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Brexit, an ex-pat’s perspective

CarolineLynchThis from my good friend Caroline Lynch, call centre manager, who has been living with her family in the Netherlands for the past two years:

I’ve been listening to the Brexit fall out from outside Britain, which gives me a different perspective to some. I’m able to see the reactions both north and south of the border, and the reactions of the international media and other EU members. Some things are very striking.

North of the Border in Scotland, the reaction has been one of relatively short-lived outrage, which was quickly subordinated to pragmatic concerns for how to deal with this. Nicola Sturgeon had obviously seriously entertained this possible outcome and planned for it, putting her leadership head and shoulders above the rest of Britain’s politicians. In my estimation, she is the only prominent politician to have come out of this debacle looking competent, measured and calm. Her plans are being well received in Europe, and Scotland will, according to what I am hearing, shortly be independent and remain as an EU member without having to reapply [PB: I think this is optimistic].

South of the border, politicians have imploded. There is no leadership anywhere, no plan, no clue, and bickering is the order of the day. The public reaction is split into three; remainers who are understandably furious and only getting more so as no one steps up to the plate to deal with the problem, leavers who are struck with sudden comprehension and horror at what they did, and leavers who are perfectly happy with the result and now quite content to wait for their prize. My feed is filled with contradictory stories, some trying to claim that Brexit will never happen for a variety of reasons, some urging we get on with it, and some braying happily that the Federal Republic of Cuckoostan will be next and there will be no EU within 10 days. Such hatred for an institution which benefits millions is bizarre.

The international perspective is one of bridges burned. There is huge distaste now for Britain and a strong desire to divorce us as quickly as possible. Many wish to ensure that the EU gets all the china and the dog in the settlement so that no one else is this stupid in future. Having said that, excluding countries like Spain with an obvious self interest, Scotland is getting a warm reception and a general but vague sense of support.

As we sit in political limbo, waiting for someone to take control, the ironic position is building that if no one triggers Article 50, Britain will find itself a political pariah within the EU, diminished by the loss of Scotland which is now inevitable, suffering the loss of influence which occurs when everyone realises that we’re basically pretty dumb as a nation, and having placed itself in the position that our concessions, both existing and negotiated, might well be lost because of our own intransigence. All this clamour and pain, all the turmoil of Brexit, and the end position might yet be that we stay in the EU, smaller, less powerful, and immensely poorer for the hatred and divisions which now run rife in our once green and pleasant land. Brexit will go down in history, in Shakespeare’s words, as a Tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Britain, Europe, and the real crisis

GoyaAn excellent analysis, including well-chosen images, by the invaluable Kenan Malik: https://kenanmalik.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/britain-europe-a nd-the-real-crisis/

(Left: The Sleep of reason produces monsters, Goya)

Dispatches from a failing state (from Wandering Gaia)

JohnsonBusThe Leave campaign used brilliant iconography; a pampered Old Etonian disguised as an ordinary bloke, either wearing a hard hat or at the wheel of a Labour red London bus carrying a mendacious advertisement, despite the fact that both Labour and London supported Remain. Its more disreputable wing also used emotional linkage between East European immigrants and immigrants from the Muslim world, as in the notorious Daily Mail front page showing Afghans intercepted in a people-smuggling lorry under the headline “We’re from Europe; let us in”.

For decades, Progressives like Lakoff (“Don’t Think of an Elephant”) have been telling us of the importance of framing our arguments. The point has been well taken, unfortunately, not by his intended audience but by their opponents. It is time we woke up.

A comment on the Remain campaign. I am a scientist, a strong Remain supporter, and take some trouble to keep myself reasonably well-informed. Yet I did not know, until I read Wandering Gaia’s post below, that 17 Nobel Prize scientists had come out for Remain. Something is wrong.

And an uneasy comment on how some of my Remain friends have reacted to the vote; insulting those whom you have failed to convince is not necessarily the most constructive response.

Wandering Gaia

There’s been a trend over the past decade in translating forgotten Eastern European plays from the 1930s and 40s, resetting them in a contemporary Britain and staging them to new London audiences. The problem I’ve always found with these adaptations is that the plays – often satires – only really make sense in the context of the time and place for which they were written. Emerging into a relaxed 21st century London after curtainfall, stretches the “it could happen here” premise too far.

The events of of the past week have undone this certainty – have undone me.

As I write, Britain faces a deep economic recession with cuts areas already struggling in the wake of years of austerity policy, including our cherished National Health Service, social care, transport and infrastructure, housing, regeneration for deprived areas, education and environmental services. Food, energy, oil prices are set to rise. Jobs will…

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Brexit | Legally and constitutionally, what now?

Flag_of_Europe.svgFlag_of_Scotland.svg
Note that withdrawal will require repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act. This may present an opportunity to preserve some aspects (human rights? CO2 reduction targets?) whether Boris the Busdriver wants it or no, given the rifts within the Conservative Party. Note also Mark Elliott’s legal opinion that “The brutal truth is that if the Scottish people — or the people of Northern Ireland — wish to be part of the EU, then they must leave the UK. Their hands will now therefore be forced, since however flexible the British constitution might be, the harsh reality is that the UK, and only the UK, is a State in international law” (Mark Elliott at Public Law for Everyone, via https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/brexit-legally-and-constitutionally-what-now/ )
And for more on why Scotland can’t block Brexit, see this more recent post: https://publiclawforeveryone.com/2016/06/26/brexit-can-scotland-block-brexit/

The meaning of Brexit

Financial-Times-29-December-2010“Dumping regulations in areas such as working hours, gender equality and climate change would boost business.” Source: Prof Miford of Economists for Brexit, summarised in Financial Times on June 15:

Vote Leave if you think that (a) Prof Minford is right in saying that these things will boost the economy enough to overcome the financial costs of leaving (most economists strongly disageee), and (b) the economy is more important than people or planet.

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