Friday, July 01, 2016

Brexit Vote II

     The fallout continues pretty well as I expected.

      Harassment of immigrants has escalated. The Leavers expect things to get “back to normal”, to quote a woman interviewed by BBC. A young man in Leeds said he expected the immigrants to leave right now. The spin doctors are downplaying the racism in the anti-immigration sentiments, but it’s pretty obvious that race is the reason many Leavers want the immigrants out.
     The leaders of the Leave side always knew that they wouldn’t be able to deliver what they promised. Farage has already said that his claim that 350 pounds going to Brussels every week could be redirected to the National Health Service was “a mistake”. In one interview, he even denied making that claim. BBC News showed a photo of a bus plastered with that claim.
     Boris Johnson has stood down from running for Prime Minister. This supports my suspicion that his support for Leave was entirely a matter of rivalry with David Cameron. I don’t think he expected Leave to win, but hoped to get a strong enough vote that he could challenge Cameron. With a Leave win, he would have to negotiate the terms of leaving. The Europeans have made it quite clear that the best Britain could hope for would be a Norway deal: Accept the obligations of being in the EU in order to get the rights, except the most important one, which is having a say in how it’s run.

     What’s the likely future? A realisation by the Leavers that they can’t have what they thought they would get: jobs, security, control over the borders, well-funded public services, etc. As this realisation grows, “political unrest” will increase. It’s only a matter of time before a Leaver kills an immigrant. There will be a general election. It will be one of the nastiest ever in the UK.
     Northern Ireland will have to reconcile its desire to be British with the reality of losing access to Europe. I think the odds that they will want to join the Irish Republic will increase as that sinks in.
Scotland will play it both ways: try to block the exit, and separate from the UK. For them, it’s a win either way.
     If the Conservatives can get away from their stupid personal rivalries, they could use Scottish intransigence as an excuse to ignore the Leave vote in order to keep Britain united. But I’m not holding my breath on that one. This whole mess came about because of personal rivalries. Cameron wanted to keep the premiership, and offered the referendum to get enough votes to keep it. Johnson and others saw it as a wedge they could use to replace Cameron. None of them, I think, thought the vote could be close. If they had, they would have ensured a super-majority clause (60% or more) in the referendum rules.

     A few commentators have suggested that the Leave vote was as much an anti-government vote as an anti-Europe vote. The government, with the slobbering assistance of the tabloids, has used Europe as convenient whipping boy to explain and excuse the austerity programs they’ve imposed on Britain. Privatisation all over the place, an ill-disguised shift towards becoming a tax-haven, corruption on a scale not seen since the late 1700s, greed, contempt for the working people, all these things played into the Leave vote.

     For the time being, if you have money in Britain, get it out before the pound falls even further.

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