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July 16, 2017



I feel your pain on this and a lot of people I know, both in real life and social media, are convinced that once we're out the world will be our oyster. This is a leap of faith that you either believe in or don't much like religion.

My suggestion is give both sides what they need not what they want so both can claim victory. How else can you solve a binary question on which the country is split 50:50? I put a few thoughts here. http://wp.me/p2EMKO-1dh

Warren Luke Tarbiat

I suppose this is the big issue as David Allen Green put it, if Remain won by a similar margin what Leave did it wouldn't of killed off the issue. We could see a crisis with the EU such as a series of scandals, Eurozone blowing up again or large waves if refugees/migrants coming to the shores of Europe. We would've seen demands of another referendum a year later (as the Brexit campaigners of Vote Leave would've initially blamed Nigel Farage for ****ing up Leave's chances). Lieklyt Cameron & Osborne getting complacent about things in general and considering how in the previous parliament all it could take is a dozen 'Bastards' to muck up legislation they would've wrecked things and forced Cameron at least early. Then we would've had a Tory leadership battle with potentially a Brexiteer getting onto the ballot and winning the leadership and becoming PM who opens the issue of another referendum and that could've resulted us in leaving anyway.

Though for a 2nd referendum in say a year I wouldn't be sure, most of the Vote Leave promises would be vapor. One big issue that would be used against Leaving would be "do you want to sell the NHS off the Trump/GOP donors?" which plays against Brexit claims of "sovreignity". ALso seen with the Iraq War people who supported it initially now don't admit if they ever did support us intervening in Iraq in order to depose the Saddam Regime (though like Brexit, we probably would've done it anyways. Another note is the GE just gone by, Tory leads of 20+ turned into a Tory win by 2 and a lost parliamentary majority.

Of course the big question about a 2nd referendum is "how do we get a 2nd referendum?".

Cynically I also think that the Labour leadership wants us to crash out being the reason. Accelerationism is one hell of a drug and the likes of Andrew Murray (a literal North Korea admirer) in Corbyn's office probably privately want it.

Still good piece, I feel our political leaders have failed Britain in self-indulgence that Cameron helped acclerate with his constant Brussels bashing.

Patrick Kirk

Before Brexit vote, you wrote that it wouldn't matter much as economies tend to develop regardless of who in power and of what their policies are. Has economic theory changed that much in last 12 months that a change in trade arrangements is much more important now? If so, what's the point in economic theory?


"Brexiteers have never satisfactorily told me what I will be free to do after Brexit that I can’t do so now. "

Simple - vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Or rather his set of policies, and get them implemented.

Corbyn could not implement his manifesto while within the EU. He would be far too constrained by EU law. Now as Tory you'd think this would make me in favour of being in the EU as I consider his policies would be terribly damaging to the country. However once you get into a situation where the people cannot vote to change things (even if for the worse) then you no longer have democracy, you have some form of dictatorship, possibly benign, but potentially not.

And once the people realise that those in power are merely paying lip service to the idea that voters have any power at the ballot box, then violent revolution is probably inevitable. Its been very instructive how post Brexit many of the current political class (on all sides of the red/blue/yellow divide) have suddenly made it very clear they consider that democracy isn't all its cracked up to be and a free and fair vote should be ignored because they don't like the outcome.

No society that has a political class with such attitudes will stay stable for long.

Dennis Smith

This analysis is horribly Anglocentric, or perhaps I should say Anglo-British-centric. It talks as though the UK is a standard-issue nation-state which will chunter on regardless of what happens with Brexit, disregarding the fact that two of the UK’s constituent nations voted to leave while two voted to stay.

Both Cameron and May, in their more lucid moments, at least recognise that the UK is a multinational and plurinational state. It is not clear where Labour in general and Corbyn in particular currently stand on this, or even whether English, Scottish and Welsh Labour share a common stance. In this area ‘constructive ambiguity’ does not look like a viable option. Brexit may well destroy the current devolution settlement, and Labour needs to be clear what it wants to put in its place.

In particular, your analysis ignores the most pressing, and potentially inflammatory, aspect of Brexit – the long-term status of Northern Ireland and its border with the south. Brexit raises huge issues about the global order and the UK’s place in it which go far beyond metropolitan navel-gazing.

What Brexit has highlighted is not so much a fundamental problem of politics in general as the fundamental incoherence of the present UK constitution. Until politicians gird their loins to tackle the problem of a specifically English deficit in democratic legitimacy there is no foreseeable way out of this mess.

John Brakband

You said a 'free and fair vote' -- was it?? I don't see how it was either of those! Why? Let's start with 'free': There were large parts of society 'disenfranchised' before the vote - 1) I have lived here since 1972, have only paid taxes to the UK my entire working life, can vote in local elections (something likely now to be denied me in future), and I was not allowed a vote. 2) Those British subjects who were on the verge of deciding whether to return to the land of their birth, having lived in Spain/Turkey/Germany/Belgium for the past 15 years were not allowed a vote, 3) Those MOST affected, the 16/17 year olds, were not allowed a vote ... we are now over a year later and they ARE affected, but have no voice.
As to 'fair' - was it? How many lies were told to acquire votes? From the side of a bus to the 'we will be better off' lies. That was fair?
Your worldview/reality is certainly different from mine.


«it’s clear that Brexit will be a horrible, impoverishing, mess.»

It will be impoverishing and a mess but not horrible: the long term best estimate is GDP growth 8% smaller than it would otherwise have been, that is a less severe impact than the 2008 crisis. It is also likely that UK middle and low level wages will shrink another 10-30%, but they already shrunk 5-20% after 2008. All those are entirely survivable impoverishment, and will be celebrated by many as UK workers winning more "competitiveness" in the race to the bottom.

What could derail Brexit would be a massive house price crash, whether caused by it or coincident with it, but the BoE and the Treasury will likely sacrifice anything else to keep house prices going up, as they seem afraid that they won't be able to backstop the consequent collapse of the UK banking system like in 2008.


«We’d then have a hokey cokey policy towards the EU: in, out, in, out, shake it all about.»

Nothing new then.

«I’d like to see the issue killed for good, and I don’t think a second referendum would achieve this. [ ... ] Brexit will fade as an issue only when its supporters, being older than average, die off.»

Indeed there is a large age-related component to the Bexit story, people who still feeel angry at England's defeat in WW2 and the loss of the English Empire, and feel that being "just a member" of the EU is a national humiliation. Younger generations don't feel the loss of empire so intensely.


«Brexiteers have never satisfactorily told me what I will be free to do after Brexit that I can’t do so now»

Well there are obvious collective gains (immigration, industrial policy, labour policy) and losses (inability to work and live in 27 other countries without begging for a visa, control over EU policies) as to rights.

What however I cannot understand of Brexiters is their blind spot as to how the USA have political and operational control of english foreign policy, security and military forces, turning England into what Macron described as a "vassal state", because of the bipartisan decision of Attlee and Churchill, and how Brexiters seems entirely comfortable with that, given that they get instead enraged by EU product standards on first-class bananas or the maximum power of hoovers.

They seem to feel that voluntary EU membership is a national humiliation and being a "limited sovereignty" USA protectorate isn't.

PS: I don't disagree with the choice of England having become after the WW2 defeat an USA vassal state; most of western Europe, and now most of central Europe, and the other three major anglo colonies (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) have made the same choice, so there must be something good to it.

What puzzles me is the the dissonance between the EU attitude and the USA attitude of so many "conservative leaning" Brexiters.


I spend most of every day reading about Brexit.
That unknown unknown.
To many it is a truimph or an as yet imagined and inconvenient loss.

A little over a year ago I retired, with a just about managing pension, and the house to be paid off 6 years hence.
The current exchange rate to the euro means that I have nothing.... zero... to live on for the next five years, unless I can sell my house. Otherwise foreclosure.

Every day I hope that Brexit will not happen, and the exchange rate will recover. I no longer speak with my familly in the UK.... brexiteers all. I still do not know my future residency status.

Life is "on hold".
Hatred is in my heart.


There are strong leftist arguments against the single market. Historically, limitations on labour movement have formed part of the protection of worker power. And the "four freedoms" so sacrosanct to EU leaders are in no way equal and balancing. The idea that labour can be as free as capital, which can be transferred globally with a few key strokes, is delusional at best.


Let me simplify it for you...

I. The decision has been made, the die is cast the letter delivered...

II. We are leaving the single market. This is a necessary action, as is the fall in the value of the pound. The attitudes and actions of Germany over Greece demonstrate why we need to leave the E.U. Macrons' approach has already been rejected by the Germans. The EU establishment are incapable of and do not desire, the required changes.

III. The last general election was not about Brexit but domestic issues. E.U. Rules impact on domestic issues, unless we leave the single market, EUCJ etc.

IV. As I understand it W.T.O rules allow for a ten year transition period on Tariffs (plus two for article 50). Hardly rapid change.

V. Tony Blair had a decade to change Britain/World for the better, while Prime Minister. What makes him think he as a useful contribution to make now?

Exhausting Tory bandwidth might result in the least harm.


«The attitudes and actions of Germany over Greece demonstrate why we need to leave the E.U.»

That attitude has been one of wasting a lot of german (and french and italian) taxpayer money to support Greece.

It was the UK in 2011 and ever after that triumphantly vetoed the use of even a cent of EU funds to help Greece, and it was the UK and the USA who refused to provide anything more than token support via the IMF, and none at all directly.

Dave Timoney


"Indeed there is a large age-related component to the Bexit story, people who still feeel angry at England's defeat in WW2 and the loss of the English Empire, and feel that being "just a member" of the EU is a national humiliation ... What however I cannot understand of Brexiters is their blind spot as to how the USA have political and operational control of english foreign policy".

People who were conscious of the "defeat" of 1945 - i.e. the formal ascension of the US to the role of global hegemon and the UK's irrefutable relegation to the second rank - would have been born in the 1920s, so they'd be in their 90s now. There aren't that many of them still around, which is why the very real anti-americanism of that generation has faded into the background (the last cultural manifestation of the tension this gave rise to was probably Yanks, the 1979 John Schlesinger film).

The British Empire disappeared between 1948 and 1965. The current generation of 60-70 year-olds who appear to have such a pivotal influence on politics mostly came of age after this period and consequently have no direct experience of empire either as a reality or a rhetorical trope in political discourse (Enoch Powell was probably the last politician to play this tune and he was marginalised after 1968).

What this generation did have experience of were the economic shocks of the 1970s, which were widely (and incorrectly) presented as evidence of British moral decline by that earlier, empire-minded generation (i.e. a 50 year-old in 1973 would coach an impressionable 21 year-old on how Britain had sunk low despite two world wars and one world cup).

Imperial nostalgia has been and continues to be an important factor in British politics (the Falklands War didn't help), but it has been a pastiche rather than the real thing (see the collected works of messrs Johnson, Fox and Gove). In essence, what we're still suffering from is the Thatcher generation, the cohort born in the 1950s who has no lived memory of empire but experienced a stultifying cultural backdrop that surivived the impact of the countercultural 1960s, largely because it was the provincial norm while the latter was the metropolitan exception.




"Greece sought its first EU-IMF bailout in 2010 and Germany provided funding over the past five years either directly or through the IMF or the European Stability Mechanism.

The IWH study says every time this year there was a spike in the Greek debt crisis, which made Greece's exit from the euro appear more likely, German government bond yields fell. Whenever the news looked better, Germany's bond yields increased.

Even if the situation were to calm down suddenly, Germany would still be expected to profit from the situation, the IWH argues, because medium- and long-term bonds issued in recent years are still far away from maturing."


"During the first two "adjustment programs," as they're known in bureaucratic parlance, Athens received some 216 billion euros.

Of that amount, the ESMT's study found that 86.9 billion went toward debt repayments, including 9.1 billion in repayments to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF),
52.3 billion was spent on interest payments, 37.3 billion was used for bank recapitalization and 29.7 billion was doled out to provide incentives for investors to get involved in the private sector.

Only 9.7 billion euros, according to ESMT, was directly contributed to Greece's fiscal budget"


"We should be clear: almost none of the huge amount of money loaned to Greece has actually gone there," Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank and a Nobel Prize winner in economics, wrote in the Guardian newspaper today. "It has gone to pay out private-sector creditors – including German and French banks."

Heads or Tails: Germany and German/French Banks win...


Fraudian slip: Blissex

derrida derider

"I confess to not understanding the appeal of Brexit here: Brexiteers have never satisfactorily told me what I will be free to do after Brexit that I can’t do so now."

Why sticking it to Johnny Foreigner, of course. Once again we'll be allowed to say the wogs begin at Calais.

Old people are naturally ignorantly xenophobic - and fervent Brexiters are overwhelmingly OLD. The young really do have a right to be really bitter about this - it's their future that is being stolen.

Christian Moon

You are right about the incommensurability of prosperity and sovereignty.

To understand the appeal of Brexit though, it might help to replace the word sovereignty with the word democracy. Sovereignty has connotations of elevating the national identity in the world, or of archaic monarchy, and it's all too comfortable to be a bit condescending about this, or alarmed. The word is used to exclude the argument.

What Brexiteers are objecting to is to being ruled by a government that they didn't vote in, and that they can't vote out (without organising a multi-lingual, pan-EU campaign that achieves simultaneous success in multiple countries). This has had the effect of infantilising our political life in the UK because the UK government's responsibilities are so much constrained by the EU.

In the long run, the EU structure won't produce effective government (and hence prosperity) because it is not being forced to adapt to popular sentiment through elections, and because it is so very cumbersome. It does not explore the space of possible policies effectively in order to discover what works best: it excludes the possibility of Thatcherite deregulation, just as much as it excludes that of Corbynite Chavismo.


The Tories are stuck with Brexit, they invented it, brought it into being and now it will destroy them. Labour should sit back and wait for the electoral apple to fall into its lap. To do this Labour will have to go along with Brexit on the principle 'give a fool enough rope'. Also a lot of Labour supporters voted for Brexit. But voters are like children, they go for the brightly coloured sweeties dangled in front of them, plenty of time for them to find out what is in the Brexit packet. So a Labour reversal on Brexit seems quite possible whilst the Tories are stuck in the Brexit tar pit. Just sit back and wait.

But I fear the failure of Brexit will not solve the underlying problem in the UK and much of the developed world, we have too many people. We just cannot find a valid use for them all, we have to invent artificial activity or subsidies to try and support them all. This is not an anti immigrant thing, we need easy immigration and free movement but this is a problem that affect the entire Western world that no one dare address. Brexit will come and go but the forces that made it attractive will not have gone away.


If the Theory that Brexit is more the conscious or unconscious unthinking effect of cultural fears about social change, namely really racism xenophobia etc Is correct Rather than rational ideas about economics being key, Then the irony will be that Brexit will do nothing about such "anxieties." The ethnics are not going anywhere and the UK will still be a declining power with less and less influence. The EU is unlikely to collapse as politicians in EU countries are far too determined to make it work. The UK is likely to have to retain EU regulations without any formal say on their content because so much UK trade is with the EU. Trade agreements today are based on multilateral adjustments organised around trade blocks like the EU. I cannot see how the UK State will have more influence than today as a result of Brexit or better trade and growth. It does seem an exercise in irrational folly.

I would welcome a left Labour Government, but it would still be constrained by many of the same limitations it would have in the EU because of the integration of the UK economy with the rest of the world. I have never been convinced there is an economic or political panacea to be won from Brexit and like Chris am still waiting for a realistic proof of this. There is just going to be a lot of disappointed people I imagine. The referendum was an exercise in irresponsibility by the ruling class being unwilling to face up to realistic trade offs.


To continue my thoughts Trump and his rhetoric exemplifies people voting for a candidate or more likely against his opponent Clinton, for reasons often unconnected to real policy choices. Trump had no plan which could deliver any of his promises during the campaign on the economy, health care, terrorism, or anything else. This seemed to not bother millions of voters. The only plans are from the GOP in Congress all of which are too right wing even for most Americans. There is a serious failure in the political system when Brexit or Trump can happen.

George Carty

« What I mean is that many political issues are matters of degree: more or less government, more or less equality, more or less freedom and so on. Politics is then a matter of tweaking dials a little. Brexit, though, is different. It’s a binary issue: in or out. »

Isn't there also a continuum of positions regarding Britain-Europe relations though:

0. Republic of Europe (unitary state)
1. United States of Europe (federal state)
2. Join Schengen and the euro
3. Join Schengen but keep the pound
4. Status quo ante referendum
5. Brexit in name only (stay in single market and customs union)
6. Stay in the single market and retain FoM, leave the customs union (Norway model)
7a. Leave the single market and end FoM, stay in the customs union (Turkey model)
7b. Leave the single market and customs union, retain FoM (Socialist Worker model)
8. Leave single market and customs union, end FoM, free trade agreement with the EU
9. Leave single market and customs union, end FoM, trade under WTO rules
10. Leave single market and customs union, end FoM, leave the WTO


"Brexiteers might be more desperate next time around: backfire effects and asymmetric Bayesianism warn us that partisans don’t change their minds when confronted with discorroborating evidence, but rather double down and become more dogmatic."

Ironic. What motivates otherwise decent social science bloggers to double down on the promotion of pseudo-Bayesian amateur cognitive science, when their points could be made just as well with the real thing(s), I wonder.


Now with added link to erroneous 'rule of succession' calculations by Peter Levine. &_&

Anomalous Cowshed

For me, at least, Christian Moon has it.

A couple of points;

"This has had the effect of infantilising our political life in the UK because the UK government's responsibilities are so much constrained by the EU."

This in itself leads directly to the concerns Chris has posted about, regarding government capability or capacity.

"In the long run, the EU structure won't produce effective government"

Whatever it is that the EU actually wants to be, it can't get there from here, at least without an existential crisis (or three). Without an external threat, it will probably have to create one. Either way, it'll probably be downright nasty for someone. I'd much prefer to watch it from a safe distance, thank you very much.

Ignoring that, the EU structure seems to wash any dynamism away, it trends towards stasis. I can't believe that will end well.


Brexit is nothing more than the backlash against the financial, social and psychological violence unleashed on the country via QE.

People priced out of houses in their own country as a deliberate act of BoE policy to save the banks. Not the people, the banks.

Until you realise this and swallow the monumental fuck up you created there will be no overturning or even re-consideration of Brexit.

The fact that nobody seems to realise this lends much credibility to the idea that Liberal Economics (the ideology that created QE)is as pernicious a doctrine as fascism was in the 1930s.
Keep trying to implement it via QE/BoE and there'll be civil disorder. Again, if you cant see this coming, youre a fool.
(I'm fairly sure those here can neither see this approaching and will be the most dumbstruck and aghast when it occurs but, well, some of us did try to warn you..... again)

Nothing short of unconditional surrender on your part (of the current economic policy) will suffice.


"Brexit has highlighted some fundamental problems with politics" is a brilliant understatement.

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