UK votes to leave the EU

 

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by Matthew Cobb

As you know, the UK has just voted in a referendum to leave the EU. Prime Minister Cameron, who called the referendum to quell dissent within the ranks of his Tory party, has stated that he will resign by the beginning of October. Billions of dollars have been taken off the paper value of the UK economy as the pound has crashed and the stock market has fallen.

There will almost certainly be a second referendum on Scottish independence (Scotland voted overwhelmingly for remain, and can legitimately argue it does not want to be taken out of the EU), with it being highly likely that this time the Scots would vote to leave the UK. Even more worryingly, it seems probable that the Good Friday Agreement, which led to peace in Northern Ireland, and which was entirely based on EU money and support, will come undone, perhaps with catastrophic consequences. A new right-wing Brexit government, which no one has voted for, will come to power in October, probably led by the cynical pretend-buffoon Boris Johnson, who opted for Leave because it gave him the best chance of becoming Prime Minister.

I voted Remain, not because I think the EU is a perfect institution, but because membership has transformed the UK for the better. I lived for 18 years in France, and when I returned to the UK I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the country had changed, and the little England tendencies I grew up with had been overlain by a relative sophistication in most things. The Leave vote suggests that I was mistaken.

Since the 2008 crash in particular, UK politics has increasingly been dominated by the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) led by Nigel Farage, a millionaire stockbroker who has somehow managed to persuade people that he’s an ordinary bloke because he smokes, likes a pint and flirts with racism. The campaign was widely disliked, marked by lies and distortions (primarily on the Leave side, but the Remain side focused its campaign on ‘project fear’ and failed to give a positive reason for staying), and by populist rabble-rousing by Johnson, Farage and the odious Michael Gove, who spent his time contemptuously dismissing the views of ‘experts’.

The culmination of this awful atmosphere was the unveiling of a vile UKIP poster which coincided with the terrible murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed a week before the vote. The man charged with her killing gave his name in court as ‘death to traitors, freedom for Britain’.

The results of the referendum are complex. Remain was a majority in Scotland, London, and some of the major cities – Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol… Leave dominated the countryside (including Wales) and in particular the once-industrial areas which have been in crisis for decades, and in particular since 2008. The main sociological factors that explain the voting pattern were age – young UK citizens voted overwhelmingly for Remain, while the older generations (who, to be frank, will not have to live for long with the consequences of their vote), voted Leave – and educational level (72% of university-educated people voted Remain).

The Leave campaign was focused on the slogan of ‘getting back control’, in particular over immigration – the free movement of workers in Europe has led to a substantial influx of young workers, in particular from Eastern Europe who have kept the economy ticking over. This growth (less than 0.5% per year) was portrayed as being the cause of problems in the National Health Service in particular, problems which were in fact due to the government’s austerity policies. Migrants are more likely to be working in the NHS rather than spongeing off it, plus migrants are more likely to be in work than UK citizens, but these are just some of the facts that were ignored in favour of demagogic slogans.

People voted Leave, it appears, for many different and complex reasons (that’s one of the problems with referendums: people do not necessarily answer the question in the way that was intended). Among the factors cited are dissatisfaction with a bureaucratic EU, fears about immigration (often expressed in areas with the lowest levels of migration) and a deep feeling from those in the more impoverished communities of being left behind. It is interesting, however, that areas of Scotland that are also affected by these factors nevertheless voted Remain.

So British society is fractured. It is fractured along age and geographical lines. Workers in areas that are relatively prosperous voted Remain, those in poorer areas – ironically those that rely most on EU financial support – voted Leave. The Leave victory is being portrayed as a victory over ‘the establishment’, and yet the Leave leaders – and the probable future political leaders of the country, are the usual Eton, Oxbridge and millionaire gang.

Although the referendum is not legally binding – the UK will only begin the process for leaving the EU when it invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – I do not believe for an instant that there is any prospect of the UK not leaving. That decision has been taken, with a clear majority, and I do not expect there to be any shift in the situation in my lifetime.

The Leave camp are confident that the UK will move into bright uplands, as they trash the regulations that the EU has put on business, leading to lower wages, fewer workers’ rights, less environmental protection  and riskier business practices. The Remain camp predicted dire consequences for the UK economy – indeed for the world economy. We will see who is right.

If the promises made by the Leave campaign are not realised – and I do not see how they can be – then those disaffected and poor sections of society who voted Leave will have to turn to some other scapegoat, apart from Europe, migrants, the Establishment, or whatever motivated their Leave vote. As we can see in France, this could turn very nasty indeed.

On a parochial level, UK universities, and science in particular, are going to be clobbered. Funding will drop, interactions with Europe will decline, and there will be bad times all around. I predict that many colleagues who are European will be looking for jobs elsewhere – why stay in a country that doesn’t want you? If I had known what was going to happen, I would never have returned to the UK in 2002.

If you are an academic outside of the UK looking to recruit some bright young people, I suggest you start trawling through UK university websites – I suspect you will find many people eager to discuss moving.

What are the lessons? For me, I should have taken out French nationality when I could easily have done so, some time in the 1990s. I didn’t because I couldn’t see what the point was. How stupid of me. For US voters, think very carefully before you dismiss the possibility of Trump becoming President. There is a right-wing populist movement going on, feeding off fears and discontent, potentially transforming them into something even more dangerous. Use your vote in November, even if you loathe Hillary and all she stands for. The unthinkable could happen – it just did here.

Readers are welcome to chip in and argue the Leave case below. I won’t be replying though. I’m done with this.

To sum up my mood, here’s a very moving video by the Bristol-based trip-hop band Portishead. It’s a cover of Abba’s ‘SOS’ and is a tribute to murdered MP Jo Cox, closing with words from her first speech in parliament, last year: ‘We have far more in common than that which divides us’. It is very hard to feel that way today.

303 Comments

  1. Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    We also voted to remain. This is absolutely unthinkable. A very dark day.

    • AdamL
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      I agree. My gut sank when I read the news this morning

      My gf’s mother summed it quite nicely when she (unironically) put on Facebook this morning – “So glad we’re leaving. That’ll stop the Muslim scroungers coming over here”

      *Facepalm*

      And now Farage has already backtracked on one of the main Leave argument that we could be spending £350m a week on the NHS instead of Europe

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        For the love of Caesar! And she was probably dead serious, which is chilling.

        The “leave” campaign appealed to bigoted, xenophobic, provincial people of marginal intelligence and wisdom.

        I despair…I really do.

        Too bad we in London can’t join up with Scotland!

        • mordacious1
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

          Wow! 51% of the UK is bigoted, xenophobic and provincial people of marginal intelligence and wisdom? Or are you just saying that because you disagree with them on this issue?

          • AdamL
            Posted June 25, 2016 at 4:12 am | Permalink

            Don’t know why you’re claiming either of us said that?

            I’m sure some of the leave camp had actual reasons for leaving but you can’t claim that UKIP and others weren’t just promoting fear and xenophobia

            • mordacious1
              Posted June 25, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

              Claiming? It’s directly quoted from the comment, I just added the 51%. Fine, maybe the commenter meant that only 1% held those attributes and 50% were rational, clear thinking citizens. Why make the comment then?

              If I have concerns about a flood of immigrants into my country and what effect that will have on the economy and culture, I’m not necessarily xenophobic. People throw labels around like that, because making a real argument is more difficult.

              • Jonathan Wallace
                Posted June 26, 2016 at 3:19 am | Permalink

                It is fair comment to suggest that we can’t collectively characterize those who voted to leave as bigots or xenophobes. People voted one way or the other for various reasons and no doubt some voters had mixed feelings about our EU membership and agonised over their vote. What we can say, however, is that the leave campaign was xenophobic and bigoted in tone.
                We have to accept the result no but I am saddened by it and very pessimistic about the direction in which we are now heading.

              • Posted June 26, 2016 at 9:15 am | Permalink

                + 1

          • Posted June 26, 2016 at 1:06 am | Permalink

            Yes, this comment, a lot of times. The absolute hysteria over this is alarming.

            I can tell you, also, from having read some people’s reasons for voting leave, that you can add to the list the fact that they are tired of university-educated “elites” telling them that they are “bigoted, xenophobic, provincial people of marginal intelligence and wisdom.”

            With a sell like that, it’s really not hard to understand why the left isn’t winning more hearts and minds. We might take this time to genuinely reflect about why this vote went the way it did, instead of diagnosing the people who disagree with us and finding them to be vile or subhuman or somehow beyond the pale. I see similar sentiments expressed by Trump voters, so americans in particular might want to put a wiggle in it.

  2. Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Hmm, I can understand Bremainers being upset today, but this post by Matthew is pretty one-sided.

    • jeremyp
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      It’s his personal opinion, he’s allowed to be one sided. If he’s anything like me, he’s very angry right now. I also think he’s completely correct. You’re allowed to be one sided if you are right.

      Within a couple of years, the Scots will vote to leave the UK and perhaps Northern Ireland will find reunification with Southern Ireland more attractive and the Little Englanders will have got what they want: a little England.

      • Dave
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        “Little” England (plus Wales) is, and always will be, many times bigger and richer than Scotland. If the Scots want to leave the most successful and mutually-beneficial union of formerly separate nations in history, to take up a glorious future as a minor outlying province of an EU superstate run by Germany and France I’ll be sorry, but it’s up to them.
        As for Northern Ireland, many mainland Brits of all political stripes would be delighted to be rid of the place. It can become Dublin’s headache rather than ours.

        • David Duncan
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:28 am | Permalink

          If Scotland leaves the UK their future is that of a mendicant state. North Sea oil is not the windfall it once was.

          Officially Dublin wants NI, but I’ve heard suggestions that in reality they’re less than keen. If the North wants to join Dublin then that’s their right, although I’m sceptical.

          • ChrisH
            Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

            I’d have said unofficially wrt Dublin: the political situation over there is still pretty tense between protestant/UK loyalist and catholic/Irish nationalist.

            • agender
              Posted June 25, 2016 at 5:52 am | Permalink

              Chance for a secular Ireland.
              Dublin could get rid of the aftermath of its constitutional mistake, abortionforbidding, and the whole slavery to the Vatican by taking up the North (compromise as in both giving up state religion).
              Advice for a national myth: one of the Celtic Great Goddes stories – and precise secularism for the constitution.

        • Tom
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          The future course of Britain will be dictated by London as it always has been and if London decides to remain connected to the EU in some way it will do so and the rest of the country will just have to go along.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:55 am | Permalink

            Be aware that you are saying that “to” a person at Manchester Uni.
            The Londoncentricity of the political powers in Britain has been a source of tension, increasing, for longer than I’ve been alive, and I grew up in a London overspill town butchered by the Maggon.
            Seriously, you could be seeing the break up of the “U”K starting here.

            • Tom
              Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

              Sorry about your overspill town being butchered but the wealth generated by London compared to the rest of the country put together has always meant what London decides is the way it has been and will be.
              Imagine if the UK breaks up a Liechtenstein on the Thames!!

            • friendlypig
              Posted June 29, 2016 at 5:11 am | Permalink

              Please curb your irrational optimism?

        • Posted June 27, 2016 at 6:35 am | Permalink

          ‘Little England’ is about the state of mind, the insularity, not about the physical or economic size.

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        There are no “little Englanders”, the Brexiters are mostly pro-global and pro free trade.

        And if Scotland decides to be independent and to stay in the EU (notice how that is slightly contradictory) then fine, what’s wrong with that? There seems an assumption here that being part of a bigger agglomeration is a good thing for its own sake. Why?

        • Torbjörn Larsson
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

          Isn’t this reversing priors and posteriors?

          In society, bigger agglomerations have better priors. E.g. evolution, markets, democracies, …

        • ChrisH
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          Not necessarily. A lot of the exiters come from areas negatively affected by globalism: mining and heavy industry based in Wales, North of England, Cornwall, etc.

          The guys leading the campaign are pretty much all neoliberal in outlook (Gove, Farage, Johnson, etc).

          Can’t see anything going wrong there, can you?

          • Jonathan Wallace
            Posted June 26, 2016 at 3:28 am | Permalink

            “The guys leading the campaign are pretty much all neoliberal in outlook (Gove, Farage, Johnson, etc).”

            Yes, interestingly one of the campaign issues the Brexit people pushed was the EU-US TTIP trade deal that is being negotiated and the powers this would cede to global corporations to override democratic will of the people. It is hard to see Farage, Gove and Johnson negotiating a UK-US trade deal that will circumscribe corporations more than TTIP will.

      • friendlypig
        Posted June 29, 2016 at 5:08 am | Permalink

        Much can happen in two years! at the moment the stock market is almost back where it was on the 22nd of June and the pound is climbing slowly.

        We haven’t sunk!

        For goodness sake. I’ll put my money on Britain v. the EU anytime. If anyone is worried at the moment it is the ruling elite of Europe it should not be you. What has happened has created ripples round the world and reactions such as the piece above.

        Knee jerk reactions by people are irrelevant in the long run

        • Tim Harris
          Posted June 29, 2016 at 6:12 am | Permalink

          ‘This is done! This is done! We are never going home! Did you see that?! Did you see that?! Amazing! I can’t believe it! This is a dream. Never wake me up from this amazing dream!
          ‘Live the way you want England. Iceland is going to play France on Sunday. France Iceland! You can go home! You can go out of Europe! You can go wherever the hell you want! England 1, Iceland 2 is the closing score here in Nice! And the fairytale continues!’

          Some knee-jerk reactions I like!

    • ChrisH
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      There are reasons to leave the EU, for sure, but the Leave campaign didn’t focus on them. Remain’s campaign was pretty crap but not as outrightly mendacious as Leave’s.

      Yes, I got Leave’s “There are 14 million Turks wanting to come to Britian if you don’t vote leave” flyer through my door. Not impressed.

      There also seems to have been a fantastic lack of plan or preparation on Leave’s side too. Doesn’t bode too well IMO.

    • GBJames
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Since when are opinions required to be “two-sided”?

      • Dave
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        You know, ever since Faux News started the whole “fair and balanced” thing.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted June 26, 2016 at 3:30 am | Permalink

        Good point. Does Coel expect Prof CC to start putting up posts in which he puts the religious point of view alongside the atheist one in order to provide some ‘balance’?

  3. Merilee
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Sub

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      sub

  4. Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    A profoundly stupid decision, in my view. The EU was the biggest peace project in human history and has brought us 60 plus years of peace in Europe, an unprecedented level of prosperity and a high level of employment rights, consumer rights and environmental protection, as well as free movement throughout the EU. The EU was a noble dream, not without it’s problems, but none of those were insoluble. My forecast is that not only will the EU disintegrate now but so will the UK and one of the finest political creations of human civilisation will founder on the rocks of a petty, jingoistic, flag-waving, destructive nationalism and cultural chauvinism we thought we had seen the back of i Europe.

    • Richard
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      The EU was formally established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force on 1 November 1993. That’s less than 23 years, not 60 plus. Its predecessor, the EEC, which was created by the Treaty of Rome in 1957, was supposed to be nothing more than a customs union and a common market.

      If anything has kept the peace in Europe for the last 67 years it is NATO (founded in April 1949).

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        Indeed, one can argue sensibly that the EU has exacerbated national tensions, particularly among those nations in the Euro area. That said, little good will come from Brexit.

      • Tim Fraser
        Posted June 25, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        The predecessor of the EEC was the ECSC. This time, just after WWII, is what Chalmers, Monti, and Davies call the ‘origins of the European Union’.
        The ECSC was created by the Treaty of Paris 1951, and set up a common market in coal and steel which was to be supervised by the High Authority.
        The Schuman Plan formed the basis of the Treaty of Paris, and derived from the French fears of emerging German industrial might, stating “the solidarity in production [of coal and steel]…established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materiallly impossible”.

        In terms of these counties, and the other countries that signed the ECSC and EEC (the Benelux states), there has been relative peace. Europe itself, however, has not had a great deal of peace over the past 60 years – remember the break up of Yugoslavia.

    • Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      The EU … has brought us 60 plus years of peace in Europe, an unprecedented level of prosperity and a high level of employment rights, consumer rights and environmental protection, …

      Whereas things are much worse in benighted lands such as Switzerland and Norway that are not in the EU? There’s no control experiment that would allow us to say that the EU is the thing responsible for the things you list.

      However, the adoption of the Euro is to a large part to blame for Greek being an economic basket case with little prospect of getting itself out of trouble.

      • Reginald Selkirk
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        Greece was an economic basket case before they adopted the euro.

      • Mandible
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        Switzerland and Norway are EEA countries. They make some payments to Brussels, for example for EU research programmes and grants, and their scientists can in return apply for those grants. However, to have access to these, they had to completely open their labour market to EU citizens – and now EU citizens have exactly the same right to live and work in Switzerland and Norway as they do in any EU country. This freedom of movement is the main thing brexiters want to dispense with. So no – UK will not have the same relationship with EU as Switzerland and Norway, unless it gives up on its main reason for having left the EU.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        in benighted lands such as Switzerland and Norway that are not in the EU?

        Sadly I have to confess to having spent several days attempting to convince Norwegian Trade Unions and government officials against joining the EU in the run up to their referendum. My argument was that diluting Norwegian work and safety laws to European levels (with the pernicious influence of Britain’s govt (a four-letter-word) ) would be detrimental to the health and safety of my Norwegian colleagues.
        In hindsight, this may have been a mistake.
        Sorry.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

          There are so many things to consider.
          I would have thought that European safety standards would be high, however if Norway’s safety standards were higher, that is a good thing, especially in the extra dangerous fields.

          Perhaps it does point to something significant.

        • Jonathan Wallace
          Posted June 26, 2016 at 3:37 am | Permalink

          I have no idea whether as a result of its decision to stay out Norway maintained stronger protection of worker health and safety but I fear the UK will now end up with rather weaker protection. The Brexit team are itching to tear up every Brussels derived la they can in the name of reducing the burden of regulation.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

            The Brexit team are itching to tear up every Brussels derived la they can in the name of reducing the burden of regulation.

            For sure they are. People will die and be crippled and poisoned because of this.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 25, 2016 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      I keep thinking of that scene in Children of Men when the protagonist is on the train and bombarded with propagandistic video on the screen proclaiming that Europe fell but England prevails. I hope that movie isn’t predictive of times to come, the book and movie were so reflective of our times, that I sometimes wonder.

  5. ChrisH
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    The Leave campaigners have already started backtracking on their promises, although that’s not too hard to believe if you have any idea of their histories. I’d be laughing if it wasn’t so depressing.

    I might disagree with Matthew about one thing: departure is not guaranteed. This is an absolute ****show, and there’s a lot that will come out in the wash.

    I still have *some* hope!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      I like to hope it might not happen too. That this is a stupid decision is already becoming obvious and the process of leaving is going to take so long I hope that people will cry out to remain before it happens.

      Those who voted Brexit often did because they are economically disadvantaged and believe the lies of people like Farage that they’re better off out. The only people that will be better off are the already wealthy like Farage himself.

      Interest rates will have to rise to counter the 30 year low in the British pound. All imports are set to rise in price by around 10%. (That’s cars, computers, cellphones, and cotton.) Rents and mortgages will go up significantly. Wages will fall in real terms. There will be even less available for the NHS and other infrastructure, which will lose out. Even tourism will be adversely affected.

      Those who believed this would solve their problems will be worse off.

      • agender
        Posted June 25, 2016 at 6:14 am | Permalink

        Yes, it was a Big Capitalism Campaign from the beginning, and the fact that a majority voted according to this much hot air without substance is frightening.
        No chance to get rid of military spending (in the European Constitution, which was not accepted by the voters which were asked – Germany had no voting, the accept was done by govt – was a PRESCRIPTION for its yearly growth), no chance to get minimal human rights (like European Court reprimanding Poland on its abortionforbidding in this case of the woman who became bling because she was to stay pregnant), … , there is lots to say against the EU. None of these arguments mattered, the Brexit propaganda consisted entirely of scapegoating, and the (single, or have I overlooked any???)promise to shift spending towards the health system has already dissolved.

    • friendlypig
      Posted June 29, 2016 at 4:57 am | Permalink

      Why is it depressing?

  6. Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I’ve read that there was relatively low voter turnout among the Millenials, the majority of whom wanted to remain in the EU. How discouraging.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      I have a feeling this trend will also take place in the U.S. elections this November. Those who will be affected the most don’t seem to care. Very discouraging indeed.

      • Pliny the in Between
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        I hope not but obviously share the concerns

        http://pictoraltheology.blogspot.com/2016/06/lemonade.html

        • Mark R.
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          I hope Venn is wrong too…

          • chris moffatt
            Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

            But in your heart you know she’s right! The electoral choice this year is an insult not only to the USA electorate but to all those nations that the USA claims hegemony over – my country Canada among them – and they are right to be scornful of the USA. It is the end result of seventy-plus years of US democracy as a spectator sport; now all those who never got involved in any way other than possibly voting once every few years are bitching like crazy about their horrendous options. Too bad they’re dragging the rest of us down with them!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      72% overall is, sadly, a damned good turnout. For the countries involved, the instruction of the electorate is not really disputable. (Scotland is a separate country to England; I’d have to check exactly what Stroke’s status is. ( Ulster / Northern Ireland ; by parallel to “Stroke City, “Derry/ Londonderry).

      • Rory
        Posted June 25, 2016 at 5:19 am | Permalink

        Ulster/Northern Ireland is not a parallel to Derry/Londonderry. Ulster is a province of Ireland of ancient heritage, comprising 9 counties. Six of these counties form the modern political entity known as Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. The other 3 are part of the Republic of Ireland.

        Derry and Londonderry are one and the same place, given different names according to politcial/religious/tribal alliegances.

        The city islocated in the county of Derry, so if you refer to the county then Derry/Londonderry could be analagous to Ulster/Northern Ireland. But then you wouldn’t be talking about Stroke City.

  7. Scott Draper
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Anecdotally, it seems that a lot of people voted “Leave”, while expecting “Remain” to win. Had they known their vote actually counted, they would have chosen “Remain”.

    I know nothing of UK politics, but maybe once the consequences of leaving become more apparent, the powers-that-be will decide to ignore the referendum.

    • jeremyp
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      It’s true for at least one man http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/eu-referendum-man_uk_576cf8e4e4b08d2c5638ee29?utm_hp_ref=uk

      Somebody also told me that a lot of people in Newcastle voted leave just to get the Nissan factory in neighbouring Sunderland closed down (Newcastle and Sunderland haven of the most fanatical football rivalries anywhere). I can’t believe it’s true, but if it is, weened to just douse the whole of England in petrol and set a match to it before we go.

      • Jeremy Tarone
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        Some people’s children.

        I can somewhat understand people who think beliefs don’t effect actions, but people who think actions don’t have consequences?

        • agender
          Posted June 25, 2016 at 6:23 am | Permalink

          There is even the concept “protest voters”.

          The Huffpost 7 (@ jeremyp: below your link there is another video with 6 regretters) are probably the best explanation for this vote – and, hopefully, a warning for USians.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted June 26, 2016 at 4:23 am | Permalink

        A small majority in Newcastle (including me) voted to remain in the EU. I seriously doubt that any meaningful number of people decided how to vote on the basis of how they could harm Sunderland. A fair few jobs in Newcastle are dependent on the Nissan factory.

    • cornbread_r2
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Maybe we could call it the Putney Swope Effect.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putney_Swope

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      It is a slightly appealing (and appaling) hypothesis, but I’ve seen nothing to support it in my discussion.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        Discussion S.
        Auterkurrekt.

  8. Richard
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    “Scotland voted overwhelmingly for remain”.

    Voter turnout in Scotland was only 67%; of those, 62% voted to remain. So only 41.54% of the Scottish electorate cared enough about remaining in the EU to be bothered to vote for it.

    This must be some new meaning of the word “overwhelmingly” of which I was previously unaware.

    As for the rest of your rant: a typical whine, whine, “it’s not fair” tirade from someone who just can not understand how other people could possibly see things differently and vote the WRONG way; we saw much the same thing after the Conservatives’ victory in last year’s general election.

    • Scott Draper
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      “So only 41.54% of the Scottish electorate cared enough about remaining in the EU to be bothered to vote for it.”

      And only 25% cared to enough to vote to leave. Geez, could you provide a more biased interpretation of the results?

      A 67% voter turnout is really pretty good.

      • Jeremy Tarone
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        “A 67% voter turnout is really pretty good.”

        It used to higher but yes, it’s a 14 year high in Scotland.
        http://www.ukpolitical.info/Turnout45.htm

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          67% is certainly a local high.
          Cue Australians chipping in about the benefits (and problems) of mandatory voting. Chipping, putting, friting, and that Belge-Canuk concoction too, why not?

      • Richard
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        How is 41.54% “overwhelming”? It is not even a simple majority.

        If 95% of the electorate had turned out, and 85% of them had voted to remain, that would have been “overwhelming”.

        How was pointing out the OP’s hyperbole giving a biased interpretation of the results?

        • Jeremy Tarone
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

          The people who don’t vote don’t count.
          It’s that simple.

        • Scott Draper
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

          The bias is to use voter turnout to undermine the result that you apparently don’t approve of. Sadly, the sword cuts both ways.

          The standard use of adjectives to describe a margin of victory is to ignore voter turnout, unless you don’t like the result. Many of the “landslide” political victories in the US had voter turnouts of under 60%.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Try applying your argument to your own, apparent, position.

      • Richard
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        See my reply to Scott.

        Did I say in my post that there was more support for Leave than Remain amongst the Scots? No.

        • darrelle
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

          If you want to nitpick semantics, you’re interpretation is still incorrect. There was a vote in Scotland. Of the votes cast 62% voted Remain. Of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland all of them voted to remain.

          By any measure commonly used in modern western politics the phrase “Scotland voted overwhelmingly for remain,” is a very accurate statement regarding those vote results.

          Your argument is mere sophistry. If you want to say that 33% of the population couldn’t even bother to come out to vote on such an important issue, then you should probably just say that. But, 67% voter turn out is damn good.

    • Dominic
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      You are being plain nasty in that last paragraph.

      • Richard
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Really? 🙂

        I thought I was quite mild, in comparison to the OP’s linking the murder of Jo Cox by a man with mental health issues to the Leave campaign.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:57 am | Permalink

          Ah, Richard, and where were you just recently when the actions of a mentally deranged mass shooter were being blamed, on this very website, on nasty Islam? Your wisdom was needed, and you didn’t give it.

          • Michael Waterhouse
            Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

            Erally? Then, all you need to do is point to calls for violence and mayhem in the leave campaigns literature.
            Then cite a few thousand other cases where said texts are leading people to kill and maim by the thousands.
            Islam is nasty.
            There are thousands upon thousands of incidents to prove it.

          • Michael Waterhouse
            Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

            Oops, I meant Really?
            And seeing as I am here again, I shall repeat it,
            Really?

            • Tim Harris
              Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

              Please, Michael, irony!

              • Tim Harris
                Posted June 25, 2016 at 4:11 am | Permalink

                Although I grow rather fed up with the either/or mentality in cases like these: either mental illness was responsible or the espousal of some religious or political ideology was responsible, and those who choose one alternative are vilified by those who choose the other. Why not ‘and’ instead of ‘or’? And I should say that the killer of Jo Cox seems to have been more driven by ideology than the killer in Orlando, who seems not to have taken much interest in extremist religious politics until after his decision to do what he did. There was certainly not the kind of political motivation that prompted the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

  9. Geoff Toscano
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I’m hearing leave voters today complaining that their European holidays are going to cost more because of the slump in value of sterling.

    Wait until next year when they find that the European funding that was supporting their jobs disappears and they find themselves unemployed.

    • neil
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      …but then all the minimum-wage foreign workers who do all the crappy manual jobs like cabbage-harvesting will have been expelled, so there’ll be work there for them.
      But the entire welfare state, and the employment rights imposed on us by those evil eurocrats will have been swept away, so they’ll be able to go out and pick cabbages for a minimum wage.
      Or starve.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        What is this “minimum wage” thing you refer to?
        Oh, is it one of those civilised niceties lined up against the bullet – pocked wall? “Clip for Boris!”

        • neil
          Posted June 26, 2016 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

          i expect Boris would think that around a farthing a day would be fair wages….

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

            Genuine farthings are too valuable. Penny a day. And get rid of those damned child-labour laws!

  10. Jimmy
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    My only (faint) hope is that a vote of No Confidence in the new Johnson/Gove government will result in defeat for the Conservatives, and the incoming lot will reverse the exit process (As an election policy stand).
    Alas, I don’t really think this will happen 😦

  11. Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Excellent and level headed write-up – thanks! I’m of the opinion that very few things reported as news are meaningful in any way except to those directly involved. This is one of the few times that the actions of a few will have a global effect. Will be fascinating to watch. I’m interested, too, in how the US pols will interpret this. Clinton ‘respects the choice’ made by Brits. What else can she say – she’s just marketing to US customers. Haven’t heard from the Trump yet. My fav reporting so far is on the financial channels decrying how all headlines up to now have been wrong, somehow forgetting that they make up those headlines.

    • colnago80
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      The Donald trumpeted his approval of the decision today from Scotland.

      http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/first-read-trump-takes-surreal-victory-lap-scotland-n598316

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        I saw! Other agencies reporting that the move is good for his golf course business. Priceless!

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

          His “golf course business” near Aberdeen involved about 1000 new houses on previously “green belt” land. With an attached hotel and grounds landscaped for golf.
          I expect the Ayrshire housing estate will be no different.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, he did. But earlier this month, Trump didn’t even recognize the term “Brexit” when questioned about it in an interview. (In his remarks from his Scottish golf resort today, Trump was also blithely unaware that Scotland had voted overwhelmingly in favor of remain.)

        Trump has not studied, nor ever thought seriously about, the issues underlying foreign or domestic policy. And he’s shown no interest in ever doing so. Current events are for him mere fodder for self-promotion, to be spun into a pro-Trump narrative, accuracy and coherency be damned.

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        You beat me to the “trumpeted” phraseology. I am so sorry to learn that the U.S is not the only country afflicted with “Trumpets”. I do hope that the U.S. will not have a Trump presidency. Talking big and knowing nothing is not a good qualification for a president. Remember when lack of foreign policy experience or not having been in office at some level previously was thought to preclude running for president? Trump has no experience to make him suitable for candidacy.

        • chris moffatt
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          But since the post-modernists swept through here a few decades ago all experience is equally worthy, all opinions are equally valid so Trump is as qualified as anyone else.

  12. Petrushka
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I have no knowledge of what will happen. My most trusted British internet correspondent says that UK was a full member of EU, and will likely negotiate agreements keeping many of the more important features of union. I personally believe that the pacification of the world is driven by economic internationalism and not by political fictions.

    My brief exposure to UK (All of it in Remain hotbeds: Oxford, Scotland, London) held a couple of surprises.

    All of the Motorway signs were in miles and miles per hour. In the U.S. our expressway signs have been bilingual for some time.

    In a week of travel I never saw a Euro, and seldom saw prices posted in Euros.Little things like that seem to convey attitudes.

    One last thing. Every election sees celebrities threatening to leave the country if X is elected. Most are still here.

    • ChrisH
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      UK are a full member of the EU, however we have an exception for the common currency. The Euro is not UK currency (although some businesses do accept it) and it is independent of the GBP which is why items are not priced that way.

      As for measurements, well we’re kind of hybrid. There are road signs in yards and metres, and we manage to combine pints, litres, ounces and kg pretty successfully albeit confusingly to everyone not British.

      • Petrushka
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        Americans are used to buying alcohol in metric units. The marketplace is hybrid, and most people are not confused.

        I would guess the blue collar class is less confused, because metric tools and measurements have been common for a long time.

        • Taz
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          Americans are used to buying alcohol in metric units.

          We are? Most of the alcohol I buy is by ounces, pints or fifths.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

          Over the past four or five decades, many American kids first learned to convert grams to ounces and pounds to kilos on the black-market drug trade.

          If you’re metric/avoirdupois bi-numerate, thank your local dope dealer. 🙂

          • darrelle
            Posted June 25, 2016 at 8:38 am | Permalink

            How many joints in a lid?

            • merilee
              Posted June 25, 2016 at 9:15 am | Permalink

              LOL – I haven’t heard the word lid used in that context in ages! Funny term, isn’t it?

      • chris moffatt
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        I currently live in Virginia; the only time I see a bilingual road sign is when I go back to Quebec.

      • Posted June 26, 2016 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        EU countries are not required to adopt the euro as internal currency. My country (Bulgaria) has been in the EU for nearly 10 years, but still no adoption of the euro is in sight, though our national currency is linked to it by a currency board. We actually want to adopt the euro, but the EU bosses are reluctant to allow it, after the bitter experience with Greece.

    • Richard
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      “In a week of travel I never saw a Euro, and seldom saw prices posted in Euros.”

      Perhaps that’s because the UK is not a member of the euro-zone (which is not the same as the EU):

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurozone

      No-one in the UK has any legal obligation to accept euros.

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      All of the Motorway signs were in miles and miles per hour. In the U.S. our expressway signs have been bilingual for some time.

      Okay, I guess I’m displaying my ignorance here. What other country besides the United States of America commonly uses the acronym U.S.? Or was that simply a typo? i.e. What country are you writing about that has duel unit traffic signs?

      (If you are referring to the United States of America, then I wonder what region you’re referring to, because I’ve never seen one.)

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      In a week of travel I never saw a Euro, and seldom saw prices posted in Euros.

      Here in Scotland, we are generally tolerant of foreign money (Bank of England notes) though no ATM dispense them outside airports.
      On the other hand, our currency is generally not accepted south of about Geordieland. (Newcastle, Sunderland etc). Way to make people feel welcomed!

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Come down to Brum any time, Aidan, I’ll accept your dosh. I’ve slipped a few Jocko-notes over the counter at my local offie, fresh from a trek to my sister’s oop in the bit of Jockoland where the locals sound as if they’re unsure whether they’re speaking speak English or Norwegian, and never had a problem. That’s how cosmopolitan we are down here in the biggest urban area in the UK to vote leave.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

          Always hitched straight though Brum. OK – one experience of trying to get a lift from Spaghetti Junction taught me to get off at Corley or Hilton Park if my lift wasn’t going though. Literally never been further into Brum than that.

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        I’ve lived and worked in many parts of England and not once has anyone refused Scottish notes. So this is simply not true.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

          Well you’ve been lucky then. I learned the lesson in Central London and Yorkshire decades ago. When you don’t have time for that sort of argument, you just get used to carrying two currencies.

        • Posted June 28, 2016 at 1:12 am | Permalink

          I had that problem of refused Scottish notes as recently as 2005. That is recent, isn’t it? I found it strange that a single country (no?) could have two currencies of which one was not universally valid.

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        And Bank of England notes are not foreign.

  13. RPGNo1
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    My two cents from Germany:
    – Demagogy triumphed over reason and rationality 😞
    – Welcome, Scotland, to the EU (in the near future)😃

      • RPGNo1
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        Thanks for link! It raised a smile. 😃

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      My two öre* from Sweden, too.

      When Greenland left EU and Iceland the euro market, nothing much good happened except that local democracy was satisfied.

      This time we will get more whiskey and beer! (I doubt the little englanders can afford as much.)

      *The only problem I see is that Sweden moves even farther away from adopting the euro.

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        Oops, I forgot: Iceland revoked their Euro application. they didn’t leave. Likely the latter would have been too messy (c.f. Greenland leaving EU).

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Danke schon.

    • aljones909
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      Scotland, if viewed as a separate entity, has one massively dominant trading partner – England. Trade with the other EU states is a fraction of the trade with England. The case for an independent Scotland has weakened.

      • Rory
        Posted June 25, 2016 at 7:13 am | Permalink

        That’s a good point. But also the case is strengthened, because the Remain vote shows that, once again, the will of the Scottish people does not matter. What the English want is what counts.

        • aljones909
          Posted June 25, 2016 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

          Yes Rory, that’s democracy. Scotland’s phalanx of Labour MP’s put Labour governments in power when England voted otherwise. It looks like the SNP will try to force another referendum. It’s emotion overruling sense (see my comments on the economics). Giving up the vestigial- and reducing control from London in favour of the creeping control of Brussels is mental. It’s the anti-english, little scotlander mentality. Brexit means regaining control of our territorial waters (a vast area from 12 miles to 200 miles were taken by the EU). An independent Scotland would have to hand that back to the Spaniards. The oil revenues don’t look too healthy either

          • ne
            Posted June 26, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

            But you ignore the fact that if England leaves the EU and Scotland stays in, that trade with Europe will increase massively. England will be tied up for years trying to renegotiate trade deals with either the EU as a whole or with member states individually. The Brexit businesses who whine about ‘being smothered in EU red tape’ have seen nothing yet. EVERY crate for import or export will have to be checked at customs. Can you imagine the paperwork and cost?
            Unless Scotland cuts a deal with England to act as a middleman with slightly relaxed rules for English goods. So instead of all England’s trade going through our southern ports, we send it over the border and out through Glasgow,Aberdeen…

            As an Englishman,i was glad Scotland stayed as part of the UK; unity and cooperation are better than fragmentation.
            But after this huge two-fingered salute, if Scotland breaks away, i can’t blame them; we don’t effing well deserve to be your allies.

            And in this whole godawful mess, the only person who seems to be acting with vision and decision is Nicola Sturgeon. Hang on to her, she’ll make a bloody awesome first president of Independent Scotland!

            • aljones909
              Posted June 26, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

              Assuming a Brexit happens then Scotland joining the EU is not straightforward. Another scottish referendum would be required to separate from the UK. Some estimates put the “scottish english” at about 12% of the elctorate. They kept us in the UK at the last poll (thank god) and the Brexit decision is unlikely to change their vote. Passports to visit family will also focus minds. A separatist win isn’t a foregone conclusion.

  14. Billy Bl.
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    We began a independent roving bands of hunter-gatherers, then settled into small farming communities, then city states, then states, then unions of states. Ultimately, if we make it that far, we’ll become a united planet, with local variations. Some areas will be slower than others in coming along.

  15. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Such a grim video to set the mood. As someone who has spent some time in England many years ago I am also sad at this decision. Makes no sense to an outsider but in America, are we ever that far from Britain? I would also add the lousy phase – welcome to our world, but we have no quite lost the battle as yet.

    How loosing 40 percent of your trade agreements in dollar volume is not a mistake leaves me puzzled.

    We have tended to follow Britain in direction for many years but I hope we do not in this case. Britain lost it’s long held status as leader of the world and we are now loosing it as well. They lost much of their manufacturing base and we followed. Maybe they followed us in the demise of unions and labor power and wages. It is hard to keep track.

    Going backward in politics is hardly ever good but the memory is short and here we are.

  16. Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    You have to get your laughs where you can. Trump today celebrated the palpable Scottish excitement at Brexit when Scotland voted overwhelmingly for Remain: once again the presidential mandarin demonstrated his insouciant ignorance of the established fact. His statesman-like response to the collapse in sterling, its worst since 1921? Good for foreign visitors to his characteristically modestly-named – and ‘outstanding’ – Trump International Golf Links, Scotland. Touché, or rather, toupee.

    Fox News ran today with the surprising headline that the UK has voted to quit the UN. I am struggling to think what other international organization the UK can quit but I would be expecting an unexpected e-mail if I were Head of the Commonwealth.

    Now that the Poujadist Farage’s project has won, I wonder if he himself will disappear. After all, Gove and Johnson are riding the demagogic right-wing donkey: against the backing of half the Tory Party, Nigel probably can’t compete. Nevertheless, UKIP could still take votes of the white working-class from Labour due to Corbyn’s inability to admit that there really is an optimum level of immigration. The denial at the top of the LP reminds one of Obama’s inability to name the problem.

    On nationality, maybe it’s time I hunted down my birth certificate to apply for my Irish citizenship.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      You need your birth certificate, the birth cert for your Irish parent, your parents marriage cert, and ditto back to the grandparent (minimum of 1) who was an Irish citizen.
      I think . It’s high on my to-do list. I (in voce Cobb ) should have done it years ago.

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        I was born in Derry, Aidan. If you were born on the island of God’s own country, you’re entitled to Irish citizenship. It should be simpler for me as long as I can disexpress my lazy feckin’ arse gene.

  17. Kevin
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    On a good note, I have not heard Portishead in years. Magnificent.

    Alas, what a strange play of events. Science or Art almost never win, though, they almost never do.

    On a very selfish note, will this make Scotch cheaper in the US?

    • GBJames
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      I hadn’t thought of that bright side possibility. A cheaper dram of Bunnahabhain!

      • Kevin
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        All hail Islay. The isle of my dreams.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

          My paternal grandmother was born on Islay.

          • Kevin
            Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

            Not sure if her mitochondria made it into you. 🙂 cf. two posts up. Laphroaig claims I’ve got a named square of peat somewhere on the island. I will visit one day when the kids are grown.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted June 24, 2016 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

              I’d love to visit Islay and the other western isles. Actually the whole of Scotland. 3/4 of my ancestry is Scottish (pretty obvious from the name really!) and I’ve looked into my genealogy a bit as well as a lot of the history so it’d be cool to see all the places I’ve read about. It’s a beautiful country when it’s not raining too.

              • Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

                OK, Heather, I’m gonna get all sentimental, Gaelic and romantic. If ye can, go to the Western Isles. My sister used to live on Eriskay. Do you know the film ‘Whiskey Galore’, the story of a WWII shipwreck? The locals of Eriskay rescued its cargo of thousands of bottles of the hard stuff and spent the next few years getting hammered. You can still walk around the isle, 2 miles by 3 miles, population 150, and find the odd secreted bottle of the water of life.

                My sister was the primary school teacher. She had a class of 10 aged from 5 to 11 years old: 2 of her pupils were her own kids. Deirdre lived in the primary school-teacher’s house across the playground from the classroom. In winter it could be so windy that the children would have to hold hands when going out to play in order not to be blown away: regularly the wind would blow them off their feet.

                New Year’s Eve: a high northern point on the island is the Catholic Church on a bluff above the sound stretching a mile north to South Uist. (The priest, featured in a BBC documentary, 70 years old or so and a native of the island, had been fast-tracked to the Vatican in his youth, but hated the politicking and returned to his place of birth. Parenthetically, that didn’t stop him being a complete b**tard to my sister and her man, but that’s a whole nother story). Everyone gets bladdered at home. Billy, the local drunk, chez my sister at 11.50 p.m. says, “I’m gunna ring dat bell!” He’s referring to the bell outside the church up on the hill as the Atlantic wind whips round us. Billy, Peter, my brother-in-law and I, drunkenly lurch up the hill in the roaring gael (pardon the pun) to ring dat bell. And so we do. The wind is so strong from the south that nobody on the island can hear it. Even if you are 2 yards up-wind of the tolls you can’t hear them. That’s how fierce the Western Isles zephyrs can be.

                On Eriskay, you can see the otters, seals, eagles, corncrakes, machair and dolphins. I don’t think I have been happier than I have been on the Western isles.

                Go, if you can, Heather. For the light, for the aquamarine sea, for the sense of edge-of-the-worldness.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

                Wow! Thanks so much for that Dermot. Cool story!

                And a cool fact from history: in the mid-late 19th century, enough whisky was being produced and sold within Scotland that that every man, woman, and child would have had to drink a pint a day to get through it all. And no, I’m not making that up.

              • Tim Harris
                Posted June 25, 2016 at 4:24 am | Permalink

                And why not read some of the poetry of Somhairle MacGill-Eain (Sorley MacLean), the great Gaelic poet from the Western Isles? I recommend ‘Coilltean Ratharsair’ (The Woods of Raasay’), ‘An t-Eilean’ (The Island) and one of the greatest 20th-century poems to come from the British Isles: ‘Hallaig’. His poetry has wonderful, and harrowing, descriptions of the Western Isles.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted June 25, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

                Thanks. I’ll look it up. 🙂

              • Jonathan Wallace
                Posted June 26, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

                “It’s a beautiful country when it’s not raining too.”

                Even when it is raining (which is often).

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        To inject a lighter note (not very light – we talk of Bunahabhain!), you are aware that Scotland exports the stuff we don’t want to drink ourselves.
        Memo to self : a wee dram of the Good Stuff to PCC (E) to “wet the boots”. Sound like a good idea? It’ll end up with a stupendously wide – ranging drinks cabinet. “Give me an hour or three – I think I’ve got some of that.”[searching noises]

        • Kevin
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          All the more reason I must come to Scotland to get what locals get. In truth, I’ve Scottish neighbors and they have brought some of what you claim exists…and I can confirm, to mis-quote a ‘near-Scotsman’:

          There are more [Scotches] in [Scotland], Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your [USA].

    • Mike
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      The rise of UKIP is troubling indeed. After 60 years since the end of WW2 it seems that capitalism is sowing the seeds of fascism once again.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        And the Kippers don’t see it in themselves.
        But most 1929-ish Germans probably didn’t either. (That begs a German to enlighten us; I for one am fully aware that the hoomin Kitler started to fill the KZ with political opponents, not particularly Jews. Being a Jewish Communist or Trade Unionist was particularly unhealthy though.)
        Milgrom, wasn’t it? Work people into being brutes by stages.
        Why am I referencing Milgrom? Drill Sergeants have done this for centuries. That thing about screaming like a 2 – minute Hate as you stick a forearm – long knife into the guts of a scarecrow didn’t happen by accident.
        Hello Dr Goodwin. There is a place for you over there.

  18. Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Wow, interesting times. Good luck to those of you in the UK. I watched the results coming in until the BBC called the result – sometime after ten last night (six hours to the west is a good distance to see election data and remain awake).

    This morning I woke to texts from family members in states ranging from close to ecstasy to morbid fear and loathing. While some of the “leave” family members fitted the “older and less educated” profile others included professional young graduates – so pretty mixed. The “remain” crowd were also pretty mixed in age and education.

    From a personal perspective it’s not the result I wanted (or expected) however it will be interesting to sit and watch what happens. Perhaps it will make the faceless bureaucrats take notice – but I’m not holding my breath – honestly the elected politicians are really not too accountable either. Glad I didn’t rent a car from LHR yesterday, it will be cheaper in USD today!

  19. Thomas McCorvie
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I’m angry. Both as a citizen from Northern Ireland and as a scientist working in the UK. This is a dark day indeed for working together and risks instability for the union of the UK and UK science.

    • Craw
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      If being in the Big Union is always necessarily the best thing, then shouldn’t Canada join the USA?

      • Reginald Selkirk
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        It is a part of NAFTA.

      • chris moffatt
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        And have Trump or Clinton as leader. No, no a thousand times no! Trudeau may be a jackass but he’s our jackass – we don’t want yours.

    • Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      You have a lot of company. There are a lot of angry people these days. All angry for different reasons, of course. 😖

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Hi Thomas,
      Did you see my … straining … up-thread about how to refer to your home province? I took a line from [forgotten name, a BBC commentator] who did, some years ago, a series of reports from what he called “Stroke City”, a.k.a. Londonderry / (“stroke”) Derry.
      As a native or resident, do you think it appropriate or inappropriate for me to extend that usage to … encapsulate … the cumbersome phrase “Ulster / (stroke) Northern Ireland?
      I ask for information, and will probably comply with your recommendation (No promise; “probably”.) FYI, When appropriate, I wear the Co.Cork tartan by right; however, one of my closest friends was a Protestant Republican from Bangor Co.Down. In this fight, I think my dogs are fairly close to evenly balanced.

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        Sorry to interrupt again, Aidan, but I rather like ‘FATLAD’ – Fermanagh, Armagh, Tyrone, Londonderry, Antrim, Down. (FATDAD if you want to change Londonderry to Derry).

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

          Nice one.

  20. Tim Harris
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Coel, in what way is Matthew’s account ‘one-sided’? It is wrong to make such accusations without saying why you think they are justified.

    Having lived 43 years in Japan, no doubt I have small say in these matters, despite being still a British citizen, but what strikes me about this sorry business is that it largely results, as does Drumpfism, from the neo-liberal economic policies that have, since the time of Thatcher & Reagan, been used to dismantle the social democracies, with their basic idea of fairness, that were created after the Second World War. A great number of former Labour supporters, as Farage, surrounded by a group of men who looked like members of the Mosley marches in the Thirties, proudly announced in his ‘victory’ speech, had gone over to the semi-fascist UKIP – while post-Blair Labour, eager, even under Corbyn, to appear ‘respectable’ to the world’s financiers, twiddled its thumbs and prevaricated. It is doubtful that Labour are going to win back those voters – they are gone. And, as Matthew suggests, things aren’t going to get better for them. Farage is a thoroughly
    nasty piece of work – see this letter, sent to me by a poet friend who was at the same school as Farage, from a teacher at the school objecting to Farage being made a prefect https://www.scribd.com/doc/169454715/Nigel-Farage-1981-school-letter ; and whether it is Boris Johnson or he who holds power, the consequence is likely to be, as Matthew says, a further squeezing of the poor and enriching of the rich, after the manner of Brownback in Kansas or the the swine hose name I can’t be bothered to remember in Michigan

    The EU assuredly has its faults, and serious ones, but successive British governments, with their assumption that the EU should exist mainly to serve British interests and their constant complaints, have shown small interest in trying to make the EU better.

    • Richard
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      So you’ll go back thirty-five years, to when Farage was a seventeen year-old schoolboy, to try to find something to discredit him.

      Pathetic.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        Oh Richard, Richard, one doesn’t have to go back thirty five years to discredit Farage. Perhaps you don’t follow things very closely?

        • Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          +1

        • Richard
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

          Oh Tim, Tim, well then, if there’s so much contemporary evidence to discredit him, why did you feel the need to drag up something from thirty-five years in the past? Are you still the same person that you were as a schoolboy? I know that I am certainly not. Do you really think that what someone said, thought or did at the pre-adult age of seventeen has any relevance to their opinions at the age of fifty-two?

          Your post seems to indicate such a hatred of Farage that you will go to any lengths, no matter how absurd, to find some reason to disparage him.

          • Tim Harris
            Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

            One doesn’t have to go
            To many lengths – oh, no –
            To disparage
            Nigel Farage.

            • Tim Harris
              Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

              One doesn’t have to go
              To many lengths, you know,
              To disparage
              Nigel Farage.

              Improved squib.

          • Tim Harris
            Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

            ‘Do you really think that what someone said, thought or did at the pre-adult age of seventeen has any relevance to their opinions at the age of fifty-two?’

            Is that a serious question? There is an obvious relevance. The fact that you may have been an ardent Marxist at 16 and are now a fervent Faragist has no relevance to Farage’s political development, or lack of it.

    • Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Coel, in what way is Matthew’s account ‘one-sided’? It is wrong to make such accusations without saying why you think they are justified.

      Well I could, but it’d make for a rather long comment!

      • Tim Harris
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        Well, why not make a rather long comment. It may well be interesting. I certainly should be interested.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Hi Tim.
      I struggle for a Japanese greeting. Sorry, it has gone. And would probably only be appropriate over the Goban. I apologise.
      I am very glad to see someone else recognise the “Farage Youth” for their antecedents. Scary … things.
      Actually, that the least impolite word I can find for them is “things”. I am dehumanising them. And I should not do that
      No, that convinces me that “leave” is right for me. I should take myself and my 30-odd K£ per year of tax revenue away from London.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Doomo, doomo!

  21. barn owl
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    It’s a sad day when so many make a wrong decision on an issue about which even Jeremy Clarkson was correct.

  22. Dominic
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    The EU has been very good at top down but not bottom up – it was as much a victim of its past & its creators as the UK. Once you are stuck in a system it is very hard to change it rather than breaking it. The UK has common law – that makes for quite a different way of looking at the world I would suggest.

    Yes, maybe it was all a big mistake but it is done & it does not HAVE to be the end of the world.

    “My you live in interesting times…”

  23. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    For ignorant Americans, John Oliver’s 15 min spiel on this is helpful – look it up on YouTube – long but worth it. Now I know what a colossal D-bag Farage is.

    I wonder why – it seems to me – Brexit is a decision to F around with what’s well and good – is there something else the politicians are trying to hide? Don’t answer that!

    • Peter Austin
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Re: ‘Now I know what a colossal D-bag Farage is.’

      I must admit I was quite ignorant of the man and what he stood for, so I just ‘Wikipedia-ed’ him.

      I think I concur with the ‘colossal D-bag’ sentiment:

      ‘[Farage] addressed the former Belgian Prime Minister and first long-term President of the European Council saying that he [Herman Van Rompuy] had the “charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of low grade bank clerk”.
      Farage questioned the legitimacy of Van Rompuy’s appointment, asking “Who are you? I’d never heard of you, nobody in Europe had ever heard of you.”‘

      (Despite of Farage’s claim to never having heard of Herman Van Rompuy, he nevertheless then went on to accuse him of having “… the intention to be the quiet assassin of European democracy and of the European nation states.”)

  24. Tim Harris
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    sub

  25. DrBrydon
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Not sure about the stay or go question, but I think the breakup of the UK would be a bad thing for each of its members. The process has two years to run, though. Many things can happen in that time. English voters may decide that the breakup of the UK is a Bad thing, and stop the exit process. And, who knows, maybe the horse will sing?

    • Dominic
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Maybe the hoarse will sing 🙂

  26. Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I agree with most of this.

    I’m very pessimistic about the outlook for the UK after this catastrophic vote. The Union will soon come to an end and the economy will suffer from these disunions, leaving the rump of England and Wales to stagger on, with a much reduced economy, without any significant influence in the world. This has been brought on by a Leave campaign that blamed the situation of Labour voters on the EU, when it is in fact the direct consequence of the credit crunch and right wing (including New Labour) economic policies over many years.

    But maybe that’s not so terrible. Many countries get by without blundering around the world stage like the UK has done for centuries, so perhaps it’s time, like Candide, to look after our own garden. But there will be a serious price to pay on our way to accepting this new reduced position in the world, and I know that the Tory grandees leading the Leave campaign and the media barons will not be the ones to pay that price.

    • Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      The Union will soon come to an end and the economy will suffer from these disunions, leaving the rump of England and Wales to stagger on, with a much reduced economy, without any significant influence in the world.

      It’s amazing how people treat the absolute size of the economy — as oppose to the wealth PER CAPITA — as the important thing. Also, why is “influence” so essential?

      Many of the countries with the best quality of life and a high standard of living are relatively small countries.

      Have a look at this list: the “where to be born” index. Many near the top are small and independent nations.

      • Craw
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        Indeed. As I saked before, why don’t these arguments apply to canada. No-one seriously thinks Canada should join the US.
        And look at Switzerland and Norway. Compare them to Greece. Maybe Brexit is an error, but it’s not because being in the Big Union is necessarily a good thing.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted June 25, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

          NAFTA.

          • Richard
            Posted June 26, 2016 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

            Does NAFTA allow the USA to make 70% of Canada’s laws?

            • Posted June 27, 2016 at 6:57 am | Permalink

              It did allow the US to treat Mexico as a dumping ground for unsavoury practices, with massive job losses, large losses of income, and small firms largely cleared out to make way for big multinationals, many of which came from the USA. NAFTA basically enabled the US to do to Mexico what TTIP threatened to do to European sovereignties; it gave a way for companies “to sue governments for the removal of regulations which might affect their profits” (Source: http://www.monbiot.com/2000/09/07/vote-conservative-for-a-federal-superstate/).

              I don’t know what it’s effect on Canada was, but NAFTA is not so benign.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted June 27, 2016 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

                Many jobs were lost to Mexico in Canada which I blame on the low wages and unfair labour the corrupt Mexican government allows.

                The US also forced Canada to put additives in things like gas that are dangerous but who knows if that’s still the case.

                However, I never argued NAFTA was benign or that it made “70% of the laws in Canada” but that Ahaving a free trade agreement necessitated that The countries involved give away their sovereignty.

  27. Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I was a graduate student at the LSE in 1963 when the debate on joining the Common Market was gaining momentum.

    If the organization had remained a trading bloc, British membership might never have become an issue. But in 1993, the trading bloc transformed itself into a single market, which could only be achieved with a single labour market, free movement of people, and substantial transfer of sovereignty to supra-national agencies.

    This worked well for the European elites with the flexibility to adapt. But as we have seen from the vote, the single market was a bridge too far for more than half the population of England and Wales.

    I have read that it’s possible to boil someone in a big pot of water without complaint, so long as you apply heat slowly.

    So it might have been with the EU. But too far, too fast. That was the problem.

    A separate issue is the practical one of Brexiting. I believe it is possible for England and Wales to exit without invoking Article 50.

    That could be accomplished by England and Wales exiting the United Kingdom.

    Scotland and England would amend the Act of Union so that England and Wales leave the Union, thereby leaving the rump–Scotland and Northern Ireland remaining in the EU as the UK.

    This would be, in effect, a legal fiction that would also preserve the status of the remaining UK colonies and possessions (such as Gibraltar) vis-a-vis the EU.

    It would also open the door for a new nationality to be created for England and Wales, leaving UK nationals the rights they now have within the EU. Dual nationality and the rights of dual nationals would be subject of negotiation with the EU.

    Some of the offshore islands, such as the Jersey Islands, are not part of the UK and would presumably maintain their status quo.

    I am not arguing for either side of Brexit, but merely suggesting a path for negotiation that would ease some dislocations that Brexit could cause.

    I personally do not doubt that England and Wales can prosper as well as several other European states, such as Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland.

    I should say by way of disclaimer that I am British but not English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish.

    • Richard
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      No such thing as “the Jersey islands”. They are the Channel Islands, and the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey are independent of each other. I’m guessing you are a Manxman.

      For England and Wales (total population aprox 56 million) to leave the Union, leaving Scotland and Northern Ireland (total population approx 7 million) as the UK, is a very odd idea. Interesting, though.

  28. barn owl
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    It will be OK, Brexiters – with climate change, much of England will be warmer and wetter, so you can grow more of your own food.

    Of course if the the Gulf Stream circulation shuts down, it will be more like Game of Thrones … Winter is coming.

    • Posted June 26, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Leaving the EU will hardly put England and Wales under a global trade embargo. They will export something and buy food, as they did before EU. I actually see no reason why they cannot continue trading with EU.

      • Richard
        Posted June 26, 2016 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

        The British drink more champagne than anyone else except the French themselves. I rather doubt that the French wine makers will want to lose that market. Or that the Germans will want us to stop buying their BMWs.

  29. Historian
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    It seems to be a sociological and historical fact that whenever groups feel threatened, regardless of the reason or cause, they will be susceptible to extremist arguments by demagogues. Today, in both the United States and Europe, lower and working class people are suffering economically. Unable to comprehend the true source of their plight, they strike out at what they perceive is the cause of their trouble – immigrants. In other words, ruling classes are adept at using divide-and-conquer tactics to maintain their power. Bernie Sanders has relentlessly pointed this out, but only with limited success.

    There is in the air a whiff of the 1930s. Like then, economic distress created the emergence of right-wing demagogues with Hitler being the obvious main example. Fortunately for the U.S. democratic institutions were strong enough to elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, who saved both capitalism and democracy. Will Hillary Clinton be strong enough to defeat the proto-fascist Trump? I hope so, but I’ll be holding my breath until Election Day. Are the democratic institutions of Europe strong enough to resist the rise of proto-fascist populists in several of its countries? I don’t know enough about European politics to render a judgment. But, certainly the times are perilous. What needs to be done in both Europe and the United States is for the ruling classes to see that the 99% get a bigger piece of the pie. In the United States, the Republican Party, supported by white middle and lower class voters who have the uncanny knack of voting against their best interests, is doing its best to see that this doesn’t happen

    • Mike Cracraft
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      This is spot on. I’m currently reading Richard Evans’ 3 volume history of the Third Reich and
      it seems that it’s starting to happen all over again.

    • Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      “A whiff of the 1930s” would include the fact that numerous U.S. citizens were pro-German or pro-Communist. There were clubs. There were newspapers. We were still suffering the effects (not yet aftereffects) of “The Great Depression”. At that time, there were many in the U.S. who did not laud FDR for his actions.

      I don’t understand why businesses and employees dependent on mining, oil extraction or similar non-infinite materials expect the “good times” to continue forever. Maybe if such businesses would build in clean up into the work, there would be jobs for a more extended period of time. Mining in Appalachia has destroyed the terrain when blowing up mountains became modus operandi for accessing veins of coal (not that there wasn’t destruction using other methods before.) Oklahoma, Kansas, Ohio, etc., are experiencing earthquakes directly related to fracking. It may take a very long time for this to abate. I’m not sure it’s known how to overturn the effects of pumping salt water into aquifers. Canada and the U.S. are endangered by rail transport of Bakken Shale oil from the oil fields to the west coast for ocean transport. There has been much oil spillage damage and fires. There will be more. Oil exploration and drilling stopped in process are a major problem for Texas and other oil-rich states.

      Any attempts to equalize economic opportunities of a collection of countries tends to reduce the economic well-being of formerly well-off people in individual countries. Many moons before NAFTA, my husband predicted the reduced incomes that came about for middle and working class Americans in the U.S. Equalization takes from the middle and working classes to give to the former peons in other countries who will work for less but make more than they used to do. (We also help enrich the 1% in those countries. Can’t seem to prevent it.)

      I can forsee a planet-wide version of “musical chairs” as many of us try to find a more sane place to live. Many times in the past, my husband and I have considered such a move from the U.S. to Canada or one of the Scandinavian countries. Unfortunately, he is no longer here
      to look for a better earthly place. Any suggestions?!

      • Historian
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        “Any attempts to equalize economic opportunities of a collection of countries tends to reduce the economic well-being of formerly well-off people in individual countries.”

        This viewpoint is based on the premise that the sum of economic wealth is fixed, i.e., if one group gains economically another must lose. I don’t believe this is true. Generally, since the dawn of the industrial revolution in the late 1700s, the world’s wealth has vastly expanded, albeit in fits and starts and with some groups benefiting significantly more than others. Since the great recession of 2008, the growth of the economic pie for most people in the world has slowed considerably except for the 1%. The current challenge to the world is two-fold. First, economic growth must accelerate. Second, the distribution of the world’s wealth must be fairer. I have doubts that the world’s elites recognize that implementation of the second point is in their best interest. When a large portion of a population feels economically repressed civil unrest often emerges. As I mentioned in my original comment, ruling classes are often able to maintain their power by divide-and-conquer tactics and also by appeals to blind nationalism. However, these tactics don’t always work. The Russian Revolution of 1917 is a prime example of where things got so bad for the Russian masses that virtually the entire aristocracy was slept away. And, as sometimes the case, the new regime can be more horrible than the old.

        Thus, today’s ruling classes are playing a dangerous game. They may be able to hold power for a while, but unless they are able to placate the masses through true economic reform, they are risking the fate of the Czar and his friends. In the past the American ruling class has realized this and has managed to maintain power by grudgingly accepting reforms such as those of the New Deal under FDR. Whether the current crop of the economic elite and their toadies realize this is still an open question.

    • Richard
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      “lower and working class people are suffering economically. Unable to comprehend the true source of their plight, ”

      Spoken like a true classist. Perhaps those poor benighted sheep of the lower orders would benefit from the shining light of your wisdom explaining the true source?

      I came from a working class family, and my father had no problem in understanding political, social and economic issues.

      • Historian
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Aside from you committing the logical fallacy of extrapolating from a single example to the whole, I trust your father was a good Democrat.

        • Richard
          Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

          What was your fallacy? Generalizing from some, or many, to all?

          Actually, where I come from there are no political parties, and legislators are elected to office purely on their own individual merits and policies. As a result, for many years we have had low taxation, full employment and a balanced budget.

          Your second fallacy: assuming that everyone who posts on the internet lives in the USA and hence is either Republican or Democrat. Let’s see, how big is this world again?

          • Tim Harris
            Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

            And where is this Earthly Paradise, this Erewhon, you come from?

            • Richard
              Posted June 25, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

              It’s a very nice place with a good climate and one of the highest life expectancies in the world. And I shall soon be retiring there.

              • Tim Harris
                Posted June 26, 2016 at 2:54 am | Permalink

                Enjoy that life expectancy!

  30. Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    It’s easy to say this from my comfy, air conditioned home on a day off from a nice job …but these are fascinating times to live in.

    I have to wonder if we have more of the same coming. When even US presidential contenders – at least the two leading ‘lights’ – cannot speak on issues but only hurl acrimony at each other we have lost something. We can no longer speak aloud at universities for fear of hurting someone’s feelings and comic book writers live in fear of being decapitated for drawing the wrong picture.

  31. keith cook ±
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Commisseration and celebration, I think sadly there is no ‘Churchill’ to pull it all together again, cause I don’t like your choices, chin up Matt, have a cuppa mate. We got shafted when you lot joined the EEC but we got over it and refocused. Listenening to a radio national (NZ) interview earlier, we downunder will be gearing up to see where we can regain lost ground at the very least we Commonwealth members don’t meddle in the UK’s affairs. BUT,we would not be rolling over to be dorked again, although we are a little worried our wine sales will drop off…

    • Richard
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Well, if France, Italy, Spain, etc. are no longer willing to sell us their wine, I am sure that we will be able to make up the short-fall with wine from NZ, Oz, South Africa, Chile, and wherever else in the world good wine is made!

      One good thing about the UK is that although we do not make wine (well, not in large quantities, though there is a vineyard only a few miles away from me) is that we get wine from everywhere in the world.

      I look forward to drinking more from Marlborough. 🙂

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        Try some California at least.

        • Richard
          Posted June 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          Yup, I also like Californian Zinfandel. 🙂

      • Posted June 26, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        As I wrote above, I cannot understand why trade is made such big issue! I wish my country (in EU, at least for now) to trade with all countries with which we are at peace. We actually buy many goods from Turkey, Macedonia, USA and other non-EU countries.

  32. Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Hi Tim Harris,

    Well, why not make a rather long comment. It may well be interesting. I certainly should be interested.

    Well ok then. Some points:

    “A new right-wing Brexit government, which no one has voted for, will come to power in October, probably led by the cynical pretend-buffoon Boris Johnson, who opted for Leave because it gave him the best chance of becoming Prime Minister.”

    Assertion of bad faith to Johnson. It is possible that he actually believes that the UK is better off with Brexit! Also, the new government is unlikely to be any further “right” than the current one.

    All along the EU and the Bremainers have simply disrespected those who are critical of the EU; that has come back to bite them. Maybe if the EU had treated the people’s opinion (in many countries, not just in the EU) as rather more important then this wouldn’t have happened. But the Eurocrats have always treated the ever-closer-union project as far more important than any democratic assent for the project.

    “… but because membership has transformed the UK for the better.”

    Highly dubious claim that it is the EU that has transformed the UK, while lacking any control experiment to make such a claim. None-EU nations such as Norway and Switzerland are not vastly worse off.

    “… UK politics has increasingly been dominated by the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) ”

    Not really. Dominated by a party with one MP? The dominant party is actually Cameron’s Conservatives. UKIP is just a recipient of the protest vote. If people want to protest against the EU, then maybe the EU should have a think about why?

    “The campaign was widely disliked, marked by lies and distortions (primarily on the Leave side, …)”

    … and equally on the Remain side, with huge amounts of scare-mongering misinformation and near-open contempt for anyone critical of the EU.

    “… the odious Michael Gove, who spent his time contemptuously dismissing the views of ‘experts’.”

    There was one (I think?) statement dismissive of economic “experts”, the same “experts” who designed the Euro. Yet the Euro has worked vastly worse than hoped. The Greek crisis and the wider Euro crisis does not inspire confidence that pro-EU economic experts actually know what they’re talking about.

    “… substantial influx of young workers, in particular from Eastern Europe who have kept the economy ticking over.”

    Eastern-European immigration has supported and increased GDP, but **not** GDP per capita. More people => higher GDP yes, and the pro-immigration lobby trumpet that as immigration making Britain richer. But no, “wealth” is about GDP per capita, not GDP. The pro-immigration lobby never point to GDP per capita.

    “This growth (less than 0.5% per year) was portrayed as being the cause of problems in the National Health Service in particular, problems which were in fact due to the government’s austerity policies.”

    No, actually, problems with health services, as in most countries, are caused by people living longer and by the increased capability and hence cost of health care. It is tendentious to blame “austerity policies” that arose from the financial crash under the *previous* government.

    “Remain, those in poorer areas – ironically those that rely most on EU financial support – voted Leave. ”

    It’s amazing how grateful people are to the EU for returning some of our subscription money to us. The fact is that the UK has been a net contributor to the EU every year. Yet people talk about “EU funding” as though we were a net recipient!

    “The Leave camp are confident that the UK will move into bright uplands, as they trash the regulations that the EU has put on business, leading to lower wages, fewer workers’ rights, less environmental protection …”

    The “leave camp” are not a homogeneous lot, but the leading figures have not asked for lower wages, fewer workers’ rights and less environmental protection. The *biggest* thing keeping wages down is immigration from the poorer economies of Eastern Europe! Which camp is in favour of that?

    “On a parochial level, UK universities, and science in particular, are going to be clobbered. ”

    We don’t know that.

    “Funding will drop, interactions with Europe will decline, and there will be bad times all around.”

    We don’t know any of those things. No-one in the Leave camp has proposed those things as policies.

    “I predict that many colleagues who are European will be looking for jobs elsewhere – why stay in a country that doesn’t want you?”

    Some prominent Leave supporters have argued *for* immigration of PhD-level talent. No-one has said that such people are unwelcome. (They may want to put a cap on low-wage, unskilled immigration, yes.)

    “I suggest you start trawling through UK university websites – I suspect you will find many people eager to discuss moving.”

    I bet you won’t. There are many things attractive about university jobs in the UK. And people do not (as far as I’m aware) avoid universities in places like Switzerland just because they’re not in the EU.

    “There is a right-wing populist movement going on, feeding off fears and discontent, …”

    Well yes, there is discontent about the anti-democratic tendencies of the EU, where the views of the people don’t count for much. But this is not “right wing” (unless your definition of “right wing” is whatever you dislike). It’s pretty clear that large numbers of Labour supporters voted for Brexit.

    Overall message to EU politicians: you need to take the people with you, not just dismiss their opinion!

    • Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      You are certainly correct that the EU leaves a lot to desire. What can you do with a political organism based not on a 12-page constitution but on thousands of lines of treaty text? Where only the Commission (which is not elected by the people directly) can propose legislation?

      If this were France or the Netherlands or Ireland, the referendum would either be ignored or rerun. Is that democracy?

    • Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Boris had a leave and a stay piece prepared and only made his decision to go witH Leave at the last minuTe. A few months ago he was pretty firmly remain. The suspicion is that he only wanted to shaft Cameron and chose the contrary side for that reason. It might not be true but it has the ring of truth.

      • Leigh Jackson
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

        Boris may be feeling a little queer.

        He looked pretty shaken, I thought, in his “I come to praise Cameron not to bury him” soliloquy.

        A Leave win was not necessary for him to become the next Prime Minister. If he believed that Remain would win with or without his support, why would he not have acted so as to do himself the most good? His ambition is as naked as a new born babe. And if Leave did by some chance happen to win, so much the better; for him if nobody else.

        Still, when he saw Cameron outside Downing Street, falling on his sword, Boris may have blanched a little at the spectacle.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      +1

      Everyone worries about change and the Remain case was posed as the safe ‘satus quo’. But this was misleading since the EU has plans for ‘ever closer union’, unifying tax rates and the minimum wage without first achieving a common standard of economic development. Political ideology is driving the change irrespective of the collateral damage to the poor.

      You can argue that more highly centralized government is ‘progressive’ – but not at any cost.

    • aljones909
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      “Overall message to EU politicians: you need to take the people with you, not just dismiss their opinion!”
      Juncker ( president of EU, from Luxembourg, unelected, appointed by the European Peoples Party (no one in the UIK has heard of the European Peoples Party) ) commenting before the vote:

      “We have concluded a deal with the Prime Minister, he got the maximum he could receive, we gave the maximum we could give. So there will be no kind of renegotiation, nor on the agreement we found in February, nor as far as any kind of treaty negotiations are concerned…. Out is out.”

      This was a quite astonishing example of the arrogance of the EU high command.

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        There were serious reasons to vote Leave and they should be treated with respect. The main one, as far as I am concerned, is the structural lack of democracy at the centre of the decision-making process. And the result is that you have an astonishing arrogance and authoritarianism in the Leaders of the EU who view themselves as beyond accountable.

        Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens (pro-Remain) wrote this week that the EU has little to do with the 70 or so years of relative European peace since WWII, ascribing it to the existence of NATO. I disagree. I credit it partially to both, and to other factors. To take the most satiric and extreme anti-EU talking point, that it wastes its time determining the ideal curvature of bananas: well, I’d prefer our continent do that around some table rather than megaphone the war party of the Germans, French, British or Italians.

        The 70-year European dividend in relative peace and human (as well as my) well-being, I assume, is economically incalculable. For that reason I voted Remain, and lowered my record of being on the winning side in national UK elections to 30%.

        Look at the powerful and consequential forces who line up with you when you vote ‘Leave’. For a start, Marine Le Pen: the French NF are not that far away from having real governmental power in France. Who else? Putin. Need I go on?

        Ruth Davidson, the lesbian Leader of the Scottish Tory Party – and there’s a description which tells you how times have changed – eloquently called out Johnson the other night for his lies. The fallout today from Brexit reminds me of Sam Harris’ demolition of Trump as an ignoramus.

        By 9 a.m. Farage reneged on the £350 million per week to go to the NHS as a result of Brexit. Dan Hannan of Vote Leave says that movement of labour across the EU won’t be affected by Brexit. Isn’t that what the referendum was about? The Mayor of Calais wants to scrap the agreement which keeps migrants there rather than Dover. The pound nosedives and European EU trade reps say that the UK can expect similar trading regulations to those of Turkey.

        The leaders of the Leave campaign have simply lied and are making it up as they go along. They’re busking it. From their demeanour, I would judge that Gove, to give him some credit, does actually believe what he is saying. It’s palpably obvious that Trump knows little and cares less about policy: Johnson, the de facto leader of the Leave campaign, occupies the middle of the spectrum between the anti-expert Gove and expert-anti Trump.

      • Nick
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        The European People’s Party is the name for the association of mainstream centre-right parties across the EU, such as the CDU in Germany, PP in Spain, and Republicains in France. British people used to know it best as the Conservative party, until Cameron withdrew from the group to show his Eurosceptic credentials.

        The reason that Junker is president of the Commission is that the parties making up the EPP won the European Parliament elections in 2014, having already put him forward as their candidate for President if they won. If the Party of European Socialists (another collective name for the centre left parties, so in the UK, the Labour Party) had won, then the Commission President would have been Martin Schultz.

        In other words, Junker was elected, and if his party loses the 2019 European elections, he’ll be out.

        But they certainly failed to take people with them.

        • Posted June 28, 2016 at 1:09 am | Permalink

          Well, he was elected indirectly, by the parliament, not by popular vote. Nobody actually voted for him, even if they voted for people who later did. Hardly what I, for one, would call democratic.

          Now if you want to compare that to some other countries, where you have the right to vote to choose between a very small number of very rich persons who have been selected by someone else…

          • Filippo
            Posted June 28, 2016 at 5:36 am | Permalink

            “Now if you want to compare that to some other countries, where you have the right to vote to choose between a very small number of very rich persons who have been selected by someone else…”

            Beyond that, technically not directly voting for (a U.S. presidential) candidate but for a small subset of a group of less than 600 “electors” composing an “electoral college,” creating a situation where one candidate can win the electoral vote, though the other candidate has more popular votes.

          • Nick
            Posted June 28, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

            He was elected indirectly, but most commentary suggests he wasn’t elected at all. Which is untrue.

            • Nick
              Posted June 28, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

              On further reflection, Juncker was no more “indirectly” elected than the British PM. Each party grouping had nominated its candidate for Commission President in advance, so everybody voting for that party knew (or at least had been told) which Presidential candidate that vote supported.

              Similarly, in the UK last time round, neither Miliband nor Cameron were on the ballot party in my constituency, but a vote for Labour favoured one and for the Tories the other.

              • Posted June 28, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

                Sorry, I don’t understand. Are you saying Juncker and the PM are elected indirectly, or what?

              • Nick
                Posted June 28, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

                In short, yes. Neither holds a directly elected position. Both were appointed to their position because their parties won their respective elections. So any description that applies to one, applies to the other.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Coel, for your thoughtful response. I certainly agree that EU politicians need to take the people with them, not just dismiss their opinion.

    • Posted June 26, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      + 1

  33. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    The only thing I have to add to Matthew ‘ comments is on this point :

    I do not believe for an instant that there is any prospect of the UK not leaving

    Since every Scottish politician has not just a mandate, but a clear instruction from their constituents to fight for “Remain”, then the potential for parliamentary shenanigans skullduggery and filibuster to wreck the “Leave” legislative timetable is real. The theoretical 2 year timetable is, to be polite, wildly optimistic.
    Like Matthew, I’m considering my options – including dual – nationality with an EU country.
    I too fear the response in Ulster-stroke-Northern-Ireland. Bloodshed seems depressingly plausible.
    Possibly, just possibly, Scotland can buy Britain enough time to reconsider, but I honestly doubt it. It would need at least 2 years of delaying and obstruction.
    I haven’t yet seen Tam Dayell commenting on this variant of the “West Lothian Question”, but I look forward to it. Though he’s retired now.
    I’m depressed. Not surprised though.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      The other politicians in the EU are quite determined that Leave means Leave as soon as possible. In the past the EU has been quite ruthless and dismissive of people who don’t vote ‘the right way’ in referendums. The 2 year timetable will be applied rigorously by the EU, and in a shorter timescale if they can manage it.

  34. Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Matthew, for your comments. It is interesting to hear the opinion of a thinking Brit and I don’t know any others any more.

    Another excellent point of view is that of Ken Loach, another thinking Brit. You can see it here. Don’t worry, he speaks english.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the link to Loach’s remarks. I warmly agree with him.

      • merilee
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

        +1

  35. Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Visiting London in 2012 was an interesting experience (I had been in the UK in 1999) – seeing it finally very ethnically diverse and interesting foodwise. Not all of it was “curry”, either. And I can only guess that will diminish with the UK out of the EU. So much for the good Greek and Italian restaurants – at least in the numbers anyway.

    I have a cousin living in Spain but who was born in Wales. I wonder what will happen?

    I think of all the European academics in UK universities and the reverse, and the tremendous upset that will be to many careers and families.

  36. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    When I worked voluntarily in the referendum campaign in 1975 (barely into double digits and long trousers), I was fully aware that I was working for the same institution that my (adopted) countrymen have voted to remain in. And I got the message of “ever closer integration” at the time too.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      (Reply to “Richard” @ 10:07
      It got detached somehow.

    • Richard
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      I guess you are referring to “supposed to be nothing more than a customs union and a common market”?

      I may be mis-remembering this, but did not the political establishment at the time assure us all that the EEC was no more than a common trade area, and that the fears of those who (correctly) foresaw “ever closer integration” were baseless?

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

        That may well be what the politicians were saying. But I certainly never believed it for a second, and I’d say what I thought, not what the figurehead said.

    • Merilee
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      I have always gotten a chuckle out of the British concept of short vs long trousers. Are you guys forced to wear shorts up to a certain age, even in the dead of winter😝

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

        It’s a special form of child abuse indulged in by generations of boarding school masters. Applies to the ruling classes, and their imitators.

  37. Jeff Lewis
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    What I don’t get is why such a monumental decision with such far reaching and long term consequences could be decided by a simple majority. In the U.S., votes like Constitutional amendments or treaty ratification require 2/3 majority. Leaving the EU seems on par.

    Plus, I gather the voter turnout was only around 72.2%. Half of that is around 1/3 the voting population of the UK. So around 1/3 of the population has decided on such a major issue.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      There’s no joy for you in these musings. If you argue that (approximately) only 37% (52% x 72% turnout) voted for Leave then by the same argument only 35% (48% x 72%) voted for Remain. Neither side can claim the 28% who didn’t vote.

      In addition the Referendum is an advisory one rather than a legislative vote and a qualifying majority wasn’t set – but any party that ignored the ‘will of the people’ would experience considerable difficulties in gaining or holding power.

    • Filippo
      Posted June 25, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      “In the U.S., votes like Constitutional amendments or treaty ratification require 2/3 majority. Leaving the EU seems on par.”

      I may be remembering wrongly, but, regarding ratifying amendments to the U.S. constituting, I’m pretty sure that 3/4 of U.S. state legislatures – not voters – must ratify an amendment. (At least British voters get to vote directly on a referendum.) I’ve never heard of a national referendum in the U.S. I assume that the POTUS is not empowered to call a referendum as is the British PM, though the Brexit referendum is not legally binding, IIRC. (But why is it not legally-binding from the get-go? “We the People” voted, eh?)

      I don’t know that the U.S. is all that good an example to which to refer in such matters. Seems that the election of a U.S. president is of no less significance than a referendum on whether a country should leave the E.U. Yet U.S. voters are not allowed – per the sacred Constitution – to directly elect the president, instead electing “Electoral College” “electors,” who are not constitutionally bound to conform to voters’ desires when they gather a few weeks later to cast their votes.

      (Though in the past perhaps at least one elector has differed with “The People.” No doubt, if enough electors in a given election changed their votes, there would be a tsunami of an uproar to pass a constitutional amendment doing away with the Electoral College, in the past likely a necessary device, what with the mass illiteracy obtaining at the time. Can’t the “Beast” – the people – be trusted?)

      If it’s reasonable to contemplate whether a referendum, in Britain or elsewhere, should pass by a minimum percentage of votes, then it seems that that requirement should also apply to the election of a U.S. president. George Bush won the 2000 election, yet had fewer votes than Albert Gore.

      Mr. Cobb refers to “populist rabble-rousing” and ” . . . a right-wing populist movement going on . . . .” Today’s NY Times is refulgent with the use of the words “populism,” and “populist,” as it has been over the last year or so. Apparently “populist” is not an affirming, positive, complimentary word. Headlines today employ “Populist Revolt” and “Populist Insurrection.” There’s also “Investors [the “Non-Working Class,” eh?] Gripped by a Panic.” One never reads “Investor rabble-rousing” and “Investor Insurrection.” Whatever worker panic there was has come and gone, what with the off-shoring of mfr. jobs over the last twenty or so years. I gather that the elites’ definition of “Populism” is democracy not focused solely on the elites’ interests.

      If the U.S. thinks it’s such a great thing for Britain to be in the E.U., the U.S. should seek not merely to establish trade agreements but to itself join the E.U. and submit to edicts from Brussels. As one NY Times letter writer puts it:

      “Could I thank President Obama for coming to Britain and telling us to vote Remain? His exhortations, along with those of other foreign politicians, multi-millionaire businessmen and bankers, helped persuade the British people that the wealthy Davos elite was interested in keeping Britain in the European Union for its own political and commercial reasons rather than for the good of the Brits.” [I gather U.S. workers view it the same way vis-à-vis NAFTA and the proposed TPP.] “No American would tolerate being governed by a group of unelected bureaucrats with laws imposed on them by politician of other countries.” [Just as the U.S. will not tolerate its military forces being commanded by a flag-rank officer of another country.]

      Mr. Cobb advises, “Use your vote in November, even if you loathe Hillary and all she stands for. The unthinkable could happen – it just did here.” I sure will, but I and no doubt a tsunami of others will be watching her like a hawk, as the working class here (whether enthusiasts for Trump or Sanders)- those who sweat from their physical labor, as opposed to those who sweat in an air conditioned office over maximizing investment return – has had its fill of being treated dismissively by the NON-working – the elite – class.

      • Posted June 25, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        Good remarks.

        “W” won the 2000 election because of vote fixing in Florida and other places.

        The US is definitely not a good example to follow. The Constitution needs revising. But I’m afraid hell will suffer another Ice Age first.

    • Posted June 26, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      They do not require 2/3 majority for joining the EU.

  38. Petrushka
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Just musing, but it would seem that democracy would have been the bees knees if the vote had gone the other way.

  39. P. Puk
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Millions of the idiots who voted LEAVE were the some ones who voted to join the EU (back then still called EEC) in the UK’s first national referendum in 1975.

    These fools have benefited from the free trade and free movement considerably just as Matthew explained. The U.K., formerly the “Sick Man of Europe” grew and developed remarkably since 1975.

    And now those old farts deny their progeny from living and working in 27 different countries.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      That seems a very ill tempered post, denigrating 17,410,742 people who don’t happen to agree with your point of view.

      • P. Puk
        Posted June 25, 2016 at 7:10 am | Permalink

        I ran an international import/export/logistics company in the UK a decade ago. Many of my staff would have voted to leave. Those types were unintelligent and uninsightful and ill-informed regarding international trade in general and the EU in particular.

        Their point of view on so many matters was so distorted that it’s unsurprising to me that they were incapable of making the correct decision for themselves, their country and the future.

        It’s not a matter of having differing opinions but rather a matter of many of their opinions being abject nonsense. It’s also too bad that a very slight majority, fools that they are, have been able to cock things up so royally for the rest.

        Especially because most of them will be dead while the rest of us are still cleaning up their mess in the decades to come.

        • DiscoveredJoys
          Posted June 25, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink

          I wish you the joys of your certainties in later life.

    • peepuk
      Posted June 25, 2016 at 4:09 am | Permalink

      That’s democracy 🙂

    • Posted June 26, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      I am a believer in free trade and do not understand why, in order to have it, countries are first forced to give up their sovereignty to some supra-national body.

      • Richard
        Posted June 26, 2016 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

        +1 🙂

      • Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        I’m skeptical of free trade (when not amongst equals, anyway), but I do think that the “leave or remain” was a false dichotomy – surely one could figure out what was good, what was bad about the arrangement?

  40. Pete T
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I am a business owner in England and might be said to be as personally affected by this decision as most people. I voted to remain but this was after careful weighing of pros and cons. It is misleading and insulting to suggest that 51% of Brits voted to leave purely because of fear, racism or bigotry and the arguments in favour of both options were more nuanced than the OP suggests. The leave camp certainly included some objectionable figures but both camps contained some remarkable bed-fellows and neither side should be judged by their most extreme affiliates. Time will tell as to what the social, political and economic fall-out will be but it is too early to be sure we will turn into a failed state rather than, say, Switzerland. In my (and possibly Kant’s) opinion, the important drivers to peace in Europe in the last 70 years have been democratisation (not the EU’s strong point) and trade (a benefit of the EEC more than the EU). Perhaps (and only perhaps) this decision might lead to changes that ultimately produce a better European model.

    • Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      “Perhaps (and only perhaps) this decision might lead to changes that ultimately produce a better European model.”

      That is what we are hoping. The EU does indeed need a serious shaking up.

      • Richard
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        And we have just given it to them.

    • Posted June 26, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      + 1

  41. P. Puk
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    When Rolls Royce eventually moves their assembly lines from the UK to Poland, Poles returning home from the UK will have jobs waiting for them.

    Ironic, I suppose, how Brits would have lost jobs to Poles.

    The schadenfreude is almost infinite.

  42. Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Odious Michael Gove

    That’s a generous assessment of the man.

  43. Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    The “crisis” that many talk about here is mainly the making of the power brokers of the EU itself – particularly Jean-Claude Juncke, Donald Tusk, Martin Schulz and Angela Merkel. They have driven the “European Project” with total disregard to a upwelling of protest and unease among European citizenry. The mistakes they have made in their project have been the principal cause of all this disaffection within the Union. The treatment of Greece has exemplified the arrogance and bullying of this leadership. There was a chance to mitigate the legitimate concerns of the UK public in the negotiations Cameron had with them before the referendum. Instead they continued their bullying tendencies. Perhaps this “wake up” call will be a positive force in helping put the break on this undemocratic runaway train we call the EU.

    • RPGNo1
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      You sound like a politician from a right-wing populistic party.
      The EU is always guilty for the problems of its member states and they suppress their poor, poor denizens, eh? And Juncker, Merkel, Tusk are the riders of the apocalypse?

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

        He/she, sounds like someone expressing a reasonable observation.

      • Posted June 25, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        “The treatment of Greece has exemplified the arrogance and bullying of this leadership.”

        Absolutely. The EU is not a democracy, at least not by my definition.

      • Posted June 26, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        It is a fact that Merkel usurped the immigration policy of the EU by inviting the world to Germany, then telling other countries that they must take some of the unfortunate people misled by her, or else.

  44. ed hessler
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Thanks once again Matthew for what was for me a well-observed column.

    I thought the vote would be to leave.

    I loved and still would recommend Richard Dawkins’s article in Prospect Magazine July 2016), so stylishly titled, “Ignoramuses should have no say on our EU membership–and that includes me.”

    He makes his usual case for using evidence. The comments may be worth reading; they were when I first read it but there were only a few.

    • peepuk
      Posted June 25, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Maybe only academics should be allowed to vote?

      Not very democratic.

      • Posted June 25, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Kudos to the leave campaign for its democratic success, but I think, amid the disappointed histrionics, the remain camp is right not to be enthusiastic about it.

        I’m concerned that the attention and gravitas given to the EU Referendum will mask a much more relevant and serious problem than EU corruption, in part because EU corruption was one of its symptoms. That problem is international big business and corporatism, with close financial and personal ties to various governments and political/economic bodies at the expense of both the workforce and anyone affected by its byproducts. Moreover, I’m not convinced its ability to bias policy in defiance of any democratic processes will be curtailed – not significantly, at least – by the UK leaving the EU.

        The TTIP, for instance, was a means to enable large companies to extract money from obstructionary governments behind closed doors, and the financial crises of the last decade are at least partly the result of irresponsible lending by major banks with conspicuously obscene executive pay, who were subsequently bailed out with public money. While it’s obvious the EU played a part in both problems, it makes little sense for them to do so unless you factor in the corporatist agenda behind both actions.

        That’s not all. Fishing regulations and air travel are massaged in favour of businesses, despite the minor environmentalist concessions of the legislation overseeing them. Most farm subsidies and their regulations – actually land subsidies, regardless of whether the land is being used for agriculture – are weighted in favour of big business and against smaller ones, leaving loopholes for large-scale landowners to claim public money. Worker protection such as minimum wages and trade union access have been implemented in the teeth of pro-business and pro-growth resistance. Even in the UK government, many politicians are either formerly in business positions or move on to it after their political careers, even in departments explicitly designed to regulate the relevant industries. Not to forget the mass public confusion and denialism engineered by the tobacco and fossil fuel industries, the extreme tax cuts and breaks given to businesses in the UK, and the corruption of the news media corporations exposed in recent years.

        Many supporters of the leave campaign seem convinced that leaving the EU will ensure greater sovereignty through less corrupt (and actual) democratic processes, as if these developments will become rarer without the EU. Yet the UK government – which, among other things, was one of the enthusiastic supporters of the TTIP initiative – seems to me just as vulnerable to harmful corporatist bias as the EU, and may potentially be more so given their pro-business and pro-growth interest.

        In short, I think we’ve just lopped off one hydra’s head and assumed the beast is dying.

      • Posted June 25, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        Whoops, sorry! Put the wrong comment in the wrong place! That’s what I get for trying to be smart, typing up two at once. 😦

        What I meant to say to you specifically:

        Democracy’s fine so long as it works, but it’s not an absolute moral duty. A large part of the decision to leave the EU, for instance, depends on the tangible and objective effects of, say, immigration policy and financial circulation. If enough people are simply wrong about said effects, then democracy ends up being a dramatic way of magnifying a bad decision.

        Of course there’s a risk of so-called experts manipulating or coercing people, which is what democracy is supposed to curtail to begin with, but sooner or later you need someone who knows what they’re doing. That’s why, for example, particle physics is determined by the experimental evidence of trained scientists, not opinionated bloggers and amateurs.

        • Richard
          Posted June 26, 2016 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

          Actually, given the events of the last decade, I doubt that there are any economists who know what they are doing.

          • Posted June 27, 2016 at 6:32 am | Permalink

            It’s true that economics is a house much in need of clearing out, not least of all because the dominant school active since the 1980s – the neo-classical one – was a major cause of crises such as the 2008 recession. As a result, consulting an economist is far less reliable than, say, consulting a plumber or a dentist.

            That said, there exists a minority of economists outside of that school who do a better job, such as Joseph Stiglitz and Ha-Joon Chang, and who had pointed out the likelihood of such crises emerging long before they did so. And it certainly doesn’t follow that, because a false expert says it, then the opposite must be true, as many online “Leave” commentators seem to assume.

            “Neo-classical” economists, yes, but economists en masse? I doubt it.

  45. Scientifik
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    That’s bad news for the EU project, and there could be more European disintegration ahead, with French, Italian, Dutch, Austrian, German Eurosceptic parties gaining in power…

    “Brexit sparks calls for other EU votes”

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36615879

  46. Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Just received an email from Trump asking for donations. Wants to ‘take our country back again’ just they’ve done in Britain. No reference to his pulled Tweet congratulating Scotland for getting out of the EU.

  47. Steve Pollard
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    There’s a lot going on here.

    I voted Remain. I too am pretty upset at the outcome, and I share a lot of Matthew’s anguish; but I think his reaction is overwrought and over-emotional. Many thanks
    to Coel (@32) for his corrective comments. A couple more points:

    First, it is preposterous to suggest that scientific research will come to a grinding halt when we leave. The UK does not depend on EU funding to keep its labs going; and the main EU science funding sources are and will continue to be open to non-EU applicants.

    Second, it does not help to describe people like Michael Gove as “odious”. He was a misguided Education Secretary, but has been a much more far-sighted Justice Secretary. He is neither thick nor an ideologue. Like the rest of the Leavers, he needs to be taken seriously, and held firmly to account for his actions from now on.

    Third, we do actually need to listen to what the British electorate have said, and try to find a response. The fact is that they feel the EU has failed them; and this feeling is not just down to the antics of demagogues like Farage.

  48. David Evans
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    “Leave dominated the countryside (including Wales)”

    Wales is largely countryside but not all. The capital, Cardiff, voted solidly to remain. Not that it will do us any good.

    • GBJames
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Gwynedd and Ceredigion voted to stay. What is different about those rural areas compared to the others?

      • Nick
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        Majority Welsh-speaking, therefore not as closely linked to English political culture?

        • GBJames
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

          That seems reasonable. (I didn’t know those areas were majority Welsh-speaking, though! Like Gaellic-speaking in the extreme west of Ireland?)

          • Nick
            Posted June 29, 2016 at 5:33 am | Permalink

            Yes, they’re a bit like the Gaeltacht, but wider in scope (a larger area, with Welsh more widely spoken than Irish is) albeit without official designation.

            Gwynedd and Ceredigion’s constituencies in the Welsh Assembly are also currently held by Plaid Cymru (the Welsh nationalist party) rather than one of the UK parties, which may also reflect a difference.

  49. Posted June 24, 2016 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    If UK city folk (e.g. Londoners) voted mainly to remain, age was not the only deciding factor. Clearly socio-economic class also played a role. British fat-cats who can afford to live in UK cities (some of the most expensive places in the world to live) voted to stay while working people in the hinterland voted to leave. Further evidence that socio-economics played a big role is in the reaction of the markets today- the “haves” who own stock got the wobblies and markets crashed. UK Fat-Cats have British/EU passports, own villas in the south of France, and will now have to re-think their cushy retirement plans.

    • Posted June 25, 2016 at 5:59 am | Permalink

      What you say is generally true chardinej. To the prosperous well of class in Britain the EU afforded the chance to have a cheap nanny, less expensive Polish builders doing their house up, cheaper and easier-to-do holidays in Europe and more job opportunities in professional positions with multinational employers. To the working class it was lower chances at unskilled jobs, depression of wages, long queues at the doctors surgery and greater difficulty in finding a property to live in. It was difficult enough for the disadvantaged class to accept the diktat of a British “elite”, but it proved wholly unacceptable to accept the diktat of an unelected European one leading to these difficulties. They STAY campaign was devoid of explanations of benefits to working class citizens(perhaps there are none), it only contained threats made to them. The British do not react well to threats. It is something I much admire in the nature of the British.

      • DiscoveredJoys
        Posted June 25, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        +1

        According to Lord Ashcrofts poll (you can Google it) of the those who voted to Leave almost half of those were primarily concerned that “decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK”, and only a third of those that leaving “offered the best chance for the UK to regain control over immigration and its own borders.”

        • GBJames
          Posted June 25, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

          Those two views are really pretty similar. They don’t represent options to one another. What kinds of decisions do the former folk think should be taken in the UK? I’d be willing to bet a lot of those people would have immigration and border control near or at the top of the list.

          It is much like the southern US view that the Confederacy succeeded over states rights, not slavery. When in fact the “state rights” they were concerned about was the right to own slaves.

          • Richard
            Posted June 25, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

            Seceded? 🙂

            • GBJames
              Posted June 25, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

              Yes, of course. I think I typo’ed and Mr. Autocorrect helped me out.

    • Alexander
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:42 am | Permalink

      There were extraneous factors that influenced the outcome of the vote, and that could very well account for the 2% shortfall:

      1) You had to register to vote early in June, at a time when the campaign was still benign. People opposed to the Brexit weren’t that worried, and when they got worried it was too late. You should be able to vote just showing poll tax forms or payments, and your drivers license.

      2) Retired people, especially those who consider the house they own as their lifetime achievement, and those who read only books about the war, the past British empire, and biographies of famous Britons, registered (it was something to do besides going to the supermarket), while young, busy people, commuting long distances to work in London didn’t have the time or inclination.

      3) Students in higher education had to travel to their home towns to register, which could be a long trip.

      4) The vote happened during this stupid football competition, called the “Euro” (it is indeed a money business). This did not only stop people of thinking about the consequences of a Brexit but stirred a lot of nationalist feelings in people. At the same time pro Brexit organisations sent thugs and hooligans to France to cause trouble, and many got arrested by the French police, aggravating anti-European feelings. The Russians also did so, having an interest in destabilizing Europe, and they sent thugs that were members of the Russian army.

      5) And this was nobodies fault: during the voting day rain storms flooded many railway links from London to the South, and many commuters who had registered could not make it to their hometowns to vote.

      So, I’m sure all this accounts for more than 2% of the result, and the vote should be repeated. I’m convinced that a new vote will have an entirely different result.

  50. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    The comments go on forever so why not join in.

    Could it just be that a unified Europe with so many languages, cultures and differences can overcome all of them to stay together for economic concerns. It is likely harder than even maintaining the United States and that is becoming more questionable daily. I know the reasons that caused 13 independent states to come together nearly 230 years ago was a very close thing and it was only the persistence of one man about 73 years later that kept it from falling apart.

    We hardly remember the events today and that may be part of the problem. If you do not know where and why you came to be then you can hardly know where you are going or even care.

  51. Kim jacobs
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    The only argument for BREXIT was that the EU wasnt democratic. So you don’t like or respect the outcome of the plebiscite. No surprise there. You don’t like or respect democracy so you would feel like that wouldn’t you.

  52. Thanny
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    This is a rather disappointing post.

    Why do you feel the need to demonize those who voted to leave? Either they’re a pack of racists, or too stupid to know what’s good for them?

    How about they have their opinion, and you have yours? Argue your points, say why you think it’s a bad idea for the UK to leave, and let those who disagree with you state their position. Don’t cherry pick the worst possible examples (such as the nutcase who murdered that MP), and paint everyone with the same broad brush.

    As I see it, no one should be surprised. Every single pro-Remain advertisement I saw was an obfuscation of “Nice nation you have there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.” What’s amazing is that even more people didn’t rebel against that mix of veiled threats and fear-mongering.

    Anyone predicting doom and gloom or sunshine and daises is a fool. No one can know the long term effects this will have. It could force the EU to right its ship, which is badly listing and headed in the wrong direction (i.e. not heeding the will of the European people), eventually leading to the UK’s rejoining a couple decades down the road. Or it could lead to the EU’s eventual collapse, which may or not be a big deal for continued peace in Europe.

    • Victoria
      Posted June 25, 2016 at 3:01 am | Permalink

      Very well said.

      • Posted June 25, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        Seconded – not only a superb post but the best of the replies (IMHO) to a (also IMHO) borderline hysterical doom-mongering screed which in many (obviously not all) cases seems to be the way that some of those on the losing side are choosing to deal with not getting their way.

        • Richard
          Posted June 25, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Cameron warned us that leaving could result in genocide, a third world war and even (gasp!)a fall in house prices.

          You have to be familiar with the British obsession with the property market to realize just what a dire threat the last of those was. 🙂

          • Filippo
            Posted June 25, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

            “You have to be familiar with the British obsession with the property market to realize just what a dire threat the last of those was.”

            Maybe not. Maybe familiarity with the U.S. obsession with the property market suffices. 😉

          • Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

            “One of these things is not like the others …”

    • Posted June 26, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      + 1. As for saying that voting “leave” was bad because a pro-leaver psychopath committed a political murder, it is the same as to say that all good Americans must vote Trump after some crazy youth wanted to murder him.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:36 am | Permalink

      A very good comment. The thing I wonder about is why so many Remainers are so *very* upset at the result.

      I suspect that it is mostly the younger Remainers that complain so much (it’s difficult to see through the possible media bias of photogenically revolting students). Is it because they perceive their ‘safe space’ to be threatened?

      • Nick
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        I think they perceive that their opportunities have been reduced by the deliberate choices of others.

    • friendlypig
      Posted June 28, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Unlike most who post on this site I am old enough to remember the post war years and the morphing of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) into the European Economic Community(EEC). At the same time the UK was a member of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). Eventually when Britain, as far as industry was concerned, was the poor man of Europe, thanks in no small part to excessive power wielded by the unions (and I’m not against unions and the protection of workers rights in any way) major British industries e.g. British Leyland, were in dire straights. On many occasions they applied only to have the French block our application. In did eventually happen thanks to excessive grovelling by UK politicians. We had exchanged a genuine free trade area for another, but this time for another free trade area with a hidden motive. What no politician had told us when we voted, and I was one who voted to join – not this time though, was that the ultimate aim was irrevocable political union: one central govt., one single currency, one set of laws – civil as well as criminal, and an overarching court system – the European Court of Justice, that leaned so far to the left that it almost fell over.

      The real problems began when Jacques Delors bean to take more and more power to the centre away from sovereign governments. This is when the serious dissatisfaction started to surface amongst a large section of the citizens of the UK including many members of the so called ‘elite’.

      The morphing of the EEC into the European Union (EU) over time, accelerated this process with the introduction of the Euro, the EU’s single currency. More and more rules and regulations imposed on all countries, and to be fair many were good, but included in the list was a huge mass of legislation covering our weight and measures, the several hundred regulations about the size of strawberries, the sale of eggs, how straight a cucumber had to be otherwise it could not be sold. The legislation heaped upon UK farmers sent many to the wall. And process were kept artificially high particularly to protect the French farmers who are probably the most inefficient in Europe. At the same time trade controls piled huge amounts at knock down prices on our previous trading partners who we were now banned fro doing trade deals with including members of the Commonwealth.

      The EU forced the UK to give up is historic fishing grounds and shared them out between member states e.g. Spain that fished up to the three mile limit using what were in fact factory ships. That virtually destroyed the UK fishing industry went down really well. Btu the Spanish were a poor country and that was only fair!!

      Of course the free movement of people was seen to be a good thing, and in many ways it was. By objecting to the unfettered free movement of people we are not Little Englanders. We welcome those who have the right skills, but like many countries around the globe we should have the right to determine who they are. At the moment under EU legislation we have no right to check on the qualifications of people who arrive on our doorstep and claim to be doctors. We have no write to ensure that even if they are bone fide doctors that they can speak English; that has caused not a few problems with at least one German Doctor killing a patient with the wrong dose of drugs. He did a runner back to Germany where he was fined.

      The European Court of Justice had even stopped us from extraditing criminals.

      Enough is enough!

      For me and a huge number of those who decided enough was enough – and I was surprised when I heard and saw the result last Friday.

      This was about democracy, about sovereignty. Without sovereignty there can be no democracy. Without democracy we have no control over the laws that protect those who live here.

      Feel free to differ, that’ your right.

      • friendlypig
        Posted June 28, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        I apologise for my lapses is spelling but I’m not one of the Metropolitan elite.

  53. Victoria
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    The blind certitude that lies behind the European project and globalism in general should give any critical person pause because generally in life that speaks to unchecked hubris.

    Not a single person here is likely to face direct competition for work from East European or non-Europenan immigrants. To constantly bash working people for their ‘racism’ is ugly and cynical. It speaks to an inability to address their legitimate concerns on labour competition, quality of life, and social cohesion through moral stigmatisation.

    Even if many Britons are racist, it does not abrogate their rights in a social democracy to a job, housing, health care, etc. Since social democracy has been shown to rest on social cohesion, the pro-immigration evangelism embraced by most ‘righting-thinking’ liberals is actually undermining the welfare state most simultaneously profess to believe in.

    And a welfare state is just that a state, a nation. The immigration zeal is bound up with post-national utopianism.

    The people who really know where free movement of labour leads are the libertarian capitalists, who just coincidentally think the welfare state is an abomination.

  54. peepuk
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    I think it’s not wise to become member of any club when you don’t know under what terms you can terminate its membership.

    Leaving the EU will probably be a very messy process. I’m very curious how it will turn out for the UK (in about 10 years).

    The people of the EU have to decide if they want to become really one nation or not. If 50% is in favor of more integration I think this is far to small part of the population, and we shouldn’t do it.

    And on similar grounds, if only 50% of the people want to stay in the EU, its probably better to leave and wait a few years and do new referendums until we reach +-70%.

  55. Posted June 25, 2016 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    I was loking forward to the release of Portishead’s cover, which was originally for a soundtrack. Sad occurrences, both of them, to be reminded of it.

    The Brexit was a stupid. The reasons are identitarian — that plague of our times (in both the houses, left and right). But admittedly, my reasons for the Bremain have nothing to do with capitalism and free markets and all that, but with the European idea.

  56. Tim Harris
    Posted June 25, 2016 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I might add that Britons living abroad, even in countries that are part of the EU, were not allowed to vote in this referendum. There is now a petition being made, by Britons living abroad, to Parliament that already has well over one million signatures:

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/131215

    • Nick
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Not quite right. Brits abroad were only unable to vote if they’d been away from the UK for more than 15 years. Which seems fair enough to me. the more nakedly political choice was that EU citizens living in the UK didn’t have a vote, no matter how long they’d been here, unless they’d taken up British nationality.

  57. Posted June 25, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Kudos to the leave campaign for its democratic success, but I think, amid the disappointed histrionics, the remain camp is right not to be enthusiastic about it.

    I’m concerned that the attention and gravitas given to the EU Referendum will mask a much more relevant and serious problem than EU corruption, in part because EU corruption was one of its symptoms. That problem is international big business and corporatism, with close financial and personal ties to various governments and political/economic bodies at the expense of both the workforce and anyone affected by its byproducts. Moreover, I’m not convinced its ability to bias policy in defiance of any democratic processes will be curtailed – not significantly, at least – by the UK leaving the EU.

    The TTIP, for instance, was a means to enable large companies to extract money from obstructionary governments behind closed doors, and the financial crises of the last decade are at least partly the result of irresponsible lending by major banks with conspicuously obscene executive pay, who were subsequently bailed out with public money. While it’s obvious the EU played a part in both problems, it makes little sense for them to do so unless you factor in the corporatist agenda behind both actions.

    That’s not all. Fishing regulations and air travel are massaged in favour of businesses, despite the minor environmentalist concessions of the legislation overseeing them. Most farm subsidies and their regulations – actually land subsidies, regardless of whether the land is being used for agriculture – are weighted in favour of big business and against smaller ones, leaving loopholes for large-scale landowners to claim public money. Worker protection such as minimum wages and trade union access have been implemented in the teeth of pro-business and pro-growth resistance. Even in the UK government, many politicians are either formerly in business positions or move on to it after their political careers, even in departments explicitly designed to regulate the relevant industries. Not to forget the mass public confusion and denialism engineered by the tobacco and fossil fuel industries, the extreme tax cuts and breaks given to businesses in the UK, and the corruption of the news media corporations exposed in recent years.

    Many supporters of the leave campaign seem convinced that leaving the EU will ensure greater sovereignty through less corrupt (and actual) democratic processes, as if these developments will become rarer without the EU. Yet the UK government – which, among other things, was one of the enthusiastic supporters of the TTIP initiative – seems to me just as vulnerable to harmful corporatist bias as the EU, and may potentially be more so given their pro-business and pro-growth interest.

    In short, I think we’ve just lopped off one hydra’s head and assumed the beast is dying.

    – This comment is reposted from above, because it was intended to be a standalone before I got it and another comment back-to-front. 😦

  58. somer
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    Brexit a disaster for the British economy, European unity and culture and one for Mother Russia. Suppose Scotland will vote independence very soon in their economic interest and pull Trident which will be great for Putin too. According to sources on Nick Cohen’s site some in the Labour party suspect Corbyn is secretly pro Brexit.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted June 26, 2016 at 4:55 am | Permalink

      Since Nick Cohen has been mentioned, and since there have been rather too many eager critics of what Matthew Cobb said and advocates of weather call ‘democracy’ among the commenters I recommend his excoriation or evisceration, of Johnson, Gove, Farage et al in the Guardian:

      ‘Where was the champagne at the Vote Leave headquarters? The happy tears and whoops of joy? If you believed Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, the Brexit vote was a moment of national liberation, a day that Nigel Farage said our grateful children would celebrate with an annual bank holiday.

      ‘Johnson and Gove had every reason to celebrate. The referendum campaign showed the only arguments that matter now in England are on the right. With the Labour leadership absent without leave and the Liberal Democrats and Greens struggling to be heard, the debate was between David Cameron and George Osborne, defending the status quo, and the radical right, demanding its destruction. Johnson and Gove won a dizzying victory with the potential to change every aspect of national life, from workers’ rights to environmental protection.

      ‘Yet they gazed at the press with coffin-lid faces and wept over the prime minister they had destroyed. David Cameron was “brave and principled”, intoned Johnson. “A great prime minister”, muttered Gove. Like Goneril and Regan competing to offer false compliments to Lear, they covered the leader they had doomed with hypocritical praise. No one whoops at a funeral, especially not mourners who are glad to see the back of the deceased. But I saw something beyond hypocrisy in those frozen faces: the fear of journalists who have been found out.

      ‘The media do not damn themselves, so I am speaking out of turn when I say that if you think rule by professional politicians is bad wait until journalist politicians take over. Johnson and Gove are the worst journalist politicians you can imagine: pundits who have prospered by treating public life as a game. Here is how they play it. They grab media attention by blaring out a big, dramatic thought. An institution is failing? Close it. A public figure blunders? Sack him. They move from journalism to politics, but carry on as before. When presented with a bureaucratic EU that sends us too many immigrants, they say the answer is simple, as media answers must be. Leave. Now. Then all will be well.

      ‘Johnson and Gove carried with them a second feature of unscrupulous journalism: the contempt for practical questions. Never has a revolution in Britain’s position in the world been advocated with such carelessness. The Leave campaign has no plan. And that is not just because there was a shamefully under-explored division between the bulk of Brexit voters who wanted the strong welfare state and solid communities of their youth and the leaders of the campaign who wanted Britain to become an offshore tax haven. Vote Leave did not know how to resolve difficulties with Scotland, Ireland, the refugee camp at Calais, and a thousand other problems, and did not want to know either.

      ‘It responded to all who predicted the chaos now engulfing us like an unscrupulous pundit who knows that his living depends on shutting up the experts who gainsay him. For why put the pundit on air, why pay him a penny, if experts can show that everything he says is windy nonsense? The worst journalists, editors and broadcasters know their audiences want entertainment, not expertise. If you doubt me, ask when you last saw panellists on Question Time who knew what they were talking about.

      ‘Naturally, Michael Gove, former Times columnist, responded to the thousands of economists who warned he was taking an extraordinary risk with the sneer that will follow him to his grave: “People in this country have had enough of experts.” He’s being saying the same for years.

      ‘If sneers won’t work, the worst journalists lie. The Times fired Johnson for lying to its readers. Michael Howard fired Johnson for lying to him. When he’s cornered, Johnson accuses others of his own vices, as unscrupulous journalists always do. Those who question him are the true liars, he blusters, whose testimony cannot be trusted because, as he falsely said of the impeccably honest chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, they are “stooges”.

      ‘The Vote Leave campaign followed the tactics of the sleazy columnist to the letter. First, it came out with the big, bold solution: leave. Then it dismissed all who raised well-founded worries with “the country is sick of experts”. Then, like Johnson the journalist, it lied.

      ‘I am not going to be over-dainty about mendacity. Politicians, including Remain politicians lie, as do the rest of us. But not since Suez has the nation’s fate been decided by politicians who knowingly made a straight, shameless, incontrovertible lie the first plank of their campaign. Vote Leave assured the electorate it would reclaim a supposed £350m Brussels takes from us each week. They knew it was a lie. Between them, they promised to spend £111bn on the NHS, cuts to VAT and council tax, higher pensions, a better transport system and replacements for the EU subsidies to the arts, science, farmers and deprived regions. When boring experts said that, far from being rich, we would face a £40bn hole in our public finances, Vote Leave knew how to fight back. In Johnsonian fashion, it said that the truth tellers were corrupt liars in Brussels’ pocket.

      ‘Now they have won and what Kipling said of the demagogues of his age applies to Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

      I could not dig; I dared not rob:
      Therefore I lied to please the mob.
      Now all my lies are proved untrue
      And I must face the men I slew.
      What tale shall serve me here among
      Mine angry and defrauded young?

      ‘The real division in Britain is not between London and the north, Scotland and Wales or the old and young, but between Johnson, Gove and Farage and the voters they defrauded. What tale will serve them now? On Thursday, they won by promising cuts in immigration. On Friday, Johnson and the Eurosceptic ideologue Dan Hannan said that in all probability the number of foreigners coming here won’t fall. On Thursday, they promised the economy would boom. By Friday, the pound was at a 30-year low and Daily Mail readers holidaying abroad were learning not to believe what they read in the papers. On Thursday, they promised £350m extra a week for the NHS. On Friday, it turns out there are “no guarantees”.

      ‘If we could only find a halfway competent opposition, the very populist forces they have exploited and misled so grievously would turn on them. The fear in their eyes shows that they know it.’

      Good for Nick Cohen.

  59. Tim Harris
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    ‘weather call democracy’ should read ‘what they call democracy’.

  60. Eric
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    This is a very disappointing article.
    What does the murder Jo Cox by a schizophrenic have to do with the Leave campaign? Did the Leave campaign call for violence?
    It is quite possible that voting Leave was a big mistake, time will tell, but surely the Remain campaign must acknowledge that there are serious legitimacy issues with the EU project and to dismiss people who voted leave as little Englanders is disgusting and exactly the reason the Remain lost.

    • Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Read the Roolz. You could have said everything you did without letting us know how ‘disappointed’ you are. You don’t diss the posters or tell us how disappointed you are here, you simply make COUNTERARGUMENTS. Got it?

      • Eric
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        I do not know if you are the author of the article or just a moderator, but I do not believe calling the article “disappointing” is a show of disrespect to the author. I find your response a bit over the top. All the best.

  61. Eric
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Did I break the “Roolz”?

  62. Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post. Thanks Matthew.


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