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Foreign Entanglements: Brexit

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On this week’s episode of Foreign Entanglements, Brockington and I talked Brexit:

It’s a very good episode, if I do say so myself.  Here are the highlights:

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  • sibusisodan

    Really good discussion. Thanks

  • MacK

    I would disagree somewhat with your analysis of the polls. There is a strong generational and educational split in voting intentions. Younger voters are more pro-remain as are more educated voters. This presents a number of imponderables.

    Telephone polling tends increasingly to skew older because it is done over landlines, moreover polling companies obey the Telephone Preference Service and a lot of especially younger voters and more sophisticated households have registered with it to avoid nuisance calls. So the telephone polls skew towards older and typically less sophisticated voters, who may in turn skew them towards a more pro-Brexit result.

    With internet polling, despite the perception that it might skew younger and more sophisticated, it again tends to include more motivated respondents (i.e., a higher proportion of cranks), those who will spend the time to answer an internet poll, those who lack pop-up blockers and those who use old fashioned PCs and less tablets and smartphones for technical and legal reasons. The result is that internet polls also seem to skew older, less sophisticated – as well as more politically extreme and it is suggested that they are for this reason also overstating support for Brexit.

    What the impact of these trends will be is hard to predict, but there is little doubt that the structure of the pool of respondents to polls in the UK is shifting in complicated ways, and this is undermining poll accuracy. How this will impact the polls for this referendum is hard to say.

    Oh and on the electoral register (not part of this discussion) it would be useful to discuss the effect of its use for credit checking purposes on people’s need to register to vote.

  • MacK

    If I was to try to find an analogy for what Brexit could do economically to the UK, if describe it as like a massive game of Jenga, but instead of pulling out one wood piece at a time, your going to grab out a dozens, some at random – and a few actually tied to one another with yarn.

    It is easy to see the obvious issues with tariffs – but there are so many interdependencies that the effect of Brexit will be unpredictable, but I suspect a lot worse than the economic models suggest.

    I’m looking at lucrative startup which now faces the doubling of its regulatory burden if it is based in the UK – but halving it if it moves to the EU – because every certification will if the UK leaves the EU have to be done twice. And the European Medicines Agency will leave London, and a lot of research may follow.

    When you say this sort of thing to Leavers they all respond with “it’ll be alright on the night” generalities and comments that suggest that things will go well “‘cos we’re British – I believe in Britain!!”; it’s like listening to someone mimicking Winston Churchill. In their mind they think that the Commonwealth owes some deep debt to the “mother country” that it is itching to pay, rather than the more likely resentment at its former colonial master. They ignore the fact the Germany’s trade with India is bigger than the UKs. It is one long fantasy that we are loved “cos we’re British” – tell that to the residents of Marseilles and Lille this week…. “But we’ll have the EU over a barrel” they argue – the destination for 44% of UK exports negotiating as a block which sends just 8% to the UK – and that 8% is hard to replace (Hyundais for Mercedes?? “But not if the Koreans won’t give us a favourable trade deal….”)

    Moreover the Leavers are so ignorant of real business that they don’t understand the issue of scale – illustrated by one who said that if China won’t do a trade deal, we won’t buy Chinese made smartphones. When did you last see a smartphone made anywhere but China? The UK market of 60 million is not large enough to support smartphone manufacturing. It is not large enough to support most mass production car plants – if you can’t export Minis economically, or Nissans, then the factories in the UK are too big to be economic, but it is not economic to have a smaller plant. If I was BMW or Nissan I’d just move the plant to Poland, the Czech Republic or Slovenia.

    • sibusisodan

      When you say this sort of thing to Leavers they all respond with “it’ll be alright on the night” generalities and comments that suggest that things will go well “‘cos we’re British – I believe in Britain!!”;

      This dynamic is driving me nuts.

      I can respect a position which views the economic hit as worth the sovereignty gain. I think it’s incorrect, and probably futile. But at least it’s a position that can be reasoned with.

      But this is not the Leave campaign. And there’s no way that the major players – politicians and media – don’t know what they’re selling when they campaign like they have been.

      • MacK

        Usually the:

        “‘cos we’re British – I believe in Britain!! – don’t you, where’s your patriotism?” dare I say a “Put Britain First” as well.

        And then there is usually the “we fought WW II alone” ignoring Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand (all the Irish too) that were with Britain until the US joined.

        • MilitantlyAardvark

          Not to mention the fact that Britain “on its own” was running out of resources and money, not to mention little things like machine tools. Without the US and Russia, Britain would have been bankrupt and beaten within a fairly short space of time. But hey, let’s all rush into a fact-free future after taking our cue from a fact-free past!

    • Ronan
      • MacK

        That might be tactical – some might see Brexit as leading to a UU breakup and united Ireland.

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