Monty Python sum up what I think here. Leave voters? A dose of Derek and Clive might be useful.
Otherwise, some thoughts on the Brexit referendum
1. We now have our freedom they trumpet. From what? Where is this new freedom of mine? Not being able to travel and work freely across 27 other countries? Not being able to travel because we are too poor to afford the cheapest Ryanair deal? No one from Leave is able to say what freedoms I gain in exchange for those I have lost.
2. There is plenty of room at the bottom. We had the 5th largest economy in the world, because we were part of the EU. We are now the 6th. I am no fan of the square mile, but the big financial houses are making contingency plans. Once made, even if we remain, they will see the benefit of derisking operations and shifting some of them elsewhere in the EU. If we do leave, they are gone. As for what is left of manufacturing, building business takes years. Cut off that business and it’s benefit street for you. The country can head down through the relegation zone into the conference and below. It takes 25 to 50 years to rebuild and you never get back what you had.
3. But we have all our money back. Sure, but it’s peanuts and isn’t enough to fix the potholes. Check the estimates for fixing the UK’s basic infrastructure. Plus, our brilliant chancellor has hypothecated our taxes, so he is using taxes he will collect in coming years to pay the bills today. That way he doesn’t have to collect tax from the tax-dodgers, like his good pro-Brexit mate who owns the Daily Mail. The country was in financial trouble in 2008, it has been borrowing heavily since in a variety of ways and now is broke, broke, broke. Any money will go into George Osbourne’s black hole.
4. UKIP is a lie. Does anyone actually think that an individual as corrupt as Nigel Farage, whose only job is a UK MEP, wants to sacrifice his substantial tax free income from his MEP seat, as well as his wife’s tax free income – he employs her at European taxpayers’ expense? If we Leave, he loses his job and so does his wife. I very much doubt that our Nige wants to travel economy with the rest of us stinking peasants or claim benefit. Remember he has no other job and isn’t going to get one – he has repeatedly failed to get a seat in Parliament. Answer that one.
5. Leave was a lie. No one leading the Leave campaign thought they would win, but they acted like it and you followed, venting your frustration at the London elite. Who are the London elite? Well they include the leaders of the Leave campaign. They had no plan, no idea what to do and also no idea of what is required to Leave.
6. What is required to leave?
(i) Invoke Article 50
(ii) Perhaps ratification by parliament, because the referendum was advisory and parliament was and is sovereign (Brussels never had any sovereignty).
(iii) Ratification by the Scottish Parliament and probably the Northern Ireland Assembly. This is written into the devolution laws passed by the UK Parliament.
7. There are a lot of angry people in the UK, because their future, for which they have worked their socks off has been taken away. In the UK, they are taking action to save what they can from the sinking ship. Consider this: Ian Paisley’s son, a good Unionist, has publicly stated that the people of Northern Ireland should take out Irish passports. Once you make people consider the impossible, they realize it has significant advantages. The irony of the Conservative and Unionist Party possibly causing a future reunification of Ireland will not be lost on those who know a little history. In any event there will be an exodus from the UK and you won’t get their jobs, because you are not qualified. There is no one able to replace them, because we don’t train enough people. A good many of the young we do train will emigrate, as this is no longer ‘their’ country.
8. There are a lot of angry people in the EU and elsewhere. Junker is pissing in the wind when he says he wants to start leave negotiations now (remember, our government has to invoke article 50). However, the 27 member states are really pissed off at us. This is not a good starting point for any negotiation, whether we remain or leave. Elsewhere in the world? Well they are simply re-targeting their business, looking to shift their factory into one of the other 27 countries.
How did we get here?
9. The Thatcher-Major-Blair-Cameron project to destroy the working class bears its fruit. Note I include Blair here, because more production jobs were lost during his time as PM, and he was no friend of Trades Unions. The groundwork was laid by Thatcher, through destruction of heavy industry and Trades Unions, and enabling the take over of British companies (GD Searle, Wellcome, Cadbury’s to name a few). Alongside the economic destruction is social destruction, particularly in terms of values and the importance of education as a means of social and economic betterment.
10. TV media with Reithian principles have been replaced by a dystopian feed of bread and circuses. The latter were always there, but with just a few TV channels, there was plenty of other material. Now this is so diluted as to have little effect.
11. Most other media belong to tycoons (nothing new there) with an agenda – their agenda is to make money and they need political control. So they promote weak and venal politicians.
12. Previously politicians were happy to sacrifice members of the armed forces, but not the country. Now politicians are willing to sacrifice all for their own ambitions. I may be wrong, and I would appreciate a comment on this from a historian. My feeling is that it has been over a century (perhaps even before Cromwell’s revolution?) since politicians (or monarchs) have been willing to sacrifice large swathes of the country for their own ambition.
13. Article 50 has not been invoked – see here for a lucid analysis by David Allen Green. This analysis suggests that it will never be invoked. The argument rests entirely on reading the Lisbon Treaty and from a legal standpoint and is absolutely correct.
14. However, politics is not the law and political pressure can result in very stupid decisions. It is clear that as of yesterday the other 27 EU countries were pretty pissed off with the UK. This has been brewing since the time of Thatcher, few or no countries have been as annoying as the UK at the negotiating table.
Edit 26 June: an excellent analysis of the balance of law and political pressure is here.
15. We have lost our voice in Brussels, since Lord Hill has resigned as the UK government appointed Commissioner.
16. We have no government, virtually no opposition and the civil service have no idea what to do. Cameron has resigned. Osbourne seems to have gone fishing. The ministers and MPs on the Leave bus are hiding under the duvet. Corbyn remains paralysed or looking for political gain in the narrow sense. Only one politician in England has stood up – Sadiq Khan, but with respect, he is only mayor of London, not a government minister. He can try to stabilize the ship, but he is not at the helm. Politicians in Scotland and Northern Ireland are considering their options.
Time to shift a few deckchairs. Or consider a rosier view here, to which I subscribe to some extent.
Update 22.25: Excellent new piece by David Allen Green on his Jack of Kent blog. The issues now are perhaps a little simpler: Brexit has flushed into the open the fascist side of the UK; is there a politician (for we clearly have no stateswomen or statesmen) likely to succeed David Cameron willing to actually invoke article 50?