The Day after Brexit (repost from 2016)

by John Quiggin on December 14, 2019

Now that Brexit is almost certainly going to happen, I’m reposting this piece from late 2016, with some minor corrections, indicated by strike-outs. Feel free to have your say on any aspect of Brexit.

Since the collapse of faith in neoliberalism following the Global Financial Crisis, the political right has been increasingly dominated by tribalism Trumpism. But in most cases, including the US, this has so far amounted to little more than Trilling’s irritable mental gestures. To the extent that there is any policy program, it is little more than crony capitalism. Of all the tribalist Trumpist groups that have achieved political power the only ones that have anything amounting to a political program are the Brexiteers.

The sustainability of tribalism Trumpism as a political force will depend, in large measure, on the perceived success or failure of Brexit. So, what will the day after Brexit (presumably, sometime in March 2019) look like, and more importantly, feel like? I’ll rule out the so-called “soft Brexit” where Britain stays in the EU for all practical purposes, gaining some minor concessions on immigration restrictions. It seems unlikely and would be even more of an anti-climax than the case I want to think about.

It’s easy to imagine a disaster, and maybe that will happen. But suppose everything goes relatively smoothly. That is, Britain leaves the EU and the single market, but gets deals in place that keep trade flowing smoothly, retains visa-free travel for visitors and so on.

What will the day after feel like?

I’m finding it hard to see that anything will happen to justify the massive effort involved. The Poles and other EU citizens whose presence was the biggest single justification for Brexit won’t go away. On the contrary, it seems pretty clear that all EU citizens will get permanent residence, even those who arrived after the Brexit vote. Even with a hard Brexit, the benefits of consistency with EU regulations will be overwhelming. The terms of any trade deal with non-EU countries won’t be any better than the existing EU deals and probably worse.

Even symbolically, what’s going to happen? Typically, national independence is marked by a ceremony where the flag of the imperial power is lowered, and the new national flag is raised. But, from what I can tell, the EU flag is hardly ever flown in the UK as it is. The same for national currency, passport, official languages and all the other symbolic representations of nationhood. Even the new blue passports will be made in France and could have been introduced at any time.

So, after a successful Brexit, Britain will be a little poorer and more isolated than before, but otherwise largely unchanged. Will that count as success in the eyes of those who voted to Leave. I don’t know. Maybe those closer to the action could comment.

Belated addition One thing that this post missed completely is that Brexit is an entirely English project, imposed on the Scots and Irish. That’s become more and more evident, and looks sure to dominate the days after Brexit happens

{ 45 comments }

1

Demigourd 12.14.19 at 8:01 am

Disappointing to see JQ taking the “Trumpism” line. Everything Trump does is consistent with regular conservatism, and suggesting that he represents a distinct type of politics or ideology will just help Republicans return to the usual euphemisms and how-dare-you-sir pieties to cover the exact same politics after he’s out of office.

2

Hidari 12.14.19 at 9:14 am

Doubtless one of the attractions of Brexit at least to those who thought it up (Farrage etc.) is that it is a completely token rebellion: it appears to change very much while in reality changing very little.

Only one thing:

‘On the contrary, it seems pretty clear that all EU citizens will get permanent residence, even those who arrived after the Brexit vote.’

Are we completely sure about this?

‘One thing that this post missed completely is that Brexit is an entirely English project, imposed on the Scots and Irish. That’s become more and more evident, and looks sure to dominate the days after Brexit happens.’

I kept on putting this point forward in various CT threads, getting, for some reason, massive pushback*, despite the fact that it is obviously true and always has been. Perhaps a colour coded map of the ‘new’ UK (which shows, essentially, the entirety of England as blue, with the exception of larger conurbations), the Welsh speaking (‘outer’) parts of Wales as green, essentially the entirety of Scotland as yellow, and the majority of the North of Ireland as being green, will make that point for me.

*I’m not sure why, but I think it’s something to do with an unwillingness to see that in all four sections of the ‘United’ Kingdom we are seeing an eruption of nationalism: the SNP in Scotland, Sinn Fein in NI, Plaid in Wales and of course the Tories in England, with the Tories now functioning as, so to speak, the political wing of UKIP, or, if you want, UKIP/the Brexit Party with the ‘rough edges’ shaved off.

‘Liberal’ intellectuals have always had a blind spot for nationalism, and have always tended to reason that because nationalism is ‘irrationalism’ or whatever, that no one could ‘really’ think that way and that, therefore, nationalism doesn’t ‘really’ exist. It obviously does, as a 1 second glance at the ‘new’ UK map will demonstrate.

3

Dipper 12.14.19 at 11:32 am

“One thing that this post missed completely is that Brexit is an entirely English project, imposed on the Scots and Irish. That’s become more and more evident, and looks sure to dominate the days after Brexit happens”.

Once the UK has left the EU it is hard to see how Scotland leaves the UK. If Scotland intends to rejoin the EU as a separate state then there will need to be a customs border between Scotland and England. There will also be many fundamental questions to be addressed, not least who exactly is a Scottish citizen and what does this mean in terms of pension rights. Then there is currency, debt, and the fact that on day 1 of independence Scotland loses £2,000 per person pa. We will find out soon how much of this talk is bluff.

One of the glorious things about the new political landscape is that now that Leavers are in charge and leaving the EU is a nailed-on certainty we will find out how much of the noise from Remainers is genuine and how much was just groundless nonsense intended to intimidate Leavers into backing down. NI and Scotland are numerically small in comparison to the English population, so much of the dissent can be bought off. For instance, there has been lots of fuss about NI farmers. Well, there are 25,000 farmers in NI with cattle in their fields, and 65 million hungry people just across the Irish sea. I think we can find a solution.

4

notGoodenough 12.14.19 at 3:18 pm

John Quiggin @ OP

So, after a successful Brexit, Britain will be a little poorer and more isolated than before, but otherwise largely unchanged. Will that count as success in the eyes of those who voted to Leave. I don’t know. Maybe those closer to the action could comment.

I found the way that the rhetoric regarding May went from “Thatcher’s heir in tiger print heels” to “evil remainer deliberately sabotaging Brexit” very enlightening. To me, it seems very clear that Brexit cannot, in the eyes of most leavers, fail – it can only be failed. Thus, after Brexit, anything good will be attributed to Boris et al., and anything bad will be the result of backstabbing remainers/vindictive EU.

Indeed, as far as I can tell, the goals are so vague (“increase sovereignty”) and the only failure criteria people have for Brexit is “stay in the EU”, so anything that happens – providing it accompanies a leave – is definitionally a success.

In short, while I could be very wrong on this, my suspicion is “yes, it will count as a success”.

5

likbez 12.14.19 at 4:57 pm

Everything Trump does is consistent with regular conservatism

I respectfully disagree. It is not. Paleoconservatives hate Trump. Neocons for some strange reason also hate Trump, although it is not clear why — he completely folded and conduct their foreign policy.

I view Trumpism as specific for the USA flavor of “national neoliberalism” — domestic neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization, or with globalization of a different type.

The one based on bilateral treaties where stronger state can twist hands of the weaker state and dictate the conditions — kind of neo-imperialism on steroids ( neoliberalism always was neo-imperial in foreign policy toward weaker states) .

The irony of Corbin defeat is that he was/is a critic of the EU imperialism, which by-and-large is Franco-German imperialism (EU role in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Greece) . The EU is not the dominant superpower, so it can’t bully the US or China, or Russia. It can do it only when dealing with lesser powers. That’s why it’s difficult for anyone living inside a major EU-member to actually notice such a behavior: the desire to crush resistance of any lesser country and to force it to abide by its very own rules, whether the other countries want it or not.

The Blairites euphoria that the left was defeated, and neoliberalism still reins supreme is IMHO unwarranted. Neoliberalism as an ideology is dead and that means that Labour Party in its current form is dead as well. The same is true about the US Dems. They can achieve some tactical successes but they can’t overturn their strategic defeat.

And Brexit means more close alliance with the USA (in a form of subservience) as alone GB can’t conduct previous imperialist policies. It was punching above her weight within the EU (with Scripals false flag as the most recent example, see Tony Kevin take on the subject https://consortiumnews.com/2019/12/08/a-determined-effort-to-undermine-russia ) , and this opportunity no longer exists.

6

Stephen 12.14.19 at 7:52 pm

Hidari: re Wales. If you think there has been an “eruption” of support for Plaid there, I suggest you talk to some Welsh people; or look at the actual results, which show that Plaid with about 10% of the votes won in 4 of the 40 Welsh constituencies. NB that these do not include such “outer” parts as Aberconwy, Carmarthen West, Ceredigion, Preseli, Ynys Mon …

Re nationalism generally: “Liberal intellectuals have always had a blind spot for nationalism, and have always tended to reason that because nationalism is ‘irrationalism’ or whatever, that no one could ‘really’ think that way and that, therefore, nationalism doesn’t ‘really’ exist”. You may well be right for some, perhaps many ‘liberal’ intellectuals elsewhere. My experience in the UK has been that too many ‘liberal’ intellectuals have always had a soft spot for Scottish, Irish or Welsh nationalism, as being opposed to the real enemy, England and particularly southern England. YMMV.

7

Matt_L 12.14.19 at 8:30 pm

“‘Liberal’ intellectuals have always had a blind spot for nationalism, and have always tended to reason that because nationalism is ‘irrationalism’ or whatever, that no one could ‘really’ think that way and that, therefore, nationalism doesn’t ‘really’ exist. It obviously does, as a 1 second glance at the ‘new’ UK map will demonstrate.”

Sadly, this is very true. Many people who should have known better thought that nationalism had ‘gone away’ except for the peripheral bits of Eastern and South East Europe. The grudge matches between Germany and France had gone away, or thanks to the EU has been sublimated with cheap, booze, food, and cars made possible by free trade, but nationalism and fascism are back with a vengeance.

8

Hidari 12.14.19 at 8:51 pm

Aaaaaaaaaand the backlash begins. Again.

The point I was making is very simple, as per the OP:

Brexit is an English thing.

Scotland is now practically owned by the Remainer SNP. In NI the situation is rather more complex but more seats are held by the Nationalist (remainers) then the unionists (sorta, kinda, leavers, although none of them AFAIK, are in favour of Bojo’s proposed deal).

Wales now has 22 Labour seats (Labour had a de facto remain position via, so to speak, the method of a 2nd ref…which everyone perceived as a remains position by default)…and it has 4 Plaid seats, which is an avowedly Remainer party.

Versus 14 Tory seats.

Despite the hysteria, Wales remains very much a Labour/Plaid country. It’s England which is the sea of blue (outwith a few conurbations).

In terms of the percentage of the vote, according to the not always reliable Wikipedia, more or less 56% of those who voted in Wales supported Remain parties.

Brexit is an eruption of English nationalism, and the Tories are now, under that shambling parody of a drunk racist English aristo, Johnson, an English nationalist party.

One thing that non-British readers will not be able to gauge is the front page of the papers: almost all of which show Sturgeon ‘facing up to’ Johnson in what is explicitly billed as a conflict between two different countries, a conflict between two different kind of nationalism.

Whatever happens about Brexit I can tell you now that the ‘United’ Kingdom is now 4 very different countries with 4 very different national narratives, with nationalist parties in 3 of them which have a vested interest in promoting the ‘We were dragged out of the EU against our will by the English’: something that will resonate with many.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_United_Kingdom_general_election_in_Wales

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/election-2019-50747357

9

Orange Watch 12.14.19 at 9:15 pm

Demigourd@1:

Pointing to what Trump has done only tells half the story. He got into office by promising far more than he could or even wanted to deliver, and what he promised was more than just established conservatism. There’s a lot of disillusioned radicals who had taken his campaigning far more seriously than he himself did, but just by running in a mainstream campaign he helped to normalize their values. “Trumpism” is not a term I find terribly useful, but it does refer to a distinct political orientation – even if Trump’s governance ironically falls short of most of his supporters’ ideals.

10

Stephen 12.14.19 at 9:26 pm

Hidari

The point I was making about Wales was that when you wrote of “an eruption of nationalism … Plaid in Wales” you were simply, factually, indisputably wrong.

You seem very eager to change the subject. Can’t you just admit that you had no idea what you were writing about?

11

Colin Reid 12.15.19 at 12:00 am

Our electoral system tends to play up regional differences, so of course the effect of nationalism is undeniable. A factor that is easier to overlook is age, which has always had an effect on voting behaviour but has reached a new level in the last few years. About a quarter of voters under 30 voted Tory/Brexit on Thursday, as opposed to over 60% of those over 70, with a steady gradient in between. Even in Scotland and Welsh-speaking areas, the Tories are popular among the oldest cohorts. The corresponding figures for Labour are over 50% (even led by 2019 Corbyn!) among under-30s and under 20% among over-70s, again with a fairly steady gradient in between. (The Lib Dems don’t show a strong age gradient in their voters, so maybe this age gradient isn’t all down to Brexit.) This isn’t just ‘young metropolitans’ either: if only the youngest adult cohorts voted, the Tories wouldn’t have won a single seat in 2017, but among those eligible for an old-age pension, Labour support has collapsed everywhere except Liverpool (protected from Murdoch by the Hillsborough effect?), a few seats in South Wales, the ‘Corbyn belt’ in inner London, and a few more urban areas where the White British population is unusually low.

12

anon 12.15.19 at 12:48 am

likbez,

I feel your analysis is 100% correct.

I hope you won’t mind if I point to it in other online threads I visit. ( Being retired means having way, way too much time to web-surf … and not feeling a single-bit guilty about doing so. )

13

Mark Pontin 12.15.19 at 1:18 am

Likbez at #5 wrote: ‘Paleoconservatives hate Trump.’

I dunno. I look at ‘The American Conservative’ from time to time, which was created and is run by Pat Buchanan, who’s pretty much the original paleocon.

Part of that is because it’s good to understand what the enemy is thinking. But also it turns out ‘The American Conservative’, for instance, has guys like Scott Ritter and Andrew Bacievich writing for them, as well as other critics of the American elite that will never be allowed in the MSM. And that’s because one particular policy axe Buchanan and his writers grind very strongly is against the forever wars, U.S. military interventionism, and the MIC. They hate the neocons and types like John Bolton.

Thus, when Trump makes noises or does something that looks like it plays against the MIC, the State Department and the three-letter agencies aka The Blob, and maybe has a chance of tamping down on the bloody military interventionism, Buchanan and co. are pro-Trump.

Conversely, Buchanan and co. are big on the evangelical Christian stuff and the hard-working American white nuclear family who built America, blah blah blah. Whereas Trump is a billionaire vulgarian. And there Buchanan and his writers don’t like him.

So paleocons like Buchanan seem to deal with Trump on a policy-by-policy basis. Though I radically disagree with some of the policies that Buchanan does favor, that seems reasonable to me.

14

likbez 12.15.19 at 1:33 am

Brexit is an eruption of English nationalism, and the Tories are now, under that shambling parody of a drunk racist English aristo, Johnson, an English nationalist party.

IMHO this is highly questionable statement. Brexit is a form of protest against neoliberal globalization. The fact that is colored with nationalism is the secondary effect/factor: rejection of neoliberalism is almost always colored in either nationalist rhetoric, or Marxist rhetoric.

Here are some quotes from paleoconservative analysis of the elections taken from two recent articles:

Marked as [AS] Boris Johnson Is Showing Western Politicians How to Win by Andrew Sullivan nymag.com, Dec 13, 2019

Marked as [RD] Why Boris Won — And How The GOP Might by Rod Dreher The American Conservative, Dec 13, 2019

While I do not share their enthusiasm about “Red Tories” rule in the UK, and the bright future for “Trumpism without Trump” movement in the USA, they IMHO provide some interesting insights into paleoconservatives view on the British elections results and elements of social protest that led to them:

[AS] …It is clearer and clearer to me that the wholesale adoption of critical race, gender, and queer theory on the left makes normal people wonder what on earth they’re talking about and which dictionary they are using. The white working classes are privileged? A woman can have a penis? In the end, the dogma is so crazy, and the language so bizarre, these natural left voters decided to listen to someone who does actually speak their language, even if in an absurdly plummy accent.

[AS] … This is Trumpism without Trump. A conservative future without an ineffective and polarizing nutjob at the heart of it. …Unlike Trump, he will stop E.U. mass migration, and pass a new immigration system, based on the Australian model. Unlike Trump, he will focus tax cuts on the working poor, not the decadent rich. …Unlike Trump, he will stop E.U. mass migration, and pass a new immigration system, based on the Australian model. Unlike Trump, he will focus tax cuts on the working poor, not the decadent rich. …It’s very much the same movement of left-behind people expressing their views on the same issues, who, tragically, put their trust in Trump. What we’ve seen is how tenacious a voting bloc that now is, which is why Trumpism is here to stay. If we could only get rid of the human cancer at the heart of it.

[AS] … Trump has bollixed it up, of course. He ran on Johnson’s platform but gave almost all his tax cuts to the extremely wealthy, while Johnson will cut taxes on the poor. Trump talks a big game on immigration but has been unable to get any real change in the system out of Congress. Johnson now has a big majority to pass a new immigration bill, with Parliament in his control, which makes the task much easier. Trump is flamingly incompetent and unable to understand his constitutional role. Boris will assemble a competent team, with Michael Gove as his CEO, and Dom Cummings as strategist.

[AS] …If Johnson succeeds, he’ll have unveiled a new formula for the Western right: Make no apologies for your own country and culture; toughen immigration laws; increase public spending on the poor and on those who are “just about managing”; increase taxes on the very rich and redistribute to the poor; focus on manufacturing and new housing; ignore the woke; and fight climate change as the Tories are (or risk losing a generation of support).

[RD]…I have no idea why the Republicans are so damned silent on wokeness, including the transgender madness. No doubt about it, the American people have accepted gay marriage and gay rights, broadly. But the Left will not accept this victory in the culture war. They cannot help bouncing the rubble, and driving people farther than they are willing to go, or that they should have to go. It’s the elites — and not just academic elites. Every week I get at least two e-mails from readers sending me examples of transgender wokeness taking over their professions — especially big business. People hate this pronoun crap, but nobody dares to speak out against it, because they are afraid of being doxxed, cancelled, or at least marginalized in the workplace.

[RD]…My friend said (I paraphrase):

“Can you blame people for not answering pollsters’ questions? Everybody is told all the time that the things they believe, and the things they worry about, are backwards and bigoted. They have learned to keep it to themselves. It’s the same thing here. I hate Donald Trump, but I’m probably going to end up voting for him, because at least he doesn’t hate my sons. I want a good future for every child — black, Latino, white, all of them — but the Left thinks my sons are what’s wrong with the world…

[RD]…Boris (and Sully) style Toryism is better than nothing, isn’t it? As a general rule, in this emerging post-Christian social and political order, we conservative Christians had better not let the unachievable perfect be the enemy of the common-sense good enough.

15

Donald 12.15.19 at 2:58 am

“ Neocons for some strange reason also hate Trump, although it is not clear why — he completely folded and conduct their foreign policy.”

Not going to comment on British politics much since I’m an ignorant American, but I have wondered about the neocon hatred of Trump myself and I think it boils down to the fact that he is not trustworthy. Yes, he has caved in and when you get past the tweets he is trying to start a new nuclear arms race and actually armed Ukraine and gave Israel almost everything but still, he isn’t stable. He doesn’t play the game right. He is supposed to talk about how we want democracy and freedom and instead he rather openly fawns over dictators. Well, yes, other Presidents support dictators, but never with so much open enthusiasm. Appearances matter. And even neocons want someone who is mentally stable conducting their preferred brand of militaristic warmongering.

16

harry b 12.15.19 at 3:35 am

“Once the UK has left the EU it is hard to see how Scotland leaves the UK. If Scotland intends to rejoin the EU as a separate state then there will need to be a customs border between Scotland and England. There will also be many fundamental questions to be addressed, not least who exactly is a Scottish citizen and what does this mean in terms of pension rights. Then there is currency, debt, and the fact that on day 1 of independence Scotland loses £2,000 per person pa.”

This is all true and makes independence a risky proposition: the uncertainty and loose ends can be exploited by unionists in any referendum. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

What about a United Republic of Scotland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland, within the EU, citizens of which can choose to remain citizens of UK?

17

J-D 12.15.19 at 3:37 am

I kept on putting this point forward in various CT threads, getting, for some reason, massive pushback* … *I’m not sure why

Possibly part of the explanation is that some of the people who are contending with you are themselves English Remainers, and your hyperbolic oversimplifications of an otherwise valid case are making them feel as if they’re being erased. Probably that’s not your intention, but it would be possible to make that clearer than you do.

One of the glorious things about the new political landscape is that now that Leavers are in charge and leaving the EU is a nailed-on certainty we will find out how much of the noise from Remainers is genuine and how much was just groundless nonsense intended to intimidate Leavers into backing down.

‘Glorious’? how so? I figure it could be important to find out how much continuing support there is for Scottich independence (and for Irish reunification), and I figure it could also be interesting, but how ‘glorious’? The only way I can figure it would be anything like glorious would be if you are already confident that support for Scottish independence (and Irish reunification) will wither away and you’re already contemplating responding by indulging in a despicable bout of gloating. I hope that’s not what you meant, but I can’t figure what else you might have meant.

18

nastywoman 12.15.19 at 9:02 am

@8
”Whatever happens about Brexit I can tell you now that the ‘United’ Kingdom is now 4 very different countries with 4 very different national narratives”

– and what would the French say to such a… ”thought through narrativ”?

”Chapeau!”

-(with a small correction ”Scots who want to ”remain” in the EU – couldn’t really be called ”nationalistic” or ”nationalists”)

19

Hidari 12.15.19 at 10:21 am

Dipper’s de facto volte face over Brexit says so much about English nationalism, and the English nationalist government which now is ensconced, apparently permanently, in Westminster.

England (which had the gall to present Brexit as a national liberation movement….as though Westminster had ever stood up for any national liberation movement, post 1945*, anywhere) deployed a number of arguments in favour of Brexit, if you want to call them that. But the economic argument was always secondary (not to mention incoherent) and I read over and over again Leavers saying that they were prepared to take an economic ‘hit’ as long as it meant that they ‘regained their sovereignty.’

But when it comes to countries other than England (Ireland, Scotland) suddenly it’s all very different and ‘on day 1 of independence Scotland loses £2,000 per person pa.” and so on and etc. As though these problems are any easier to solve than the horrendous problems a ‘liberated’ Britain will find itself in post Brexit.

However, the casual contempt which the English imperialist intellectual has for conquered countries** he (sic) is used to seeing as provinces is well noted, and indicative. (‘hard to see’ ‘lots of fuss’ ‘easily bought off’ ‘numerically small’).

*or pre-1917

**openly so in the case of Wales and the 6 counties, implicitly so in the case of Scotland.

20

Hidari 12.15.19 at 10:22 am

‘As though these problems are any easier to solve’

should of course have read

‘As though these problems are any more difficult to solve’

21

faustusnotes 12.15.19 at 2:17 pm

I have completed an initial analysis of the election results which shows that the disastrous result is entirely due to Brexit. After 3 years Cameron achieved the project’s goal, which is the division of the labour movement and Tory opposition. It has neutralized anti-Europe sentiment and turned it entirely to supporting the Tories. The next step – actual Brexit – will achieve what the Tories always want – the ruin of their country, to their personal benefit. They’re traitors and wreckers, and Brexit is the ultimate expression of their nihlism.

22

Stephen 12.15.19 at 7:30 pm

Hidari @6, 8: if you think that having someone point out that what you wrote is completely, factually, indisputably wrong can be dealt with by screeching “Aaaaaaaaaand the backlash begins”, I should point out that you are doing nothing at all to increase your reputation for intelligence or honesty.

Nor when you write that “Brexit is an English thing”. I will do you the favour of supposing that you honestly don’t know that Wales voted for Brexit. The alternative is not flattering to you.

As for Scotland, I equally suppose that you don’t know that a fair number of SNP voters also supported Brexit: and that you don’t know that in the recent election, the SNP won 45% of the vote, remarkably similar to their vote in the Indyref.

Please do try to keep in touch with reality.

23

RobinM 12.16.19 at 12:35 am

With respect to Scotland now being owned by the SNP, their FPTP 2019 election success is certainly impressive, but it got 45 percent of the votes. While the SNP also did very well in the 2016 election for the Scottish Parliament (under a different voting system) it got 46.5 percent of the constituency votes. I’m not sure this counts as ownership.

harry b’s question about a United Republic is a sort of replay, I think, of Peter Berresford Ellis’s campaign for a Celtic union which, if I remember correctly, would also have included Brittany, Cornwall, and Wales.

The first hurdle facing the notion of a United Republic is, I’m pretty sure, that the SNP has repudiated the repudiation of the monarchy. (I doubt “The Crown” can be blamed one way or another for that.)

I think it’s also an error to presume that the Scottish supporters of Remain are also supporters of independence, just as it would be an error to presume that Scottish supporters of Brexit (about 40 percent of the Scottish vote in the brexit referendum) are against independence. I imagine the struggle to resolve their inner tensions between pro/anti EU and pro/anti independence will occasion many Scots some more years of emotional anguish.

24

Salazar 12.16.19 at 3:31 am

Harry b @ 16:

“ What about a United Republic of Scotland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland, within the EU, citizens of which can choose to remain citizens of UK?”

Spain, and probably France, would veto EU membership for an independent Scotland, so the project is likely DOA.

25

John Quiggin 12.16.19 at 3:39 am

Dipper “Once the UK has left the EU it is hard to see how Scotland leaves the UK. If Scotland intends to rejoin the EU as a separate state then there will need to be a customs border between Scotland and England.”

Plausible, but almost identical to the arguments against a no-deal Brexit, which you seemed to feel should be trumped by the desire for self-government.

26

J-D 12.16.19 at 5:19 am

Spain, and probably France, would veto EU membership for an independent Scotland, so the project is likely DOA.

When I imagine a hypothetical future in which Scotland has separated from the United Kingdom and become an independent country, and has then applied for EU membership, I can’t imagine how Spain could possibly get away with vetoing the application. Even if there’s a theoretical right to exercise such a veto, it seems to me that the political costs of doing so (the costs associated with the negative reactions of other EU members to such a veto) would be too great. For one thing, it would seem unacceptably arbitrary for Spain to exercise the veto without giving some justification for it, but what justification could possibly be given?

It’s not clear to me that Scotland will become an independent country (and it’s also not clear to me that it should), but it’s obviously at least a possibility.

I can understand why Spanish politicians don’t want to give any encouragement to this idea, or to seem as if they are giving any encouragement to this idea. I can understand why they don’t even want to think about the scenario now. I can understand how they might not want to admit, perhaps even to themselves, that in that hypothetical scenario they would have no choice, in practice, but to accept Scotland as an applicant for EU membership. But I don’t understand how they could actually get away with a veto if we ever actually did come to the point where the question could no longer be avoided.

It’s much easier to believe that Spain would insist that an application for EU membership from an independent Scotland not be expedited in any way. There is a formal process for membership applicants, and it’s elaborate and time-consuming. If Spain insisted that no special short-cuts or fast-tracks be offered to an independent Scotland, I can understand how other EU members would find it difficult to argue against that position. But an outright veto?

27

Hidari 12.16.19 at 6:18 am

@10, 22

I was merely repeating (and I mean literally repeating, word for word) the point of the OP which was this: ‘One thing that this post missed completely is that Brexit is an entirely English project, imposed on the Scots and Irish. That’s become more and more evident, and looks sure to dominate the days after Brexit happens’.

If you think John Quiggin is an idiot for saying this, which you obviously do, judging by your tone, take it up with him.

@25 Yes one of the striking things about the Leave position (and which indeed shows it to be an eruption of English nationalism) is that all the ‘arguments’ in favour of leaving the EU, which are apparently watertight, somehow immediately lose their force when it comes to Scotland, Wales, NI leaving the UK, even though in many cases they are literally the same arguments. Ipso facto the arguments against leaving the EU, which, as you correctly point out, somehow suddenly become valid when it’s a different economic union being discussed.

@24 Not so sure about that. For Catalonia related reasons, both France and Spain have made it very clear they are not prepared to accept an independent Scotland in the EU ‘based on’ an illegal referendum. But have they actually ruled out an independent Scotland per se? It might be a very effective threat against the English: useful in a negotiation.

It is obviously not in the EU’s interests for the British to be seen to prosper, economically or politically, outside the EU.

28

Hidari 12.16.19 at 6:39 am

Many years after the Vietnam War, a Vietnamese (‘Vietcong’) General and an American General met up for drinks.

‘You know,’ said the American. ‘You never beat us in a single battle.’

The Vietnamese reflected for a bit.

‘That is true.’ he said, after a while. ‘It is also irrelevant.’

The points made in 22 and 23 about the SNP vote are true. They are also irrelevant. Whether something happens or not does not usually depend on whether or not the majority of people want it (the majority of people in Ireland in 1916 were vehemently against independence). It depends on how badly the people who want something want it. It’s strange that I have to make this point right now. 52% of the British people voted for Remainer parties in the last election. It is reasonable to infer, therefore, that a majority of the British people want to remain in the EU. And yet we are leaving. Why?

Because, at the end of the day, remainers were bothered about things other than remaining, whereas leavers only wanted to leave, and and also because leavers wanted to leave much more than remainers wanted to stay. A determined minority will always overwhelm an apathetic and divided majority.

There are a lot of people in Scotland who really really really want to leave the UK, just as there are a lot of people now in NI who really really really want to join Ireland, and if Johnson’s tenure is as shambolic as his campaign you can expect those numbers to increase. CF also if Brexit turns out to be a complete economic disaster, which is entirely possible.

29

faustusnotes 12.16.19 at 6:48 am

I’m intrigued by the idea that Spain would veto Scotland joining the EU after Brexit. It’s good for the EU member states to agree that e.g. if Catalan became independent of Spain it can’t just join the EU – that makes sure that member states don’t see independence movements feeling they can maintain their status quo membership if they get too uppity. But once a state leaves, then it seems like it’s in the EU’s interests to welcome independent bits of it straight back. The threat of territorial dismemberment would discourage states from leaving.

It’s in the EU’s interests as a whole for the UK to suffer badly after Brexit, pour encourage les autres or whatever the Greek is for these things. It’s also in the EU’s interests to quickly and smoothly welcome back an independent Scotland, to further drive home the point that leaving the EU carries a large cost.

JQ maybe you should re-up your post on the WTO, since about a week ago, as you predicted, the dispute resolution tribunal lost its power. Which means that after Brexit the UK is going to have no legal recourse to trade abuse in its new “independent” life. Well done Tories!

30

Dipper 12.16.19 at 7:15 am

@ John Quiggin “Plausible, but almost identical to the arguments against a no-deal Brexit, which you seemed to feel should be trumped by the desire for self-government.”

Almost but not quite. The major difference being the UK has its own currency whereas Scotland doesn’t. Also, for most Leavers (but not all) the preferred solution is a deal not No Deal.

The direction of travel in the UK and the EU has been the opposite; whereas the UK has been devolving more power to the home nations, the EU has been progressively taking power away.

I don’t know what I would think if I were Scottish and lived in Scotland. I would probably be attracted by some aspects of independence. But I’m English and live in England, and think the Union is better with Scotland in it and we should be able to give Scotland a good enough offer for them to stay.

@ faustusnotes. I cannot overemphasise how many people really really cannot stand Jeremy Corbyn.

@ J-D “‘Glorious’? how so?” because prior to the election there was continuing strife and turmoil, uncertainty about whether woe would even do Brexit or have a second referendum, court cases, constitutional crises, resignations and splits, concerns about civic unrest, and in one day all that was swept away. Now the people have spoken we have certainty over the direction of travel. On days like this, democracy is indeed glorious.

We haven’t got round to discussing it yet, but my Tory/Leaver WhatsApp group is very keen for Emily Thornberry or Richard Burgon to be the next Labour leader, and would quite like Rebecca Long-Bailey to be the next leader too. The person they don’t want to become leader because they would be effective at getting working class votes back from the Tories is Lisa Nandy. She might even get my vote back.

31

likbez 12.16.19 at 8:05 am

anon 12.15.19 at 12:48 am @12.

> I hope you won’t mind if I point to it in other online threads I visit.

sure.

32

Dipper 12.16.19 at 8:30 am

@ faustusnotes “It’s in the EU’s interests as a whole for the UK to suffer badly after Brexit, pour encourage les autres or whatever the Greek is for these things.”

Well … yes and no. Firstly, the EU is experiencing zero growth at the moment, so getting into a trade war with a major export market is not such a great idea. Secondly, Quite a lot of European nations have citizens working in the UK and sending money home. In particular I hear that Rumanian immigration is still very strong. So it isn’t clear they will benefit from a downturn in the UK economy.

33

Marc Pinsonneault 12.16.19 at 12:19 pm

The business of associating all Labor votes with Remain (or all Tory votes with Leave) is not legitimate. The central story of the election was that Labor had no clear position on Brexit. The strongest Remain party (the Liberal Democrats) collapsed.

Also- not all regions of a nation always vote the same way. Even on important issues.

Johnson won. Brexit will now happen, and if this election isn’t a clear endorsement of that, then no evidence will suffice. This isn’t about liking the outcome. It just is.

34

Faustusnotes 12.16.19 at 2:23 pm

No Marc, labour had a clear position on brexit, it just didn’t satisfy either side. It’s dishonest to suggest otherwise. The lib dems didn’t collapse, but a lot of seats changed hands.

35

Stephen 12.16.19 at 7:18 pm

Hidari: if you ever stand for election yourself, you might have a bright future, for the speed with which you change the subject and deny your own previous words is simply dazzling to anyone who does not know the truth.

You wrote @2 of “an eruption of nationalism … Plaid in Wales”. I pointed out @10 that you were simply, factually, indisputably wrong.

You now say @27 “I was merely repeating (and I mean literally repeating, word for word) the point of the OP which was this: ‘One thing that this post missed completely is that Brexit is an entirely English project, imposed on the Scots and Irish’ “.

No, dear but false Hidari, you were not literally repeating anything. You were making up something the OP had never said, and now trying to pretend you never said anything else.

Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus is a harsh and sometimes unjust saying. How many more falsities do you think you can get away with?

36

Bartholomew 12.16.19 at 8:03 pm

Stephen @ 22: ‘Wales voted for Brexit’.

Yes but that was the English settlers:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/sep/22/english-people-wales-brexit-research

I wonder are people on here aware of the extent of English migration to Wales. It jumped out from a recent news story, in which a coastal village was told by Gwynedd council that it could not guarantee that it could maintain its coastal defences against rising sea levels. The village is built almost at sea level and is protected by a sea wall. Villagers were interviewed in print stories and TV pieces, and they were almost all English.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-49994297

In fact you can say the exact same things about English migration into Wales as the more alarmist English nationalists say about immigration into England. For example, ‘the Welsh are on course to becoming a minority in their own country’:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/wales/10878554/Welsh-could-become-a-minority-in-Wales-as-English-set-sights-west.html

Hidari @ 28: ‘the majority of people in Ireland in 1916 were vehemently against independence’

I doubt that very much, but I don’t see how it could be demonstrated either way.

37

Moz of Yarramulla 12.16.19 at 8:50 pm

I think it’s plausible that that LibDems lost votes by appearing to be yet another Tory party, especially over their refusal to countenance supporting Labour. A lot of left-leave voters probably said “if I want Tory I’ll vote Tory”, ditto right-remain supporters. Leaving the left-remain supporters outside Scotland to sift through the numerous tactical voting sites in a desperate attempt to work out how to vote.

The sad news on that front is that it seems likely that any voting/systematic reform efforts will focus on eliminating checks and balances rather than making voting effective.

38

Cian 12.17.19 at 4:52 pm

Faustusnotes: I have completed an initial analysis of the election results which shows that the disastrous result is entirely due to Brexit. After 3 years Cameron achieved the project’s goal, which is the division of the labour movement and Tory opposition. It has neutralized anti-Europe sentiment and turned it entirely to supporting the Tories. The next step – actual Brexit – will achieve what the Tories always want – the ruin of their country, to their personal benefit. They’re traitors and wreckers, and Brexit is the ultimate expression of their nihlism.

Anyone who can write about a complex social phenomenon, such as an election, that it’s outcome was entirely due to a single cause should probably stop having opinions.

Cameron’s plan was to try and neutralize the Brexiters within his own party. He failed. His wing of the party is now dead, and with it the City has lost control of what had been largely its own party.

And they’re not nihilists. They just desire different outcomes to you.

39

Stephen 12.18.19 at 8:37 pm

Hidari@28

“the majority of people in Ireland in 1916 were vehemently against independence”

Back in the real world, the majority of people in Ireland outside the north-east were in favour of some form of home rule, and by 1914 the UK parliament in accordance with their wishes had passed a Home Rule Act.

40

J-D 12.18.19 at 10:58 pm

I think it’s plausible that that LibDems lost votes by appearing to be yet another Tory party, especially over their refusal to countenance supporting Labour. A lot of left-leave voters probably said “if I want Tory I’ll vote Tory”, ditto right-remain supporters.

Obviously a lot of people decided not to vote for the Liberal Democrats, whatever their reasons may have been. However, in aggregate the Liberal Democrats gained votes. The 11.6% of the vote they received in 2019 was higher than the 7.4% they received in 2017, and also higher than the 7.9% they received in 2015. (Not that that’s saying much. The Liberal Democrats have evidently not fully recovered from the disastrous–and totally predictable–effect on their support of entering a coalition with the Conservatives in 2010.)

41

likbez 12.19.19 at 6:19 am

Donald 12.15.19 at 2:58 am @15

“ Neocons for some strange reason also hate Trump, although it is not clear why — he

Not going to comment on British politics much since I’m an ignorant American, but I have wondered about the neocon hatred of Trump myself and I think it boils down to the fact that he is not trustworthy.

Yes, I would agree that “the fact that he is not trustworthy” can well be an important factor. But the USA foreign policy establishment was viewed as untrustworthy for some time now, so nothing changed for foreign countries in this sense. Or only the degree changed.

But there are more important factors in play, I think.

The main factor probably is that the USA foreign policy establishment are hard core neocons and preach “Full Spectum Dominance” doctrine. Heretics are burned at the stake.

That includes Trump’s impeachment, persistent attempts to derail Sanders (using Biden to push the selection of the candidate from into the state where the support of superdelegates can be decisive), weaken Warren, and Tulsi Gabbard excommunication.

Trump’s limited prevarications on Russia threaten the strategy to expand NATO to Ukraine which is a part of the plan of a long term strategy of encircling Russia and maintaining US dominance over Europe.

As Trump pushes great power rivalry as the name of the game, his policies threatens to weaken the US control of EU, which Trump wants to label as an economic competitor.

Here the strategic difference between Trump and the Deep State approaches become apparent: Trump is pushing mercantilist strategy against potential competitors,while the Deep State pursues the strategy of maintaining the global neoliberal empire led by the USA at all costs.

The latter presuppose imposing neoliberal globalization, forceful opening other countries economies to multinationals (much like in Trotskyism “Permanent War” doctrine), and the maintenance of USA primacy by dominating regional alliances like NATO. But it presuppose sharing of loot. Which Trump rejects.

Impeachment, besides its more petty purposes (distraction from real social problems; forestalling and derailing Sanders by propelling Biden as No.1 opponent of Thump and his policies ), is the culmination of the whole series of attempts of neoliberal oligarchy’s to stage a color revolution against the President who, even though he agrees with this cabal on all policy matters, is considered too unreliable, too undisciplined, and too damn honest about the real goals of the US-led neoliberal empire. The latter factor is especially worrisome ;-)

If they can take him down, they think they can restore the business-as-usual status quo (“kick the can down the road” for a decade or more). The latter might well be an illusion. Trump and Brexit radically changed the situation and you can’t step into the same river twice.

Trump’s impeachment in this sense is yet another nail in the coffin of neoliberalism as it negatively affects the perception of the USA, reveals to the whole world the dirty USA internal politic kitchen, and complicates the USA foreign policy. China’s Global Times was quite measured yet pointed:

“To many Chinese, it seems that US-style democracy has already become a negative concept, which has brought ceaseless chaos and produced absurd farces.

42

Hidari 12.19.19 at 8:53 am

@30 ‘The major difference being the UK has its own currency whereas Scotland doesn’t’.

Yet.

‘I cannot overemphasise how many people really really cannot stand Jeremy Corbyn. ‘
Or to be more precise, the image that was created for Jeremy Corbyn.

Those who know Corbyn best like him most. Those that know Johnson best, like him least.

What does this tell us about how the media manipulates reality?

‘my Tory/Leaver WhatsApp group is very keen for….’

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, or advice.

43

Hidari 12.19.19 at 12:14 pm

Is anyone going to talk about climate change btw? With the current election result (and watching the current Australian PM engage in successfully sabotaging the last best hope of dealing with climate change via legal/democratic means (in Madrid) while his own country literally burns to the ground) it is obvious to anyone who has eyes to see that capitalist ‘democracy’ cannot solve the problem of climate change.

Trump’s presumed victory in 2020 and the collapse of all the other climate change conferences (e.g. Glasgow 2020, and others, which will all also achieve nothing) demonstrates clearly that capitalism caused this problem and that, therefore, capitalism cannot solve it.

New approaches and ideas are therefore needed.

44

Ogden Wernstrom 12.19.19 at 4:12 pm

After Brexit, I wonder how long it will take to repeal the EU-compliant anti-tax-avoidance measures. I imagine that Nigel Farage wants to know, too.

45

Kate 12.19.19 at 8:01 pm

dipper @30 “we should be able to give Scotland a good enough offer for them to stay.”

You should, yeah. But if you do, will anyone believe you after many of the “better together” promises were watered down or outright dissolved?

Comments on this entry are closed.