A Stab in the Back: Brexit

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Samizdata brings us “this twitter thread from Matthew Goodwin.”

One critical point about vote for #Brexit is that it marked the first moment when a majority of British people formally asked for something that a majority of their elected representatives did not want to give. It was always destined to lead us here

Contrary to popular claims, we now know from a dozen + studies that Leavers knew what they were voting for. They had a clear sense about how they wanted to change the settlement; they wanted powers returned from the EU & to slow the pace of immigration

We also know that for large chunks of the Leave electorate this vote -a rejection of the status quo- was anchored in high levels of political distrust, exasperation with an unfair economic settlement & a strong desire to be heard & respected

I do not think that it is hard to imagine what could happen if Brexit is delayed, taken off the shelf altogether or evolves into a second referendum that offers Remain vs May’s deal, which Leavers would view as an illegitimate ‘democratic’ exercise

We have evidence. (1) Professor Lauren McLaren has already shown that even before the first referendum people who wanted to reform the existing settlement but who felt politicians were unresponsive became significantly more distrustful of the entire political system

(2) Professor Oliver Heath (& others) have found that as British politics gradually converged on the middle-class at the expense of the working-class the latter gradually withdrew from politics, hunkering down and becoming more apathetic

This is partly why the first referendum was so important, where we saw surprisingly high rates of turnout in blue-collar seats. Because for the first time in years many of these voters felt that they could, finally, bring about change.

And we’d already seen an alliance between middle-class conservatives and blue-collar workers to try and bring about this change when they decamped from mainstream politics in 2012-2015 to vote for a populist outsider

So I think that we do know what the effects of a long/indefinite delay to Brexit, or taking it off the table altogether, will be. Either we will see a return to apathy & ever-rising levels of distrust which will erode our democracy and the social contract from below, or …

Another populist backlash, anchored in the same alliance of disillusioned Tories & angry workers who -as we’ve learned- are very unlikely to just walk quietly into the night. If anything, this will just exacerbate the deeper currents we discuss here

More on that thought later. But yes, this is very close to what I am hearing, almost entirely Brexiteer. Over at Law and Liberty, Samuel Gregg takes a close look at the politics involved and such.

That, however, is not how most of the British political class sees Brexit. As in the lead-up to the referendum, gloom-and-doom is being voiced from across the political spectrum at Westminster. This owes something to the fact that Prime Minister Theresa May’s tenuous hold on the House of Commons—not to mention her own Tory party—means that her government has to negotiate with multiple groups with wildly divergent views of what Brexit should be or if it should even occur. To say that this process has not been going well is an understatement. It’s further complicated by the fact that many government ministers and MPs from all parties, the majority of the civil service and large segments of the press opposed Brexit, have never accepted the referendum result, and resent the entire exercise.

Keep reading but my take is that Britain has the same problem that we do, the bureaucracy has revolted and taken over the joint with the acquiescence (often verging on outright support) of the legislators themselves. The voters no longer matter to many of these.

Dan Mitchell tells us that economically a Hard (I actually prefer WTO) Brexit will be far more beneficial to Britain than any deal, let alone the travesty of May’s withdrawal agreement. He’s right and he’s also where we found the picture that leads this article. More sense and more cartoons in the article.

My views on Brexit haven’t changed since I wrote “The Economic Case for Brexit” back in 2016.

It’s a simple issue of what route is most likely to produce prosperity for the people of the United Kingdom. And that means escaping the dirigiste grasp of the European Union.

And finally, Mark America takes a look at the Brexit situation noted in our first link, in an American historical context.  His conclusion is the same as mine.

What happens when a referendum is held, but three years later, the government responsible for enacting the results of the referendum has failed to comply?  We’re about to learn the answer to that question, as the people of the UK have been betrayed by their government.  The people voted for “Brexit” very nearly three years ago.  Their government promised to carry out their wishes.  They wanted to leave the European Union.  Instead, rather than accede to the lawful demands of the people, the government has conspired to ignore those results, spending most of the intervening time trying to re-litigate the case in order to convince the public that it should not “Brexit.”  At this point, given this coup d’etatagainst the rule of law, the people of the UK would be justified in any action undertaken to forcibly remove the current government, cast off the parliament, and reform government anew.

Keep reading, he makes the case as well as anyone I’ve read. Well, except this guy:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

With his pen, Thomas Jefferson that day secured for America the support of about a third of Britain’s population. And now again, those same words call Britain itself, to hold itself to the higher standard that the English speaking world has always embraced. Will they? That is up to them. Remaining free, whatever the cost, is a judgment each of us must make for ourselves. But, I know what my decision would be. We shall see what sounds the Gales of April bring to our ears.

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5 Responses to A Stab in the Back: Brexit

  1. the unit says:

    I’m not experienced with anyway, however Brits do their doings, running the gov and such.
    But in ’16 I took a bit of interest in following this before the vote (from reading here).
    Seems I remember Brits in their recent history, of maybe 60 or a hundred years, have voted by a referendum maybe only once or twice (this one the twice), before an actual law was passed.
    The vote later on an already passed law was just a poll, seems to me.
    Anything voted on later was just a …do you like it? If you don’t …well, you know the acronym.
    Also what I read then said the government was never subject to/or required to follow intent of voters, maybe precedent would say … acronym again. 🙂
    Yeah, I know we discussed this before…b,b,b,but, but, but…they promised this time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Normally, I THINK they are essentially advisory, but here’s another factor, before the vote, the PM Cameron, said the government would do whatever the people said. Of course, when he lost (he wasn’t a good enough fixer, it seems) he ran away, and May wriggled her way into office, but it was not an election. Two years ago parliament passed (and the Queen assented) to the invocation of article 50 (the official withdrawal) effective at 2300 this March 29 th, and that is the law. Now Parliament has extended this, asd suspicion reigns that it will be extended ad infinitum. They kick cans with the best of ’em. Meanwhile parliament has lost the confidence of a large share of the population, and their deep state (which May seems to rely on) is even more at odds with the people than ours is.

      Clear as mud, right. I don’t know what is going to happen, but she’s made one hell of a mess. One of the kinder things she has been called lately amongst my friends is “Traitor’. And they are not kidding about it. If it were up to them she’d likely get a haircut.

      This must have been how the were just before Dunkirk, mad as hell, but a bit short of ideas what to do about it.

      Liked by 2 people

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