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Dante

Brexit: the fallout

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I realise that this is a bit like shouting into the void, but on the off chance that it might prompt a discussion or if Edric or Wolf drop by to see if there's any word, I thought it behooved me to provide some commentary in this, the place of fencepost-pulling. I loathe the term Brexit, but it's become ubiquitous enough that not to use it seems to be disconnected from the debate.

So the dominant mood among my peers is one of shock. My peers, for background's sake, are mostly between 22 and 35, highly educated and comparatively low-earning (that is, there are few lawyers or dentists but plenty of scriptwriters and museum technicians). We didn't expect the Leave vote to win. And if anything that has been the defining message of the referendum: the UK is united in name only. The division between Leave and Remain was so great that the two barely see each other. I had no idea that the fury felt by working class English was so great, or so misdirected.

There were some correlations. The older the voter, the more likely they were to vote Leave. The lower their level of education, the more likely they were to vote Leave. The more money their area received from the EU, the more likely they were to vote Leave (...). And in a way that makes sense. This was a story of angry, disenfranchised working people ignored or overlooked by an urban elite, an elite who like myself were complacently confident that blame would fall on those who ACTUALLY caused their shitty situation, rather than scapegoating the EU. The only areas in which poorer, less educated people voted in high numbers to Remain were Scotland and London.

This exposes another issue. Though the margin was narrow in places, Scotland's majority was overwhelmingly Remain: the calls for a second independence referendum have been loud and many. For those who voted No last time, the choice is no longer so clear-cut. For those who voted Yes, like myself, Scotland's independence is now no longer a desirable option but an overriding necessity. The England (and Wales) that is emerging from this debacle is not a place we want to be part of. Northern Ireland, for its part, appears Remain-leaning but too divided to take any clear action right now.

And the consequences for the political establishment have been breathtaking. Heads are rolling even now as the two lead parties, Conservatives and Labour, turn on themselves and each other in recrimination and panic. The Prime Minister is resigning, his potential successors are all deeply unpopular, the leader of the opposition is sacking people and facing calls to step down. The SNP are the only one that seems remotely stable or statesmanlike, and they are busily setting out terms for Scotland remaining in the EU, with or without the rest of the UK.

The pound plummeted, the young are furious that the old overrode them, incidences of racism are on the rise, even daesh are celebrating. I like to make jokes about it, but in truth I don't think I've ever actually wished harm upon England or its people, but now I must. The sad fact is that it's not enough that England is likely to suffer, it must suffer. The consequences of this foolish decision need to be dramatic and severe enough to shut down Marine Le Pen in France, Geert Wilders in The Netherlands, et al. The working classes of England and Wales voted against their own best interests and if they do not suffer for it then they will not learn. I am in the privileged position of being able to call this a mitigated disaster: mitigated by the fact that Scotland may be protected from the worst of this by virtue of our already strong independence movement. No such luxury exists for my friends and colleagues in England, and for that I am truly unhappy. But to protect the EU, and in turn combat the rise of proto-fascist movements across the continent, this must serve as an example. The consequences must be a shattering of economic prosperity and indeed national identity.

There is an alternative. The referendum is advisory, not binding. The government could, in theory, choose to ignore the result. The SNP, in theory, could block or veto the necessary legislation to leave the EU, or so they claim. The voices of regret from those who voted Leave and are only now realising the consequences are multifarious. The process of actually leaving the EU, of dealing with rewriting trade deals and laws and borders and dealing with international healthcare and the currency and Scotland and the corporations who will flee as soon as they lose access to the single market... this could yet prove insurmountable to whoever is foolish enough to attempt it (as David Cameron has most decidedly abdicated that responsibility). This could yet turn into a return to the status quo, in which we teetered on the edge of oblivion before finally coming to our senses.

I find it unlikely.

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Only Edric or Wolf? :sad:

 

I had a vote! and I did my duty! but it was not enough :sad:

I try to see a good side: that maybe decentralization is better in some ways.

Yes there are regrets, but there are also celebrations. I'm not sure whether the regrets are significant or just given more media attention.

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I have yet to see anyone celebrating this decision who wasn't either being extremely racist or prefacing every statement with a variation on "I'm not racist, but." It's disgusting.

I note factions in Europe encouraging the UK to hurry up and go if it's going! They have a point, no use dragging this out longer than it has to be. Except the Prime Minister is stalling for time. I'm not sure what he hopes to achieve, but the longer he stays hidden, the longer everyone else has to panic.

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I didn't follow the vote much until the day before.

So why was there a leave Euro vote anyway? The PM actually wanted a vote for it? Who in their right mind would want such a risky vote, one that did not have some sort of 60%+ win factor (instead of barely passing 53% to cause lots of trouble).

Was it the mass immigration problem? If Britain leaves Euro, does that mean immigrants can't go there? The water (Island) will keep them out?

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Weeeellllll, the lead-up to this disaster is kind of a long story, but I'll do my best to summarise.

Prior to the last General Election the situation was this:
Coalition government in charge, Conservative party (right of centre, divided on EU) backed by Liberal democrat party (left-centrist, pro-EU) to hold majority.
Opposition: Labour party (centrist, if one feels generous. Pro-EU, in theory).
Right wing spoiler: UK independence party (UKIP), one-issue demagogues who blame the EU for all the land's woes and have been stealing conservative votes due to a perceived shift to the left on the part of the conservative party on issues such as gay marriage.
Left wing spoiler: the Scottish National Party (SNP), who just lost an independence referendum in Scotland but are nevertheless experiencing unprecedented popularity and support.

UKIP had been arguing for YEARS that Europe took all our money, allowed immigrants in to steal houses, jobs and healthcare, overruled our legal system and forbade our national self-determination. I've ranted about their idiocy here before, they're the kind of troglodytes who want to bring back corporal punishment in schools and "aren't convinced" by evolution by natural selection or global warming. They're also regularly caught being directly racist, rather than just tacitly, but if I have to list all their faults we'll be here all night. As usual in straitened economic circumstances (not just from the 2008 crash - some parts of England have been economically depressed since the 80's. Blame Thatcher), scapegoating became the norm, and as usual it took the form of "people not like us." Distant, detached bureaucrats in Brussells, what could they know about your life, what good could they do for you? Immigrants coming over, taking all the jobs and abusing our generosity, sending all their money back home, scroungers, should be kicked out.

In order to placate the Eurosceptic wing of his own party, and take back some of those UKIP votes, the Prime Minister promised a referendum on membership of the EU. This gamble had just paid off in Scotland, and while pro-EU himself, the PM needed the support of Eurosceptics to maintain party cohesion. I should emphasise: this promise was made to weaken UKIP and strengthen the Conservative party prior to an election, it was a short-term boost in ratings traded against future risk.

 

So the reasons for the referendum are multiple. The Prime Minister needed to boost both his standing within his party and his party's standing nationally. UKIP were tapping into national discontent and turning it towards suitably self-serving targets. Thing is, they knew they couldn't reveal too much to their supporters, because the EU only allows free movement of their own people within the borders of the EU. That is, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Danish, etc, these nationalities can come and work in the UK and vice versa. This does NOT include workers from outside the EU; Chinese, Pakistani, Indian, American, Honduran, Peruvian, etc.

It's late and I'm a bit under the weather, I'm afraid I'm not explaining it very well. My point is that mass immigration wasn't a problem, it was set up to look like a problem by the same kind of people who blamed "the Jews" for losing WW1 and dream of some racially pure society in which children doff their caps and women never need abortions because they don't have sex. Immigration is GOOD for this country, the skills, money and workforce we get far outstrips anything we could manage without them. UKIP were allowed to get away with so much because they're popular, not correct, with the same kind of anti-intellectual Dunning-Kruger effect that's supporting Trump. Or as John Cleese put it, "the trouble with these people is that they're so stupid that they don't realise how stupid they are." And they were allowed to get away with it because nobody thought they would actually win. 50% majority? Sure! They'll be lucky to get 45%.

In summary, how was this allowed to happen? Stupidity from the Brexit side and complacency from everyone else. Be warned.

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From Latvia the vote for the UK to Leave the EU looks very gloomy as well.

The UK was the main Western European partner of the Baltic states and Poland in regards to EU's Russia policy - the French, Italians, etcetera are much softer towards the Russians. Germany is not to be trusted - Merkel is good for us, but we remember Gerhard Schroeder, we see the parties that he attends and the post he holds, courtesy of Gazprom. Frank-Walter Steinmeier is a dove towards Russia, too, calling NATO exercises with less than 10,000 troops in all in Latvia-Lithuania-Estonia a provocation against Russia (which recently announced that it was creating three [!] new divisions on its western borders in addition to the roughly 100,000 troops it already has stationed there).

That is in regards to the security support in the EU's political arena we feel slipping away.

Another thing is the economic and demographic impact this may well have on Latvia, which is a bit more knotty. On the one hand, it won't be so easy for Latvians to hop on a Ryanair flight to go start a new life in the UK. Immigrants may be good for you, but emigrants are bad for us - the overwhelming majority don't come back. So this severing of ties probably isn't going to affect the situation much anyway - Latvians living in the UK will still visit Latvia, send remittances home and so on, but it's not like many were coming back  for good anyway. At the same time, those who are thinking of trying to move back to Latvia will probably choose to stay in the UK for good if they know that they won't be able to come back to the UK easily once you all Leave.

The Latvian forestry and furniture industry exports a lot to the UK - they might get hit if trade goes to shit.

At the same time, I can understand those who voted Leave, especially on the question of immigration. It was probably too much, too fast. Fifty and sixty year olds alive today have seen London go from  86% White British to 45% - that's a massive demographic and ethnic change in the course of a very short period of time. Latvia has experiences with that, as well - more than million Soviet migrants came to Latvia over the course of 45 years, leading to the share of native Latvians dropping from close to 80% to just over 50% country-wide. We're still struggling very much with this legacy of colonialism and forced ethno-linguistic demographic change, and while the UK is undoubtedly in a stronger position to assimilate and integrate migrants, who luckily don't share one general country of origin or common language (and not being occupied by Polish, Romanian, or Pakistani military forces and policed by their secret services and apparatchiks), it must be very uncomfortable for the older generations to see the streets where they grew up changed by people who look, walk, and talk completely differently - who have different shops and different values, some of them completely at odds with British culture.

That's what Ben Judah, a British Jew and journalist, seems to be quite sure of - that the vote was very much about immigration, that the EU and real EU policies were just a formal front.

@Dante - one month on, what is going on? It seems there is no plan still, no idea how to move forward.

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If EU policies were used as a front for anti-immigration rhetoric then anti-immigration rhetoric was used as a front for racism.

To expand: there are people in the UK with... what might in a generous light pass as a good reason to object to immigration. Immigrants aren't the problem, they are an immensely valuable and highly underappreciated part of the workforce. They are however a visible facet of an invisible problem: neoliberalism shattered the British manufacturing sector and the people sent in to pick up the pieces (and fill in the cracks) were often immigrants. It's a bit like blaming dung beetles for a cowpat on your lawn: they didn't cause the mess, they're just working in it.
This sense that immigrants were "taking all our jobs" was grabbed, fanned and ruthlessly exploited by people with a political axe to grind (Boris Johnson), racist nutjobs (Britain First and like organisations) and people who are both (Nigel Farage). I don't want to go into all the gritty details, so long story short, "immigration" became a codeword to mean all sorts of disgusting things. Criminal, violent, terrorist, rapist, dangerous, mercenary, freeloading. Once you've convinced someone that a group of people is to blame for one problem (lack of jobs) it becomes a great deal easier to persuade them that this group is responsible for all sorts of other problems. Saying "if we restrict immigration, terrorists will have a harder time getting in" not only denies the fact that British citizens have been terrorists in the past, but implies that anyone who isn't British could be a terrorist. It's a slippery slope.

I have no sympathy for people who mourn for the days when they never had to hear a language they didn't understand or talk to a brown person. Some of them might, on a good day, actually be resentful that they don't have a good job and are blaming the people who do. But the vast majority are using job concerns as a cover for rampant jingoism, and a sizable minority of those are using THAT as a cover for outright racism. It's not pretty, but racially biased crimes are still rising here.

That's the situation, one month on. The new Prime Minister is "negotiating" while everyone she might be negotiating with insists that she isn't. The economy and currency are both, as far as I know, in shambles, UK scientists (the group I'm most in tune with, though that barely) are already facing blocks to EU participation and funding due to uncertainty about the future, a situation likely mirrored in other industries. Things have calmed down, you'd never know what was going on if you looked out the window. But this isn't over yet. Calls to do another referendum have been refused, calls to start the split immediately have also been refused. Everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

My personal suspicion, and I should emphasise that I have no evidence to back this up, is that the new PM is playing for time and will continue to do so for as long as she is able. Someone with a plan would surely have made some sort of public indication as to what it is by now. The Scottish government, meanwhile, is actively promoting a strongly immigrant-positive agenda and being as pro-EU and generally internationalist as it can. While London prevaricates, Edinburgh is gleefully turning up the volume on its thinly-veiled push for continued EU membership, with or without the rest of the UK.

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I think there shouldn't be space in EU for countries that don't use the same currency. Of course some countries are speding like retarded (expecially Italy since they put  on charge godfather Draghi that prints euros like a crazy to cover the fact that every single year Italy makes at least 200 billions more of debt) but it is a flaw of democracy, but if you are outside my family you can't decide how to spend my money while you have a separate wallet that I can't touch.

 

 

About immigration I think that very few countries have an even remotely decent plan. USA for example is absorbing a lot of italian university researchers, and they despise italian dishwashers even if they are still allowed to settle there. A person with an ID that is invalid for leave the country (we have many here, expecially among people affiliated with mafia) can't enter in USA.

There are 3 ways to reach Europe. Legal, semilegal and illegal. The legal way is very difficult because usually you need a job. The semilegal is the simplest and the cheapest: you come as a tourist and you "disappear" after your permition (spelling?) is expired. The illegal is the hardest and the most expensive, you will use only if you are wealthy (or someone else paid for you) and if you haven't any legal way to leave your country.

What to think about someone that pay 10X and risk his life more for leaving the democratic Bangladesh? Or he is a wealthy gangster/terrorist or some european gangster paid for him for some reason that could be merely take money from the state (a tourist get 0 euro, an illegal get 40 euros for day.....in theory....in truth the illegal will get 5 euros and the rest to the "intermediary") or even make the poor guy an organ donor.

Also Nigeria. OMG I am fleeing from Boko Haram. Well the nigerian government won't put you in jail if you are a Boko Hara victim. You can leave Nigeria. You can't if you are in league with Boko Haram and in that case you will surely need to pay a lot of money to leave unseen.

And Gambia. My favourite case. Gambian people are true political refugees because gambian government is a real dictatorship. Now how Europe is helping gambians? Gambia is big and populated as Slovenia (little less than 2 millions) but there are 100k refugees! 1/20 of the inhabitants is a refugee! That would be just a tragedy if the country was like Eritrea were the % of armed people is huge. Now how many soldiers are keeping together Gambia's dictatorship? 800! Less than Bahamas army! Just imagine what could achieve 100k gambians if you give them an AK-47 and send them home instead of keeping them in a CAGE for years (I can assure that many immigrants prefer to settle near a river even in Winter rather than spending time in places that are supposed to make them confortable) to fat some politicians!

 

So we have

1)Brain allergy. Italy is exporting brains. But it is not just this. If an african engineer that knows 10 languages included the italian comes here as a refugee he will be forced to go in special schools suited for kids to be reeducataed.

2)Too simpathy with some dictatorship: you Gambia have a problem with some people? Don't worry we will welcome here....and they will never come back to you.

3)The opposite of 2. Are you quarreling with a country? Support their scum them! That is quite common....this guy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesare_Battisti_(born_1954) is a political refugee and ON THE PAPER he is sadly just like any woman that is trying to avoid to be stoned in Saudi Arabia!

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Just catching up on old topics. Most surveys I've seen showed that immigration wasn't the overriding concern of people voting to leave - certainly wasn't a factor in my vote to leave. 

For me it came down to the fact that the EU is beyond any meaningful reform because there is so much self-interest within the EU bureaucracy to maintain the status quo. Whilst an ever closer union may be preferable and desirable for some countries, it won't work for all 28 which is what we've seen over the last few years, leading to huge levels of unemployment in certain €Z countries. If you think we're making a mess of Brexit, just watch what happens when they try to plug the gap of our contributions. EU is heading for a massive fall unless it can start reforming and allow countries like UK (amongst others) to have looser relationships with it rather than force everyone down the same path. 

In essence, I support free trade and open borders, not endless bureaucracy, harmonised taxation, and a unified military. 

Oh and Dante, John Cleese voted for Brexit I believe 😉

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