Home / Dave Brockington / The EU Referendum: One Week Away. Time to Freak Out.

The EU Referendum: One Week Away. Time to Freak Out.

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threeclowns

The numbers don’t look terribly promising for the remain camp.  There has been a significant shift in the polling data to leave across every polling house in the past two to three weeks.

Clearly, leave are winning the argument. How the trio of clowns leading this argument are winning it is mildly shocking, but winning it they are. It’s always been an easier argument to make: sovereignty good, immigrants not. It’s an argument, if crafted well, plays on raw emotions. This has been crafted well. Remain have to talk up the status quo, make a strong economic case (which isn’t exactly sexy) and say the occasional nice thing about Brussels, while simultaneously dodging the question of the free movement of labor.  I’ll have more thoughts on these as the week progresses, but today I want to discuss what we should be looking for in the week ahead.

One week out of the Scottish independence referendum, I was very confident in a victory for the union. While the pro-union camp freaked out over one poll that showed independence ahead, I wasn’t freaking out. Indeed, in media work in advance of the referendum, I came within half a point of predicting the outcome, an assessment based on extant polling data and political science. In short, I nailed it (and did better than the polls). How I know I nailed it is that after the referendum, two different radio interviews played back my original predictions. A moment of sheer terror quickly turned into relief in happily accepting the congratulations of the presenter.

I’m not going to nail this one. Up until about three weeks ago, I was consistently predicting a 52-48 remain vote. Now, I honestly don’t know, but if I were to place a bet, it would be on Brexit (and maybe I should be a betting man: as of this morning the bookies were still giving remain a 60% probability of winning). Unlike in Scotland, where one pro-independence poll freaked people out (and there were only ever two polls that showed independence winning) the past couple of weeks of polling have shown not only consistent movement in the direction of leave, but also most polls show leave with either a narrow or significant lead. The second problem we face in trying to forecast the results of the referendum is that the various British polling houses have all been continuously tinkering with their methodologies (some sampling, but mostly likely voter models) such that the numbers are all over the map. Granted, they failed dramatically in advance of last year’s general election, but they were quite reliable in predicting the result and vote share of the Scotland referendum. So why change what worked well in the binary choice environment of Scotland? Additionally, there has been a pretty consistent (but not absolute) split in the mode of a survey. On-line surveys have estimated larger levels of support for leave than phone surveys, and I have a pretty simple guess as to why this is (such that when the first phone surveys also began to suggest a leave victory, that’s when I started freaking out).

With those caveats, disclaimers, and a general lack of a clue as an introduction, this is what I’m looking at in the next week and on the day:

First, the undecideds. In polls that report undecideds, the higher that number, the better for remain. In referendum voting, the status quo has the power of incumbency, and the closer we get to polling day, the larger the probability than any given undecided voter will vote for the status quo. Thus, stories like these, about an LSE study suggesting that up to 30% of voters will not decide until the final week (and half of those on election day itself) should give supporters of remain some hope.

Second, turnout. Bluntly, if turnout is higher than expected, the odds are better than remain will win. This is an easy one. As I mentioned in my last Brexit post, there is a significant and substantive relationship between age and support for staying in the EU. The young would much rather stay in the EU. This is rather unfortunate for the remain camp, given the young would also much rather be doing virtually anything else than, you know, voting.[*] Increases in turnout do not have a straight linear effect on all subcategories of the overall population; a one-percent increase in overall turnout has a stronger effect on those categories voting at lower rates. More voters means an asymmetrically larger share of young voters.

I usually know in advance how an election will turn out (or at least in the case of the general election last year, at least I thought I knew).  This time I’m in the uncomfortable position of not knowing.

[*] Note, this is explicitly not a “kids these days” argument. The youngest cohorts have traditionally been the age group that turns out the least.

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  • I’m freaking. Things look very bad.

    • Gregor Sansa

      That’s really depressing. Krugman estimates that Brexit would cost 2% of GDP ongoing; that is an enormous dead weight loss to the world economy. Not on the level of major wars or even stuff like the drug war, but certainly depressingly huge as an own goal. And it’s doubly depressing given the vileness of some of the major Brexit proponents.

      • Merkwürdigliebe

        That’s 2% ongoing to Britain, though, no? Not to the world economy as a whole.

        • Gregor Sansa

          right, but 2% of UK rises to the level of a blip globally. It’s not a war, but it is still a huge and avoidable tragedy.

          • And it’s probably a loss, not a shift. I.e., it’s not that someone else benefits, but we’re all poorer.

            • Aardvark Cheeselog

              it’s not that someone else benefits, but we’re all poorer

              It is noteworthy, the appeal of negative-sum games, to a certain mindset.

      • It’s a disaster which will have ongoing disasteryness. Even putting aside the GDP cost, it’s 2 years to get out plus probably 10 years to renegotiate everything to get back to even a semblance of status (if poorer) quo.

        Not to mention repatriation issues.

        etc. etc. etc.

    • …and it just got worse. A labor MP was just assassinated

  • Merkwürdigliebe

    What is the general opinion on Scotland having another go at independence, if Brexit really happens? And does this in any way enter into the current debate?

    • FMguru

      I wonder if the collapse in oil prices over the last 1-2 years has cooled enthusiasm for Scottish independence.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      “Hey, Scots! How much do you like being bossed around by Westminster NOW?”

    • Donalbain

      The SNP lack a majority in the Scots Parliament, so that is off the table for a few years.

      • Jean-Michel

        They’re only two seats shy and the Scottish Greens (who have already called for a second referendum) have six. I’m also convinced Brexit would embolden some Scottish Labour MSPs to support a second referendum. It won’t happen immediately, but I doubt it’ll have to wait until after 2021.

  • Rob in CT

    ‘splain to me like I’m stupid uninformed:

    Didn’t the UK already avoid the primary downside to the EU by keeping the Pound?

    Putting aside xenophobia, is there a point to this?

    • Merkwürdigliebe

      Factually, I’d say 90% of it is about immigration policy.

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        It’s much more about the preference of a substantial fraction of the English for living in a fantasy world. They ignore the historical facts: that the English have not been particularly innovative, good at trade or, for that matter, competent at running their economy for the better part of 100 years now. There’s absolutely no reason to believe the fatuous tripe the Brexiteers are spouting about brave Britain winning alone what it failed to win with the help of favorable trade deals. Add in mediocre and economically illiterate politicians for the last 50 years and you’ve got an ill-educated, resentful populace going nowhere fast and desperate to blame anyone but their own wretched selves. It’s possible that the realistic side of the debate will prevail, but if it doesn’t, the English are going to discover what a self-administered kicking feels like in very short order. And they will richly deserve it for listening to a vicious charlatan like Farage and a lazy, greedy, lying thug like Boris Johnson.

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          Come November, the US could gift the UK with Trump. Sounds like he’d find a place for himself on that scepter’d isle, not least as a font of ‘fatuous tripe’.

          • Halloween Jack

            He and Boris could have a Bad Hair-off.

          • N__B

            A font of tripe sounds…fragrant and sticky.

        • michael8robinson

          the English have not been particularly innovative, good at trade or, for that matter, competent at running their economy for the better part of 100 years now….Add in mediocre and economically illiterate politicians for the last 50 years and you’ve got an ill-educated, resentful populace going nowhere fast and desperate to blame anyone but their own wretched selves.

          And remaining subject to EU governance fixes that how, exactly?

          I mean, I actually agree with every single word you’ve written, and yet somehow it comes out as an argument for Leave.

          • CP

            Note that I don’t have particularly strong feelings one way or the other on this (besides I’m not even British)… but how do you figure?

            If it’s true that “the English have not been particularly innovative, good at trade, or for that matter, competent at running their economy” (and I don’t know enough about them to evaluate that claim)… Then wouldn’t dissolving their economic ties with other nations lead to a result that’s either no different or possibly even worse? Hard to see how “the British are bad at running their economy” leads to “therefore they should have even more control over it.”

            • michael8robinson

              Hard to see how “the British are bad at running their economy” leads to “therefore they should have even more control over it.”

              Because if they don’t have control over it, they’re not politically accountable for the consequences, and therefore free from political pressure to improve.

              • MilitantlyAardvark

                So you think that the prospect of the UK drifting away from its key trade partners into a mess of self-pity and ignorance is somehow an argument for leave?

                That’s a very strange idea you’ve got there.

        • CP

          It’s much more about the preference of a substantial fraction of the English for living in a fantasy world.

          This has always been my impression. IIRC, wasn’t an unwillingness to let go of the glory days of the Empire part of the reason why the British weren’t interested in joining the original Europe (back when it was still the EEC)?

        • Warren Terra

          It’s much more about the preference of a substantial fraction of the English for living in a fantasy world.

          What’s that line: “The past, the only true home an Englishman ever knows”?

          • The past, the only true home an Englishman ever knows

            because they do things diffidently there.

            • sibusisodan

              I only just got that on the fourth read through. Chapeau!

        • Frank Wilhoit

          But it’s all Roy Jenkins’s fault, right?

        • L2P

          There’s an entirely understandable counterargument: “I don’t care if we lose 2% of our economy, as long as the people I don’t like are losing 5% and the people I like are gaining 2%.” (Make the math whatever you want). This is where all free-trade arguments break down, at least today. Free trade increases the GNP, but that increase doesn’t go the the vast majority of the people. They’re worse off. So why should they care about that?

          And, of course, that is EXACTLY the argument no free-trade advocate ever addresses, because the only counter-argument is higher taxes, redistribution, regulations, and other stuff that the free-trade people ALSO don’t like.

      • CrunchyFrog

        Exactly. EU membership means open immigration within the EU. At the time that the border controls were dropped this meant western Europe only. Now it includes most of the former Soviet satellites, and a LOT more immigration from the east has resulted. When I’ve visited Ireland and Northern Ireland in recent years it seems that almost every lower wage job is held by an immigrant from the east – usually southeastern Europe. This huge wave of immigration has brought with it the usual conflicts, especially after so many arrived during the bubble years of the mid-2000s and then were still present when the job market collapsed. Throw in the fact that the EU-mandates that immigrants get full government benefits, which are much higher in the UK than in the US and the resentment from the native populace is palatable.

        The UK has very limited ability to constrain the immigration per EU policies as long as they remain in the EU, hence the popularity of the Brexit *even among those who know it will harm the economy in the short term*.

        • Ronan

          Well in Ireland a huge percentage of Eastern migrants left with the collapse. By some estimates nearly 40%, which prevented Ireland from having near Spanish levels of unemployment.
          My impression from the UK is that most migrants go to more prosperous urban areas (like London) and that there is less hostility in places where there are more migrants. (Though there might be a selection effect of people hostile to immigration moving out of high immigrant areas)
          Bear in mind also that Ireland and the UK (and I think Sweden)* were the only countries that allowed unrestricted migration from the accession states initially, so the in migration was substantial by European standards. And a lot of those migrants, though working in low paid jobs a lot of the time, were above the local average in terms of education and skills,which made it difficult for local low wage workers to compete with them)

          * which was a domestic policy choice.

          • Mrs Tilton

            that there is less hostility in places where there are more migrants

            Absolutely the case in Germany. Both xenophobia generally and Islamophobia specifically vary inversely with the the portion of the local population made up of immigrants/Muslims. Those Germans who live where there are no foreigners or Muslims at all hate them most.

          • Ghostship

            Bear in mind also that Ireland and the UK (and I think Sweden)* were the only countries that allowed unrestricted migration from the accession states initially, so the in migration was substantial by European standards.

            From 2007 (when Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU) until 2014 there were restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians migrating to the UK.

        • sonamib

          Look, I know it sounds truthy that immigration skyrocketed in the mid-2000s, but here are the actual numbers : a small blip in 2004 and then a plateau.

          Emotions run high in the immigration debate, which is almost, but not quite, entirely uncorrelated with the the facts.

        • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

          EU membership means open immigration within the EU.

          So how big of a deal does Turkey’s potential membership play in the debate?

      • Brad Nailer

        I know jack about the EU debate, but this showed up on my FB page yesterday. Immigration is obviously not the only issue.

        • Merkwürdigliebe

          The other issue appears to be lack of education in recent European history.

          The Brussels-Strasbourg hopping is wasteful, but the reason for it was to distribute the locations of key institutions in a somewhat proportionate manner within the founding countries. Strasbourg, as the capital of Alsace, is of a particular symbolic importance, since that was the area Germany and France had been constantly fighting over for close to 100 years.

          What people really seem to forget is that EU’s* primary purpose was to prevent further wars among the powers on the continent.

          *Yeah, it wasn’t EU back then.

          • Brad Nailer

            There are probably ways to accommodate that need for balance, though the narrator in this video doesn’t seem to want to consider what those might be, or even to address that issue.

    • Ronan

      Anti immigration + nostalgia + regional economic decline (that wont be corrected by leaving the EU, and EU membershipis not the cause off) English nationalism primarily, as Scot and NI pretty strongly in favour of IN (and I think? Wales)

      • Rob in CT

        Well that sounds familiar.

      • Chester Allman

        Looks pretty neck and neck in Wales right now. Though still ~20% undecideds, who as Brockington suggests may tilt Wales toward Remain in the end.

        • Mrs Tilton

          England’s Sturridge having just shot an injury-time winning goal against Wales (in a match that Wales had been winning for two thirds of its length) might also nudge the Welsh in the direction of Remain, at least if if they’re convinced the English are going to vote Leave.

          • Hogan

            Jeez, politics is hard.

            • Chester Allman

              If Brexit wins, I guess that counts as a massive own goal for David Cameron.

    • Didn’t the UK already avoid the primary downside to the EU by keeping the Pound?

      Yes. We have no good reason to leave.

      Putting aside xenophobia, is there a point to this?

      “Change”. People (esp. white, older, working class) people are dissatisfied with society/the economy and that’s manifesting as pro-Brexit (and anti immigration). In the end, it’s essentially a “throw the bums out” vote and nothing more.

      Well, a “throw the bums out with seriously negative effects”.

      This was Cameron’s folly.

  • LeeEsq

    The EU advocates are having the same problem that free trade have. They need to make an argument for something with real but very subtle benefits. The indirect structure of the EU makes it seem like your getting run by a bunch of civil servants rather than democratically elected politicians, which doesn’t make things easier for the EU advocates.

    • Ronan

      The benefits of the EU are pretty obvious to anyone not ideologically predispossed to be opposed to all things Europe.

      • MPAVictoria

        Sure I agree. But I know a lot of leftists who look at what the EU did to Greece and shudder…

        • Ronan

          The EU didnt do anything to Greece. And even if you want to claim the ECB, or the Germans or whoever are culpable for everything that happened to Greece (and no blame lies elsewhere) it still has little to nothing to do with this. (nb, this isnt meant to be hostile or snarky, as perhaps it reads)

          • MPAVictoria

            “And even if you want to claim the ECB, or the Germans or whoever are culpable for everything that happened to Greece”

            Everything? No. A great deal? Yes.

            • Murc

              Everything? No. A great deal? Yes.

              This.

              The ECB and the Troika aren’t responsible for Greece falling over.

              They are responsible for kicking it in the ribs every time it tries to get up.

    • They need to make an argument for something with real but very subtle benefits.

      Many of the benefits aren’t all that subtle. Millions of Britians live elsewhere in the EU, to pick one example.

      • Chester Allman

        Saw an interesting article about the big community of expats living in Spain – the type of people who would be pro-Brexit, except they don’t want to have to go back to Britain.

        • twbb

          Would they have to? I was under the impression that British expats are not the kind of people who raise working class anger in other countries by displacing native low-level workers en masse; they tend to be either retirees or white-collar professionals, skilled labor, or other groups who benefit the host country’s economy. Though that is based on whatever level of data is below “anecdotal.”

          • Would they have to?

            Who knows!

            I was under the impression that British expats are not the kind of people who raise working class anger in other countries by displacing native low-level workers en masse;

            That’s right, they raise working class anger by being rude :)

            But the point is that they’d have secure long term visas of some sort. Giant PITA for everyone.

            Presumably, we’d negotiate *something* sensible..but who knows?

            • Chester Allman

              Seriously, though. It’s far from the biggest issue in the referendum, but I can’t imagine being British and choosing to artificially limit my horizons by voting Leave. I mean, I’m sure it’s not easy to go get a job in Italy or wherever, but at least you have the possibility! I’m pretty Anglophile, but I can’t imagine wanting to confine myself to one little island for life when I’ve been given the opportunity to go and live almost anywhere in Europe. I imagine that’s part of what pushes younger voters toward Remain.

              • Yep.

                And really, i guess I’ll be fine, personally. I have a US passport. I’m not going to move to a continental university and if I were going to, it’s not that hard to get an appropriate visa.

                Certain grants will be harder to get.

                But it’s a bad bad bad move.

                • Ronan

                  “And really, i guess I’ll be fine, personally. I have a US passport. ”

                  And if trump wins…ill get the spare room ready.

                  Edit: misread the comment I’m replying to, but I’ll leave my comment stand for the sake of the historical record

                • Heh. I have a US and UK passport and a spare room in Manchester. I’ll be fine.

                  But I appreciate the sentiment!

            • Lurker

              This is where the issues of reciprocity enter the discussion. If the British put immigration controls on some EU citizens, it will be extremely likely that this will be reciprocated. Otherwise, the EU would be allowing a disparate treatment of its member states by a country that had just left the EU and hurt our feelings a lot.

              Obviously, no one wants to deport British retirees from Spain. However, it can come to that if Britain started deportations of unemployed Polish workers.

    • L2P

      It’s worse than that: the EU advocates are pushing for something that could have absolutely NO benefit to a lot of people in England. If free trade isn’t linked to some sort of wealth redistribution, it’s not obvious that most people should want it.

      And no EU advocate ever says anything to address that, do they?

      • sibusisodan

        And no EU advocate ever says anything to address that, do they?

        That goes a bit far, I think.

        Pro-EU Labourites favour all kinds of wealth redistribution. They were rejected at the polls.

        True, I don’t see much explicit linking of ‘we are raising taxes on certain people to redistribute as a result of income inequalities as a result of trade’, but that’s a tough argument to make politically.

      • Merkwürdigliebe

        This strikes me as extremely myopic. EU is not just about GDP and financial benefits. It’s there to prevent further continental wars and to serve as a sufficiently strong bloc in international negotiations and power plays with US, China and Russia. United we stand etc. etc.

        • michael8robinson

          It’s there to prevent further continental wars and to serve as a sufficiently strong bloc in international negotiations and power plays with US, China and Russia.

          The road to Brussels is paved with good intentions, but the responsible institutions as currently constituted are manifestly unable to deliver, unwilling to reform, and unaccountable to any higher authority.

          Greece, Ukraine, refugees, TTIP, unemployment, etc., etc., the paralysis and ineffectuality of pan-European governance is demonstrated with increasing clarity and frequency.

          The only reliable European security institution is NATO, and it’s not run by Europeans.

          • Merkwürdigliebe

            I worked pretty well for over half a century. Recent performance has been rather dismal, but that has been (with the exception of the economic front) mostly due to lack of willingness to cooperate on the part of the individual member states.

            In any event, it is an existing and mostly functioning framework of European unity. No better system can be had in the foreseeable future. The path towards necessary reforms will be complicated but still miles easier than any conceivable alternative.

          • sonamib

            I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again : corporations, terrorist organizations and economic crises are international. Not to mention climate change. One puny little country by itself can’t do much to address those problems. Some sort of supranational institution is necessary.

            Granted, the EU isn’t all that effective and it’s sometimes very incompetent and/or evil, but it’s got one major advantage : it actually exists. If you tear it down, you’ve got nothing, and you’ll have to start everything all over again. And it won’t be any easier, you know. If the EU blows up, this will cause significant amounts of distrust between European countries, and it’s gonna be impossible to build some sort of European supranational organization for a few decades.

  • Buckeye623

    Who wants national sovereignty anyway?
    The issue as I see it is EU courts demanding nations give up their laws and submit to unelected judges making objectively incorrect decisions.
    But hey, what could go wrong with Germany running Europe?
    Witness: the Greek “crisis” is more about bailing out German banks whose risk analysts deliberately made terrible decisions.. Because they could make a few more bucks in the quarter the loans were finalized.

    • MPAVictoria

      And this is the best argument for BREXIT I think. And it appeals to me on many levels! But the UK has its own currency so they ECB can’t pull a “Greek Style” Coupe on them. Plus, they wouldn’t be leaving to setup a Social Democratic Utopia under Corbyn. They would be leaving to some sort of grimdark, meathook future incompetently run by the 3 stooges.

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      Out of curiosity, what fraction of the British judiciary are currently elected, buckeye623?

      • MPAVictoria

        Sure but at the British Judges are appointed by people directly elected by British people.

        • MilitantlyAardvark

          Which, however isn’t quite the same thing as elected judges – and, more to the point, is how it has always been in Britain. An elected judiciary simply isn’t something for which the British have ever shown much appetite.

          • Chester Allman

            And rightly so. Elected judges are a terrible idea, and I wish we didn’t have them here in the US.

          • twbb

            There’s also the difference that the EU court can overturn primary legislation in the UK, which not even UK courts can do.

            That is a massive surrender of authority.

          • Mrs Tilton

            Are judges elected anywhere in the EU?

            • Lurker

              No, they are not.

              I am no friend of the European Court of Justice. However, I am at loss to understand how else you would be able to enforce the Union legislation fairly through all member countries.

              The point is that member states delegate the authority to legislate to the Union, which currently works pretty democratically, with the European parliament working as a house of representatives and the Council working as a senate. You need both to agree to get any legislation through.

              The ECJ does not legislate, and if it overturns parochial legislation that violates the higher law, it is only right and well. Otherwise, larger member states would be able to violate the law with impunity.

        • Warren Terra

          I think there might actually be another layer or three of separation in the British system?

    • Merkwürdigliebe

      The German-influenced monetary policy has been a huge fuckup, no question.

      Other than that, identical arguments could be used for Bavaria leaving the German Bund. After all, what happened to Bavarian sovereignty? Why should proud Bavarians give up their laws and submit to unelected judges of the Bundesverfassungsgericht? And why should the people of Regensburg submit to the dictates of the bureaucrats in Munich? In fact, shouldn’t Galgenberg really govern itself independently of the rest of Regensburg?

      Sovereignty and unity are where you decide they are.

      • Mrs Tilton

        Bavarian sovereignty? Bavaria gave it up and submitted to Prussia after Mad King Louie spent all their money on fantasy castles with grottos where he could bugger Richard Wagner. Greece:Germany now :: Bavaria:Prussia then.

        • Cheerful

          Native Bavarians (the one that I knew) prefer Good King Louis, and are still pissed at his ouster and “accidental” death.

          And as a long term investment in a country’s tourism industry, the castles are actually looking pretty good now.

          • Mrs Tilton

            Never heard “Good King Louis” (or “der Gute König Ludwig”, for that matter). But especially south of the Weißwurstäquator you’ll not infrequently hear Bavarians referring to him as “Unser Kini”, and very occasionally (if the speaker feels a particular affinity) with affectionate familiarity as “Luaggerl”.

            Short term, those castles proved the best kind of investment of all for the Prussians: one that you profit from after somebody else pays for it. Ludwig’s follies do benefit the modern Federal State, of course, but that’s not why he built them. He’d have been unlikely to do anything for his subjects, having famously wished that they all shared but one common throat, that he might the more conveniently strangle the lot of them.

            And yet they do love him, the Bavarians. To a first approximation, every pub in Bavaria contains two ritual objects: (i) a statue up in some corner of a nearly-naked Jew who has been tortured to death by the State, and (ii) a portrait of Ludwig in all his muttonchopular splendour. The more rural the surroundings, the less likely these are meant ironically.

    • Who wants national sovereignty anyway?

      Membership in the EU is probably a net gain for sovereignty for the UK. (Esp. given the pound.)

      The issue as I see it is EU courts demanding nations give up their laws and submit to unelected judges making objectively incorrect decisions.

      Examples would be welcome.

      But hey, what could go wrong with Germany running Europe?
      Witness: the Greek “crisis” is more about bailing out German banks whose risk analysts deliberately made terrible decisions.. Because they could make a few more bucks in the quarter the loans were finalized.

      So, first, this has nothing to do with judges.

      Second, this is evidence of local sovereignty overriding EU interest. The problem is that the German people aren’t voting for a massive transfer. Now, Greece is screwed because they don’t control their currency. That’s a real problem with the EU. But that’s not a problem for the UK in the EU.

      Indeed, our leverage to stay out of the Euro is likely to go *down* if we leave. Right now, we are in the economic area without having to be in the Euro. New deals are likely to involve demands to join the Euro. It’s very hard to see how we’re going to be better off.

  • michael8robinson

    If the youth of my acquaintance are any indication, I would not count on any last minute enthusiasm.

    The complaint is they have no confidence in their ability to form a valid opinion, and given the appallingly distorted and substance-free propaganda coming from both sides, who can blame them.

    The fact of the matter is that the vote is not to Remain in the European Union that one would like to have, but to Remain in the European Union that actually exists, and foreseeably will exist.

    And not once have I seen a Remain argument, either from British or European advocates, for the bright EU future that Britain will miss if it leaves. There is tacit admission that EU institutions are unfit for purpose, with eroding legitimacy. The Remain argument is, rather, that without positive British influence, these institutions will become even less fit and the erosion of legitimacy will accelerate.

    From the EU side, the prospect of an adverse referendum outcome simply serves to reinforce their institutional distrust of being held to account by voters.

    The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk argued, “the only alternative for the Union is political chaos, the return to national egoisms, and in consequence, the triumph of anti-democratic tendencies, which can lead to history repeating itself.”

    In other words, a vote against the EU is a vote for Hitler. With that at stake, it’s best not to vote at all, it’s little wonder the Eurocrats are decidedly uninterested in addressing their democracy deficit:

    https://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/04/understanding-the-european-unions-facade-democracy/

    In effect, implicit in the Remain argument, a Remain vote is a vote against voting.

    EU officials have also been quite open about the necessity, in the event that Leave prevails, to collude to make Britain suffer for it as much as possible pour encourager les autres. Not only do they not have a positive vision of EU membership to sell, but they worry that the prospect of only being slightly worse off economically will be insufficient deterrent to voters in other nations who also may have tired of the ineffectiveness, incompetence and unaccountability of EU institutions.

    Personally, I would love to see Britain as a member of a thriving, effective, capable and accountable union of European nations, but that’s not on offer, and the alternative appears to be, without refutation, an fundamentally decadent neo-aristocratic undertaking.

    In any case, I don’t have any vote in the matter, only a significant stake in the outcome. I do hope it works out, whichever way it goes.

    • In other words, a vote against the EU is a vote for Hitler. With that at stake, it’s best not to vote at all, it’s little wonder the Eurocrats are decidedly uninterested in addressing their democracy deficit:

      https://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/04/understanding-the-european-unions-facade-democracy/

      In effect, implicit in the Remain argument, a Remain vote is a vote against voting.

      This is incoherent. I mean, in a vote against Hitler its best not to vote? What?

      and the alternative appears to be, without refutation, an fundamentally decadent neo-aristocratic undertaking

      Bwhahah. How about the argument pro?

      The EU is a federation of states with representation at the federation level via the states. It’s an aristocracy in any way whatsoever. There’s no hereditary aspect, etc. etc. etc.

      Membership in the EU trades some local sovereignty for greater general sovereignty. Compare with Norway, which has no say in EU law but is bound by it. The key bit of sovereignty (currency) we have.

      (Border control is a red herring. We need at least the level of immigration we’re getting and probably more. British citizens live in the rest of the EU. Etc.)

      • michael8robinson

        This is incoherent. I mean, in a vote against Hitler its best not to vote? What?

        If you can’t trust the people not to vote for Hitler (and the President of the EC clearly does not), then it is best not to give them any vote at all.

        Which is why EU decision-making is deliberately entrusted to people who do not face voters.

        It’s an aristocracy in any way whatsoever. There’s no hereditary aspect, etc. etc. etc.

        I’d point out that the feudal authority of the Roman Catholic Church was not hereditary, either, and had much in common with how EU institutions actually operate.

        Coincidence?

        • If you can’t trust the people not to vote for Hitler (and the President of the EC clearly does not), then it is best not to give them any vote at all.

          I’d point out that the feudal authority of the Roman Catholic Church was not hereditary,

          You mean “Second son bound for the church” wasn’t literally an instance of inheritance? Well you SURE GOT ME WITH THAT?

          Wait no! The interaction between the Church and the Aritstocracy was intimate and both material and structural. (I.e., bishops were “princes” in the church and members of the aristocracy).

          either, and had much in common with how EU institutions actually operate.

          Yeah, no. Try articulating how rather than asserting that.

          • michael8robinson

            The interaction between the Church and the Aritstocracy was intimate and both material and structural.

            As opposed, say, to the interaction between EU institutions and shareholding corporations, which is neither intimate, nor material, nor structural.

            https://correctiv.org/en/investigations/ttip/blog/2016/02/01/35-square-meters-transparency/

            Right.

            • If you want to argue that the EU is a corporate technocracy, fine.

              That’s not the same as a neo-aristocracy.

              I don’t think it’s much of a corporate technocracy, at least more than the underlying states.

              But whatever!

    • kmurray

      Excellent comment. There has always been a dirigiste tinge to the EU; a feeling that “Daddy knows best and you should take your medicine”. But the EU is democratic, despite the hate from the right-wing press. If the EU is broken we should fix it, not leave in a huff.

      The only thing I’d add here is the xenophobia and raw stupidity of the exiteers; MilitantlyAardvark overstates it above, but he’s on the money and he obviously cares.

      • michael8robinson

        But the EU is democratic

        The EU is a union of democracies. That does not make EU institutions or authority democratic. Read the link:

        https://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/04/understanding-the-european-unions-facade-democracy/

        I was very disappointed to discover that the Germans actually have this word, “Fassadendemokratie”, that they’ve been actually been using in conversation since the 1970s.

        Whereas in the English-speaking world, there is just “democracy”, which is always good and true.

        • kmurray

          I suspect you and I could have an entertaining argument about the meaning of the word “democracy” in English and other languages. And of course it’s all wrapped up in the experiences and expectations of the nations speaking those languages.

          I hold dual nationality (UK/German), but I live in the USA. BTW I’d never heard the term Fassadendemokratie. I see many of the same anti-democratic traits of the EU in the local county commissions, many of which are directly elected. Speaking to the politicians and citizens involved, I understand why. Democracy is messy and hard work. It’s easier if it’s done behind closed doors, away from the sight of ignoramuses who just add delay and complication.

          I don’t deny that the EU has a democracy deficit, I just believe that it’s fixable. I’m an idealist I guess.

          • Mrs Tilton

            BTW I’d never heard the term Fassadendemokratie

            Yeah. I live in Germany and have done nearly my entire adult life (and I am no longer young). I can’t recall having ever encountered this term. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist or hasn’t been used from time to time; that’s eminently possible. But it’s certainly no geflügeltes Wort.

    • efc

      The youth may not be voting remain because one of the main “disasters” predicted as a result of a Brexit is housing prices will rise by 18% less than if Britain remained. I guess that argument is supposed to scare the older Brexit voting cohort, but it seems like a positive if I was a young person in Britain.

  • How much of the blame here goes to Cameron and his shitty economic policies? I’m no expert, but by all the credible accounts I read, Osborne and his ham enthusiast boss have run the economy into the ground, screwed the poor to neo-Victorian extremes, and declared victory every step of the way. If the mood in England is sour enough to bolt from the EU, isn’t that on them?

    • How much of the blame here goes to Cameron and his shitty economic policies?

      A lot. But also his shitty politics. The referendum only came about because of his stupid (if successful) campaign last election.

      But add in the prior campaign that made “controlling” immigration a big deal. This has been going on for 7 years now. For 6, they’ve been imposing increasingly stupid and draconian immigration policies with no reduction in net immigration (due to EU). This has cost the UK economy a *lot*, e.g., the university sector.

      Even putting aside their horrible goals, this government is one of the most incompetent ever.

      • efc

        If the tories have been winning on “controlling” immigration but due to the EU immigration can not be controlled it’s no wonder the voting public wants to vote in a way that would allow the UK to actually control immigration.

        From reading the Guardian comments it seems the issue is people have been upset about things like longer waits for services like the NHS, inability to get council housing etc. and they blame it on the Poles. It’s actually a result of austerity and tory policies but the public (helped by the tories and ukip) are still blaming it on immigrants. However, Labour doesn’t have any “credibility” on the issue because of New Labour policies on immigration and the general view Labour was telling voters “if you don’t like immigrants or have any unease you are a horrible racist.”

        The worrying thing seems the results will be a heads Cameron Tories win, tails Johnson Tories win situation. Labour does not seem like they will able to take advantage of either remain or brexit.

        • Cassiodorus

          So Labour should be mollycoddling racists so they feel better about their racism and maybe not act like idiots?

          • efc

            Labour can explain to voters that the problems they feel that are at least exacerbated by a large increase in immigration from eastern europe (or are you saying people are just crazy and irredeemably racist and just making everything up?) are due to Tory policies and austerity, which is clearly not working. Or they could come to the voters some and admit immigration is not an unmitigated good and people are allowed to feel uneasy or not 100% positive about all the effects immigration has had since accession of the eastern european countries to the EU even though those problems could be ameliorated to a degree by not voting tory.

            New Labour lost and it isn’t coming back. For the time being the UK isn’t like the US and Labour isn’t going to win because the large non-white voting block is afraid of the conservative party. There is going to be a need to appeal to Labour’s old voting blocks where they are. And where they are is skeptical of immigration, especially from low skilled immigrants that compete with them for jobs, housing, and social services.

            • Cassiodorus

              It seems like Labour is already attempting to do option 1, and option 2 is exactly what I was complaining about above.

              • efc

                Option 1 is not working. “Classic” Labour voters have been voting UKIP or not voting at all. The economic scare stories aren’t working because these types of voters apparently feel divorced from the mainstream economy and think they don’t have much to lose with economics but could gain if a bunch of people were suddenly not in Britain anymore.

                If option 2 is off the table because it’s racist then what do you suggest? Non-white Brits aren’t going to be a large voting block in the UK until like 2030 apparently so there isn’t a US style racial cleavage. Not to mention I have seen a number of articles claiming a considerable amount of non-white, non-eu migrants and their decedents are voting Brexit!

          • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

            mollycoddling racists so they feel better about their racism

            Is it really racism when the people involved are British on one side and Poles on the other?

        • If the tories have been winning on “controlling” immigration but due to the EU immigration can not be controlled it’s no wonder the voting public wants to vote in a way that would allow the UK to actually control immigration.

          Yep. One of the reasons that Cameron is a terrible remain spokesperson.

          This is a massive Cameron own goal. Even if we remain, he’ll go down as a massive loser of a Prime Minister.

          • efc

            His only positive seems to be he is mildly better than any of the other possible tory leaders. But maybe a new further right leader will be good for 2020. Do you think Cameron can survive a close Remain vote?

            • His only positive seems to be he is mildly better than any of the other possible tory leaders.

              Yes :(

              But maybe a new further right leader will be good for 2020.

              No. :(

              Do you think Cameron can survive a close Remain vote?

              Hard to say, but I do think he’ll have a tough time hanging on.

              Bad bad polling:

              https://ig.ft.com/sites/brexit-polling/

              • efc

                Can there still be snap elections before the 5 years are over or is that not possible anymore? I don’t fully understand how the Fixed-term act works.

                • It’s really hard to get a snap election:

                  The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 sets the interval between general elections at five years. At the end of this time a new House of Commons must be elected.

                  The date of the general election was 7 May 2015.

                  The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 provides for general elections to be held on the first Thursday in May every five years.

                  However, there are two provisions that trigger an election other than at five year intervals:

                  a motion of no confidence is passed in Her Majesty’s Government by a simple majority and 14 days elapses without the House passing a confidence motion in any new Government formed

                  a motion for a general election is agreed by two thirds of the total number of seats in the Commons including vacant seats (currently 434 out of 650)
                  Previous to this Act, the Prime Minister could call a general election at any time within the five year period and not all Parliaments lasted the full five years.

                  Before 2011 a general election could be called earlier for a number of reasons. For example, the Prime Minister could decide to call an election at a time when he or she was most confident of winning the election (getting more MPs than any other party) or if a government was defeated on a confidence motion, a general election could follow.

                  So, probably not.

                • sibusisodan

                  My understanding is that a vote of 2/3 of the House to dissolve Parliament allows a snap election. Or the Government can lose a Confidence Motion for the same result.

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      It’s true that Cameron’s relentlessly short-term tactical outlook has done an enormous amount of damage, but a good deal of blame has to go to Blair as well. He was a passionate pro-European, but never quite got around to making a strong public case for the EU, while also starting off the referendum nonsense, only to abandon the idea when two other referenda went the wrong way in Europe. Gordon Brown stopped him from taking Britain into the euro, for which the UK should probably be more grateful than they are.

      • efc

        Yes. Blair has a huge hand in this. He is still out there making it seem like only racist assholes could ever have a problem with the effects of a big increase in immigration.

        • MilitantlyAardvark

          When one of the major figures driving the Leave lunacy is a racist asshole, it’s hard to feel much pity for the fools who follow him.

          • efc

            Talk like that seems (I don’t live in Britain so I rely on places like the Guardian and The Independent to suss out how the people are feeling) to be driving Brexit sentiment among a lot of people.

            I would halfheartedly vote remain because I think it is obvious the “red tape” and “regulations” Johnson and Grove and co are up in arms about are things like protections for workers and the environment, tax avoidance treaties etc. But immigration has impacted a lot of people in economic and more “psychological” ways. Dismissing those feelings as only coming from racism or xenophobia is not going to be a successful anti-Brexit strategy.

            Especially when the some of the touted benefits of immigration and remaining are also a back hand attacks on people already here. Like the talk of a “skills gap” and work people “won’t do”.

            • Cassiodorus

              This strikes me as the same spin used t explain Trump support in the US.

              • MilitantlyAardvark

                Yes, innocent little bunnies were made bigots by the people who pointed out that they were voting for bigoted nonsense advocated by bigots. And who shall wipe away their tears?

                • efc

                  So Brexit it is. Enjoy! It’ll be good for me because the Brexiteers are claiming they “love” the commonwealth. As a citizen of a commonwealth country it might become even easier for me and my loud, drunken mates to live and work in the UK. But I’m sure it’s better for your purity to know you went down blaming the voters for being huge racists right down to the end.

                • MilitantlyAardvark

                  efc, do you really imagine anyone didn’t know exactly what you were from the get-go? And if you think the English are going to welcome some generic, not-especially bright yob from the colonies to their brave new post-Brexit world, you’ve got another think fast approaching the three furlong marker.

                • Origami Isopod

                  I’m with you, MA. Cater to bigots, and you get bigoted policy. Exhibit A: The U.S. GOP.

              • L2P

                I can’t think of a single person I’ve ever met who’s had any problem immigrating from the US to the UK. Is that really a thing?

                • michael8robinson

                  Yes, it really is a thing.

                  After the Tories came to power with an election promise to slash net migration in 2010, they made it progressively more difficult for all non-EU immigrants (including the US), no matter how well qualified, because those were the only immigrants they had any policy authority over.

                  However, there weren’t enough non-EU immigrants to make any difference in the net numbers, no matter how tightly they cracked down, and so here we are.

          • Just_Dropping_By

            You may wish to study this particular scene from The Big Lebowski, MilitantlyAardvark, and contemplate its relevance to convincing people to vote for a political position that you favor:

            Walter Sobchak: Am I wrong?
            The Dude: No, you’re not wrong.
            Walter Sobchak: Am I wrong?
            The Dude: You’re not wrong Walter. You’re just an asshole.

            • MilitantlyAardvark

              You really don’t get this concept of logic, do you? But then, drive-by trolls seldom do.

    • Ronan

      Significant parts of the English pop have been sceptical of the eu for a long time, and there has been post industrial regional decline for a generation. It might be in part the Tories current social policies, but (afaict) the dissatisfaction with europe goes deeper.

  • Donalbain

    An MP has been shot and stabbed. Early reports are that the attacker shouted “Britain first” before he attacked. I can’t help but think this is related to the atmosphere created by this referendum.

    • sibusisodan

      Shocking. Really shocking stuff.

    • Rob in CT

      Damn.

      • MilitantlyAardvark
        • Origami Isopod

          I was coming in here to post that link. So awful.

        • Denverite

          The Guardian is tweeting that she passed away. How sad. Forty-one years old with two small children.

          • Spiny

            Wow.

            • MilitantlyAardvark

              I’ve been afraid of something like this happening ever since UKIP/BNP/NF (encouraged by Tory cowardice and dishonesty) were allowed to mainstream various forms of bigotry and hatred into national politics in the UK. I hope this is the last incident of its kind in this shabby farce of a referendum.

              • Spiny

                Without knowing anything about the shooter yet, right-wing politics across the developed world have definitely become an interminable act of incitement.

    • Donalbain

      She died. I can’t shake the feeling that I live in a different country now. Something evil has been unleashed by this referendum.

      • sibusisodan

        I don’t really have words for this. It’s tragic.

      • Origami Isopod

        I’m really sorry.

  • libarbarian

    I, for one, am glad that some other country is willing to screw itself to give us a lesson.

    Better than us screwing ourselves to give them one.

  • Rob in CT

    Is there a way to “throw half a brick” at the furriners? I thought that was the English approach when they were uncertain. ;)

    [old joke my dad told me]

  • Brett

    Is there any way they could reverse it? It’s not like the UK is going to leave the EU overnight even if the Brexit referendum gets a majority vote to leave. Maybe they could drag it out and propose another referendum to reverse the successful Brexit one.

    • Who knows? It’s predicted two years to make Article 53(?) work out.

      It will be unbearably tedious. The lead up Bush vs. Gore spread out over years.

  • Sebastian_h

    The responses re Greece are missing the point.

    On the technocratic side, Greece suggested that the technocrats don’t know what they’re doing nearly as much as they say they do. Their constant predictions of Greek recovery are/were ridiculous. So it has undercut their “trust us” aura.

    On the political side, the argument isn’t “Germany can fuck over the UK exactly in the same way as they fucked over Greece”. The argument is that fucking over Greece using the EU institutions is a statement of intent to use EU institutions to serve German banker’s will, not the good of Europe.

    To the extent that Brexit is tied up in the response to Greece, it is tied up in what is seen as the German intent around Greece, not the specific methods of implementing German intent around Greece.

    I write this as someone who weakly thinks that Remain would be better (though suspects that “never have joined” might have been even better). But you should understand the arguments of the people you disagree with better or you can never fight them appropriately.

    • Ronan

      Afaict Greece has had close to zero relevance, politically, in this campaign. People can try and cram in their favourite hobby horse as much as they like, but it’s irrelevant

      • Merkwürdigliebe

        I have to agree with Sebastian on this one. Germans were clearly twisting the Greeks’ arm in pretty alarming way, to an end that seemed suspiciously in line with the interests of German banks.

        That is not how EU should function (and certainly not what any of the member states has signed up for) and I’m sure a lot of people took notice.

        • Ronan

          Even if that’s true it has nothing to do with brexit

          • efc

            It does in that some of the left in Britain (not New Labour) is euro-sceptical because of the way Greece was treated. Even if Corbyn is for Remain formally, even he said he was a “7 or 7.5” for remain. The strongest constituency for remain really seems to be British multinational corporations and groups linked to those types of places. That seems to be why most of the arguments are about a general drop in GDP and other economic consequences that may not have much resonance in a non-City person’s day to day life.

            • Ronan

              How many people are realistically voting on Greece? How many who claim they are voting because of Greece are using it as an after the fact justification? Why would the brit electorate vote out of Europe over Greece, when the Greek,Irish Spanish etc electorates won’t even vote out of the euro for stuff that happened to them? It’s at best hugely insignificant

        • Mrs Tilton

          Germans were clearly twisting the Greeks’ arm … in line with the interests of German banks.

          Except that by the time the arm-twisting began in earnest, German banks were on the whole already well out of it. Germany had already done what Ireland did, socializing the private assets of German banks — bailout money went not to the Greeks to make them liquid, but to Germany’s banks to get their loans to Greece off their books and onto the Bund’s.

          Germany’s economy (and economic muscle) being rather larger than Ireland’s, Merkel and Schäuble figured they had a decent chance of pulling it off. And pull it off they did — or at least, they have done thus far. The arm-twisting wasn’t in service of German banks. It was in service of Angie not having to explain to the German electorate that she had given all their money to Germany’s banks and would now never get it back.

          • MacK

            Yes, it was also about so many politician loaded landesbanks being in durance vile

      • Murc

        Afaict Greece has had close to zero relevance, politically, in this campaign.

        I hate to agree with Ronan about Greece, but I agree with Ronan about Greece.

        • Ronan

          Jesus, leave me reconsider : )

        • When he’s right, he’s right!

          • Sebastian_h

            I’m going to push back a little on this. Brexit is proximately “about” immigration. Yes. But you are severely underestimating the decline of institutional trust in the EU. We give institutions we trust lots of leeway, we try to avoid institutions that we think are trying to fuck us over.

            The way Greece was handled burned through twenty years of institutional trust in the space of a few months. If that hadn’t been squandered, I strongly suspect that you would be looking at a very different baseline of support.

            The immediate cause of the vote being so close is immigration squabbling. The underlying cause is loss of trust in the institutions.

            • Ronan

              Large parts of the British electorate have always distrusted the eu institutions, Greece (if anything) is just another justification for their priors.
              But still, what you hear far more often from brexiters than “look what happened to Greece” is some bullshit about eu regulations on toasters.
              The decline in trust towards institutions and “the establishment” (both domestically and towards Europe) is to do with factors that aren’t Greece.

              • sibusisodan

                Yes, this chimes with my understanding. We Brits have decided that we don’t want to participate very much in the EU, and so are prepared to not like it very much on that basis.

                I’m not sure it’s got much to do with the EU itself. It’s more an attitude to Europe that goes back quite a way.

                • Just_Dropping_By

                  Except that throwing your hands up and declaring that it’s “an attitude to Europe that goes back quite a way,” completely fails to explain why this is all happening now and not 20 years ago. Usually people’s support for an institution increases the longer they are part of it.

                • sibusisodan

                  Hum. Well, I think it’s happening now because we’ve had a terrible recession, a sluggish recovery and a whole bunch of legislation making things harder for the poorer in society.

                  The EU is a convenient scapegoat for that frustration, since it fits with longstanding British prejudice about Europe.

              • efc

                Certainly the mainstream Brexit voter is not concerned with what happened to Greece. If anything I would suspect they wholeheartedly support kicking the lazy work-shy Greeks while they were down. I do think “Greece” as a more general example of the EU’s priorities is driving if not leftist Brexit support, at least dampening left-wing enthusiasm for Remain.

                I would support Remain for left reasons if I was in the UK just because the option isn’t Remain and Cameron or Leave and Corbyn. It’s Leave and Johnson or Grove or someone like that. But I wouldn’t be running to the polls with bells on.

            • Eh.

              Greece has no salience in the campaigning AFAICT. It’s just not on the table at all.

              So, i think the default should be some skepticism that Greece is a major force in reducing institutional trust.

              I mean, a much bigger topic was the allege £350 million/day going to Brussels. This zombie topic has been all over the place.

    • Buckeye623

      Focusing on ONLY Greece is badly missing the point.

      How, exactly, have the economies of Spain and Italy performed over the last few years?

      More precise would be to substitute “Every Euro state not named Germany” for “Greece” and you get the idea.

      • Rob in CT

        But one of the major (THE major, I think) problems with Greece, Spain and Italy is the Euro. Britain kept the Pound. They control their currency. Now, they haven’t done much with that power, but they have it. Their situation is significantly different than Spain/Italy, let alone Greece.

      • Ronan

        I don’t know if the euro is their major problem. Spain and Greece, and Southern Italy, have been historically (comparatively) economically underdeveloped. Greece was hardly a case study in effective monetary policy pre euro. All have had relatively recent histories of authoritarian rule. And all, outside the EU and euro, would still exist in a financialised, global economy. They would be open to both the discipline of financial markets and political dysfunction at home.
        Why is the EU/Euro always to blame for deeper structural problems in the global economy and these domestic political economies? It might have some blame, but what’s the counterfactual? What happens to Greece/Ireland/Spain during the 00s with no euro? What do ther political systems/economies look like outside Europe? Why are so many, much poorer, countries clamouring to get in, and in a number of cases (most notably Poland) doing so well from EU membership.
        I really don’t know why the EU and Euro get so much blame for what are, on the whole, deeper, more difficult problems of economic and political development. And I dont know why the assumption is so often that everything would be wonderful if just x didnt exist, or y never happened.

  • Quite Likely

    I don’t really have any strong feelings on this one. I believe the economic consensus that the overall effect would be slightly damaging to the British economy, but clearly not the end of the world. A lot depends on how Brexit would effect both British and EU-level politics going forward. Increasing the odds of a Jeremy Corbyn government is much more important for future British prosperity than whether they stay in the EU or not.

    • sibusisodan

      Much as I’d love it, I don’t see Brexit increasing the likelihood of a centre-left UK government in the short to medium term.

      Brexit will empower the eurosceptic Tory MPs, who are in general happily to the right of the current government as a whole.

      I’m assuming that Britannia Unchained will be the blueprint for post-Brexit future.

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      Increasing the odds of a Corbyn government from 0 to 0.000001 hardly seems worth the effort.

  • MilitantlyAardvark

    Jo Cox has died. Much sympathy to her family, friends and colleagues.

    • Chester Allman

      Just awful. Sickening.

  • AMK

    Ironically for all the old imperial fetishists, many of Britain’s remaining overseas territories would be put in a completely untenable economic position outside the EU. Gibraltar, for example, would have to give itself to Spain in order to avoid complete destruction of its economy.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      I don’t support “Brexit,” but this is just silly. The UK can still negotiate a variety of trade deals, travel accords, etc. with the EU even if it isn’t a member. See, e.g., Switzerland.

      • Lurker

        Yes, but those trade deals are negotiated beginning with a clean slate. For example, there will be very few counterweights to Spain requirimg that Gibraltar is left out of those agreements, if they wish to do so.

        A Brexited Britain (more likely, England and Northern Ireland) will be negotiatimg from a position of extreme weakness. They will be in recession and they have pretty few things to put on the table. For example, the status of the Channel Islands as tax havens will be on the table.

        There will be, most likely, a more or less absolute requirement to obey EU product safety directives and several other major pieces of European legislation.

        Essentially, England cannot wait any better treatment than Norway: paying dues to the Union and obeying its laws without a vote in the Council or representatives in the Parliament. If they will not accept that as a consolation, the things will get really ugly.

        • Donalbain

          What happened to Wales?

  • wengler

    If I was British I would vote against Brexit, since the UK has an advantageous position in the union. Most of the other EU states I would vote to exit, and that is a major problem of the EU. The elite interests of Union have consistently pushed the economic advantages of cheap labor over any disruption that it causes. So in the end you are only advantaged if you are a major power in the EU(Germany, France, UK), a center of cheap labor in the EU(Poland, Romania), or a tax shelter in the EU (Ireland).

    • Zamfir

      There’s the big three, eastern European countries with the wage differential, the tax havens (not just Ireland, also luxembourg, the Netherlands, Cyprus) other countries that get transfers, Belgium with Bruxelles… there’s a kind of balance there.

    • Ronan

      I don’t know about your examples.
      The idea that Eastern Europe only acts as a centre of cheap labour is ridiculous, and quite frankly (1) underplays across Europe migration, and (2) the successes in integrating a lot of central and eastern europe into the EU.

      Mack can correct me if Im wrong, but my understanding is that Irelands ‘tax haven’ (pretty much a nonsense term, though nonetheless..) status is a result of DOMESTIC preferences, and the EU, and major member states, have often fought against it.

      The idea that the EU works only for 6 arbitrairly selected countries is ridiculous, and pretty offensive to the populations and political classes in these countries, who generally support it but must be fools to do so.

  • MacK

    What I have found remarkable, but reminiscent of the the US situation, is the willingness of journalists to simply let people tell outright falsehoods. But I’m too shocked over the murder of Jo Cox to write anything right now.

  • Karen24

    Does anyone think that the assassination of Labour MP Jo Cox will make a difference?

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Given that all the recent polling I’ve seen has “Undecideds” greater than the margin by which “Leave” is winning and “Undecideds” can be expected to break for the status quo (i.e., “Remain”), the assassination of Cox is probably worth a couple extra points to “Remain,” but “Remain” would have won anyway.

  • MacK

    I’m watching the debate closely, and there are commonalities with the rise of Trump and the behavior of the press. I should note that I know a lot of international law and quite a lot of international trade law. What I have found striking are statements by the pro-leave Brexiters that are simply facially false, not even close – out right lies about say the WTO rules, or EU law, German Immigration Law (as in a tourist can get a German passport) and the way in which the Brexiters have been allowed to make these statements unchallenged by journalists. It seems to me that there is a point at which a journalist has to say “that’s just not true.”

    What is important to understand is that if the UK exits the EU, it not only automatically faces a tariff barrier for 45% of its exports (the EU’s exports to the UK are 7-8%) – but it no longer benefits from all of the tariff schedules that apply to EU goods under the WTO. It immediately faces the highest US, EU, Chinese and every one of 161 countries highest tariff. It then has to negotiate new tariff arrangements with countries not in a hurry to do so.

    At the moment 90% of economists, the Bank of England, the Treasury, the IMF, the OECD, the US Treasury, etc. etc. have been warning of serious consequences if the UK leaves the EU. Those warnings have been systematically denounced as self interested and often as corrupt by the leavers, all part of a conspiracy called “Project Fear.” None of that will happen they say, no, the British economy will boom they say, the world (including the US) will queue up to sign incredibly favorable trade agreements “because we are Britain” they say. There is only one question they refuse to answer (in the teeth of 90% of economic and trade experts – and most of U.K. company CEOs), “what if you are wrong?”

    The hard realities are that the UK is very dependent on its financial sector, and that financial sector is large because London is the financial center for the EU. It can be such a financial center because the UK is a member state of the EU. There was a real effort to bar London from access to the Euro-Zone, one that was only defeated in the ECJ because it violated the freedom to provide services under the EU treaties – Brexit throws those rights away.

    A lot of UK industry makes commodity products, industrial wares, fasteners, packaging, wiring harnesses (and a little steel) – all goods that compete on price in world markets. They cannot sustain a 6% PLUS tariff so all sorts of markets will close. Worse there is the simple issue in manufacturing of scale – to put that simply, the UK is too small a market to sustain say a cellphone maker, there are not enough customers. Ditto automobiles, etc. Even high end specialty steels need a large market to justify manufacturing.

    What happens after the referendum. Withdrawal depends on the submission of a notice under Article 50 of the TFEU. This starts a 2-year clock running to exit. The Article 50 notice has to be submitted in accordance with the member states “constitutional arrangements” which in the UK are startlingly vague. SO this begs the question of when the Art. 50 notice will be filed.

    Thhe Brexiteers have announced that they will pass emergency legislation ending freedom to travel, the jurisdiction of the ECJ, the common fisheries policy, etc. The problem, that’s like announcing that while you are still a member of the club, you won’t obey the rules – and it is obviously illegal. This may trigger the Article 50 filing.

    What is interesting is that if the UK votes for Brexit on 23 June, the markets are open on Friday 24 June. The Brexiteers, have assured everyone repeatedly that it will be a glorious, frabjous day – the markets will be fine or even soar, that immediately the EU will come crawling to offer a trade deal, the US will swoop in saying “here have free market access” – the Commonwealth for love of its old imperial master will rally around. They have announced that they will immediately introduce emergency legislation to end freedom of movement and European Court Jurisdiction and suspend the common fisheries policy – all things which cannot actually happen until the UK has withdrawn, and that requires the Article 50 Notice.

    But what happens if the FTSE falls like a stone, there is an immediate run on the pound and a bunch of companies start making announcements. What credibility will the Brexiteers have? Will they want to go around on a Battle Bus to places where Brexit is suddenly seen as a huge economic mistake and ‘face the music.’ Priti Patel, Gove, Johnson et al. might find going out without bodyguards very dangerous. The “we told you so” chorus in the Commons would be deafening.

    And during this their negotiations with the EU will take on a tone of pleading – “please please don’t make me a liar….” I predict a dusty answer in Brussels – “the lynch mobs are your problem…”

    Scotland is another problem.

    Anyway, that’s a summary

    • MacK

      With respect to Scotland, it very much depends on how Brexit goes. Scotland is 64+ remain, 34 leave, maybe more remain – that is close to 2 to 1. A big argument deployed in the independence referendum was that an independent Scotland would be outside the EU and have to apply to join (and the Spanish with their Catalan and Basque problem might oppose.)

      Now if the vote is to leave and the result is a debacle, Scotland will look at a Westminster where the gobshites who dismissed all the warnings about Brexit are in charge, still their government. I think a new referendum would be very close, and likely would be timed to be just before the Article 50 notice ran out. It very likely would go for Scottish independence. If that happens sentiment in Northern Ireland is 70% remain, most of the Ulster unionists are of Scottish descent who knows what way Northern Ireland might go.

      • Lurker

        Northern Ireland will probably stay in the United Kingdom even if England secedes. They are probably the most loyal part of the UK. :-)

        • Ronan

          A United Kingdom of one, Northern Ireland, would certainly be an ironic denouement.

          • MacK

            There is a strong anti-English strand in Unionism, outweighed by the anti-Taig strand.

    • Right. I have mentioned much of that to relatives of mine in Norn Iron and England, and their response is essentially that the US should automatically hand everything they want over to the UK, and that anything less is a virtual stab in the back. Bunch of fucking gobshites.

    • The economic-political-diplomatic delusion/lies of pro separation forces everywhere is really horrible. We saw it withe the Scottish referendum (we’ll stay part of the EU with the same sweet deal! We’ll stay part of the pound! In spite of all the parties with actual power saying “nope”!) We’re seeing it now.

      My current guess is that if leave wins, parliament says “nope” and then we have a crises and maybe a general election and Yet Another Round of Misery.

      • sibusisodan

        Or Parliament goes ahead with the Art 50 negotiations, but offers the resulting deal to be approved in another Referendum, which gets rejected.

        So we stay in the EU, having passed off all our fellow members.

        That’s my best case outcome for Leave. I can’t see Parliament just ignoring the result of this Referendum.

  • Sebastian_h

    “The hard realities are that the UK is very dependent on its financial sector, and that financial sector is large because London is the financial center for the EU. It can be such a financial center because the UK is a member state of the EU. There was a real effort to bar London from access to the Euro-Zone, one that was only defeated in the ECJ because it violated the freedom to provide services under the EU treaties – Brexit throws those rights away.”

    This is the problem with having the top 1% take 95% of the profits. The working class may decide they don’t care about such things. The all boats rise in the rising tide concept may never have been strictly true, but when the huge economic gains don’t trickle down at all, the majority might decide that they don’t care to preserve the policies that are creating such gains.

    One of the big problems with the European project is it depends on trust of the elites. A trust which has been repeatedly betrayed.

    • MacK

      You know, it probably would be better that the UK did not have such a large financial sector relative to its economy and a stronger manufacturing sector, or that it’s government was no so dependent on receipts from that sector – but that is where it is today. If the City takes a huge hit, so does the UK exchequer and economy, which will be bad for the NHS, the poor on benefits, etc.

      You have to start from where you are.

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  • credenceinternational

    Yes but Brexit have some advantage and disadvantage as well.

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