Cry, the beloved country

The Brexit disaster.

I suppose in some infinitesimal part the referendum vote for Brexit is my fault too. In common with most of the Btitish élite or hangers-on, and all those who have worked for one European institution or another, I never took the threat of Brexit quite seriously. Surely the voters would in the end recognize the wishful thinking of an à la carte Europe, keeping the bits you like and not the ones you don’t. Surely the young, under-represented in telephone polling, would turn out en masse. But it’s the unlikely and incoherent alliance of elderly Little Englanders and the depressed Northern working class that turned out, and won.

The disaster is playing out at several speeds. The pound has already fallen sharply, anticipating the City’s loss of access to European financial markets. David Cameron has resigned; his first gamble with the constitution over Scottish independence was just saved for him by two Labour politicians, Alistair Darling with the numbers and Gordon Brown with the flag-waving. This time Jeremy Corbyn was as usual useless, and the gamble failed. In fact the strong Bremain vote in Scotland has opened up the case for a second Scottish referendum, so it may end up a double catastrophe for the Union.

The combination of a vague constitutional referendum and a parliamentary system has thrown the UK into a permanent crisis. The leavers are a minority of MPs, and they don’t like their marching orders. If Boris Johnson gets his ambition of 10 Downing Street, he will be living on a knife-edge. He has already suggested that there is no hurry, but Brussels is insisting on an early trigger of Article 50, the formal withdrawal mechanism that sets a two-year deadline for negotiations. Boris (or Gove or whoever) is about to find just how weak Britain’s cards are in this process. Norway and Switzerland have access to the single market, and Norway is even in the Schengen free-movement area. But both pay hefty contributions, nominally to the regional development and other structural funds. Britain’s interlocutors have no incentive to be nice.

Is id possible that the exit terms will be so awful that in the end the UK will swallow its pride and stay in? Just possible, but as in divorce a descent into rancour is far more likely than last-minute reconciliation.

Why did it all go wrong?

  • I’ve already mentioned the failure of people like me to convince ordinary Britons that the European project was worthwhile, let alone noble. (I actually worked for the Council of Europe, not the EU, representing an older, Westphalian model of cooperation by consensus; but we tried to do good work even as the ship slowly sank.) It wasn’t for lack of good works: a European system of judicial enforcement of human rights (the Council of Europe’s main achievement), the single market, freedom of movement, common environmental standards: these are not trivial. The failure in the UK was to get this across, against a barrage of smears and lies.
  • Outright racism and xenophobia. This is not just a British problem. But it clearly fuelled the Brexit campaign. Never mind that the 3m immigrants to the UK from the EU are white, young, and educated: they are a large net gain to British taxpayers, as well as public and private employers. Will Boris really throw them all out? I doubt it very much.
  • The recent capture of key parts of European economic policymaking by doctrinaire neoliberals and ordoliberals. Since Britain wisely stayed out of the Euro, it could have adopted a quite different Keynesian policy, but Osborne and Cameron chose not to. This fuelled working-class suspicions that the EU is just part of the global neoliberal capitalist plot by the 1%. The picture is a travesty – look at policy efforts against tax havens , systematically opposed by London – but the grain of truth has been damaging.
  • Jean Monnet is also to blame. He created the technocratic model with the Coal and Steel Community, and reproduced it on a wider scale in the EEC. My reading is that his formative experience was his and Salter’s persuasion of the Allied powers in 1917 to hand over operational control of North Atlantic shipping to the two of them. The paradigm is: delegation of real executive powers(a) on specific issues(b) to meet a crisis(c). The European Commission still thinks the same way; it has less sense of the necessary limits to its powers than the satraps of John Company. It has gone on accumulating powers, in an ad hoc way such that even experts find it hard to grasp which rules and procedures apply to a given policy problem.

    The system is incomprehensible by evolution rather than design. It does not even have the coherence imposed on say the Comintern or the IMF by a clear ideology, such as Marxism or free-market liberalism. Monnet, who never went to university, was a total pragmatist. Even the first EU initiatives represented a hodgepodge of entirely different conceptions of public policy: Fabian planning for coal and steel, Colbertian protectionism in agriculture, populism on antitrust, classical liberalism on trade. So if you don’t share the messianic belief in European integration as the sole long-term guarantee of peace on the continent, the institutions and policies look like an impenetrable tangle.
    The way out of this is of course a proper confederal constitution. Giscard d’Estaing tried to write one, and the Irish rejected it in a referendum. Monnet would have banned the nuisancy things.

The above attempts a rational take on the event. What I feel today is Auden’s poem of grief.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

* * * * *
Declaration of interest
I am personally deeply affected by this. As an EU citizen of British nationality, I have today a right to live anywhere in the EU, and have retired to Spain and France. My wife Lu is Brazilian, and has a derived right of residence as my spouse. Now since I enjoy a decent taxable pension and comprehensive private medical insurance for both of us from my former employer, it would make no practical sense to throw us out. But not all the 1.8 million British citizens living in Europe are so fortunate. If working, they will lose employment rights. If retired, the arrangements for portability of medical care will unravel.

My three adult children were born in France and are variously affected in even more complex ways. Two have non-British partners. In addition to the legal issues, they will face grave questions of identity. They have always thought of themselves as British and European; now they may be forced to choose.

Thanks to all you Brexit voters for the royal clusterf*ck.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web

29 thoughts on “Cry, the beloved country”

  1. I am sorry. I don't have a dog in this, so just for you I'd have voted to stay in.

    From way over here… and I didn't follow most of it, and have never heard of Monnet … I wonder if all the threats were a little counterproductive. Nobody likes being ordered around. And I think it's a bit much to expect people to give up control over who gets to come into their country permanently. EU members are one thing, but then some other people seem to want to invite in the entire world. It upsets a lot of people here too. Not me personally, but I can understand the feeling. We here do it to ourselves at least.

    I think they should go back to the table and work something out. Retribution seems petty to me.

    1. EU members are one thing, but then some other people seem to want to invite in the entire world. It upsets a lot of people here too.

      These are a couple of separate issues. EU immigration has been a net benefit for the UK, which EU immigrants being on balance net contributors to the economy; but because of the austerity policies of the British government, EU immigration was often perceived as competition for scarce public resources that did not increase in line with net migration. Ironically, increased consumption through positive net migration helped drive the recovery and probably secured or created many British jobs.

      The part about "inviting the world in", however, is based on a panoply of lies and ignorance. I don't blame people for believing it, because the English-language press – especially the British press – didn't exactly cover itself in glory (interestingly enough, that happened regardless of political orientation; a non-existent policy was either praised or condemned). The European part of the refugee crisis played out over the second half of 2015. It was pretty much a force majeure, it started by itself, and refugee intake went back to "normal" levels mostly by itself. The EU was entrapped by its laws, namely the so-called Qualification Directive (which defines the right to asylum) and the Dublin Regulation (which defines which EU member state has to process asylum applications).

      The Qualification Directive guarantees asylum to everybody fleeing from political, religious, or ethnic persecution, and additionally subsidiary protection for people fleeing from a situation where their lives would be in danger (such as a civil war). Inter alia, this pretty much guaranteed a right to asylum for every Syrian citizen.

      The Dublin Regulation was what created the most problems; it was never designed to deal with that many refugees. The idea was to stick the countries at the EU's border with hosting the refugees, in part because they were less economically attractive, thus discouraging asylum applications for purely economic reasons. This stopped working when the numbers exploded; by mid-2015, Greece, Hungary, and Italy were overrun, and they had no choice but to let the excess refugees pass through. Unsurprisingly, given the choice, they made their way to the richest EU economies (especially Germany and Sweden).

      Now, per article 3 of Dublin, these countries were forced to process the application for asylum for every person arriving at their borders. They could only deport them back to where they entered the EU to be processed there, but these countries were already overrun, and both the Dublin Regulation and the courts (M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece) had banned such deportations; they could not be sent to any other country in the EU, and the rest of the EU was virulently opposed to any scheme that redistributed them. In that situation, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees said that they'd stop Dublin deportations for Syrians – because they were virtually guaranteed protection under the Qualification Directive and because Germany couldn't deport them, anyway.

      The press – especially the British Press, uninformed as always when it comes to EU law – interpreted this statement, which simply expressed the legal reality, as "Germany invites all Syrians to come" and later as "Germany (or alternatively, Angela Merkel) invites all refugees to come". This still depresses me to no end; it's one thing for a normal person to not understand it; but a journalist who is not a failure at their profession should be able to at least pick up a phone and talk to an EU lawyer to understand what is actually going on.

      And in any event, the UK is not part of the Schengen area; it has complete legal (and due to is geographic location, also factual) control over immigration by non-EU citizens. Virtually no refugees arrived in the UK who weren't resettled there.

      1. "These are a couple of separate issues. EU immigration has been a net benefit for the UK "

        Hi Katja,

        I believe this is correct, people like me and you always believe it – it's true for us. On average for a country it is also objectively true, but its clear that when you look at different groups some benefit a lot, some a little, and some lose out including many of the people who voted leave.

        I think those of us who benefit from immigration (It's so long since someone with a British accent waited on my table in London — nice for me this competition for those jobs, keeps my meals out and hotel charges down) have to be more caring towards those for whom it doesn't work out, and statements about average benefit I think do not communicate that – indeed they may be unintentionally alienating. And it gets worse when some people (not us, but people in our class) enjoy their cheap immigrant wait staff and tell themselves that anyone who doesn't think this is ducky must be a racist.

      2. It's true I don't follow these things closely. I don't even follow things in DC that closely anymore. To me, when Merkel said (I think?) that she would take a million people, well, that sort of thing is bound to get a reaction. It's like starting a stampede. (Though maybe it had already started.) People get hurt in those. Which is not to say that refugees have many good choices. I didn't know though that the UK could refuse to take war refugees and isn't in Schengen (which being ignorant, I thought just meant free movement…)

        I agree that austerity and an immigration crisis (even an imagined one?) are an unfortunate combination. This all does feel very familiar to me, I'm sorry to say. I hate war, and I wish we were helping people more, and maybe even preventing war.

        1. To me, when Merkel said (I think?) that she would take a million people, well, that sort of thing is bound to get a reaction.

          Well, the thing is, she didn't.

          1. It's not so much an emotional topic, other than my dismay at the poor reporting, which has little to do with the facts. My impression is that the major culprit is the lack of original reporting; most of the press have been replicating each other narratives (like a giant game of telephone) rather than reporting observed facts; reasons for that may be the language barrier and the reduced newspaper resources that shrunken ad revenues entail, likely amplified by some groups actively pushing a specific narrative that is being uncritically reported on.

            You will not find a quote that Merkel said that she would take a million people (or something similar). She has never said such a thing. The article that you cite doesn't even say otherwise. It subtly implies it in the following paragraph:

            After a year in which Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed more than a million asylum seekers, that decision has left her more embattled and isolated, at home and in Europe, than perhaps at any other time in her 10 years in office.

            However, it doesn't source or otherwise back up the claim that "Angela Merkel welcomed more than a million asylum seekers" or that there was a "decision" to do that, and it doesn't do that because it can't; there was never such a policy or such a decision; this claim is made up from whole cloth [1]. I also note that it doesn't quote her as saying that Germany would take a million refugees (which it couldn't backup, either). A million refugees was a projection in 2015; nobody had ever said that Germany wanted or could take in that many. In fact, Sigmar Gabriel (the German vice chancellor) said in an interview in early September 2015 that Germany couldn't handle a million or two refugees [2].

            [1] In actual fact, Germany quickly took action to mitigate the refugee intake. The refugee crisis came to a head in late August 2015, when Hungary and Greece couldn't deal with arrivals anymore and they started to pass through to Central, Western, and Northern Europe in large numbers. On September 13, 2015, Germany instituted border controls, temporarily suspending the Schengen Agreement. A month later, the federal parliament passed a bill tightening the asylum laws (which had been in the works and publicly discussed since September 7, 2015) to speed up processing, to discourage those who came for economic reasons, and declare more countries as safe countries of origin.

            [2] He also said in the same interview that 500,000 asylum seekers a year for a few years were the upper bound on what Germany could handle, which the press then promptly misreported as a lower bound. Sort of like describing a prison sentence of "up to five years" as "five years or more". No, I wasn't trying to exaggerate when I used the phrase "a panoply of lies and ignorance". It really was that bad.

    2. NCGatSMFcts:

      I think that after the heat cools, there will not be retribution. The UK is one of the world's leading economies and the Eurozone is in the economic doldrums. They will want to sell British people their products and buy British products. There also may be, finally, a small awakening in Brussels that the EU is deeply disliked by much of the people and that setting a policy of "Join us and stay in under pain of death" will only make that problem worse.

      1. I don't think there will be retaliation, either (other than an insistence on getting this over and done with to get rid of the ongoing uncertainty this creates for everyone). But the reason I think there'll be no retaliation is that the EU doesn't really need it; Brexit is pretty much an economic own goal. Like the Scottish government during the independence referendum, the British government apparently hasn't actually formulated a strategy for how to approach a Brexit. And just the logistics involved are daunting.

        And the British economy is currently just not well-equipped for going it alone, either. I'll recycle part of a comment here that I made at Kevin Drum's blog a while ago:

        A Brexit would almost certainly be bad for the UK; most economists agree that it would trigger a recession, any disagreement is primarily about how bad it would be and if there would be any long-term damage. However, I think the short-term effects would be bad enough to discourage other countries from following their example. Remember that the EU and its predecessors, the EEC and the ECSC, were created specifically with the purpose of discouraging war by interconnecting the economies to such a degree that war would be too economically harmful to consider (i.e. a sort of economic MAD). Much of the same applies to one country voluntarily seceding from the EU after having been a member for a long time. Even more so when no country has fully recovered from the most recent recession.

        To assess the economy of the UK specifically, it is probably best to look at it at the regional level, in particular the regional GDP per inhabitant, GVA per inhabitant, and change of GDP per inhabitant.

        The UK's problem is that, outside a few areas (London, Edinburgh, and Aberdeenshire), it is a country that economically looks more like Spain than Germany or Sweden. The reason is that too much of the country's economy depends on the financial services industry with centers in London and Edinburgh. With the oil industry currently in a free fall, the financial services industry has become doubly important for the British economy. To make things worse, manufacturing has been slowly eroded since the Thatcher years (though Thatcher wasn't solely responsible and Labour – especially Blair – shares in the blame); all the EU economies that are doing well still have sizable manufacturing sectors.

        However, that same financial services industry depends on access to the EU's single market (it currently sits in the sweet spot of having access to the single market while being subject to Britain's favorable banking regulations). If Britain were to cut its ties to the EU and didn't renegotiate access to the single market, then there would be little reason for much of that industry to remain in the UK, especially as it is fairly mobile. Much of it is expected to move to Frankfurt, Paris, or Dublin in the event of a Brexit. Keeping access to the single market would therefore be critical to the EU, but that would also mean the UK still accepting freedom of movement, which is the bête noire of the Leave campaign, while remaining a line in the sand for the EU (freedom of movement has been a core principle of the single market ever since the Treaty of Rome). Plus, Cameron recently ruled out such a move (such as through EEA membership).

        And while the British economy looks like it's doing well on the surface, there are problems underneath. Low unemployment has been achieved only through a serious drop – not just stagnation – of real wages. Investment is low; spending on R&D as a percentage of GDP is significantly below that of the US, Germany, Japan, or the Nordic countries. A great deal of research is actually funded out of the EU budget. Major factors in the recovery have been an increase in consumption through an increase in immigration (which the Leave campaign wants to stop) and an increase in house prices (which is not sustainable).

        I expect that things will settle down in the long term (especially as the EU has nothing to gain from being permanently stuck with poor neighbor), but I also think that the results will be unpleasant enough on their own to discourage other member states from following the British example.

        1. This sounds rather a lot like the US. The benefits don't get shared, and people get angry. For the record, I did favor staying in… but not by much. And now, still mostly just for James. And I hope you're right that paths will re-align again soon. I think it's a mistake to try to force people to stay in relationships. Better to have a separation, or even a divorce… and then maybe a really romantic second wedding! These things do happen sometimes.

  2. My sympathy James for the suffering this will cause to you and your family.

    I think the Euro belongs on the list of causes (even though the UK as you note wisely stayed out of it — Gordon Brown gets into heaven on that basis) mainly because of the complete unwillingness of Brussels to acknowledge error and show compassion toward the people whom the Euro system immiserated. The Euromess showed that the EU is capable of causing enormous harm to millions with no regret or even a moment of self-reflection. Without that royalist conduct, I suspect the EU would be much more popular across the continent (and we must not forget the EU is in fact more popular in Britain than it is in France)

    Krugman got it right here: " For that is the most frustrating thing about the E.U.: Nobody ever seems to acknowledge or learn from mistakes. If there’s any soul-searching in Brussels or Berlin about Europe’s terrible economic performance since 2008, it’s very hard to find. And I feel some sympathy with Britons who just don’t want to be tied to a system that offers so little accountability, even if leaving is economically costly."

  3. I realize Brexit is a problem for you personally, and there is no doubt it will be economically disruptive. Still, I think there is a reason the traditional Labour working class linked up with the traditionally Tory English middle class on this one. The English working class has a coporate memory of fighting for a vote in a sovereign Parliament. It realizes that superempowered judiciaries, central banks and international bureaucracies are basically a way of taking that vote back and re-establishing the property qualification.

    We do not yet have a way of having democracy without national sovereignty. Most working and middle-class people are as dependent on their own national communities for public goods as you are on cosmopolitan institutions. A fall in the pound and a decline in the weight of the City could be good for northern England. As far as movement of goods goes, there is no tariff Europe could impose consistent with the WTO that would make up for the decline in the pound that just happened, so far as competitiveness of exports go. Yes, there is a price to be paid, but the people's flag is deepest red because of harder sacrifices than more expensive trips to Spain.

  4. If the English working class objects to the property qualification, they have odd ways of showing it. For example, but rejecting proportional representation.

    Over at Crooked Timber, a commenter noted that near 70% of Labour voters voted remain (just a tad below Scottish voters). The exit vote came from the shires – deferential hat-tippers to a man, and the dispossessed of the old industrial areas – people who probably mostly don't vote, but did this time because (they thought) it was a chance to kick the upper classes in the nuts.

  5. I would say that, if you should take anything from this, it is that the EU elite are horribly, horribly out of touch with the rest of the population. YOU are horribly, horribly out of touch.

    You have your own explanations for why Leave won. You related them above. You should not trust them. You should not trust them, because you ARE horribly, horribly out of touch with the rest of the population.

    I don't know how many times, following the debate over this, (I live in the US, but work for a multi-national headquartered in Germany.) I heard the same statement: "Nobody I know is voting Leave." The EU elite went into this thinking they'd win. Polls told them they'd win. And then, they lost. The polls were garbage. Remember that! Your tools for understanding the population are broken.

    You're living in an echo chamber. Somehow, you need to break out of it. It won't be easy. And all I can say is, if your understanding of the situation makes your side the heroes, and the other side monstrous villains, it is almost guaranteed that you're wrapping yourself in comforting illusions, and don't really understand the situation.

    Go out. Find people who voted Leave. Talk to them. And try, desperately, to listen to them, without forcing what they say into your preexisting understanding of the situation.

    Because your understanding of the situation is broken, and you must admit that, or you'll never fix it.

    1. Have you read the rest of this thread? There are some writers (PithLord, NCGatSmFacts, Krugman via Humphreys) who share or at least sympathize with the leavers. They make some interesting points, and I feel like I got something worthwhile out of reading them.

      If you haven't seen that stuff, go take a look. And then take another look at your own contribution. Everyone else is bringing interesting stuff. You're bringing angry, smug, po-faced, content-free taunting. The lack of self-awareness contained in your soliloquy on viewing your enemies as monstrous villains is breathtaking.

      1. I was responding to the OP, and I think it's a reasonable response. "barrage of smears and lies", "outright racism and xenophobia".

    2. I probably shouldn't say anything since I swear so much here… still I find the *tone* a little unfortunate. Please remember, these are our friends. Maybe not help-you-move friends… but still our friends. Frank-exchange-of-views friends at least, and probably a bit more too. I don't know about you, but I don't have sooooo many friends that I can be out there tossing them away all willy-nilly.

      Plus, being 2% wrong isn't exactly a washout. I am more out of touch than that with myself on a daily basis.

      People are sad. Be nice. ; ) It will be our turn soon enough one way or the other.

      1. That was my point, about the tone. The leavers aren't monsters here. They're people who weighed the merits of the case, and came to a different conclusion.

  6. Can it happen here? The odds (for the moment) are against it. But it does bring to mind one of the issues that has too long been swept under the rug – the lack of attention to those who lost ground. That is, when we switch from coal to renewable resources, what about caring about those who dug the coal for generations? Why aren’t there subsidies to have solar panels and wind turbines made or assembled in West Virginia or Wyoming? This is the take-away I get from John Rawls’ "A Theory of Justice," where those who are the losers in progressive movements get taken into consideration rather than ignored because the country as a whole supposedly benefits.

    1. Well I sure hope we don't get the Republican in November.

      But I completely agree with you about the lack of support for the people and communities the river is shifting away from. No coal worker in this country should have to suffer to save the planet. That is b.s. Like, what, they were *so spoiled* having to work all those years… as miners. OMFg. Of course we need to decarbonize but right now the way we are doing it is completely bleeped. No wonder people resist.

      Here's another thing that's pure b.s. The push to densify. Guess what? I've lived in both… and *houses are better.* Please, someone here try and argue with me. Multi family housing *can* be good, if it's done right… but that's almost *never.* Courtyard apartments are considered oh so yesterday. Meanwhile, where I live in LA, many people are quite poor and are dealing with quite hellish temperature change, many of whom either have no AC or have it and can't afford to use it. No one in power gives even the tiniest f*ck… all they do here is try to preach about how great it is to be Manhattan. I'm not even kidding (though perhaps exaggerating…) And don't get me started on the transit and total disregard for busriders, in favor of $$$ rail (which the rest of you are paying for, so thanks for that).

  7. I'm ambivalent. At one level, the Left was all for Greece and Spain and Italy and Portugal telling the Bundesbank to go fuck themselves. Angela Merkel and the faceless bureaucrats in Brussels were absconding first with the capital and then with the cultural patrimony of Southern Europe. C'mon, Greece, do the Iceland thing! Your credit will be banjaxed for a decade, but you'll come out better, and not owned by the bloody Germans. Isn't that what we were all saying?

    Yet now (and admittedly, after a great deal of vile propaganda on the Leave side, as if it would somehow empty Great Britain of blacks and Muslims), the EU is some proud beacon of Human Rights and Civilized Behavior and Good Will Toward Men? No. Just no. It's still a convenient mechanism for French and Belgian and Dutch and German banks to pillage the Continent under the rubric of fiscal restraint.

    And what, Hank Cinq and Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and Drake and Hawkins and Rleigh and Shakepeare and Newton and Keats and Dickens and Victoria and Churchill never happened? England is only twenty years old, and cannot survive without the Brussels teat to suckle at? How feeble you've become! I never realized you could not survive without Francophone bureaucrats to tell you when to buy and when to sell, Poor dears, it must be AWFUL, like The Blitz, having to pay for your own health insurance if you choose to live in Slovenia! It's amazing that Japan and Canada and Costa Rica and New Zealand can even take their next breath, not being members of the EU. And hey, the better part of two billion people that the UK can now trade with freely? Why, they might buy British products too!

    What a bunch of crybabies you're being. What ever happened to the Stiff Upper Lip you pride yourselves on. You're repeated elections of Thatcher, Blair, and Cameron are the votes you should be ashamed of. Going back to the monetary and trade policies of twenty years ago is hardly worth whindging over.

  8. "Elite" is a word that is bandied about a lot, but champagne corks were popping in the high-class Tory men's clubs of London on Friday.

    Our opponents are always the "corrupt elite", and we are "shucks, just folks, plain folks".

    Yet, 48% of ordinary decent folk voted to remain in the EU, and yesterday saw a spontaneous demonstration in London by tens of thousands of young people for Remain. If Labour was led by anyone else but a w*nker like Corbyn, that energy might be harnessed to put Labour back into office, with a pledge to undo the damage as a much as possible.

    Meanwhile, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted 60-40 to stay in the EU, and now increasingly see their destiny as different from the one chosen by England and Wales. The Leave campaign may have saved the United Kingdom by destroying it.

    1. If Remain had won, and there were as a result protests everywhere in England except London, (The only area of the country where Remain won, or so I understand.) I expect you'd be unimpressed. It's a given that the losers of elections are unhappy. They're still the losers.

      1. Ah, Brett, we are all losers out of this one, and someday I think even you will realise that.

    2. ON a point of Information, London is not "the only area of the country where Remain won" – Scotland and Northern Ireland, the other constituent areas of the United Kingdom besides England and Wales, voted solidly to remain in the EU. Scotland, where the Nationalists lost a referendum on Independence last year, promptly served notice through the First Minister of the Edinburgh Assembly it would not be dragged out of the EU by England. Another referendum on Independence is the probably outcome, a referendum which will probably be carried.

      Indeed, Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish FM, is the only UK politician in all this who has emerged without some degree of ignominy or shame.

      But it looks like the "United Kingdom" will have been saved only by destroying it. How ironic.

      One piece of hilarity was the ignoramus Donald Trump (who arrived in Scotland the day after the vote) congratulating UK voters on "taking their country back" while standing in a country expressing its determination to stay in the EU.

  9. Let us pause and record the total shafting of Boris Johnson by Michael Gove, supposedly his "loyal lieutenant" in the Leave campaign. Johnson's leadership ambitions were totally shattered when the man he looked to lead his own campaign suddenly announced his own candidacy and took away a good proportion of Johnson's supporters.

    Johnson had been persuaded to be the human face of Leave. He seems to have believed in Leave-lite, along the lines of Norway, with membership of the single market, free movement of labour, but British sovereignty. That is insufficiently radical for the Gove-ites.

    Gove has been the revelation of this drama – a minor Government Minister, judged a failure in his biggest job as Minister of Education, now exposed as a Frank Underwood clone from "House of Cards", or even a Richard III.

    Johnson, widely tipped as Cameron's successor for years, has been exposed as an essentially lightweight and easily manipulated figure. His career may not recover.

    Gove's "stabbing Johnson in the front" has given him such a poisonous reputation that it is unlikely if he will succeed as PM either. The favourite to take over at the moment is the "shy Remain" advocate Teresa May.

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