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December 11, 2018



... well. There is a critical difference between the women in the initiation ceremony and the cost of Leaving Brexit, and that is the women were paying an entry cost to join an organisation, and we are paying an exit cost to leave an organisation.

I literally cannot be bothered going round this again. What is the point for the umpteenth time highlighting the many failings of the EU, the clearly stated federal agenda, the cost being paid by so many people in so many countries, the complete lack of understanding on the Remain side of what the point of the EU is.

For the umpteenth time. Politics is about Power. Full. Stop. So before you analyse to death the cost of different options, you need to analyse those options in terms of power, and then ask those five simple questions that the well known right-wing nationalist Tony Benn liked to ask. Then you can ask whether the price is worth paying.

those questions: https://www.thenation.com/article/tony-benn-and-five-essential-questions-democracy/

Seriously, that interview has everything an Brexiteer needs. "“A historical perspective is the key to democratic politics, which if denied can bury the real issues ... reducing us to the role of spectators of our fate, rather than active participants. The obliteration of the past strengthens the short-term calculations that pass for political thought,"

yes. that's you, Remainers, he is talking about.


Benn's five questions are no more relevant to the EU than they are to a Scot regarding Westminster.

UK voters send MEPs to the European Parliament, and may choose who represents them. The elected UK government sends ministers to the Council of Ministers, where they may exercise a national veto on anything they don't like. For anything requiring QMV, we are one of four member states with more votes than anyone else.

The EU rules we are subject to are those freely agreed to in negotiation for things we valued - and the mechanisms which hold us to those agreements are the same as those which apply to our counterparties.

The European Commission has a mandate set out in the Treaty of Rome, to which we were free signatories, to offer suggestions which pursue an ever-closer Union. These are subject to votes by the Council of Ministers.

There is no terrible democratic deficit in the EU. There is a far greater democratic deficit in the UK, with its archaic and unfair voting system, unelected second chamber and lack of an English parliament.

The golden age of power and prosperity conjured by Brexiters is that of Empire. Unless you plan on invading vast swathes of the world, you will not secure the unfair control and access to resources which made Britain so rich and influential more than a century ago. Let it go.

To imagine that any of the bigger economies will give the UK a better deal than the EU is delusional. Our market is marginal to them, while theirs are critical or game-changing to ours. That's a terribly weak negotiating position. And if we can't even get the deal we want out of the EU, what makes us think we'd fare better against Trump and China?

I'd have far more time for the 'take control of our borders' aspect if the UK government had actually attempted to do so. If controlling immigration numbers was so important, why did successive governments refuse to make significant hires to the Passport Service, IND and Borders Agency? Why did they not invest significantly in technology? Why did people reject ID cards so strongly? And why did the government not implement the kind of measures other EU members chose to use in order to manage their own borders and immigration?

The arguments of the so-called 'principled' Brexiteers around sovereignty have been exposed mercilessly by their own disinterest in Northern Ireland and preserving the Union. They are frustrated English nationalists pissed-off at the consequences of the Tory policies they voted for over the last 40 years.

They're traitors pursuing Putin's foreign policy.


How easy or difficulty Brexit will be is predicated on how deeply enmeshed the EU has become into our daily lives.

It's therefore not all that surprising that those who value Brexit see the difficulty of leaving as another piece of evidence that the UK should in fact leave.

It'll only get more difficult to leave in the future; if the UK doesn't get out now, it never will.

No fancy cognitive biases required to explain this.


Dipper is correct of course on this one.

I'll move to Remain if you can explain how the EU model looks anything like the Federal system in the USA. To which the Bennite test clearly still applies (just). Even starting modestly, how do I (EU citizen: No 2356786785) remove any of the current EU Brexit negotiating team from office for a start? How about a commissioner, the president, a chief justice or two? How about a central banker? The team that handed out economic justice to the Greeks. Something even Paul Mason forgets he wrote once.

Anyway,for good or bad, even Proles like me know enough democtatic theory and practice to also know what to do about May and the vile Tories in the coming General election, thank you very much. Chris you are not driving folks to behavioursits 'ratavistic' views of economics with this one sided guff, but political neurosis.

Chris is like the trout fisherman casting to Brownies on his Rutland estate. Will a Woolly Bugger work? No! Will a Montana? Nope. I know, how about a Hairs Ear? He reaches deeper and deeper into the Economic text book, for theories and flies he has never really used before; but remembers they sit at the bottom of the box. The daylight is going.'Simon, why don't we try the 'Gravity Fly' on them, I know you have explained 'ad hoc theories' do not fit into our NeoLib, Rationalist philosophic corpus but wet/dry/ ad-hoc, lets fucking try anything!'

Staberinde, Good points, but you do not move me as such, despite agreeing 100% with you on thid whole section:

'I'd have far more time for the 'take control of our borders' aspect if the UK government had actually attempted to do so. If controlling immigration numbers was so important, why did successive governments refuse..'(Also I assume the issue for Chris here is not the Express, Mail, 'Brexiter'you demolish it is the Lexiteer (who Chris had once hoped,'made their peace with the EU')

njc - yes. I refer you to Paul Mason above again :)

Terence callachan

It will not get any more difficult to leave the EU in future, this Brexit we are experiencing is worse than it need be because it has been planned that way by the brexiter elements of Westminster.
It could have been easy to leave ,it will always be easy to leave, all you need is a majority who want to leave.
When you want to have your cake and eat it it too you then discover that it's not possible so even if you have decided that you will eat your cake and have it too there is a time when you discover it simply is not possible and no second vote no protracted negotiating will ever allow the possible.
England want to leave EU and at the same time it wants to continue to control Northern Ireland and Scotland and not have a border between Southern Ireland which is in the EU and Northern Ireland once it is taken out of the EU but the EU say there has to be a border between Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland but they will postpone it for a while so that it doesn't cause civil war there again.
A postponement will be short lived.
Trouble looms.
Reunification of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland increases in popularity day by day.
As for Scotland,if it is taken out of the eu it will leave the uk and England can't afford to lose the natural resources and strategic position of Scotland if it is to continue bullying the world along with USA by means of trident missiles.
Trouble looms .
Scottish independence becomes more likely day by day.
So it is a quandary for England ,have the Brexit and lose control of Scotland and Northern Ireland


How do you remove a UK judge from office? Or the governor of the Bank of England? Or the head of a quango? Or a Whitehall mandarin?


'How do you remove a UK judge from office? Or the governor of the Bank of England? Or the head of a quango? Or a Whitehall mandarin?'

Read the link to Benn's famous position. look at the vital last clause!

So do you mean me personally or do you mean the PrimeMinister of the party with a majority in Parliament (who I support or remove from office at a general election)?

So you are asking say, how does the Primeminister remove the Guv of Bank of England, for example? Easy. Wheel her in your office and tell she no longer has your confidence and the wait for the resignation letter later that day, (while journalists wet their knickers over the story).House of Lords and Judges read up on Llyod George, Generals, Churchill, Wives, Henry VIII. Hope this helps.


What I would no longer be interestd in voting for is a 'Primeminster' who asked me to vote for them to have this 'sovereign authority' and then later tells me that they do not have the power to carryout 'sovereign functions' as a previous Primeminister has made a binding treaty commitment which they had overlooked when making promises at a General election. Be clear, I am perfectly happy to live in such a state (Chris and Simon tell me I will be GDP richer) but I will take a dim view to being asked to participate in any further party political activity and General Elections.My Goverenment will be as interesting to me as my Council mayor currently is !


MikeW, I think you're having difficulties with the idea of sovereignty. Let me try and help?

The days when Britain enjoyed 100% sovereignty required either for international trade to be small and arbitrary (ie: no formal trade agreements with dispute resolution mechanisms), or for Britain to be the world's hegemon (able to impose its will on any foreign affairs which might impact it domestically).

Those days aren't coming back. Even the "trading Britain" Brexiters want to strike trade deals, and all of these will require someone other than the UK ruling on whether we've stuck to the agreements. The WTO is an example of such a body to which we have given away some sovereignty - and Brexiters seem to adore it for some reason.

Of course the UK is also not entirely sovereign in the sense that it has devolved some of its sovereign powers to the parliament in Scotland, the assembly in NI and that weird thing in Wales. It's something that we Europhiles used to call 'subsidiarity' in the 1990s and it generally seems to work well in terms of keeping different imagined communities with often divergent interests together in order to enjoy scale benefits economically and geo-politically.

This is why most Scots voted to stay in the UK - the scale benefits exceeded those of greater sovereignty.

If you are a Scot, you have a greater ability to remove the First Minister from power than you do the Prime Minister (and indeed, if you're English you have no ability to remove Nicola Sturgeon whatsoever - but neither do you have the power to vote-out the leader of your neighbouring local council).

This broadens to the EU. We gain massive scale benefits from being a 500m population global powerhouse rather than a 65m population declining former empire with delusions of grandeur.

The European presidency, civil service and judiciary are accountable to both the CoM and European Parliament, and through them to us in the UK.

Your issue is that you would prefer the UK government not to be bound by previous commitments, or indeed, for the UK to have to give up anything in return for a benefit granted by another country.

This is the biggest problem with the Brexit mindset.

We have fishermen who believe that the right to fish in UK waters should never be bargained away. We have people who want to reduce immigration. And yet they believe that Europe will happily let us sell British fish to their markets with us without wanting access to our waters in return. Or that India will sign a great trade deal that doesn't involve dropping visa requirements for Indian citizens wish to visit, live and work in the UK.

Brexiters don't want to negotiate, they want stuff given to them because they think they are entitled to it.

Brexiters don't want to stick to agreements, because they think they're special - but they expect everyone else to follow the rules.

Your issue, MikeW, with Prime Ministers promising things which contradict prior agreements, is solved by not voting for people who make such mendacious promises.

It remains true that no parliament may bind its successor. But that has never meant that reneging on prior agreements with other countries doesn't have consequences. As we are seeing, cancelling our treaties as EU members involves consequences. And as we will learn, entering into new trade agreements with other parties will create new responsibilities which restrict our sovereignty. Counterparties have interests too, and you should always expect them to defend these, as we do ours.

George Carty

"The golden age of power and prosperity conjured by Brexiters is that of Empire."

Perhaps that is true of the reactionary middle-class Leave voters, but working-class Leave voters were more motivated by nostalgia for the digiriste postwar "British Nation" described by David Edgerton.


Fair point George.

Though it is somewhat strange that those who favour a more European social model should wish to leave the EU to pursue one.

If they're harking back to Macmillan and Wilson, they should aim their fire at Thatcher and Blair rather than the EU.

George Carty

Perhaps they realize that if we want to resurrect British industry we need to protect it from cheap foreign competition?

I was on the fence about Brexit until about three months before the referendum, when Cameron vetoed EU tariffs on Chinese steel. That pushed me solidly into the Remain camp, by convincing me that we would never have protectionism under a Tory government, thus eliminating what I saw as the main potential benefit of Brexit (that it would make protectionism possible).


Once Again Staderinde, I find I agree with much of what you say. What is it you object to when I said about your post?

'I assume the issue for Chris here is not the Express, Mail, 'Brexiter'you demolish it is the Lexiteer (who Chris had once hoped,'made their peace with the EU'

My point is, can they? Once Paul Mason showed us all Greece or the EU youth unemployment figures. To take two issues he used to be interested in.You say:

'Your issue, MikeW, with Prime Ministers promising things which contradict prior agreements, is solved by not voting for people who make such mendacious promises.'

That indeed is the correct understanding of my position.But has it any more general implications? I am asking what of Democtratic politcs here when the grassroots Left starts to take this view, because Labour is simply a Neoliberal, Blairite, EU Banker's party (again) - that no matter what activity we undertake and policies Corbyn et al, wish to carry out they will not be able to remove say, The EU Growth and Stability Pact and impliment any Keynesian policies (if necessary). Or what if we really believe that the Single Currency and a Euro Defence Force is just too Orwellian? What do you say? No No, trust a single Tory vote in the Council of Ministers to make everything OK!

As it happens, I rejoined the Labour party at the grassroots, I participated in removing from office every ward, constiuency officer and counciller, who supported the old Blair order, who I came across. Fortunately, FatBoy Slim, for example, is not my MP. So I now just 'chat' with my MP about issues (and simply wait for the bastards to try to 'Degum' Corbyn once again). But what if I find that despite our country not even being in the Eurozone and the failed Euro project, our leaders tell us these structural Neo Liberal, 'Globalised' EU arrangements are beyound their 'power' to change? Blair's happy little answer to us. So I state my own answer again:

'Be clear, I am perfectly happy to live in such a state (Chris and Simon tell me I will be GDP richer) but I will take a dim view to being asked to participate in any further party political activity and General Elections.My Goverenment will be as interesting to me as my Council mayor currently is !'So you now say:

'If they're harking back to Macmillan and Wilson, they should aim their fire at Thatcher and Blair rather than the EU.'

But thats the whole point! Blair in Labour - never again! Yes, Mogg et al, are exactly what you say. But your own framing is blinding you to the real dangers in all of this Metro Elite Fix of what the Proles like me didn't understand about the unshared GDP growth. What do you suppose politics will look like if your Metro Elite win? Paul Mason better get onto the Guardian and explain to them what actually happens in a country if/when nobody believes in the political process anymore?


Hi George,

That's interesting. So if I understand correctly, you were in favour of EU tariffs vs. China and you voted Remain because you saw the EU as an oppositional force to Toryism?

Fascinating, since it's an example of Cameron exercising the sovereignty that Brexiteers claim we've lost!

MikeW, clearly we agree on much.

But I suppose the issue is the ability of member states to be radical / revolutionary, since they obviously have agreed previously to operate within guiderails.

Let's be clear: politicians have the power to do whatever they want. Really. But they don't have to power to do anything they want *without consequence*.

Greece could have left the Euro and floated a neo-drachma at any time, but chose not to. The consequence was selling off their assets to fund their debts. And all of that was a consequence of wanting to drive German cars and host Olympics that they couldn't afford.

Germany wanted to sell cars to Greeks who couldn't afford them, so they broke the rules to allow Greece to join the Euro and have had to write of large amounts of debt and further bail the Greeks out as a consequence.

In both cases, EU membership didn't get in the way of anything politicians wanted to promise. Reality came calling.

I think a lot of the complaints people make about globalisation are actually born of a desire to operate free of all consequence.

You mention "unshared GDP growth" - that's the fault of people who voted Thatcher and Blair, not of the EU. There are plenty of less unequal societies among the EU27.

You call it a Metro Elite Fix but it's not. It's counterparties retaliating when we renege on our agreements. It's the pound in your pocket buying less on holiday because you devalued your debts. It's wealthy people relocating because you raised their taxes. It's fishermen losing their livelihoods because you wanted to protect cod stocks.

It's easier to blame the EU, 'globalisation' and 'elites' than it is to take responsibility for the way you voted and the way you choose to run your country.


The article asks the following, "Is it worth dividing the country, triggering a political crisis worse than 2008, causing a “toxic period” in politics, and stealing all cognitive bandwidth from countless other issues?"

This is an example of sunk cost fallacy. These things are already in play.

It's a fair question to ask, "if you'd known before the vote about all of these things, would you have voted differently?" And even more valid to ask Cameron if he would have held a referendum. But you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

George Carty

Staberinde, I did have other reasons for Remain (like the fact that much of the UK's economy had developed on the assumption of single market membership), but you're right that I saw the possibility of protectionism outside the EU as a counterbalance to that.

I now know though that the protectionism I was envisaging would probably be in violation of WTO rules anyway: in my view the WTO is the strongest argument against Lexit (unless of course Lexiters plan to leave the WTO as well).

IIRC Greek overspending wasn't so much on German cars and other consumer goods as on German _weaponry_: Greece has high defence spending because its regional geopolitical rival Turkey outnumbers it more than five to one in population, and also because of its need to defend the Aegean Sea (navies and air forces are usually more expensive than armies).

Modern independent Greece has never really been economically viable: it depended on aid from outside powers (the British Empire up until World War II, then the USA during the Cold War). This aid was given partly due to sentimentalism about the "cradle of Western civilization" but mainly because of its strategic location.

As soon as the Cold War ended and Greece lost its geopolitical importance (as it was no longer required to keep Soviet military power out of the Eastern Mediterranean) its economic collapse was only a matter of time.


Staberinde -

You’re arguing that the effect of an inch is the same as that of a mile: that as soon as a newly independent country takes its seat in the United Nations, it’s effectively given away all the self-government it fought to achieve through secession. I don’t think that’s a reasonable analysis.

It’s obvious the EU has been designed to ultimately become a mirror USA on the right side of the Atlantic - i.e. a sovereign state. That’s why it’s so palpably different from, say, NAFTA or CPTPP. There is no NAFTA/CPTPP equivalent of Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Parliament or the Euro, and no one is talking about a NAFTA/CPTPP army. Both NAFTA and CPTPP are non-exclusive. Countries can be members of Mercosur, ASEAN, NAFTA or whatever, and still join CPTPP as individual members (as Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam have done). But Ireland can’t individually join CPTPP without first leaving the EU. This is because EU membership involves an order of magnitude more surrender of self-government than those other free trade associations.

In this sense, it’s the EU which thinks it’s special.


“Benn's five questions are no more relevant to the EU than they are to a Scot regarding Westminster.”

A Scottish Nationalist believes there’s a conflict between what’s best for the UK as a whole and what’s best for the Scottish part of it; just as a Brexiter believes there’s a conflict between what’s best for the EU as a whole and what’s best for the UK part of it. It’s about democracy in the primal sense of “who do you feel is or isn’t part of your dēmos?”. That’s why the Scotland/UK part can demand a democratic decision to stay in or leave the UK/EU whole through a referendum. But it’s not about democracy in any sense where directly electing Jean-Claude Juncker or the House of Lords would make any difference. More democracy at the level of the whole may even exacerbate conflict with the dissenting part, because democracy is ultimately majoritarian, and the dissenting part may not accept being outvoted by a majority they feel have opposed interests.


“And yet they believe that Europe will happily let us sell British fish to their markets with us without wanting access to our waters in return.”

My understanding of WTO rules is, the EU can impose tariffs on UK fish, but only at the rate it imposes tariffs on all other non-EU fish.

If the EU refuses to buy fish from Country X unless EU fishermen are allowed to fish in Country X’s waters, that’s no different from refusing to buy beef from Country X unless EU farmers are allowed to rear cattle on Country X’s land.


Firstly, Brexit did not divide Britain it merely exposed the divisions which were already there but which are normally hidden by the cosmopolitan middle class's monopoly consensus which dominates the political class and media in Britain today and it is that unrepresentative status quo which has maintained Britain's EU membership for over 40 years and which was broken by the EU referendum.

The unrepresentative nature of the political system and media is revealed by the resentment of the progressive pro-EU middle class towards former prime minister Cameron which stems from his allowing a popular vote on the issue of EU membership and breaking their monopoly hold on the political system because they apparently believe that such political decisions should be left exclusively to the middle class and that their interests are synonymous with the national interest and that the political system should serve their interests alone and those who are not part of that monopoly, the working class, should be excluded from such important decisions about their country. The reaction of many on the progressive left to Brexit has been revealing and instructive of the true loyalties and nature of the contemporary progressive gentrified left and shows perhaps why, when the left do gain power, it only amounts to a change of middle class management for the working class.

The EU is a project conceived on the basis of consciously engineered economic dependency which favours the affluent class who coincidentally dominate the political class and media and it is their dependency on the economic model created by EU membership which creates the fear and insecurity which is driving their opposition to the referendum result and makes Brexit seem impossible for those with such dependency leading to their increasing scepticism towards national democracy, in that respect they are becoming like the EU itself.

It is those who prosper most from EU membership who protest most strongly at the prospect of the UK leaving the EU and those who benefit least who are likely to be most in favour of the UK leaving the EU. The truth is that the UK will adapt to the changed economic conditions which an EU exit would bring and that would be positive for some and negative for others in the same way that EU membership is.

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