Monday, June 27, 2016

Reflections on Brexit

The most extraordinary thing about Brexit was the immediate and unreasoning hysteria it provoked.  A lot of very foolish people acted as if their lives had immediately changed -- when NOTHING will happen for at least a year. For anything to happen, laws have to be changed -- and I am sure that we all know what a glacial process that can be. Still, the dishonest predictions of disaster put out by the establishment in the lead-up to the vote must bear some responsibility for the panic.

And the very first indicator of disaster has already reversed itself.  The stockmarket plunged, only to bounce back to end up on the week.  Though some shares are still down of course.  The stockmarket is like that. If you think there's anything simple about it, you are headed for a fall.  I have seen people who had all the answers lose big money.

So people will have plenty of warning about changes before they change and will be able to make any adjustments to their affairs that they may see as needed.

So what are the likely changes?  Not much.  Some money now going to Brussels will probably be diverted to to where it is desperately needed -- the public hospitals -- so the hospitals  might not bump off grandma as quickly as they have been doing -- but that is probably about it.  The new Prime Minister will almost certainly be the popular Boris Johnson and party politics will return to their accustomed ways.  Everyone from David Cameron down has been promising that, though there will undoubtedly be a few sore-heads.

A threat that some people have made much of is that Scotland might secede.  Scotland voted solidly to stay in the EU. But that is nonsense.  If Scotland were to become an independent country with different immigration arrangements, the border between England and Scotland would become an international border to be marked by a fence and passport controls.  Free movement between the two countries would be halted for the first time in hundreds of years.

And Scotland would no longer be able to use the British pound as its currency so would probably have to adopt the troubled Euro -- possibly leading to an overnight drop in the value of Scottish savings.  If Nicola Sturgeon thinks she can get Scots to agree to  that she has haggis for brains.

The big threat that hung over the whole campaign was the possibility of British industry losing markets for its goods and services.  When Britain leaves the EU, will the EU abandon free trade between itself and Britain and start putting tariffs and other import restrictions on British goods headed for Europe?  It's most unlikely.  Trade wars almost always provoke retaliation.  And Britain has plenty to retaliate with:  a market of 60 million  people, to be precise.

As I have said previously, If Britain's tariff-free access to Europe were cut off by  some big-bottomed bureaucrats in Brussels, Britain could very rapidly and very effectively retaliate.  A Prime Minister, Boris Johnson could and probably would announce a complete embargo on the importation of European farm products into Britain.

That would be particularly disruptive to France, including the already-stressed French wine industry.  The Brits now buy twice as much Australian wine as French wine but Britain is still a major market for French wine. And one cannot imagine the French farmers taking that lying down. And French farmers always get their way.  One imagines them getting into their tractors and blockading the Berlaymont building, the primary seat of the EU Commission in Brussels. And when cut off from their supply of beer, chocolate and stinky cheese, the Brussels bureaucrats would undoubtedly cave in. "Temporary" or "transitional" arrangements would be made.

In short the EU will, as far a Britain is concerned, revert to being what it originally was:  A free trade area with Britain inside it.  Norway already has a free-trade-only agreement with the EU so a model for such arrangements already exists.

What about visa-free travel?  That's less certain.  There have always been visa-free travel arrangements between some countries and it would certainly be highly desirable to retain such arrangements between Britain and the countries of Europe.  Hundreds of thousands of French and Italians have moved to London to find work and hundreds of thousands of Brits -- mostly retirees -- have moved to France and Spain for the better climate there.  So both of those groups would be inconvenienced by a cessation of the existing travel arrangements.

So why might there NOT be visa-free travel arrangements?  That takes us right to the whole heart of Brexit.  I put up yesterday on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH four lengthy essays that attempted to explain why the British people voted to leave the EU.  And they all did a reasonable job of it -- "unresponsive elites" and all that.  But in fact there was really only one standout issue between the people and their establishment:  Immigration.

Let me summarize the whole issue in the language of the people:   "The politicians are letting too many bloody wogs into the country".  In formal English: "The politicians are letting too many accursed foreigners into the country".  And most of those "wogs" got in under EU rules. Brexit was about giving England back to the English.

So, given that aim, any new immigration arrangements will have to be restrictive -- and that will almost certainly include at a minimum passports and visas for everyone entering Britain.

So is that racist?  You would have to define racism very broadly to say so.  But Leftists do define it extremely broadly.   Any awareness of group loyalty at all can attract cries of racism from them.  They use the ghastly memory of the socialist Hitler to imply that any degree of racial or ethnic consciousness is only a hairsbreadth away from genocide.  So something as simple as patriotism becomes racism in their unending outpouring of hate  for normal people.

They fail to take into account that it was patriotism, Russian patriotism, that defeated Hitler.  Something like 80% of German military casualties in WWII were incurred on the Eastern front.  And Russians to this day refer to that war as "The Great Patriotic War".

So the resentment that many Britons feel towards the influx of foreigners might in part be due to a love of England as it was but there are also huge practical reasons behind the resentment. The millions of foreigners who have arrived in recent years have put a strain on basic services -- hospitals, housing and transport facilities -- that the British government has done little to address -- because of the large costs involved.

So parents find that they cannot get their kid into a nearby school, they constantly get stuck in traffic jams, they can find standing room only on commuter trains and rushed hospital staff make errors that lead to serious harm and even death. And the price of housing has become unaffordable to many would-be buyers. There is no irrationality in wanting to stop further deterioration of that already dire situation

Finally, what are we to make of the age difference between "Remain" and "Leave" voters?  The older the voter was, the more likely they were to vote "Leave".  The cause is fairly straightforward.  Older voters remember a time when Britain did quite well on its own, thank you very much, and could see no reason why Britain could not do so again.  Younger voters, on the other hand have known nothing but the EU and accept it as normal, warts and all.  They were afraid of what was to them the unknown.

There is however some anger among young people about not getting their way and that will hopefully be a good lesson to a spoiled generation.

An amusing footnote:  "Quebec Separatists See New Hope After Brexit Vote".  I guess I shouldn't laugh -- JR.

UPDATE:  A good comment from Peter Hargreaves:

If Brexit sent world markets into turmoil it underlines the importance of the UK. This essentially means we will get every deal we want.


Brexit Vote Has Huge Ramifications for U.S. Politics


News flash: The revolt against elites is real in the UK and America and it's only getting started. Maybe there will always be an England.

In a surprise, Leave won the Brexit referendum on whether to stay in the European Union by an equally surprising amount. British sovereignty won. David Cameron lost. Jeremy Corbyn lost. The EU lost. Bureaucrats lost. Angela Merkel lost. Barack Obama lost. Globalism lost. Authority figures almost everywhere lost. And, most of all, unlimited immigration lost.

So what happened to the vaunted British betting market that is almost invariably correct and was predicting by 80 percent a Remain victory? Or all those recent polls that were tilting Remain?

Answer: Those same elites had convinced each other they would win and therefore convinced the usual suspects—media, pollsters and, sadly, financial markets—that they were right. They were wrong. Watching them now on the BBC they still cannot comprehend  what has happened. The peasants have revolted—oh no, oh no. There must be some mistake. Didn't they get the memo? The sky would fall if they left the EU.

Earth to elites: Citizens of truly democratic countries don't want unlimited immigration into their countries by people who couldn't be less interested in democracy. They also don't want to be governed by the rules and regulations of faceless bureaucrats whose not-so-hidden goals are power and riches for themselves and their friends. Simple, isn't it?

Will There Always Be an England?

This vote is of immense help to Donald Trump if he is smart enough to seize it properly and doesn't bobble the ball. Many, probably most, Americans feel exactly the same as their brothers and sisters across the pond. They despise the same elites and want to save their country. Trump, now fortuitously in Scotland (I know—they voted Remain, but not in the numbers they were supposed to), should show his support. The  UK is America's closest ally.  We should be the first to extend a hand, negotiate free trade, etc., and get her rolling again.

That most elite of presidents, Barack Obama, who opened his morally narcissistic mouth supporting the Remain side and warning the British people, as he is wont to do, that there would be "consequences" if they voted to leave the EU, is in no position to do anything, even if he wanted to.  And he doesn't.

Hillary Clinton is so elitist she practically defines the term. She was probably up all night figuring out what to do about the situation. I have a suggestion—move to Brussels.

Meanwhile, Trump should take up the gauntlet for the U.S. and the UK now. Why wait? Act like the president—we could use one.  Donald has a natural ally in the leading Leave spokesperson conservative Boris Johnson. The two men are said to be similar and in many ways they are.

What Brexit Means

Long live the Anglosphere. Remember the Magna Carta and all that. This is a day truly to celebrate, even if stock markets are crashing around the world. They'll come back. Look on it as a buying opportunity. A bubble has broken, but it isn't a stock bubble. It's a human bubble consisting of elites who seek to govern in a manner not all that distant from Comrade Lenin, just hiding under a phony mask of bureaucratic democracy. They've taken a big body blow from the citizens of England. Churchill would be proud.  Time for America to follow suit.

But don't get cocky.  This is only one small victory—a non-blinding referendum—but make no mistake about it, still a victory after all.  Just follow the instructions of Sir Winston and "never, never give up."  Yes, I know the quote is falsely attributed, but it's good advice nevertheless.



Trump on Brexit: America is next

British voters just shattered political convention in a stunning repudiation of the ruling establishment. Donald Trump is betting America is about to do the same.

The referendum campaign -- just like the U.S. election -- has boiled with populist anger, fear-mongering by politicians, hostility towards distant political elites and resurgent nationalism, and exposed a visceral feeling in the electorate that ordinary voters have lost control of the politics that shape their own lives. Its success raises the question of whether those forces will exert a similar influence in America in November.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who arrived in the UK to visit his Scottish golf courses just as the referendum result was announced, declared Friday that the U.S. is next.

"Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first," he said. "They will have the chance to reject today's rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people."

Pollsters in the UK underestimated the fury of grassroots voters outside metropolitan areas in a way that could be mirrored in the United States, where Clinton now enjoys a lead in national surveys.

Furthermore, "Brexit" forces triumphed partly because the Labour Party could not deliver its traditional working class voters in some big post-industrial cities for the "Remain" campaign, despite the support of party leaders.

It is not a stretch to wonder whether the kind of political message that was so powerful in the referendum -- featuring a harsh critique of free trade and a demands to "take our country back" -- could prove just as effective among blue-collar workers in rust belt states in the United States.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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