Brexit 

It’s time for a Friday Reads post – and I have a whole one planned on a book about the history of the middle east. 

But I can’t bring myself to finish it, to think about other politics outside what just happened in the UK.

We just voted to leave the EU. We voted to leave by a small margin – 51.9% of the vote – but we voted to leave. I will never criticise anyone exercising their democratic right to vote. But I can and will criticise the result. The Leave campaign was based on lies. Lies that Turkey was just about to join the EU, leading to millions more migrants (they are decades away, if ever). Lies that we can negotiate whatever we want with the EU (we can try, but their aim will be to dissuade other countries from doing the same). Lies that £350bn will be saved and all of this money can go on the NHS. Even Nigel Farage, one of the leaders of the Leave campaign, admitted after the vote that this was untrue and could never happen.

I am devastated. I don’t mean that lightly. You vote in an election that doesn’t go your way and you know it could change in a few years time. This won’t. Scotland, Northern Ireland and London voted strongly to remain, the rest of the UK voted to leave. It is almost definite that Scotland will end up leaving the UK as a result. There will be an Irish reunification vote. England will be left smaller, poorer, and weaker. 

And the people that will have to live with the decision are those who voted to remain – under 25s voted 75% to remain whereas over 65s voted 61% to leave. It becomes even starker when you break the ages down more.

Can’t figure out how to end this. I’m exhausted. Its probably good for my career in the short term as I’ve been advising on potential Brexit for the last few months. Its bad for my company overall as we have already had a huge number of the transactions we were working on cancelled. There are rumours of huge job losses and redundancies all over the City. House prices will fall – bad when I’m in the process of selling my flat. On the other hand, I can’t lose my pension as I don’t have one. 

On an entirely ideological level – there are problems with the EU. But I feel European, I live in this wonderful city which I love so much and it is so prosperous and popular and great because of the EU – and we overwhelmingly voted to Remain. I feel so so sad that we have made this momentous decision today that will change all our lives.

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10 comments

  1. Just being from the US and all, it sounded like much of the campaign to stay was based on even greater lies than that of the leave crowd. Also, the youngsters typically vote ignorantly because they don’t know any better… just in those terms alone I’d rather vote with the adults. Kids are typically gullible enough to believe anything as long as there’s a handout attached.

    Maybe our kids over here are dumber, but they voted for Bernie Sanders by those same margins so it appears not.

    • I’m afraid not – the campaign to Remain was not great and was full of exaggeration, taking the worst case scenario and presenting it as fact. But I had to advise on the possible consequences of Brexit from a neutral standpoint as part of my job and it is completely untrue that Remain was based on lies. I’d be interested to know what lies the American media were suggesting?

      I could list and list the Leave lies but the biggest was that EU membership costs £350m and all this money would go to the NHS. It was on buses, it was a key part of the campaign, and just a few hours after they won the vote they came out and said actually that wasn’t possible and couldn’t happen.

      Plus – the statistics I chose were from the far ends of the spectrum. Over 50% of under 50s voted to Remain. I don’t think a 49 year old would class themselves as a “kid”!!!

      • Interesting! Then it’ll just be your independence then… Though I do wonder how much the UK had to give to the UK for the bureaucracy. Bureaucracies aren’t cheap and yours is one of the wealthier member countries, I’m certain you were footing a hefty portion of the bill… all so they could pass down regulations on how a restaurant should serve olive oil. Mmmm, sounds like New York to me, where the politicians can get their prostitutes but no salt on their fries (you call them chips).

        The American media were, as one could imagine, were split. We had president Obama’s camp who think you should take burdensome regulation laying down. Most career bureaucrats who believe politicians are the answer to a question, do.

        I, on the other hand, have a different opinion of politicians. I rank them with… well, let’s just say politician is the second oldest profession. Bureaucrats are the third. I believe bureaucracies, governments and politicians are the very definition of “necessary evil”. They should be treated like one would a dog that likes to stray… Kept on a very short leash. Or possibly kept in a cage.

        In the name of making everyone’s life “better”, politicians will come up with rules to effectively turn people into sheep. Bureaucrats seek to enervate the very people they seek to keep happy, so they won’t quite fight back. I don’t know, I remember reading something like that, ironically written by a French guy, a while back after visiting America.

        Finally, if 75% of the kids vote for something, you can bet they have no clue what it will cost them. You can also bet that they’re wrong. And that they’re voting for free stuff over freedom. I don’t want to be on that side. Ever.

      • But what were the lies the American media said the Remain camp were saying?

        One of the big problems with the EU is the bureaucracy. Yep, true. Its expensive, it’s burdensome, its slow. Not disagreeing on that. Problem with the regulations is that companies who want to trade with the EU (which many of our companies do) will still have to abide by those regulations, and we will no longer have a say in what those regulations are. For companies who don’t trade into the EU, they may end up with less regulation. But that won’t be for a long time as the UK gov has some quite serious fundamental things to be dealing with now before they turn to amending laws on regulations.

        But the key issue for me is the economy and it was widely agreed that Brexit would seriously damage our economy in the long run. Brexiteers will be dead long before the whole thing is sorted out.

        And re your last point, do you mean that if 75% of the young want something, it is wrong regardless of what the rest of the population want? Even if the rest of the people also wanted it, you wouldn’t trust it? Seems to me that basically people with jobs, mortgages and young families, and those that wanted those things in the future voted to Remain, but retired people who owned their own home voted Out.

      • Okay, I haven’t heard anything much beyond some liberal actresses saying the world would end (Helena Bonham Carter, etc.). The remain camp is the “we know better than you so you need us to lead you” liberal establishment… the bureaucrats. Now, whatever the scheme, the libs didn’t just come out and say, “Hey, vote to remain in the EU so we can continue to micro-regulate you into frustrated capitulation or death. Whichever comes first”. That is honesty. That is not lying.

        I can say this with utter certainty though. As little as I know about this, if you say you had to cover this from a neutral standpoint and one side lied while the other was honest, and the side that lied wasn’t the bureaucratic regime, well, something stinks in Denmark.

        You’ve been in the EU for a whole sixteen years, you’ll do just fine without that regulatory monster around your neck. Indeed, the Founders of this country said the EXACT same thing when we broke ties 240 years ago. And there was a “Remain” camp who said exactly what you’re saying.

        Regarding my last point, about the youngins, what I wrote, specifically, is that the young are too stupid to know the ramifications tied to the free stuff they want. The price for free crap is more government, more regulation and less freedom. Always.

        It’s the whole “freedom vs. socialism” argument, all over again. Kids love socialism because they’re too stupid to learn that it’s never worked, in the History of the world. Not once. The end result is always Venezuela. So, until they get a little test of how the real world works, without mommy and daddy to make the boo-boos better, I will view what they want as almost always disastrously naive.

        That said, 52% of your population is not “retired people who own their own home”. I think you’re leaving out a constituency group or two maybe.

        I look at freedom from government the same way liberals look at freedom from religion. That’d be a pretty succinct way to describe me.

      • No of course not – and young people voted to leave as well. But the stats show you were more likely to vote to leave if you were retired, more likely to vote to leave if you left education after school, more likely to vote to leave if you were from a working class northern town, more likely to leave if you owned your own home. And under 50s voted to stay and over 50s voted to leave (obviously not every person in those age brackets voted that way, but the majority).

        Re me covering this from a neutral standpoint, with one side lying and one being honest. I wasn’t having to cover the political debate. I was researching the consequences and potential outcomes. The official leave campaign had key soundbites based on lies. That doesn’t mean there weren’t reasons to vote Leave – there were. I also didn’t say the Remain campaign was honest. I pointed out that their campaign was based on exaggeration and worst case scenarios. But your claim that it was based on “even greater lies” was just wrong – and apparently not based on any evidence than some liberal actresses who of course are exactly the right people to learn about English politics from (heavy sarcasm!).

        The EU is also not just about regulation. Even the people who voted Leave wouldn’t say that. And it is not a freedom v socialism argument. We have a very left wing leader of the Labour party (much more left wing than Sanders) and until he became leader he was against the EU. There’s a socialist element to our political system that was entirely against the EU.

        It is also not as simple as the “liberal establishment bureaucrats”. Splits were on a number of different issues, cross party, and the leader of the Leave campaign is certainly a member of the liberal establishment. Don’t put a US political viewpoint over the top of something entirely different!!

      • Your last point is excellent and you’re absolutely right. As is often the case with cross-oceanic politics, we view things through our home political system and I’m definitely guilty of that in this case. Much of what we hear, and this is often backed up by blog posts I read from UK cyclists, is that the EU is a body of intensive micro-regulation. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that fries my bacon more than a politician deciding how much salt a restaurant should put in my meal, or closer to your home, how olive oil should be dispensed in a restaurant.

        I imagine a day when politicians decide that it’s not fair I get to eat a 16 Oz steak because I rode 75 miles, so steaks will be limited to 12 ounces and bike rides will be limited to 10 miles or one hour, whichever is shorter, so everything is “fair”. It sounds stupid, but we’re really not that far from it already. That is the opposite of freedom.

        Now, as for the ramifications, I see France following you and then maybe another wealthy donor nation… This is as it should be when bureaucrats and politicians overstep their bounds. We go through these dust ups

  2. In Australia I still don’t know what to make of it or what impact it might have on us. However I do know that if I was in the UK I would have voted to remain.

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