I’m Sorry, Is Brexit Boring You?

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Laughing at Britain’s Brexit woes might be justified if other countries were successfully tackling the pre-eminent problem of the early 21st century — reconciling meaningful democracy and self-determination with the imperative for global regulation and governance. But since no-one else has bothered to pick up the torch of destiny, maybe it’s time to rethink the self-satisfied mockery.

Spare a thought for poor Ryan Heath of Politico EU. He simply finds Brexit – and specifically Britain’s ongoing debate about the nature and timing of our departure from the European Union – too boring to deal with anymore .

At this point a half-competent developer could probably build an algorithm to randomly generate these generic, establishment media anti-Brexit Op-Eds disguised as Serious Analysis. Simply change the order of the sentences and the particular focus (elderly racists, evil Russians, young people having their futures stolen, glorious isolation, the end of Our NHS), crank the handle and out will come another cookie-cutter article ready to publish.

For those journalists observing from across the sea, the generic takes tend to be even more uniformly simplistic – former colonial power having an identity crisis, mid-sized country trying and failing to punch above its weight, lots of schadenfreude about loss of empire, lots of gloating over the humiliation of a country ranked by the intelligentsia alongside only America and Israel as uniquely evil and benighted, polished off with a smarmy, waggish lecture about chickens coming home to roost.

Ryan Heath gives us an absolutely perfect encapsulation of such an article this week in Politico. Headlined “Brexit Britain: Small, Boring and Stupid” it indulges every tedious trope ever to have emerged from the Remainer hive mind.

A sample:

Brexit is the story of a proud former imperial power undergoing a mid-life crisis. The rest of the world is left listening to Britain’s therapy session as they drone on about their ex-spouse, the EU: When will they stop talking and just move on?

The promise of Brexit at the time it narrowly passed in a national referendum in June of 2016 was that it was a way for Britain to feel big again — no longer hectored by the EU bureaucracy in Brussels, no longer treated as just one of 28 members in an unwieldy confederacy.

“Britain is special,” the Brexiteers assured British voters, who cast their ballots accordingly.

The last two years have revealed something different: For the first time in modern history, Britain is small. Having sailed into the 20th century as an empire, the U.K. spent the second half of the century shedding nearly all of its colonies — and as a result much of its economic and military might.

For the first time in modern history, Britain is small? Isn’t that what they said after Victory in Europe, after Suez, during the Winter of Discontent and a hundred other, smaller national and geopolitical events? If Britain truly had shrunk in power and stature as much as has been claimed by the commentariat after each of these events, we would currently have the geopolitical heft of Burundi. Something doesn’t quite add up.

But it turns out that this was just the pleasant introduction, before Ryan Heath really dials up the condescension to 100:

While many Brits have strong emotions about the EU, they rarely have a strong understanding. I feel like a kindergarten teacher every time I speak on the issue.

It is fashionable to blame an irresponsible U.K. media (including the country’s most famous sometime-journalist, now leading Brexiteer MP Boris Johnson) for stoking misunderstanding about the EU for decades. Long before Macedonian troll factories and Russian bots there were the editors of the Sun tabloid newspaper.

But what about the millions of people who consumed those fibs and the spineless politicians who avoided the hassle of correcting them? We blame Greeks for blowing up their economy and hold accountable big-spending governments for saddling future generations with excessive debts. Britons don’t deserve a free pass: It’s time they reckoned with what they sowed through 45 years of shallow EU debate.

It is Britain’s unique ignorance that makes Britain so boring. Ignorant about its leverage and ignorant about the EU, the U.K. is coming across as clumsy and caddish.

On and on it goes – you get the idea.

Ryan Heath, you must understand, exists on a higher plane of consciousness than you and I. With his demigod-like, birds-eye view of geopolitics, instinctive grasp of democratic imperatives and subatomic knowledge of the technocracy underpinning global trade, Heath has conclusively determined that everything is great, there were no issues with the EU worth fussing over, and that Brexit was motivated by nothing more than a spasm of ignorance, racism and pining for lost empire.

But if anything is truly boring, it is not Brexit but rather this well-worn take on Brexit, echoed over and over again from the New York Times to the Atlantic to New York Magazine to Politico. Wherever self-described intellectuals of a center-left persuasion are gathered together, you can read exactly the same cookie-cutter take on Brexit, perfectly crafted to enable them to nod and stroke their beards while having all of their prejudices neatly confirmed.

It’s not new, and it’s not clever. Foreign journalists and media outlets have been repeating the same old tired “humiliation of a former colonial power” trope since the end of the Second World War. Often, these articles pointedly incorporate Dean Acheson’s famous quote about Britain having “lost an empire and not yet found a role”, presumably in an effort to add some gravitas and borrowed credibility. And now as 2018 draws to a close, Ryan Heath has the nerve to draw a salary in exchange for churning out the same tired observations made by half a century’s worth of diplomats and journalists.

Words cannot express how profoundly Brexit has caused me to lose faith in our political, intellectual and media class. At a time when the prestige media is increasingly busy beating its collective breast, playing the victim and positioning itself as the last great bulwark protecting Liberal Democracy from the (white working class) barbarian hordes, at best they seem to have become fundamentally uncurious about the single most important political debate and experiment in the world currently taking place in Britain, and at worst they openly cheerlead for the status quo.

If Ryan Heath spent less time airily declaring his boredom, he might dwell on the fact that Brexit – in all its halting, stop-start awkwardness – is the first significant attempt by any country to answer the question of how a modern nation state can reconcile the technocratic demands of global trade with the need to preserve meaningful democracy. On this key question, Britain is currently the laboratory of the world. No other first-tier country has dared to touch the subject with a ten-foot bargepole. At best, some of the more forward-thinking opinion journalists are belatedly ringing the alarm bells, but nowhere other than Britain have these concerns generated any kind of significant governmental response.

Sure, it doesn’t always sound like anything so noble is taking place, particularly when you hear one self-aggrandizing MP after another parade their ignorance on the television news, or when UKIP’s leader du jour stands up to grunt about Muslims and evil immigrants. But the job of good journalists working for a vigilant press is to look beyond the obvious, superficial headline at the deeper, underlying story. Just as no one expert in any particular field can plausibly claim to speak authoritatively on the merits and drawbacks of Brexit, no one journalist can make authoritative sweeping statements about Brexit from the sole perspective of their own cloistered social and professional circles.

At a time when the EU is signally failing millions of its citizens, when southern Europe’s economy remains sclerotic, youth unemployment endemic, populist parties and authoritarian leaders are gaining traction everywhere and civil order has been restored in Paris only thanks to EU-branded armored personnel carriers, some introspection as to the EU’s flaws and capacity to overcome those flaws might be in order. Some serious interrogation of the political leaders who delivered us to this baleful moment might justifiably be expected. But don’t look for such searching coverage in the prestige press, which would rather unquestioningly take the side of the people whose lack of foresight and political courage pushed the campaign for Brexit over the finish line.

In what passes for my feeble magnum opus of 2017, I laid out some of these challenges as they pertain to Britain:

Automation, outsourcing and globalisation have incrementally, relentlessly eaten away at the idea of a steady, 9-5 factory or retail job being sufficient to raise a family or buy a house. Millions of people who in decades past went through an education system which prepared them for little else now find themselves having to learn new computer or service-based skills from scratch, with almost no support or coordination from local or national government.

Even university graduates find that their degrees are of increasingly dubious value, and are obliged to virtually fight to the death for a coveted place on a corporate graduate scheme. The losers go back to live with their parents or work in minimum wage drudgery, wondering why their BA in critical gender theory hasn’t proven to be the passport to the slick professional city life they crave. Call centres and giant Amazon distribution centres have become the new dark satanic mills of modern Britain. Our present education policy should be focused entirely on this looming precipice, yet we distract ourselves by arguments over grammar schools or whether boys should be allowed to wear tiaras and tutus in class.

Meanwhile, there is a huge global human migration underway, prompted by the fact that countless millions more people are connected to the world through the internet and have the means to move from struggling countries to new lands of perceived opportunity – sometimes legally, usually illegally. Political leaders have openly or tacitly welcomed and even fuelled this flow, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the required housing, infrastructure and services do not smoothly and automatically increase in direct proportion to a rising population – and then dare to act startled and affronted when the resident population complains about the impact.

At the same time, elites have preached a gospel of absolute tolerance and multiculturalism while refusing to promote British or Western values, or encourage new immigrants to assimilate, and then cry “racism!” when inevitable tensions occur. They have created a country where some British-born people feel more affinity and allegiance to a barbaric Islamist death cult than the country which gave them life and liberty – and then prove it by stealing away to join ISIS or launching terror attacks which kill and maim their fellow citizens.

[..] Each one of these issues forms part of a crumbling edifice representing the failed, discredited and obsolete centrist political consensus. Tinkering with the EU – to the limited extent that Britain could ever effect meaningful directional change in Brussels – was never going to happen, despite the constant disgruntled, exculpatory outbursts from Remainers that “of COURSE the EU needs reform!”.

What do all of these issues have in common? They are things that the Ryan Heaths and other establishment journalists of this world spend their professional careers furiously refusing to acknowledge as a significant problem in the first place.

In fact, with very few honorable exceptions, one has to look to the neglected and under-appreciated political blogosphere for the kind of analysis that household-name journalists are apparently incapable of performing.

Here’s Pete North, on typically good form, doing Ryan Heath’s job for him:

They think Brexit only happened because of “austerity” – not because we are utterly sick of the lot of them. They think they can once again dip into our wallets to dish out electoral bribes and we’ll be ok with them pissing on our votes. They reckon we didn’t really mean to leave the EU – and that it’s just the underlying issues *they* need to fix. It doesn’t occur to them that the underlying issue is the fact that we hate them and their EU vanity project. It’s all just a management and PR problem to them.

They genuinely think we’re too bovine to care about things like self-determination,. democracy and accountability – and we’ll pack up and go away if there’s a top up of regional funding. We all know nothing would change if we trusted them. As much as anything, we voted to leave precisely because we have an establishment that will continually do as it pleases and ignore the rest of the country when we protest. Even now they don’t get it which is why they can so casually talk about overturning a vote.

They don’t recognise that Brits genuinely want regime change and a change to reshape Britain – and all they offer us is more of the same – more taxes, more authoritarianism and more paternalistic meddling while they heap on the insults. The fact that these well compensated individuals parade Blair, Major, Adonis and Campbell on our screens honestly thinking it will win people over tells you everything you need to know.

Ryan Heath thinks that Britain has made a fool of herself by taking the plunge and voting for Brexit in an attempt to address these looming challenges. That may be so. But what has any other country done to address the pressing challenge of adapting democracy to work in a globalized world? What has the United States done under Trump? Germany under “leader of the free world” Angela Merkel? Or France under the establishment’s beloved Emmanuel Macron?

It is easy to laugh and cast judgments at Brexit’s many pitfalls and the…significant intellectual and personality flaws of those who claim to be leading and speaking for it. But it is much less funny when one is forced to acknowledge that other countries still have their heads in the sand and are not even attempting to answer these increasingly existential questions, despite facing exactly the same democratic pressures and rifts as Britain.

When Donald Trump or his Democratic Party opposition come up with a coherent plan to address these interlinked challenges (rather than ranting about making America great again or bowing down even further to the cult of intersectional identity politics), Britain might look legitimately bad in comparison. When Emmanuel Macron emerges from his hiding place brandishing a plan for national renewal more sophisticated than simply hiking fuel taxes by 40% and screwing the rural poor, Britain might rightly feel a degree of shame. When the European Union takes these issues seriously and prioritizes the welfare of its citizens rather than the completion of the covert federal project, Britain might seem like the ignorant and churlish party by comparison. Needless to say, that day has not yet arrived.

In the European Union we have a supranational, continent-wide political union of distinct nation states, unloved by its nominal citizens, sorely lacking legitimacy, seethingly antagonistic to anything more than rote, symbolic democracy and displaying a marked unwillingness to listen to its people or change direction. Britain at least attempted to resolve this impasse by voting to leave that sclerotic organization, which is more than any other country has done, though the reasons for doing so and preferred modes of Brexit were many and varied. And so if you insist on laughing at Britain for taking this step, then you had darn well better have a bevy of superior, practical and politically feasible alternatives up your sleeve, ready to roll out.

But Ryan Heath has no superior answer to give. His preferred benchmark is the status quo. He clearly sees absolutely nothing wrong with the state of affairs which led to Brexit – the increasing political alienation and sense of powerlessness, a mode of governance which firehoses a stream of economic opportunity at the well-educated but rains financial and social desolation on everyone else, the rampant corruption of the European Union, the sinister drive to implement the project in defiance of any national referenda which stand in its way. All of which is unsurprising, since his professional history includes a stint working as spokesman for Jose Manuel Barroso at the European Commission. A more institutionally captured “objective” journalist does not exist on God’s green earth.

Brexit, in all its imperfections, is an historic opportunity, and one which deserves to be discussed as such at least some of the time by some of the prestige media – even if only as an opportunity missed – rather than the unmitigated, irrational, self-inflicted calamity that it is continually portrayed as by the likes of Heath. As I wrote when (not so implausibly) comparing the story of the hit musical Hamilton to Britain’s current predicament:

Through Brexit, history has gifted us the opportunity to imagine a new and improved form of government, one which strives to meet our future challenges rather than cower from them (all that EU membership offers, most telling in the rhetoric used by Remainers) or pretend that they do not exist (favoured by the more retrograde Brexiteers who envisage a simple rollback to the old nation state). We must seize this opportunity and be a beacon for other nations, all of which must ultimately grapple with the same issues though they may deny or postpone them for a time.

I’m very sorry that Ryan Heath finds Brexit so boring, and one country’s lonely attempt to address the preeminent challenge of the early 21st century a bothersome distraction from the true job of a Politico journalist – breathlessly reporting court gossip and revealing who was spotted dining with who at whichever Michelin-starred restaurant in Brussels or Strasbourg. Silly, selfish us for intruding too long on his consciousness with our concerns about representative democracy and self-determination.

Fortunately for Heath, it increasingly appears that he shall get his wish. The incompetence of Britain’s political class, the invidious dishonesty of the Tory extreme Brexiteers and the highly successful efforts by all corners of the establishment to obstruct and discredit Brexit has gradually increased the possibility that Britain never leaves the European Union at all – or that such a departure consists of nominally leaving the political union while remaining for all intents and purposes permanently bound to its key institutions.

And then of course, Brexit having been thwarted, all will be well with the world once again. Britain will reset to 1998 and a time when all of these pesky concerns about democratic deficits and a dehumanizing macroeconomic policy focus were a low-level hum rather than a piercing, inescapable alarm. People like me will know our place, and once again defer to people like Ryan Heath and the soulless technocracy he so faithfully serves.

Oh, wait.

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27 thoughts on “I’m Sorry, Is Brexit Boring You?

  1. Chris Wilson February 22, 2019 / 7:57 PM

    So many of your thoughts chime with me. I have frequently asked myself why interviewers don’t ask the obvious questions. We are told constantly that more housing is needed in this country yet no commentator ever joins the dots and mentions the three million Europeans that have moved here. I could go on and on with other examples but what is the point? The establishment and their media don’t want the general public reminded of their stupidity.


  2. Fanny Blancmange January 1, 2019 / 8:44 PM

    ” a bothersome distraction from the true job of a Politico journalist – breathlessly reporting court gossip and revealing who was spotted dining with who at whichever Michelin-starred restaurant in Brussels or Strasbourg.”

    Great piece but this is a bit unfair: the high-flying professional turd in the photo will also have to hold conversations with those ostensibly performing on the other side of the media-politics nexus, writing their chats up for his journal and liaising with the interviewee’s lackeys to optimise the published results’ positioning. The aim in this demanding process is to ensure continued access for both parties to the schtick and possibly a smirky who’s-up-who’s-down round-up on Andrew Neil’s show.Not a cushy number by any means, and vital work in maintaining the lifeblood of our momentous liberal democratic heritage, a bit like John Bercow getting a guest spot on ‘Dr Who’

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dontdontdont December 20, 2018 / 3:45 PM

    I disagree. You might not like the tone of what is being said in the articles but just dismissing them as ‘cookie cutter’ isn’t very helpful. The criticism of Britain as going through the last throes of post-imperial crisis strikes me as pretty accurate – even though you clearly disagree.

    As for rising to the challenges of “the question of how a modern nation state can reconcile the technocratic demands of global trade with the need to preserve meaningful democracy” surely the EU is that – a flawed attempt yes, but an attempt to answer that question. Brexit is a retreat to a nineteenth century idea of nation-state sovereignty that is as relevant today as a top hat and tails.

    On the challenges that face the world – automation, insecure work, migration (I notice you don’t mention climate change) – I am with you. These are among the big challenges. But the idea that the car-crash that is Brexit will solve them leaves me very, very cold.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Philip Tobin October 19, 2019 / 10:08 AM

      “The criticism of Britain as going through the last throes of post-imperial crisis strikes me as pretty accurate – even though you clearly disagree.”

      Sorry, but, Ryan Heath’s twaddle has no resonance for me, this because I happened to be living in Britain around the time of the 2016 Referendum and not for a single moment was I ever aware of a mass uprising by plebs and princes alike against the conspiracy of time and circumstance that had robbed Britain of her Empire.

      Nor did anything occur then — up to and including June 23rd — to even remotely sustain Heath’s glib cliche-ridden hand-me-down assessment, something so patently stupid that its worthlessness becomes evident the moment one glances through the list of Labour Parliamentary constituencies to see how the majority voted — oh, wow, gosh, just look at all those thousands of Labour voters in the north of England desperate to recover Britain’s Imperial past and lamenting the passing of Victoria and Albert.

      What I actually found in 2016 was evidence of a visceral societal change far greater and deeper than anything Heath’s shallow intellect could ever comprehend. Bottom line: had Cameron and Osborne campaigned for Leave, the referendum majority outcome would’ve been in favour of Remain.

      The reference in the above mentioned Heath CV that “after working as a speechwriter for the British civil service” — oh really? Was it the entire Civil Service? Or just a bit of it? — says all there is to say about Heath’s dismal vacuity.


  4. Jack the dog December 19, 2018 / 1:13 PM

    I’m new to this blog.

    I too was left simmering by Heath’s imbecillic article in politico, and was determined to post something, but it would n’t have been as good as this and nobody would have read it (!) so thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper December 19, 2018 / 7:32 PM

      Thank you for the kind words. I had actually been in a bit of a writing funk until I read Ryan Heath’s sanctimonious hit piece on Brexit, and it was just what I needed to get my motivation back!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. monoi December 19, 2018 / 11:07 AM

    Great article.

    I find that people have forgotten that France and the Netherlands both voted against Lisbon at the time, but that it was ignored by politicians there. Indeed, Parliament was asked to vote on it in France the 2nd time after Sarkozy pretended to have heard the people and got modifications…

    So the Brits are hardly the 1st ones to vote against the EU, and it is quite mendacious of remainers to pretend that they are. The difference is that it is legally binding, of sorts.

    If such a referendum was held in France now, it would be 60-40 against the EU at least.

    “self-described intellectuals of a center-left persuasion” is an apt description because no one else with a brain would consider them as “intellectuals”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper December 19, 2018 / 7:33 PM

      Cheers. Yes, I think that the term “intellectual” is now basically a synonym for “articulate regurgitator of pre-approved, cookie-cutter opinions”. Note how smart people with different viewpoints are disparaged as the “intellectual dark web”.


  6. Jim December 18, 2018 / 9:59 PM

    Hi Sam.
    Excellent, penetrating and timely piece.
    Your observation: “The incompetence of Britain’s political class, the invidious dishonesty of the Tory extreme Brexiteers ..” – leading us to becoming a vassal periferique, or no Brexit via “revocation” of article 50 notice – captures my view.
    BritAwakening may have merit – the referendum result occurred – and the general low esteem in which we (the public) hold our politicians has noticeably been harmed by the total inadequacies of the debate on the issues.
    Of note (to me – if nobody else) I`ve noticed an increase in thoughtful and/or emphatic concurrence with my view that the mainstream media is wholly without merit with regard to any serious issue, their purpose seemingly being mere gossip peddlers / dumbed-down infotainers.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Phil Tobin December 18, 2018 / 2:39 PM

    An outstanding essay. Congratulations Sam. Am delighted, too, to see this blog’s stats are now 384,623. Add that number to the totals for Pete and his dad, and it’s clear that The People’s Voice isn’t entirely the moronic mumbling of the stupid and self-regarding.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Samuel Hooper December 18, 2018 / 8:44 PM

      Many thanks for the kind words. I haven’t been able to write as much recently due to law school, but it is gratifying to see this particular piece get some good traction. If things continue on their current trajectory I may have to jump back into the Brexit debate on a more frequent basis.


  8. Radagast December 18, 2018 / 2:23 PM

    For someone confronting a unsympathetic article, claiming that it is simplistic and not very cleaver you present arguments themselves a bit tiresome as well: the “EU is crumbling” and Brexit Britain is the “one country’s lonely attempt to address the preeminent challenge of the early 21st century”

    Even when you try to have a polish response to the “know-it all centre-left intellectuals” (used as an insult, even that is cliché) you cannot avoid presenting Britain as the lone lighthouse of western civilization and the EU as merely a “vanity project” and a “sclerotic organization”.

    Confronted with what the British political class has to offer to the world you enter in “Chemical Ali” mode

    “if only it was THE real Brexit” (sigh)


  9. Fergus Meiklejohn (@airuyi) December 18, 2018 / 1:53 PM

    Look first of all, of course hardly anyone one sees this grand struggle with democracy and globalisation, because all we can see every day is our awful politics and lying media. As you rightly insist, this is not a necessary part of Brexit but it is where are unfortunately, so you can’t blame people for focussing on it, although yes it would be nice if more could break through that bubble sometimes.

    I think most of our complaints about the EU are really aimed at the Eurozone. It has to infringe national sovereignty to work at all. It needs to install technocrats in Italy or Greece when necessary and impose severe curbs on national sovereignty which is permanently hurting the weaker economies. I can see that it’s a bad idea, and that it only exists because of political enthusiasm from leaders like Helmut Kohl who drove it through without democratic approval.

    The UK isn’t in the Euro and we won’t ever have to join if we don’t want to, although it is a problem for us all the same because it’s hurting our neighbours. It’s also a problem because the EU and Eurozone are linked, politically and emotionally. What we really need is a formal way in which we can be in the EU secure from the Euro and it’s political structures and where we can help the Eurozone either reform to make it work or disband in a managed way. I wonder if many advocates of EFTA are really aiming for that? EFTA isn’t really designed for that role though. We need to be inside the wall but secure from the Eurozone.

    My argument is that our response to the problem of the Euro and it’s influence on the EU is rather extreme! Firstly there is a goodly amount of crass ethnic nationalism, crazy conspiracy theory, nervous breakdown, collective denial, and wildly overblown historical analogies. Remain or Leave, it does look a bit like we’re losing our minds.. And secondly we are in a blind panic (Remainers are just as guilty here), we are most of us behaving like this is our one chance. And here we are touching on a really interesting point which is that we don’t get to decide this stuff very often! We don’t discuss it openly we aren’t across the details, and both sides are acting like all they need to do is get over the finish line in front and it’ll all be alright. That’s our failure of democracy.

    I know the argument is that this is because the EU has destroyed our democracy. I’m not convinced, it’s too convenient and impossible to prove either way. We are in a rut to be sure, but it’s not connected to the power our politicians have; for example Scottish politics is quite vibrant despite being pretty subordinate to the UK, while US politics is in profound crisis despite having the greatest power on earth. That’s why I think just leaving the EU might make it worse or better or have little effect at all. Who knows?

    So I think that although you are right that what Britain is doing is actually something that many other countries will have to grapple with, the manner in which we are doing it shows us that they’ll need more maturity in their politics before they attempt it, otherwise, as we’re seeing, it can be a real disaster. On the other hand perhaps it has to be this way.. (again, who knows..?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • John Jones December 18, 2018 / 5:37 PM


      . “..It’s also a problem because the EU and Eurozone are linked.. ”

      Very true and very much part of the problem ,exaserared by Qualified Majority Voting and eurozone caucusing.

      Unfortunately Cameron and Osborne never really understood the power of the EZ and QMV – the EZ now essentially drives the EU and to a lesser extent the Single Market – its inherent in the QMV )EZ design.

      I cannot see the UK ever having parity with the EZ. When it goes tits up, good to be away from the contagion if feasible


    • Samuel Hooper December 18, 2018 / 8:50 PM

      Thanks for an interesting contribution. As to your last point, I imagine that the political and governance abilities of other EU member states will have atrophied to a similar degree as here in the United States – perhaps more in the case of the older members (France, Germany, Italy) and perhaps not so much in the more recent accession countries of Eastern Europe. The question is then whether we want to avoid short-term disruption for as long as possible in exchange for tolerating the ongoing hollowing out of national politics, or whether we attempt to nip it in the bud now. Here, Britain is still providing a lesson to the world, even if only in the form of a “how not to do it” masterclass. But these are burning problems which need to be tackled, and so far as I can tell no other Western country is seriously attempting to grapple with them. It would be nice to see prestige journalists display some curiosity and look at the bigger strategic picture, but I guess that is asking for the moon on a stick.


      • Fergus Meiklejohn (@airuyi) December 19, 2018 / 5:30 AM

        It’s interesting that the USA seems on the surface to have worse governance than Germany. If membership of the Eurozone was so debilitating for national politics you’d expect the opposite. Germany does retain a good deal of de facto control of monetary policy and fiscal policy across the Eurozone though and crucially doesn’t suffer economically from membership. Across the Eurozone the biggest problems are in those states which suffer most from not having their own fiscal and monetary autonomy.
        I just think that there are likely many different causes of political problems in a country. In the USA the money in politics arguably corrupts it worse than Eurozone membership would on it’s own. In the UK I’d argue that our voting system, our class system and the concentration of wealth and power in the SE of England are more relevant to our political troubles than membership of the EU. But then I would say that.. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jack the dog December 19, 2018 / 1:10 PM

          But Germany does suffer economically. It has racked up around a trillion euros of target 2 imbalances which are most likely never going to be repaid.

          The idea that the EURO will last forever is ridiculous. It is bound to fail in one of two ways – federalised shared debts (totally anathema to German voters for wholly understandable reasons) or else another solvency crisis in a southern european member state say Italy for the sake of argument, which is more or else inevitable on the current trtajectory especially when the next down turn happens next year or in 2020.

          When that happens, either scenario, the German taxpayer is going to get royally reamed.

          Germans have been working away, seeing precious little in the way of improved wages despite their supposedly booming economy, they’ll have every right to feel aggrieved when it all goes tits up.

          And the further away we are when that happens, the better.


          • Fergus Meiklejohn (@airuyi) December 20, 2018 / 1:03 AM

            Let’s leave Germany economics aside, there are risks and rewards for Germany in the Euro

            My question is the logic you slip in there at the end: “the further away we are when that happens, the better”. Even with no deal and a terrible relationship with the EU we’ll still be here. France will still be 26 miles away and Ireland will be either the island next door or the EU country we have a land border with. What makes you think leaving the EU will either help the Eurozone to a soft landing or insulate us from the political and economic disaster of a hard Eurozone collapse?


  10. LogicalArgumentsOnly December 18, 2018 / 12:15 PM

    Dr. North’s link led me here. What an absolutely fantastic article, thank you Samuel. You’re spot on for me on many points.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper December 18, 2018 / 8:51 PM

      Many thanks for reading, and for the kind words! Dr. North’s coverage and analysis has been an invaluable educational aid for me as I attempted to grow beyond basic Brexit talking points.


  11. britishawakening December 18, 2018 / 9:59 AM

    Excellent piece. I am not however as pessimistic about Brexit – the genie is out of the bottle now and there is no democratic way to force it back in. As for our venal establishment – well I did tell you some time back that the Tories were fake, there is only one political party in power, the one appointed by the EU. The positive I take from this is that it is finally dawning on people – which means the lies are finally catching up with them and people just won’t buy it anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper December 18, 2018 / 8:56 PM

      Yes, I remember well our conversation at The Marquis of Granby. And you were right about the Tories, though it took me a little longer and a few more disappointments to arrive at the same conclusion.

      I agree that the genie is out of the bottle now, which is good, but since Brexit was always only a necessary but not sufficient condition for the kind of reform we need, the longer we are stuck relitigating the referendum and the mode of Brexit the longer we are avoiding actually re-examining our own governance and politics. That said, it is heartening to watch the political and media class do so much to shed their unearned, undeserved credibility. Hopefully, when the contempt becomes near universal, something better will emerge.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper December 18, 2018 / 8:57 PM

      Many thanks! I hadn’t written anything for awhile, but Ryan Heath’s execrable article in Politico proved too much for me to ignore.


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