribal” ideas — I mean, apart from the basic “members of my group are not per-se unutterably vile” — are a proper subset of “worthless” ones, and thus a tribal identity, in this sense is a reactionary identity and a worthless loser identity. Tribalism is something that can happen to bad ideas as they lose.

(I mean, if ideas can form an ineluctable part of a person’s identity AND if ideas can be wrong such as to need elimination THEN… we got a problem. Taking the obvious example, if slavery was as the confederate government insisted an inescapable part of their identity then repressing slavery was an asdault on their culture and literally genocide. I’m not willing to accept that, and the only way I can see to square the circle is by rejecting “it’s tribal!!” in public-policy arguments)

45

Dipper 11.17.18 at 7:33 am

@TM 33 “O’Toole argues that Brexiteers are motivated by the desire for English dominance and disregard for the interests and preferences of Scots and Northern Irish.”

An England dominated UK parliament has granted referenda on devolved status for Wales and Scotland, granted parliaments with devolved power, increased those powers in Scotland including raising tax, makes fiscal transfers to those nations, grants Scotland more MPs per person than in England, and granted Scotland a free vote in independence. I see no evidence for English dominance in any significant political way. I have no polite words for people such as O’Toole who promote falsehoods based on crude national stereotypes and avoid a whole stream of inconvenient facts.

@ Scott @ 38

“The UK had a veto over the creation of an EU army, until they gave it away for nothing…” so, the UK’s role in the EU was to prevent it from doing the things it wanted to do? How long do you think Germany and France would have put up with a situation where their agreed plans were being vetoes by one nation? This was never a realistic long-term model for UK membership of the EU.

46

TM 11.17.18 at 11:39 am

Dipper 45 – utter ignorance or attempt at derailment? One never knows with Dipper (or McManus). But think about this for one second. It is conceivable though really rather unlikely that some EU members agree to form a unified military. But how on earth would they force the UK to join against its will? This is utter right wing lunacy (presumably the EU forces are already preparing the military invasion of the British Isles, V2 missiles included).

And if say Germany and France really wanted a unified military (as ridiculously unlikely as that would be), they could as sovereign nations agree to such a step with or without the EU. Don’t forget though that the UK, France and Germany already are party to NATO and the West European Union. They all have voluntarily, as sovereign nations, signed treaties which imply certain very strong military commitments. The EU doesn’t exist in a vacuum and neither will the UK after Brexit.

47

TM 11.17.18 at 12:12 pm

“my heart is in Lexit and blowing it all up”

Sure, blow it all up. That is utter bourgeois nihilism. Marx and Lenin would have had only contempt for that attitude.

48

Hidari 11.17.18 at 12:57 pm

‘Can you explain please why being an Irish nationalist, a Scottish nationalist, even a Welsh Nationalist, is seen as being progressive, but being an English nationalist is not? ‘

Short answer, as someone else has pointed out: in an absolute sense: they’re not. The Left has major problems with nationalism, as the 20th century has demonstrated the problems with this concept, to put it mildly.

However, having said that anti-imperialism also plays a part in this. As all Welsh people know (and no English person knows, apparently), Wales was seized and colonised by force of arms: here’s a list of relevant battles. Most English people are doing well if they can name one. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Anglo-Welsh_wars). The situation vis a vis Scotland is slightly better known, but still not many people know that the ‘Union’ was accomplished via the threat of military invasion (whether this ‘threat’ was real or not is irrelevant: numerous Scots noblemen thought it was real) as well as bribery (‘bought and sold for English gold’).

And of course we all know about Ireland.

So while Welsh and Scottish and Irish nationalism may (or may not) be reprehensible, it is possible to see them as being fundamentally reactive: anti-imperial, in modern parlance.

English nationalism, on the other hand, has always been something rather different. While neither the Irish or the Welsh ever had any ideas of advancing their power outwith, so to speak, their national boundaries (and the Scots only tried this once, disastrously), English foreign policy since, roughly about the 9th century AD consists essentially of nothing else but attempting to extend its power (financial, political and of course military) outwith the ‘natural’ borders of England. The English invasions of Wales, the English invasions of Scotland, the English invasions of Ireland, the English screwing around with France, English participation in that orgy of anti-Arab and anti-semitic violence we term the ‘Crusades’: that’s just in the ‘middle ages’. Then, later on, we had the building of that gigantic system of aggression, cruelty, racism and theft we term the ‘British Empire’ (of which so many English, even nowadays, are inexplicably proud): despite the fact that the Scots and Welsh went along with it (shamefully) the whole concept of a British Empire was essentially a (bad) idea thought up in London.

It’s worthwhile noting that the imperial aspects of Brexit have been pronounced by those in favour of Brexit, although this has largely not been commented on by the ‘liberal’ media because most English ‘liberals’ are also quite proud of their gigantic racist Empire. For example Gove wrote a racist pamphlet essentially arguing that Ireland should be reincorporated into a renewed British Empire (that’s not what he said. But it’s what he meant). Johnson and Farage etc. have fawned over Trump because Trump is open about his being the God Emperor of the American Empire (Obama rarely flaunted his imperial power, hence the affection liberals had and have towards him). The racism in terms of anti-immigration sentiment of the Brexiteers has often been pointed out: the racism in terms of their imperial apologia has not, because most English ‘liberals’ agree with them.

And then there’s this: https://news.sky.com/video/lets-get-back-to-being-a-british-empire-11530606

49

Hidari 11.17.18 at 1:22 pm

‘ I see no evidence for English dominance in any significant political way.’

Good for you. I am going out on a limb here but I am guessing you are not Welsh, Scottish or (heaven forbid) Irish?

Interesting to note you haven’t got polite words for uppity Irishers who don’t know their place. Just think, in the 19th century you could have had him shot. Things were better then, really, weren’t they?

CF also this: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/03/imperial-fantasies-brexit-theresa-may

50

Thomas Beale 11.17.18 at 2:09 pm

Dipper @ 45
You have strange ideas about the EU. France and Germany are hardly the harmonious siblings you imply. Both are threatened by different things, culturally and economically. Separately, there is significant commonality in the V4 group (Poland, Czech rep., Slovakia, Hungary) on the trade zone view of the EU (cf the super-state view). And I suspect the southern ‘benefectors’ of the ruinous Euro-zone loan system will rear their collective heads at some point.

Although I am a remainer (on a reality-check basis), I think the EU will survive only if pared back in its ambitions, and then carefully rebuilt in a different, more devolved direction. Some things will need to be strengthened, including border management and the relationship to mega-corporations.

One major reform that is desperately needed is to scrap the European parliament (a hideously expensive rubber stamp system for private decisions if there ever was one) in favour of a delegate system based on national representatives.

51

bob mcmanus 11.17.18 at 2:57 pm

Sure, blow it all up. That is utter bourgeois nihilism. Marx and Lenin would have had only contempt for that attitude.

Ten years or so on, I am not so certain Greece was served well by the Tsipras decision to capitulate. At least the tens of thousands who suffered and died have not been served well, and although they might have died with Grexit, they might have died in hope and solidarity rather than despair.

The yuppies in Greece who voted NO in their 2015 selfie referendum that Tsipras knew better than to take seriously (yups weren’t going to give up Euros, shopping, or the chance to take that great job in Turin) are probably doing ok, somewhere other than brain-drained Greece. Meanwhile the EU hasn’t been reformed.

I wait breathlessly, knowing that the 30-year slow boring of hard boards will always leave mountains of corpses in its wake, none of whom of course are the fault of process liberals and patient in-system workers. Of course.

52

Luke Silburn 11.17.18 at 3:02 pm

Dipper @45 assumes that the actions of a Westminster parliament where little-Englander nationalists were muted and isolated is reliable evidence for how it will behave when said nationalists are feeling their oats. This is… questionable IMO.

Dipper then goes on to assume that sentiment about military cooperation within the EU now is indicative of the sentiment that existed before Trump started pissing all over NATO and long-standing allies across Europe; again, questionable.

There’s this thing called ‘history’ Dipper. Events happen and things change, then people change what they believe and do as a result those changes. You should try it some time.

Regards
Luke

53

bob mcmanus 11.17.18 at 3:05 pm

And I am very far from conservative.

Lexit, for me would involve (although not campaigned on or revealed before enacted) immediate full capital and border controls in order to prevent any movement of assets physically or electronically moved out of country, followed by expropriation of everything and nationalization of everything else. I think Labour-brexited Britain could do something with those resources (since MMT is not viable) that might ameliorate the difficulties.

Okay, that’s my starting position, I am willing to negotiate. How bout talking to and about the Left rather than fascists and reactionaries? Nah, y’all prefer it over there.

54

Niall 11.17.18 at 4:48 pm

Those supporting Lexit as some sort of shield against the neoliberal EU seem utterly unconcerned, or unwilling to discuss, why Brexit is so enthusiastically funded by the worst sort of millionaires and right wing policy groups and could only have been successful thanks to their funding. Labour Leave, nominally the Lexit body, was almost entirely funded by wealthy individuals linked to bodies advocating low tax and one its two leaders, Kate Hoey, was happy to be photographed with Farage. Even Boris Johnson wants to keep that a secret. It’s magical thinking to say that with Corbyn government those groups will simply give up and go away having spent millions. Seems the one fascist coup Labour isn’t worried about is the one happening at home.

55

Dipper 11.17.18 at 5:14 pm

@TM and the military.

“if say Germany and France really wanted a unified military (as ridiculously unlikely as that would be), they could as sovereign nations agree to such a step with or without the EU. “. Yes they could. But they haven’t, Instead they are calling for an EU army. So I’m simply pointing out what they said.

The UK wouldn’t have to be involved in the EU army. It could have an “opt out”. Just as we have “opted out” of the Euro. In the long run, I don’t think it is viable to be in the EU on the basis that you are “opting out” of all the things the EU does and don’t share its aims and objectives. What would be the point of being in the EU? Why would the EU put up with a major member that doesn’t share its vision of the point of the EU and how it operates at a basic level?

@ Hidari. What? I know lonely children make up imaginary people so they can have friends, but the left-wing world seems to be full of folks making up imaginary people so they can hate them. Oh, hang on, they’re not imaginary, you found one person who wanted to bring the empire back. One person, out of 17 million, And because you found one odd-ball, you can just deal in stereotypes and not address any actual issues.

56

Scott P. 11.17.18 at 5:30 pm

so, the UK’s role in the EU was to prevent it from doing the things it wanted to do? How long do you think Germany and France would have put up with a situation where their agreed plans were being vetoes by one nation?

All EU plans can be vetoed by one nation, even Malta. I agree this is a bit absurd, but that’s the way they apparently want it, for now.

57

novakant 11.17.18 at 6:14 pm

The paranoid fantasy behind Brexit

In the dark imagination of English reactionaries, Britain is always a defeated nation – and the EU is the imaginary invader

by Fintan O’Toole

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/16/brexit-paranoid-fantasy-fintan-otoole

As for Lexit, that’s just the stupidest idea ever based on completely false assumptions, I can’t even be bothered to reply to this nonsense.

58

Jonathan 11.17.18 at 6:14 pm

Going back to the original question, the problems here are: first the timing of a referendum would almost certainly have to involve the EU27 agreeing to extend the A50 period with no guarantee that the outcome would be a remain vote. This could face the additional complication of the UK still being in the EU at the time of next year’s European parliament elections with the elected UK MEPs potentially facing a rather short tenure.
As noted above there is some ambiguity over whether at any point the UK can revoke A50 and just remain on existing terms, although I suspect this would not be a major obstacle (the drafter of it thinks so: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/nov/10/brexit-date-is-not-irreversible-says-man-who-wrote-article-50-lord-kerr).
The bigger problem here is what the question(s) would be. Practically “no deal” is not an option. It is a fantasy. Politically, though, it is hard to see parliament agreeing to a referendum with a binary choice between May’s deal and remain. A non-binary referendum raises further practical questions around its organisation. A two-stage vote assuming none of the 3 options could achieve a majority first time round? Second preferences? Setting the questions, determining the campaign rules would be no simple task.

Interest declared, I’m a remainer who would welcome the chance of a second ref. But excitable commentary on headline opinion polls miss that almost no-one has changed their mind. The apparent remain majority now is due, apart from older leave voters shuffling off to the golf club in the sky, to voters least likely to actually turn out – those who were too young to vote in 2016 and those who now say they would vote remain but didn’t vote two years ago.

Quiggin @20 “I suspect a lot of Leave voters who haven’t been paying much attention have suddenly realised that May’s deal is nothing like what they were promised, that no better deal is going to be on offer, and that no deal really is scary.” No sign of leave voters realising the latter part.

59

Dipper 11.17.18 at 9:20 pm

@ Jonathan, JQ “and that no deal really is scary”. If you want scary, look at Greece. Look at Italy and its inability to get itself out of its debt crisis. Look at youth unemployment across the UK. And those people telling me No Deal is really scary; would they be the same people who told me a Leave vote would lead to an immediate recession and job losses?

“I’m a remainer who would welcome the chance of a second ref.”. What on? On whether the escape clause in the 500 page legal withdrawal agreement is legally binding and prevents the UK unilaterally leaving? Every lay person should, as a matter of course, get legal advice when entering into signing legal contracts. So who would 30 million voters get to advise them?

I didn’t vote to return control to Parliament just so they could bottle the first key decision and hand it back to “the people”. They should vote as they see fit and own the consequences.

Would that be a binding referendum by the way? Or advisory.

60

MisterMr 11.17.18 at 9:39 pm

@bob mcmanus 53

“And I am very far from conservative.

Lexit, for me would involve (although not campaigned on or revealed before enacted) immediate full capital and border controls in order to prevent any movement of assets physically or electronically moved out of country, followed by expropriation of everything and nationalization of everything else. I think Labour-brexited Britain could do something with those resources (since MMT is not viable) that might ameliorate the difficulties.”

Yes, but this isn’t the brexit you’re going to get.
In case of no deal, if the Tories are in power:
1) They will behave more or less the same way Eltsin behaved in Russia;
2) Later the UK capitulates to the EU on more or less everything else to get an export marked (half of the UK will already be property of EU capital anyway).
If Labour is in power:
1) Labour is forced to make concessions to international capital to keep industries in the UK (it’s pointless to freeze a Nissan factory that anyway only produces a part of a car that can’t be assembled without pieces that come from other parts of the EU);
2) The economy goes down and the Tories blame Labour.

This still beat the situation with Tories in power, so I root for Corbyn, but “no deal” isn’t going to be a win for him.

If Uk accepts the deal, the situation doesn’t change much, but things are less bad for the UK economically plus the UK has to keep for a while some minimum labor and enviroment protection laws.

So to go back to my inital sentence: “Lexit” is not the brexit the UK is marching into.

61

Greg McKenzie 11.17.18 at 10:04 pm

I watch a documentary on the Corn Laws introduced by the “sovereign” British Parliament in the nineteenth century. The significance of this legislation was that the birthplace of so called FREE TRADE ( based on David Ricardo’s Principle of Comparative Advantage) had place a tariff on imported corn. Now it was disguised as many things. Many in Britain still had not forgiven France for the actions of Napolean. Many of the better off British merchants saw cheap imports as being “dumped” to ruin their own business. But the end result was that the poorer British people could not afford the new higher bread prices on their subsistence wages. Now over one hundred and fifty years later the British are using Brexit for the same reasons. They still cannot stand the French – which makes the passport printing decision so laughable – and the richer British people want to force out foreign competitors. The word of the year for 2018, as far as the OXFORD dictionary is concerned , is ‘toxic’. That about suns up the Brexit experience.

62

hix 11.17.18 at 10:19 pm

All many EU plans can be vetoed by one nation, even Malta. I agree this is a bit absurd, but that’s the way they apparently want it, for now”
Fixed that.

63

steven t johnson 11.18.18 at 1:29 am

bob macmanus@51 interprets the Greek referendum simply as theater. The thing is, the referendum was counterposed to the KKE. OXO was about repudiating KKE in favor os Tsipras negotiating. He couldn’t win squat, but it was never his intention to exit, never his promise to exit, never his commitment to fighting anything but Communism (or Stalinism if you will.) SYRIZA was never anything but a swindle, but it sold the swindle as decentralized true democracy, fresh new politics, popular masses upsurging. It was aimed partly at PASOK too, yes, but it was just a fungal infection of social democrats.

64

Orange Watch 11.18.18 at 4:20 am

Dipper@59:
I didn’t vote to return control to Parliament just so they could bottle the first key decision and hand it back to “the people”. They should vote as they see fit and own the consequences.

It sounds an awful lot like you didn’t vote to return control to Parliament, nor do you want them to vote as they see fit. If Parliament is in control and free to vote as they please, they’re free to vote to hold a second referendum if that tickles their collective fancy.

You didn’t vote for control to be returned to Parliament, you voted for it to be returned specifically to you and people who think precisely like you – but there’s no mechanism for such a thing in the British parliamentary system, so you voted for something you can’t have, and now seem upset by the possibility of getting what you claim to have wanted.

65

bad Jim 11.18.18 at 5:53 am

Hidari’s rather impressive catalog @48 of English imperialism elides a notorious incursion, which suggests an irredentist Norman. Much of the “screwing around with France” had to do with contending claims of dubious validity. Perhaps the armies shipped to the continent could have been used to better effect suppressing the old folks at home. Arguably any animosity towards France is the ancient residue of Anglo-Saxon resentment.

66

nastywoman 11.18.18 at 8:26 am

@59
”If you want scary, look at Greece. Look at Italy…”

and I really thought the times where one can scare somebody with Greece or Italy are completely over – as nowadays one can scare anybody with looking at the US or the UK much much more – as Greece and Italy just does -(and did) what Greece and Italy did and does so ”adventurous” for so many years.

And that is not a joke as the art of (”political”) improvisation is possibly one of the highest ”art” in politics – and when I lived in Italy at a time where every few month there was a new government I never thought much about it but what happened in far less ”improvising” -(and supposedly far more ”reasonable”) – countries – like the UK or the US or now even in Germany is kind of ”scary”?

Don’t ya think?

67

PeteW 11.18.18 at 9:20 am

@ Jonathan

You say “excitable commentary on headline opinion polls miss that almost no-one has changed their mind” as an argument against a second ref.

Firstly, almost no-one needs to change their mind. A swing of 1.8% would change the result of the 2106 ref, fewer than one person in every fifty. A swing like that is a rounding error

Secondly, opinion polls consistently show a majority in favour of the UK remaining in the EU. Is that outweighed by the fact that “almost no-one has changed their mind”? I don’t think so. Surely what is important is finding out what a majority of the country wants – democracy is, after all, an information transmission system – and it actually does not want Brexit.

There is something more, too. It is now clear, which it was not before, that there are only two choices for the UK: a crash-out, WTO Brexit, or to stay in. The so-called Norway option was ruled out by Teresa May’s red lines on the single market, customs union and ECJ (she is now trying to fudge this, but does not have the numbers to get her fudge through parliament), and the Canada free-trade option is ruled out by the Irish border. So it’s disaster or remain.

The British people should be given that choice. If they choose disaster, so be it.

68

Dipper 11.18.18 at 9:41 am

@ PeteW “The British people should be given that choice. If they choose disaster, so be it.”

Which disaster were you thinking of? the disaster of the “crash out?” Or the disaster of surrendering all control to rule from an organisation that has no accountability to UK voters and absolutely no interest in our well-being or welfare?

Please give me one quote from Verhofstadt, Barnier, Tusk, Juncker, Macron, or anyone else connected with the EU saying that the UK population can have confidence that the EU will listen to their concerns and endeavour to do their best for them. Please, just one. Not a lot to ask.

And for clarity, if after two years we cannot adequately prepare to leave the EU, that makes a mockery of all the previous statements that the UK is still a sovereign power despite our membership of the EU. We have been effectively made a dependent colony of the EU without ever having had a vote asking us if we agree to this.

But hey, Empire! English Exceptionalism!

69

Collin Street 11.18.18 at 11:06 am

Please give me one quote from Verhofstadt, Barnier, Tusk, Juncker, Macron, or anyone else connected with the EU saying that the UK population can have confidence that the EU will listen to their concerns and endeavour to do their best for them. Please, just one. Not a lot to ask.

Why would the proud and independent british be reliant on european charity?

70

PeteW 11.18.18 at 11:33 am

@Dipper

I don’t have a lot of time for your nonsense, and don’t know why the mods didn’t blocked you for spreading lies, distortions and disinformation a long time ago (see our hosts latest post about trolls), but Ill respond a last time.

Yes I was thinking of the disaster of a crash out, obviously.

I don’t recognise this “organisation that has no accountability to UK voters and absolutely no interest in our well-being or welfare”. You can’t mean the EU, because that’s a democratic union of which we are (were) a key and highly influential member, and in which I as a citizen am represented by MEPs, ministers and a prime minister.

“if after two years we cannot adequately prepare to leave the EU…” that reflects entirely adversely on UK domestic politicians, not the EU

“that makes a mockery of all the previous statements that the UK is still a sovereign power despite our membership of the EU.”

We can leave any time we like, and at the moment we will do so next March. So you’re wrong again.

“We have been effectively made a dependent colony of the EU without ever having had a vote asking us if we agree to this.”

Oh shut up.

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Hidari 11.18.18 at 12:21 pm

@ 68 ‘a dependent colony of the EU ‘

The horror. Just imagine Britain having anything to do with dependent colonies.

Just a reminder that Gibralter which is, to coin a phrase, a dependent colony of the ‘United’ Kingdom, and which was acquired by violence, voted overwhelmingly to Remain. As did Scotland (acquired by bribery and the threat of violence), Northern Ireland (acquired by violence and illegally colonised by settlers) and the Welsh-speaking areas of Wales (acquired by violence).

Here’s an article on Britain’s colonies (which it often tries to pretend it still does not have) the overwhelming majority were acquired by violence, fraud, or both. And the overwhelming majority of which either voted remain or have deep misgivings about ‘leave’. Mysteriously all that ‘national sovereignty’ stuff doesn’t seem to apply to them.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43126719

Remember, hypocrisy is ‘le vice anglais’.

Oh an incidentally, nostalgia for the existence of Britain’s racist Empire is not just confined to ‘one guy in a pub’. Our racist ex-Foreign Secretary stated ‘The [African] continent may be a blot, but it is not a blot upon our conscience. The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more.”’ Gove and Farrage have made similar statements.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2017/05/11/brexit-is-not-only-an-expression-of-nostalgia-for-empire-it-is-also-the-fruit-of-empire/

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Trout 11.18.18 at 12:50 pm

@Dipper
If it turns that after two years (not to mention decades of agitation) Brexiters have been unable to adequately prepare for leaving the EU, it looks like the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the Brexiters themselves. The EU is not responsible for their failure (Richard North would say it was deliberate strategy on the part of people like Dominic Cummings et al.) to formulate a workable plan for leaving the EU. The Ultras now claim that Brits need to show ‘grit’ and take an economic hit now in order to realise the romance of ‘sovereign’ Britain, but they did their damnedest to avoid campaigning on this ticket, promising that the Germans would be beating a path to our door to agree frictionless trade following a leave vote. The attempt to blame the EU for this recklessness (this is the most charitable word for it) is as laughable as all the whining about becoming a colony.

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Dipper 11.18.18 at 1:03 pm

… I’d just add that, after conversations this morning with fellow Leavers, the issue on the deal comes down to whether, in the words of one of them “May commits that the backstop can only ever be temporary. Like to have that explained and confirmed by the EU”.

This is an issue that can only be resolved by parliamentary discussion and interrogation. Otherwise, to pitch us into a referendum where we genuinely do not know what we are voting for in legal terms solely that politicians can deny responsibility for the outcomes is a complete abdication of responsibility.

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J-D 11.18.18 at 1:27 pm

It intrigues me that there’s a lot of discussion here a vote that may happen, but may not, and little or no discussion of a vote that definitely will happen. The UK Parliament is going to vote on the package agreed by the UK government negotiators and the EU negotiators. I would be interested to know who thinks it would be better if they voted in favour and who thinks it would be better if they voted against, and why, but I don’t think any commenter’s position on this question emerges clearly from the comments.

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MisterMr 11.18.18 at 1:59 pm

“If you want scary, look at Greece. Look at Italy and its inability to get itself out of its debt crisis.” [by Dipper but reprised by many]

So, since I actually live in Italy: the problem in Italy depends exclusively on the limit on government deficit spending imposed by the fact that Italy is part of the eurozone.

UK was never part of the eurozone. In facts, even the staunchest opposers of the EU in Italy would see the situation the UK was in (in the EU but outside the eurozone) as great.
The Lega guys, for example, years ago were keen to the idea that they were mittle-europeans whereas people from southern Italy were lazy mediterraneans.

So the idea that the (very real) economic problems of Italy justify brexit are just bullshit, an exercise at picking up something apparently anti-EU but in reality unrelated.

A large part of brexit mentality is based on this kind of thinking: let’s assume that the EU is evil, therefore the farthest you get from the EU the better. Various misdeeds of the EU are then cited as evidence that the EU is evil.

However this is a way to generate bullshit: the idea thatr a certain istitution is evil without regards to the alternative is a nonsense, and the alternative is generally left in the dark.

For example ion the case of Greece or Italy, if the UK was part of the eurozone, would brexiters have accepted higer inflation to help Greece and Italy or would them have been on the side of the austerians?
What help are brexiters currently offering to greeks and italians? For now they are closing borders so that unemployed greeks or italians cannot “steal” the jobs of britons (this won’t actually work because brexit misfirerd, but let’s not forget that this was the idea).

So personally I’m a bit pissed off when pissed of when brexiters use Italy as an example of the misdeeds of the EU. But on the plus side: italian Salvini repeatedly said that he is a sovereignist and that he is on the side of brexiters. Will he lift a finger to help the UK? In my opinion not, because both Salvini’s Lega nad brexiters are fundamentally nationalist movements that want to shaft foreigners, so won’t really help each other. Poetic justice.

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Hidari 11.18.18 at 4:37 pm

@74

What will happen is that May will put forwards what she has got, and Labour (and who ever else they can get to vote with them) will vote against. And that will either work or it won’t. If May gets the votes: this will be what happens: i.e. the Brexit deal that’s on the table. If Labour succeed, and May doesn’t get the votes, either the government will collapse (which obviously is what Labour wants) which will mean a General Election, or else May will go back to Europe and ask for more time to negotiate (and I know this ‘cos she said so, in a recent interview, twice). Labour might then push for a second referendum.

I know that’s not what the worthless UK media are telling us, but that’s what will happen. No Deal is not an option, has never been an option, will never be an option (unless May is deposed and a ‘hardline’ Brexiteer gets in charge of the country….but that’s unlikely to happen and would in any case constitute a virtual coup d’etat and will means that Brexit will be the least of the UK’s problems). It’s in everyone’s interests to pretend it’s an option: May pretends it’s an option because she wants to frighten her party into supporting her current Brexit deal, and the Lib-Dems and Labour want to pretend it’s an option because they want to emphasise the risks the Tories are running and how reckless and ideological the Tories are (to be fair this point is closer to the truth).

It’s also in the interests of everyone to pretend that Labour are a ‘leaver’ party. But they aren’t and never have been. Keir Starmer is in charge of Labour’s policies in this regard, not Jeremy Corbyn (Corbyn ultimately has the power but he delegates). And Starmer is a clear Remainer (and if Corbyn doesn’t want Remain: why doesn’t he sack Starmer?). Again the worthless rabble of the UK media and the laughingly titled ‘intelligentsia’ all have a vested interest in lying about this because they hate Corbyn: Corbyn might stop the wars they all adore. But it’s a lie nonetheless.

So the basic Labour position is to push for a General Election in any way they can. If they get into power before Brexit: Brexit will be stopped, either by a referendum or by ‘endless deferral’. If May manages to get through what is on the table we will have the ‘softest’ of Brexits which will in any case be progressively watered down by an incoming Labour Government with the possibility of rejoining the EU in a few years time.

In other words, it’s vital for progressives to support Labour and encourage their MPs to vote against this current deal, and then try to bring down this worthless Government. The only reason not to do this would be if No Deal was an option. But it’s not.

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Dipper 11.18.18 at 4:52 pm

@ Trout and others “it looks like the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the Brexiters themselves”. This is fair. The EU doesn’t owe the UK anything in this negotiation. My criticisms are all at the UK government. I don’t like the EU and don;t expect much from it, but that is the EU’s business, and it is under no obligations to the UK.

@J-D. I like to think of responsibility as an object. Someone, at some point, is holding it. So this isn;t about this vote or that vote, it is about who is holding the Responsibility Object. If I were an MP, that person would now be the Attorney General. I’d be asking him whether, in practice, the UK can unilaterally terminate the escape clause, and what we have to do to trigger it. He is responsible for giving parliament that view. If he said we could, I’d vote for the deal. If on the other hand he said the UK would be unilaterally unable to trigger the termination of the deal, I’d vote against. In reality, it isn’t likely to be a binary decision as there will be probabilities attached. That’s why in my opinion the way to solve this is through parliament, not referendum. If I knew definitively how I’d vote now, there wouldn’t be any point in having a debate. I’d say my particularly active Leave WhatsApp group is split between those like me who aren’t sure and those who want No Deal.

@ MisterMr <i<"if the UK was part of the eurozone, would brexiters have accepted higher inflation to help Greece and Italy or would them have been on the side of the Austrians?" This point seems a bit confused. It implies there is a solution within the current rules of the Eurozone to the problems of Italy and Greece, and there isn’t. The level of fiscal transfers that would have to take place are way beyond what is currently acceptable to Germany. If you had not adopted the Euro, you might have had a chance. But currently, there is very little hope for Italy and not an atom of hope for Greece.

“In facts, even the staunchest opposers of the EU in Italy would see the situation the UK was in (in the EU but outside the eurozone) as great.”. The position of the EU on the Eurozone is that all nations are expected to adopt it. My view was that those opt-outs were going to disappear, hence better to get out now than wait until we were so deeply embedded we could not bet out and have to accept whatever the EU dictated, although it appears that moment has passed. Honestly I don’t see any way in which the EU doesn’t continue to move to a federal Eurostate with a parliament that is sovereign. Incidentally, to those who say I have a vote in Parliament, I’m not sure how it works in other nations but in the UK you vote for a party and the party then decides who gets your vote. As all the main parties were pro-EU that meant just about everyone who went was pro-EU, so in retrospect we can see the three main parties represented just 48% of the UK electorate. So I don’t regard the way the EU parliament operates in the UK as anywhere close to the effectiveness of UK Parliament as a vehicle for democracy.

@ Hidari. The Germans had an empire, and the Belgians, the Dutch, The French. Not sure why the UK alone comes in for your ire.

@ PeteW. If the mods blocked me, you wouldn’t be able to spend all this time correcting me?

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MisterMr 11.18.18 at 8:40 pm

@Dipper 77

“This point seems a bit confused. It implies there is a solution within the current rules of the Eurozone to the problems of Italy and Greece, and there isn’t. The level of fiscal transfers that would have to take place are way beyond what is currently acceptable to Germany.”

I don’t think that the problem is fiscal transfers, I think that the problem is the exceedingly low level of inflation that the eurozone is targeting, without which Italy wouldn’t need fiscal transfers (Italy is still a net creditor nation btw, so it doesn’t really need fiscal transfers, it’s also a net contributor to the EU budget so the fiscal transfer goes in the other direction), and probably Greece neither.
A part from this, my point is that the situation of Greece and Italy isn’t really relevant for the UK, so people who use the problems of Greece and Italy to justify brexit are at best wrong.

The point is that often arguments against the EU are so generic and vague that people who have opposite opinions seem to agree in their hate for the EU, but only because the vagueness of the argument hides their difference. How can it be that both Corbyn, who dislikes the EU because it prevents government intervention in the economy, and Raab who thinks the EU is too similar to the USSR, seem to be on the same side?
This is possible because if we speak about “sovereignity” both Corbyn and Raab can project their own completely opposite idea of what they want on this vague sovereignity.
But at some point this ambiguity will be solved and at least one of the two will look like a moron.

The “ad Greciam et Italiam” argument has the same problem: often people who say “look at Greece and Italy” have very different opinions on what the EU of the greek and italian government had to do to solve the problem, and sometimes those people don’t even have an opinion on this, but as long as the argument ends in a “it’s all the fault of the neoliberal EU” completely different views will look the same, as the leftist will think “the EU had to pay more/inflate more/do something more”, the rightist will think “those big spending club med governments spent too much and now need our money to be saved”, and they will look at each other and think that they agree.

Then when the actual policy comes on the table, like the “deal” proposed by the EU to May, surprisingly nobody agrees to it and everybody thinks it’s bad and that there is a sort of conspiracy. This is a consequence of the fact that these anti EU arguments are actually used to hide a real difference in what people want.

Another example: an idea about brexit is that the UK, outside the EU, can have its own better trade deals with the rest of the world. But what does “better” mean?
For someone “better” means less trade with China because he fears the chinese will steal his job;
For someone else “better” means more trade with China because the UK can get rid of this or that EU regulation.
At the end necessariously many people will discover that “brexit” does not mean the brexit they had in mind.
This is a very serious problem because I think that a lot of people have been duped into voting (and also supporting wholeheartedly) something that is very different from what they think they voted and they are supporting.

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engels 11.18.18 at 8:41 pm

I have low expectations for Brexit at the point but my one remaining hope is when it actually happens Dipper will shut up for a long time.

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Hidari 11.18.18 at 8:43 pm

‘@ Hidari. The Germans had an empire, and the Belgians, the Dutch, The French. Not sure why the UK alone comes in for your ire.’

The reason is (and I’m sure you’re not so dumb you don’t actually know this) that the Dutch, the French, the Germans etc. are inside the EU, happy to remain inside, and don’t keep on boring us by whining about losing their national sovereignty. The UK does.

Your broader point, about Europeans not, generally speaking, facing up to the horrors of colonialism, is generally correct, but not relevant to this discussion, for the reasons I have just stated.

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J-D 11.19.18 at 7:40 am

Thanks to both Hidari and Dipper for responding to my request for views about whether it would be better for the UK Parliament to accept or to reject the package that has been negotiated. I’m not confident I understood either response fully but I think I understood both of them sufficiently.

I gather the vote is supposed to take place in December, so we’ll know fairly soon how they do vote (which is of course not the same thing as what I was asking about, how they should vote).

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Dipper 11.19.18 at 8:49 am

@ MisterMr
“A part from this, my point is that the situation of Greece and Italy isn’t really relevant for the UK, so people who use the problems of Greece and Italy to justify brexit are at best wrong.” disagree – these are outcomes in the EU, and which the EU appears to be unwilling to own. The EU has created a financial environment in which it is impossible for Italy to prosper, and is then refusing to take responsibility for what happens. This muddled arrangement means you are European when it suits the EU, and Italian when it doesn’t.

The clearest UK equivalent is fishing. The English Channel has two similar sized coastlines on each side, and the fishing quota goes 90% to one side and 10% the other. That is clearly not equitable. UK fishing is a small industry in the UK, which means that it is easy to solve. The fact that it hasn’t been solved reveals a truth about how the EU views its various members and member states.

“For someone “better” means less trade with China because he fears the chinese will steal his job; For someone else “better” means more trade with China because the UK can get rid of this or that EU regulation … This is a very serious problem” Yes it is, and that’s why we have a parliamentary system with checks and balances. To quote Robert Tombs in the Sunday Telegraph “The purpose of democracy is not to find the right answer to technical problems as judged by “experts”, but is to maintain an acceptable political community based on consent”. So it is the complexity of these issues that for me means they are best decided by a sovereign UK parliament.

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bad Jim 11.19.18 at 9:49 am

I live a few thousand miles away, so my opinion may be discounted accordingly, but from this distance there is no such thing as “no deal”. Even my continent-spanning country can’t simply disconnect from its trading partners. Fish aren’t British or Spanish. Everyone shares the air.

Rending one web of agreements merely entails tendentiously weaving another, even if that means detailing warships to defend the fishing fleet or accompany convoys of supertankers. There have been deals in place since the beginning of commerce, which have converged on the disappearance of piracy, the certainty of payment and the promptness of delivery. WTF is “no deal”? Infancy?

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SusanC 11.19.18 at 9:59 am

Does UK politics have more nostalgia for its lost empire than e.g. France or Belgium?

Now, certainly I know – for example – Belgian leftists who will say that the past Belgian involvement in the Congo was scandalous, and I’d consider those leftists pretty similar to the Corbyite left in the UK.

But I’d be hard pressed to thonk of the French or Belgian equivalent of the other side of tve coin, nostalgia for the imperial past. Maybe I just don’t know enough of The French or Belgian right… (Front Nationale, maybe?)

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novakant 11.19.18 at 10:08 am

Corbyn is now doubling down on his “Brexit can’t be stopped” claim, ruling out a 2nd referendum – clearly contradicting both the promises made at the party conference and his shadow Brexit man Starker.

Instead he is claiming to be able to get a better deal which is clearly delusional or just a flat out lie (just as the “six tests” always were) – this is the most pathetic “opposition” I have ever seen.

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Dipper 11.19.18 at 11:19 am

@ Hidari – 76 “It’s also in the interests of everyone to pretend that Labour are a ‘leaver’ party. But they aren’t and never have been. Keir Starmer is in charge of Labour’s policies in this regard”

Hang on. If Brexit is tearing apart the tories it is also tearing apart Labour. There is pretty clearly two parties in one now. Centrists such as Starmer, Reeves, Umunna, and co have a single policy – Rejoin the EU. If they were to succeed, then just about every one of John McDonnell’s policies become impossible to implement, as well as scores of other policies, because the nature of the EU is that it imposes an economic model on you and restricts most of your other policies. Furthermore, their economic policy is do to whatever the CBI says is in the interests of business.

There is no common ground at all between centrists and Corbynistas. The set of policies that are acceptable to both centrists and Corbynistas is the empty set. Which Labour would we be voting for? The one that is going to nationalise most of UK industry and heavily promote state investment and control? Or the one that is going straight back in to the EU?

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MisterMr 11.19.18 at 12:48 pm

@Dipper 82

“disagree – these are outcomes in the EU, and which the EU appears to be unwilling to own. The EU has created a financial environment in which it is impossible for Italy to prosper, and is then refusing to take responsibility for what happens. This muddled arrangement means you are European when it suits the EU, and Italian when it doesn’t.”

No, this just means that the EU is mantaining an economic policy that is good for wealth owners. If you look at the wealth to income ratio in Italy, for example, it skyrocked.
The idea that the EU acts in principle for the advantage of some member states and for the disadvantage of others is just plain wrong.

“The English Channel has two similar sized coastlines on each side, and the fishing quota goes 90% to one side and 10% the other. That is clearly not equitable.”

No, this isn’t clearly not equitable, unless you can show that the UK has no other advantageous arrangment elsewhere. Since I don’t know all the economic arrangements of the UK I have to presume that this is infact equitable, because:

“To quote Robert Tombs in the Sunday Telegraph “The purpose of democracy is not to find the right answer to technical problems as judged by “experts”, but is to maintain an acceptable political community based on consent””

The purpose of the EU is also that of mantaining an acceptable political/economic community based on on consent, which includes the consent of people who are not the UK. You are very fast to assume that the UK is the “victim” in the EU arrangments, but for what I can see it isn’t, and in fact is the country that got the most advantageous conditions.

“UK fishing is a small industry in the UK, which means that it is easy to solve. The fact that it hasn’t been solved reveals a truth about how the EU views its various members and member states.”

Actually it has been solved: 10% to UK, 90% to others, it’s just that it has been solved in a way that you don’t like. But you see, once the UK is out of the EU it will be free to negotiate a different ratio – based on the relative bargaining power, because it is a negotiation – with the results that we are already seeing in the draft agreement.

Which brings me to the most spectacular result of brexit: that the UK is going to end up in a situation where it has to do what the EU wants, but will not have a vote at the EU table. This is true accepting the draft agreement, and will be true after “no deal” because the UK will have even less bargaining power and will need the EU even more.

Truly turkeys voting for christmas, on a scale that I didn’t believe possible previously.
I think the reason that this is happening is that many people, you included I suppose, have this opinion that the EU is the franco-german empire, and therefore that all the accords done by the EU are to the advantage of french and germans and to the disadvantage of others.
If one has this opinion then it is natural to think that, if you get out from the grips of the franco-german empire, it will be better for you, and all the contradictory expectations from brexit can be explained by assuming that the french and the germans were stealing your lunch, now they won’t anymore so you can split the lunch between various factions.
It also explains the use of the “ad Greciam et Italiam” argument since the assumption is that the franco-germans are stealing the lunch of the greeks and the italians.

But I think that this is wrong, that the french and the germans aren’t exploiting the greek and the italians (there are problems but not in the sense of economic exploitation implied), and certainly not the britons.
So I think the UK will wake up at a certain point, in a few years, and realize that it has the same problems it had before, but worse, and in the meanwhile the french and the germans (and anybody else) will really have stolen the lunch of the britons, because of brexit. Which is crazy.

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Z 11.19.18 at 1:16 pm

Does UK politics have more nostalgia for its lost empire than e.g. France or Belgium?

More or less is always hard to quantify.

Compared to Great-Britain, my impression is that there is far less nostalgia for the lost empire in terms of national grandeur (the humiliating military defeats help, in that respect) but rather more in terms of direct grievance, and disproportionately in the popular classes. One peculiarity of the French colonial empire was the size of the “Pieds Noirs” population in Northern Africa, people born in Algeria of parents, grand-parents, sometimes great-grand parents also born in Algeria who nevertheless self-identified exclusively as French, and who had to leave abruptly in 1961 (and some still – the Harkis – had to leave because they had picked the French side in the war). This understandably left deep scars, and fuels political resentment (one paradoxical political consequence is the existence of a small but not non-existent Muslim FN/RN vote around Toulon – harkis and their children). Evoking the Algeria she left at 19 still draws tears to the eyes of my next-door neighbor, whose family left Alsace in 1870/1871 to escape Prussian annexation and resettled to what was then, for a fleeing Alsacian, just another French department.

Anecdotally, the French Jeremy Corbyn (Jean-Luc Mélenchon) is of this background (three of his grand-parents were Spanish, the last one Italian, all of them working class, both couples met and settled in French Algeria and his parents then moved to Morocco, were Mélenchon was born and which he left with his mother in 1962).

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Hidari 11.19.18 at 1:21 pm

Just a link between Brexiteerism and Maria’s thread about climate change, above.

‘ If you have detected a distinctly American flavour to the rampant lobbying in Westminster corridors over a Brexit deal, there is a good reason why.

A close look at the transatlantic connections of the London-based groups pushing for the most deregulated form of Brexit reveals strong ties to major US libertarian influencers. These include fossil fuel magnates the Koch brothers — known for funding climate science denial around the world — and the man who bankrolled Donald Trump’s campaign, Robert Mercer.

At the heart of this network lies a little-known power couple, Matthew and Sarah Elliott. Together, the husband and wife team connect senior members of the Leave campaign and groups pushing a libertarian free-market ideology from offices in Westminster’s Tufton Street to major US libertarian lobbyists and funders.

Collectively, the network aims to use Brexit as an opportunity to slash regulations in the UK, paving the way for a wide-ranging US-UK free-trade deal that could have disastrous consequences for the environment.

The current draft withdrawal agreement appears to try and provide some protection for the current level of environmental regulation — at least in principle. But politicians associated with this transatlantic network are lobbying hard for the draft deal to be scrapped, along with those protections.

This DeSmog UK investigation reveals the strength of the ties between Matthew and Sarah Elliott, UK lobbyists and politicians, and US groups with vested interests in fossil fuels keen to profit from deregulation.’

https://www.desmog.co.uk/2018/11/18/matthew-sarah-elliott-uk-power-couple-linking-us-libertarians-and-fossil-fuel-lobbyists-brexit

(This is not to imply that the EU has a sterling record on the environment: it certainly doesn’t, but just to remind everyone that the Brexiteers whining about ‘National Sovereignty’ is mainly about reducing the UK to being even more of a puppet state of the American Empire than it is at present, assuming such a thing is possible).

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infovore 11.19.18 at 1:47 pm

With the Brexiteers’ insistence on an expiry date on the backstop in mind, it may be useful to recall just why the backstop is there in the first place.

Part of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) is a treaty between the UK and Irish governments codifying the status of Northern Ireland. There is no expiration date on that treaty. The Irish government insists on the backstop as a guarantee that after Brexit the UK will continue to live up to its obligations under the GFA.

To put an expiration date on the backstop is to put an expiration date on the GFA, allowing the UK to renege on it after that date without incurring the costs of explicitly breaking a treaty. It should not have come as a surprise that the Irish government would fight tooth and nail to prevent that.

If the UK wants to get rid of the backstop in an orderly manner, all it has to do is negotiate a successor to the GFA with all the parties involved. This could even be part of the negotiations for the successor treaty to the withdrawal agreement.

And as Parliament is sovereign in the UK, getting rid of the backstop in a disorderly manner is always an option. All that including the backstop in the withdrawal agreement does is increase the cost of doing so. As far as I can tell the True Brexiteers are not concerned with these kinds of costs in the first place, so I don’t see why the backstop bothers them so much. All they need is a parliamentary vote to break the withdrawal agreement or its successor treaty, and then they’ll have their desired True Brexit. Same for the True Lexiteers and their True Lexit.

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Dipper 11.19.18 at 2:12 pm

@ infovore.

Firstly, at the time of the referendum debate, Mark Durkan (SDLP, Foyle) said “It should be remembered that the institutions of the Good Friday agreement do not take as givens just the human rights provisions of the Human Rights Act and the European convention on human rights, but the common EU membership of the UK and Ireland. Even some of the cross-border institutions that were set up as a result of the Good Friday agreement directly address and reflect our common membership of the EU.” So there’s no reason why this question should be addressed at Brexiteers, rather than all those MP’s who voted to have the referendum having been told this. Surely it is incumbent on all those who voted to hold the referendum to have an answer? Otherwise I wasn’t really being given a choice was I?

Secondly, please could you quote the segment of the Belfast Agreement that you believe leaving the Single Market or the Custom’s Union would breach? (it is here). My point being that it isn’t as though it says “there shalt be no hard border”, rather I see no reason why if The UK cannot break out of the CU, why the GFA doesn’t also give the UK a right of veto over any changes in the CU or other EU regulations being applied on the island of Ireland?

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Hidari 11.19.18 at 5:22 pm

@86
If what you say is true, why doesn’t Corbyn sack Starmer?

I might add to some of the more excitable Remainers on this thread that there already exists a ‘true’ Remain opposition who oppose Brexit tooth and nail. They are called the Libdems.Their support according to the polls is currently around 8%. The ‘Corbyn is the antichrist’ crew might care to reflect on why that is.

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Francis Spufford 11.19.18 at 6:03 pm

SusanC:

Well, the FN got a lot of its early support, if I remember rightly, from white ex-colonists displaced from Algeria to the south of France. Which is a kind of imperial nostalgia, I suppose, or maybe imperial anger, though the main lineage of the party is national rather than imperial reaction, going back to Vichy and the anti-Dreyfusards and before that even to provincial royalism. But I suspect one reason why explicit imperial nostalgia is muted in France is that the French state is still, on the quiet, in the empire business, with continuing military and commercial and paternalistic relationships that are far more whole-hearted that the feeble symbolic stuff Britain does with the Commonwealth. Francophone West Africa is in a Paris-sponsored monetary union and is dotted with French bases; Guiana and the French Caribbean and French Polynesia are departments of Metropolitan France with deputies in the National Assembly. You don’t have to be nostalgic for what hasn’t gone.

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Thomas Beale 11.19.18 at 7:12 pm

Hidari @ 89
that’s easy. Until Clegg, the Lib Dems had pretty good leaders, easily better quality politicians than most today. Most have been straight talkers, including Vince Cable, Ming Campbell, Paddy Ashdown and certainly Charles Kennedy, who could mop the floor with most opponents while drunk, which he quite often was. The Lib Dem program is still in my view one of the better informed by political history and democratic theory, they just need a decent leader and for the electorate to move on from the &$^%* university fees problem (which the Lib Dems pretty much fixed, as far as could be done without doing away with them altogether).

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Hidari 11.19.18 at 7:24 pm

96

Dipper 11.19.18 at 7:41 pm

@ Hidari “If what you say is true, why doesn’t Corbyn sack Starmer?” Two reasons. Firstly, why have a fight now in opposition when you can get into power and have a fight then? Secondly, because Corbyn isn’t really interested. Politics is his hobby not his job. He only does what he enjoys; meeting terrorists, preaching to the converted, his allotment.

As a general point, the clash of legal systems is coming into play quite heavily. The GFA is a classic British legal fudge. It creates a basis for parties of good-will to co-operate. That isn’t how Continental legal systems work; they are very specific. The backstop was sold to the UK government as a fudge that allowed progress to be made and not important, and now we find it is completely binding and we have no say in the interpretation. The basis of trust has completely broken down. We are now being presented with a 500 page document that operates in a legal system we don’t understand. I have this feeling that even if everyone involved said we could get out of the transition, we would find when it came to it that we couldn’t. A large part of me is saying no matter how bad No Deal is, it is better than signing away your children into never-ending serfdom.

97

Jonathan 11.19.18 at 9:11 pm

PeteW @67 -you don’t have to convince me that any form of Brexit is a terrible idea, but the assumption that only a small swing is needed, it’s virtually in the bag is the sort of complacency remain had last time round. People are apt to forget that in 2016 a then relatively popular PM wrote a leaflet to every household in the land urging a remain vote. That wouldn’t happen this time round. Getting people weary of the whole thing to actually vote wouldn’t be easy. There’s a Spectator piece (I know, I know) by a former YouGov man here on how May might win a referendum:
https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/11/theresa-mays-deal-would-win-a-second-referendum-heres-why/
It’s largely recent YouGov results that have given rise to what I called excitable commentary on apparent support for remain. In certain circles people seem to imagine that MPs – especially Labour MPs in leave-voting constituencies – are being besieged by people wanting another vote, regretting their 2016 choice and wanting to making amends this time round. Sorry, that isn’t happening. The most common response MPs get is being asked why we haven’t just got on with it.
People who want a second referendum to get a different result need to persuade others of this; mostly what I see these days is FBPE types tweeting each other. And to go back to my original point, there are practical questions about a referendum that need addressing. The full page editorial in yesterday’s Observer was a classic for this – not a single mention of practical issues.

Dipper @59. Where to even begin? We’re not Greece or Italy; for starters we’re not in the Euro-zone (something I always thought was a terrible idea). Parliament will get control back? And then what? Negotiate a trade deal with, say, the US? Modern trade deals involve deep integration which impinges on sovereignty.

98

Dipper 11.19.18 at 9:44 pm

Jonathan – “Where to even begin?” Well you can begin here “Modern trade deals involve deep integration which impinges on sovereignty.” and give a single example of a modern trade deal which requires a party to accept the other part as its primary law-making body.

99

J-D 11.19.18 at 9:51 pm

Dipper

In a previous discussion you made a statement about the difference between the UK legal system and the legal systems of other countries, but when questioned offered no justification for your assertion. Of course there are differences between the UK legal system and the systems of other countries, but not the kind you imagine.

We are now being presented with a 500 page document that operates in a legal system we don’t understand.

No, there are people in the UK who understand the legal systems of other countries.

100

novakant 11.19.18 at 10:39 pm

Hidari, what would it take to convince you that Corbyn wants Brexit? I have given verifiable evidence and you can check out today’s CBI speech in which he talks about a “good Brexit” being a “catalyst for change” and in the Q&A afterwards tried to brush off a question about young people overwhelmingly being in favour of Remain with vague references to the continuing participation of the UK in the Erasmus program…

Starmer is there to keep the Labour members in favour of Remain – the vast majority – from jumping ship until a general election solves all our problems…

And yes, I have voted LibDem because of Brexit before and will do so again (or Green) until Labour gets it’s shit together and opposes Brexit unconditionally.

101

faustusnotes 11.20.18 at 2:01 am

I agree with Novakant, Corbyn seems to be wanting Brexit, or at least sees it as a prime opportunity to bring down the government. This is irresponsible for so many reasons, not least that this is the biggest challenge facing the country in decades and Corbyn is treating it as a cheap chance to win power.

Dipper, I can see that you have never lived in a country that had to negotiate free trade agreements. If you had, you would understand how silly you look when you complain about sovereignty being impinged. When Australia signed the US free trade agreement we had to accept interference in our pharmaceutical pricing arrangements, and Australian pharmaceuticals that are price-fixed under our scheme cannot be exported to the USA. We accepted a range of changes to quarantine rules. There was a lot of outcry over this. Opposition to the TPP also centred on these kinds of dispute resolution procedures. If you somehow think that after you leave the EU you’re going to be able to negotiate trade deals that don’t involve considerable amounts of compromise of sovereign administrative processes you are very naive.

The UK is going to leave the EU just as the EU begins its trade deal with Japan. Do you think that Japan is going to waste a minute of its trade negotiators’ time on the UK unless it is going to get a considerably better deal than it is getting from the EU? Do you think Japan even needs a free trade deal with the UK? If you’re lucky you’ll be able to negotiate a trade deal with Australia within 5 years, but what will that get you? Your market will be flooded with Australian food and UK farmers will complain. And good luck successfully negotiating with the real predators – China, the US and the EU – when you’re begging for scraps using trade negotiators who have zero past experience.

When that happens, you’ll know what it means to “take back control”!

102

nastywoman 11.20.18 at 7:41 am

and as somebody has mentioned ”Erasmus” –
from Wikipedia:
”Some academics have speculated that former Erasmus students will prove to be a powerful force in creating a pan-European identity. The political scientist Stefan Wolff, for example, has argued that “Give it 15, 20 or 25 years, and Europe will be run by leaders with a completely different socialisation from those of today”, referring to the so-called ‘Erasmus generation’.[21]

And understood that it might be a bit late to enroll dudes like Corbyn -(or all of these ”Dippers” in the program) – but if we/they could – it would go a lot faster – to the ”pan-European identity” WE want!

103

PeteW 11.20.18 at 8:44 am

Jonathan @97
I don’t know how a second referendum would turn out.
I was taking issue with your argument that we shouldn’t have one because not many people seem to have changed their minds. That struck me as weak.
What is surely more important is what the majority of people want? That seems to be to remain. You mention YouGov: they poll regularly, and the last one that found a (tiny) margin to leave was two years ago.
I don’t care about what MPs claim to hear on the doorstep, not about the tweets of “FBPE types”. I care about: (a) is Brexit a good or bad idea, and (b) does it have majority support?
When the answer to (a) is clearly no, and the answer to (b) appears to be no as well, what the hell is the UK doing?
I take your point that it might be difficult to frame the referendum question but I don’t think it’s impossible. As I have said above, it looks anyway as though the options are ultimately going to be between crash-out and remain, so why not have that as the choice?
And if the UK chooses crash-out, so be it.

104

infovore 11.20.18 at 9:34 am

@ Dipper 91

Fristly, […] So there’s no reason why this question should be addressed at Brexiteers, rather than all those MP’s who voted to have the referendum having been told this. Surely it is incumbent on all those who voted to hold the referendum to have an answer?

There is a very good reason to point to the Brexiteers in particular: they demanded that the UK leave the EU while glossing over the consequences. But I do agree that the MPs who voted to hold the referendum are not blameless either.

Otherwise I wasn’t really being given a choice was I?

The choice you were given was between status quo versus some underspecified change.

If the people arguing loudest for Brexit had been honest about presenting their preferred alternative you would have been given a choice between status quo EU and we’ll turn the UK into a low-wage deregulated neoliberal paradise, sign away any ability to undo these changes in trade deal with the US, but we’ll close the border to immigration should anyone still want to get in after we’re done looting the place.

So I can agree that you weren’t really being given a choice. That would have required Cameron to take the referendum seriously, as well as honesty from the Brexiteers.

Secondly, […] why the GFA doesn’t also give the UK a right of veto over any changes in the CU or other EU regulations being applied on the island of Ireland?

I’m not a lawyer and not going to pretend to be one on the internet either. As I understand the matter, the UK had that veto through its EU membership. By exiting the EU it forfeits that veto.

It is possible that the UK could have obtained a better result here. But it looks to me like the UK government frittered away too much time arguing with itself about what its negotiating position ought to be, and as a result ran out of time in its actual negotiations with the EU. Which is why it ended up with a Withdrawal Agreement that is really a typical EU kick-the-can-down-the-road fudge that buys time for the real negotiations. But a condition of giving the UK extra was that it would be prevented from making unilateral changes before a final settlement has been reached.

105

Hidari 11.20.18 at 11:04 am

‘because Corbyn isn’t really interested. Politics is his hobby not his job. He only does what he enjoys. Meeting terrorists…’

Ladies and gentlemen, the modern Brexiteer. Let’s give him a big round of applause. He walks, he talks, he pontificates, sometimes all at the same time.

‘I have voted LibDem…and will do so again.’

Good for you. Let me know how that works out for you.

‘I agree with Novakant’

Let me just stop you right there.

106

Dipper 11.20.18 at 11:40 am

@ J-D – this IMHO is a reasonable discussion on the differences between EU law and UK law, and also other reasons for Brexit.

The main issue now is one of trust; between MPs and May’s negotiating team, between electors and MPs, between the UK and the EU. The issue of the advice round the backstop is now coming back to haunt May, as some government members now seem to feel they were deliberately deceived over the backstop, having been told it was essentially meaningless. I’m not sure how we can recover trust between the various parts without completely walking away and then entering into a process of mediation .

@ faustusnotes “When Australia signed the US free trade agreement we had to accept interference in our pharmaceutical pricing arrangements”< I would bite your arm off for trade agreements with so few limitations. Did the USA also demand the right to make Australia's laws, demand the right of free movement, the right to most of Australias's fish, and then charge Australia for all that?

@infovore “The choice you were given was between status quo versus some underspecified change.” for Leavers, this was the big lie of the campaign – that remaining guaranteed the status quo. Juncker was very clear during the referendum campaign that reform was going in one direction only – more integration. Also, the very act of having a referendum with a subsequent Remain vote would have completely undermined the UK’s ability to influence the direction of the EU. We basically called our own bluff.

Also, @infovore, your alternative of “a low-wage deregulated neoliberal paradise” is not what the choice was. As noted elsewhere, John MCDonnell cannot do what he wants to do within the EU, so it was not a vote on a specific policy, but about the right to choose policy.

A couple of updates from the UK; much discussion on the deal now centring on the fact that it is in essence remaining in the EU but without Freedom of Movement and with no voice in the EU. It seems that May has believed her own propaganda that Brexiters are racists who just want fewer immigrants, hence her comments today about EU citizens “queue-jumping”. Many Leavers consistently said it was sovereignty that was the #1 issue, and inability to control immigration was the most obvious symptom of that loss of sovereignty. Hence the widespread rejection of this deal.

Secondly, one of those butterfly-wing unknown-unknowns. If the withdrawal deal goes ahead it seems it may be hugely beneficial for NI. They get free access to the SM but with fewer regulations. It is projected many business from GB and from RoI may relocate to NI. Perhaps it will ultimately be the EU wanting to terminate the deal, and the UK refusing to trigger it.

107

MisterMr 11.20.18 at 3:34 pm

@Dipper 96

“The backstop was sold to the UK government as a fudge that allowed progress to be made and not important, and now we find it is completely binding and we have no say in the interpretation.”

Wha?

Barnier was always very clear that the backstop was binding, he never tried to sell it to the UK government as a fudge.
Plus the UK government was part of the negotiations, May had access to the text.

Also the original EU idea was that the backstop applied only to NI, it’s the UK that wanted the larger custom union because they didn’t want a border too sharp between NI and the rest of the UK.

It is also the same UK government that said officially that it didn’t want under any condition a border between Eire and NI.

108

J-D 11.20.18 at 11:37 pm

Dipper

If I tell you that I’m going to explain the difference between (let’s say, for example) the English legal system and the Scottish legal system; and if I then give you a summary explanation of the English legal system; and then I stop without giving an explanation of the Scottish legal system; then I haven’t done what I said I was going to do. The effect is the same as if I lied to you when I told you I was going to explain the difference, even if I didn’t intend to lie.

From the article you linked

Scruton also posited a third potential reason for a vote in favor of Brexit: England’s unique legal system …

Scruton pointed out that Britain’s legal system … is structurally completely different from other European nations. …

The article goes on to give a brief explanation of Britain’s legal system (it’s not clear to me to what extent this explanation is borrowed from Scruton, but that makes no difference), but it does not follow up with any account of the legal systems of other European nations. In Britain, it tells me, X, Y, and Z are true; is it therefore saying that in European nations X, Y, and Z are not true, but A, B, and C are true? It doesn’t commit itself, and thus fails to make its case.

It doesn’t help that the account given of Britain’s legal system is misleadingly incomplete and partly inaccurate, but even if that part of the account were perfect the article would still fail to show up the differences between the British legal system and those of other European countries. There are differences, obviously (how could there not be?), but they are not of the kind you imagine.

109

faustusnotes 11.21.18 at 1:50 am

Dipper:

I would bite your arm off for trade agreements with so few limitations. Did the USA also demand the right to make Australia’s laws, demand the right of free movement, the right to most of Australias’s fish, and then charge Australia for all that?

How cute! The UK was due to be in just such a trade agreement with Japan from April next year. You would get access to Japanese markets without them having any say over your laws or any demand for free movement. But you left the EU and dropped out of the deal! So no, I don’t think you would bite anyone’s arm off for such a trade deal. The only thing you have torn off here is your own nose, to spite your face.

Also, this is your reminder that the EU didn’t force you to give them freedom of movement or say over your laws: you agreed to it, and in exchange you got freedom of movement in all of Europe, and a say over their laws, and membership in trade agreements that are better than they would otherwise be because you negotiated as a bloc of 300 million people instead of 60 million. You need to quite whining about how the EU forced you to do things, and accept that you agreed to them, and when you withdraw your part of the deal, they will take theirs too.

Really, your sense of aggrieved entitlement knows no bounds, does it?

110

Frank Wilhoit 11.21.18 at 10:07 pm

Dipper @ 96:
So, “serfdom” means “any obstacle to laundering Russian money through the City of London”. Who knew?

111

Dipper 11.22.18 at 8:03 am

@ Frank Wolhoit –“laundering Russian money through the City of London””

Woooosh. What was that? That was the entire argument going way, way, over Frank’s head.

Laundering Russian Money? It literally happened in Estonia, with, allegedly, the aid of several non-UK banks Literally, Frank, the thing you’re going on about happening in London, literally happened in the EU in Estonia. In huge amounts. But London!

112

engels 11.22.18 at 9:26 am

Food for thought:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/22/respect-eu-britain-outside-left-economy?CMP=twt_gu

(Before the mob attacks, I still don’t support Brexit, just thought it was interesting…)

113

Faustusnotes 11.22.18 at 10:21 am

That article is a bit flimsy Engels. A lot of “they predicted x before and it didn’t happen so they could be wrong again”. I don’t consider that to be a strong argument. But its bigger problem is the idea that after brexit the uk could run a more fiscally expansive and socially progressive economy than the best in Europe (or at all). That idea always runs aground on the reality of the British electorate, which is that they hate social spending outside the nhs and are easily fooled by deficit terrorism. The same people who voted to leave the eu so they can get an extra 350million of their money that is currently being wasted on feckless wasteful European projects are not going to vote for a party that promises to raise taxes, raise the deficit and finance a better society. What will happen is that the moment the uk leaves there will be an economic crisis that the Tories will blame on spending and use to further shaft the country, then run a scare campaign about going back to the old days under labour in 2022. And any attempt by Corbyn to define a socially progressive spending program will be painted as reckless stupidity in straitened times. And a large portion of the labour right will agree with all that. Had the uk sorted that problem out before leaving you could make a strong argument that they can do better alone, but they haven’t so you’ll just get more screwed.

Also it will take a truly heroic political program to replace the markets that will collapse when you leave. That’s more basic than economic ideology. There will be barriers to trade that will crush large sections of the economy, and there is no short term solution to that problem.

114

Layman 11.22.18 at 11:35 am

Dipper: “The issue of the advice round the backstop is now coming back to haunt May, as some government members now seem to feel they were deliberately deceived over the backstop, having been told it was essentially meaningless.”

Do you really mean to say that you take this sort of posturing seriously? I mean, it’s like a microcosm of the entire Brexit ignorance problem, isn’t it? We’re supposed to swallow the idea that some government ministers sincerely believed that there was no conundrum to be solved with respect to the Ireland / NI border, and that they thought there was an easy solution in the offing which, somehow, perversely, no one could identify; and now they’re shocked — shocked I tell you! — to discover that there really is an intractable problem and they might have to live with the backstop they agreed to in that event? Is it that you think they’re stupid, or is it the other way ‘round?

115

nastywoman 11.22.18 at 2:30 pm

@112 –
the linked article says:
”In the meantime, there is an opportunity to do things differently, to exploit the policy space that Brexit affords and tackle the structural problems that have plagued the economy for decades”.

Great!
So the structural problem that Britain voluntarily gave away nearly all of it’s manufacturing and production in exchange for a predominating finance and service industry will be reversed?

Yes?

No? – as the article says:
”The right has its plan: more liberalisation. It is time for the left to come up with its own vision that would deploy every available policy tool to modernise the economy, rebuild Britain’s industrial space and spread prosperity more widely”.

So – Britain is going to buy back all these manufacturing it sold (mainly to Germany) – and with buying IT back all these pretty well paying jobs for workers- now in Germany will come back to Little Britain?

And – ”Such a transformation is much more likely to happen outside the EU than inside”?

Really?

If the article would be form one of my fellow Californians I would ask:
What is the dude smoking?

And I don’t want to be too ”tallish” but really – ”interesting”?
The article recycles all these old and funny fairy tales about how a so called ”advanced” economy could work with all kind of financial and other ”political” tricks while ”the producing countries” of this world have produced ”the consuming countries” right into the ground – and all of these tricky members of the consuming countries – still – have this illusion – that there is some way of ”slender isolation” in order to re-create some jobs which pay livable wages for ”their people”?

There isn’t – or in other words – there is only one way:´- as the article IT-self concludes:

”It is possible to do better than that”.
(as the article says:
”The two most significant UK imports from the rest of Europe – German industrial goods and cheap labour – have helped to bend the economy out of shape by holding back the manufacturing sector and encouraging the growth of low-wage service sector jobs”)

So Great Britain just HAS to import ”Expensive” Labour from Germany – but how could that be done done without being in the EU anymore?

116

MisterMr 11.22.18 at 3:09 pm

@Faustusnotes 113
“The same people who voted to leave the eu so they can get an extra 350million of their money that is currently being wasted on feckless wasteful European projects are not going to vote for a party that promises to raise taxes, raise the deficit and finance a better society.”

The article linked by Engels actually says that the new independent UK government should both lower taxes and increase spending:

“Interest rates would be cut by the Bank of England, while the Treasury would sound the death knell for austerity by announcing tax cuts and spending increases.”

In fact if the problem is just to increase deficit spending, there is no reason to increse taxes, you can instead lower them and keep spending fixed: the economic policy of Trump and, in earlier times, of Reagan.
I actually think that it is necessarious to increase taxes on capital assets so I disagree on this with the article.

The point that the UK could do exactly the same by staying in the EU stands.

There might be some logic in the UK exiting the EU and going full protectionist before ramping up spending and/or nationalisations, but this policy is not what apparently most brexiters are about (and also has big dangers since I don’t think an autarkic UK could go that far, I mean, it already didn’t work too well for Italy under fascism and it was almost a century ago).

117

Dipper 11.22.18 at 5:14 pm

@ Layman.

The Belfast agreement says that “All decisions will be by agreement between both Governments. The Governments will make determined efforts to resolve disagreements between them. There will be no derogation from the sovereignty of either Government.”. So, the UK government remains sovereign over UK territory. There are differences already across the border, and the UK believes there are technological solutions to the customs arrangement. The GFA commits both sides to working together to solve this. There explicitly is not a veto. By attempting to exercise a non-existent veto the Irish Government is breaking the GFA.

This is only an intractable problem if people want it to be so, and decide not to follow the GFA.

118

J-D 11.22.18 at 9:29 pm

Dipper

It seems to me that if you have an arrangement where decisions can only be made with the agreement of all parties, then each party has a veto over any decision. For example, if a jury can only give a verdict by agreement of all jurors, then each juror has a veto over any verdict. That would contrast with an arrangement where a verdict is possible without the agreement of all jurors, where there’s not such a veto. So if you had an agreement between two countries which said that decisions under the agreement require the consent of both governments, that seems to me equivalent to each government having a veto over decisions under the agreement.

119

Trout 11.22.18 at 10:43 pm

@Dipper
‘differences already across the border’ – would these, by any chance, be the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks which currently take place between NI and GB? These are no North-South checks at present.

You’ll also know that the passage from the GFA which has caught your eye refers to the provisions for the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference, which has met once since 2007. Doesn’t look to me like much a ‘determined effort’ was made at this year’s meeting as the UK sent what can be described as, at best, the ‘B’ team to the meeting.

If you want to pick through the GFA in search of cherries, how about the agreement that the power of the govt. with jurisdiction over NI be ‘exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people’? That casts May’s antics with the DUP, whose enthusiasm for Brexit places them squarely in the minority in NI, in a rather poor light.

120

Hidari 11.23.18 at 6:52 am

It’s funny, isn’t it, how it’s Britains colonial holdings (Gibraltar, the north of Ireland) that are causing all the problems in the ‘United’ Kingdoms plan to ‘seize back’ its ‘sovereignty’. Almost makes you doubt the wisdom of creating a giant racist Empire in the first place.

121

faustusnotes 11.23.18 at 7:33 am

That’s right MisterMr, the article argues that someone (one assumes the Labour Party) should go to the electorate that twice returned an austerity-focused government out of fear of deficits, and tell them it will cut taxes and raise spending. That’s called wishful thinking, or perhaps more accurately, “suicidal ideation.” The alternative is to suggest they will raise taxes and spending (thus avoiding the scary deficit monster), except anger at that practice is part of the reason Gordon Brown got the boot.

A large minority of this electorate believed the lies on the side of BoJo’s bus, and responded positively to the UKIP posters with the Syrian refugees. This is an electorate where the top-selling papers routinely demonize the work shy and “benefit scroungers,” and the response of these wishful thinkers is to pretend that after Brexit they will suddenly change, and the country can sail through those stormy waters on the winds of government largesse. That doesn’t seem like a very viable plan.

This is what bothers me about Corbyn’s approach to Lexit. Even if he and his buddies were right that the only way to bring about a left wing utopia is to leave the EU, they’re faced with an electorate that isn’t likely to tolerate much of their program, so all they’re going to do is bring about years of chaos without the payoff. And the worst possible outcome is that they use this current instability to bring down the government, then get handed the poison chalice of brexit itself.

122

engels 11.23.18 at 11:26 am

Even if he and his buddies were right that the only way to bring about a left wing utopia is to leave the EU, they’re faced with an electorate that isn’t likely to tolerate much of their program, so all they’re going to do is bring about years of chaos without the payoff.

Sounds convincing. Would you like to unpack it with regard to a specific left-wing policy—say, nationalisation?

https://www.patreon.com/posts/notes-on-eu-and-11833771
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/01/jeremy-corbyn-nationalisation-plans-voters-tired-free-markets

123

MisterMr 11.23.18 at 12:25 pm

@faustusnotes 121

There is something weird about deficit scaremongering: when lefties are in power the right goes full deficit scaremongering, when the right is in power, the left goes full deficit scaremongering.

Basically lefties want more services and perhaps more taxes, and are ok justifying increasing spending in services with keynesian theory;
the right on the other hand wants lower taxes and perhaps lower services, and is ok justifying lowering taxes on the rich with arguments both from keynesian theory and from the idea that taxes disincentivize investiment (this idea is not strictly keynesian since the righties apparently assume that this is true even if you lower taxes in a deficit-neutral way by lowering spending together).

Both views are not really keynesian because keynesianism is based on the idea of countercyclical fiscal spending/interest rate policy, so for example the idea posed in the article that the UK government should simply go into deficit or lower interest rates as an answer to the economic problems caused by brexit doesn’t make sense in keynesian terms, because those problems are not really due to the business cycle.

I’m not saying this because I’m a keynesian purist or whatever, but because I think that a lot of ideological stuff is passed for “keynesian theory”, in particular from the right, even while lefties believe that austerity is a right wing ploy, and righties that keynes was a disguised commie, because of these inconsistencies and ambiguities.

In particular for whatever the reason I think that in current times it’s much easier (ideologically) for the right to justify tax cuts than for the left to justify spending increases, though I can’t really explain why it is so.

124

nastywoman 11.23.18 at 8:28 pm

@120
”It’s funny, isn’t it, how it’s Britains colonial holdings (Gibraltar, the north of Ireland) that are causing all the problems in the ‘United’ Kingdoms plan to ‘seize back’ its ‘sovereignty’’.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how it makes some (old?) people ”doubt the wisdom of creating a giant racist Empire in the first place” – while younger Europeans might just take Gibraltar and the north of Ireland as positive proof that in Europe in this century all the silly efforts of ”Exiters” or narrow minded Nationalist have become completely useless – trying to entangle how irreversible interconnected Europe has become?

125

nastywoman 11.24.18 at 8:53 am

– and so – and as some ”Brexiters” love to mention Spain -(and Greece) – how about NOT being able to use Spain as the most convenient -(and ”cheap”) retirement for Great Britain anymore.
And what about some ”transfer payments” from the Brexiters to Spain for making partying in the sun affordable for a whole generation of young Brits?-
(as nowhere one could get drunk cheaper as in Southern Spain or on the Costa Brava – and – okay – it has become a bit more pricey for US and the Brits since the Euro and since Spain – thanks god to the Euro – Spain can make nearly as much money with Tourism as for example France or some other ”Northern” European countries –
AND what’s about – besides all the very unpleasant and hateful political haggling – finally thanking them ”Service Slaves”? –
– as WE did – in the name of ALL the ”Dippers!

So we hardly could stop thanking the wonderful Hungarian waitresses – who served US at the Malibu restaurant in the Ned-hotel this wonderful American breakfast with these awesome thick pancakes – and even the two Halfbrits who were with US -(One Swiss – One Half-German – One Scot – One American and One Hungarian) – expressed their utmost gratitude for a fellow European to ”serve” and we promised next time to ”serve” them!

And what’s about that for ”Lexit”?

Sooo what’s about –

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