The Day After Brexit

by John Quiggin on December 24, 2020

A Brexit deal has finally happened, so I’m reposting these thoughts, originally from 2016 , which seems like a thousand years ago, and previously edited and reposted in 2019.

Since the collapse of faith in neoliberalism following the Global Financial Crisis, the political right has been increasingly dominated by 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 Trumpist groups that have achieved political power the only ones that have anything amounting to a political program are the Brexiteers.

The sustainability of 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 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, 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.

Finally, 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

{ 172 comments }

1

BenK 12.24.20 at 10:22 pm

Let me say that you are at least missing the point of the project. The question of what Brexit ‘looks like’ won’t be decided until British, or even English, courts are consistently deciding matters based on British laws that British people vote on. If that happens, then the process of self-government has resumed and if the economy – reflected in lifestyles outside of The City – hasn’t collapsed, then Brexit has succeeded and the threat held over the collective British heads has been proven empty.

2

John Quiggin 12.24.20 at 10:38 pm

If the point was to have “British courts consistently deciding matters based on British laws that British people vote on” , why was there all that brave talk about a No-Deal trading under WTO rules? Those rules are administered by an unaccountable global bureaucracy, far more remote than Brussels.

As it is, the deal means that most regulation will still be set within the constraint of EU equivalence. Britain has traded its limited influence in setting EU rules for a limited amount of wiggle room in implementing equivalent rules.

To repeat, the post from 2016 didn’t predict collapse. “Britain will be a little poorer and more isolated than before, but otherwise largely unchanged.” Apart from the effects of the pandemic, I don’t see any reason to alter that. Do you?

3

engels 12.24.20 at 11:40 pm

I think the immigration/travel aspect is a much bigger deal than you acknowledge, both for (mainly younger) Brits and Europeans. Many of the Poles you refer to have left and this has been amplified by the pandemic. The 90 day limit on Schengen stays will severely impede retirement abroad and even the Erasmus student exchange programme has been canned.

It’s really surprising to me the extent to which the absolutist liberal Stop Brexit current simply evaporated once Corbyn was gone.

4

notGoodenough 12.25.20 at 12:00 am

BenK @ 1

” The question of what Brexit ‘looks like’ won’t be decided until British, or even English, courts are consistently deciding matters based on British laws that British people vote on”

While I am not a legal scholar by any means, this seems to me a somewhat curious statement.

Given that Scotland has its own distinct legal system, and that the law of Northern Ireland also differs in some respects from English law, you might find the idea that English courts should be deciding British laws…er…somewhat controversial, to put it mildly.

5

notGoodenough 12.25.20 at 12:25 am

John Quiggin @ 2

Indeed – after all, the question was “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”.

To the best of my recollection and understanding, there wasn’t a point to Brexit – there were multiple justifications and reasons given to support Brexit, some of which were to do with sovereignty and self-governance, some purely financial, others immigration, etc., etc. Some were at least self-consistent (even if one found them decidedly unconvincing), others were…less so.

Regardless, I suspect your final sentence is a fairly reasonable prediction:

“Britain will be a little poorer and more isolated than before, but otherwise largely unchanged.”

6

John Quiggin 12.25.20 at 1:33 am

Engels @3 The post was written in 2016. The foreign-born population of the UK has increased since then https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/migrants-in-the-uk-an-overview/ (though the pandemic may have changed this a little). Brexit will certainly create significant burdens on travel, like the end of the Erasmus program and maybe reduce net migration a bit. But it won’t make much difference to the ethnic makeup of the population, which was presumably the goal.

7

J-D 12.25.20 at 1:59 am

The question of what Brexit ‘looks like’ won’t be decided until British, or even English, courts are consistently deciding matters based on British laws that British people vote on. If that happens, then the process of self-government has resumed …

The process of self-government never stopped. The courts of the United Kingdom never stopped deciding matters based on the law of the United Kingdom (as notGoodenough correctly points out, this includes the courts of England and Wales deciding matters based on the law of England and Wales, the courts of Scotland deciding matters based on the law of Scotland, and the courts of Northern Ireland deciding matters based on the law of Northern Ireland). The people of the United Kingdom never stopped voting in elections for the House of Commons and the House of Commons never stopped legislating.

8

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.25.20 at 6:04 am

It’s funny seeing this “a Britain governed by British laws” bullshit — as JQ rightly points out, with the WTO, and the various other international rule-setting organizations that the UK must adhere to in order to trade internationally, there’ll remain a ton of laws that are effectively made by foreigners. And businesses have made it crystal-clear that what this -really- means is having to comply with two sets of laws simultaneously, b/c the UK isn’t big enough for a business (A) to completely eschew international trade, and even if they wanted to, their customers (B) might not wish to eschew also (and might want to include business A’s products in those exported products). I mean, the jingoists who talk this rubbish are also the ones who proclaim “capitalists uber alles” and yet when push comes to shove and those capitalists — with real businesses to run — say it’s a mad idea, they ignore them and rush on ahead anyway.

We all know the real reason was “all those damn wogs” [by which is meant, people who look like me — people from the former British Empire]. Sure, the UKIP folks shook their fists a little at the Poles and other EU citizens, but what really got ’em exercised was guys that look like me: South Asians, and other minorities from the former Empire.

And as I understand it, the EU had nothing to do with how many such people came to the UK, so leaving the EU will have little effect on that either.

To John’s summation I would add: “a little meaner and crueler”.

9

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.25.20 at 6:05 am

I should have added: Full disclosure: I’m an American, haven’t visited the UK since 1991, don’t see a reason why I would (it’s all nicer on the Continent) and the massive xenophobia uncovered by Brexit is yet another reason why wouldn’t.

10

Tim Worstall 12.25.20 at 9:51 am

Well, as someone vociferously for Brexit (did PR for Farage over one election cycle, stood as an MEP candidate in that election – way too far down the list to have got anywhere, obviously, there’s no rational form of democracy that would see me elected to anything) my objection has always been that I think the EU itself is a bad idea.

Everyone should leave it, it shouldn’t exist and in the absence of that the UK should leave.

I simply think, perhaps insist, that it’s the wrong way to rule 500 million people. A trivial example to illustrate the point. The Jams, Jellies and Marmalade regulations. Which, properly read, make (they’ve been adjusted, so perhaps made) the production of apricot marmalade for sale a criminal, yes criminal, offence punishable by up to 6 months in jail and or a £5,000 fine.

The why being that jams were to be made from this list of fruits. Oils of citrus could only be added to marmalades, which were to be made from this other list of fruits – citrus only. Therefore, to add oils of citrus to a jam – which would be roughly to make a marmalade – made of jam fruits rather than marmalade fruits was that criminal offence.

The only way around this would be to agitate for the law to be changed. Which means convincing the EU Commission – they’re the only people who can propose legal changes – get it through the EU Parliament, the Council of Nations (whatever it’s called, the national governments sitting as a body) and then the law amended in each and every legislature, including the Welsh – in Welsh of course – the Belgian French one, the Belgian Flemish one and even, possibly, the Belgian German one.

This is not, I submit, the way to have a healthy wave of creative destruction going on in the toast comestibles industry where the years long legal process has to precede even test marketing.

This is, indeed a trivial example. There are even those who would insist that it’s only a ban on the use of the word marmalade or jam, it being possible to use “fruit spread” instead and be in conformity with the Act.

And yet, still, it’s the wrong way to be ruling a continent. The idea that there must be some central and rigid set of rules which govern life to that level of detail. This is indeed how much of the continental bureaucracy, governance systems, think life should be. I don’t, I prefer that much more relaxed English/Anglo system of general, overarching, rules, like don’t poison the customers, label your goods, then get on with it.

Moving this up from non-triviality this insistence upon detailed rules, not principles, led to enormities like the ethanol regulations. Food crops fed into car tanks, not people. Because there must be rules created stating in detail what people should do. Instead of more general and effective acts like a carbon tax. And so on and on.

In shorthand, I think Common Law is the way to run places, economies, not Roman Law. Given that the assembled nations never will adopt my preference there the hell with the whole system.

I agree that this may not be all that convincing to others but it has been my motivation. The entire structure is built on the wrong method of ruling. Pettifogging detail from the centre. It’s unreformable. So, leave.

11

Alex SL 12.25.20 at 11:50 am

As others have pointed out, the motivations for the Leave vote appear to have been varied. Surely there were some who at the time truly believed that it would be possible to get all the benefits of EU membership while shedding the obligations, some who were motivated by (a misunderstanding of) immigration, and some who simply wanted to submit a protest vote but did not seriously expect Leave to win.

Following from the outside of the UK relevant discussions on social media and in comment sections, it seems to me that many of the original motivations and claims have by now fallen away, and predominantly the following two are left:

First, an entirely irrational hatred of the EU, grown out of decades of lies and propaganda in UK media. This motivation is clearly evidenced by the plethora of comments to the effect of “the EU tries to keep us in”, “Barnier wants to punish us”, or “glad we are out”, comparisons of the EU with the USSR, the Nazis, and, most ironically of all, colonial empires, certain recent newspaper title pages directed towards France and Germany, and denunciations of anybody who argues for remain/rejoin as some kind of fifth columnist.

Second, joy and pleasure at seeing remainers in despair. Just today I must have seen at least half a dozen such comments, the latest one reading, and I quote, “hahaha I’ll take this deal just because of this reaction” in response to somebody expressing sadness at how the UK’s international reputation has been trashed by the Internal Market Bill affair. That is a clear pattern, again and again. R: we all, including you Leavers, will lose influence / prosperity / freedom of movement, that makes me sad / angry. L: haha, Remoaner tears, totally worth it just for that, haha.

There are obvious parallels to Trumpism here; swap US ‘liberals’ for the EU, and the methodology is really quite the same. (There is even an odd parallelism between the unfair structure of Senate and Electoral College on the US side and the First Past The Post system and an undefined referendum mandate used as a blank slate on the UK side: imagine just for a moment what Republicans and Fox News would say if a Democrat won the presidency while losing the popular vote, and then what the Leavers and the UK press would have said if Remain had narrowly won and Cameron then taken it as a mandate to join the Eurozone.)

The point of all this is that I really do not know how the impact of Brexit will make a difference. Yes, I am also finding it hard to see that anything will happen to justify the massive effort involved, but that is because I am coming at it from the angle of a rational cost-benefit analysis.

I have no idea what you do when a third of your population, i.e. enough to win elections under a FPTP-style system with a fragmented opposition, would respond that, yes, impoverishing everybody, losing personal freedoms, and dissolving the Union is indeed a price worth paying if that means that black Labour MP here and that feminist comedian over there are visibly upset on Twitter.

I have no idea what you do when large parts of the electorate, many politicians, and most journalists see politics not as a vehicle to formulate coherent, meaningful policies but as a game in which it only matters that you win and the other side loses, no matter how and with what result for the long-term interests of your country. There are many people e.g. in the UK, USA, or Australia who are so visibly proud of themselves or their leaders for stopping policies that would have helped millions or increased their nation’s influence in the world or reduced carbon emissions because, hey, that way they managed to kill that Labor politician’s career or frustrate that Democrat’s agenda.

So, yes, everybody will see and know that Brexit wasn’t worth it economically, nor for the fish, nor for the sovereignty. But it won’t matter. At all. Because the point is to have defeated the other side and to upset them, and everything is just a game, and that’s all there is to it. It will probably take a much more painful crisis than merely having to fill out customs forms and having 5% less GDP to demonstrate to that kind of person that facts, expertise, and policies matter more than the transient joy of having successfully lied oneself to election victory.

12

Alex SL 12.25.20 at 12:27 pm

I should have added, by the way, that nothing shows the two motivations I outlined as clearly as the recent public discussions of the UK-EU negotiations.

The willingness of Brexiters to accept obligations in trade deals with partners such as Japan and the USA that they reject as outrageous infringements on UK sovereignty if agreed with the EU demonstrates that these particular concerns are not actually about sovereignty but about irrational hatred of the EU, specifically.

The way the UK-EU deal is discussed in terms of “Boris has won”, “on how many points has the UK side won – a scorecard”, and the weird piece of Frost fan-fiction slash hagiography published in the Guardian today shows the obsession with winning and outmaneuvering the other side as opposed to formulating beneficial policy in the framework of a long-term strategy.

13

notGoodenough 12.25.20 at 1:49 pm

Tim Worstall @ 10

Regarding your comment on Jams and Marmalades, do you have a source for your claim? I’ve looked through the relevant documentation I could find [1] and didn’t see anything in line with your remarks. Indeed, my googling (though admittedly not in-depth) could only turn up one single article in the Daily Telegraph from 2003 referencing an article in Kronen Zeitung (which I couldn’t find, so for me it is 3rd hand reporting) which claimed an “Austrian Farmer” was “in rebellion” over “Apricot Marmalade”.

However, I’m uncertain as to if that is what you are referring to (you have my apologies if you meant a different case), as it doesn’t appear that it was anything to do with EU regulations making “the production of apricot marmalade” a “criminal offence”. Instead, it seems that overzealous Austrian officials fined a businessman for using an incorrect term in labelling (“marmelade” instead of “Konfitüre”), which is more to do with the way they chose to transpose EU regulations into national regulation (as far as I can tell, this is not an “EU” thing per se, as both Denmark and Greece have arrangements to deal with not having a distinction between marmalade and jam). In essence, it seems it is perfectly fine to produce your Apricot preserve – it is only a problem if you label it “marmalade” when it does not contain sufficient citrus component, in which case you can call it a “jam” (I’m afraid I’m not convinced this is the huge burden you seem to believe it is). I can find no evidence that it is, or ever was, the case that there is a “ban on the use of the word marmalade or jam” – it appears there was only a Austrian official position that they defined what “marmalade” and “jam” mean, and would fine you if you mislabelled one as the other.

Of course, you note that this is a trivial example, but I agree it is worth considering in more detail. Perhaps I am missing something – if I am I’m afraid it currently eludes me – but I think that actually this may be viewed as a positive thing. Because what we appear to have is a general framework on “what products may be labelled as what” which is common to all EU countries, with individual countries being able to determine for themselves how they wish to put this in to practice. This is beneficial to the jam maker, as they can abide by regulations and be confident their preserve product may be sold anywhere within the EU market (rather than either limiting themselves to a purely domestic market, or having to navigate each country’s rules separately). It is also beneficial to consumers – they can have confidence that their “marmalade” or “jam” is going to have a minimum standard when it comes to, for example, fruit content, sugar content, citrus content, etc. I don’t think you’ve made a convincing case as to why that would be a bad thing.

From my perspective (and again, this is purely personal), the EU essentially operates at two levels – very, very large macro stuff and very, very small micro stuff. The former is things like “how do we reduce carbon emissions over 10 years”, which the EU has achieved with relatively positive success [2]. This is facilitated by being able to share the burdens necessary to undertake large-scale, long-term visions – the sort of thing that short-term, more constrained and localised governments are ill equipped to deal with. The latter is things like “what is the difference between a marmalade and a jam?” – I posit that there are very few who would be harmed by having to label their product as one or the other, but when such distinctions exist it is easier to trade when there is a more unified structure to determining the categories. The pettifogging detail you refer seems to me to be actually greater clarity between trading partners – and I am not sure that it would disappear in a post-EU world (just increase the number of things which continually have to be negotiated between every single country).

I’m sure, if one searches hard and deep enough, one can find examples where the EU is a hindrance or has a negative effect on society (I certainly don’t think the EU is a universally and always positive influence!). But I also believe that this is the case for pretty much any organisation or any regulatory framework (even the common laws you proscribe would still need deciding and defining to some extent, as well as enforcing, revising, etc.). As I said some time ago, the question for me would be: are the negative effects of the EU outweighed by the positives, or are they sufficient to justify Brexit and the ensuing issues it will bring? While I won’t claim to have a definitive answer, I’ve yet to see any compelling evidence that the gains of Brexit will outweigh the losses – though I’m open to the idea I am wrong, and to changing my mind when evidence is presented.

You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion, but I’m afraid that I’ve found your argument somewhat unconvincing. I suppose time will tell.

[1] for example, Council Directive 2001/113/EC of 20 December 2001 relating to fruit jams, jellies and marmalades and sweetened chestnut purée intended for human consumption

[2] As I noted on a previous thread, the EU appears to have reduced GHG emissions in line with the Paris accord. While arguments can be made that “this isn’t enough”, etc., the point is there is a large scale target which has so far been successfully met by this body of wide ranging, various countries. Given that neither the US nor China have met their targets, I believe it is not unreasonable to conclude this is a “good achievement” with respect to the admittedly low standards of the world in general.

14

John Rynne 12.25.20 at 4:36 pm

Tim Worstall @ 10
Thank you for bringing “Council Directive 2001/113/EC of 20 December 2001 relating to fruit jams, jellies and marmalades and sweetened chestnut purée intended for human consumption” to my attention.
My first reaction was that you had been led up the garden path by the sort of bullshit that Boris used to peddle as a Brussels correspondent (like the whole story about the EU taking away Britain’s kettles and toasters).
Having looked at the directive, my theory about the “not marmalade” thing is that it is actually intended to protect the term “marmalade” from being diluted through application to other stuff that does not contain (enough) citrus. I can think of only one country in the EU that might fight for this sort of protection, and that would be the home of marmalade, namely, the UK.

15

Cranky Observer 12.25.20 at 6:43 pm

The EU was 10 years ahead of US food manufacturers, and 15 years ahead of the US FDA, in requiring comprehensive consistent food allergen labeling. Which we appreciated as it allowed Cranky Offspring #2 to have some foods and particularly treats – purchased from the local imported foods store – that they otherwise would have been denied possibly forever (or 15 years as it turned out). I’m sure there is a reason why that requirement is a bad thing though.

16

RobinM 12.25.20 at 7:33 pm

So is Perry Anderson so wide off the mark in his criticisms of the EU as a political project?

https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v43/n01/perry-anderson/ever-closer-union

Who’d want to belong to such an organisation?

17

J-D 12.25.20 at 8:16 pm

Which liar originated the idea that there is a major difference between the level of detail found in UK/British/English laws and the level of detail found in European laws?

Which liars circulate this lie?

Tim Worstall is not the first commenter here to believe this lie.

Just for the hell of it, I have taken the trouble to find just one example of a piece of UK law which has the kind of details that this lie denies the existence of. It would be similarly easy to cite many more, but for the time being, here are The Medicines (Data Sheet) Regulations 1972 in all their glory:
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1972/2076/pdfs/uksi_19722076_en.pdf

(The legislation.gov.uk website shows 1083 UK Statutory Instruments for 1972 alone.)

As an amuse bouche, here’s just one sentence from Part I of Schedule I of those regulations:

The letter “V” at the top right hand side of the first page or fold of the sheet to be in 18 Didot Univers bold or equivalent.

Please note, I had no idea this particular example existed: it took me less than fifteen minutes hunting around online for something like it to strike oil.

18

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.25.20 at 8:30 pm

John Rynne @ 14: It seems you’re spot-on. I found this:
https://spoonfulsofgermany.com/2014/10/19/why-marmelade-lost-its-name/

If you want to pick up what is commonly known as Marmelade (jam) from a supermarket in Germany, you will look for it in vain – not because there is none but because jam in Germany may not be called “Marmelade” unless it contains at least 20% citrus fruit. Everything else is called “Konfitüre”.

Gosh, I’m shocked, shocked, shocked, that I can’t call something Champagne unless it’s been made in the Champagne region, etc, etc, etc. Talk about Tyrannical EU Regulation! Burn it down!

Tim Worstall: You wrote:

Therefore, to add oils of citrus to a jam – which would be roughly to make a marmalade – made of jam fruits rather than marmalade fruits was that criminal offence.

The only way around this would be to agitate for the law to be changed.

It would appear that (a) your first sentence is false — the making is not a crime, but rather the -naming-. And your second is again false: change the name of your product.

Now, I have two choices: either you’re an IMBECILE, or you’re a GASLIGHTER.

But then, I should have known when I saw that you named Nigel Farage approvingly.

You’re a gaslighter, and a damn inept one at that.

Our Nazis really need to try harder. Cut-rate imitations of mimeographed copies, that they are, they really just can’t manage to come up to the standards of the 1930s originals.

19

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.25.20 at 8:31 pm

Oops, I left out the second bit of the cite from that article about jams:

The German Konfitürenverordnung, (Jam Regulation) based on the EU Council Directive relating to jams, jellies and marmelades and chestnut purée and its amendments, sets standards for the fruit content and permissible ingredients of jams and jellies.

Voila, the German reg is due to the EU reg. Again, of the naming of jams.

20

J-D 12.25.20 at 8:35 pm

So is Perry Anderson so wide off the mark in his criticisms of the EU as a political project?

https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v43/n01/perry-anderson/ever-closer-union

Who’d want to belong to such an organisation?

I didn’t read the whole article, I skimmed it, so perhaps the point I picked up on is different from the one you had in mind: if so, perhaps you will explain what you had in mind.

The point I picked up on was this: that the structure of the EU is pervaded by undemocratic and perhaps even anti-democratic features. I don’t doubt this. However, the structure of the UK is also pervaded by undemocratic and perhaps even anti-democratic features. The people of the UK (I predict) will not be more democratically governed as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

21

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.25.20 at 8:39 pm

RobinM: “Who’d want to belong to such an organisation?”

Anyone with an understanding of history, and an appreciation for the “ceteris paribus” fallacy, I would think.

Brad Delong pointed out long ago that since 111BC, on average every 37 years an army has crossed the Rhine in one direction or the other, to wreak havoc and devastation. Every 37 years. Until 1945. Since then, we’ve had two cycles of respite from that madness. And why? Because the architects of the EC/EEC/EU have striven to knit together Europeans with bonds of commerce, friendship, education, marriage, etc, so that war would be unthinkable.

But then some greedy individuals thought: well, we have peace now, what do we need the EU for? We can make this one change (rip down the EU) and keep the peace, b/c hey, “all other things being equal” we’ll get rich!

Already Boris talks about openly competing with the EU, when the point of the EU was cooperation. It’s like the idiot fell asleep halfway thru Econ 101 and woke up in No 10. Never got around to the classes on how important cooperation is to human progress.

22

Chris Bertram 12.25.20 at 8:47 pm

Something I wrote this morning, slightly adapted:

My early morning Christmas Day thoughts, listening to David Attenborough on the radio are very much that we’ll need co-operation across borders (and lots of tearing down of borders) to achieve what we need to both environmentally and economically and on matters such as human mobility and migration and that Brexit is a low point. There’s not much difference between “our fish” and “our rainforest” and both are disastrous. National politics is the handmaiden of nationalist politics, fostering all the terrible attitudes we’ve seen and making it hard to fight back, because what’s in it for red wall voters etc. But we need to be building back the filaments of co-operation where we can until the small mushrooms we see above ground are merely the manifestation of an irremovable reality underneath. To this end we, “the left” whatever have to shift our ideas of who our friends are and who the enemy is. Friends include entrepreneurs, start-ups and even productive corporations (short of oligopolistic power) as well as migrants, cross-border families etc. Opponents are nationalists of all stripes and parasitic rentiers, and they include the socialism-in-one-country left from McCluskey to Mélenchon and their intellectual enablers and allies such as the Streecks and Andersons. (Another lesson of Brexit, though, is that we have to build on the co-operative structures and legal frameworks we have rather than collaborating with the nationalists to tear them down and kidding ourselves that we are doing so for a better ideal.)

23

J-D 12.25.20 at 10:04 pm

Now, I have two choices: either you’re an IMBECILE, or you’re a GASLIGHTER.

Your conclusion may turn out to be correct, but also it may not; it’s not adequately justified by the evidence so far. People honestly believing misinformation without being imbeciles is a common event. I’ve done it myself, more than once, and so have other people I know. It’s so common, in fact, that the chances are you’ve done it yourself.

Brad Delong pointed out long ago that since 111BC, on average every 37 years an army has crossed the Rhine in one direction or the other, to wreak havoc and devastation. Every 37 years. Until 1945. Since then, we’ve had two cycles of respite from that madness. And why? Because the architects of the EC/EEC/EU have striven to knit together Europeans with bonds of commerce, friendship, education, marriage, etc, so that war would be unthinkable.

Again, your conclusion may be correct, but again, the case you have made in favour of it is inadequate. I haven’t checked Brad Delong’s calculations, but even if it’s true that military attacks across the Rhine averaged one every thirty-seven years over the stipulated period, ‘on average every thirty-seven years’ is not synonymous with ‘like clockwork every thirty-seven years’. I pose this question: What is the longest period (since 111 BCE, if you like) during which no army crossed the Rhine bent on conquest or pillage? The question once formulated, I ask whether ‘the seventy-five years since 1945’ is the correct answer, and I simply don’t know. Maybe it was; but maybe the correct answer is some longer period in the seventh century, or the twelfth century, or some other period I haven’t even considered. I don’t know enough history to be sure. Can you list every one of the events which Brad Delong included in the dataset which (I have to presume) he compiled (because if he compiled no such dataset, what could his conclusion possibly be based on?)?

24

nastywoman 12.25.20 at 10:26 pm

”So, after a successful Brexit, Britain will be a little poorer and more isolated than before, but otherwise largely unchanged”.

Yes!

”Will that count as success in the eyes of those who voted to Leave”.

No –
as they (still) can’t change anymore what bothered most of these Brexiters so much –
that their homeland -(or let’s say ”London”) had become the EU – a truly wonderful
mix of ALL EU cultures and languages in just one place.

And sorry ”Tim Worstall” –
as isn’t there this funny saying about locking some barn doors after IO – ICH – MOI and ALL of our other ”foreign” friends have ”conquered” London – very peacefully – I might say.

And as we ”them fureigners” actually rule Great Britain –
and not only since ”them damn Germans” took over the British Monarchy –
it’s just ”fruitless” –
or should we say:
”marmeladless”? –
for all these – AAA-ttention ”trumpspeak”!!: – ”Liddle Englanders” –
(like Worstall)
to resist that WE –
(the MultiKultiMultiNationalCrowd) –
have
WON!!

AND WE LOOOVE our ”Brutish Friends”!

25

nastywoman 12.25.20 at 10:38 pm

AND –
guys! –
as OUR Queen is still in London –
(for her facelift)
AND because ”The Lesser Clown” is more or less responsible that WE couldn’t visit her now for month – one thing will change for sure – we will have to ask her to ”Knight” US all!

26

RobinM 12.25.20 at 10:43 pm

I don’t want to belabour the point, but yes, J-D, I do think that Anderson is claiming that there are, by design on the part of some, some very anti-democratic features of the EU. But I think that, more than that, he’s urging that, if one focusses on it as a political project, these anti-democratic features are well-nigh indelible since they are so deeply baked into the very structures of the system. Are they just as indelible within the UK? I don’t know. But I tend to hope that they are not. I would, however, be interested to hear from those who have insight into these matters, whether someting other than a democratic facade could be achieved within the EU or the UK (or its perhaps not so distant-in-time independent fragments).

My understanding of history is perhaps at least as good as yours (and brad delong’s), Chetan. But rather than engage in a contest over that, I’d ask you and all the others who are concerned with within-Europe violence to consider that the EU has been linked with NATO in some troubling actions and, more to the point, looking to possible futures rather than debateable pasts, there are those Europeans who are evidently quite interested in a united Europe becoming a great world power in a somewhat traditional, violence-prone sense.

There is, in other words, Chris, besides all the nationalisms which litter Europe a form of European nationalism, still somewhat inchoate but nevertheless lurking there, which should surely be kept in mind when one is contemplating the evils of nationalisms past and present?

Finally, you surely don’t need to be either an enabler or a proponent of socialism in one country (something I definitely am not, though I would just as defintely acknowledge I’m of the left) and neither do you need to be a nationalist to hold critical views of the EU.

What makes the conversations about the EU so tiresome is that they so often degenerate into true believers on both sides castigating each other for their moral or policical obtuseness. I hope this won’t happen here and now.

27

John Quiggin 12.25.20 at 11:03 pm

What seems bizarre to me about the marmalade controversy is that, in the context of an argument over food labelling, anyone would propose a response that, among many other costs, breaks up families.
A couple of thoughts on this
* Tim W isn’t alone. Complaints about food regulation seem to have been one of the most constant objections to membership of the EU
* For many/most Leavers, breaking up families is a feature not a bug

28

Chris Bertram 12.25.20 at 11:06 pm

@John, and the other thing is that the Brexiters are great admirers of Australia, forever proposing Australian-style this and that. Yet try importing cheese to Australia!

29

John Quiggin 12.25.20 at 11:33 pm

And although our food regulation has got a little more sensible, I grew up in a state where, thanks to the power of the dairy lobby, margarine had to be coloured pink and it was illegal to sell peanut butter (it had to be called “peanut paste”).

Equally strangely, Brexiters seem to want our “points-based” immigration system and to reduce barriers to migration from Australia. I get the impression that they are hoping lots of people with names like Smith, Jones and Brown will be keen to replace departing Europeans. Maybe so, but they will also be welcoming lots of Aussies with common Australian surnames like Nguyen, Wang and Singh. https://www.mamamia.com.au/most-common-surnames/ If you want a model of successful multicultural diversity (and overlook our shameful treatment of indigenous people and refugees) Australia is not a bad choice. But if that’s what Brexit was all about, I have clearly missed something.

30

engels 12.25.20 at 11:42 pm

(Previous comment disappeared) It’s also ironic that Worstofall, who hates continental rule worship and prefers British market-based solutions, is merrily dancing on the grave of an immigration regime that essentially left things to the employment market and cheering its replacement with one based on rules.

31

J-D 12.25.20 at 11:43 pm

I don’t want to belabour the point, but yes, J-D, I do think that Anderson is claiming that there are, by design on the part of some, some very anti-democratic features of the EU. But I think that, more than that, he’s urging that, if one focusses on it as a political project, these anti-democratic features are well-nigh indelible since they are so deeply baked into the very structures of the system. Are they just as indelible within the UK? I don’t know. But I tend to hope that they are not. I would, however, be interested to hear from those who have insight into these matters, whether someting other than a democratic facade could be achieved within the EU or the UK (or its perhaps not so distant-in-time independent fragments).

I don’t want to belabour the point, either, but in that case the critical question is the one I identified: is it likely that the people of the UK will be more democratically governed as a result of the UK leaving the EU? I don’t regard that as an undesirable outcome; I regard an increase in democracy as highly desirable outcome. The question is whether it’s a likely outcome. As I indicated previously, my answer to the question is ‘No, it’s an unlikely outcome’.

What is more, all the effort that has gone into achieving UK withdrawal from the EU is effort which could have been directed in ways that would have had a better chance of increasing democracy: so from the point of view of a democrat, the whole exercise was and is a tragic waste.

32

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.26.20 at 12:36 am

J-D @ 23: “Your conclusion may turn out to be correct, but also it may not; it’s not adequately justified by the evidence so far.”

Dude, he proudly proclaims that he stumped for Farage! That alone should be enough to get him banished from polite company. And the sort of “mistake” he would have to make is a classic from the right-wing cookbook: always preserve a shred of plausible deniability.

33

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.26.20 at 1:05 am

RobinM @ 26: “There is, in other words, Chris, besides all the nationalisms which litter Europe a form of European nationalism, still somewhat inchoate but nevertheless lurking there, which should surely be kept in mind when one is contemplating the evils of nationalisms past and present?”

TL;DR “Oooh, the bogey-man!”

Longer:

Have a care, to not fall into the trap Atrios so clearly describes here: https://www.eschatonblog.com/2020/12/larry-is-lying.html

That is to say: a great way to shut down an argument/forestall a worthy cause, is to raise a yet-greater evil that must, we insist, MUST be dealt with FIRST. And, y’know, in full knowledge that if we were to go to work on THAT, there would be yet another evil, perhaps even the first one, that you could raise to forestall THAT. It’s a rhetorical trick, and it’s always done in bad faith. As is the idea that addressing evil#1 always and inevitably means ignoring or aggravating evil#2 (which is implicit in your statement).

34

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.26.20 at 1:21 am

There’s a different form of “ceteris paribus” fallacy that all these anti-EU bangers-on engage in. Economists and historians [and esp. economic historians] attribute a great deal of America’s rise to power, to the fact that America had a continent-wide market with consistent rules and no barriers, within which to birth companies and technologies, to nurture productivity increases. Part of the goal of creating the EU was to create precisely that, so that Europe could also have the benefits that accrue from such a continent-wide (ok, part of a continent, but still pretty big) market. And to a great extent it is working.

People who want to tear it down think that there won’t be much economic harm; some even claim (like the Brexiters) that there’ll be gains. But this is lunacy: reversion to a patchwork of differing regulations, with border-after-border for trade, will cause losses, both one-time and in the rate of increase in productivity (hence, ongoing+cumulative).

[As an example] I mean, maybe these people should read Payment Systems by David Nacamuli, and specifically about the EU-wide payments system (SEPA, IIRC) and why and how it was created. Nacamuli cites a report on the barriers to making payments across EU nations more-transparent and rapid, and it’s clear that every single pain-point corresponds to some guy sitting at a border, wanting his cut of the traffic. And the bureaucrats in Brussels from all over the Union found this out, when then realized just how difficult it was, to pay their bills back home: houses, schooling, insurance, etc, etc, etc.

We’re seeing a small part of this already in the UK, and it’s only going to get worse and worse. I mean, even a Eurosceptic like Richard North (eureferendum.com) who was leagues-ahead as a Brexiter than most anybody else, was always for EEA membership, not for a rupture, ffs. He’s been banging the drum of “this is going to end badly” for months and months now. And he’s no lily-livered Labour Remoaner, ffs.

35

steven t johnson 12.26.20 at 2:27 am

It is entirely unclear why all corporations engaged in international trade don’t count as allies for Chris Bertram@22.

The banner of the EU was flown along with various neo-fascist symbols as fascism returned to Europe in Ukraine. These are very real damages already done by the cross-class collaboration.

The notion that lack of customs borders was key to the economic development of the US sounds to me more like a prejudice confirmed by injudicious historiography. The physical barriers to trade (compounded by a weak government dedicated to lower taxes and budget austerity rather than infrastructure, aka internal improvements) and social barriers like slavery surely deprived the lack of internal tariffs of some of its alleged power. Further, alternate factors, like the massive resources available in a new land; the role of redistribution of Native American lands in lowering taxes and tariffs by providing significant percentage of government revenue; the pressure for innovation by a relative shortage of labor and a relatively large internal market due to higher wages, not lower tariffs…well, Milton Friedman and Rose Schwartz proved bad monetary policy was the only cause of the Great Depression, right?

36

PD 12.26.20 at 2:39 am

From a Remainer who is now a Leaver . . .

Trump’s vendetta against the EU – see Richard Grenell for examples – has made it clear that he wants Europe to be perpetually subordinate to the US. See NordStream2, Iran sanctions, and on and on. In this conflict, the UK has always been the US’s Trojan Horse, as De Gaulle rightly saw. (With a few exceptions, such as Harold Wilson’s refusal to join the Vietnam War).

So let’s hope the EU now gets its act together as an alternative power to the US. Poland and Hungary won’t help, of course, but there’s a chance that France and Germany will prevail and bring most European countries along.

And Britain can now enjoy its breakfast marmalade in single splendor. Until Northern Ireland and Scotland defect, perhaps.

37

RichardM 12.26.20 at 2:48 am

The key datapoint on the apricot marmalade issue is a link to UK amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Arodama-Premium-Apricot-Jam-Pack/dp/B072JC3BRQ/ref=sr_1_7?dchild=1&keywords=Apricot+marmalade&qid=1608950099&sr=8-7

If Mr Worstall was in fact engaged to do guerilla marketing by the Aradoma company, then he deserves credit for being dishonest in a rather clever way. However, I suspect the opposite.

38

Collin Street 12.26.20 at 3:19 am

What seems bizarre to me about the marmalade controversy is that, in the context of an argument over food labelling, anyone would propose a response that, among many other costs, breaks up families.

Why, if only there were a common thread between “intellectual rigidity or dogmatism” and “blindness to the subjective experience [inc suffering] of others”, perhaps a heavilly-studied neurological problem that was well known to be massively underdiagnosed in those over about thirty to forty, and that was known to manifest very differently in men and women, presumably for social reasons. Perhaps if it could be linked to extreme stress reactions in response to apparently-minor social or environmental changes, because that sort of thing would really wrap the whole conservative reaction thing into a neat bundle like some sort of sociological christmas present. Or to an aesthetic approach that relied on out-of-context elements, associated individually with power/authority but which in combination created a discordant or even ludicrous effect to many observers.

But that would be ridiculous; the real world is never so neat.

[Genuinely: last time I plan to raise this, because going forward it’ll be increasingly more obvious than controversial.]

39

RobinM 12.26.20 at 3:27 am

Sorry, Chetan, but I don’t see what you’re getting at in your purported response to me @33.

40

Alex SL 12.26.20 at 6:11 am

Chetan Murphy,

You are making several very good points, and they are applicable far beyond Brexit. Everywhere around us are people who either think that [thing that is absolutely required to get a benefit] can be discarded now that we have [the benefit] or, worse, that [thing that is absolutely required to get a benefit but involves a trade-off] was introduced for nefarious purposes by a cabal that wanted to cause whatever downside is involved in the trade-off to get an overall better outcome.

I have a decent salary, some job security, and sick leave, and my daughter doesn’t have to work in the coal mines at age ten for us to put food on the table, so we don’t need the unions (that fought for all these benefits).

Women have legally the same rights as men, so we don’t need feminism (while “traditionalists” are chipping away at their rights).

We haven’t had a deflationary crisis in a long time, so having moved off the gold standard, having independent central banks, and the 2% inflation target must be an evil conspiracy with the sole purpose of devaluing my savings.

I can trust my tap water, and there is a nature reserve on the edge of town, so we don’t need any “green tape” (that keeps the water clean and the reserve protected).

There hasn’t been a war in Western Europe lately, so we don’t need the political aspects of the EU.

And, most relevant to Brexit, of course I can just cross the border without a visa, and of course UK companies can trade freely with Germany, Poland, or Spain, so we don’t need the Single Market and Customs Union. That is simply how it is these days. “They” wouldn’t want to change any of that just because we left (the institutions that make all of that possible).

The epitome of this presumably deliberate failure to connect the dots is the Brexiter idea that the UK can diverge in its rules and regulations from the EU but that the consequently necessary introduction of border checks is then entirely due to some kind of EU or Irish ill-will.

41

J-D 12.26.20 at 8:07 am

J-D @ 23: “Your conclusion may turn out to be correct, but also it may not; it’s not adequately justified by the evidence so far.”

Dude, he proudly proclaims that he stumped for Farage! That alone should be enough to get him banished from polite company. And the sort of “mistake” he would have to make is a classic from the right-wing cookbook: always preserve a shred of plausible deniability.

Stumping for Farage is wrong. I don’t defend it. But your previously stated conclusion was that Tim Worstall was either an imbecile or a gaslighter. It is not the case that everybody who stumped for Farage was either an imbecile or a gaslighter.

42

Chris Bertram 12.26.20 at 9:26 am

@Worstall writes “A trivial example to illustrate the point. The Jams, Jellies and Marmalade regulations. Which, properly read, make (they’ve been adjusted, so perhaps made) the production of apricot marmalade for sale a criminal, yes criminal, offence punishable by up to 6 months in jail and or a £5,000 fine.”

Can you show me where such criminal penalties were imposed in an EU directive? Or are they, in fact, a decision made by member states applying regulations?

43

nastywoman 12.26.20 at 10:50 am

AND I always wonder why Brexit commenters might bring up something so ”trivial”-
(as Mr. Worstall said) – as ”marmalade” but they completely ignore the utmost relevant fact about driving at the complete wrong side of the street.

As a Brexiter once told me that this horrible law of the EU is the real reason why he wants to live the EU -(until the EU ALSO drives on ”the right side of the street)

AND then – he told me:
His objection has always been that he thought a whole continent – where the people HAVE to drive on th wrong side of the street – ”itself is a bad idea”.
And –
”Everyone should leave it, it shouldn’t exist and in the absence of that the UK should also rethink ALL SPEED LIMITS.

As simply thinking, perhaps insisting, that it’s the wrong way to rule 500 million people.

A very, very non-trivial example to illustrate the point.
As ”them Germans” might restrict Jams, Jellies and Marmalade.
BUT they never would dare to restrict the freedom on ”FREEways” –
which, properly read, make (they’ve been adjusted, so perhaps made) going slower than 30 miles an hour on a freeway ”a criminal, yes criminal, offence” punishable by having to live in… in ”Huddersfield”!

From the Internet
”10 of the worst places to live in the UK
Huddersfield.
Rochdale.
Rotherham.
Nottingham.
Keighley.
Wakefield.
Stoke-on-Trent.
Halifax”.

44

Hidari 12.26.20 at 10:56 am

‘It’s really surprising to me the extent to which the absolutist liberal Stop Brexit current simply evaporated once Corbyn was gone.’

Yes absolutely amazing, astonishing, a mystery unto the ages. As incomprehensible a mystery as the question of how almost all the Remainiacs spent the whole of Corbyn’s short reign flat-out accusing him of being a Brexiteer and how they would never compromise on such an important decision, and yet almost all of them are now lining up to support Labour voting in favour of a diamond-hard Brexit deal, far tougher than anything that Corbyn would have countenanced.

It’s almost as if….(etc. etc. etc).-

45

Tim Worstall 12.26.20 at 12:22 pm

@13. To quote from the law itself:

“https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=celex%3A32001L0113”

“essential oils of citrus fruits: only in marmalade and jelly marmalade,”

And:

“‘Marmalade’ is a mixture, brought to a suitable gelled consistency, of water, sugars and one or more of the following products obtained from citrus fruit: pulp, purée, juice, aqueous extracts and peel.

The quantity of citrus fruit used in the manufacture of 1 000 g of finished product must not be less than 200 g of which at least 75 g must be obtained from the endocarp.”

You may only add essential oils of citrus to something already predominantly made from citrus fruits. Therefore that making of apricot marmalade – the addition of essential oils of citrus that is, to give a nice citrussy tang – is not allowed.

And yes, the Austrian case is exactly what did persuade me to go and do something as boring as reading the law.

I do indeed regard this level of detail in the ruling of 500 million people as insane.

This being rather a lead in to the real complaint. The rules themselves largely come from the UN and the Codex Alimentarus. Which are positive descriptions of what industry does in the main. On transposition into EU directives and thus national laws they tend to become normative descriptions. This is how we end up with the bendy bananas thing. The actual phrase being “free from excessive curvature.” Which is indeed how the banana trade distinguishes between Class 1 and Class 2 bananas. On the basis that Fred, on the phone to Bert, should be able to order something and know what he’s getting.

My base objection is turning such an industry standard into the law of the land. Because industry standards adapt over time. They have to, because things change. As, in time, the Cavendish goes the way of the Gros Michel (clones do tend to suffer from pandemics, the answer being to change the clone) then definitions of Class 1 and Class 2 bananas will within the trade. All of which will be rather more difficult when we’ve the current industry standards encased, entombed even, in law.

I’m absolutely fine with there being industry standards. I’ve even written one myself – no, really. The standard contract for the trade in scandium was written by me. Just an encapsulation of how things were normally done written up for one of the trade bodies. The idea that this should then be hoicked over into the law in that you must trade scandium according to this contract is insane. But that is what the transposition from the Codex to EU law does, often enough.

It isn’t food regulation per se that annoys. That’s just an example. If you really want to see me get incandescent with rage then get me on the subject of the REACH stuff, where I’ve had up close and personal experience from the producer side.

The political, and anti-EU, claim I make is that detailed rules for the minutiae of life promulgated as law are not the way to do it. Sure, lots of people disagree and I wasn’t – and am not – trying to persuade anyone of the righteousness of my view. at least not here. The question was posed up top, what is it that might make Leave voters think it a success. Being at least potentially free from such a system would count as that for me.

Whether it actually happens that way is of course another thing.

46

CasparC 12.26.20 at 12:43 pm

Chetan R Murphy. The favourite politicians of Xenophobic Racist Brexiteers are Priti Patel and Rishi Sunak.

Chris Bertram. Requiring other nations to form a federal union with you whereby you make their laws and regulations and charge them for the privilege or else you will not discuss mutual interests is not co-operation. Post Brexit UK is very open to co-operating with other nations as a free sovereign nation.

The point about marmalade regulations is entirely their triviality. What kind of psychotic control freakery demands that people selling marmalade at the church bizarre must adhere to finely detailed regulations or else face criminal sanctions? Thankfully this is no longer my problem.

47

Anders Widebrant 12.26.20 at 1:19 pm

I don’t want to make a pile, but I feel compelled to point out that one PM’s “relaxed English/Anglo system of general, overarching, rules” can be another President’s <a href=”https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_20_2532>”significant divergences in the areas of labour and social, environment or climate protection, or of subsidy control”.

48

RichardM 12.26.20 at 3:05 pm

Here are the names (links get eaten) of the first three european companies I could find selling apricot marmalade:

wendy brandon (UK)
Hero (dutch)
aradoma (Greek)

Pity this thread didn’t come up before xmas, would have been a source of good present ideas.

49

hix 12.26.20 at 7:26 pm

Still wondering how this will play out for financial service exports. Hope bad.

50

nastywoman 12.26.20 at 9:02 pm

@
”What kind of psychotic control freakery demands that people selling marmalade at the church bizarre must adhere to finely detailed regulations or else face criminal sanctions”?

and:
What kind of psychotic control freakery demands that people driving on the wrong side of the street at the church bizarre must adhere to finely detailed regulations or else face criminal sanctions?

51

notGoodenough 12.26.20 at 9:06 pm

Tim Worstall @ 45

If, as you say, your intention was not to convince anyone regarding your position, fair enough – you’ve succeeded in your aims of laying out what you believe is a success to you.

Not to continue pounding a point which isn’t central to your thesis, but you say

“And yes, the Austrian case is exactly what did persuade me to go and do something as boring as reading the law.”

Which confuses me – if you’d read it, you surely know that it (and what you in fact link to) is a council directive and not a “law of the land”? A “directive” is an act that sets out a goal that all EU countries must achieve, but it is up to the individual countries to devise their own laws on how to reach these goals. Thus, when you made your comments that the EU have made the production of Apricot marmalade is a criminal offence punishable by £5000 fine, you seem to making a somewhat false statement. The Austrian transposition of the directive into Austrian law may very well be that – but that is down to the Austrian authorities, not the EU. Similarly, if the UK decides to transpose the directive in a different way, that is entirely a UK decision.

You make the remark that industry standards change over time. As this is a directive, and not a “law of the land”, countries are free to change their own laws on how they interpret it. And, despite what you seem to be implying, the directive may also be modified. Indeed, it has been – in 2004 and 2012.

[As a side note, amusingly enough, the 2004 amendment includes a provision which seems to specifically relate to the case you raise:

“The Austrian authorities have now informed the Commission that in certain local markets the term ‘Marmelade’ has also traditionally been used for ‘jam’. It is therefore proposed to amend the German language version of the Directive in order to take into account of this existing tradition on the use of the sales names ‘jam’ and ‘marmalade’ in certain local markets in Austria.“

It is odd you didn’t note that in your initial comments, given that you’ve read this so thoroughly.]

Given that this can and has been modified, and that it sets out a goal rather than being a unmodifiable law of the land, I believe your comments are a little flawed in their representation of the facts.

With respect, I think your framing is somewhat of an exaggeration as to the level of the EU involvement within national laws – and if you wish merely to express the opinion that you think the level of detail from the EU is unnecessary, I believe you could express that without resorting to this degree of misrepresentation (I don’t think it particularly adds to your case, and certainly makes me regard your statements with increased scepticism).

But as this appears to not be relevant to your main thesis, I will drop this for now – I’ve no wish to force you down a rabbit hole which is not central to your main intention anyway. You have stated what you believe will constitute a success – and I certainly appreciate having the opportunity to see your opinion.

52

notGoodenough 12.26.20 at 9:34 pm

CasparC @ 46

From the directive:

“Certain vertical Directives relating to foodstuffs should be simplified in order to take account only of the essential requirements to be met by the products they cover so that those products may move freely within the internal market,”

As I previously note, it is a directive, not a law. The UK was entirely free to make its own laws regarding jams and marmalades, so long as it targets the goals laid out in the directive (which also makes provisions for national variations in language and tradition). Moreover, as a directive, it does not appear to say anything about the sanctions you might face if you are not in accordance with it – that would be down to national transposition.

Given that the directive is intended to cover international trade, I suspect (though admittedly I am not a legal scholar) the UK could quite happily have internal legal provisions so long as it didn’t infringe upon the EU-wide preserve trade – something I suspect your hypothetical old lady would be unlikely to do. Moreover, given that this is a directive aiming at covering EU-wide trade, I suspect it will be your problem to the same degree post-Brexit as it was pre-Brexit (unless you believe the UK will halt exports of its preserves to Europe?).

In short, it would seem this is less about psychotic control freakery demanding old ladies adhere to precise regulations of marmalade and jam, and more about ensuring that Large International Jams (LIJ) Inc. is able to sell its jams throughout the EU without running afoul of local regulations.

Of course, you may believe that it is unnecessary to have this level of detail when you are selling your preserves in multiple countries with multiple languages and multiple laws, and that any misunderstandings LIJ Inc. fall afoul of would be the source of shared hilarity and not – for example – a lawsuit. Personally, I suspect international trade laws are by no means as relaxed and happy-go-lucky as that – but, again, I am not a lawyer, so perhaps I’m wrong. Doubtless the next few years of post-Brexit rules and regulations will be informative in this respect – certainly I will look forward to seeing what happens with considerable interest.

Let’s hope it doesn’t lead to any…sticky situations.

[I’ll see myself out]

53

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.26.20 at 10:34 pm

RobinM @ 39: “but I don’t see what you’re getting at”

A-yup. I fully expect that. I mean, I don’t take you for an idiot, and any competent bullshit artist knows not to break character under pressure: it gives away the con.

Tim Worstall @ 45: “My base objection is turning such an industry standard into the law of the land.”

Oh, I agree completely. I mean, we don’t need laws that define the volume of a gallon, the weight of a kilogram, nor the length of a foot. Nosirree, we surely do not. And gosh, I hear that it’s even a crime in some countries to nobble the gas pumps so that they read “5 gallons” when they only pumped out 4.75 gallons. Gosh a-mighty, we’re agreed.

And since I know you’re not an idiot now, this is just more evidence of what a bullshit artist you are. “Go home and get your shine box”, Tim.

54

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.26.20 at 10:37 pm

Chris Bertram @ 22: When I first started reading your posts on migration, I was still of the opinion that the current residents of each country had the right to decide who and who would not be admitted within their borders. Over time, especially with the likes of Nigel Farage and other filth, I’m coming around to believing that migrants are necessary to save us from these ….. human refuse.

Certainly here in the US, I view every single undocumented immigrant as a soldier in our war against MAGAt America and their imbecile hordes. They should all get citizenship as soon as possible. Not merely because it’s the decent thing to do, but because it’ll save our country from those bastards.

55

Alex K. 12.26.20 at 10:37 pm

Trump’s stated goals, had they been achievable, would have benefited either the US economy as a whole or at least some of America’s working poor. Better terms of trade with China; making allies pay for US-provided security; bringing manufacturing back from overseas; cutting down on low-skilled immigration (a temporary and dubious relief but still, something that low-wage workers might appreciate). In reality, some of the goals were out of the realm of the possible while others required an effort Trump’s third-rate team could never muster.

In contrast, Brexit was almost guaranteed (other than in some fairy-tale optimistic scenario) to make the great majority of UK citizens worse off, at least in the short to medium term.

As for the Marmalade Directive… it’s probably worth starting with the criminal sanctions. Whatever they may be or have been, they could only have been imposed by the UK parliament – not any supranational body. Once the directive got incorporated into UK law, the penalties for violating it would be the same as for breaking other food-related UK statutes. It was hardly the EU’s fault if the UK had criminalized those violations.

More importantly perhaps, the Marmalade Directive had relatively little to do with the EU as a political block: in all important aspects, it was a product of the EEC, a free-trade zone, and the UK had a major part in producing that document.

The UK has regulated the content of marmalade (as well as jam, sweetmeat and sweet curd) since at least 1949. To quote the 1953 Preserves Order:

“Marmalade shall contain a percentage of soluble solids of not less than 68½ per cent. unless packed in hermetically sealed containers when it shall contain not less than 65 per cent., and

(a) in the case of marmalade other than ginger marmalade the fruit content shall be not less than 20 per cent. citrus fruit;
(b) in the case of ginger marmalade the fruit content shall be not less than 25 per cent. drained ginger only or 25 per cent. drained ginger and citrus fruit but so that not less than 15 per cent. shall be drained ginger. “Drained ginger” means ginger (in syrup) drained free from syrup.
…

No jam or marmalade shall contain any added acid other than citric, tartaric or malic acid.”

After the UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1972, it insisted that its traditional understanding of marmalade be reflected in EEC regulations. (EEC and EU directives are not orders arbitrarily issued by nameless but all-powerful bureaucrats: “first bottom-up, then top-down” would be a better description.) As a result, the 1979 EEC directive defined marmalade much as the 1953 Preserves Order had, made with citrus fruit and containing no less than 20% of it.

This went against the traditional German understanding of marmalade but compromises had to be made. In the name of free trade: as I’ve said, the EU did not exist in 1979 and the EEC was primarily a trade organization. The 2001 EU directive was largely based on its 1979 EEC predecessor and kept the UK definition of marmalade.

No matter how libertarian one’s personal preferences, one has to admit that joining a major trading block means subscribing to a multitude of rules likes this. If the UK were to join a hypothetical free trade zone with the EU, it would have to live with the Marmalade Directive again – unchanged, at best.

56

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.26.20 at 10:39 pm

J-D @ 41: “It is not the case that everybody who stumped for Farage was either an imbecile or a gaslighter.”

One presumes you have an example? I sure can’t think of any.

P.S. Or maybe you mean that “Fascist” is different from {“imbecile”, “gaslighter”}, so someone could be the first, and not be one of the latter two. In which case, I can only vehemently agree.

57

J-D 12.26.20 at 11:40 pm

@13. To quote from the law itself:

“https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=celex%3A32001L0113”

“essential oils of citrus fruits: only in marmalade and jelly marmalade,”

And:

“‘Marmalade’ is a mixture, brought to a suitable gelled consistency, of water, sugars and one or more of the following products obtained from citrus fruit: pulp, purée, juice, aqueous extracts and peel.

The quantity of citrus fruit used in the manufacture of 1 000 g of finished product must not be less than 200 g of which at least 75 g must be obtained from the endocarp.”

You may only add essential oils of citrus to something already predominantly made from citrus fruits. Therefore that making of apricot marmalade – the addition of essential oils of citrus that is, to give a nice citrussy tang – is not allowed.

And yes, the Austrian case is exactly what did persuade me to go and do something as boring as reading the law.

I do indeed regard this level of detail in the ruling of 500 million people as insane.

I do indeed regard it as a gross distortion to fail to acknowledge the plain fact that there is UK law at exactly the same level of detail, lots of it, and has been since before the UK joined the EU (or any of its predecessors). You purport to think it insane that the EU legislates in this way but show an inconsistent lack of concern about the UK legislating in the same way.

That’s the main point. I don’t want details to distract from it. But you’re wrong on details as well. I may comment on them later if I feel so moved.

58

J-D 12.26.20 at 11:44 pm

Requiring other nations to form a federal union with you whereby you make their laws and regulations and charge them for the privilege or else you will not discuss mutual interests is not co-operation.

Then it’s a good thing that’s not what’s happening, isn’t it?

The EU does not require other nations to join the EU; all the countries which have joined the EU did so on their own application, by their own choice; and it is false to say that the EU refuses to discuss mutual interests with nations which refuse to join the EU.

If you do choose to join the EU then naturally you accept the obligation to follow EU rules; that’s just plain sense.

59

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.27.20 at 12:08 am

CasparC @ 46: And Phyllis Schlafly was a Saint to misogynist rightwingers in America. What’s your point?

Oh, I get it now … you think that because these racist nutjobs have some brown ones they like, that they can’t be racist against all brown people? Lemme tellya …. “you’re not like those other ones, you’re a really -good- {Indian,Chinese,Black,insert-your-favorite-race}”.

Oh, and , and, and, …. here’s an oldie-but-goodie: Himmler once complained that he was inundated with letters from Nazis in good standing, asking for clemency for some “deserving Jew” of their acquaintance or other. He wrote in his “interoffice memo” [preserved for history] that (I paraphrase) “There Are No Deserving Jews!!” Apparently he was pretty incensed at getting all these pleas from what were otherwise stalwart Nazis.

Do you know what we call Nazis who had that one Jew they wanted to save, while they were supporting the machinery of mass murder? We. Call. Them. Nazis.

Your “I have a black friend” doesn’t mean -shit-.

Second example: maybe look up bride-burning in India, and the role of female members of the husband’s family, in this atrocious crime. [I know you won’t]

Conservatives the world over are all the same: they think that anti-racism (or feminism) consists in hiring one or two of the oppressed minority, putting them in charge of the machinery of oppression, and then proclaiming that all is well.

60

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.27.20 at 1:43 am

Tim Worstall @ 45: “My base objection is turning such an industry standard into the law of the land.”

Oh, I forgot this little bit: it’s a nice one, too. Tim here is fine with standards defined by industry …. y’know, with no teeth at all in them. None at all. But there’s something else he just skips past in his description. And that is: the rule of regulation in preventing harm to the public.

Y’see, deep down inside, he’s a Fucking Libertarian, is our Tim [with his shine box — I hope you googled, Tim.] He doesn’t think that the public has any right to know what it’s buying, and to have independent authorities vouch for what that product is and contains and was made from, and by. Nopes, he sure does not. THAT is the real content of his raising this incredibly specious example — to debase the idea of regulation as a public good.

I remember another example of the same: some biologist who got a grant to study shrimp on treadmills — how fast they ran, how to calibrate their speed, strength, etc. The congressman who brought it up was irate with how this was wastefraudandabuse!!! But then, well, it turns out, being able to measure the movement/strength of water creatures, is actually really important for knowing about ecosystem impacts from pollution …. who could have known? [Oh, right, the biologists knew]

61

J-D 12.27.20 at 3:30 am

When I pointed out (with an example cited) that UK law goes into just as much detail as EU law (and did so before joining the EU), I never even considered the possibility that one of the subjects it covered in that much detail was, precisely, jam and marmalade. Good find, Alex K.!

62

J-D 12.27.20 at 3:48 am

J-D @ 41: “It is not the case that everybody who stumped for Farage was either an imbecile or a gaslighter.”

One presumes you have an example? I sure can’t think of any.

No, my conclusion was not based on examples but on more general considerations. Did you base your conclusion on a systematic study of examples?

63

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.27.20 at 4:27 am

J-d @ 62: “Did you base your conclusion on a systematic study of examples?”

Every time some grandee emerges who rides in Farage, he turns out to be a scoundrel. So, not systematic, but when you never, ever, ever see anything but scoundrels, at some point you stop bothering to count. I mean, that waste of protoplasm Rees-Mogg, with his traitorous international bets against Britain, and then voting for the hardest of Brexit: it’s hard to see him as anything other than the worst sort of thief.

I’d put it this way a mentor once observed of a certain IBM VP latest big project: “I’ve run that experiment enough times that I don’t need to run it again to know the outcome.” It’s an ad hominem argument of a sort; but in science, we use ad hominem arguments all the time (see: “cold fusion”: pons&fleischman published further papers, but nobody took them seriously, b/c …. why bother?). And it’s not a fallacy to do so: it’s how science works — when some investigator show bad faith a few times, you stop trusting him, and that means you stop listening to him.

Farage and his buddies: I’ve never seen a one that wasn’t a scoundrel. It’s pure efficiency to merely assume they’re all scoundrels.

64

J-D 12.27.20 at 6:55 am

Every time some grandee emerges who rides in Farage, he turns out to be a scoundrel. So, not systematic, but when you never, ever, ever see anything but scoundrels, at some point you stop bothering to count. I mean, that waste of protoplasm Rees-Mogg, with his traitorous international bets against Britain, and then voting for the hardest of Brexit: it’s hard to see him as anything other than the worst sort of thief.

Farage and his buddies: I’ve never seen a one that wasn’t a scoundrel. It’s pure efficiency to merely assume they’re all scoundrels.

Originally you expressed your conclusion as being about everybody who stumped for Farage. Most of the people who stumped for Farage were not what you now describe as grandees; most of them were not what you now describe as Farage’s buddies. Most of the people who stumped for Farage were at a lower level, and the chances are that you, like me, knew little or nothing about most or all of them as individuals. That would put us on much shakier grounds for drawing conclusions about them as individuals than about the prominent few.

We don’t need to be able to draw conclusions about the individuals to draw conclusions about the cause. Farage’s cause was (and is) a scoundrel’s cause; thus, I can conclude that Tim Worstall stumped for a scoundrel’s cause without drawing any particular conclusion about Tim Worstall as an individual.

It’s more important to know what is right than it is to know who is right.

65

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.27.20 at 8:12 am

For anybody who has an interest in what’s actually going to happen to the UK’s relationship to the EU, I want to again recommend reading eureferendum.com — Richard North’s blog. He’s been a Brexiter avant la lettre, but has equally well been withering in his scorn for any “hard Brexit”, adducing detail-after-detail to show that that’s barking madness. He’s made a number of predictions over the last four years, most/all of which have come to pass.

Here’s his latest column, where he starts to analyze the treaty: http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=87834

A pull-quote:

Specifically, all imports will be subject to customs formalities and will need to comply with EU customs rules. Then, all imports into the EU must meet all EU standards and will be subject to regulatory checks and controls for safety, health and other public policy purposes.

Less visible, but of some considerable importance, will be the rules of origin that will apply to goods in order for them to qualify for preferential trade terms under the agreement.

Bigger, international firms, and those with a presence in the EU, may find it easier to deal with than the SMEs which have previously exported to the EU under the Single Market regime, especially when the full system takes effect in 2022.

He has been steadfast in predicting that the EU would not budge on requiring all importss to their Single Market to abide by EU regulations on the various stuff listed above — even in the face of BoJo saying “there will be no non-tariff barriers” and other bunk. He was pointing out the need for massive facilities to hold/handle lorries waiting to depart for France [borne out]. And on and on.

He’s had piece-after-piece about many sectors: aviation, chemicals, lots of others, and esp. about food safety (his subject-matter-expertise area).

People who actually want to understand what’s going to happen, could do a lot worse than follow his blog. Certainly, they’d get a good understanding of the massive task ahead of the UK, in trying to manage their external trade relationships for the first time in fifty years.

66

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.27.20 at 8:37 am

Ah, here’s a nice column Richard North wrote about the UK chemicals industry and Brexit: http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=87689
The article quotes regulators, industry execs, and the upshot is that the UK must stand up an entire chemicals testing & regulatory establishment (what was previously outsourced to Helsinki, natch): this will require revalidating all the chemicals that UK companies produce for export, from scratch. There are costs for this on a per-chemical basis, and also the regulatory org to get up and running at speed.

Elsewhere I remember reading that many smaller UK companies, and also producers of chemicals with smaller markets, may simply fold up shop: the extra costs of dealing with all this new regulation — which is on top of the EU regulation that must already be dealt with, will make manufacturing some chemicals simply uncompetitive.

Now, there’s this idea that somehow the EU and UK could just agree to cross-recognize each others’ regimes. But the problem there, is that Boris and his idiot horde have systematically gone about setting fire (with napalm accelerant) to any shred of hope that the UK could be trusted to abide by any trade agreement or good-faith agreement whatsoever. There’s no good reason for the EU to ever trust the UK, but instead, copious reason to verify everything. And of course, in the case of imports, that verification will be paid by the importer and foreign supplier — in higher fees.

67

lurker 12.27.20 at 10:53 am

@Chetan Murthy, 63
A Latin phrase that gets used way too little:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsus_in_uno,_falsus_in_omnibus
Life is too short for you to give known liars and/or fools the benefit of doubt.

68

notGoodenough 12.27.20 at 1:16 pm

Given the number of posts on the topic, I’d thought I’d just take the time to summarise here:

The UK had laws pertaining to marmalade and jam since at least 1949 which seem to be – in terms of complexity – more-or-less on a par with the EU directive. The enforcement of this law was, naturally, entirely a UK based decision [1].

This directive is transcribed into EEC commission regulations when the UK joins (in 1979), presumably to unify rules so that preserves may be freely traded with a minimum standard for labelling.

In 2001, the EU promulgates a directive – essentially laying out the goals of what does and doesn’t constitute various preserves (more or less in line with the EEC regulations, which in turn were in line with the UK law). This directive is not a law of the land – countries are free to determine nationally how they will pursue this goal, as well as enforcement, penalties for infraction, etc. [2]. It is not intended to regulate people making jams in their homes – the sole purpose is to set a minimum standard to unify trade within the EU. As this is a minimum standard, industry standards can be enacted which are different – so long as they meet this basic level.

In 2003 a case is raised where an Austrian farmer falls foul of the labelling rules, and the Austrian authorities choose to enact a penalty based on their national law [3]. This appears to have been, at least in part, due to some national confusion regarding linguistic and traditional derived understandings of marmalade and jam (which would have also been afoul of the EEC regulations, and even the UK national law). This is addressed no later than 2004, when the EU directive is amended to account for this in the future [2]. At no point did the EU make the selling of Apricot marmalade a criminal offence (it played no role in how the individual countries decided to transpose and enact their internal laws).

Subsequently, the last 16 years of preserve trade seem to have not been unduly affected. Indeed, having a minimum standard – something the UK would have had enshrined in law whether it joined the EU of not – seems to have not done so very much to stifle “creative destruction” in the fruit-spread industry.

Post-Brexit, the UK will still have to deal with this directive (unless it ceases to trade with the EU), which appears to have been based (at least in part) on UK law anyway. The overall level of bureaucracy regarding this topic seems to have been pretty much unchanged by joining the EEC and joining the EU, and will be unlikely to change when we leave.

[Summary]

The reason I wanted to put this together, is I think it makes it obvious that what the EU has done is taken the already existing national standards and laws, and unify these so that people may trade without running into issues. Given this was enacted as a directive, individual countries have been free to go about deciding how they will meet this goal. And, as a minimum standard, there is nothing preventing the industry from having its own standards and adjusting those as freely as they’d like – just so long as they don’t try to set the industry standard below that of the directive (and even then, enforcement and punishment would be decided by that nation). Far from this being additional and unecessary detail, this would have been the case even had we never joined the EU (as we had our own laws prior, and would have to ensure our trade was in accordance with whatever locations we traded with).

I will leave it to the comentariat to decide what they believe have been the best sourced and most accurate representations of the actual situation, and to draw their own conclusions from that.

[1] https://crookedtimber.org/2020/12/24/the-day-after-brexit-2/#comment-807229
[2] https://crookedtimber.org/2020/12/24/the-day-after-brexit-2/#comment-807223
[3] https://crookedtimber.org/2020/12/24/the-day-after-brexit-2/#comment-807155

69

Hidari 12.27.20 at 8:59 pm

All that needs to be said about this deeply tedious subject.

https://twitter.com/flying_rodent/status/1343259578935484416

70

Alex SL 12.28.20 at 2:57 am

Funny how half this comment thread is about jam and marmalade labeling when the implied question of the OP was, what’s going to happen (after Brexit is finally done)?

In my first comment I focused on the Leavers, reasoning that most of them will never change their minds or admit regret, because Brexit was not about material benefits or even sovereignty but about hatred of the EU and about defeating and humiliating the Remainers.

Looking at the Remainers, they seem to understand the effects of Brexit much better than Leavers and are therefore generally better prepared, emotionally, mentally, and (to the degree possible) administratively. Not for them the belated and furious realisation that they now face restriction A when holidaying in France or restriction B when importing goods from Poland.

But nonetheless I do not foresee them being resigned to and accepting of the new situation, because of the way the Leavers won the referendum. They promised economic benefits, they promised staying in the single market, they claimed Turkey was imminently going to become a member, and there was going to be a European army, etc. It was all falsehoods, consciously or not.

Brexit is and was fully equivalent to a guy convincing a very narrow majority of his family to sell their house with promises of getting a better one for less money and then smugly insisting that they all had agreed to sleeping in cardboard boxes in the park for the foreseeable future, or to somebody promising to sell me a Honda Civic for twentyfive grand and then doing a runner after taking the money and throwing a matchbox car into my lap.

Of course Remainers will not accept they lost and move on, because they – correctly, in my eyes – see the decision as illegitimate, a fraud, a con. There was no informed decision to leave, and there was never a democratic mandate for any particular way of leaving. On top of that, Scotland and potentially Northern Ireland voters will keep the issue live because they mostly did not want to leave the EU.

So that is what I fear Britain’s near-term future will be like: The issue is not over in 2021. It will bubble up again and again, with cycles of resentment and anger by Remainers and “you lost, get over it” style taunts by the Leavers then increasing that resentment. And the problem is, there is no real solution in sight either way.

At the level of the voting public, the pro-EU side will probably slowly increase in numbers, so the issue won’t be settled by them becoming a negligible minority. But their numbers will most likely not increase by enough to make a convincing argument for rejoining even to the EU, who wouldn’t want a deeply divided member back. At the level of the parties that could take up such a case, UK Labour seems to be in denial about the political realignment that is happening and about the fact that it cannot at the same time satisfy the third of its base that is socially conservative and the two thirds that are cosmopolitans.

71

Eszter Hargittai 12.28.20 at 3:41 am

I’d just like to note my disappointment that the food-related policy discussion on this thread was about jam and marmalade instead of what qualifies as chocolate.

72

J-D 12.28.20 at 3:57 am

I’d just like to note my disappointment that the food-related policy discussion on this thread was about jam and marmalade instead of what qualifies as chocolate.

Under the provisions of The Cocoa and Chocolate Products (England) Regulations 2003, if they continue to apply:

The product obtained from cocoa products and sugars which, subject to item 3(b), contains not less than 35 per cent total dry cocoa solids, including not less than 18 per cent cocoa butter and not less than 14 per cent of dry non-fat cocoa solids.

73

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.28.20 at 6:16 am

J-D @ 64: “Most of the people who stumped for Farage were at a lower level, and the chances are that you, like me, knew little or nothing about most or all of them as individuals.”

Here’s what I said about Trump voters: “they voted for a man whom they would have not left alone in a room with either their minor daughters, or their wallets: this says all we need to know, about these people.”

Some votes, some “stumping for a candidate or cause” is enough to know a personal moral fiber. You (obviously) are free to believe that someone can be a decent person and still support Farage; for myself I don’t believe so: vote for Farage, be forever tarnished with the stink.

And as for Trump: anybody who voted for him (or any Republican after 2016) is, as far as I’m concerned, a traitor. That’s a judgment of each of them as -individuals-, just as “there’s a term for Germans who deplored the racism, but supported Hitler for his economic policies — “Nazis”” is a judgment of each of them as individuals.

74

nastywoman 12.28.20 at 6:25 am

@
Funny how half this comment thread is about jam and marmalade labeling when the implied question of the OP was, what’s going to happen (after Brexit is finally done)?

In my first comment I focused on the Leavers, reasoning that most of them will never change their minds or admit regret, because Brexit was not about material benefits or even sovereignty but about hatred of the EU and about defeating and humiliating the Remainers”.

And as I answered the question of the OP:
”Will that count as success in the eyes of those who voted to Leave”
with:

No –
as they (still) can’t change anymore what bothered most of these Brexiters so much –
that their homeland -(or let’s say ”London”) had become the EU – a truly wonderful
mix of ALL EU cultures and languages in just one place.

Can’t we just finally… ”leave” it at this point?

75

nastywoman 12.28.20 at 8:41 am

”Can’t we just finally… ”leave” it at this point”?

And now ”for something completely different” –
as I always had this theory that Crooked Timber hides all the ”Pilots” of the Flying Circus – and their favourite ”hobby” -(Esther Hargittai) is NOT chocolate
BUT –
”And now ”for something completely different”
do you guys think – we will be able to ever… focus again?

76

Hidari 12.28.20 at 9:06 am

One of the reasons I tend to look at Twitter now rather than the blogsphere is simply that the level of debate tends to be so much higher. Although both are better than anything to be found in the corporate media.

Certainly, the level of ‘debate’ about Brexit has been stunningly low, with a bunch of white guys screaming ‘racist’ and ‘traitor’ at each other, as opposed to informed reasoned debate about whether or not it is in the UK’s long term economic interests to be in a trade bloc.

And if you view Brexit in those terms (i.e. ‘racist’ ‘traitor’ etc.) then the whole debate does seem to be incomprehensible. (why now? why this? Why in the UK?).

But if one looks at the Brexit debate in a much longer (indeed, centuries old) context, that of the long-running debate between ‘free trade versus tariffs’, it all makes. a lot more sense.

https://twitter.com/DuncanWeldon/status/1343252391358029827

This thread gives us important context, and also suggest that despite the heat and the (small amount of) light, it’s entirely possible that in 30/40 years absolutely no one will care whether or not the UK is in the EU and that previous debates about protectionism/free trade indeed suggest that this will probably be the case.

77

Tm 12.28.20 at 9:20 am

Worstall 10: “And yet, still, it’s the wrong way to be ruling a continent.”
Well spoken English imperialism. Who else can be trusted to know the right way to “rule a continent”? FYI Europeans are not “being ruled” these days, they now have self-government.

Since you are the expert on all things Brexit, would you weigh in on the question of what the UK is effectively getting out of this Brexit? No symbolic Mumbo jumbo and no trivialities like the naming of jam, give us the goods. Do you disagree with JQ that almost nothing of substance changes, if yes (you must obviously disagree) on what grounds?

78

J-D 12.28.20 at 11:31 am

Here’s what I said about Trump voters: “they voted for a man whom they would have not left alone in a room with either their minor daughters, or their wallets: this says all we need to know, about these people.”

I see pictures of people at rallies holding up signs thanking Jesus for President Trump, and I figure those are people who would, in fact, be more than prepared to leave him alone in a room with their minor daughters, or with their wallets.

79

Tm 12.28.20 at 12:52 pm

Alex K 55 thanks for your effort. I fully expect Tim Worstall to offer a full apology for all the demonstrably false claims he has made in this thread (*). Nevertheless I’m still curious to hear his actual opinion regarding the Brexit deal. Since he hasn’t given it yet, I assume he knows that Leavers don’t really get much out of it, other than that Britain is losing influence, and that life is getting harder for EU/UK cross border students, workers, family members, lovers.

(*) Re Marmelade. In my language, Marmelade can be any kind of jam. The EU has indeed forced producers (with exceptions for local artisans) to label what used to be called Marmelade as Konfitüre, which I personally find slightly annoying. But the reason for that directive was very clearly the British interest. It was to prevent German producers from exporting strawberry jam labeled as Marmalade to the UK because British consumers might be misled into mistaking strawberry jam for orange marmalade! That is really all that it was about and Worstall’s concern for Austrian ladies’ homemade jam is more than a bit ironic.

Btw the words Marmelade, Konfitüre and Gelee are all of French resp. Portuguese origin.

80

notGoodenough 12.28.20 at 2:39 pm

Well, while I doubt anyone has any particular interest in what I have to say (and indeed, they probably shouldn’t – prognostication outside of one’s area of knowledge is somewhat risky, so feel free to disagree and take with pinches of salt) here are my thoughts and predictions. Feel free to skip!

[Political ramblings]

As someone who takes a pragmatic view of things, I tend to believe that left-wing politics is at its best when it is actually improving people’s lives (it is not enough to merely interpret the world – the point is to change it, after all). Consequently, while I am by no means unsympathetic to the criticisms of the EU (and indeed have many of my own), the proposals for Lexit have rung a bit hollow. The cold hard truth is that unless and until there is an actual movement to take over the means of production (to use such unfashionable language), people will be dependent on capitalism and capitalist’s investments – and given the low levels of class resistance in the UK, the benefits of the EU have previously represented a critical defence for worker living standards. Whatever the Brexit ends up looking like, the UK will likely see an acceleration of the policies which have proven so detrimental to living conditions and the environment, a decreased mobility which will overwhelmingly affect the working class, and the ties between people will fray even more. The latter is an important, though perhaps less urgent, point – as I’ve previously commented, I suspect that the best counter to many of the issues of climate change and inequality (as well as other issues JQ has highlighted in his ongoing work regarding the pandemic) is a strong transnational movement (ideally socialist, but I’d settle for any left-wing movement – such as social democracy – at this point) – and so Brexit will represent a set-back here. As JQ points out, it won’t be apocalyptic – but it is a set-back nonetheless [1].

I expect to see rollback of many hard-won pro-worker policies (I would not be surprised, for example, to see negative changes regarding working hours, equal pay, etc.), increased activity to undermine and privatise landmark institutions (such as the NHS), and that ideas such as nationalisation (for example, of power or transport) will become more-or-less taboo within the circles of power and influence. By losing ground here, it means that the next battles will invariably focus on clawing our way back to our starting point rather than enacting meaningful advances.

The potential ramifications with respect to Scottish and Irish politics will be, of course, as always ignored and treated as a mere afterthought – it is always instructive to see how many on both sides of the political spectrum seem unable to think outside of England. Here, while I sincerely hope that there will be no significant damage, I am not optimistic – we may very well see increased violence in Ireland regardless, and it seems not impossible Scottish politics will focus inward (generally speaking Scotland is typically more progressive than England – and one suspects that as English politics become ever decreasingly supportive of those values, Scotland will react by looking to its own salvation). I don’t rate the chances of a Cexit (or Celtic exit) that high, but certainly a little higher than pre-Brexit. Regardless, they too will be hit – though some of the quirks of Scottish law may help cushion some of the inevitable harm.

I doubt that Brexit will change the face of UK politics irreversibly, but certainly it will exacerbate certain unwholesome trends and remove protections hitherto taken for granted – and for someone who values wellbeing, this is hardly a particularly positive moment.

[Science and scholastic ramblings]

From a more apolitical perspective, the impact on the UK’s R&D will likely hit a bit harder and in unexpected ways, though again not apocalyptic by any means. While I’ve not yet looked at the most recent situation (I am on holiday and prefer not to depress myself overly), the last I’d heard is that the EU will let any UK research or industrial group join its funded projects (though naturally the UK will have to fund the UK part). This shouldn’t be underestimated – collaboration and discussion are key components of making advances – but there are concerns regarding the potential budget. Despite pledges to increase spending (assuming these are honoured), increasingly the distribution is towards consortiums comprised of well-established people in the field (making it difficult-to-impossible to find money for newer researchers). While this is, perhaps, understandable to an extent, it means we can expect increased stagnation as the UK hinders the injection of fresh minds and ideas (and we will, I suspect, see a brain-drain, as well as a decrease in the UK’s ability to poach other country’s minds). In general, I will expect to see a slowing of advances from the UK – but by no means a complete halt.

Of course, neglected though this area generally is, it is akin to loving and tender care compared to many non-STEM fields. Long deemed “frivolous” by the currently resurgent forces in UK politics, I would be shocked if we don’t see accelerated decline in many fields [2]. Those working there will do their best to weather the storm (the mistreatment, contempt, and lack of any support they face will be merely a stepping up of what is typically endured), but their efforts will be hampered by the overall decline of the UK’s education and higher learning sectors. As controversial opinion (such as, for example, “capitalism can be flawed”) becomes less protected, I expect there will be “trimming of the fat” which will likely be employed to cow the outspoken and to decrease standards of living and working (I suspect eyes have already been cast over the increasingly adjunctified US system with interest and approval).

Regardless, research in the UK will continue – but likely stunted to some degree. One may be forgiven for being sceptical that the future will bring quite so many breakthroughs or achievements – but as that seems to matter little to most people, we can set it aside for now.

[Potential ramifications within the European context]

But enough of considering Brexit from the UK’s perspective, perhaps it is time to try to consider using a broader vision?

It is interesting that much of the previously pro-exit rhetoric from Europe appears to have dimmed somewhat, and focussed more on changing the EU rather than leaving it. One suspects that the example of the UK will be examined with interest, and conclusions will be drawn. And while the UK has always seen itself as a shining example, right now it has more the hallmarks of a tragic warning.

Previously there has been an erosion of “traditional” parties – with the left and right losing ground to more populist/nativist parties. One exception is Spain, where PSOE is currently dominant, which looks poised to make advances within European politics and fill the gaps left by those becoming increasingly isolationist. However, if – as I believe will be the case – Brexit will demonstrate the downsides to “going it alone”, one suspects we may see a reversal of this trend. Will the left of Europe seize this opportunity, and demonstrate why voters should support them by offering their own vision of transnational solidarity benefitting everyone? I wouldn’t venture an opinion, but I suppose time will tell.

Regardless, the EU will continue to plod along doing what it does – enacting very small micro and very large macro policies. We can expect improved action on climate change [3], and a generally better quality of life for its citizens compared to those in the UK and many other areas in the world. It won’t be all positive – I suspect the future, bringing as it will increased tension over resources and habitable land, will also see the EU increasingly putting its own interests ahead (even more so than it already does), but anyone caught off guard by this likely hasn’t been paying attention.

[Summary]

Of course, this is mostly conjecture, and certainly I won’t claim to be sufficiently well-placed to correctly predict the future – this is just my perspective and thoughts. I am open to changing my mind to anyone presenting arguments – I have my own ideology, of course, but am by no means unreasonably wedded to it, and am – at heart – something of a realist and pragmatist.

So, with that said (and assuming for a moment human civilisation survives), what can we expect from Brexit? I agree with those commentators who have made the point that we may expect continued anger from the Remainers (who saw the downsides coming) and from the Leavers (many of whom were expecting actual improvements to their lives, and not – for example – purely a slight decrease in marmalade labelling regulations). The UK likely won’t fracture, but it will see increased tensions (Ireland and Scotland vs. England; generally younger vs. generally older voters; increased stratification, and a general sense of betrayal). Will Brexit spell the end of the UK? Very likely not, but it will spell a diminished UK with an increasingly unequal society.

In short, essentially I’ve used a lot of words to mostly agree with the OP:

“Britain will be a little poorer and more isolated than before, but otherwise largely unchanged.”

but feel free to agree or not – I certainly don’t believe I am sufficiently well placed to be highly confident in my assessment. Regardless, I think we could mostly agree to hope that next year will prove to be somewhat better than this.

FN

[1] The complete indifference of many of the self-declared gatekeepers of the left to the potential ramifications for the working class, as well as their evinced contempt for the topic and those affected by it, is rather disappointing – though I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised (one merely has to see the level of discourse on display to realise how little actual understanding of actual left-wing politics these people have, their complete apathy towards considering others, and how little they actual value any core principles).

[2] History and philosophy are often amongst such targets – is it a complete coincidence that subject which involve looking at past mistakes, asking difficult questions, and encouraging epistemologically sound examinations of the political and social landscape are often amongst those least valued? Well, I have no idea, so I will let others draw their own conclusions.

[3] What is often missed (despite JQ often literally spelling it out) is that as renewables have become profitable, the forces of capitalism have swung behind it. This isn’t, as some particularly hard-of-thinking seem to believe, to say “free markets are fantastic” – it is making the point that it is considerably easier to enact meaningful reform here when you aren’t fighting so many battles on so many fronts. One would think that given the detail and nuance with which this has been presented people would know better, but one may draw one’s own conclusions about why they feel the need to pretend otherwise.

81

RobinM 12.28.20 at 3:54 pm

A few of small points wrt your summary, notGoodenough.

First, since I grew up only a few miles from the place where it mythically happened, I’m distressed to see you ignoring the ‘fact’ that marmelade had its origins in Dundee when an enterprising proto-capitalist decided he could make a profit out of the oranges rotting away in a ship tied up at the quayside. The Portuguese indeed!

Second, how more “progressive” can my fellow Scots be should they have a tendency to turn inwards at such a time of great difficulty?

And third, in your first footnote where you refer to “the working class,” I thought that the implication of the Brexit vote and the vote in the last two British General Elections was that there is no unitary working class in Britain any more. Part of the trouble people my age have with understanding and dealing with the present is that we—I should say I—still hanker for the days when there was at least a semblance of class solidarity, or at least we imagined there was such a thing.

82

engels 12.28.20 at 6:47 pm

“The corporate media can not be trusted and here’s a link to a Twitter thread by an Economist journo”

83

notGoodenough 12.28.20 at 7:49 pm

RobinM @ 81

Thank you for the thoughtful comments, and for taking the time to read through my words – though I fear you do me far too much credit by calling it a summary (more slightly inebriated ramblings!).

“First, since I grew up only a few miles from the place where it mythically happened, I’m distressed to see you ignoring the ‘fact’ that marmelade had its origins in Dundee when an enterprising proto-capitalist decided he could make a profit out of the oranges rotting away in a ship tied up at the quayside. The Portuguese indeed!”

Apologies but I’m a little confused – I don’t believe I mentioned the origins of marmalade, are you sure you’re not mistaking me for Tm at 79?

“Second, how more “progressive” can my fellow Scots be should they have a tendency to turn inwards at such a time of great difficulty?”

This is a good question, and certainly one I won’t pretend to be overly well equipped to answer. While I lived in Scotland for some 5 years (a fair while ago now), I am hardly an expert – and in making general points I am, no doubt, glossing over much of the fine detail. I also suspect that any attempt to sum up the complex social and political history of Scotland would require far more knowledge than I have, and far more room than on offer at CT – so my apologies for not doing it justice.

To make a horrendous generalisation, I believe the British Social Attitudes survey shows the Scottish people to have generally more progressive inclinations than the English (particularly with respect to health care, taxation, and education), and my impression is that it is less about turning inwards and more turning towards someone other than England. Certainly it has been my subjective impression that many younger (i.e. < 35 y.o.) Scots have been less invested in Scottish nationalism per se, and more invested in maintaining ties of solidarity with Ireland and Europe. Of course, this is purely within my bubble – you may have a better perspective than I – and I certainly won’t pretend I have a definitive answer. This is just my impression.

“And third, in your first footnote where you refer to “the working class,” I thought that the implication of the Brexit vote and the vote in the last two British General Elections was that there is no unitary working class in Britain any more.”

Any grouping of more than one individual must necessarily require some degree of generalisation – but I’m afraid I’m not entirely sure I follow your train of thought here (the fault is no doubt mine, so apologies if I miss the point you intend to make). While I would say it is, in a general sense, true that there is no unitary working class in Britain at the moment, surely that is not relevant when we consider the potential impact of Brexit on people? My point being that if, as I suspect will be the case, those most affected by the negatives of Brexit will be those who are working class, does it matter if there is not a class-based consensus on supporting Brexit or even any class solidarity as a whole? Surely the harms will affect people whether or not they believe it will, and they will impact them regardless of their politics?

I suppose I am – generally speaking – somewhat taken aback that some self-identified as left-wing can contemplate the potential harm with indifference. My general principle is that it is important to improve wellbeing for people – and to me it matters less if they agree with me or hold the “correct views”, and more that suffering is minimised regardless. I hope that gives you an idea of what I meant – but again, I’m not sure I’ve fully understood your comment so apologies if I’ve missed the point.

“Part of the trouble people my age have with understanding and dealing with the present is that we—I should say I—still hanker for the days when there was at least a semblance of class solidarity, or at least we imagined there was such a thing.”

Final remark (and this is, perhaps, opening a can of worms), I think one of the disappointments for me is that there is a tendency to ignore the intersectional nature inherent to the left. I think the only way to achieve actual solidarity is on a transnational level – and by addressing the many different heads the hydra of oppression has. I think many people do intuitively get this – we’ve seen a lot of young people from all around the world expressing views and beliefs which do in fact dovetail neatly. Sadly, some appear to have forgotten that solidarity is a two-way street – and unless we stand together, we will fall alone (sometimes seen expressed as a “what I care about is important, what you care about is trivial” attitude). But the last time I expressed this view it resulted in considerable hostility, so perhaps I’d best say no more for fear of derailing the thread.

Seasonal felicitations!

84

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.28.20 at 10:45 pm

J-D @ 78: “I see pictures of people at rallies holding up signs thanking Jesus for President Trump, and I figure those are people who would, in fact, be more than prepared to leave him alone in a room with their minor daughters, or with their wallets.”

Uh, I think what they really mean (or, say, that woman with the “he can grab me by the pussy (with arrow pointing down)”) was that he can grab YOU by the pussy and they/she won’t give a damn. Of course, if Trump -did- grab one of their minor daughters by the pussy, they’d blame the daughter, not Trump.

85

J-D 12.28.20 at 11:04 pm

Part of the trouble people my age have with understanding and dealing with the present is that we—I should say I—still hanker for the days when there was at least a semblance of class solidarity, or at least we imagined there was such a thing.

There is a crucial difference between discovering a difference between the way things are now and the way things used to be and discovering a difference between the way things are and the way you (wrongly) imagined them to be.

86

J-D 12.28.20 at 11:06 pm

The complete indifference of many of the self-declared gatekeepers of the left …

There are no self-declared gatekeepers of the left.

87

J-D 12.29.20 at 12:03 am

I find different accounts online of the origin of the word ‘chocolate’. The word in English (and in other European languages) derives from Spanish (naturally), and the Spanish word derives (naturally) from a word in a Mesoamerican language, but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus about which word it derived from, or even which Mesoamerican language.

88

RobinM 12.29.20 at 1:01 am

Apologies, notGoodnough, the marmelade comment was indeed, I now see, prompted by the comment prior to yours.

Wrt Scottish attitudes towards the things you mention, perhaps because I was in high school with someone who went on to hold a government office under Thatcher and because I went to a university which helped give birth to the Adam Smith Institute, I’m always a bit hesitant to accept a certain image of ourselves. But maybe it’s just this:

Wrt class, I guess i fell into talking about class for itself whereas you were referring to class in itself? But I’m with you when it comes to minimising suffering . . . only there is, isn’t there, the problem of recognising and weighing different kinds of suffering. To give another self-centred example: there was one sort of palpable suffering in the coal-mining area I grew up in; post Thatcher and the destruction of the industry and the community there’s now another sort of suffering.

Your last paragraph: you’re pointing critically at “identity politics”? I suppose I was straying onto that dangerous ground when I mourned the passing of old ways of thinking and feeling.

Anyway, I’ve enjoyed our conversation. I think I detect a kindred spirit.

Seasonal felicitations to you too, r

89

Tm 12.29.20 at 1:11 pm

Hidari 76: “I tend to look at Twitter now rather than the blogsphere [because] the level of debate tends to be so much higher. Although both are better than anything to be found in the corporate media.”

Damn, if only we had listened more to Trump …

“But if one looks at the Brexit debate in a much longer (indeed, centuries old) context, that of the long-running debate between ‘free trade versus tariffs’, it all makes. a lot more sense.”

In particular, this explains really well why the amount of tariffs between the UK and EU after Brexit is exactly the same as before Brexit … yeah, now it all really makes sense. A lot of sense. Thanks Twitter!

90

J-D 12.29.20 at 11:18 pm

J-D @ 78: “I see pictures of people at rallies holding up signs thanking Jesus for President Trump, and I figure those are people who would, in fact, be more than prepared to leave him alone in a room with their minor daughters, or with their wallets.”

… Of course, if Trump -did- grab one of their minor daughters by the pussy, they’d blame the daughter, not Trump.

So, what, you’re agreeing with me?

91

notGoodenough 12.30.20 at 12:54 am

J-D @ 86

No-one with left-wing politics would declare themselves sufficiently authoritative as to be able to pass judgement on whether or not someone else is “truly left-wing”? My personal experience would suggest otherwise, but who am I to disagree with sucha a confident assertion – clearly I must be mistaken.

92

notGoodenough 12.30.20 at 1:03 am

RobinM @ 88

Thank you for the kind wishes, and for the interesting conversation! You have raised some good points, and you are correct I should be a little more sceptical and research a bit further.

It has been a good conversation for me, and a rather pleasent experience – I genuinely appreciate it!

93

Collin Street 12.30.20 at 1:20 am

Of course, if Trump -did- grab one of their minor daughters by the pussy, they’d blame the daughter, not Trump.

Not quite! The key is to remember that the child [or other semi- or non-person; a servant, a junior son] doesn’t have legitimate control of their own sexuality. If the paterfamilias left their child alone with trump it’s because he’s ok with them being raped; outside of this paterfamilial approval trump raping someone would still cause a severe problem. The child of course should have avoided that situation [by being more obedient, natch], but blame and negative consequences would still attach to trump too.

[remember that the etymological underpinning of rape is “theft”. And who’s it being stolen from? The person whose body it is, who is usually not the person who uses the body on a day-to-day basis]

94

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.30.20 at 1:38 am

J-D @ 90: Um, I don’t know precisely what point you’re asking about. I certainly believe that these people are morally depraved: that is the content of what I mean, by saying that they would be fine with others’ daughters being raped, others being robbed, as long as they themselves are “just fine”.

95

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.30.20 at 1:44 am

RobinM @ 88: “Your last paragraph: you’re pointing critically at “identity politics”? I suppose I was straying onto that dangerous ground when I mourned the passing of old ways of thinking and feeling.”

You’d like to believe (along with Mark “I’m a liberal, no really, stop laughing” Lilla) that “identity politics” atomizes people who somehow ought to be standing together. But that’s bullshit, more right-wing bullshit.

So let me put it so simply even a simple and weak mind ought to be able to understand:

Identity politics unites us in our separation from white supremacy and white supremacists.

There. All done.

You think that I, as a brown South Asian American, am divided from gay people by idpol? From women, by idpol? From Black Americans by idpol? From Central American, Mexican immigrants by idpol? It. Is. To. Laugh. Their struggle is my struggle. And the oppression they suffer is my oppression, too. I have a stake in gay people in my neighborhood and my city and my country feeling 100% American. I have a stake in undocumented immigrants being welcomed in America. I have a stake in ending the century-long campaign of terror visited on my fellow Black American citizens.

Identity politics just divides us from -you-.

96

Tom 12.30.20 at 2:19 am

John, @6. I think that rejoinder to Engels is missing the point. First, stocks are different from flows: even from the data you cite, EU born population living in the UK has remained pretty constant since 2016, while it was growing rapidly before then. Second, after Brexit, if you are a EU citizen, you cannot just move to the UK to visit, and then find a job and then stay there. You have to apply for a visa to work, and who knows which discretion will be used in assigning those points. So the UK regains some control on who gets in their borders, without having to accept, indirectly, the immigration policy decisions of other EU states, such as Merkel accepting Syrians refugees. This is not trivial in an age where, due to demographics, the migration pressures across the Mediterranean will be large for decades (see the Hanson and McIntosh piece in the Journal of Econ Perspectives 2016). Third, Brexit sent an intimidating message to many foreigners currently living in the UK: Brexiteers may not have been able to make them leave but foreigners may decide to leave anyway because they feel, or are effectively treated, as second class residents/citizens. Fourth, as Engels also pointed out, no more easy retiring for UK citizens in Spain.

These are all big changes. I am sure some had other issues with the EU (see the discussions here about marmalade) but, IIRC, immigration was center stage in the motivation behind Brexit. So Brexiteers seem to have scored a victory here.

Finally, you can turn your argument around: if Brexit is not such a big deal (no pun intended), then why are some, like Chris, so strongly opposed to it?

Chetan R Murthy @54: that is a very insightful comment, I never saw the argument for more immigration that way.

97

nastywoman 12.30.20 at 3:19 am

and why did I forget that there will be no ”Orgasmus” – Uuuh ”Erasmus” anymore –
after Brexit?

And that can’t be substituted by twitter?

No way?

98

John Quiggin 12.30.20 at 11:10 am

“Finally, you can turn your argument around: if Brexit is not such a big deal (no pun intended), then why are some, like Chris, so strongly opposed to it?”

Not speaking for Chris, but my objection would be that the associated migration policies create great hardship for those separated from their loved ones, denied asylum from persection and so on, without any significant benefit to the British population as a whole (even if you accept changing the ethnic makeup of the population as a legitimate goal_. The Windrush scandal is a pretty good example. For the 100 or so people deported from a country where they had lived most of their lives, it was a disaster, but there was no corresponding benefit to anyone. And, as we already saw, even while such brutal policies were being pursued, the overseas-born proportion of the population continued to grow.

99

J-D 12.30.20 at 11:36 am

… clearly I must be mistaken

As Big Bird has so ably pointed out, everybody makes mistakes.

100

J-D 12.30.20 at 11:39 am

J-D @ 90: Um, I don’t know precisely what point you’re asking about. I certainly believe that these people are morally depraved: that is the content of what I mean, by saying that they would be fine with others’ daughters being raped, others being robbed, as long as they themselves are “just fine”.

If somebody tells me that every Farage voter is morally depraved, I will dispute it; if somebody tells me that every Trump voter is morally depraved, I will dispute it; but if somebody tells me that there exist people who are morally depraved, I won’t dispute it.

101

Tm 12.30.20 at 11:45 am

What the newly restored British sovereignty means in practice, or the death knell for Brussels bureaucracy:

“On Christmas Eve, Boris Johnson declared: “We have taken back control of laws and our destiny. We have taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation, in a way that is complete and unfettered.” All sorted then? No – the deal shows it’s not that simple.

The effervescent rhetoric failed to mention a swathe of machinery that the new UK-EU trade deal, the trade and cooperation agreement (TCA), will introduce, with the powers to make legally binding decisions.

At the top is the partnership council (PC), a political body to be comprised of representatives of the European commission and UK government ministers. It will consider “any issue relating to the implementation, application and interpretation” of the TCA. It even holds the power, in certain circumstances, to amend the agreement itself. Decisions are by mutual consent, including on jots and tittles.

Next comes a slew of technical committees. There’s the trade partnership committee, which can assist the PC, and 10 “trade specialised committees”, covering matters such as rules of origin and services.

Then there are eight specialised committees covering matters such as air and road transport and four working groups on matters such as motor vehicles and parts and social security coordination.”
Catherine Barnard, professor of EU law, University of Cambridge
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/dec/28/brexit-experts-verdict-uk-eu-trade-deal-details-visas

102

Tm 12.30.20 at 12:51 pm

P.S. According to a new poll, only 17% of the UK population think the deal is a good one. They still want it to be passed. Understandably. Everybody wants the Brexit nightmare to be over. Unfortunately, after reading up about the details of the agreement, it seems to me that it won’t be over for a long time. Not only are key issues not even included in the deal that is just being passed (e. g. Gibraltar and financial services), apparently there will have to be new negotiations after four years. The UK’s situation looks increasingly like that of Switzerland, which is irreversibly linked to the EU and substantially complies with most EU regulations while pretending to remain completely sovereign (*). The result is that EU-Swiss relations constantly dominate domestic politics.

(*) In contrast to the post-Brexit UK, Switzerland also has Schengen membership and free movement with the EU.

103

engels 12.30.20 at 1:18 pm

Third, Brexit sent an intimidating message to many foreigners currently living in the UK: Brexiteers may not have been able to make them leave but foreigners may decide to leave anyway because they feel, or are effectively treated, as second class residents/citizens.

Yes. Another thing bear in mind is that, as I understand (others can correct me), under the withdrawal agreement to have the right to stay in UK or an EU country (unless you’re already a permanent resident) you have to be temporarily resident at the end of the transition, which, because of the pandemic, many foreigners won’t be. I would imagine this would have greatly amplified the anticipated effect of the withdrawal of future free movement rights on both EU and UK citizens living abroad but it would be interesting to see figures.

104

engels 12.30.20 at 1:23 pm

my objection would be that the associated migration policies create great hardship for those… denied asylum from persection and so on

Not an expert but I think the implications of Brexit (rather than, say, Priti Patel) for the asylum system are at best unclear.

105

Collin Street 12.30.20 at 3:12 pm

You can dispute it, J-D, but…. Is there any social benefit in your so doing?

Frankly it all seems a bit silly. Assuming arguendo that people agree that you’re correct, what changes?

Not a damned thing. The difference between “all farage supporters are vile” and “there may exist farage supporters who are not vile” has no flow-on consequences worthy of the name; even if everyone agrees with you not a scintilla of substantive actions will alter.

The game isn’t worth the candle, and they’re not even your candles.

(You do this all the time. Chasing down some minor point putting effort in beyond reason. Sometimes it’s useful or interesting, but not that often; I’d encourage you to drop more threads)

106

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.30.20 at 9:29 pm

What will Britain be like after Brexit?
https://twitter.com/marcusleroux/status/1344242643669307392
https://twitter.com/HackedOffHugh/status/1343890893745565696

Richard North: http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=87837
“Brexit: a lack of independence”
He goes back to 2018, when BoJo claimed that EU regulations were preventing the UK from changing rules about heavy transport vehicles and their visibility to surrounding traffic (which were causing bike fatalities). Fast-forward to 2020, and it turns out that no, it wasn’t the EU regs. Instead, the EU merely delegated rule-making to a UN body (UNECE) which (drum roll) now that the UK is out, they’ll be delegating to, also.

So I guess the the UK will continue to be a rule-taker. Esp. since the UK no longer manufactures these sort of vehicles, so the foreign manufacturers are going to manufacture to those worldwide regs anyway.

And then another: http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=87836
“Brexit: the second lid” [the “lid” refers to “coffin lid”]
In this column North goes thru a veritable laundry-list of acronyms for treaties and international rule-making bodies that are directly referenced in the UK-EU transition-end treaty (the “TCA”) that the UK undertakes to submit to/abide-by.

Rule-taker.

Basically, except for markets that are entirely unlinked-from any sort of international trade with the EU (or any other large market) the UK is still bound hand-and-foot, a rule-taker, not sovereign at all. Any kind of good that the UK imports, that might show up in exports to the EU, will end up either regulated by the EU’s rules, or that exported good will need detailed evidence that no components/inputs were imported to the UK that violated EU rules.

Wow, I’m so impressed with all the sovereign independence and self-governing! From all the way over here, it sure smells like burnt coffee.

107

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.30.20 at 10:02 pm

Tom @ 96: I didn’t come up with it. It’s been noted by many people that

(a) the “Blue”-ing of the Deep South in the US has come almost hand-in-hand with the arrival of large numbers of immigrants, esp. from Central America and Mexico.

(b) nativist sentiment is strongest in areas with few immigrants (to be fair: from that low baseline, as the number of immigrants grows, the hatred grows, too; but then after some point, enough immigrants arrive, that that hatred subsides somewhat). You might call it a “Hump of Hatred”.

In short, the best way to end white supremacy in the US, is to naturalize as many immigrants as possible, esp. the poorest immigrants, who will take jobs in Teh[sic] Heartland. The quicker we can get over that Hump of Hatred, the better.

I want to believe that that’s true in the UK, too, but don’t really know.

108

clew 12.31.20 at 12:48 am

Switzerland, which is irreversibly linked to the EU and substantially complies with most EU regulations while pretending to remain completely sovereign (*). The result is that EU-Swiss relations constantly dominate domestic politics.

Dominate Swiss domestic politics alone, or also those of the EU nations?

109

Alex SL 12.31.20 at 2:24 am

John Quiggin @98:

The answers to the questions whether there was a benefit proportional to the suffering caused to Windrush victims and whether there will be a benefit proportional to the hardship caused by Brexit-associated immigration policies are the same as to the broader question stated in the OP.

If you care about material benefits, clearly no. If you count the personal glee somebody feels at watching Those Others suffer as a benefit, yes. I guarantee there are many people on the right wing of every country in the world, from voter to minister, who feel deep, heartfelt satisfaction at seeing a member of an ethnic minority ripped from their family in the middle of the night and deported to a country they have never known while a leftist they can’t stand expresses their anger at that needless cruelty.

Being cruel and getting away with it is its own sweet reward. The inability to understand that there are many, many people with a cost/benefit analysis like that is (1) the mirror image of e.g. the right-winger’s inability to understand that the lefties do not want to destroy Western civilisation and undermine the nation but genuinely want to improve the lives of the poor and oppressed, and (2) something the left urgently needs to overcome if it ever wants to formulate a viable strategy. There are people who it is not worth trying to appeal to and bring into the tent, people who one can only attempt to marginalise and work around.

Tm @102:

Ironically the only way the Brexit nightmare could ever have ended was by revoking Brexit (when that was still possible). It would, of course, have led to enormous political fallout by disappointing the Leavers who would have argued that an (albeit uninformed and undefined) democratic decision had been ignored, but administratively that was the only way.

But many Brits really seemed and seem to believe that one could do Brexit and then the UK’s trade and relations with it closest neighbours just … go away and don’t need to be discussed anymore?

110

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.31.20 at 5:01 am

Alex SL @ 109: “Being cruel and getting away with it is its own sweet reward.”

Alex, maybe you can help me understand this: from everything I’ve read, these people who were brought to the UK as children when Jamaica was still part of the Empire are in fact British citizens, and hence, the state’s pushing them out, is not just “being cruel” but stripping them of their rights of citizenship. Am I wrong in believing this?

I mean, it’s as if the US decided that my sisters (who were born here) are no longer citizens because our parents weren’t citizens when they were born.

I fully understand that there are certain rights that all migrants have. But here we’re not talking about migrants — we’re talking about British citizens, being expelled by the British state.

Some would argue that that is one of the hallmarks of Fascism.

111

Hidari 12.31.20 at 9:51 am

‘“Finally, you can turn your argument around: if Brexit is not such a big deal (no pun intended), then why are some, like Chris, so strongly opposed to it?”

Not speaking for Chris, but my objection would be that the associated migration policies create great hardship for those separated from their loved ones, denied asylum from persecution and so on’.

Yes but what are the ‘associated’ migration policies? I’m not denying for a moment that racism played a part in the Brexit debate, usually dolled up in the rhetoric of ‘anti-immigration’ sentiment.

But my understanding of ‘taking back control’ is that those words mean what they say.
In other words, the British government could now, if it wished, let in all immigrants from everywhere to the UK, or some, or none, or whatever. Please note I’m not talking about what will happen, which I’m sure will be awful. But in the abstract.

Or have I got this wrong? Like Keir Starmer, who voted for it, I haven’t read the final ‘Brexit Bill’, so I don’t know.

112

lurker 12.31.20 at 11:36 am

‘Some would argue that that is one of the hallmarks of Fascism.’ (CHETAN R MURTHY, 110)
I think it’s one of those things you can have without Fascism, but not have Fascism without it. The Holocaust was preceded by various mass deportations, ‘population exchanges’ and ethnic cleansings that made it normal to expel (and rob) masses of people for existing in the wrong place.
The US had Japanese internment, but AFAIK never actually expelled any, even non-citizens, just for being Japanese. There were still limits, there.

113

engels 12.31.20 at 12:34 pm

In other words, the British government could now, if it wished, let in all immigrants from everywhere to the UK, or some, or none, or whatever

“Control” isn’t just about how many immigrants “get in” but what rights they have when they’re here, and what rights British citzens have to get out. Rights are inherently antagonistic to “control” because they describe areas in which individuals are not subject to state “control” (eg if I have the right to free speech then the state can’t control what I say).

114

notGoodenough 12.31.20 at 1:48 pm

Hidari @ 111

I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “Brexit Bill”, but perhaps the latest draft of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement is useful[1]?

Apologies if it isn’t relevant, but I hope this helps.

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/info/files/eu-uk-trade-and-cooperation-agreement_en

115

Alex SL 12.31.20 at 1:48 pm

Chetan Murphy,

The formal definition of fascism and if Windrush is worse than certain policies in the USA is orthogonal to what I wanted to say.

If pressed I would probably personally define fascism as a right-wing authoritarian ideology that (1) sees history as a struggle of nation-states, peoples, or races against other such nation-states, peoples, or races, and (2) idolises charismatic leaders implementing the supposed pure and unsullied “will of the people”, which, as per #1, is seen as a homogeneous unity and can therefore have “a will”, in opposition to both the messy negotiations, multitude of interests, and compromises described by liberal ideology and the class-struggle described by Marxist ideology.

So I can see how you can have one without the other (e.g. a dictatorship that cares mostly about suppressing the labour movement but not so much about expelling minorities because it simply has to accept the fact that its country is 50% indigenous American, 30% mestizo, and 20% white, and can accept it as long as the latter are in charge). Although of course the ideology lends itself logically to the view that the people needs to be purified of foreign or harmful elements.

But that’s just me, and I am a natural scientist, not a political or social one, and my view is strongly coloured by German citizenship and exposure to Latin America as opposed to e.g. Italy. So take this with a bucket of salt.

116

Tm 12.31.20 at 3:42 pm

It’s almost as if Hidari showed up having missed all debate of the last four years. The UK government already had full control over immigration from non EU countries. The difference Brexit makes is that EU citizens are losing rights they used to have (likewise for UK citizens residing in the EU). So the slogan about taking back control was never neutral, never even hypothetically about the possibility of enacting a more generous or more progressive immigration policy. It was never intended in any other sense than to take away rights from a class of foreign residents. The Lexit narrative was always pure self-inflicted delusion. No UK government was ever in real life prevented by the EU from enacting progressive policies it wished to enact.

117

engels 12.31.20 at 6:34 pm

the slogan about taking back control was never neutral, never even hypothetically about the possibility of enacting a more generous or more progressive immigration policy

This is true in theory but in practice, as there appear to be political limits to the total level of immigration, if your aim was to increase non-EU immigration you might look at ways of reducing the very high recent level of EU immigration and some people did support Brexit on these grounds (whether they were justified is another matter).

118

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.31.20 at 9:37 pm

Alex @ 145: I didn’t mean to imply that “defining member of one’s society as The Other, a foreign contaminant, and thus to-be-eliminated” was definitional of Fascism, but only that it was one of several defining features. But it’s all good: I certainly agree with your definition.

I’m still curious about whether there is any legal justification for what was done to these Windrush folks, btw.

119

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.31.20 at 9:40 pm

Brexit! Winning! https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/dec/31/stanley-johnson-confirms-application-for-french-passport-on-eve-of-brexit

Boris Johnson’s father Stanley has confirmed that he is applying for a French passport on the eve of Britain’s Brexit transition period coming to an end.

In an interview with the French radio station RTL, he said: “It’s not a question of becoming French. If I understand correctly I am French! My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandfather.

“For me it’s a question of obtaining what I already have and I am very happy about that.”

The writers are all on year-end holiday, just phoning it in from Mallorca or the Canaries, I guess.

120

CasparC 12.31.20 at 10:15 pm

The Brexit deal is a good one for the EU. It gets rid of the nation that was trying to stop the move to federalisation, so the EU has a clear run at further harmonisation and integration. The friendly nature of the final agreement means the UK remains an ally, and EU manufacturers still have access to UK markets.

On Windrush one of the complicating factors is that many of the victims had no records, having been effectively undocumented naturalised UK citizens for most of their lives. Whilst I personally would like naturalisation and compensation for all Windrush citizens it may be the case that such an action would be legally challenged by others in a similar situation. If restricting a policy to Windrush citizens is not possible the numbers who may be entitled to a Windrush solution may run into millions.

Non UK commentors here should note that the Home Office Officials and successive Home Secretaries have been in a state of dispute and confrontation for years with the current Home Secretary facing court action and open criticism from staff. Just because the Home Office are doing something does not mean it is government policy.

121

J-D 12.31.20 at 10:31 pm

I’m still curious about whether there is any legal justification for what was done to these Windrush folks, btw.

In a report published in November, the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that the Home Office failed to comply with section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 (UK). I’m not sure to what extent that answers your question. Maybe you can find more answers in the report.
https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/public-sector-equality-duty-assessment-of-hostile-environment-policies.pdf

122

CHETAN R MURTHY 01.01.21 at 1:52 am

Thank you, J-D. That answers my question. Yeah: the Home Office broke the law in the way it treated Windrush citizens (and probably others too).

123

J-D 01.01.21 at 1:59 am

You can dispute it, J-D, but…. Is there any social benefit in your so doing?

Frankly it all seems a bit silly. Assuming arguendo that people agree that you’re correct, what changes?

If Chetan R Murthy agrees with the position I’m advancing, then the wanton abuse will stop. What’s the social benefit in Chetan R Murthy declaring that Tim Worstall is either an imbecile or a gaslighter?

I’d encourage you to drop more threads

What changes if I do?

124

Tim Worstall 01.01.21 at 12:33 pm

Since I was asked:

“Nevertheless I’m still curious to hear his actual opinion regarding the Brexit deal. Since he hasn’t given it yet, I assume he knows that Leavers don’t really get much out of it, other than that Britain is losing influence,”

I dislike the EU system of governance. No, not the specific policies enacted, the actual system of deciding which policies should be. Therefore I regard being out of it as a Good Thing (copyright Sellars and Yeatman).

And that’s about it really. We’re out, good.

125

notGoodenough 01.01.21 at 1:19 pm

CasperC @ 120

Brexit would seem to be a little of a mixed bag for the EU, though certainly there are positive facets. I believe the point of the OP was that the negatives for the UK would appear to outweigh the positives – though you appear to have reached a different conclusion (as, of course, you are free to do so).

If restricting a policy to Windrush citizens is not possible the numbers who may be entitled to a Windrush solution may run into millions.

And….?

“Non UK commentors here should note that the Home Office Officials and successive Home Secretaries have been in a state of dispute and confrontation for years with the current Home Secretary facing court action and open criticism from staff.

Indeed, but is there evidence that the current Home Secretary is facing court action and open criticism from staff regarding this topic?

Just because the Home Office are doing something does not mean it is government policy.”

Nor does it mean it isn’t – both are assertions requiring demonstration. I take it you disagree with Chris Bertram’s response to you the last time you made this point [1]? And again, government policy and government responsibility are also worth considering – perhaps you may wish to ponder the implications of the story (allegedly) regarding the death of Thomas Becket?

Certainly I think seeing future changes with respect to immigration policy from the government will prove instructive. Indeed, future changes to all government policy will be most interesting – after all, since many seem to believe the point of Brexit was sovereignty, the government will have to accept responsibility for its actions. Let’s see what those actions will be…

[1]https://crookedtimber.org/2020/11/25/uk-hostile-environment-immigration-policy-condemned/#comment-806491

126

Alex SL 01.01.21 at 11:50 pm

Tim Worstall,

On the plus side, you have a reason that is not in contradiction to demonstrable fact. As far as I have followed the discussion that is vanishingly rare among Brexiters.

On the other hand, it is shades of quitting a well-paying job for unemployment because you don’t like the composition of the company’s advisory board. You have every right to do that, sure, but:

(1) Such a decision wouldn’t get good scores in any cost-benefit analysis.

(2) It seems a bit odd even from the perspective of Principled Stand For One’s Values, compared to something more morally impactful like e.g. “I can’t work for this company because it turns out it manufactures anti-person land mines”. Likewise, the EU was not a dictatorship or discriminating against Brits or anything, so going out because you don’t like the way they made rules comes across as a lot of pathos.

(3) It has more troubling implications if you were the sole breadwinner for a family including your spouse and two children who would rather have needed the money you earned at that company. Likewise, it is all fine for you to want to leave the EU because of how its rules were made, but have you weighed the benefit you gain against what that will do to all the students, artists, service workers, mixed families, expat retirees, etc who relied on freedom of movement, to all the businesses who will be hit by the new trade barriers, to all those who will have less money in their pockets or even lose their jobs as a consequence?

Too late now, of course.

127

CHETAN R MURTHY 01.02.21 at 3:13 am

Alex, in the spirit of metaphors for Brexit:

https://thecritic.co.uk/my-brexit-hell/

What was Brexit like? America’s declaration of independence? A man leaving a golf club but demanding to still be allowed into the bar? Over the years, I went through a few analogies, but the one that persisted was of a married man who has for years enjoyed casually flirting with a work colleague. One evening he makes his traditional half-hearted pass, and instead of rolling her eyes, she replies: “Go on, then”. A month later, he’s living out of his car and negotiating through lawyers to see his children one weekend a month, and he can’t really tell you how it happened.

128

J-D 01.02.21 at 4:06 am

I dislike the EU system of governance. No, not the specific policies enacted, the actual system of deciding which policies should be.

That’s only half an explanation. In what way do you find it dislikeable?

I’ve seen other commenters here remark on ways in which the governance of the EU is not as democratic as it might be, and that’s fair enough as far as it goes, but (as I’ve pointed out) it’s also true that the governance of the UK is not as democratic as it might be, and the UK is not going to be any the more democratically governed as a result of leaving the EU. But that may be completely irrelevant to your point, because it may be that democracy is not at all the issue you’re concerned with. You haven’t explained.

129

Hidari 01.02.21 at 8:40 am

Far too early to tell yet, and of course, the ‘future’s not ours to see’ and all that.

But if anyone looks back on this thread in, say, 100 years time, I suspect that the thing they will find most weird (they will probably find the whole thread pretty weird, in the same way we now find people getting incredibly angry and irate about whether or not the Corn Laws should be repealed pretty weird) is that literally no one has mentioned the possible effects on Brexit on the constitutional arrangements of Scotland, Wales and the North of Ireland. Nor has anyone mentioned Gibraltar or ‘the Falklands’. Even in the short term (especially for the latter two, and British colonies more generally) the effects of Brexit will be much more easily visible and the effects much quicker seen than in England.

130

Hidari 01.02.21 at 8:52 am

131

Tm 01.02.21 at 9:07 am

Tim Worstall, your answer is a studious act of evading the question. Fact is that the UK has agreed to continue complying with much of the EU regulation for at least four years, and even after that will remain closely tied to the EU system of governance. At least some Leavers admit that the purported gain in sovereignty is largely delusional. My question was about that, as I think you are well aware.

Also see 79. You made a bunch of demonstrably false claims here, almost derailing the thread. Not nice.

132

nastywoman 01.02.21 at 9:42 am

and as we now all know how ”the Day after Brexit” has been –

How was y’alls day after Brexit?

Mine was GREAT – as WE all went to the Rheinfall -(in Switzerland) and as the translation of the German Word ”Reinfall” is ”Flop” and the Rheinfall was –
BEAUTIFUL – and not too ”full” – it wasn’t a ”flop” at all.
(proof will later be posted on teh tube)

And as we met also ”A” and ”B” there – who work at the Canary Wharf – and who can’t fly back
(yet) – as they are both Swiss-American Citizens – they thought it was a GREAT day after the Brexit too…

133

Tm 01.02.21 at 9:20 pm

Hidari: well I did mention Gibraltar and Scotland and NI were also at least mentioned in this thread. But you are correct that they didn’t get much attention, compared to irrelevant remarks about Marmelade and food labeling. Otoh you earlier claimed that it was all about tariffs so there’s that…

134

Tm 01.02.21 at 9:22 pm

Nastywoman Why have you crossed the border to Switzerland? Don’t you know how bad our Covid-19 numbers are?

135

notGoodenough 01.03.21 at 3:07 am

Hidari @ 129

Since it seems you didn’t read the previous posts particularly clearly, I suppose it is unlikely you will bother reading this. Nevertheless, I will post for anyone mildly interested.

Firstly John Quiggin and many others have made the point that there is unlikely (at least in the short term) to be huge shifts – instead the UK will end up “a little more isolated and a little poorer”. It is, I suppose, reasonable to assume that in the future (should humanity survive that long) the world as a whole will likely find Brexit little more than a minor event (though this is by no means certain). On the other hand, it does affect people in the here and now – and that is, perhaps, why people find it worth discussing. For you it may be the case that Brexit will have little impact on your life – well done for you! – but others are not necessarily in such a fortunate position, and perhaps you could muster a little empathy (or, failing that, at least the pretence thereof).

One suspects that one of the main reasons there is a lack of discussion with respect to constitutional ramifications is because it is far too early to tell – any such prognostication would necessarily be highly speculative. Moreover, it would also necessarily be of a length far in excess of what even I would deem reasonable – which is saying quite a lot!

However, to give some brief additional thoughts (bearing in mind my usual caveat that I in no way purport to be an expert on such matters), it would seem prima facie that Brexit may well pose a potential challenge to the stability of the UK’s territorial constitution. Two main reasons may be pointed to – firstly the way it unfolded (I know it is a terribly tiresome topic for you, but it is still worth revisiting) where there was considerable unevenness to the distribution of leave versus remain votes. One way to view the UK’s territorial governance the last 20 years or so is to think of it as having been predicated – at least in part – on a devolution of authority intended to satisfy appetite for independence (in part by ensuring constitutional flexibility); however, an important component was the overarching framework of the EU – the removal of which has been destabilising (to an arguable extent) with potential impact on Scottish independence and Northern Ireland’s political agenda (and reunification in particular).

However, the ramifications may in fact go far deeper. To give a detailed discussion would be beyond the scope of this comment, but one might consider the way in which Brexit interacts with legislation. For example, in my understanding the Scotland Act 2016 [1] (which sought, at least to an extent, to provide legal recognition of the commitments made by UK politicians during the 2014 referendum) supplied the Sewel convention [2] (essentially a political understanding that UK parliament did not relinquish its authority but instead delegated it) with a certain degree of legal recognition. Taken together, despite the uncertainties, they were generally considered to be at the least a significant political statement of intent by UK institutions, statutorily honouring a commitment to the constitutional position of their devolved counterparts. That this would be subsequently undermined by the UK government arguing these are devoid of legal effect was always a possibility (or indeed, if one were feeling cynical, potentially always the intention). That it happened so soon likely took many by surprise – a testimony, perhaps, to the general lack of forethought leading to the whole Brexit situation. For our purposes, one key issue is the fallout from Miller I [3] where the court concluded that the legislation did not ‘convert the Sewel convention into a rule which can be interpreted, let alone enforced, by the courts’, and that ‘the purpose of the legislative recognition of the convention was to entrench it as a convention’ – or, to put it another way, that the intention was not to make it legally enforceable. In short, despite the Sewel convention unambiguously applying to Brexit legislation it was enacted despite the refusal of Scottish Parliament (and other devolved legislatures) to consent [4]. Whether this will be considered the product of unusual circumstance or a general dilution of convention is still to be determined. Regardless, it does represent an erosion of the institutional comity supposedly foundational to the UK’s territorial constitutional arrangements – enhancing tensions. It would seem quite plausible that a second referendum on Scottish independence will occur, and quite possible that these (dare I say hubristic?) actions by the UK government have made a stronger case for the Scottish independence movement (though to what extent is by no means clear).

In this way, this is – one might reasonably conclude – emblematic of the broader malaise surrounding the UK’s territorial-constitutional politics. Brexit – and the way it has been handled by the UK government – may well end up posing an existential threat to the United Kingdom.

Should this end up being the case, perhaps you might consider whether or not Brexit really is entirely all that irrelevant a topic of discussion (particularly to those who happen to live within the UK and its territories). Moreover, if you believe the discourse will indeed benefit from constitutional conjecture, you are free to offer your own thoughts – no-one is stopping you, after all.

For myself, I have already given my (admittedly highly speculative and amateur) opinion – though personally I bow to experts, Moirai, and Clio in ascending order. In short, hypothesising is entertaining, but generally most useful when directed wisely.

[1] Scotland Act 2016, s 1 (inserting a new s 63A into the Scotland Act 1998)
[2] Scotland Act 1998, s 28(7)
[3] Miller I [2017] UKSC 5, [2018] AC 61
[4] European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020

136

J-D 01.03.21 at 6:32 am

It is, I suppose, reasonable to assume that in the future (should humanity survive that long) the world as a whole will likely find Brexit little more than a minor event (though this is by no means certain).

Minor as compared to what? In the future, if humanity survives that long, it’s likely that the UK departure from the EU will appear as the biggest event in UK history since the UK entry to the EEC–just as it does now. There’s no event in UK history between those two which is as significant as either of them.

137

Tim Worstall 01.03.21 at 2:55 pm

@128 “But that may be completely irrelevant to your point, because it may be that democracy is not at all the issue you’re concerned with. You haven’t explained.”

I think I did, further up, using the example of marmalade. The idea that society needs a detailed set of laws upon everything in order to be able to function. Yes, I have lived and worked in several still-EU countries, also a couple entirely outside as well as the UK. Some places, some governance systems, have that system or desire for said detailed rules. Sure, Keynes’ statement about the average Brit not interacting – pre-1914 – with the state other than with the postman was rhetorical excess. But I tend to that minarchist end of the rule making spectrum. Sure, general rules like don’t poison the customers. And not detailed rules about the composition of compotes.

No, this doesn’t mean abolition of any and every welfare system and so on. Here this is just restricted to that style, if you like, of governance. I don’t think that broad brush and not detailed rule making will ever be possible within the EU. As that’s the system I desire then leaving the EU is a good idea.

I can go on at much greater length about why I think this way but given the number calling for more Worstall is pretty small I’ll forbear that pleasure.

138

notGoodenough 01.03.21 at 5:28 pm

J-D @ 136

“the world as a whole “ =/= UK

Hope that clears that up for you.

139

CasparC 01.03.21 at 5:58 pm

Politics in the UK is already much better for leaving the EU. Proper discussions about important things. Take the vaccine; politicians discussing priorities, supply, administration, instead of having to explain why they went along with the collective EU decisions and had to allow France to dictate a disastrous France-first policy.

I didn’t vote for Brexit in ignorance of possible consequences in NI and Scotland. As an English voter I thought that if my English nation of 56 million grants a veto to 5.5 million Scots over this, then we will forever be held hostage and vetoed over every single issue. That would be a disaster for England, to be the permanent lunch on Scotland’s plate. I think those nations will be better off out of the EU as will England. I’d like Scotland to stay in the union but if they don’t want to then so long, good luck, and remember Leave means Leave.

I’m done with discussing Brexit. It’s over. I’m not interested in explaining to people why I want my country to be sovereign. Canadians aren’t constantly told they are bigots because they don’t want to be subsumed in the USA, or New Zealander’s constantly asked why their laws on marmalade are superior to Australian laws. They are just not questions you would ask and expect a polite reasoned argument in response. So I won’t be giving one to anyone asking it of me.

140

J-D 01.03.21 at 8:03 pm

I think I did, further up, using the example of marmalade. The idea that society needs a detailed set of laws upon everything in order to be able to function.

You seem to have failed to notice that it has already been pointed out (and not just by me) that there is no connection between that idea and EU membership: the UK had the same kind of detailed set of laws before it ever joined the EU, and leaving the EU is not going to free the UK from being governed by that kind of detailed set of laws.

Here’s UK law:
https://www.legislation.gov.uk

Look at some of those laws: the website will allow you to exclude the ones which originate from the EU. You can even look specifically at laws dating back to before the UK ever joined the EU or any of its predecessors. That’s what you’re going to continue to have: leaving the EU won’t change that.

Sure, Keynes’ statement about the average Brit not interacting – pre-1914 – with the state other than with the postman was rhetorical excess.

Even if Keynes’s statement were exactly literally true, it is exactly literally a statement about pre-1914 conditions: leaving the EU is not going to restore pre-1914 conditions. The reference to pre-1914 conditions suggests precisely that things changed from 1914 on, which means they changed for reasons unrelated to the EU.

As a matter of fact, though, as anybody can confirm by inspection at the link above, pre-1914 legislation was just as detailed as post-1914 legislation.

141

notGoodenough 01.04.21 at 12:06 am

J-D @ 136

Since I didn’t fully answer your question in my previous brief note, and you seem to be having some problems reading what I’ve actually written, allow me to elaborate. Hidari @ 129 offered their perspective regarding what people in 100 years time may make of this thread and the topic of Brexit in general (i.e. not too much). I responded with:

“It is, I suppose, reasonable/b> to assume that in the future (should humanity survive that long) the world as a whole will likely find Brexit little more than a minor event (though this is by no means certain).”

If you read the words carefully, it should be fairly obvious that I am not saying that Brexit will not be a big deal to the UK. The clue is in the way I don’t say “Brexit will not a big deal to the UK”. Instead, I am saying that I don’t suppose it is entirely unreasonable to think the entire world, in the future, will not find Brexit so very important (i.e. that I don’t suppose Hidari’s comments are entirely unreasonable – though by no means would I be certain that this will indeed prove to be the case). If you do believe it is so very wrong of me to suppose this, I would appreciate you actually making that case – i.e. that it is wrong of me to tentatively grant that it may be reasonable to assume that, from a global perspective and in the future, Brexit will not be such a huge deal.

Given that I then spent quite a few words offering some perspective on the potential implications for the stability of the UK’s territorial constitution, I would hope it is not exactly difficult for most people to reasonably conclude that perhaps I think Brexit will likely prove a significant event for the UK (in some ways, as I have previously detailed at some length). As this is also the second large comment where I have given such thoughts, I find your commentary that Brexit will prove significant to the UK both entirely in agreement with everything I’ve said and wholly unnecessary. If you believe what I’ve said is unreasonable, feel free to make that argument – but I would appreciate it if you didn’t direct comments at me arguing against a position I don’t actually hold.

I try, generally speaking, to be tolerant of other people’s foibles (goodness knows I have many of my own), but I don’t think it is too unreasonable of me to expect that people address what I actually said. I hope even you won’t find too much fault with that sentiment.

142

nastywoman 01.04.21 at 12:39 am

”Don’t you know how bad our Covid-19 numbers are”?

Yes – I do –
but as I also know that it isn’t the fault of ”the border” – that on the Swiss side of the Rhein the numbers are higher than on the German side –
and the Germans allowed US to visit family in Switzerland – we did.

143

notGoodenough 01.04.21 at 1:19 am

CasperC @ 139

You have made various claims, but I think it not unfair to characterise your position as “believing the UK is better off for leaving the EU”. If so, that is your prerogative. Personally, I disagree – I would hope you would agree that that is my prerogative.

To the best of my knowledge, no-one here has asked you why UK laws on marmalade are superior to EU laws. People on this thread have responded to factually incorrect claims regarding an EU directive by pointing out they are factually incorrect. I’m afraid I struggle to say why you personally should be so offended by that – but since you are, then please rest assured that I in no way expect you to provide a polite reasoned argument.

I fear it seems necessary to remind you that the topic of this thread is “the day after Brexit” – surely it would seem not unreasonable to expect the contents here to involve discussion of Brexit? If you are, as you say, “done discussing Brexit”, then that is indeed your choice – but it seems odd that you would then seek out and comment on a Brexit discussion thread. Perhaps, if I may be so bold to make a suggestion, you might consider commenting on non-Brexit related threads? You might find that they contain less Brexit discussion.

144

engels 01.04.21 at 2:14 am

“Politics in the UK is already much better for leaving the EU. Proper discussions about important things”

“I’m done with discussing Brexit. It’s over. I’m not interested in explaining”

🤔

145

J-D 01.04.21 at 9:40 am

Politics in the UK is already much better for leaving the EU. Proper discussions about important things. Take the vaccine; politicians discussing priorities, supply, administration, instead of having to explain why they went along with the collective EU decisions and had to allow France to dictate a disastrous France-first policy.

I didn’t vote for Brexit in ignorance of possible consequences in NI and Scotland. As an English voter I thought that if my English nation of 56 million grants a veto to 5.5 million Scots over this, then we will forever be held hostage and vetoed over every single issue. That would be a disaster for England, to be the permanent lunch on Scotland’s plate. I think those nations will be better off out of the EU as will England. I’d like Scotland to stay in the union but if they don’t want to then so long, good luck, and remember Leave means Leave.

I’m done with discussing Brexit. It’s over. I’m not interested in explaining to people why I want my country to be sovereign. Canadians aren’t constantly told they are bigots because they don’t want to be subsumed in the USA, or New Zealander’s constantly asked why their laws on marmalade are superior to Australian laws. They are just not questions you would ask and expect a polite reasoned argument in response. So I won’t be giving one to anyone asking it of me.

The facts and the logic would be the same regardless of my personal circumstances; but my personal circumstances happen to be that I live under a federal system. New South Wales, where I live, is part of the Australian federation, and part of what that means is that Australian laws and Australian government decisions apply to the people of New South Wales. If somebody asked me whether I thought that New South Wales should remain part of Australia, subject to Australian laws and government decisions, I would not respond ‘That is a grossly impertinent and offensive question’, because I would consider that a foolish response. If I asked somebody else ‘Do you think New South Wales should remain part of Australia?’ and the response was ‘No, because I think New South Wales should not be subject to Australian laws and government decisions?’ then the explanation would be incomplete. For New South Wales, being part of the Australian federation and being subject to the laws and government of the Commonwealth of Australia are equivalent, so saying ‘I don’t want New South Wales to be subject to Australian laws and the Australian government’ is a restatement of ‘I don’t want New South Wales to be part of Australia’ and not an explanation of it.

Whether New South Wales should be part of the Australian federation is not a live political question now, but it was a live political question, extensively debated, in the 1890s, and although people in New South Wales disagreed about the question then, I never heard that anybody thought that a mere suggestion that the arguments for or against be discussed was insulting, and if anybody did think that it was a silly thing to think. In the 1890s it was also a live political question whether New Zealand should become part of the Australian federation, and also a live political question whether Western Australia should become part of the Australian federation: in the end, New Zealand didn’t become part of the federation and Western Australia did, but in neither case would it have been offensive merely to suggest that the arguments for and against be discussed. In Western Australia the question was reopened in the 1930s, and once again it would have been silly to suggest that even to discuss the arguments for or against would be an insult.

The United Kingdom is not, I know, a federal system, but at the time of the independence referendum there was serious discussion of whether Scotland should continue to be part of the United Kingdom (and as such subject to the laws and the government of the UK) or cease to be subject to those laws and the decisions of that government (by ceasing to be part of the UK). Both sides put forward their arguments, but neither suggested that it was an insult even to be asked for their reasons. The UK has had two referenda on membership of the EU or its predecessor, and on both occasions the cases for and against membership were discussed, but on both occasions neither side’s case was that it was an insult even to be asked for their reasons, and it would have been silly if it were.

Now, if I were a guest in your home and you made it clear that you didn’t want to discuss this topic, it would be rude for me to pursue it and I wouldn’t; or if you were a guest in my home and made it clear that you didn’t want to discuss this topic, it would be rude for me to pursue it and I wouldn’t. However, in this forum you don’t have to discuss the topic if you don’t want to (nobody can force you to do so), but if you don’t want to that’s no reason, here, why other people should avoid the topic, and for you to suggest that it’s an insult to you when they do is silly.

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J-D 01.04.21 at 9:53 am

Since I didn’t fully answer your question in my previous brief note, and you seem to be having some problems reading what I’ve actually written, allow me to elaborate. Hidari @ 129 offered their perspective regarding what people in 100 years time may make of this thread and the topic of Brexit in general (i.e. not too much). I responded with:

“It is, I suppose, reasonable/b> to assume that in the future (should humanity survive that long) the world as a whole will likely find Brexit little more than a minor event (though this is by no means certain).”

If you read the words carefully, it should be fairly obvious that I am not saying that Brexit will not be a big deal to the UK. The clue is in the way I don’t say “Brexit will not a big deal to the UK”. Instead, I am saying that I don’t suppose it is entirely unreasonable to think the entire world, in the future, will not find Brexit so very important (i.e. that I don’t suppose Hidari’s comments are entirely unreasonable – though by no means would I be certain that this will indeed prove to be the case). If you do believe it is so very wrong of me to suppose this, I would appreciate you actually making that case – i.e. that it is wrong of me to tentatively grant that it may be reasonable to assume that, from a global perspective and in the future, Brexit will not be such a huge deal.

Given that I then spent quite a few words offering some perspective on the potential implications for the stability of the UK’s territorial constitution, I would hope it is not exactly difficult for most people to reasonably conclude that perhaps I think Brexit will likely prove a significant event for the UK (in some ways, as I have previously detailed at some length). As this is also the second large comment where I have given such thoughts, I find your commentary that Brexit will prove significant to the UK both entirely in agreement with everything I’ve said and wholly unnecessary. If you believe what I’ve said is unreasonable, feel free to make that argument – but I would appreciate it if you didn’t direct comments at me arguing against a position I don’t actually hold.

I try, generally speaking, to be tolerant of other people’s foibles (goodness knows I have many of my own), but I don’t think it is too unreasonable of me to expect that people address what I actually said. I hope even you won’t find too much fault with that sentiment.

In what you actually wrote, which I actually read, you used the word ‘necessary’. Here are some things which are not necessary:
It is not necessary for Hidari (or anybody else) to comment here;
If Hidari does comment, it is not necessary for anybody to read those comments, and it is not necessary for anybody who does read those comments to respond to them;
It is not necessary for me (or for anybody else) to ask you (or anybody else) questions;
If I do ask you questions, it is not necessary for you to answer them.

None of these things is forbidden; but also none of them is necessary.

However, since you mention it, it is not the case that you have answered the question that I asked you. The question that I asked you referred to your use of the word ‘minor’, and it was this: minor as compared to what? It is not, I repeat, necessary for you to answer. You can choose to answer, or you can choose not to answer.

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Hidari 01.04.21 at 10:11 am

Another thing that occurs to me is that prior to the last General Election, a lot of people in the commentariat were, by their actions and rhetoric, implying (or indeed, stating) that the decision as to whether or not the UK should be part of the EU was the most important decision of our generation, a matter of astonishing import, the impact of which would affect the UK for decades (although it’s noticeable that a lot fewer of them are saying that now).

However, assuming that that argument is true, then surely the argument for a united Ireland, Scottish independence, and handing Gibraltar back to Spain is now ironclad? And, indeed, an independent Wales, why not? If joining the EU is so important, given that England will never rejoin the EU, not in 10 years, 100 years, or a million years, surely this is the next best option?

This is not snark (or at least not just snark): I am very very sympathetic to this argument. It’s just that I’ve noticed that a lot of people who marched and waved placards, and went on the BBC to demand that the UK stay in the EU, seem to be somewhat agnostic about the idea of (e.g.) a united Ireland, or an independent Scotland, even though unification/independence would immediately lead to large swathes of the UK rejoining the EU.

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Tm 01.04.21 at 11:51 am

J-D 140, Worstall 137, TM 79, 131, AlexK 55:

I was giving Worstall the benefit of the doubt, assuming he was repeating in good faith false claims he has heard from fellow Brexiteers. Having been called out repeatedly, he still repeats the false claims. That makes them blatant lies. What stands out, from the point of view of those of us trying to have a good faith debate, is that Worstall repeats those lies, knowing full well that we know they are lies. That perhaps is characteristic of the whole Brexiteer universe, and more generally the hard right/Trumpist universe: the hard right doesn’t even try to pretend there is a debate on the merits of anything, that verifable facts matter in any way at all. It’s all a game of ever more ridiculous false claims spiraling out of control to make any kind of meaningful democratic discourse impossible. And that is the actual goal. It’s a strategy that was probably not consciously devised but found through trial and error, and having discovered that the strategy works, the hard right sticks to it.

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notGoodenough 01.04.21 at 12:24 pm

J-D @ 146

I am gratified to learn that you have actually read what I’ve written – I was under the impression you hadn’t because when I say something like “the whole world” and someone responds with a comment talking purely about “the UK” it would seem they haven’t understood what I’ve written. It is a bit like saying “I like cake” and someone responding “but why do you hate sandwiches?” – one gets the impression some degree of miscommunication has occurred.

But given you’ve actually read what I’ve written, it is then surprising you continue to have such considerable problems understanding the points I’ve been making. I am, I’m afraid, somewhat at a loss as to how to communicate them better to you.

For example, I do indeed use the word “necessary” – but I also used other words before and after it. In general, many people try to consider all the words in a sentence together rather than picking just one (you might find the level of discourse will improve if you try that approach – but again, far be it from me to impose such onerous burdens upon you). Considering all the words in that sentence, my point was not “your comment was unnecessary” my point was “your comment about Brexit from the UK’s perspective did not seem in disagreement with anything I actually said, and was therefore unnecessary”. I remain confused as to why you included such discussion as it seemed to me you were arguing against a point I hadn’t made – but of course you are free to make as many non-sequiturs as you like and direct them at whomever you will. It is a pity you don’t appear to agree with my sentiment of preferring people to address what I’ve actually said – but I will try not to hold you to such a high standard again.

Since you are unsatisfied with my response (though I am slightly disapointed you haven’t made the case it was wrong of me to tentatively grant it to be reasonable that the whole world will likely find Brexit relatively minor) I am happy to elaborate for you:

Examples of things in comparrison to which the whole world may find Brexit minor would, in my opinion, include the impact of climate change; the impact of the global pandemic; the potential financial and social changes John Quiggin has been highlighting.

There are more – but of course context is important (and not everything is equally likely to be impactful). Perhaps, if you give this consideration, you may even be able to come up with a few examples yourself.

But again, as I noted in my comments, I don’t hold this with high certainty (predicting the future, particularly with respect to “the impact of events” is not my area of expertise), but it seems not unreasonable to me to believe this. If you disagree, I’d appreciate you making the case – I generally welcome people helping me refine my ideas. If not, then I hope that satisfies your apparently burning curiosity.

I do offer my general good wishes – I hope you don’t find that too provocative a comment.

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Tm 01.04.21 at 12:26 pm

Hidari 147: It isn’t quite clear to me whether this is just trolling and perhaps it would be best to not respond. But:

“I’ve noticed that a lot of people who marched and waved placards, and went on the BBC to demand that the UK stay in the EU, seem to be somewhat agnostic about the idea of (e.g.) a united Ireland, or an independent Scotland”

I’m not a UK citizen or resident (few commenters around here are, afaik) and I don’t think my opinions about Scotland or Ireland matter a lot. But to the extent that I have followed this debate, I have noticed exactly the opposite that you noticed: a great many people think that Brexit has important consequences for Ireland and Scotland and many of them have strongly held views concerning a United Ireland and an independent Scotland. These topics have been discussed very intensely. In particular, the “Irish border issue” has been a major topic of post-Brexit negotiations. If you claim to not have noticed this, that brings me back to my earlier remark, it almost seems as if you missed all the debate of the last four years.

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Tm 01.04.21 at 12:46 pm

CasparC 139: “Politics in the UK is already much better for leaving the EU. Proper discussions about important things. Take the vaccine; politicians discussing priorities, supply, administration, instead of having to explain why they went along with the collective EU decisions and had to allow France to dictate a disastrous France-first policy.”

I take it CasparC is happy with the UK government’s stellar performance during the ongoing Covid crisis, no doubt considering it proof that Brexit is a roaring success. (*) What he is trying to say about the vaccine policy however eludes me. Is it just another set of blatant Brexiteer lies? One is tempted to ask how France can be able to “dictate” “collective EU decisions” but I’m sure this is pointless…

(*) The reality of course is that the EU has had almost no impact on the pandemic response policies adopted by EU member states. Nothing has made it more clear than this pandemic how little the EU actually “governs” – all important decisions (lockdowns, school closings, etc.) are made by state and regional governments, none by “Brussels” (let alone the WHO, despite the conspiracy peddlers’ claims). The only way in which the EU played an important role was in approving the vaccine (as opposed to 27 member countries each having to go through the approval process) and coordinating an EU-wide rollout strategy (https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/coronavirus-response/public-health/coronavirus-vaccines-strategy_en). And what a huge blessing this is…

152

Alex SL 01.04.21 at 12:50 pm

Hidari,

It is quite bizarre to watch the nexus of Brexit x Scottish independence from the outside of the UK.

I am used from other cases to the idea that when area A wants to become independent from country B there is usually a minority C inside A that would immediately want to go back to B (see Quebec, for example). That is precisely my reason for not considering independence movements to be a great solution – the logical end point is ethnic cleansing at the street level, as happened between Greece and Turkey at one point. It would be much better to fight for equal rights and peaceful co-existence, ideally in ever larger units such as the EU, until one day we are all just humans instead of English, German, or Australian.

But the case of Scotland brings the additional irony that every argument against its independence that the unionists could deploy is an argument against Brexit. The next few years will get quite ridiculous, as independence-minded Scots will be told by Brexiters that they’d create trade borders with their most important trade partner, that they’d have to build up regulatory and service systems that are currently more efficiently managed at a higher level, that they’d rip families apart, that they’d be ignoring the wills of a large minority of people inside their area that want to keep the union, including smaller areas with majority remain opinion, etc., all of which applied equally to the UK leaving the EU.

(Admittedly, at the moment I mostly see three other, completely insipid arguments: (1) why would you want independence only to hand it back to the EU?, which is based on the usual misunderstanding of sovereignty as being free not to follow rules as opposed to the freedom to choose which rules-based system one wants to be a member of; (2) but the 2014 referendum was a once in a generation event, a bad faith argument that ignores, well, Brexit having happened against the will of Scotland, and (3) hahaha, we just won’t let you have a referendum, so there, which if persisted in may just give Europe another simmering perma-crisis like Catalonia. But the economic arguments will come, so now is the time to buy shares in manufacturers of irony meters!)

153

Tim Worstall 01.04.21 at 1:15 pm

“However, assuming that that argument is true, then surely the argument for a united Ireland, Scottish independence, and handing Gibraltar back to Spain is now ironclad?”

Up to a point Lord Copper. The Brexit question was “Do a majority of Britons wish to stay in the EU.” Narrowly, no.

Scotland was and will be “Do a majority of Scots wish to remain within the UK?” Last time, narrowly, yes, next time perhaps not. At which point good luck to all who sail in her.

NI is a vote of those in NI I would assume. Something likely to be remain at the moment, possibly changing to leave or become part of Eire as demogracphic change happens. Or just views change.

GIB to Spain, well, that’s up to those who live in GIB I would have thought. Last time they organised their own referendum on it (something between advisory and not even legal as I recall) it was something like 98% saying “No Spain!”.

The linkage between Brexit and IndyScots is direct and I support the second on the same basis I do the first. The other two I’d support, equally, if those subject to the decision made the same decision. Those outside making the decision for them seems a little less supportable.

154

Jerry Vinokurov 01.04.21 at 2:34 pm

What this thread, and indeed, all discussion of Brexit have convinced me of, with unshakeable certainty, is that even granting arguendo</> that the Bexiteers’ claims that the EU is doing an imperialism on them were true and Brexit really was a genuine attempt at asserting self-sovereignty (lol), Brexit would still have been a mistake simply because it is evident that Britain is absolutely not ready for self-government in any genuine sense.

155

Salem 01.04.21 at 3:47 pm

To be fair, it’s not at all clear that the EU would allow the accession of an independent Scotland. And even if it did, the irony is that Brexit makes Scottish independence more popular but less viable.

156

notGoodenough 01.04.21 at 5:44 pm

J-D @ 148

Now that I have, hopefully, answered your question, perhaps you’d be good enough to answer one of mine –

since it is fairly clear from my comment that I believe Brexit is of significance to the UK, why did you include in your response @ 136 a discussion of why you believe that Brexit is of significance to the UK?

157

Hidari 01.04.21 at 6:22 pm

And indeed, why are the Brexiteers not echoing this? The pound, after all, is a currency union. Surely if it was so important for the EU to break free of the shackles of the EU, then for the same reasons, Scotland, the North of Ireland, (and maybe Wales) should also break free of the shackles of the UK? (or of course one could also conceptualise this as the English breaking free from the shackles of the UK).

And yet there don’t seem to be too many Brexiteers who are also demanding this.

Most odd.

158

Hidari 01.04.21 at 8:01 pm

@152: ‘But the case of Scotland brings the additional irony that every argument against its independence that the unionists could deploy is an argument against Brexit.’

Yes, precisely.

@153

The problem there is that 98% of Gibralterians (or whatever they are called) may have voted to stay part in the increasingly ironically named ‘United’ Kingdom, but roughly the same of them percentage of them also voted to stay in the EU. But the UK isn’t part of the EU anymore. So there’s a problem there.

Same problem with the North of Ireland.

Scotland, it’s true, had its referendum but of course, ‘Do you vote to stay part of the UK, which will shortly be out of the EU and run by Boris Johnson, apparently in perpetuity’ wasn’t on the ballot paper, IIRC.

159

CasparC 01.04.21 at 8:56 pm

For Jerry Vinokutov … vaccination rates would suggest it is the EU that has problems not the UK.

Alex SL. Scots are entitled to use the same arguments as Brexiteers. But these questions are all about the specifics. The EU had choices to make during the Cameron negotiation, and they made them. If they had made different choices then the outcome could have been different.

The direction of power in the UK has been from the centre to the nations, the opposite of the trajectory of power in the EU. The flow of money is opposite too. I don’t know what I would think if I lived in Scotland. I may look at Scandinavia and think that should be us, instead we are European leaders in drug deaths and squalor, so we should leave. As an English person I would like to think we can give Scotland a better deal than the EU can.

What is good enough for Scotland is also good enough for the Shetland Islands who recently voted to pursue crown status rather than go with Scotland. Which may not seem a big deal but they bring a lot of oil and fishing territory with them and England will give them a really good offer.

160

hix 01.04.21 at 11:09 pm

Sometimes it’s just incredible how dumb jingoism can make people. Britain is using a vaccine tested in Brazil and the US, developed and produced in Germany of which they would have got exactly zero doses if other nations would act like them. Then that somehow is supposed to shows British superiority towards those inferior continentals. Why exactly one does not know, maybe because the EU did only order 3 times as many vaccines as they need while Britain ordered 5 times as many or whatever. Pathetic.

(obviously the early vaccine doses should be distributed according to population sice, at risk older one in particular and virus spread rates. For the most part, that is also happening. If every producer could just sell single doses to the highest bidder, Biontech would be worth as much as Apple now not some 20 billion.)

161

J-D 01.04.21 at 11:46 pm

For example, I do indeed use the word “necessary” – but I also used other words before and after it. In general, many people try to consider all the words in a sentence together rather than picking just one (you might find the level of discourse will improve if you try that approach – but again, far be it from me to impose such onerous burdens upon you). Considering all the words in that sentence, my point was not “your comment was unnecessary” my point was “your comment about Brexit from the UK’s perspective did not seem in disagreement with anything I actually said, and was therefore unnecessary”. I remain confused as to why you included such discussion as it seemed to me you were arguing against a point I hadn’t made – but of course you are free to make as many non-sequiturs as you like and direct them at whomever you will.

It is not the case that the only good reason to respond to a comment made by somebody else is to disagree with it and argue against it, and it is not the case that every comment which responds to an earlier comment without disagreeing with it and arguing against it is a non sequitur.

Examples of things in comparrison to which the whole world may find Brexit minor would, in my opinion, include the impact of climate change; the impact of the global pandemic; the potential financial and social changes John Quiggin has been highlighting.

Those are good examples, which make it possible for me to point out that they are global developments, not UK-specific ones. I would expect to see those developments featured prominently in a contemporary history of the world, where I would not expect to see the UK exit from the EU featured prominently. However, I would expect to see the UK exit from the EU featured prominently in a contemporary history of the UK, as prominently as any recent event in UK history.

The reason that the UK exit from the EU is a minor event for the purposes of recent global history is that the whole of the recent history of the UK is of minor significance to global history. The most recent development in UK history to be of significance to global history was the process of decolonisation which was almost entirely complete before the UK joined the predecessor of the EU.

Now that I have, hopefully, answered your question, perhaps you’d be good enough to answer one of mine –

since it is fairly clear from my comment that I believe Brexit is of significance to the UK, why did you include in your response @ 136 a discussion of why you believe that Brexit is of significance to the UK?

In the hope of providing greater clarity about my own position.

162

J-D 01.05.21 at 12:16 am

“However, assuming that that argument is true, then surely the argument for a united Ireland, Scottish independence, and handing Gibraltar back to Spain is now ironclad?”

Up to a point Lord Copper. The Brexit question was “Do a majority of Britons wish to stay in the EU.” Narrowly, no.

Scotland was and will be “Do a majority of Scots wish to remain within the UK?” Last time, narrowly, yes, next time perhaps not. At which point good luck to all who sail in her.

NI is a vote of those in NI I would assume. Something likely to be remain at the moment, possibly changing to leave or become part of Eire as demogracphic change happens. Or just views change.

GIB to Spain, well, that’s up to those who live in GIB I would have thought. Last time they organised their own referendum on it (something between advisory and not even legal as I recall) it was something like 98% saying “No Spain!”.

The linkage between Brexit and IndyScots is direct and I support the second on the same basis I do the first. The other two I’d support, equally, if those subject to the decision made the same decision. Those outside making the decision for them seems a little less supportable.

In my lifetime, I’ve voted in several referenda/plebiscites. In each case, I’ve made a choice about which way to vote, and so have other voters. A voter deciding which way to vote in a referendum/plebiscite can’t decide ‘I’m going to vote with the majority’, because at the time of voting it isn’t known which way the majority has voted. It’s only after the vote has taken place that it is possible to know which way the majority has voted. It’s possible to offer ‘The majority voted Leave’ as a justification for supporting UK exit from the EU now, after the vote has taken place, but it wasn’t possible to offer ‘The majority voted Leave’ as a justification for supporting UK exit from the EU before the vote took place. People who voted Leave in the referendum must have had some reason for the way they voted which was not ‘The majority voted that way’ (the same is true for people who voted Remain).

Thus, the question raised by the comment you were responding to is not ‘Should the will of the majority prevail in each case?’ but rather ‘To what extent are the justifications for voting Leave also applicable to a possible future choice about the future of Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Gibraltar?’ We don’t know what the majority wants right now, and we also don’t know how the majority will vote in some hypothetical future referendum/plebiscite, but ‘What does the majority want?’ isn’t the question. There is a reasonable answer (reasonable in one context) to the question ‘Should Australia become a republic?’ which is ‘It should if that’s how a majority of Australians vote, but it shouldn’t if they don’t’, but that answer is valueless in the context where Australian voters (like myself) are deciding how to vote in a referendum/plebiscite which poses exactly that question.

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J-D 01.05.21 at 1:18 am

To be fair, it’s not at all clear that the EU would allow the accession of an independent Scotland.

It’s not a certainty, but I can’t think of any reason the EU could give for refusing an application from a hypothetically independent Scotland. Can anybody?

164

J-D 01.05.21 at 7:48 am

The EU had choices to make during the Cameron negotiation, and they made them. If they had made different choices then the outcome could have been different.

Obviously different choices can result in different outcomes. If the EU had made different choices, the outcome could have been different; if the UK had made different choices, the outcome could have been different.

As an English person I would like to think we can give Scotland a better deal than the EU can.

There are many things I would like to be true, but just because I would like them to be true is no reason to suppose that they will be true.

What is good enough for Scotland is also good enough for the Shetland Islands who recently voted to pursue crown status rather than go with Scotland.

I don’t think there is such a thing as ‘crown status’, so I suspect you’re relying on a garbled report.

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Hidari 01.05.21 at 8:54 am

@159

‘The flow of money is opposite too.’

Well what’s the problem then? Surely if the English are subsidising Scotland and the North of Ireland, they will we glad to see the back of them? Surely this is a ‘win-win’ situation?

@163: ‘It’s not a certainty, but I can’t think of any reason the EU could give for refusing an application from a hypothetically independent Scotland. Can anybody?’

No of course not, but stupid people pretending to be clever (like Andrew Neil) think it’s a good debating point to ask nationalists ‘Ah but how do you know that the EU will accept Scotland into the EU? Eh? Eh? Eh?’ because they think this is a ‘zinger’ that will go viral on Twitter. As you rightly point out, in the real world, there is no sensible reason to think the EU would not accept Scotland into the EU, and many reasons to think they would.

166

Tm 01.05.21 at 9:41 am

hix 160: it’s even worse than jingoism. This brand of right wing ideology requires its adherents to constantly reinvent reality.

167

notGoodenough 01.05.21 at 10:36 am

J-D @ 161

“It is not the case that the only good reason to respond to a comment made by somebody else is to disagree with it and argue against it, and it is not the case that every comment which responds to an earlier comment without disagreeing with it and arguing against it is a non sequitur.”

I would agree with that, which is why I did not say the only good reason to respond to a comment is to disagree with it and argue against it, nor did I say that every comment which responds to an earlier comment without disagreeing with it and arguing against it is a non sequitur.

Those are good examples, which make it possible for me to point out that they are global developments, not UK-specific ones. I would expect to see those developments featured prominently in a contemporary history of the world, where I would not expect to see the UK exit from the EU featured prominently. However, I would expect to see the UK exit from the EU featured prominently in a contemporary history of the UK, as prominently as any recent event in UK history.

Thank you. Again, we seem to be in agreement – “the world as a whole” will likely consider some other things as being more significant than Brexit. By contrast, with its potential implications (some of which I have highlighted previously), it is likely that Brexit will be of significance to the UK. It is gratifying how in agreement we are.

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CasparC 01.05.21 at 10:53 am

@hix Jerry Vinokurov wrote“Britain is absolutely not ready for self government in any genuine sense” and I gave an example that illustrated the UK was capable of self government. That isn’t jingoism.

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notGoodenough 01.05.21 at 10:54 am

J-D @ 164

It is certainly wise to disentangle a number of issues – the questions of will Scotland seek independence, would independence be granted, would a hypothetically independent Scotland (HIS) seek to join the EU, would the EU accept a HIS, what conditions would be likely, etc.

It’s not a certainty, but I can’t think of any reason the EU could give for refusing an application from a hypothetically independent Scotland. Can anybody?

One possibility is if HIS is unable to meet the financial obligations necessary to join the EU. It is not clear to me what the likelihood of that happening would be at the time when HIS would apply, but if it were the case then it could represent a reason for the EU to refuse an application (though even if that were the case, it is by no means clear the EU would refuse anyway).

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Salem 01.05.21 at 1:20 pm

It’s not a certainty, but I can’t think of any reason the EU could give for refusing an application from a hypothetically independent Scotland. Can anybody?

It is often said that Spain is extremely hostile to the notion, as it would encourage Catalonian separatists to believe that they could secede from Spain and then join the EU. Whether this is true or just bluster, I have no idea.

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Tim Worstall 01.06.21 at 9:26 am

@163 and 170.

“It’s not a certainty, but I can’t think of any reason the EU could give for refusing an application from a hypothetically independent Scotland. Can anybody?”

Quite so, Spain and Catalonia. Whether it’s all actually true or not I have no idea. But that is the story that goes around the Brexity Community. Spain would not be happy with IndyScotland immediately lining up for EU membership (immediately, for after all, at present the legal system and regulation etc are all entirely aligned) on the grounds that Catalonia might, just might, want to go for independence in the EU but wouldn’t for independence outside the EU.

@157 – maybe not many demanding this but you’ve found one entirely happy with the idea if that’s what the varied constituent nations desire. On the basis that the logic is entirely sound. The decision to leave an overarching political union/project is just that and if it’s appropriate for goose then so for gander. If, that is, that’s what people want. Have a vote and find out, why not?

172

notGoodenough 01.06.21 at 1:13 pm

Caspar C @ 159

“The EU had choices to make during the Cameron negotiation, and they made them. If they had made different choices then the outcome could have been different.”

And every Prime Minister from Cameron to Johnson has also had choices to make during negotiations. If different choices had been made then the outcome could have been different.

“The direction of power in the UK has been from the centre to the nations, the opposite of the trajectory of power in the EU.”

Given that, as I’ve previously pointed out, we have arguably recently seen the overruling of the Sewel convention and the Scotland Act 2016, it is by no means clear that the trajectory of power within the UK during these last 4 years is as you describe.

”The flow of money is opposite too.”

[Citation needed]. I am unaware of accurate and reliable data showing that the overall flow of money within the UK has been towards Scotland to any significant extent – if you do have such data, I would be most obliged if you present it as it would interest me greatly.

”I don’t know what I would think if I lived in Scotland.”

Then why did you speculate?

”What is good enough for Scotland is also good enough for the Shetland Islands who recently voted to pursue crown status rather than go with Scotland.”

It is unclear what you mean by “pursue crown status”. I believe you may be referring to the recent vote to “explore options for achieving financial and political self-determination” – a wording chosen which avoids any specific constitutional model. As far as I am aware, councillors explicitly noted that this motion was purely to explore options – with John Fraser (Lerwick) noting “any change that arises will be decided by the ballot box”. So it would seem that there is still some way to go before this counts as a vote to “pursue crown status rather than go with Scotland”.

“Which may not seem a big deal but they bring a lot of oil and fishing territory with them and England will give them a really good offer.”

As previously noted, to the best of my knowledge the vote was to “explore options for achieving financial and political self-determination” – not a vote on actually leaving Scotland (that would be an additional determination).

However, it is interesting that you say “England will give them a really good offer” (what delightfully Trumpian language). Firstly, it is by no means clear that a situation will arise in which offers can or will be made, and secondly it is by no means clear who would make offers (“really good” or otherwise) should it happen to pass.

Your statements seem, I’m afraid, not to be a fully accurate representation of the situation.

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