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June 25th 2016 print

Peter Smith

The Brexit Battle Is Far From Won

The longer the process is dragged out, the more the plebiscite's result will be re-cast in whatever nuanced perspective best suits the political elite.  'Leave' is going to mean whatever they succeed in making it mean. Those who led the campaign have most of the work still to do

dragging hands III don’t want to be a party-pooper but the celebrations have to be kept short. What does this mean? It means that the Brexit vote, far from necessarily being “seismic” in its implications (the favoured description, so far as I can tell) could, potentially, become a damp squib. The political elite have already started to backslide. My fear is that a formula will be found which will pay only lip service to the Leave campaign victory.

The likes of UKIP’s Nigel Farage will not call the tune. The likes of longstanding Euro-sceptic Daniel Hannan will. He already has the exit process elongated. He conceives of an agreement which will preserve the common market for goods allied with free movement of labour. By the latter he means the free movement of people who can show they have jobs waiting; but, if that is your opening gambit, it doesn’t take much imagination to see where negotiations will end up. Listening to him, when frequently interviewed on the BBC, brought the Stockholm syndrome to fresh life in my mind.

One conservative chap, with a polished accent, whose name escapes me, said that he thought a general election should be called and that it would be perfectly proper if a party sought a mandate to stay in the EC. When you think you have heard it all, listen to an English public school old boy and no longer wonder why working people in Burnley, Bolton and Bradford feel betrayed.

The problem is not just that a large majority of parliamentarians favour staying in; it is that the popular vote was close. The 52% of those who voted to leave was far short of the two-thirds who voted for staying in the EU in 1975. The mandate for resolute action is far thinner and boon for those who believe they know better than do common folk. A further complication is the strong vote in Scotland (62%) to stay and in Northern Ireland (56%). And more complicated still is the gulf between younger and older voters. According to the BBC, 73% of those aged from 18 to 25 voted to stay.

I heard one younger commentator say that she thought that older people had been selfish. This prompted historian David Starkey to ask whether she thought there should be an upper age limit on voter eligibility. My own view is that people younger than 25, whose brains are still developing, should be excluded from voting. But this is regarded as an eccentric view by most so I better keep quiet about it.

Though Michael Gove (Lord Chancellor) is in the frame and maybe others, it seems likely that Boris Johnson will be the next Prime Minister. It is worth comparing a snippet of his take on the result with that of Nigel Farage. Farage referred to a conversation he’d had with a woman in Burney who had held his arm and pleaded with him to help take her country back. Underlying the concern among common folk is immigration which is now running at a net 330,000 per year. Becoming as strangers in your own land and having to wait longer for basic services, like seeing a doctor, is far from the everyday experience of Old Etonian Johnson and  fellow Old Etonian Cameron. It shows.

Johnson said he wanted an immigration policy which is “non-discriminatory” (eh?), “fair and balanced.” And he wants this, as he said, “to take the wind out of the sails of the extremists and those who would play politics with our immigration.” Does he also want this to preserve the cultural integrity and social harmony of the UK?  Well, clearly, this was not uppermost in his mind or he would have said so.

In short, as a Brexit supporter, albeit from a distance, I have no confidence that the wishes of British voters will be carried out. And the longer the process is dragged out, the more the referendum result will be put into a nuanced perspective to suit the views of the political elite.  Leave just isn’t going to mean leave; it’s going to mean whatever the elite says it means. Those who led the Leave campaign have most of the work still to do. Let’s hope that they appreciate the long road ahead

It would help if exit movements in France and in Holland and in other European countries gather pace and prevail through popular votes. A disintegrating EU would be far easier for the UK to leave behind and a lot harder for the Scots and Northern Irish to embrace. The UK’s eventually landing place might depend on the success or otherwise of Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders and others in Europe who would like to see their national sovereignty restored.

 

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [11]

  1. Bran Dee says:

    One could not but notice that the euphoria of the Brexit advocates contrasted with the glum expressions of the doomsaying media reporting types who are so often of the groupie disposition who naturally support anything such as a bureaucratic EU [and a BBC and an ABC]. It needs Nigel Farage and Ukip to continue talking up the great advantages of an independent Britain. As Peter Smith says Brexit will be expedited if this plebiscite is followed in Europe by a Fexit and a Hexit; and then if Sweden does it in Scandinavian style: a Sexit.

  2. Trevor Bailey says:

    Thank you, Peter Smith. After the euphoria of yesterday, your article was the cold shower I had not taken since listening 2 weeks ago to Peter Hitchens on YouTube, where he said similar things. Hitchens added that Johnson had always been a Europhile; that ‘The Conservative Party’ had for years been a misnomer; that, like Ireland, where the EU gets a tiresome vote from the people it will re-administer the election process until they get the answer they want; that there are simply TOO many clever and ambitious people set to lose money & opportunities should the transnational progressives abide by the popular will. To add to the pile of misery, he reiterated his belief that England was dead, in any case, for reasons that echoed the conclusions of Sir Roger Scruton in ‘England: An Elegy’…published 16 years ago!

    Perhaps a Jewish adage should be the last word: ‘Make God laugh by telling him your plans.’

  3. en passant says:

    Peter,
    You are so right in your assessment as within 24-hours the following rebellions to the will of the people have broken out:

    1. 700,000 ‘Remain in Bondage’ losers have signed a petition calling for a second vote because:
    a. Only 72% of the registered voters voted – the highest turnout ever. However the losers claim that with less than a 75% turnout the vote is not binding. This should vacate every seat in Parliament, so that could be a win.
    b. 52% is not 60%, which they claim is the minimum required for a mandate to leave the EU.
    Some new rules invented yesterday, but a typical approach by the washed when their views are not shared by the ghastly, ignorant, unwashed voters.

    2. President ‘Napoleon’ Junckers has announced that the UK will ‘suffer for its decision’ in trade, finance, travel and influence. Arrogant little man and hopefully one who has now stirred the bulldog.

    3. The Northern Barbarians want a second referendum to gain their ‘freedom’ so they can sell their country back into bondage for the second time. The first was in 1707.

    As I used the say when Alex Salmond was First Minister ‘The fish first rots from the head’. I can keep saying it as the First Fool is now Nicola Sturgeon. Well, let them go as Scotland is a mendicant state that draws more from the UK than it contributes.

    This SEXIT from the UK will save England and Wales several £Bn. The UK also pays into the EU £20Bn and recoups £10Bn, so by ‘letting my people go’ the diminished UK is about £13Bn in front to spend on rebuilding Hadrian’s Wall and laying minefields to keep the starving Scots out. This impoverishment is a certainty as Spain has already announced that it will veto ant Scottish entry into the EU as it is already facing calls for referendums on Basque and Catalan independence.

    I have called on the Oz Government to draw up another ‘Sovereign Borders, Plan B’ to stop fleeing Britons from entering Oz as the ones who would try to come here are culturally inferior, socially dependent nanny-statists – not our sort of people at all. We plugged our borders 4-years ago, but we cannot afford to let our guard down now that millions of useless mouths will seek to come.

    4. Just like Herr Junckers the English should place prohibitive tariffs on all Scottish products (Chinee Whiskey is not that bad if you drink it with garlic oil). Tit for tat sounds fair.

    5. 96% of Gibraltars voted to stay in the EU, so as most cross the border every day to work in Spain there can be a second big diplomatic win here. Give Gibraltar back to Spain. The people voted for it. As a precaution, better send a few riot police to calm them when the implications of what they have done bear fruit. Actually, send many riot police.

    6. Prezzie O’Barmy’s political Newspeak was a wonder to watch. He said “I must respect the choice of the British people in their wish to leave the EU. However, I meant what I said in April so it also means that in trade deals the UK goes to the back of the queue.” Amazing! Speaking from every orifice at the same time!

    7. On ABC radio on my way home tonight, Electricity Bill said that Mal should resign because, like Cameron, he leads a divided party. This is a flight of the imagination that beats anything Hawking or Einstein grappled with. Bill has obviously forgotten that large sections of his MP’s and candidates oppose his immigration policies (to be changed after the election once he is elected).

    7. His other psychotic episode was stating about 30-seconds later that the Parliament should just approve same-sex marriage as a plebiscite was ‘too risky’. We have been told that the result is a shoe-in, but Little Bill apparently thinks that the unexpected vote of the majority of plebs in the UK for other than servitude may be repeated in a plebiscite here. How dreadful it would be if the simple folk expressed incorrect thoughts in a polling booth. However, he has a point as I saw a recent survey that said only 36% of plebs supported S-S marriage.

    As a result of voting for Liberty, Little Britain now has a chance to be Great again, rather than a ‘Little’ cog in a big unaccountable machine. However, there are consequences.

    Let me predict that the economy will be hit and decline due to some ‘deliberately placed obstacles’ and that for the next two years life will get worse.

    All revolutions do this for a while as President Junckers and the others will seek to revenge themselves on the ghastly British voters who want to escape from their Brave New World. ALL changes usually initially make things worse before they get better. Upgrade to Windows-10 and you will see what I mean. The quicker people get over it, accept the challenge and get on with it the better off the UK will be. The best revenge is to give the Scots and the EU everything they wish for as it will hurt them more than the UK.

    I note that the Pound has already crashed 30%. This is excellent as the cost of British exports will be cheaper and holidays in Blackpool will be all the rage again. The EU tourist trade collapses and thousands in the EU will realise the cost of revenge affects them. The British economy will not take long to recover and soon the UK may be as rich as Norway & Switzerland and as independent as Iceland.

    The National Review editorial (extracted from Quadrant Online yesterday) stated in part three instances that show why the EU monster must go.

    “National Review:
    Not coincidentally, their new government is one they can’t vote out. The European Commission, which has a virtual monopoly on proposing European legislation, never submits itself to elections. It is an appointed body of unknown bureaucrats and failed national politicians.
    Nor can British, French, or German [national] parliaments reject or amend the Commission’s laws and regulations or the European court’s decisions.
    Nor can their voters repeal them. European law is superior to what are still quaintly called “national laws.” And if a national referendum (one of the few escape hatches in this panopticon) rejects a European decision, the voters are asked to vote again until they get it right. In short the EU’s defenses against democratic accountability are pretty watertight.
    Today, by a slim but emphatic margin and in direct contradiction of the polls and punditry, that watertight bulkhead collapsed.”

    Exiting the EU is not the end, but the beginning of a new era with the additional benefit of getting rid of the snotty Cameron.

    Congratulations to the UK voters (less the barbarians)!

    Finally, I have noted that the chill winds of BREXIT are already taking effect as less than 12-hours after the results were declared. Global Warming is no more as we had sleet in Melbourne and the lowest June day evaaaaaaa with a temperature of just 4°C and 2°C forecast tonight. Fortunately, we do have our own warmist BoM which in a couple of days, after homogenisation and valid statistical adjustments (probably using differential equations) will declare that this June was the warmest June evaaaa recorded. They managed it in April and May, so they have the methodology down to a fine art so I have no doubt they are up to the task.

    • LBLoveday says:

      “Well, let them go as Scotland is a mendicant state that draws more from the UK than it contributes.”

      Yes, but where will the submarines, the van of the UK’s nuclear deterrent be parked?

      • mct says:

        My guess is that they would be parked right where they are now. If the US can rent part of Cuba, I hardly think England renting a wee slice of Scotland (in actual money, of which the Scots have little) would be a problem.

    • Warty says:

      Your comment ‘However, he has a point as I saw a recent survey that said only 36% of plebs supported S-S marriage’ reminds me of a recent plebiscite called ‘Brexit’, where all the pundits, most of the establishment and all the equivalents to our Greens, forecasted a resounding ‘remain’ win. I suspect Middle Australia hasn’t kept up with the debate as to how liberating Same Sex Marriage will be for all of us.

  4. ianl says:

    I suspect Peter Smith is accurate enough in his fear of the ability of politicians to dilute the Brexit result.

    Already Frau Merkel is saying that the UK should accept “associated country” status (whatever that will be defined as). The comment on this is that apparently it will still require the UK, if it accepts this “status”, to continue monetary payment to Brussels.

    These vanity-fair buffoons just never give up trying for OPM.

    • Jody says:

      I’m rather disturbed by what I’ve read here, particularly about a petition and any ‘dilution’ of Brexit.

      Frau Merkel is nothing, if not predictable. I heard an elderly man interviewed on radio earlier today. He said his friends didn’t die in WW2 for him now to have to be dictated to by Germans. You can perfectly understand the sentiment there, particularly if you’ve put your own life on the line for your country.

      The primeval yawps we are hearing now are those of the elite who’ve had their precious born to rule mentality threatened. And I am not one but deluded about the extent of authoritarian to which these same people will resort to get their own way. A very frightening space to watch, I’m afraid.

      • Warty says:

        The petition, Jody, is simply sour grapes from the largely (London and Edinburgh young punks). Apart from the migratory business centre, London, particularly the East End, became so overwhelmed by immigrants they are now immigrant, so damn right they voted more immigrants (I mean ‘Stay’).
        Yesterday’s largely satirical article in the Australian ‘The wrinklies have well and truly stitched us up’ nevertheless touches on a raw nerve: voting demographics and the arrogance of those who think that only the young and the (supposedly) well educated have a sole right to vote. The arrogant demand for a new plebiscite shows little understanding of the tsunami that underscored the Brexit vote. The 52%-48%, young-old, establishment-pleb divide hasn’t disappeared, it has simply been revealed, and whether or not England leaves or remains (which, I must add, is no longer in doubt) will still be rancouring away. As so many commentators, over there and here in Aus, have indicated, that rancour is made of the same recipe that motivates the Trump supporters and creates the corresponding sour grapes in the Bernie supporters who do all they can to disrupt something they don’t fully understand.
        The ‘stay’ campaign was largely driven by fear: fear of the unknown, fear of economic down-turn, fear of anti-immigration sentiments, fear of regaining responsibility through self-government.
        If they need help in restoring a Common Law based legal systems, after losing all those musty volumes of legal precedents, then they only have to ask us for a bit of help: we can train them up again.
        There is more to the ‘wrinklies’ than immediately meets the eye. I know Peter Smith has been a little negative in parts of his article, but the future is bright.

  5. DRW says:

    The Europeans will have to get used to eating cake.