A Few Thoughts Post-Brexit

In no particular order, as I’m writing them off the top of my head:

1. So, the pound has crashed to a 30 year low, trading was halted on the Japanese stock market, other markets are plunging, David Cameron is resigning, Scotland wants another independence referendum, Sinn Fein is pushing for Irish reunification, Nigel Farage went on TV and said, basically, “Hey, remember when we said we were gonna put that EU money into our health service? We lied,” and the EU is saying to the UK, you want out, fine, but let’s make this quick. Yup, welcome to Brexit!

2. If you want an inside view of this mess, I suggest Charlie Stross’ take on it. His opening line is “Okay, so the idiots did it; they broke the UK,” which as far as I can see is entirely accurate.

3. From the outside, I wish I could say it looks totally unfathomable, but it doesn’t, because, hello, Donald Trump is the GOP nominee for president over here. The same bigoted, emotional, don’t-need-to-know-facts impulses that powered the Brexit vote to 52% put Trump into general presidential race. The irony is that some of these UK voters are apparently surprised that they carried the day. News folk over in the UK are now telling us that a fair number of people who voted “Leave” didn’t really think it was going to happen, so what was the harm in voting for it. Cornwall, which voted to leave, is now saying the UK government must replace its EU subsidies. Good luck with that, Cornwall. Maybe get in line behind the NHS for that money.

It should be noted that all the horrible things that are currently happening because of Brexit were called by the very experts that Michael Gove asserted, correctly, alas, that voters were tired of. This does seem to suggest that perhaps, for future reference, experts might be listened to from time to time. Also that a protest vote is still a vote, and as Nader voters learned (or, sadly, didn’t), you shouldn’t protest vote if you’re not willing to live with the implications of your protest, the implications, having been outlined to you by, you know, experts.

(This is where a few Nader voters spin up and whine that nuh-uh, they totally didn’t throw the election to Bush. Dudes, sit the fuck down, already.)

4. To make this about the US for a moment: Could the same bigoted, emotional, don’t-need-to-know-facts impulses that pulled Brexit over the line actually put Trump into the White House? They could, sure! It’s not likely, because a) the Democratic advantage in the Electoral College, b) Trump to date running the most incompetent general campaign in the modern history of US politics, but there still are relevant lessons to be learned from Brexit. First and foremost, that it won because the people who voted for it the most were exactly Trump’s demographic here in the US: Older white folks from economically shaky areas — and they turned out in force, voting in substantially higher numbers than, say, the younger UK voters, who were overwhelmingly for remaining, but who didn’t vote anywhere near the numbers of older voters.

Which is the second thing, of course: folks, when it comes to politics, if you don’t vote, what you think kinda means dick. Here in the US, the people who love Trump are gonna show up on election day. 100% sure of that prediction. We know they will because they already did. And you can say, yes, but there’s not enough of them overall, and I will say to you, fuck you and your complacent ass, I want him to lose in a goddamn landslide. I want him electorally nuked from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. Everyone needs to vote. It’s really that important.

With that said, it should be noted that Trump is currently blathering that he thinks that the Brexit, which is plunging the British economy into a trench and giving the global economy a haircut, is perfectly fabulous. He literally just said that he thinks Brexit is great because the pound dropping means more people will come to his golf course, which I think is the 21st century’s gold standard entry in the “fiddling while Rome burns” sweepstakes. So maybe, perhaps, the combination of economic implosion and Trump’s smug wanking about it will be the thing that convinces any fiscal conservative still holding out on Clinton to pinch their nose and vote for her in November, because she’s not in fact a raging cauldron of economic stupidity? Maybe? But probably not? We’ll see.

So yeah: Trump could take it. Brexit shows us how. Don’t get cocky. And vote, for fuck’s sake.

5. To get personal for a moment, over on Twitter I was asked whether or not, as an American, Brexit was actually going to have an impact on my life. Yes, it surely does! For one thing, I sell books in the UK, through my UK publishers (Gollancz and Tor UK), and I get paid in pound sterling, which is currently being punched in the throat, in terms of exchange rate. For another, the UK economy is likely to plunge into a recession, which will make it harder to sell books there, so that’s not great either. I also sell in other territories around the world, particularly in Europe, and Brexit is a destabilizing force there, which is likely not good for me. And of course the US economy is itself likely to get some buffeting from it, too.

But wait, there’s more! I like many Americans have retirement stock investments, which look to take a 2008-sized pummel. I should also note that 2008’s global recession was pretty terrible for publishing, the field I’m in, and writers in particular got it high and hard, so if things go south in general, that also makes things more difficult for folks in my field.

So, yes, directly and indirectly, Brexit is going to have an impact on my life, as an American and also as a working writer. Thanks, UK.

The good news for me, such as it is, is that last year I signed long-term publishing contracts with Tor (for printed/electronic books) and Audible (for audio). Those contracts basically act as an economic hedge for me, which is a thing I entirely intended them to be when I signed them — not against Brexit, to be clear, but against general instability in the publishing world. But they work for Brexit, too, as well as any knock-on economic fallout that might come from it. So, yay, go me and my fundamentally fiscally conservative nature.

6. But let’s be honest, if the world economy goes to shit, my contracts aren’t going to save me any more than they’re going to save anyone else, they’ll just slightly delay my fall into the abyss. The best case scenario at this point is merely that the UK is screwed for a while, and the rest of the global economy routes around it. The worst case scenario is, well, a bit grimmer, economically and otherwise. I’m hoping for the best case scenario (sorry, UK). I’ll be financially planning for other things.

(However, people in the US, etc — please do not panic about your retirement accounts just yet, unless you are, in fact, just about to retire. The whole point of retirement accounts is you sock money away in them and then let them do their thing. There will be ups and downs. This is a down. There will, hopefully, be more ups to come.)

To my friends in the UK who have to deal with this directly: My sympathies. May the pain be relatively brief. You can come camp out on my lawn if you need to. To my friends in the US: Fucking vote in November, already.

195 Comments on “A Few Thoughts Post-Brexit”

  1. Folks, I’m traveling today so a quick note that if things in this thread get too testy, I’ll just shut it down. So please be polite to each other. Thanks.

  2. Saw Look Who’s Back last night on Netflix – very funny and smart, and totally relevant. tl;dr Hitler comes back from the dead and starts repeating his successes. Likes what he sees in terms of the rise of the current nationalist movements.

  3. Is it really okay to say “fiddling while Rome burns” since it’s been proven that Nero didn’t literally fiddle while Rome was burning? I get the point trying to be conveyed but it feels like it propagates a debunked myth like O’Leary’s cow burning Chicago or Marie Antoiniette telling them to eat cake.

  4. [Deleted because Mister_DK apparently doesn’t understand how vote totals work. Also in general, Nader whiners, fuck off, please. Defenses of that vote, particularly in Florida, will be deleted because 16 years of denial is long enough, thanks — JS]

  5. This kind of disgusts me. I’m 27, a veteran, a Stay at home dad, a moderate Republican who’s voting Democrat a lot lately, and I’m really tired if seeing the willful ignorance of Trump supporters, some of my family included. This same “them or us” attitude toward that scary “other”. I’ve been to Iraq, most of the people are hardworking, honest people and I assume that those from Syria are exactly the same. This fear mongering by human pustules like Trump and other “politicians” both here in the US and abroad has got to come to an end sometime. Maybe when more of the younger people like myself actually start voting responsible people into office instead of the same old white guys who worship big business and Isolationism (things which seem to contradict each other)…

  6. This whole catastrophe has me feeling sick and scared and I want to hide from everything for a week or two until we know just how fucked we all are. And I’m not even British.

  7. Another thing to keep in mind is that when most Americans vote for president, they pay little to no attention to policies and scandals and such. Their most salient issue: “Am I happy with how things are going right now?” That’s it. They don’t have time or inclination to pay more attention than that.

    And if the British economy collapses, even in the short term, the effect on the US could depress our standard of living and that will be foremost on voters’ minds when they go to the ballot in Nov. As far as I can see, this is only one of two possible paths that lead to a President Baby Hands (the other being large-scale alien abduction from urban neighborhoods).

    So, yeah. This is dangerous, and not just for Europe.

    PS. I suspect there will be a lot of cheap real estate in Spain very soon. About a million Brits live there, and they have no visas.

  8. Voting is what you do when you barely care. When you actually care, you sign up and you show up and you give, both time and money. If Hillary is going to win, her campaign is going to need volunteers to make phone calls, to canvas, to get out the vote, and take people to the polls, and it’s going to need money and lots of it. Don’t just vote in November — volunteer and donate!

  9. )(&*%^@$

    This is way scary for a nearly 62 YO. Latching on to low info voters, nativists, racists and old people a Conservative party tied themselves to a cynical route to maintain power. What could go wrong?

    As the man said up there ^ VOTE DAMMIT.

  10. I selected the first part of this paragraph to copy and paste as something I’d quote a lot, then the next part, and then I had the whole paragraph because really, yes, this whole thing.

    “Which is the second thing, of course: folks, when it comes to politics, if you don’t vote, what you think kinda means dick. Here in the US, the people who love Trump are gonna show up on election day. 100% sure of that prediction. We know they will because they already did. And you can say, yes, but there’s not enough of them overall, and I will say to you, fuck you and your complacent ass, I want him to lose in a goddamn landslide. I want him electorally nuked from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. Everyone needs to vote. It’s really that important.”

  11. I would say part of the push is that neither side campaigned well. The Remain ran a scare-filled, highlight the negatives of leaving campaign, and accusing anyone who suggested it was racist and ignorant (not positions likely to win people over). The Leave ran a scare-filled, highlight the negatives of remaining campaign, along with the possibility of using money currently sent to Europe to get the NHS back in order (which of course Farage is now saying isn’t likely to happen).
    There was very little positive campaigning going on, or presenting useful debates.

    Neither side (nor the EU) really raised much on the byzantine bureaucracy, the feeling that many voters have that there’s no real transparency in the system or exactly what democratic/political rights you have as a member of the EU and exactly how much say you have in it as a form of governing system.

    It pretty much left a lot of people with a feeling of having to balance the perspective of
    untrustworthy political leaders in the nations government, and untrustworthy political leaders in a government in another country. Which I would say leaves it in the unsurprising moment that people are more likely to go “at least I know these untrustworthy bastards”.

    In many ways this is a significant chunk of the British public voting against every major political party leader and corporation. Which might be viewed as a protest vote in general, but I guess the question will be is how many people will see that, and how will it be handled?

  12. I am trying to think of one time in all of recorded history when isolationism has had long-term benefits for a people and I’m failing. Egypt tried to remain independent of Roman power. Japan tried to remain isolated from EVERYONE. We even have a modern day example to learn from in North Korea. And yet… people keep trying. It makes me a little twitchy.

  13. [Apologies if I’ve now posted this multiple times, but the comments system logged me in under a different pen-name, then had a tantrum when I tried to change it.]

    As a Brit selling ebooks through Amazon, with the US my main source of sales. The crash of the pound may help me a tiny bit in the short term. To that end, I humbly request you help my bank balance by buying my book set in a war torn Europe turned upside down by the actions of a Trump-like US president (written 7 years ago, and looking ever more prescient.)

    Longer term, I’m buying lots of tinned goods and looking for a nice bunker.

  14. I’d like to add: “Fucking vote in November.” Also? Vote in November.

    1) It *can* happen here.
    2) The best way to start reversing the damage Trump has already done is for him to get *pummeled* in a landslide.

    Finally, Fucking Vote in November

  15. 70% of eligible voters voted. That’s amazing! (To an American. We might get 50% in a Presidential election. Might.) So, yay voter involvement. I guess.

    But, boy, Little England is going to take it in the neck. Any sort of trade deal with the EU has to be approved by every member, including Spain, and Spain wants Gibraltar back. Gibraltar voted heavily for “Remain”. So did Scotland. And Northern Ireland. Although the Republic may not want to unify with Ulster. But I suppose Ulster could become an independent country within the EU.

  16. There are many parallels to Trump’s rise in the US, you are correct. One thing that struck me in the lead up to this vote was the ‘Stay’ contingent calling ‘Leave’ voters xenophobes and racists. Yes, they are a component in this. However there was a lot of anger in the UK over the EU, unelected bureaucrats setting policy to them was very undemocratic. Also cheap labor from other countries was undercutting British workers ability to find and maintain employment.
    Don’t get me wrong, they made a mistake in my opinion. But this is a lesson we can all learn from: don’t dismiss your opponents outright. Listen to them, don’t call them names. They may have some genuine grievances that you may need to address. Or if you don’t, it can come back to bite you in the keister big time.

  17. Maybe someone here can answer this for me: I keep seeing criticism of the Remain campaign for running a “scare campaign.”

    How is it a scare campaign if the scary things are actually going to happen now that the fools and xenophobes have had their way?

  18. As a remain voting Brit I have been feeling sick all day and desperately sorry for those who will be immediately affected by this. As a public sector employee I have been feeling doubly sick as this is bound to lead to more budget cuts and worry for the future of my job.

    My only silver lining right now is that it could take up to 2018 for the cogs to turn on our exit, by which point my Mortgage will be just about paid off so the spectre of unemployment as a result of the Farage Farrago is not as daunting as it could be.

    Still, I presume I can move into one of the hospitals they are going to be building every week with all the money not going to Europe. Oh wait, that was a lie wasn’t it!

  19. Hey Mr. Cameron! How’s that “austerity for the sake of austerity” economic policy working out for you now? Also, hey Mr. Johnson! Enjoy being PM of a failed state.

    More seriously, this is what you get when your party system doesn’t stand for much of anything; raw nihilism.

  20. @wiredog That turnout is a surprise here as well. The highest for a long time.

    For a lot of the campaign proper, it looked like neither side really wanted to win it, fielding generally disliked politicians to make weak arguments and avoiding serious discussions on the issue. I think a key part of the result was the twenty or so years of drip, drip, drip anti-EU propaganda from several of our newspapers, which established a eurosceptic baseline for Leave to work from.

  21. A few thoughts, in no particular order, with the caveat that I’m someone who is not directly affected by Brexit (i.e., Canadian) and thus have no skin in the game. I will, of course, be indirectly affected like everyone else, but that’s not at all the same thing as what’s about to happen to U.K. citizens.

    First, I have to note that although large prosocial cooperative alliances are great in principle, they don’t always work out so well in practice: World Wars I and II, cough cough. Obviously, such alliances don’t inevitably end in wars, but they often produce significant suboptimal results. Economic collapse of EU members such as Greece, for instance, can create many problems for other members. For such an alliance to work, everyone has to behave in ways that promote unity rather than disunity. Catastrophically mismanaging an economy in the misguided belief this is your gods-given right, even if it takes down others with you? Behaving irresponsibly in the hope that everyone else will save you? Not prosocial.

    Second, and arising in part from the first, I don’t think Brexit was primarily about reactionary conservatism or xenophobia, though that undoubtedly contributed strongly. I think there’s legitimate concern over the Eurocrats and the strangling amount of red tape that has arisen since the founding of the EU*. Also, and not trivially, becoming part of a massive conglomerate that dictates important aspects of policy for all members can squash the need for local flexibility based on unique local constraints. This is a serious problem with large centrally managed economies such as those of China, and from my work with Chinese researchers, I know China’s government is struggling with this problem. It’s ferociously difficult to balance the benefits of central planning (consistent policy, theoretical efficiency) against the disadvantages at a local scale (having your hands tied). There’s no “one size fits all” in government.

    * If you’ve got statistics on the relative proportions of each position, I’m willing to reconsider that position.

    Third, the economic damage done around the world will be worst for those with the least ability to protect themselves. The 1% will see their assets dip slightly and temporarily below the assets of a typical developing country; the poorest 10% will be kicked in the balls… again. But from a broad perspective, I’m not concerned that the current economic uncertainty will be anything more than a brief blip; we’ve come through far worse crises in recent memory. It’s going to be nasty for a great many people, at least in the short term, but the world will go on and largely recover to where it was before the vote.

    That being said, my philosophical preference is to make a heroic effort to fix broken relationships rather than just bail on them. I don’t get the impression that this was done; the U.K. had legitimate gripes, but didn’t fix them within the EU mechanisms available to them. Something like the EU (not to mention the United Nations) is a huge catastrophically messy menage, but it somehow manages to make the world a better place than in its absence, and with a little fine-tuning (OK, perhaps “a lot”), it could be an enormous force for good in the world, or at least Europe. It’s a shame to undermine that potential by having one of the larger players give up on the notion.

  22. My best friend is about to lose her job, her home, her life because of this BS. Italian citizen living in Britain with her British husband, 14 years, bought a home last year, still paying it off. Garbage. We in Australia are watching this (and the US election) in helpless horror. It’s really giving props and push to the local fascists as well. Lose-lose. Depressing.

  23. @Wiredog: And yet, there’s a petition for a second referendum because turnout was less than 75%, and it’s already received enough signatures that Parliament has to debate it.

  24. 1) Too damn right I’m voting. The only reason I haven’t already volunteered for Hillary Clinton’s campaign at this point is that I’m 7 time zones away.
    2) I just ended up screaming (virtually) at someone over Twitter who was crowing over the success of the “Leave” vote and calling its detractors “sore losers”. He then went on to inform me that Greece (which is feeling the aftershocks of the Brexit vote already, on top of its other troubles) would get hundreds of billions of euro in compensation for its messed-up economy, and that Greece seemed to be asking for money for nothing by not accepting the reforms imposed by the EU. I was debating whether to throw a recent-history lesson at him or go hunt him down with my heaviest dictionary, but I’m resigned to using him as an example of a low-information pro-Brexit voter.
    3) I wish I couldn’t use a decision metric for issues that’s as simple as “look where the cruel a-holes stand, and stay the hell away from them”…

  25. Edward: “The Remain ran a scare-filled, highlight the negatives of leaving campaign, and accusing anyone who suggested it was racist and ignorant”

    Except it *was* racist and ignorant. Right? Maybe not racist to the point of enslaving an entire people, but racist to the point of not trusting “them”. It was clearly ignorant, because the entire argument for leaving was to throw off the shackles of the EU that was bleeding the UK dry, but now that the vote is tallied, the British economy is crashing. If this was a vote for British self interest, it failed miserably.

    It seems the only one who may benefit from this are the fascist politicians who pushed it in the first place. Just like the only person who will benefit from a Trump presidency will be Trump himself.

  26. To be sure, I’m voting in November. I’ve also recorded some of those clips and saved tweets of people who didn’t think their vote mattered to show my Civics class.

  27. my apologies. It’s a pet peeve but had no place here. I wish we could edit our comments.

    I guess I’m just overwhelmed by the breadth of what is happening in the EU and what could potentially happen here in November.

  28. (Not entirely on topic, I know)

    Seen from this side of the Atlantic, Trump is running a brilliant campaign. The man is a genius, he went from “Haha! Trump a candidate! What a joke!” to wiping the floor with the other Republican candidates and taking the nomination. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins the election by a landslide.

  29. On another site someone quoted Karl Popper:

    “Any government that can be removed has a strong incentive to act in a way that makes people content with it. And this incentive is lost if the government cannot be so easily ousted.”

  30. I note that Sanders finally did the decent thing and said that he’ll vote for Clinton if it’ll stop Trump. This is going to be an election of strange bedfellows – I’m not any more keen about being on the same side as the Koch Brothers as the next sane person – but my fear, leading into the American election, was that the left would repeat the mistake of Hitler, and try and use his threat as an opportunity to jostle for power or get what they “really” want. Sanders, belatedly, recognises that his agenda won’t mean shit if Trump seizes power, and whatever change he wants to see happen, Trump is the bigger threat.

    Still, I don’t know if the arguments being used against Trump are particularly persuasive to the kinds of people looking to vote Trump. Some are unreachable, too far down in the clown hole and too convinced that everyone who isn’t them wants monstrous things, but I’d imagine most are like the clowns who voted to leave the EU as a protest vote and discovered they count as a real vote – people who have been left behind, the people who are the losers to neoliberalism’s winners, and people who don’t realise that Trump fundamentally does not give a shit about them any more than Clinton does. Clinton’s smartest move would be to exploit that – she’s never going to be the People’s President, but she has a remarkably large coalition that she should be able to use to give people a voice they feel like they don’t have.

  31. @Geoff Hart correct, my husband and I have been following this for awhile. Since he teaches British History it is especially Germain to his work. He now has to re-write some of his lectures.
    He mentioned to me weeks ago that Cameron could have tried to work with the EU to fix or modify some of its policies that were causing issues in the UK. But instead he used Brexit as a way to get out of a political crisis of his party’s making, and from there well..he just screwed it up.

  32. I’m encouraged by your optimism about the results in November, and I certainly hope you’re right. Can you share your thoughts on the potential impact of the voting-related laws passed by various states after the Supreme Court decision invalidating parts of the Voting Rights Act? We saw from the Brexit vote the importance of getting out to vote, but if those who would vote for Hillary Clinton are unable to do so due to obstacles erected by these laws, the end result is that no vote is cast. Voter suppression/disenfranchisement is going to happen as a result, but I’ve yet to get a sense for what the magnitude of this impact might be. There will be an effect, but the question is, how big of one? Big enough to really matter?

  33. I find the argument that the EU are unelected people oppressing the ‘decent’ people of the UK a bit rich because a) I remember the elections, b) the UK was a big part of the problem with the EU, and it’ll probably run a lot smoother without the UK trying to fuck it up, and most importantly c) Her Majesty’s Civil Service are also unelected, and no-one in the UK government fundamentally gives a shit about the voters either. It’s a farcical fig-leaf, no more true than there being no jobs because Mexicans take them (and then sit around collecting unemployment). Your problems were solvable if you’d demanded your representatives actually represent you.

  34. Prior to the vote, I don’t think anyone’s nailed it quite the way John Oliver did. (If not up for long preliminaries, skip to about halfway, and watch from there.)

    As Oliver points out, Brexit not only makes Britain a great deal worse off in innumerable ways, but the UK will still need to abide by EU regulations and arrangements, including ones regarding immigration and the free movement of peoples — unless they intend to cut off trade. So, the expected benefits of Brexit are a gross delusion; they cannot happen. Watch, too, for unplanned economic disasters such as (I expect) Airbus Industries ceasing to source parts from British manufacturers, which IIRC they did only because of treaty obligations. Also, given the eclipse of Britain’s manufacturing sector in the 1980s, I expect they’re going to be horrified by the effect on EU
    imports. Happy import duty-paying!

    I give it five years.

    At that point, the Millennials who do think of themselves as EU citizens and never knew pre-1973 Britain will be more fully in charge and can negotiate a new (and probably more expensive) treaty to join the EU again.

    I suggest they call it the Jo Cox Memorial Treaty.

    Meanwhile, yes, please do take the Drumpf goose-stepper seriously, vote, and staff those phone banks.

  35. @Claire: “But this is a lesson we can all learn from: don’t dismiss your opponents outright. Listen to them, don’t call them names. They may have some genuine grievances that you may need to address. Or if you don’t, it can come back to bite you in the keister big time.”

    Agreed, but operating that way requires statesmanship of a high caliber, which requires emotional self restraint and refusal to label opponents as racist, sexist, homophobic, and so on.

    Such handy stick-on labels only inflame debate and piss people off. Such invective may have even goaded Brexit’s margin of victory into existence. Imagine that, people voting against their own economic interests to spite their social betters. Quelle Horreur!

    I said this during an earlier thread on this subject, and it bares repeating, “When elites Disrespect the dominant culture for long enough, the dominant culture will Disrespect back. It really is that simple.”

    @John: Sorry Chief, but when it comes to Donald J. Trump, the usual tactic of pinning the tail on the fascist/racist is more likely to goad his supporters, and perhaps a sizable chunk of independent voters, to go “100 percent” for Trump.

    I’m not saying Trump will win, but you can forget about nuking him from orbit in that scenario.

    Happy Trails . . .

  36. Woke up at 4am (UK time), checked my phone, woke husband; watched TV for the next 5 hours (me with tears flowing) unable to believe our eyes and ears; so ashamed of my fellow Englishmen (important to differentiate between the individual UK nations at this time), many of whom, it now seems, simply made a protest vote without thinking through…

  37. Yeah, democracy is such a bitch when it does not go your way

  38. In November, if there is any chance of Trump winning California, I will certainly check the box for Hillary. I think that’s extremely unlikely and I will most likely vote for someone else.

    Brexit? I’ll bet it gets tangled up in various courts for a few years and nothing substantial happens. Some bankers lose their jobs in London and others get hired in Frankfurt.

    I am appalled at some of the fascist/racist/xenophobic rhetoric coming from over there. Archie Bunker is alive in the UK.

  39. @theoriginalsimonb: It sounds like both the EU and some of the people in the UK who pushed for “Leave” are trying to make the split happen ASAP, so I wouldn’t necessarily bet on it taking until 2018.


    @Rick Moen: Too bad they couldn’t show the Brexit episode of Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on TV in the UK until after voting was closed.


  40. The thing that worries me is the possibility that other EU countries will follow suit. Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch nationalist (specifically, anti-anyone who isn’t Dutch) party, is pushing for a Dutch exit referendum ASAP, and (if the Telegraph is to be believed) is leading in the polls. And just about every other European nation has a xenophobia party, and they all seem to be growing.

    I’m afraid of a repeat of the 1920’s and 1930’s, only with “immigrants”, muslims, and refugees as the scapegoats instead of Jews. Will we have a third world war in Europe?

    And, yes, I also see the same thing happening in the USA. (Anybody remember Father Coughlin?)

    BTW, I have no reason to believe that the people who voted for Brexit will ever accept the idea that the inevitable hardships resulting from Brexit are actually due to it. They will blame the EU, the foreigners, the other classes, or whoever they can find to blame their troubles on except themselves.

  41. As someone who works in the public sector and has already had a wages squeeze for the last so many years I can’t actually remember how many, I am angry and terrified of what will happen now. The ignorant heads-up-their-asses behaviour of so many of my fellow English citizens is frightening and I can believe that Trump could easily be voted president now. I thought I’d be happy the day Cameron stopped being PM, but I’m really, really not!

  42. @Alex Le Heux, there are a number of real barriers to a Trump victory. He’s hated within the Republican Party, whose pooh-bahs are backing away from him; we do not directly elect the President, the Electoral College does. HRC and Democrats in general have an enormous edge in the EC, with something like 240 of the 270 electoral college votes required to win nearly guaranteed to be Democratic.

  43. “please do not panic about your retirement accounts unless you’re ready to retire”–um, there’s another population which is hyperventilating about those accounts, and it’s those of us who already HAVE retired and are depending on them for our day-to-day expenses. I retired (with brilliant timing) at the end of 2007, and saw just over a third of my savings evaporate in two months. If it happens again because of Brexit, I’m going to be looking for the local soup kitchens.

    And I am absolutely terrified that if people in the UK are dumb enough to believe Farage and Johnson, people in the US are dumb enough to elect Trump (whose reaction is a perfect example of the man’s narcissism). If you’re a US citizen of voting age and you do NOT vote in the coming election, I have nothing to say to you. Ever.

  44. @Geoff Hart
    This was almost precisely my reasoning for voting “Leave”. I am incredibly annoyed by people who dismiss the legitimate concerns about the dysfunctional and, in fact, dangerous nature of the European Union as it is today. The only difference is that, while my philosophical preferences coincide with yours, in practice I perceive the EU to be so dysfunctional that it simply cannot be reformed from the inside. I appreciate that a) mine is an entirely subjective choice between counterfactuals; and b) that there are lots and lots of risks associated with the decision.

    As per the above, it would be nice if the commentariat and JS himself were to avoid lumping every one of us UK voters into the “warmongering hysterical xenophobe” phenotype. I, for one, have thought and agonized over my decision and am not making it lightly or emotionally. As a voter, I am prepared to take responsibility for it, in whatever form it comes. Finally, let’s please calm down about the supposed calamity in the financial markets. Our island isn’t sinking because the pound has gone down 10% year-to-date in trade-weighted terms or the FTSE lost 2.5%.

  45. I’m not sure if anyone has pointed it out yet, but the idea that the UK can get back INTO the EU no problem?

    That’s false. The EU has a massive inventive to make leaving very punishing, so as to prevent other nations form going the same route.

    The idea that the UK can negotiate a “better” deal with Europe and European nations?

    Also false for exactly the same reasons.

    But that’s the lie that Brits were sold by the Leave camp – that renegotiating would be easy and Europe would be happy to give them all sorts of *better* concessions. That they’d have an extra 350 million pounds for health services. That the bank fallout would not hurt.

    All of these things were lies but people either believed them or literally did not care about actual economic pain. What they wanted was fewer immigrants, and economic pain be damned, because presumably once Britain was White again, they’d be economic titans. Because somehow whiteness magically generates money and success.

  46. @wiredog Turnout in the USA isn’t as dire as that. 58% in the last presidential election. But take a look in marvel at Minnesota with 76% of the voting eligible population voting(4 other states also break 70%). Some sampling of Minnesota’s voting laws: Same day registration, no voter ID, internet registration, no-excuse absentee voting, paid time off to vote. Don’t believe me about that last one? Look it up.

  47. So, I’ve literally been screaming myself hoarse in panic for the last hour.

    There goes the last vestige of an empire that once controlled close to, what, 2/3 of the world? Good job, Boris. Good job.

    So the UK needs to “order a recount” by re-doing the referendum like now because this is bad. This is really, really bad. This is much worse than Scotland leaving the UK, because at least with Scotland it was more an ethnic identity thing and it would’ve been a lot like the Czechoslovakia divorce. An economic mess, sure, especially for Scotland, but not this bad. This referendum…oh my god, I can’t fully process it.

    Well. I’m crossing my fingers and praying that we don’t get Trump. Because the scary thing is, this DOES favor him, despite his economic incompetence and his train wreck of a campaign.

  48. It’s not enough to just vote. Remember that the Supreme Court made it more difficult for many people to vote by destroying the VRA. Help register voters. Get people to the polls on Election Day.

  49. Bridge keeper: What… is your vote on Brexit?
    Low-information Brit: Leave! [he is thrown over the edge] YEELLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!

  50. Best solution now – discover voting irregularities (there are always irregularities), decide that in an issue this important and long-lasting a fair vote is necessary, and hold a second vote as soon as it can be organized.

  51. Reposting Rick Moens link above to John Oliver’s piece on this


    The whole Brexit movement has been driven by the racist independent party in the UK. And he proves it with racist video quotes from party politicians.

  52. @Lisa Hirsch The finer details of the (rather complicated) mechanism for electing a president probably elude me….

    Is this democratic edge a recent development? Or something that also existed before?

  53. I’m floored that the Leave vote passed and I agree it proves that Stupid can win, meaning we could see a Trump win here in November. I swore that if it came down to Hillary or Herr Oompa Loompa I’d not only vote democratic, but I’d support her campaign fiscally and by voting against every ass-kissing Republican that has endorsed Donald. I’m an Independent and so is my spouse. We’re both behind Hillary 100% since we see it as a matter of sanity vs. chaos.

  54. “The people have spoken, the bastards!”

    Well, looks the UK has gone from a good example to a terrible warning.

    Markets all over the world are down, the Bank of England has just made £250 billion available. (From nowhere, but that’s banks for you.) Or, to put in another way, the “cost” of being in the EU for the next 30 YEARS.

    This whole thing has been driven by in fighting in the Conservative party, who’ve always had an uneasy relationship with the EU, brought to a head by a bloody fascist who has stood for election in the UK parliament and has failed (drumroll) seven times.

    Pandering to the masses through the populist press, they have exploited racism in an “Immigrant’s – know wot Ah mean, nudge-nudge wink-wink” way and the sad thing is that the people who voted to leave are the ones who are going to be paying most of the price.

    Cornwall (down at the bottom, points towards the US) voted to leave. Their council just demanded that the government guarantees that they’ll still get the £80 million/year they get from the EU due to the deprived nature of the region. As we say in Scotland “Aye, ye think so? Good luck with that.”

    Leave said our NHS would get £350 million extra a week when we leave. This morning Farage said, “Ah, well, no, it won’t. Probably shouldn’t have said that.”

    I’m sorry for my/our children. We’ve let them down, sold everything that could be sold, spent the money on fine wines and fancy meals, retiring on our final salary pensions and they’re be lucky to be able to afford to rent a flat.

    Meanwhile, your GOP candidate has come to Scotland, and, showing all the diplomatic and financial acumen for which he is renowned, pronounced Brexit a “good thing” in a country that voted overwhelmingly to remain.

    Please, learn from the UK. Vote. Every vote counts.

    And more kitten photos.

  55. Alex Le Heux: I wouldn’t say that the current (potential) Democratic edge in the Electoral College is a long-term thing; sometimes the edge tilts one way, sometimes another (and sometimes there is no difference at all). It’s just that any discussion of presidential politics in the U.S. should take the Electoral College into account, because the Electoral College can change the results, and many people forget that. For example, it is perfectly possible for a candidate to win the popular vote and lose the election in the the Electoral College–doesn’t happen often, but it has happened. This year, Clinton seems to be leading in states with high Electoral College totals; if she keeps that lead up, that will help a great deal in the election. However, she isn’t leading everywhere, and her leads aren’t always that overwhelming. In other words, relying on the Electoral College to “save us” from any candidate is not a good idea. To quote the OP: we really, REALLY need to get out and vote this November, anyway . . .

  56. Yeah, the exit will be pretty quick. 2-3 years.

    Also there will be another Scottish independence ref, which will probably vote Yes, and that’s the end of the UK.

    All because Call Me Dave was scared of UKIP…

    Biggest impact will probably be in London – much as I don’t like the banks, they steal a lot of money from outside the UK and spend it inside, so the London housing market is likely to slump, jobs will be lost, and a lot of the people who use London as a Euro base will leave.

    Bloody English, glad I left now. Though we have a 40% chance of a vulgar talking yam becoming US president – at least we’re only 20 minutes from the Mexican border.

  57. @Alex Le Heux asked:

    Is this democratic [Party] edge a recent development? Or something that also existed before?

    The latter. For some numbers (and necessary qualifier that in a screwball election year, there are few certainties), I offer my own estimate in this space back in April.

    The GOP is able to stack the House of Representatives using an unprecedented gerrymander it engineered in 2010, despite fading vote strength and consequent inability to win on a level playing field, but cannot do that for the Presidency, nor the Senate.

  58. Speaking as a Brit (who backed Remain) – can I urge all Americans to vote for Trump? I really don’t like my country doing the double of holding the titles for ‘Worst Political Decision of The Century’ and ‘Award for Being Conned by Obvious Shysters’.

  59. I’d just like to award a whole pile of white feathers to the Brits who voted by fear and hatred instead of any intelligent self interest. And yes, any American who doesn’t vote because they are sulking, will send America down the same river of economic hell without a paddle

  60. Alex Le Heux: The edge for the Democrats in the electoral college largely rests on the west coast (California being the main part of that) and the northeast being Democratic Party strongholds, while the South (read: old confederacy) votes solidly Republican, leaving the middle of the country ends up being the swing vote. That state of affairs has been consistent since Clinton was elected in 1992, so, for a lot of younger voters it’s been since forever. Recently, however, Florida (whose messy voting system ended up being the deciding factor in 2000) has been shifting hard toward the Dem category, which leaves the Republicans in a real pickle, because, to win the presidency, they need to pick off a couple of large states which tend to go for the Democrats.

    Trump has interesting implications because he puts a lot of the rust belt (former manufacturing heartland in the midwest) into play for the Republicans, but, simultaneously, he has galvanized nonwhites to register to vote against him to a degree that some people are speculating about Texas going for the Democrats for the first time in a very long time, which would basically lock the Republicans out of the White House until they changed something big.

    Broadly, Trump has redrawn the map by encouraging racist impulses, and a lot of us are hoping we are right that there are enough people who won’t stand for that that the new map is worse for the Republicans than the already tenuous old map.

  61. @Mary Frances @Rick Moen

    Right. Voting districts, and the re-drawing of borders that went on even made the news here. The Netherlands doesn’t have anything like that, so it’s easy to underestimate the effects that can have.

  62. “I like many Americans have retirement stock investments, which look to take a 2008-sized pummel”

    No, not even close. Besides, it’s not like you’re retiring this week.

  63. Excellent article John. I really appreciate how you sum it up in such damning terms. Thank you for being so forthright.

  64. @MVS Stupid can win if Smart has a serious credibility issue. The Remain campaign was headed up by people who claimed to be able to guarantee prosperity while governing with austerity, who guaranteed the safety of the NHS while having run it into the ground and cut it up piecemeal, who said they’d listen to the regions but had just backed universally loathed fracking in them. The list goes on. The difference between Scotland and England was that in Scotland the remain camp was led by people with actual credibility and it showed in the vote.

    When Smart has a credibility issue, like say… being in hock to big donors and keeping people from hearing what they are saying with white noise machines, then it doesn’t matter how justified it was or smart they are in their actual arguments, then Stupid just needs to say something different that confirms the prejudices people already have. It doesn’t even matter that Stupid has its own credibility issue, because nobody will listen to Smart when it points them out. Stupid can get away with being a lot dumb, Smart has to avoid doing anything even seen as dumb.

  65. My husband and I went on a two-week tour of England, Wales, and Scotland in 2014. We happened to stay in Edinburgh the day of the independence referendum. A large part of the argument for staying was that Scotland would not be in the EU if they left the UK. I can see those folks wanting another referendum ASAP.

  66. My butcher declared he was voting leave ‘because I don’t want the Turks to be flooding over here when they join the EU’. I know some people had more thought out reasons for voting leave, but most didn’t.

    I am frightened my OH will lose his public sector job, we’ll lose our house, the NHS that I need for my chronic illness will collapse and of so much more.

  67. I have to say something, as it’s getting difficult for me to contain myself. I appreciate and respect the righteous ire of the people here, most of whom would appear to be very much against Brexit. However, if you accuse the “Leave” camp of spouting nonsense (which they definitely have), it’s not particularly helpful to produce nonsense of your own in the same breath.

    For example, the £250bn made available by the BoE is short-term funding for the banking system. It’s not something that can be juxtaposed against the UK’s contributions to the EU budget.

    In a number of exit polls, the number one issue cited by the “Leave” voters was not immigration and border control, but rather the principles of UK sovereignty; rightly or wrongly. Therefore, I would suggest that it’s factually incorrect to state that the vote was all about xenophobia and racism, exploited by the like of Nigel Farage and his ilk.

    The idea that we cannot negotiate a better deal and that the EU has a strong incentive to punish the UK to make it into an example for others is just patently untrue. In fact, today there are signs that Brexit has managed to jolt at least some of the EU mandarins out of their slumber and they might finally descend from the ivory towers to smell the roses. Obviously, given that it’s the EU bureaucracy, it can go any which way from here.

    The statement that the UK necessarily has to abide by EU regulations regarding the free movement of labor if it wants free trade is baseless. Let’s not forget that nobody has forced Switzerland out of their trade arrangements, in spite of the Swiss referendum on migration in 2014.

    As I mentioned already, the UK economy is not “crashing”. Not that I am suggesting that it necessarily won’t, but, for god’s sake, it would take a little longer than a day to determine whether or not it happens.

    What on Earth does the Brexit decision have to do with the British Empire, for goodness sake? We should have voted to remain in the EU, because “Leave” means a possible loss of our “colonies”, e.g. Scotland? And someone should “order a recount” to reverse the democratic referendum? This is some seriously screwed up logic.

    How on Earth do you “prove” that “Brexit is driven by the racist independent party in the UK” with video quotes from politicians? Apart from being illogical, such an assertion is completely inconsistent with the exit polls.


  68. Watched in horror from the west coast of Canada last night as a country I love – and lived in for five years – tore itself apart and has guaranteed that the most vulnerable will suffer more, all because the Conservative party has spent the last 40 years dickering about being part of the Common Market and then the EU. So Britain leaving the EU is largely the fault of an internal spat amongst a group of largely well-heeled people whose jobs and salaries are guaranteed (at least until the next election, unless others besides Cameron fall on their swords) and whose generous pensions are likewise guaranteed.

  69. “The idea that we cannot negotiate a better deal and that the EU has a strong incentive to punish the UK to make it into an example for others is just patently untrue.”

    Oh, don’t worry about it, the other side is cowards, they’ll turn away and we’ll get to yell “chicken!”

  70. @Martinghoul

    Than why are the Europeans all saying this morning that there will be no deal, the British need to leave immediately? And why have the Europeans been saying this for quite some time? Why would I believe you and not the eyes reading these articles?

    And as far as people’s reasons for leaving being sovereignty, let me tell you a story about the US. Back fifty years ago, if you asked people why they opposed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, they’d solemnly tell you about the great majesty of Federalism and state’s rights. Then they’d go out and make sure their school board stayed segregated and acquire Klansmen when they themselves were called for jury duty. Their racism was shown by their actions, not their precious “it’s actually about ethics in…..” justifications.

    In this case, when a campaign has been talking about Scary Immigrants for a year and a half, stressing that enough is enough, talking about how the EU is money take from you and spent on said Scary Immigrants – why should I believe the solemn words about it being about sovereignty? When I’ve seen what got people to the voting booth.

    If you’re already on the internet, you may google the current value of the pound, or the FTSE. But I’m thinking crap-posting troll right now.

  71. @Raven Onthill
    I am not entirely sure whether you’re being sarcastic in your last remark or not, but let me respond, just in case…

    The EU is a complicated place. There are undoubtedly some in Europe who feel that the best way to deal with the various murmurs of discontent around the continent is to squash it by making a dire example out of the UK. However, I am encouraged that there are wiser voices in Germany in particular who appear to be finally “getting it”, so to speak. One of the reasons for that is that what has happened here is not an isolated phenomenon.

    There is, apparently, a paper which will be presented by the French and German foreign ministers on Saturday that would propose a new, flexible multi-tier EU architecture. This is something that the Brits have always asked for, because it makes infinitely more sense than the current arrangement. It has always been steadfastly refused, especially by the French. But, like always with EU politicians, a crisis is necessary for them to even begin to contemplate that, sacre bleu, zut alors, the European project isn’t utterly perfect and needs reform. Well, guess what, Brexit IS a crisis and it’s nigh.

  72. Although the Republic may not want to unify with Ulster.

    It’s an article of faith that they should. Anyone who lives in NI can have an Irish passport as well as a UK one. Apparently, they have been swamped with applications.

  73. Pedro: “requires emotional self restraint and refusal to label opponents as racist, sexist, homophobic, and so on”

    Yes, yes, wouldnt want to call a bigot “bigot”.

    Did you by chance click on the John Oliver video? It has politicians in ukip party captured on video saying blatantly racist things. One was something to the effect of “I dont like Negros, I just dont know why”.

    And here you are, making sure the feelings of blantant bigots dont get hurt.

    Interesting set of priorities you got there, mate.

  74. I find the argument that the EU are unelected people oppressing the ‘decent’ people of the UK a bit rich because a) I remember the elections, b) the UK was a big part of the problem with the EU, and it’ll probably run a lot smoother without the UK trying to fuck it up, and most importantly c) Her Majesty’s Civil Service are also unelected, and no-one in the UK government fundamentally gives a shit about the voters either. It’s a farcical fig-leaf, no more true than there being no jobs because Mexicans take them (and then sit around collecting unemployment). Your problems were solvable if you’d demanded your representatives actually represent you.

    The UK has 825 unelected politicians. The EU has none. The whole democratic deficit thing is a sign of people who don’t know how the EU actually works – and worse, don’t have that clear an idea how the UK system works either.

  75. http://www.dw.com/en/merkel-calls-brexit-a-watershed-for-europe/a-19351720
    German Chancellor Merkel is in a bit of a tough spot. On one hand she has to slap the UK with trade tariffs and such as they will be outside the inner market and part of the whole being one big whole is you get the better deals. But at the same time she is going to be pressured by industries inside her own borders not to go crazy on it because they do a lot of trading with the UK and don’t want to slash their own throats either. So she gets the fun job of finding that sweet spot that shows she is being firm without freezing out a viable cashcow.

  76. “Every Bush voter and senator who chose not to contest Florida’s results is responsible for Bush being elected, not Nader voters.”

    Do you perhaps mean “and” where you have that last “not”? I’m willing to give a Nader voter in Florida half the responsibility of a Bush voter there, since their Nader vote was effectively half a Bush vote. But they don’t get off the hook.

    Unless your goal is to find someone *else* to blame for the ensuing troubles, which, speaking more generally, is a lot of the trouble with the recent election seasons, there’s plenty of responsibility to go around. We might as well start work on our parts of it.

  77. I’ll give my optimist’s flag a brief flutter: the Leavers told their emotion-led supporters there would be no serious consequences. Now the pound is tumbling, investors will be backing off, existing businesses that have to pay bills in euros have just been hit hard, housing prices are set to fall and mortgage rates to rise, Scotland’s ready to secede, and the Europeans are not pleading for a new deal — they’re saying, “Bugger off!”

    So a month from now the polls and calls to MPs may show a change of mind among many Leave voters. The referendum is not binding on the government. If the government changes because of a vote of nonconfidence in the House, anything could happen.

    But basically we’re in the situation of the characters in John Dos Passos’s novel, 1919, about a similar age of impending disruption: “All bets are off.”

  78. @youngpretender
    You’re listening to particular Europeans, that’s why… Of course, the likes of Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz would love to squash all these inconvenient murmurs of discontent quickly and decisively by being as harsh with the UK as possible. They might even get their way. However, like I have said already, the EU is a complicated place and there are other (IMHO, wiser) voices who advocate a different approach, given that the UK is not alone. The statement that the UK will definitely get no deal is thus false.

    As to racism, let me get this straight. Are you suggesting that the action of voting “Leave” automatically makes me a xenophobe and a racist? That I couldn’t possibly have any reasons whatsoever to vote this way other than prejudice and/or hatred?

    I listened to the campaigns as well and, I assure you, I heard about a lot more than “Scary Immigrants”. But I guess you don’t believe me, because you’ve seen what got me to the polling booth, right? Let me guess, it must have been racism and xenophobia?

    Finally, since I work in finance, I see both the FTSE and GBP in real time without having to resort to Google. I am not entirely sure what calamity you think I should get excited about there. But maybe that’s, ’cause I am a “crap-posting troll”. On that note, may I suggest that next time you wanna talk to me, you tone it down a bit? A little civility wouldn’t go amiss, although I presume you’d consider it wasted on a racist like myself.

  79. @Martinghoul “Are you suggesting that the action of voting “Leave” automatically makes me a xenophobe and a racist? That I couldn’t possibly have any reasons whatsoever to vote this way other than prejudice and/or hatred?”

    Youngpretender’s comment in response to you doesn’t seem to have contained anything like that, from what I can see. But I wanted to chime in because in one of your previous comments, you asserted that the Leave position *among voters overall* was more about sovereignty than xenophobia. This sounds very much like the “history” still taught in some classrooms in the U.S. today (as youngpretender pointed out) that opposiiton to the Civil Rights Act, and in fact even the Civil War over slavery itself, were really just about “states’ rights.” The proper response to those arguments is, “Yes, states’ rights to enact racist voting laws/continue to own slaves,” which are clearly racist positions. “States’ rights” is a euphemism for a great many of the people who use it.

    And, similarly, when you say that most Leave voters cited “UK sovereignty” as their reason for voting, my response is… “How is that not a euphemism for ‘sovereign right to keep nonwhite immigrants out’, specifically in light of the xenophobic rhetoric used by the people pushing the Leave campaign?”

    They’re not mutually exclusive.

    None of that is to call any single, individual voter racist, xenophobic, or anything else. It’s to point out that saying “the issue for huge swathes of voters isn’t border control and immigration, it’s sovereignty” is tantamount to saying “the issue isn’t thing X, it’s high-minded principle Y which is essentially a euphemism for thing X in this specific context.”

  80. Brexit is a prime example of the dangers of direct democracy. Referendums, no matter how structured or whatever high-sounding issue, exist primarily for the public to have a snit.

    Elections are fine for choosing representatives, whether their congressfolk or MP’s. For repairing the machinery of government – not so much.

  81. @spencerdub
    I feel like some variation on any of King George III’s songs might be appropriate.
    But all I’ve been hearing in my head is “This kid is out! This immigrant isn’t somebody we chose….”

  82. drashizu: While I deplore Brexit and the likely effects, and I don’t agree with everything Martinghoul has said here, I do not think it is self-evident that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the sovereignty issue in Brexit and the states’ rights issue in the Confederacy. I think the sovereignty issue in this case is at least as likely to resemble Americans’ focus on sovereignty as a reason not to join the League of Nations after World War I. National sovereignty is an emotional issue for a lot of people and while it may have xenophobia as a component, racism and xenophobia are not necessarily its heart, and it is not ipso facto a euphemism for xenophobia and racism, IMO.

  83. I’m from the UK and I think this is a very sad day for those people who really wanted to stay – 48:52 is not really an overwhelming landslide after all – particularly when it will have such a massive impact not just on the UK but plenty of others besides (as you’ve demonstrated in your article above). The one thing that immediately sprung to mind was the whole saga with Trump – definitely people need to learn a lesson from what’s taking place here. The campaigning for both sides was dreadful and to now have people saying they voted to ‘leave’ because they didn’t think it would happen really does make a mockery of the whole thing. Campaign against complacency, please!
    Strangely enough Trump was visiting Scotland today and congratulated us all on getting our country back! Really!! Words just fail me. Trump, Farage and Johnson – truth is certainly stranger than fiction. The future is bright, or maybe not so much for the foreseeable future.
    Lynn :D

  84. @BW

    That’s fair, and I certainly don’t know enough about the attitudes of the UK electorate to know what proportion that is. Martinghoul was interpreting youngpretender’s observation about how “sovereignty” sounds like “states’ rights” to mean something wildly different from what I thought it meant – “So what, *I’M* racist now?” vs., as I saw it, “You can’t cite exit polls saying voters saw themselves as voting for sovereignty as evidence that xenophobia was not in play for a large number of them” – and I really didn’t want that to go unremarked-on.

  85. My facebook is overwhelmingly full of smart young people working out how to get out of the UK, and soon, whether that’s taking a research job in Germany now and hoping to get grandfathered in or applying for Irish citizenship – and that’s not counting the many EU students I know who were intending to remain in the UK after completing their degree, or the scientists choosing to work here who don’t know what their future is going to be or what’s going to happen to their funding. I think Britain is going to be facing a serious pouring out of intellectuals, and for a small country with no real manufacturing base anymore, that’s going to be one more disaster.

  86. @Martinghoul I’ve been saying exactly what you’ve so eloquently written the whole day today – “the racists won” line got old real fast. I don’t doubt that many (all?) right-wing racist nutters voted leave. That doesn’t mean that ALL Brexiters are racists.

    The sky is blue.
    Everything blue is not the sky.

    The EU is broken. Is it fixable? Did we try to? Well Dave C. did his damndest in the spring to sort out the UK’s biggest concerns and got a few bits and pieces bent in our favour here and there. A very few. With a referendum looming. So, no, I’m not sure it is/was fixable (from the inside, certainly.) Did I vote leave? I did not but not before having many months of painstaking research. They didn’t make the facts and figures easy to find, did they?

    And FWIW, JS. No, Scotland does not want another independence referendum. SOME of Scotland does, sure. They’ve wanted another for the past 18 months. But 45% of a country is not a whole country. Some of us think Better Together isn’t just a slogan.

  87. @Greg: “And here you are, making sure the feelings of blantant bigots dont get hurt.”

    Haters hating haters. And round in circles we go . . .

  88. Immediately labeling people who voted out as bigots/racists/xenophobes is bigoted itself! I have no doubt there were people like that who voted out however I suggest you take a look at the actual position and thoughts of hard left politicians who think the EU are antidemocratic. Cf Jeremy Corbyn not voting to join the EEC in the 70s. Political illiteracy in the UK I’m afraid is alive and well.
    Also consider noone voted to join the EU; Britain only joined the EEC in the 70s. A single market not political union. Would the US, Canada and Mexico suddenly join a political union because you have NAFTA?
    The problem for the EU was that too many politicians tried to widen and deepen EU integration too quickly.
    The former Warsaw Pact nations were not ready for joining the EU and have been used as convenient mulch cows for their resources and to keep some downward pressure in wage inflation.
    To go with this when the single currency came into being why were countries that patently did not meet the economic criteria allowed to join? Could it be that certain north European nations with a rather chequered twentieth century saw a chance to lend them money so they could buy goods they couldn’t afford? Credit crunch anyone?
    I personally voted remain as I see our future in Europe but tbh EU integration should be a very long-term gradual process, not what it had been. We should be looking at an EU federal state by about 2100.

    I have also been wondering about all those people screaming and shouting and gnashing their teeth and what they actually did. Did they canvass, put up posters, doorstep people, hold debates? Or did they do nothing and then whine? If it mattered that much and you were that invested, then what did you do?
    I only mention this that you should always remember that democracy is not passive. You must be active if you truly believe something is worth fighting for.

  89. I’m in the US and don’t know how this might work, but is it outside the realm of possibility that, given the Leave vote won:

    1. The EU and the UK negotiate some of those elements that prompted the leave vote in the first place
    2. Changes are then made (or promised) after which Parliament could call a second referendum vote? “See? Things have changed?”

    Which would then:
    3. Allow those “low information” Leave voters vote again with a bit more information? (like the tanking of the markets and the rise in unemployment?)

  90. Well, the information deficit seems to have been a major player in our debacle; for example, I have been endeavouring to explain that, whilst the Central banks performed pretty well in preventing our death spiral spreading to the rest of the global financial markets, it has done so at the cost of a great deal of money, and a great deal of goodwill.

    It would have helped had the person I was responding to known what the Central banks are, just as it would have helped if they had known what gilts are in understanding why Standard and Poor’s down rating from Triple A meant that many investment trusts had to sell those gilts to stick the money someplace else where the citizens are less likely to commit economic suicide.

    There was certainly an element of racism in the Leave vote, but the remarkable degree of ignorance really didn’t help. For example, it does not appear to have occurred to those urging the departure of bankers to other shores that the people demolishing property in the City of London, so they can erect bigger buildings in that space, have jobs which they will lose because no sane person would put their capital into a country committing economic suicide.

    This also applies to residential property builders, hence the plunge in their share prices; I’m getting tired of typing ‘economic suicide’, but it still applies.

    So, from this side of the pond, I would urge you to follow Scalzi’s advice; I am economically privileged, and thus protected from much of the shit heading towards my fellow citizens, but it is very obvious that you cannot rely on people behaving rationally. Believing that you needn’t worry about Trump could, and probably would, be catastrophic.

  91. Yeah, Trump’s witless remarks in Scotland shows his brilliant regional knowledge of current events and politics, he just makes shit up as he goes.

  92. Nuking Trump from orbit not good enough. Buried at the crossroads, holly stake through heart. Preferably with HRC in the next hole. Then may the Republic find healing.

  93. I have a friend who got a university job in England this year. I’m debating whether or not to e-mail her to ask…or if that’ll just make her feel worse. I probably just won’t ask.

  94. @Martinghoul

    When you snuggle up with UKIP, people are going to assume you agree with them and are, in fact, a bigot and a racist, as well as being spectacularly ill-informed and, in brief, a fascist-fantasy-prone personality. Don’t like it? Tough, because your idiocy on the biggest issue of the day loses you any and all credibility elsewhere.

  95. Apparently all may not yet be lost. Burried amonst all the doom and gloom are a number of authoriatative sources, The Guardian, Financial Times, etc. pointing out that the referendum is theoretically non-binding. Mr. Cameron must call for a vote in Parliament to officialy invoke something called Article 50 of the EU authorizing treaty. Apparently, in theory at least, either he or Parliament could decline to take that step.

    …No afirmative Article 50 vote, no Brexit. Of course this will create a new shitstorm



  96. As a Brit who is pissed that roughly 25% of the population didn’t turn up to vote and who could have easily shifted the 2% win to a 6% loss for brexit i say to the us populist fucken vote, show that you are smarter that’s Brits. Seriously vote.

  97. It’s only when things like this happen that you realize how much influence the UK still has over the lives of people all over the world.
    Brit in Gibraltar? As far as I can tell they have 3 options: move form sunny Spain to soggy England (leaving friends and family), move to economically not-so-great Spain, stay, and have to endure a border crossing every time you go to the doctor, go shopping or go to see the in-laws.

    And all the people outside the UK who hold British passports but couldn’t vote; now those passports aren’t nearly the golden ticket they used to be.

    The only silver lining I can see is if it somehow results in a peaceful unification of Ireland. (And I’m putting that somewhere between a million to one and nope.)

  98. @Martinghoul

    This window has been open for a bit; apologies if I repeat anything that has been said.

    All of the umbrage and pearl-clutching you may muster does not change the fact that the thrust of Leave’s media was as many pictures of foreigners, as many times as possible, with insufficiently brown ones photoshopped or cropped to keep the theme from being cluttered. That is the bed that Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson made.

    Similarly, all the pearl-clutching and umbrage you may muster doesn’t change that you choose to lie in that bed, nor does it give anyone else an obligation to help you pretend you didn’t decide that voting with a large group of people who are misty-eyed for their teenage stint of being colonists in Rhodesia or Kenya or Ghana or somewhere was a good idea. Leave was a vote for the nostalgia and rose-tinted glasses of empire; thus the lack of comprehension everywhere else, especially amongst those of us dealing with our own mop-topped would-be Mussolini.

    At a certain point, the assumption about Leave is that they were either a) racist xenophobes, b) too dumb to realize they were cozied up with racist xenophobes, or c) entirely comfortable with a movement whose voting mass was provided by a) and b).

  99. Many commenters here apparently believe most people are stupid and/or evil and democracy is useless unless we tick the approved box when voting.

  100. Youngpretender, you haven’t mentioned how all the Leave voters are like Hitler yet. By all means, don’t stop now.

  101. It’s strange and sad that the nation which I gree up in – The United Kindom – won’t exist for much longer. Scotland’s already halfway out the door and Ireland’s not far behind.


  102. I am baffled at the outcome of the Brexit poll. Yes, the EU is a bureaucratic monster and Brussels needs a reform to remove all that centristic non-democratic bullshit de Gaulle had installed to form it after the french system that worked sooo good for France. But how could we tread on without Britain ? We burned bridges to keep Greece and everybody hates Germany for it. France is staggering along. Do the people forget how the European idea kept the old world from going after each others throat again ? It’s not only the West vs. East idea that kept the peace. And using fearmongering about Germany… yes, we are a great part of this. Get used to it. That arsehat of a Charlie-Chaplin-imitator is dead for ages and we have our fair share of idiots like they have in France and Britain. Talking about a Fourth Reich is the most stupid excuse to throw away what good the EU has to offer, because the EU is not to fail because the EU is a bad idea. Yes, I’m looking at you – lying UKIP dimwits. It will fail if people continue to think small and wail about every little hardship. I’m an EU-unionist and thought that there must be something bigger than the single old states – while keeping your identity and being part of something bigger and better than that. But we are back to that selfish “what can other people do for me” instead of “what can I do for others”.

    RIP EU, you had a good run. See you when we have a pointless war with Russia, so the small people have to suffer for the stupidity of the “elite” AGAIN. Fuck, I hate people.

  103. Dear John,

    I did not vote for Nader, not a supporter.

    Can we please put the “it was Nader’s fault” rant to permanent rest because it’s as accurate as saying “the Supreme Court handed the election to Bush.” In other words, not really all that much.

    The weird but true fact is that every single left-ish candidate got more votes than the margin in Florida. The lowest vote-getter, the effin’ Socialist Worker candidate, can be blamed for throwing the election to Bush. I mean, really– when was the last time we could blame the heir to the Wobblies for costing the Dems an election? Surreal.

    Really, it’s the fault of any of a whole bunch of third parties. One might make the argument that third parties are a really bad idea in national elections, when there’s no chance of anyone but the Big Two winning. It might not even be a bad argument. Not really the one we’re engaging.

    Yeah, Nader gets his share of blame… and so do four or five other third parties. Perpetually singling him out as if HE is the problem is a kind of scapegoating that manages to erroneously distract from the real problem.

    I entirely agree that people who vote third-party should understand the consequences of their vote. But incessantly focusing on one specific individual deflects from the point you’re making.

    pax / Ctein

  104. @drashizu
    I am pretty sure I am not hallucinating. The statement made by @youngpretender which I interpreted as directly applicable to me was the following:
    “Their racism was shown by their actions, not their precious “it’s actually about ethics in…..” justifications.”
    It would appear to imply that, because of my actions, I must be racist, regardless of the reasons I’ve given.

    As to your other point, I think there was someone who has beaten me to the punch. I have offered you a counterexample. Specifically, myself. Suppose you believe what I have told you about my reasoning (otherwise, we have nothing to discuss). This implies that there exist people who have voted “Leave” for reasons completely different to racism and xenophobia. There is no doubt in my mind that there also exist people who have voted “Leave” precisely because they are racist and xenophobic and were swayed by those aspects of the “Leave” campaign. Now given the existence of both types of voters, on what basis do you conclude that “most” are of the latter sort and are using “sovereignty” euphemistically, as you describe? Please note that the statement you are making is an affirmative one, so the burden of proof is on you. Finally, please also note that it’s disrespectful and arrogant to automatically assume that “most” people who happen to disagree with you are being hypocritical and have ulterior, morally questionable motives for their choices.

    Speaking of morality, I refuse to accept the comparison that you and @youngpretender are offering. The parallels don’t really hold, IMHO. When an excuse is given to justify practices as unequivocally abhorrent and unacceptable as slavery or segregation, I would happily join you in condemning such arguments, no matter what they might be. This is emphatically and obviously not the case here. Specifically, regarding your somewhat misguided idea about the ‘sovereign right to keep nonwhite immigrants out’. The UK has always had this right, because the “nonwhite immigrants” don’t come from the EU, but rather from the Commonwealth countries, such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is still the case now, even though the “white immigrants” from the EU have been catching up. Clearly, Brexit affects the latter, but not the former.

  105. @Walt G

    “Many commenters here apparently believe most people are stupid and/or evil…”

    The record of the human race in matters of genocide, religious wars, assorted forms of bigotry and fact-poor comments complaining about commenters on here etc would seem to suggest that your imagined commenters have a point.

  106. @martinghoul

    “This implies that there exist people who have voted “Leave” for reasons completely different to racism and xenophobia.”

    When you vote for a campaign that traffics primarily in racism and xenophobia, you don’t get the right to pat yourself on the back for your imagined superior intellect and moral virtue. Lie down with Farage, wake up with racist, xenophobic fleas.

  107. A note about the accusations of racism and other unpleasantness that are flying about: Let’s remember that people vote for myriad and complex reasons. The “leave” voter who decides they can’t tolerate EU bureaucracy and the racist who votes “leave” because they want to get rid of the immigrants may have made the same decision, but the reasons are night and day different. It’s unfair and offensive to lump them both under the same category of dangerous idjits.

    Think Venn diagrams: some leavers voted their conscience, some voted their fear or hatred, and some voted both simultaneously. Others are the disjunct set, and voted for none of the above reasons. Let’s not falsely accuse.

    Hard to resist poking a hole in Trump given that it’s been brought up so often in this thread. So… it’s worth noting something that’s rarely mentioned: If Trump does win the presidency, he’ll quickly discover it’s not like running a company where he can fire anyone who disagrees with him and do whatever the hell he wants, irrespective of opposition. As Obama has discovered during the last 8 years, even a popular president can’t accomplish much when enough senators and congresscritters oppose him. So I see one of three things happening should Trump win: (1) His will frustrated, he quits in a huff and leaves the office with no notice. Embarrassing and awkward, and economically disruptive, but the government is robust against such beheadings; things will resume normalcy in a few weeks. (2) He suffers a fatal rage-induced heart attack from frustration at having his will thwarted at every turn both by the Democrats and by his own party. (3) He stays in office, growing progressively weaker and nastier, with daily Youtube videos in the “let’s watch DT being miserable” specialty channel. Great for the schadenfreude crowd.

    So there’s some upside potential here, folks. *GDRLH*

  108. I think the UK might find it rough going negotiating trade agreements without the might of the EU behind them, I know my country went through a bit of a rough patch after being dropped like a hot potato by the UK when it decided to join the common market.

    P.S. to Nigel Farage “maybe we can start re-engaging with the commonwealth and the real friends we’ve got out there” comes about 30 years too late (not that the commonwealth countries won’t trade with the UK, just that they’ve been making a whole bunch of other trade deals in the mean time which are unlikely to give favourable status to the UK).

  109. Once again, I failed to win a fortune by gambling on the financial market. In this case, taking out a second mortgage and buying pounds first thing today. It’s probably too late now. Also, I’m an amateur and the sharks would eat me.

    PS: NOT whining and NOT a 2000 Nader voter and DON’T think Nader was responsible for Bush. #gorefailstotakehomestate #supremecourtfailstosupportcountingballots #smallsatisfactionthatallreligiousrightfriendsfeelbetrayedbybushadministration

  110. @Geoff Hart

    “It’s unfair and offensive to lump them both under the same category of dangerous idjits.”

    Not when they vote for the same racist and xenophobic campaign run by dangerous idjits, it isn’t. It’s a matter of facing the facts, rather than piously pretending that voting for Nigel Farage is not voting for.. why, yes.,. Nigel Farage. If you vote for a campaign based on racism and xenophobia, you deserve to be treated as someone who votes for racism and xenophobia – and if you don’t like it, you have the luxurious opportunity to… gasp… not vote for racism and xenophobia. This is really not a difficult concept to grasp.

  111. @Nickzi

    People doth assume too much, methinks…

    At any rate, you’re free to believe whatever your heart desires about me, including, but not limited to: me agreeing with UKIP; me being an ill-informed bigot and a racist, as well as me being, what was it exactly, a fascist-fantasy-prone personality and an idiot. Whether or not I dislike it is neither here nor there (I find it amusing, in fact).

    However, know this: you are providing ample reason for me to feel that I did the right thing by voting the way I did. I thought, agonized over and carefully considered my decision and, even though I might be proven wrong, I know exactly what my arguments are and the risks around them. The best you can offer is uninspired, unsubstantiated and emotional invective. I’d much rather be wrong my way than be silly your way any day.

  112. Some people are running petitions for a second referendum, while others are suggesting politicians could use technicalities to ignore the electorate. I think both would do more harm than good. I am passionately pro-EU, but also passionately anti-cheating.

    That said, I wrote a long post about what we (British and European citizens) can do to stop things from getting out of hand: http://www.bastianbalthasarbooks.co.uk/2016/06/if-electorate-hands-you-lemons.html

    Anyone who agrees with my points, please feel free to share it far and wide.

  113. As a German you must forgive my Schadenfreude, we really do need an example for the Greeks to understand when you do something stupid. Don’t worry, Britain will survive, yes a bit less relevant but still standing. The British will just have to learn how to be second fiddle.
    That said, don’t worry about November, Drumpf is the best gift to America in the last 100 years, not only will he insure Hillary’s Presidency, he will bring about a Democratic Congress, he will insure that immigration is never challenged again. Stop worrying your silly people, as Pres O said, history is on our side!

  114. @youngpretender

    I’d say the same to you as I said just now to @Nickzi. If what you’ve offered in your last post is an accurate summary of how you think about and understand the Brexit issue, I feel a little better about having voted the way I did. Thanks to you, I am starting to imagine that maybe the result of the referendum was actually a victory of reason over hysteria and emotion, after all.

  115. @Martinghoul

    It’s been a pleasure reading your comments on this subject. I’ve found that one can tell pretty quickly the weakness of someone else’s argument based solely on their propensity for name calling and insistence on branding their opponent as xxxxphobic.

    I guess you can’t blame them for these schoolyard tactics since they’ve been so successful with it, no matter how intellectually lazy it might be.

  116. It’s certainly not all about racism. Many people in Cornwall believe that EU regulations destroyed their fishing and farming sectors and that the EU money that came in was mostly spent incredibly stupidly, for example. There were actual statesmanlike like things Cameron could have done to make things better, were he capable.

  117. First – USA must be very careful because right now we are on track for Trump to win the election outright. How? The Democrats are more divided than you realize – and the Bernie or Bust movement is more than 50% of the Bernie supporters. If you do the math, Hillary will jot get the votes she needs. All of the youngish Bernie supporters that I met have Republican parents who hate Hillary… These 20 somethings grew into Dems / Independents who support Bernie but they will not support Hillary because she was villified by their parents when these kids were growing up.. They cannot move past that shit… Donald is going to get the all of the votes from all of the folks who are saying, “Screw the government” – and there are more of those folks than any other category of voter… America is playing with fire. Just like the referendum should never have been brought to a vote in Britain, Trump should never have been allowed to be a nominee… I guarantee this will come back to haunt our country.

  118. As a Brit who voted for (and delivered leaflets for) the Leave campaign, I’m thrilled and delighted that we have the opportunity to take back control of our destiny.

    There is a short-term negative froth in the UK and the EU. That’s because markets think they can make money by trading. It’s nothing fundamentally to worry about as long as the Bank of England provides liquidity (which fortunately we can do because unlike Ireland and Greece, we weren’t seduced into the single European currency).

    This vote was not, for me, a rejection of globalisation – either in terms of trade or in terms of free movement of people.

    I voted Leave because I wanted the opportunity to trade on fair terms with the whole world, not just a declining part of the near-continent. This result gives us the opportunity to reintroduce proper trading relationships with countries which are succeeding, such as the USA, China, India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

    Similarly, I wasn’t being racist about immigration – quite the opposite, it was a rejection of the bigoted assumption that we should bias our immigration to citizens of those nearby countries who happen to be predominantly white and Christian enough to have been allowed into the little EU club. I believe that after the dust has settled, Britain will be better able to choose qualified immigrants, irrespective of their country of origin, and also have greater capacity to support those in highest need, because resources won’t be lost on those who contribute less, need less but have the right to be supported by the British taxpayer.

    In terms of our next discussions with our European partners on trade, I expect to get better terms than the WTO minimum – because Volkswagen can’t afford otherwise – but I am happy that the UK will continue to trade with the USA on the same terms that the EU has managed for the last 20 years. Again, after the dust has settled I expect the terms of trade to be better for all sides, but for now the impact of tarriffs would be less than the exchange rate fluctuations, and George Soros clearly explained back in 1992 why the UK is unsuited to being part of the EU policy on exchange rates.

    My biggest concern relates to our relatives in Scotland. Their politicians are going to talk at length about exporting 42% of trade exports to the EU and the impact of changes in the terms of that trade, without discussing how many multiples of that value is traded with England, Wales and Northern Ireland which would be lost of Scotland chose to leave the United Kingdom and apply to be part of the European Union.

    Finally, I commiserate with Gibraltar, which is likely to be bullied by a Spain which is wholly hypocritical over it’s possession of Ceuta, Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, etc

  119. The pound went down. It will go back up again. The stock market fell. It will go back up again. Give everyone a few days and they’ll change their diapers and the world will go on.

  120. While I’m perfectly willing to say that someone could very well have made a decision to leave based on a carefully researched, well reasoned dislike or distrust of EU economic policies and structure, at the same time it has to be admitted that those were not the arguments that were made to the majority of voters. The face of Brexit, whether one likes it or not, is xenophobic and based on economic lies; and while one may not share that xenophobia or believe those lies, you’re still going to be associated with the public face of the Leave campaign. Your heart may be pure, but your vote empowered Farage and Johnson and their crew.

    The thing that no one seems to have commented upon–although I may have missed it–is the open glee expressed by Russia over this result. They have a vested interest in a weakened European community; they want to rebuilt the Soviet empire, rebranded perhaps but for all practical purposes the same. They’ve already taken those steps with the Ukraine. What scares me the most–as much as Trump being elected–is Europe dissolving back into a squabbling mess of individual national interests and selective alliances. That’s a road that leads yet again to war, and one that this time nobody may survive.

  121. The Brexit is a wake up call to those who feel complacent about the possibility of a Trump Presidency. But, on the other hand, the votes can’t be directly compared. Brexit referendum was on a single issue “I vote to remain/I vote to leave” not on a person They didn’t actually ask their citizens to check a box that said “I want Nigel Farage to be in charge of my country.” Given the amount of righteous indignation at the insinuation or declaraion that Leave voters are bigots and racists, presumably if the election were about a person, like Nigel Farage, some Leave voters would not have supported him. Americans don’t get to hedge like that. We can’t say “Oh, well, just because we voted along with the racists on the issue, doesn’t mean we are actually supporting the King of the Idiots.” Our elections demand we chose the person. (Or throw away our vote in a variety of ways). We can’t just say “Oh, I don’t support the racist, I just like the idea of a giant wall.” there no “I vote to build Mexian Wall” box. We have to tick a box next to the name of the racist.
    I think we are fully capable of that level of stupidity, but it’s a different choice than the UK was being asked to make.

    And FWIW I don’t know where someone got the idea that 20 somethings spending their whole life listening to their parents wail against the Clintons are “incapable” of moving beyond that and won’t vote for Hillary. Seriously? Every Democrat I met in college came from rabid Republican parents. If anything, having grown up listening to their parents radio stations featuring Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity could make people more likely to vote for Clinton, because it takes the teeth out of most of the Bernie Bros talking points. They just loose their impact factor when someone has been screaming this at you since Tamagatchies were still a thing. I mean, I wouldn’t vote for Rush Limbaugh, he’s full of crap, so why should I listen to someone who is reading off his old scripts?

  122. If you just can’t bring yourself to vote for the lesser of two evils, you darn well should be able to vote against the greater. Hold your nose if you have to. Make a contribution to the ACLU afterwards to cleanse your soul. Whatever it takes.

  123. On reading the comments, I have only one thing to say:

    Oh sweet Summer children, you’ve no idea about the future you’ve created through your own desires. This stuff is just the foreplay.

    It wasn’t the youth who did this, it was you.

    Here’s a hint: the USA consumes ~20-25% of all global resources for 5% of the population. That’s not exactly fair, especially given that it would take x3-4 Earths to even have 50% of the global population enjoy the standard of life that modern Americans enjoy.

    Hey! This has nothing to do with the topic!!“.


    Yes it does.

    It’s all about seeing if you can rise above the Ego, the selfishness and the hate.

    Let’s call the UK the dibble-dabble zone. You peeps are going to see Flowers Bloom in October.




    Give everyone a few days and they’ll change their diapers and the world will go on.





  124. Correction: It meant 4,000,000,000 [billion].

    The rest is accurate though.

    It’s like the simplest task ever not to fail, and yet, here we are: watching humanity fuck themselves up because of what?

    No, really.

    We’re waiting for an adequate answer.

  125. @Peter
    ” This result gives us the opportunity to reintroduce proper trading relationships with countries which are succeeding, such as the USA, China, India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.”

    Yeah funny thing about that, all of those countries (especially the former commonwealth ones) have all been furiously negotiating trade deals for the last 30 years (some more successfully than others *cough* TPPA *cough*).

    The UK is coming late to the party and without the formidable might of the EU standing behind it, and with industry and agriculture used to standing behind EU subsidies and tariffs…

    I have no doubt that the UK will get trade agreements but they are likely to be on far worse terms than with the EU (and are likely to involve much more surrender in the way of UK sovereignty).

    I would expect at the very least that agriculture in the UK is about to suffer very very badly (probably industry and the sciences as well).

  126. ” This result gives us the opportunity to reintroduce proper trading relationships with countries which are succeeding, such as the USA, China, India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.”

    In agriculture?

    Oh boy.

    USA – water loss via aquifer depletion, mass pollution and soil degradation
    China – water loss via aquifer depletion, mass pollution and soil degradation
    India – water loss via aquifer depletion, mass pollution and soil degradation
    Canada – Agriculture is 1.7% of GDP
    Australia – water loss via aquifer depletion, mass pollution and soil degradation plus that entire Climate Change thing moving things into that non-productive +44oC zone
    New Zealand – woooooo! success

    It’s like you’re not even trying anymore.

  127. I can source and dump you peer researched papers on all of my claims, especially the environmental ones. Since, you know, it’s reality and empirical science vrs dumb internet commentary.


    Those in the know are calling it “the end of the Green Revolution”. If you’re not just an Ayn Rand mouthpiece, that might concern you.

  128. @Cthulu
    “New Zealand – woooooo! success”
    Nope also
    water loss via aquifer depletion, mass pollution and soil degradation.

    Having said that I believe Peter meant that these countries would make agreements buy British products which…good luck with that.
    Look at just how much trouble the TPPA caused in terms of countries not being willing to give up sovereignty or tariffs on their favoured exports and then imagine trying to step into that morass as a newly un-EU’d country which has been sitting behind EU tariffs/subsidies. UK agriculture was already pretty tenuous, I expect this is going to drive it into the ground.

  129. @Pedro: interesting that you don’t think civility ought to cut both ways? I guess that kind of hurts the narrative that Trump’s voting base is entirely in the right and acting out of justifiably hurt feelings by people who they’ve never done wrong.

  130. @mirlacca

    Firstly, given just how wide-ranging the debate on Brexit had been, I find it puzzling how you can readily conclude what particular arguments were presented to the majority of voters. For goodness sake, during the Paxman-moderated debate on the night before the vote, I watched a lady argue for “Leave”, because the EU has done nothing to stop animal cruelty. You have chosen to focus on the face of Brexit based on xenophobia and economic lies. I didn’t and I see no evidence to suggest that the other voters are any different.

    As to myself and others being associated with what you perceive to be the public face of the “Leave” campaign, let me just suggest this. Association is in the eye of the associator. Given that you understand that I might possibly have my reasons, why don’t you make an effort and stop making sweeping assumptions? Maybe it will be better for everyone this way?

    Finally, yes, I am aware of the implications of my vote, as I have stated previously. Let me ask you this. Suppose, like me, you were of the opinion that the “Remain” vote would result in a path which is significantly more dangerous and destructive than anything Nigel Farage could reasonably come up with. Would you have voted in favor of what you believe to be a worse outcome, just because you find Nigel Farage’s xenophobic views distasteful?

  131. Apologists:

    Please. Just stop.



    You make like one election in the same cohort with bigots and angry old people will fix everything. It will not.

    Several elections of that fashion might, if the fascists don’t ram an Enabling Act down your throats first.

    Of course, even that presumes that those who now possess practically All The Things will just gracefully surrender them.

    Good luck with that. Ask any Russians or Germans handy how that worked out for them.

  132. Miles Archer: “In November, if there is any chance of Trump winning California, I will certainly check the box for Hillary. I think that’s extremely unlikely and I will most likely vote for someone else.”

    Have you already forgotten that California elected Arnold Schwarzenegger governor?

    There’s a whole lot of voters in California who will vote for novelty, entertainment value, and lolz, And Arnold didn’t have half the “entertainment value” that Trump has for nihilists who don’t care about real-world effects.

  133. @Pedro: “Interesting that you don’t think civility ought to cut both ways? I guess that kind of hurts the narrative that Trump’s voting base is entirely in the right and acting out of justifiably hurt feelings by people who they’ve never done wrong.”

    Really? What makes you say that?

  134. Martinghoul

    In some ways I pity you because you show so little understanding of the way capitalism works in general, and the way the global financial markets work in particular,

    You seem to know nothing about that, which is disheartedlng…

  135. Some of my best friends are atheist, so I won’t bring up Jesus; instead I’ll ask: What would Honest Abe Lincoln do? Lincoln was careful not to hate anybody, at least, not in public. In his neutrality, he was more like a bureaucrat.

    I’m not so sure the bureaucrats and people of the EU would make negative trade agreements with Britain, since to do so would be to act upon emotion, which is not a capitalist value.

    Because values reflect action, I see a sliver lining, writing from Canada. A great prime minister here once pointed out that Canada is a confederacy, and that a confederacy has to be renewed on a daily basis. (lest it fly apart) If the people of the EU are now able to see some negative things about their bureaucrats, and if they are now motivated to daily reform, then that would be a good thing.

    It was a British female prime minister, expressing Euro-skepticism, who said that something about European democracy working best if people could speak a common language, rather than default to relying on bureaucrats. If only I spoke another language, then I could see what the EU people are saying.

  136. Pedro: “haters hating haters”

    Calling a bigot “bigot” isnt hate. But thanks for playing this round of “bigotry shell game”.

  137. @Greg: “But thanks for playing this round of “bigotry shell game.”

    My pleasure. Next . . .

  138. Damn; I’m a total failure. On JS’s previous thread I predicted 51:49 and it turned out 52:48. No, please don’t ask me to pick the US presidential elections (or even who the two main contenders will be). I’m not worthy.
    Back to Brexit. As usual the markets totally over-reacted to the result. Most, if not all, of the losses will be reversed until some leak that throws all the overpaid financial market traders into another tizzy.
    There is so much water to go under the bridge before the UK (maybe) leaves the EU that making drastic moves and changes now are going to be more destructive than waiting and seeing what happens.
    The EU. They could decide to “punish” Britain as a warning to other potential absconders – “Nothing personal Britain but we have to make an example”. Or they could revamp the whole structure; make it more democratic and re-define the EU vs countries relationship. As an example should the EU set school curriculums or is that a national function?
    But I’m not very optimistic about the EU changing because the ones doing the changing will all be looking over their shoulders at their next election.
    On the other hand all current governments (around the world) should be looking in the mirror and thinking about Brexit, Trump, Sanders, et al. Are these governments just another bunch of professional entitled politicians who couldn’t give a rat’s arse about the voters except for trotting out the obligatory platitudes come election time. Is there a demagogue just waiting to pounce?
    So my prediction: – Britain will dither about invoking Article 50; there will be some back-room dealing; the EU will make some changes; and Britain will stay in the EU. Oh and lots of fans will get a lot of use as Leavers “do stuff”.

  139. @kiwisteve: “Britain will dither about invoking Article 50; there will be some back-room dealing; the EU will make some changes; and Britain will stay in the EU.”

    Interesting point, which raises the following question: Why wouldn’t every remaining member of the EU attempt the same thing: Vote to leave if only to get just as good a deal that Britain got through “back-room” dealing?

    Might the EU apparatus be more inclined to make Brexit an obviously painful event, if only to deter copy-cat behavior?

  140. @Pedro
    OK, I’m probably a bit of an optimist and seeing changes to the EU being changes for the betterment of the EU and not just sweeteners for Britain.
    If deals are made and they benefit Britain only then naturally there will be other countries that pick up and run with the same game plan. Why wouldn’t they?
    Making Brexit as painful as possible is going to do damage. As an example what is going to happen to BMW’s subsidiary Rolls Royce? Others on this thread have mentioned other examples: – university research, Airbus, and others. An acrimonious split will have effects in electorates of politicians in the EU’s members – politicians who would prefer to be re-elected.

  141. Richard Fernandez summarizes it better than I,


    The EU and the Obama administration have been “stuck on stupid” the last 8 years and people are reacting. Obama is, by far, the worst president in my lifetime and everyone else’s.

    The “damage” which has happened in the last couple of days is not likely to continue; if Britain fosters a Free Market (meaning few regulations and low taxes). But I doubt the leaders in Britain are that intelligent (our President isn’t that intelligent to give you an idea); so I expect a “recovery” like we have: low “official” unemployment rate but the lowest labor force participation rate in decades. But it will be a “recovery” of sorts.

    I expect the EU to further break up; it’s just a bunch of incompetent, wanna-be dictators fucking everything they touch up.

    Oh, and to those using “dog whistle” arguments: there is no “dog whistle” among the Right; but using that phrase shows that you are a person filled with hate, Oikophobia, and bigotry.

  142. It’s awesome. The UK voted to leave. It’s democracy at its finest and yet the arrogant elite call us stupid. They have no answers so they resort to insulting the little people. Personally, I’m delighted to be out. We have thrown off the shackles of an oppressive EU oligarchy that has the appearance of democracy but no substance therein.

    [This bit deleted for being maybe a smidge racist and also not particularly accurate with regard to the EU/UK relationship – JS]

    As for John Oliver, he’s a comedian (not a particularly good one either) and not to be taken too seriously.

  143. Jon H says: “There’s a whole lot of voters in California who will vote for novelty, entertainment value, and lolz, And Arnold didn’t have half the “entertainment value” that Trump has for nihilists who don’t care about real-world effects.”


    Is Hillary Clinton heavily favored to win California? Yes. Am I, a Californian, going to make sure to vote for her anyway? You’d better believe it.

  144. Gary C.

    Yeah, I watched John Oliver hoping for another John Stewart (and Trevor Noah). Unfortunately, John Stewart was a unique talent. Back to JO, his basic argument against the Brexit folk is that their numbers are off. He shows that Britain doesn’t contribute 350 million pounds a week; they contribute 190 million pounds a week. And he shows that there aren’t 109 EU regulations on pillows; there’s 106. So, the Brexit arguments are BS! he claims. No sir, he obviously never studied logic or argument style. He didn’t nullify their arguments; he showed that their numbers were off.

    But that’s usual for JO; the guy just ain’t that bright or funny.

  145. Seems to me that the big take-away for US voters is that young people really need to vote. If you’re young you have a lot more of the future to live, so you should take it very seriously. Vote every time, vote for all those boring local elections, even if you don’t understand the issues that well, just get in the habit of voting always. Looking at the Brexit vote, young people had the most to lose but had a lower turnout and might have changed the outcome by a trivial effort.

    I think that informs the other big take-away. Never assume that other people are going to achieve your political goals for you and thereby free you to play games with your vote or skipping the election. I’m not one of the blame-Nader-voters-forever group, but I do recall how, during that election, a bunch of Naderites had A Cunning Plan. They were going to use the web to “trade votes” between local Nader votes and those in solid Democratic states so that their “protest” vote would get registered there.

    This idea that you going to outmaneuver voting patterns and register a protest is doubly wrong. The first assumes that you have perfect knowledge and that other voters aren’t playing their own games that mess up Your Plan. Risky if you ask me. The second assumes that there is some parental “them” that registers your protest and does something for you because you protested. Kinda like a 8-year-old thinking “when I run away, then they’ll miss me and give me the pony I deserve!” but I don’t think there is a “them” in this case who gives a hoot. Political campaigns seek the voters that help them win, a protest means nothing because the next election is a different game and you’ve shown yourself to be an unreliable supporter. Did the next election post-Nader win anything for the Naderites’ protest? No, they got nothing. Well, we all got W. This impulse to protest with your vote never seems to achieves anything.

    It might work if you can get something like a majority of the party to protest, but that is not common. For example, if the Busters get You-Know-Who elected, then they’ll be considered even worse that the Naderites. If the opposite occurs, then they will be considered a group who protested for nothing. There’s no upside I can see. Democratic party people are not going to court Busters next election. You want to change the party? Join it and work to change it into what you want, just like the previous generations who actually changed things in the party.

    Always vote in every election and don’t try to be clever with your vote.

  146. Martinghoul: Suppose, like me, you were of the opinion that the “Remain” vote would result in a path which is significantly more dangerous and destructive than anything Nigel Farage could reasonably come up with. Would you have voted in favor of what you believe to be a worse outcome, just because you find Nigel Farage’s xenophobic views distasteful?
    In other words, if I were you, would I vote the way you voted? I decline to play the trick question game.
    I have yet to see what you see on that path. I do not know what you consider “significantly more dangerous and destructive.” What I do see is historical precedents for those xeonophobic views and where they lead, and I find them far more than merely “distasteful.”

    Scorpius: Obama is, by far, the worst president in my lifetime and everyone else’s.
    I think I must be a few years older than you are.

    Fran_K: Seems to me that the big take-away for US voters is that young people really need to vote.
    This, this, this. And again THIS, for those who think “my vote doesn’t count.”
    All that having been said, I do think that the cry for “I didn’t really mean it, let’s do it over” and “it’s not fair, it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to” are missing the whole point of a democracy. On the other hand, the do-over petition has forced a discussion in Parliament, and the result of that may be that Parliament declines to consider the referendum binding. In which case there will be no Brexit after all. This may comfort Cornwall, at least, which voted to leave as long as they could retain all the benefits of remaining (and is now wondering indignantly why they can’t have their subsidy and spend it too).

    This is a vast change, and whichever way it goes, half a nation will be unhappy with the results.

  147. I wouldn’t regard the comments of a hard-left nationalist Scot as being particularly valuable on the Brexit.

  148. @Martinghoul et. apologists

    So what’s this? After all the preciousness of how just because Leave ran posters of ranks upon rank of Syrian immigrants, and touting the terrors of EU border access, and Nigel Farage talked, we all can’t assume a damn thing about why Leave voted leave – but now that you have been criticized, you can safely assume that Stay was a band of irrational ninnies? Please.

    Also, Steve C., remember this: people mentioning the cold facts about some of what Leave did is not the same as comparing you to Hitler. It’s simply saying that these things happened, and the rest of us have no obligation to pretend they didn’t simply because you don’t like having it pointed it out you were on the same side as Farage.

    The rest of us have no obligation to forget who else shouted “Britain First.”

  149. I am not sure why Americans care all that much about the Brexit. The market going down is temporary. These kinds of fluctuations happen. I put my money into Vanguard and other low cost mutual funds. I put the same amount in every month for 15 years. So I really don’t care.

    Pound weakening hurts our exports to Britain, but Britain isn’t that huge of a trade partner. Its also not that big of a drop. I have wondered for a while, why Britain keeps the pound so strong. Yeah it makes imports cheap, but it encourages moving jobs over seas and makes exports expensive. I personally don’t get it. It is again not my problem. I have really wondered this for a while.

    I don’t know how trade deals work with Britain and the EU. I am not remotely concerned about working out trade deals with the UK so its basically the same thing we had with the EU. Given the size of the US economy I would think we would be a priority even though they would likely have alot of trade deals to work out. Its the UK. Its not like they are difficult to work with on this.

    I really don’t think this affects the US much at all. Lets face it, the US isn’t going to join a body like the EU. We would join an American EU either. Its not in our culture. By nature the US has low trade barriers anyway.

    I don’t get why either side in the US is worked up over this. I really don’t care. The US economy is 25% of the worlds economy. I am not concerned about this having a long term affect on us. I am not a liberal as Scalzi can attest to. I am a true conservatve. We have been telling the public that Trump is an idiot long before liberals jumped on bored. This will have no impact on the fall election in the US at all. Keeping Trump out is why the Republican part needs to move to the right. Trump is not a conservative. He is not remotely close to being a conservative. Most of his positions are to the left of Hillary Clinton. This should be obvious considering that ALOT of Bernie Sanders supporters are threatening to support him. They would not be supporting a conservatve.

  150. Well, I think it would be hypothetically possible for a group with a policy they thought was good for sound economic reasons to attempt to gain support for that policy by pandering to racism and xenophobia. It wouldn’t make the policy racist or xenophobic, and some of the people voting for the policy would presumably be voting for sound economic reasons and wouldn’t be racist or xenophobic.

    The problem with this scenario is that using racism and xenophobia to promote a policy strengthens racism and xenophobia. It makes it more acceptable to express racism and xenophobia in public, encourages people with those traits to act on them instead of trying to restrain them, and inculcates the traits in young people who are still learning about the world and forming their views.

    And if you vote, for sound economic reasons, for a policy being promoted by pandering to racism and xenophobia you are doing your part to strengthen those things. Perhaps that was a cost you were willing to pay to enact a sound economic policy, and you are hoping to weaken racism and xenophobia on other days with other actions, and okay, sometimes we make hard choices and maybe you can still make up for it; good luck.

    But please don’t pretend your vote didn’t do that. That’s kind of annoying.

  151. @Peter
    You’ve got some obvious cognitive dissonance going on even within single comments. In your post here
    you state the belief that this will not have any significant effect the ability to trade with the rest of Europe and the World. Then you go on to say:

    “My biggest concern relates to our relatives in Scotland. Their politicians are going to talk at length about exporting 42% of trade exports to the EU and the impact of changes in the terms of that trade, without discussing how many multiples of that value is traded with England, Wales and Northern Ireland which would be lost of Scotland chose to leave the United Kingdom and apply to be part of the European Union.”

    First, if 42% of Scotland’s exports goes to the EU, even if the entire remainder stays within the U.K. (it does not) that still only makes 58%, not “many multiples”. But more importantly, if you don’t think that leaving the EU is going to have any significant change on how the U.K. trades with the rest of the world, why would Scotland feel any negative trade repercussions from independence? Either the U.K. miraculously maintains free trading relationships with the world, in which case Scotland doesn’t see any change in access, or else you are implicitly saying members of the EU such as an independent Scotland will have a hard time importing and exporting from the U.K.

  152. I anxiously await the day Guess shows up to tell us about something they do care about.

    Today is not that day.

  153. Sooz: In identifying Charlie as a Scot, are you accepting his choice of residence or unaware that he is from Yorkshire originally?

  154. So, here’s one of the saddest and most head-slapping things that I’ve run across so far.

    The brief summery is this:
    In the late 70’s, the U.K. joins the European Economic Community (the precursor to the EU). One of the industries really pushing for this is the British automotive industry because they really want access to the rest of the European market. The British automotive industry then promptly goes out of business because it turns out the rest of Europe, and the Germans in particular, made much better cars.

    However! That’s roughly the same point that the Asian automakers and American brands like Ford started investing in Europe, and since there were all these empty car factories and unemployed automotive workers sitting around they all set up shop in Briton and have been making cars there for the last thirty years and happily exporting them all over Europe. Of the cars built in Briton, roughly 10% actually end up in the British market. You’ve got Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Ford, everyone.

    So, you’ve got these areas that are major car manufacturing hubs, with lots of secondary industries built up around them and generations of people employed. All full of blue-collar industrial workers. Guess which way they voted? Yep! They all voted to put themselves out of work! By large margins in most cases. Sunderland, the which is a major Nissan center, was one of the earliest and largest wins for the Leave side, 61-39.

    If this was a movie, it would be a cross between a Eugene Levy farce and a Coen Brothers tragedy. Actually, I’d watch that.

  155. While I respect that you and others suffered as a result of the outcome, I have to wonder at the level of hatred and demonization of the 17 million odd voters who voted Leave.

    It’s one thing to dislike or disagree with a choice, but to label everyone who views an issue differently as racist bigots is fundamentally disrespectful and harmful to democracy. Democracy requires voters to vote, which I agree is vitally important. It also requires that people respect the outcome. Each side makes their case to voters, the votes are cast, and one side wins. It may or may not be the side we wanted to win, but as participants in democracy, we accept the results, and we move on. To do anything less is inherently undemocratic.

  156. I am a UK remain voter and deeply disappointed by this result. I’m sad because I think the majority of leave voters voted not because they really care about sovereignty or because they are racist, but because they are unhappy with the status quo. The concern about immigration is really a proxy for other issues, not least the impact of continued austerity. The tragedy is that leaving the EU will I think weaken us without fixing the things that people are worried about. Stronger leadership from Labour could have helped make that clear. The lesson JS is drawing, that people in the US need to vote and vote seriously because there is a real risk Trump could win, is not wrong. But there is one major difference: if Trump becomes president, the US population will have an opportunity to choose again in 4 years. The UK decision to leave the EU is one way: even if we might conceivably be allowed to rejoin at some time in the future the current special deals we have would not be on offer.

  157. I wrote that not everyone who voted to leave the EU were racist idjits: Nickzi replied: “Not when they vote for the same racist and xenophobic campaign run by dangerous idjits, it isn’t.”

    So let me confirm that I understand your logic. A bill is proposed to clean up the polluted water supply, feed the starving, and reward those who provide jobs to the poor. Sounds good, and just about everyone supports it. But then a well-known racist endorses the bill, so now we must vote against it. Sure, that makes sense.

    Nickzi: “It’s a matter of facing the facts, rather than piously pretending that voting for Nigel Farage is not voting for.. why, yes.,. Nigel Farage. If you vote for a campaign based on racism and xenophobia, you deserve to be treated as someone who votes for racism and xenophobia”

    Ah, I see the subtle flaw in my logic. I wasn’t paying close enough attention, and thought the referendum was about leaving the EU. But you assure me that it was really about voting for Nigel Farage. My bad. Guess I need to read the newsfeeds more carefully. Silly journalists getting the story so wrong.

  158. It’s going to be nice not to be The Stupidest Country In The World…for a few months, at least. A couple of things:

    1. Someone who says “Obama is the worst President in my lifetime” is either too young to really remember Bush, or has values in such sharp contrast to mine that no potential for a meeting of the minds exists. He’s the best in my lifetime, and that goes back to Eisenhower (not that I remember him).

    2. Our beloved Chuck Tingle (odd how many fans he’s gained since his hostile nomination by the RSHD gang, isn’t it?) has weighed in.

    3.Apparently it may be the case that the UK needs the individual permission of Scotland and Northern Ireland (who overwhelmingly voted Remain). If so, the whole thing could be off, and every sensible person in the world would breathe a sigh of relief.

    4. I have absolutely NO sympathy for the numbskulls who voted Leave as a protest, and are shocked, shocked that it won. They’re fucking idiots and deserve to be jeered at wherever they go—except that pissing them off might mean they pitch a similar childish tantrum in the next round (whether it takes the form of a new referendum or a general election).

    5. Ditto for voters who are “tired of listening to experts.” The Leave campaigners have admitted that they lied about a bunch of what they promised ahead of time (not that they admit to admitting it). The experts’ predictions for the initial period have come true in spades. I’d hope that some of the “I’m going to vote based on my feeeeeelings” crowd will grow better sense soon, except that I know people, and it’s more likely they’ll double down.

    6. If US voters don’t take a lesson from this we will, once again, be the Stupidest Country In The World. I’m talking to you, Sanders voters who plan to vote for Trump in the general, because you’re pissed off at not getting your way in the primary (I voted for Bernie in the primary too). I’m talking to you, “it won’t matter anyway” non-voters. I’m talking to you “I hate Trump, but my conscience won’t let me vote for Clinton” voters. Your conscience apparently WILL let you allow the country to slide into ruin, thousands of families to be destroyed, and the country to give up the idea of religious freedom, at least in immigration.

    Sometimes there isn’t a perfectly righteous choice. Adults realize this, and make the least-wrong decision. And despite what you (and most people) believe, passively-bad behavior does not leave you blameless; not voting isn’t any purer than voting wrong. The adult who calmly watches a toddler wander into traffic is guilty of second-degree murder (depraved indifference) in many jurisdictions. “But my conscience won’t let me touch someone else’s child!” will not exonerate them.

  159. Don’t get me wrong I am not looking at anything through rose coloured glasses and I don’t think that the EU is the Ultimate Lawful Good – but it is what we have, and it was ballast for a stable Europe, and I can’t help but see this as throwing a bunch too much sand out of the balloon and we’re off for a pretty high wild and uncontrolled ride now. A few thoughts:

    1) I don’t see how the UK weathers this as the UK. Scotland is gearing up for Independence Referendum #2 and this time they will probably get it. Norther Ireland is eyeing the rest of Ireland proper and figuring out that now might be a good time to get together with the rest of their islans (all the while the rest of the UK is now apparently googling “what is the EU” and “Irish passport”. Well the Irish can get an “irish passport” now. And I can’t see why they wouldn’t. Wales… I think Wales voted out because of an old old grudge against England which they have been nursing ever since the last Llewellyn and the land grab of Edward I, and at some point they’ll thumb their nose at England and break off too. Say goodbye to things like Great Britain and teh United Kingdom I think they’re currently bathed in the rosy light of the sun finally setting over the British empire.

    2) I’m hearing a few people say that the referendum is “non binding” and that Parliament can still veto it. I don’t see how that would work, frankly. The half who voted out aren’t going to take being disenfranchised like this very well and the half that voted to stay in the first place are going to be rightfully disgusted that they were put through this at all. There will be riots in the streets either way. I think they’re stuck with it.

    3) I don’t know how the *EU* will survive this. Already a bunch of countries are apparently eyeing their own referenda. There goes the euro, there goes borderless Europe, we’re back to a dangerous powderkeg, and we all know that both previous world wars started here somewhere. Hello again. But this time we’re way past putting two armies in the field and letting them duke it out between them. This time war is different. It’s fought by insurgency, and in cyberland, and by drone. THis time it’s the civilians who suffer and die. MASSIVELY. I don’t know if our civilisation can weather a world war like this and stay remotely intact.

    Maybe I am overreacting to everything and it’s all going to be oh ho hum situation as usual. But I honestly don’t know how to judge. We’re squarely in thepart of the map where it says “Here Be Dragons”.

  160. I certainly don’t feel hatred for people who voted leave, nor do I demonise them. After all, they believed what they were told about how they would solve all their problems by leaving the EU, and that voting out would result in the UK immediately becoming richer because it wouldn’t have to pay all that money to the EU, and they voted because they thought that would happen.

    And then they woke up to find sterling through the floor, notwithstanding the central banks spending a great deal of money to prop up the pound, foreign investors pulling massive amounts of capital out of the UK which immediately threatens jobs, and leading members of Brexit admitting that all the stuff about putting money into the NHS was ‘a mistake’, and that BRexit wouldn’t reduce immigration anyway.

    Neither Gove nor Johnson has announced any plans at all about what will happen, probably because they haven’t actually got any plans, which again must be difficult for people who voted thinking they would sort it all out. Instead they’ve got the Bank of England pledging to provide $250 billion in cash to try to keep disaster from segueing into catastrophe, and a distinctly unsympathetic rest of the world noting that we did it, and we are going to have to live with it.

    This is a very long way from what they thought would happen, but it underlines the fact that actions have consequences, as Scalzi reminds us. There seem to have been some people voting to leave as a protest vote, thinking that there was no chance of it happening, and it would give the politicians a kicking. Instead it’s the population getting a kicking as our economy crumbles, and we are going to suffer the consequences for many years to come…

  161. Hello
    Do love your writing. Seriously though, I voted out. The EU does all these free publications and I spent about a month going through all before I made my decision.
    UK does 44% of our exports to the EU. We account for 8% of EU total exports. Pro rata that means we spend 5 times more in the EU than the EU spends on us. Germany accounts for 3%. You could say it’s because we are an island but put in trade tariffs and we just go elsewhere.
    Can the EU afford to lose 8% of their total export trade? So, the trade threats would backfire.
    Secondly, we are the third largest population in the EU but if you compare what we pay in with what we get out, we are the biggest funder. Who is going to make up the shortfall?
    The EU creates directives and regulations but it is unregulated and undemocratic. Would the US tolerate 5 presidents, none elected?
    Going from memory here but there were so many things that just made my jaw drop.
    I am pro Europe but anti the EU. It is outdated and reflects an old boys club with so many people getting back handers and no financial regulator governing how much the EU can spend on itself centrally – or how it spends that money.
    Europe is like a class of students who each come from a different background. You need a really good teacher to pull them together and the EU is not that.

  162. Yes Stevie! Too, II like Fran_K’s: “Always vote in every election and don’t try to be clever with your vote.”

    When I’ve read English histories I’ve imagined them normally as bumping around crazily but often ending up in reasonable situations, many times despite original designs. I wonder if this isn’t that latitudinarianism of theirs at work? I’m not condoning idiocy or “clever voting” anywhere, just opining that I hope the luck of those over the Pond can continue.

    But I wonder everywhere, about what I consider Party-Codependency … both in Britain and here (U.S.). Haven’t we had enough stupidity simply because something originates from an “enemy” party? From personal experience I seen Party Hardliners get super complicated as they accuse/defend things, especially in their storytelling of events. Yes, I vote one party almost always, but I still try to view things FIRST ethically, not by party. It seems Hardliners often forego the consideration.

    Fran_K may be right. “Clever” voting for any reason (including Third Party voting?) might become an ultimate stupidity. I can’t believe I’m using Howard Cosell for reasonableness, but he once said that in a boxing match a child often knows who won, despite all the fighting points that experts determine. If you just know your vote, then, maybe you should just do it.

    Point of Order Question: John, would it be possible to have these comments numbered somehow? It’s quiet a read and and can get confusing, knowing where I’ve left off and later want to start back in.

  163. scorpious: “Obama is, by far, the worst president in my lifetime”

    From a purely logical perspective, the only way that can be a true statement is if you are less than 8 years old.

    Although, that might explain some things.

  164. 1) Stop panicing. Panic is the only thing that can cause harm right now, because literally nothing else has happened.

    2) The volatility in the markets is due entirely to the markets guessing wrong on Brexit. If the polls had been 60/40 for Leave heading into this, you wouldn’t have seen the fluctuations that is panicking y’all.

    3) Well done, Britain. The EU has been running roughshod over its members for years, and the exit of the UK will serve as a wakeup call to these guys. That just because they dictate how things will be does not mean people will accept how things will be.

    4) Everyone who has made a blanket statement (looking at you, Charlie Strauss) that everyone for Leave is a bigoted racist should be ashamed of themselves.

  165. @writingmywayoutofdepression
    I’ve seen variations of your reasoning from other Leave supporters and I just don’t get it. How is it that the EU losing the benefits of 8% of its member trade is terrible and massive negotiating leverage, while the U.K. losing 44% of its trade is no big deal with nothing serious to worry about?

  166. If one accepts that the British have the democratic right to vote to leave the EU, logically one must accept the possibility that they may do so.

    As to the consequences, it’s a bit early to play Chicken Little.

  167. Richard Norton

    At the moment we are haemorrhaging money as investors scramble to salvage what they can; the markets and the government are entirely focussed on that. We are getting a lot of help from central banks around the world because they are afraid that we will take everyone down with us, but as I’m sure you realise there is no sympathy whatsoever for what people rightly see as a self inflicted injury.

    We will continue to haemorrhage money in the years to come since the timespan of investments vary, but investors neither forgive nor forget; a politician promising to apologise if he got the finances wrong – Boris Johnson – cuts absolutely no ice with institutional investors.

    This was entirely predictable; the financial media spent the months before the referendum explaining what would happen, which is why the Tory MPs who were so utterly convinced that BRexit was a wonderful idea have since adopted an omertà policy. Even the most mathematically challenged of individuals tends to notice that $250,000,000,000 is rather a lot of money, and there’s no sign of anyone wanting to do anything more than protect their own economies.

    Again, that’s perfectly predictable as well; there’s a very big difference between offering a helping hand to those who unexpectedly get into difficulties through no fault of their own, and those who have completely ignored all the very sensible advice they have been given by people who wish them well.

    All in all, the take away message for US voters is that you are free to ignore reality if you choose, but reality won’t ignore you…

  168. @writingmywayoutofdepression
    “UK does 44% of our exports to the EU. We account for 8% of EU total exports. Pro rata that means we spend 5 times more in the EU than the EU spends on us. Germany accounts for 3%. You could say it’s because we are an island but put in trade tariffs and we just go elsewhere.”

    And yet again I ask where?

    Contrary to what Guess said earlier, the US actually has some fairly hefty tariffs and trade restrictions and Obama has publicly said that the UK negotiating alone goes to the back of the queue. Obama is already fighting to get the TPPA through, nobody (democrat or republican)has the political capital to force through another unplanned trade deal for a good long while.

    The commonwealth countries are all likely to trade but they’ve also been negotiating a complex web of trade agreements with a variety of countries, they’re unlikely to drop those in favour of the UK.

    China will definitely be happy to negotiate but they will hold the upper hand and they will use it (and if you thought the xenophobes hated Europe, just wait til Chinese organisations start buying up huge chunks of farmland from bankrupt farmers).

    The bottom line is that the rest of the world has been playing this game for a long time and the UK is very much out of practice and does not hold the leverage you seem to think it does.

  169. @Ryan H

    I obviously wasn’t clear enough in my criticism of the SNP statistics when I spoke about Scotland.

    The 42% figure is the number quoted by Scottish politicians – but avoids talking about exports from the country of Scotland to the rest of the UK.

    The actual numbers are:
    Scottish exports to the rest of the UK are £48.5bn in 2014, other EU countries £11.6bn, rest of world £15.2bn
    Source http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Economy/Exports/ESSPublication

    In terms of free trade, I expect and hope that the UK can negotiate tariff -free trade with the EU, but I am happy to work within WTO guidelines. However, I don’t trust the Scottish politicians to talk about the real numbers and impacts of an independent Scotland being part of the EU when they’re agitating for a new independence referendum.

  170. @Peter
    “In terms of free trade, I expect and hope that the UK can negotiate tariff -free trade with the EU, but I am happy to work within WTO guidelines”

    Why do you think the EU is likely to negotiate tariff free trade with the UK when they’ve essentially got you over a barrel and have an incentive to make leaving the EU look like an *extremely* unattractive option?

  171. Another contribution to Scalzi’s theme: the most senior British Commissioner in the EU, responsible for financial services, has resigned:

    ‘Conservative peer Lord Hill told the BBC: “When something as huge as the decision in the British referendum takes place, actions have consequences.”‘

    A Commisioner from Latvia has replaced him, though Lord Hill is staying long enough to ease the handover process.

    I appreciate that this will piss off all those who believe that actions do not have consequences, and that anyone suggesting otherwise must be doing so because they hate [insert term of your choice here] but we’re back to that thing called reality.

    As Annamal has noted, facts seem to be distinctly thin on the ground in Writingmywayoutofdepression’s posts; reality is unwelcome there. After all, it might disturb cherished beliefs, and that would never do…

  172. Brexit may seem an odd choice to an outsider, but to many in the UK the EU is a failed abomination, an anti-democratic fat-catocentric monstrosity.

  173. @Martinghoul wrote:

    The statement that the UK necessarily has to abide by EU regulations regarding the free movement of labor if it wants free trade is baseless.

    This was asserted in the John Oliver / Last Week Tonight clip by Dr. Thomas Sampson, prof. of economics at the London School of Economics. FWIW, the exchange went like this:

    Interviewer: ‘Leaving the EU: Does that mean the UK gets control of its borders?”

    Sampson: ‘It could do [sic], if we were to completely cut ourselves off from the rest of Europe. We could certainly choose to end migration from the rest of the EU. But if we want to remain part of the single market, that means accepting free mobility of labour, both into and out of the UK.’

    Oliver: ‘Of course! Because if Britain wants a good trade deal with the EU, it’a probably going to have to abide by most of its rules.’ [Oliver goes on to observe that, by the same logic, British firms wanting to deal with EU entities will still have to contend with EU laws and regulations.]

    You can certainly argue that Prof. Sampson is incorrect on this matter lying squarely within his professional expertise. Personally, I’d bet he’s entirely correct. But time will tell.

    Further to that, I hear rather a lot from Brexit partisans about seeking safe harbour in the ‘Norway Model’. I happen to have been following the Norwegian-language press Jeg er en amerikaner, men familien min var fra Norge. (I’m a Yank, but my family’s from Norway.) This included very skeptical comments from PM Solberg printed in Dagsavisen on referendum day. She said (translating):

    The British won’t like having to go along with EU policy without having any influence over it. And that’s what will happen if the British leave the EU but also want to retain access to its inner market. We’re a small country, not a large empire, with a different sort of faith in ourselves. As a small country, we’re used to others deciding. I’ve already warned British colleagues that they also risk having to abide by EU rules in order to gain market access, without being able to influence those rules any longer if they revoke their EU membership.

    Norway needed the [EU] market access that EØS [the EU agreement giving Norway access to the EEA] gives us, but I have believed all along (since the EØS deal was struck in 1994, when Norwegians last voted to remain outside the EU) that the EØS agreement leaves Norway with a democratic loss.

    The British won’t like the Norwegian model with our EØS agreement. They would go from a situation where you’re part of making decisions, to standing outside and only accepting what the other [member] countries have decided.

  174. @Guess:

    I am not sure why Americans care all that much about the Brexit.

    Among other reasons, some of us have family in, and ties to, Europe. And in some cases, even specifically in Blighty, you know.

    Last time Europe had a major unity problem, the Luftwaffe firebombed my family’s city to a cinder, and our country wasn’t even a combatant. And I do believe that Americans, not just Euro-Americans (alongside our Canadian cousins and many others from around the world), bled for you during said major unity problem. So, you’ll pardon us Americans if we worry just about about pneumonia epidemics, on many of the times when Europe sneezes.

    (Did you know ‘Blighty’ is from Hindi? It’s a corruption of the word for ‘foreign’.)

  175. Comments off for the evening. Back in the morning but there’s a small chance they’ll have timed out (for the semi-hiatus, the message threads close after two days).

    Update: Turned back on but timed out. Sorry!

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