EU Referendum Live-Blog: Aftermath

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EU Referendum Live Blog – Britain Votes For Brexit; The Aftermath



4 July – 13:10

52% is enough to win a referendum, but not enough to make a guaranteed success of Brexit

In closing this live-blog of EU referendum result reaction (and before normal business resumes), I want to close with an email sent from the German office to the London office of a certain multinational company the day that the referendum results were announced.

The email was entitled “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, and reads (with redactions to protect anonymity):

Dear Friends,

On this truly disturbing day, we want to send you our greatest empathy and heartfelt solidarity to London and the whole UK [company] Team. Although troubling times maybe ahead of all of us here in Europe, the whole team of [company] Germany keeps on believing in the European idea and the future of peaceful and prosperous unity for Europe with the United Kingdom and all the wonderful people living there.

So for us this is not the end of the road. Our friendship with you will be stronger than ever and we will get through this together.

Big Hugs from Germany

Please share with the whole office

This text is followed by a picture of the entire German team making heart shapes with their hands as they hold aloft the German, EU and UK flags.

This is what we have to contend with as we try to navigate Brexit and secure a prosperous, independent but interconnected future for Britain outside of the European Union – whole offices full of undeniably smart people who legitimately view the events of the past two weeks as a nearly unspeakable calamity with no redeeming features.

The author of this email (and the senior person who authorised it) clearly had absolutely no doubt that their sentiments would be shared by every single one of their colleagues. There was no recognition that smart, professional people might come down on different sides of the argument on the great question of Britain’s future place in the world. On the contrary, there was only the arrogant but utterly genuine assumption that everybody working for the company (both in Germany and the UK) shares this view. Certainly no Brexit-supporting employee would dare to openly admit their own political views in such a one-sided, hostile climate.

I’m delighted that we won this referendum and finally have the chance to build the positive, enterprising and independent Britain that this blog longs to see. But while 52-48 is a firm victory, it cannot be denied that we have been helped over the line with the support of some retrograde, even unsavoury supporters and ideas, while we convinced too few of the professional class to join with us. It simply should not be the case that the entire staffs of any organisation (save perhaps the EU itself) view Brexit as an unmitigated calamity. That this is currently the case is a failure on the part of Brexiteers – despite the unwavering effort of many of us to present the progressive, internationalist case for leaving the EU.

But what strikes me most in this email is the way that its author describes Brexit – the prospect of Britain regaining the kind of democratic control over its own affairs enjoyed by every other developed country in the world outside Europe – as “truly disturbing”. We currently live in a country where many people are consumers first and conscientious citizens a distant second; where the elimination of the smallest short-term risk is seen as more important than safeguarding the long term democratic health of Britain.

But it is not enough to rail at pro-EU professionals for voting for their own short-term economic self interest, just as it is not enough for disappointed Remainers to berate Brexiteers for supposedly voting against their own. We must go out and convince people, rebuilding the proper respect and reverence for democracy in the hearts and minds of the people. If we fail to do this, it is only a matter of time before we barter our freedoms away again, for some other shiny new trinket.

It is simply not right – and not sustainable – for Britain to be a country where so many urban professionals continue to hold democracy in such low regard (or not even consider it at all). Bright, educated young professionals should be the biggest enemy of an elitist, antidemocratic anachronism like the European Union, not its loudest cheerleaders.

And until that changes, securing our ultimate freedom from the EU and a prosperous new independence will continue to be an unnecessarily punishing, uphill slog.

4 July – 11:15

Airbrushing Brexiteer women from history

Brendan O’Neill makes a really good point:

Liberal commentators are always saying “Don’t airbrush women from history!” Yet their moany depiction of Brexit as the handiwork of Boris and Farage utterly erases Gisela Stuart, Andrea Leadsom, Kate Hoey, Women for Britain, Dreda Say Mitchell, and those thousands of Brexiteer nurses and female trade unionists and workers and mums. Seems wiping women from the historic record is cool if those women did something Guardianistas don’t like.


3 July – 11:25

Pity the young and their lost “European identity”

The New York Times, which distinguised itself with one-sided and incredibly biased coverage catastrophising Brexit at every turn while utterly failing to even consider the democratic case for independence from European political union, is back with a “won’t somebody please think of the children!” lament for Britain’s youth.

In an incredibly narrow-minded article entitled “Brexit Bats Aside Younger Generation’s European Identity”, the NYT opines:

You could say theirs is the Generation of Three E’s.

There is Erasmus, the European Union program that organizes and subsidizes student exchanges among universities across its 28 countries and elsewhere. There is easyJet, the budget airline that lets them hop between European cities as simply and cheaply as it can be to trek across town. And there is the euro, the currency used in most of the member countries.

Young adults are now grappling with what Britain’s vote to exit the European Union means for their profoundly European way of life. For them, it is perfectly normal to grow up in one country, study in another, work in a third, share a flat with people who have different passports and partner up without regard to nationality.

“It means that we are not going to be sisters and brothers of a big project,” said Antoine Guéry, 24, a Frenchman whose résumé and network of friends provide a crash course in European geography.

“At best, we are going to be allies” — friends, but no longer family. “It feels less like home.”

Waah waah waah. Of course, Erasmus will continue to exist (no doubt with British participation) despipte Brexit. Low-cost airlines will not suddenly disappear in a puff of smoke now that the British people have voted to free themselves from unwanted European political union. And the euro was never a reality for Brits anyway. Yet all of these things are cited in an attempt to catastrophise Brexit, to make it seem as though the granular details of peoples’ lives is going to be irrevocably harmed in some way.

The NYT goes on to cite the sob stories of exactly the kind of people who make up the modern metro-Left, utterly oblivious to the fact that these people in no way represent the majority of the youth (most of whom did not even bother to vote in the EU referendum):

Mr. Guéry works at a public-relations firm in Paris but had been looking for job opportunities in London — an exercise he shelved immediately after the “Brexit” vote on June 23. His degree is from Sciences Po University in Paris, but he also studied at Stockholm University and Germany’s University of Potsdam.

It was in Stockholm that two German women, Carolina Leersch, now 26, and Kim Seele, 28, joined his inner circle. In Berlin, Mr. Guéry lived with Ms. Seele’s aunt, had an Irish boyfriend and befriended Lauren Muscroft, who is British, and Marion Desbles, who is from Rennes, France.

This group and others like it are, to be sure, a subset within a subset, part of a fourth E — the elite — who studied at the Continent’s top institutions and took advantage of the Pan-European doors open to them. Splitting Britain from the European Union may put a damper on future changes important to this globalized generation, like the move toward a single European digital market for movie and music streaming, and the end, by next year, of cellphone roaming charges when crossing European Union borders.

Days before the British referendum, Mr. Guéry, Ms. Muscroft and Ms. Desbles jokingly wondered, while waiting in the passport lines at the airport in Barcelona, Spain, whether Britons like Ms. Muscroft would soon be kicked out of the European Union lane.

The New York Times – and the modern, metro-Left (or “middle class clerisy”, to use the term coined by Brendan O’Neill) for which it is a mouthpiece, simply cannot conceive of a world where not all young people enjoy this upper middle class jetsetting lifestyle. The fact that most young people do not routinely hop on aeroplanes – even easyJet ones – to visit university friends from Norway and Spain simply does not compute.

This is a problem because while it would certainly be great if everybody had the same international career and leisure opportunities that the New York Times apparently thinks is the case, in fact many do not. And hand-wringing about Brexit while completely and utterly ignoring the “minor” question of democracy only provides more evidence that the elite are dramatically out of touch with the wider country, and specifically with the less privileged demographics whose interests they so sanctimoniously claim to care about.

In their haste to catastrophise Brexit by soliciting the tearful opinions of PR professionals and lawyers, the NYT never bothered to interview for their piece a single one of the millions of young people in southern Europe who have been doomed by the EU’s ruinous policies and failing currency union to a life with may now never include the joys of a fulfilling, international career.

The New York Times only recently published a piece pondering whether the educated elite might in fact not be working selflessly for the good of all, but rather perpetuating their own jealously-guarded privileges at the expense of everyone else. Apparently that brief and uncharacteristic moment of introspection has now evaporated.

3 July – 10:00

Snowflake students “triggered” by Brexit

The way things are going in our universities, it was only a matter of time:

Since the Brexit was announced last week, there has been outrage, protests and emotional social media posts a plenty.

But some students claim the UK’s decision to leave the EU has left them in a ‘depression’, adding that they feel like they’re ‘grieving for the loss of cultural enrichment’ that the European Union provided.

‘I’ve felt so down all day because of this, and just have this constant sick feeling in my stomach. I genuinely feel like I’m grieving.

‘I feel like I’m grieving for our growing economy. I’m grieving for our loss of cultural enrichment. If we weren’t a part of the EU I’d never have met people from the likes France, Norway, Germany, who have so much to offer to our country. We have so much to gain from these cultures,’ one person posted on The Student Room.

‘Can I class Brexit as a traumatic event when fail my exams next week? Because honestly I’m so distracted now because of it?’ another chipped in.

One person replied: ‘I relate. I somehow survived an exam while still panicking the whole way through.’

Because of course “cultural enrichment”, foreign travel and cultural exchanges are only possible within the stultifying confines of regional political union…

1 July – 00:25

Brexit calculus and the Tory leadership

Dr. Richard North’s cold hard calculus as to which Conservative Party leadership candidate would offer the most promise to small-L liberal Brexiteers of a Flexcit mindset leads in a rather distressing direction:

There is not much to fault with Theresa May’s speech.

[..] Gove was less impressive, offering only “in the next few days” to lay out his plan for the United Kingdom. But behind Gove is the poisonous Dominic Cummings: the two go together. That is not a happy choice.

At least though, we are freed from the possibility of Johnson as Prime Minister. I’ve not made any secret of my dislike for him, a loathsome creature who has made a career out of lying, and fronted a disastrous “leave” campaign which was centred on a lie. We are well rid of him.

In the Vote Leave campaign, however, Gove also supported the lie. On that basis alone, he cannot be trusted to manage our exit negotiations. That he is totally opposed to continued participation in the Single Market, in my view, further rules him out.

Perversely, I think the exit negotiations are probably better off in the hands of a “reformed” remainer such as Theresa May. After all, the final arbiter of the settlement is not the Prime Minister, but Parliament. Let those who spoke for a return of Parliamentary sovereignty now hold Parliament’s feet to the fire, and demand that it does it job of holding the Executive to account – if it can.

And, on that basis, the best candidate for Conservative Leader seems to be Mrs May.

I don’t doubt Dr. North’s logic for a moment, but my goodness – what an exquisitely high price to pay in order to give the interim EFTA/EEA Brexit approach maintaining our present single market access the best shot of success.

While this blog came to detest and deplore David Cameron for his utter lack of conservative principle, Theresa May embodies all of the worst authoritarian and paternalistic instincts of the Conservative Party which repel more liberal conservatarians such as myself.

A Britain led by a Prime Minister Theresa May would be a land where ancient civil liberties, already crumbling, were put in the blender and liquidised once and for all, and where the state – acting in the Common Good, of course – controlled and surveillance ever more of our lives, all the time.

Furthermore, Theresa May is a politician who not only supported Britain’s continued membership of the EU during the referendum but who lacked the political courage (less cynical people might say had the strategic smarts) to take a prominent role in the campaign. On the most important political question to face this country in a generation, the long-serving and highly authoritarian Home Secretary effectively hedged her bets and stayed silent. That may well have been politically smart. But it was also rank cowardice. And this is the person best placed to lead Britain to independence from the EU and prosperity without it?

As I said, I take no issue with Dr. North’s assessment of the Tory leadership situation as it affects Brexit, which is by far and away the most important issue in this blog’s estimation. But personally, I’m not quite there yet. Having always been firmly of the opinion that I would sooner be dead in the cold ground than see a flinty-eyed authoritarian like Theresa May in 10 Downing Street, potentially being forced into a 180 degree U-turn to save the precious Brexit cause is an exquisitely painful price to be paid (to the extent that one holds out desperate hope that an alternative may yet emerge, against the odds).

In fact, at present the only bright spot for this blog in a future Theresa May premiership would be watching the preening, virtue-signalling Social Justice Warriors of Britain short-circuit themselves trying to hate on May despite the fact that she is a woman (though surely a self-hating one, according to the current intersectional feminist school of thought).

But the prospect of these delicious moments of humour does not make up for the lasting damage a Prime Minister Theresa May could feasibly do to our country, constitutional settlement and civil liberties, not to mention the already-sullied Conservative Party brand.

1 July – 00:05

RIP Labour

My Conservatives for Liberty colleague Martin Bailey hits the nail on the head with his diagnosis of the multiple personalities currently occupying the Labour Party host.

Bailey writes:

Commentators are talking about the existence of two Labour Parties– On one side the soft left Centrists, the Blairites, the Gaitskellites, the social democrats and on the other the hard left, the Corbynites, the Trots, the Bevanites, the socialists. The accepted narrative casts these two tribes as locked in a permanent battle for the soul of the party, creating a natural equilibrium, ying and yang. This is no longer the case. There is now a third Labour party.

The third Labour party is the largest of all. It exists not in the drawing rooms of effete London suburbs but in warehouses and Wetherspoons across the land. They care not a jot for ideology or dogma or political correctness or Palestine and have voted Labour out of resentment of the establishment, class prejudice and the belief that it was the best way to protect their marginalised communities.

The working class have supported the Labour party in their millions for nearly a hundred years, a political identity passed down through generations, but they are starting to realise that neither the Blairites nor the Corbynistas articulate their views and are in fact happy to dismiss them as ignorant racists.

The disconnect between Labour’s professional political class and the traditional Labour voter was the real talking point of the referendum. Who can blame the common people for giving a great big two fingers to those who have taken them for granted for so long? Once again the Labour party has learnt nothing, with contempt for the working class reaching new heights in the aftermath of the vote with Guardian columnists writing about ‘Crappy’ Northern towns and David Lammy calling for parliament to ignore the democratic will of the nation.

Lammy’s position is as understandable as it is indicative of the status quo. A London MP who sees the coming typhoon and in an attempt to save his own behind at the next election decides to voice the concerns of the delicate snowflakes of the big smoke, without any thought of the repercussions his words will have in places like Rotherham, Blackburn or Burnley.

UKIP has become the lightning rod for working class anger and malcontent and thanks to Labour’s continuing, indeed increasing, inclination to treat the people as an irrational, immature inconvenience, a party that should have been declared obsolete post-Brexit looks likely to go from strength to strength.

This chimes exactly with my own thinking. Listening to the howls of outrage from centrist, metro-left MPs anguished at being “dragged out of Europe” against their will – the very thing that many of Labour’s traditional working class voters were celebrating – has been an instructive real-time case study of the death of a major political party.

So where does this leave Labour? Bailey rightly points out that any SDP-style split of the centrists would only result in “a party without an electorate, a cart without a horse”. Yet if the centrists stay and succeed in forcing Jeremy Corbyn out, the floor will fall out from under the party with no commensurate benefit – the Momentum wing, enraged, would simply sabotage the party, even costing Labour safe seats by running as a new party.

It’s almost enough to make one feel sorry for Labour. But then one recalls their cynical hysteria in painting the slightest hint of fiscal conservatism as an ideologically motivated attack on the poor and vulnerable, and any feelings of sympathy quickly disappear.

30 June – 16:10

The blowback against democracy continues

Garvan Walshe is the latest voice to express his fear and hatred of democracy now that it has dealt up an outcome with which he happens to profoundly disagree.

Writing in Conservative Home, Walshe frets that “democratic fundamentalism is now the most serious threat to freedom in the West”:

Like all fundamentalisms, democratic extremism takes a noble idea, that everyone’s political views should count equally, too far. But if democracy is to endure, voters must inform themselves of the facts, avoid being swayed by prejudice and emotion, and to base judgements on evidence. The romantic invocation of popular sovereignty is no substitute for calm deliberation.

It is not reasonable however for a political elite simply to tell voters they are wrong. The people have every reason to distrust it on the very issue that motivated them to vote to leave: immigration. For more than a decade voters have been told that immigration could be controlled with ease, even though the kind of control they want can only come at enormous economic cost, and by running the risk of stirring up xenophobic feeling across the country. The elite’s greatest error wasn’t, as is often said, to ignore their concerns: but to pretend to address them while doing nothing. Was it asking too much of our political system to try and explain why they were misplaced, and address the real problems that have for the past fifteen years falsely been blamed on immigration?

The remain campaign’s predictions, however disbelieved, are coming true. The pound has had its steepest fall in 30 years. Banks and housebuilders have lost up to a third of their value. $2 trillion was wiped of global stock markets on the day after the vote. Scotland is poised to break away. The mythical “better deal” where greater immigration restrictions could be won without losing access to the single market was immediately rejected by Angela Merkel.

On June 23rd the people voted to take a huge gamble on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations leaves the next Prime Minister trapped. He or she can either sacrifice the interests of leave voters by throwing aside 40 years of business relationships with our largest trading partner, or betray their beliefs by concluding a Norway-style deal that has us formally leave the EU, but maintains economic arrangements more or less unchanged. If they get it wrong, Scotland will secede and UKIP’s rank racism will be almost impossible to stop.

What can one say in response to this preening, hysterical reaction to Brexit? It goes without saying that Garvan Walshe would have no qualms whatsoever if the “tyranny of the majority” had kept Britain in the EU with a 52-48 endorsement of the 40 year status quo. Only when the wrong people with the wrong opinions have heir moment does Walshe shriek like a Victorian prude and reach for the smelling salts.

Walshe is sneeringly dismissive of democracy as a dangerous thing by which the unwashed masses might make the “wrong” choice based on emotion, and presumptuous about the motives of Brexiteers (assuming that they were primarily motivated by immigration concerns when the recent post-referendum ComRes poll showed that democracy was the key issue).

This argument lays bare the arrogance of the Remainers-in-denial. Even now, when their dream of Britain as a subjugated vassal of an ever-integrating European proto- state has been rejected by the electorate, their minds cannot fathom the loss. Instead, the Brexiteers’ victory must be chalked up to “insufficient information” made available to the electorate, while the biggest exercise in British democracy in decades is seen as something to be feared rather than celebrated.

The battle does not end with the EU referendum. People like Garvan Walshe, who believe that the people are incapable of understanding the big issues which affect their lives, and that our job is to be condescended to and have things framed and explained to us by an all-knowing elite technocracy, are lurking under every rock.

And we must fight them every inch of the way if we are to make a success of Brexit.

30 June – 15:30

Help from New Zealand

The Telegraph reports details of an important offer of help from New Zealand:

New Zealand has offered its top trade negotiators to the United Kingdom, relieving the British civil service as it prepares for the strain of seeking new deals with countries across the globe.

The Telegraph understands that the Commonwealth country has made an offer to loan staff to the British civil service, which has few trade negotiators of its own.

Wellington’s olive branch came alongside an offer to discuss a trade agreement with the UK, which would help Britain get out of the starting blocks and begin replacing the trade access lost as a result of the Brexit vote.

[..] Murray McCully, New Zealand’s foreign minister, confirmed to the New Zealand Herald that he had had a discussion with Jonathan Sinclair, Britain’s High Commissioner to New Zealand, on Monday.

We’ve simply made an offer that we as a country that is a long-standing friend … stands ready to be useful in any way we can be,” Mr McCully said. The foreign minister did not rule out providing the UK with the expertise of its trade negotiators.

So much for backward, isolationist Britain standing alone in the world.

In seriousness, though, this is exactly the kind of gesture which we would want to see from our friends and allies at this time. After 40 years of slow submersion into the EU’s political union, Britain’s own skills and competencies in key areas like trade have atrophied with time.

The plus side of the interim EFTA/EEA approach advocated by the Flexcit plan, not mentioned in the Telegraph article, is that trading with the single market through EFTA would significantly reduce the volume of trade agreements which urgently need to be negotiated in the first place, meaning that any seconded staff from other countries could even be put to use helping Britain to chart a longer term course beyond the EEA. And as an added bonus, rejoining EFTA would immediately make Britain a party to the tens of existing trade deals which that trade bloc has negotiated with other countries.

30 June – 15:00

Centrist Labour waves goodbye to reality

Luke Akehurst, writing in LabourList, entertains dreams (echoed by many in the party establishment) of a grand centrist coalition wresting control of the party back from the Corbynites.

Akehurst writes:

Now more than ever Britain needs the Labour values which were notable only by their absence in the referendum campaign.

Now more than ever Labour needs a new leader who can stand up for those values in Parliament, in negotiations with the EU and the remaining 27 member states, and in Downing Street after the coming election.

And now more than ever we need mainstream Labour supporters to sign up as party members, stand up for their values and elect a new Leader.

Anyone who is devastated by the referendum result and wants to take a step back on the road to serious, progressive politics should now join the Labour Party.

A leadership election is looming and, while Jeremy Corbyn has lost a lot of support among party members in the last few months, we need more to join us if we are to elect a mainstream, credible Leader.

If there is a contested leadership ballot we need to counteract the mass recruitment of Corbyn supporters that happened last year not just by persuading the wing of his previous voters who have been alienated by incompetence, sectarianism, failure to make electoral headway and what increasingly looks like the deliberate sabotage of the Labour In campaign to switch, but also by recruiting hundreds of thousands of new members and supporters ourselves.

All that energy and desire for change in our politics apparent from the referendum campaign and the reaction to it needs to be channelled into a concerted membership drive across every town and city in our country.

Labour is the party of the many, not the few.

And now is our chance to show that the mainstream are many and the far left are few.

The only problem is that vague, wishy-washy people beloved by pandering centrist politicians are by their very nature the hardest to tempt off their sofas to vote, let alone getting them to stump up £50 a year to join a political party and remember to vote in its leadership election.

The plain truth is this: the Labour Party is now reaping what it sowed during its opportunistic period of opposition from 2010 under Ed Miliband. Faced with an utterly bland, centrist and inoffensive not-very-conservative government – in actuality nothing more than Tony Blair’s fourth term only with less money to spend – the Labour Party decided that their quick route back to power lay in portraying the smallest acts of fiscal responsibility and spending restraint as “Thatcherism on steroids”, and sensible reforms to welfare as a deliberate war on the poor, the sick and the disabled.

Unable to run on their own record, which saw Britain uniquely ill-equipped among rich nations to weather the financial crisis, Labour MPs (and they are nearly all guilty) instead pretended that David Cameron was Genghis Khan and that Iain Duncan Smith wanted to reopen the work houses.

Having egged on their own supporters and activists in this way, it is hardly surprising that following Ed Miliband’s departure a large number of them became receptive to a leadership candidate who promised to end the “crippling austerity” gripping the nation, even if this austerity mostly existed only in their own heads.

And now the same bland, centrist, careerist labour MPs who screamed “Tory genocide of the sick!” in a tawdry attempt to drum up votes are now throwing their toys out of the pram because they find themselves led by a man whose far-left politics were deemed by the party membership to be the best antidote to the very phantoms which the Labour parliamentary caucus themselves encouraged. Quite frankly, it’s pathetic.

The Labour Party membership overwhelmingly voted for Jeremy Corbyn to be their leader. One year later, if the majority of Labour MPs don’t like this fact it is for them to find a new party (and new supporters), not to subvert the will of their own members and activists.

29 June – 14:40

Nicola Sturgeon put back in her box

The Telegraph hearteningly reports that EU leaders are spurning self-important Nicola Sturgeon’s attempts to negotiate her own deal for Scotland with Brussels, separate and in contradiction to the UK government’s own negotiations:

Nicola Sturgeon will now meet Jean-Claude Juncker during her visit to Brussels today to discuss Scotland keeping its EU status but she suffered another major blow after receiving short shrift from Germany.

The pair were not originally expected to meet thanks to Mr Juncker’s full diary but talks have been scheduled for this evening.

She is also meeting Martin Shulz, president of the European Parliament but Donald Tusk, the president of the powerful European Council comprising the heads of member states, has refused an invitation for talks.

It also emerged today that a series of member state governments have indicated they will not hold direct talks with the SNP about protecting Scotland’s status in the EU.

The German government told the Glasgow Herald this was an “internal” British issue and declined to comment further when asked if it would engage directly with the Scottish Government.

Denmark said its minister for foreign affairs “will not intervene in the internal UK discussions following the referendum last week”. The Czech government said it was “premature to address the question of an independent Scotland and its relation to the EU.”

The Estonian Foreign Affairs Ministry did not wish to engage in “speculation” but its Slovakian counterpart opened the door to bilateral talks, saying its appreciated Scotland’s pro-EU attitude.

Good. This is right and proper – any other response from our European allies would have constituted a major diplomatic incident and breach of protocol. It is not for other sovereign nations to undertake subversive negotiations with any one province or state of an allied nation, particularly when the putative negotiating partner is operating so far beyond her own remit and authority as First Minister of Scotland.

Nearly all domestic matters are now (rightly) devolved to the Scottish government, and the SNP should concentrate on making less of a hash of those areas already under its control before wading into foreign policy areas which it would have no right to participate in even under an ideal federal UK model.

Perhaps this is a sign of the Foreign Office – so tremulously ineffective under the weak leadership of Philip Hammond – finally reasserting itself and insisting that our European allies play it straight. Or perhaps they are all doing the right thing unbidden, with only EU leaders (excluding Donald Tusk) and not heads of government giving Nicola Sturgeon five minutes of their time.

And so it should be. Were the positions reversed, it would be unthinkable for a British government to enter into parallel talks with separatist parties or assembly leaders in, say, Spain, if Basque or Catalan leaders wanted Britain to pull strings allowing them to remain in the EU if Spain as a whole seceded. This would represent an unwarranted interference in another country’s domestic affairs, which is why no matter how much Scottish MEPs preen and posture and win applause in the European Parliament, they will rightly gain zero meaningful support from the chancelleries of Europe.

29 June – 08:00

Molly Scott Cato, writing in Left Foot Forward, exemplifies the sanctimonious metro-left’s sheer incomprehension that 17 million Britons, including many working class voters, could possibly have voted against what Cato and her peers arrogantly deem (without any consultation) to be their best interests.

Cato rages:

I think it may have been the novelty of their vote counting that confused the ‘Regrexiteers’; they regarded their little cross as a gesture and then were horrified when they discovered that they had changed history.

Despite there being no evidence that a significant number of Brexiteers regret their vote (save the smattering of examples gratefully and desperately seized on by a terrified pro-EU media), Cato picks up this idea and runs with it.

Just how morally and intellectually superior does one have to consider oneself to be in order to decide that everybody else – a clear majority of the country – didn’t understand the question put to them in this EU referendum, asking whether we wanted to leave or remain in the EU? Sadly, such Olympian levels of unearned superiority are to be found across whole swathes of the British Left, who having lost all meaningful connection with and understanding of their traditional working class base now seek to justify the gulf of opinion by psychologising working class thought.

Cato continues:

The faux rebellion narrative of the Brexiteers has succeeded.

They have managed to persuade a majority of the British people to support them against their own interests and the advice of every breathing expert.

Tory Brexiteers managed to exploit the hostility felt towards politicians – something they themselves have engendered – and presented voting Leave as an act of rebellion.

During the campaign I was reminded of Yeats’s poem The Second Coming when he says that ‘the best lack all conviction, while the worst; Are full of passionate intensity’.

Although the content of the arguments of those arguing for a withdrawal from our own continent was nonsense and their statistics largely bogus, their passion for their cause was compelling.

Here we see every other desperate left-wing evasion deployed throughout the EU referendum campaign, now repackaged to explain the Remain campaign’s defeat. First, the repeat of John McDonnell’s insidious line “Tory Brexit”, trying to paint the decision on Britain’s place in the EU as a partisan affair supported only by the Evil Tories – a direct contradiction of Cato’s later admission that “people on the right and the left voted for Brexit and it implies nothing in terms of domestic politics.”

And then Cato talks explicitly and hysterically of “withdrawing from our own continent”, as though by leaving a dysfunctional and ever-more tightly integrating political union which no longer works for us we are somehow literally cutting ourselves off from the continent and suspending diplomatic relations with our close friends and allies in Europe.

In their rage at being overruled by the working classes whose support they take for granted and whom they fatuously claim to represent while doing no such thing, the coddled metro-left are making themselves look utterly ridiculous.

But these paroxysms of rage directed at their own supposed base (and the Evil Tories who led the simple, uneducated working classes astray) – in this case offered up by Molly Scott Cato, a decadent Green Party MEP  – only serve to reveal the festering black hole where the heart of left-wing politics once beat.

28 June – 23:10

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone magazine has a great rebuttal to the increasing number of pundits arguing that Britain’s vote to leave the EU is a symptom of “too much democracy”:

Were I British, I’d probably have voted to Remain. But it’s not hard to understand being pissed off at being subject to unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels. Nor is it hard to imagine the post-Brexit backlash confirming every suspicion you might have about the people who run the EU.

Imagine having pundits and professors suggest you should have your voting rights curtailed because you voted Leave. Now imagine these same people are calling voters like you “children” and castigating you for being insufficiently appreciative of, say, the joys of submitting to a European Supreme Court that claims primacy over the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights.

The overall message in every case is the same: Let us handle things.

But whatever, let’s assume that the Brexit voters, like Trump voters, are wrong, ignorant, dangerous and unjustified.

Even stipulating to that, the reaction to both Brexit and Trump reveals a problem potentially more serious than either Brexit or the Trump campaign. It’s become perilously fashionable all over the Western world to reach for non-democratic solutions whenever society drifts in a direction people don’t like. Here in America the problem is snowballing on both the right and the left.

Whether it’s Andrew Sullivan calling for Republican insiders to rig the nomination process to derail Trump’s candidacy, or Democratic Party lifers like Peter Orszag arguing that Republican intransigence in Congress means we should turn more power over to “depoliticized commissions,” the instinct to act by diktat surfaces quite a lot these days.

Taibbi concludes:

If you think there’s ever such a thing as “too much democracy,” you probably never believed in it in the first place. And even low-information voters can sense it.

It is hard to describe just how strongly anti-democratic sentiment is coursing through social media at the present time. This gem came from the timeline of a friend:

Here’s an idea. For our next referendum, let’s settle the question of the correct interpretation of quantum mechanics. Maybe make up for the shortfall in science funding #askamoron

The sneering, snide attitude toward Brexiteers is not going anywhere. Nor is the furious refusal to look at the EU referendum as a question of democracy, but rather as a purely short-term economic question from which the public should take their lead from self-described “experts”. Of course, as Taibbi argues in his Rolling Stone piece, the experts from ancient times, including Plato, were far from agreement themselves as to the meaning and worth of democracy.

Fortunately, while we must do without Plato, we do at least have an abundance of self-righteous, sneering millenials, all furious that their ‘”futures” have somehow been ripped away, and all convinced that democracy is not worth a damn if it means other people (especially the ignorant working classes and selfish older people) having a voice.

28 June – 22:55

Some unexpected graciousness in defeat from Janan Ganesh in the FT today:

Pro-Europeans must learn to see the virtue in retreat. Spurred by the 48 per cent of voters on their side and the British impulse to make the best of things, they want to influence whatever settlement emerges between their country and Europe in the coming years. Conservative Remainers such as Theresa May, the home secretary, still have ambitions to lead their party. The Remain campaign aspires to live on as the liberal conscience of the more probable next prime minister — Boris Johnson — by encouraging his openness to markets and migration against more nativist competitors for his ear.

This is all very plucky, but so is turning up to work after you have been sacked. The British people have instructed their rulers to leave the EU. The execution of their will is the work of years and soul-sapping detail. It cannot be done by a prime minister who believes the instruction was foolish in the first place. It is awkward enough that the technical process of extrication will be managed by reluctant, deflated civil servants.

As a point of democratic principle, the highest offices in government — prime minister, chancellor of the exchequer and foreign secretary — should now go to committed Leavers, preferably ones with compatible accounts of what Leave should mean. A government of all persuasions would be magnanimity for its own sake and a perversion of the referendum result.

None of this is pleasing to say as a Remainer but it is no less true for that. Imagine our reaction if, having lost the referendum by a four-point margin, the other side invoked their hefty vote share to justify a prominent perch in the making of European policy with a view to loosening the terms of membership.

Democracy, like sport, is governed by a cruel clarity. Forty-eight per cent of votes does not entitle pro-Europeans to 48 per cent of their manifesto or 48 per cent of major ministries. Victory and defeat are more absolute than that, and not out of some misplaced machismo. It is for the sake of accountability that winners take all in our system.

That accountability is now everything. Leavers have won what was essentially a referendum and a general election all in one. They must be responsible for the country in the coming years. The economy, the union and the commitments made during the referendum campaign are all theirs to safeguard. A European settlement that simultaneously satisfies Brussels and the 52 per cent is theirs to negotiate.

All very admirable, but I dispute the idea that everything must now be in the hands of the Leavers – particularly if this is taken to mean only Vote Leave apparatchiks, who by no means represent the full depth and spectrum of Brexiteer opinion. This EU referendum was emphatically not a general election. The question before the British people was whether or not we should leave the European Union, and that is the question which was answered. To claim that it was a mandate for anything else is disingenuous. We did not elect a Vote Leave government with our referendum choice, and Brexiteers’ collective support for leaving the EU does not mean that we wish to see a prime minister Boris Johnson – in this blog’s case, emphatically not.

And so while the instruction given by the voters to leave the EU must absolutely be respected, this does not mean that Remainers should automatically be shut out of government. In fact, if the Brexit approach is to proceed along the liberal lines that we hope for, harnessing the desire of Remainers to maintain our preferential access to the single market will be important for building political support for the approaches outlined in Flexcit.

But more than that, Brexit requires the best of all Britons, including those who supported the Remain campaign. Taking their toys and walking away from active participation in the political process as an act of retaliation for having been “taken out of Europe against my will” (to quote the oft-heard whine on social media) is childish in the extreme. Now is not the time for disappointed Remainers to sit back with their arms crossed, hoping for the Leave campaign’s worst elements to fail. That is no kind of citizenship.

Nonetheless, the tone of Janan Ganesh’s piece is to be welcomed. The FT lobbied hard and shamelessly for a Remain vote, making their newspaper virtually unreadable in the process. Perhaps this will mark the start of a renewal.

Earlier in the campaign, I excoriated Ganesh for his earlier lazy and miserabilist comments that Britain is no longer a country “where history happens”, and challenged him to a debate on the point (I received no reply despite repeated attempts).

Perhaps in addition to his gracious words in today’s FT, Ganesh would also now like to retract his assertion that Britain no longer makes history, in light of recent events?

28 June – 10:55

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”President Abraham Lincoln, annual message to Congress, December 1862

This, from Pete North, is so important to remember:

I am not the only one to be having a post-referendum wobble looking at what we have unleashed. But mostly the shockwave is psychological. We are waking up to the enormity of what we have decided. It’s bigger than even I thought.

But what drives that fear is what my good friend and compatriot Sam Hooper calls “catastrophisation”. Many on the remain side are now in apoplexy going full tilt to find any scrap of evidence that supports their dire warnings. It’s pervasive and quite persuasive. They do it because they believe there is, by so doing, a chance of overturning the result.

But we should hold our nerve. We should not cave into second thoughts. What is done is done. If we go back on our decision now and go crawling back we will be treated in the same way as a battered wife who goes back to her abusive husband, begging for forgiveness.

For a moment in time on Thursday, to abuse a cliche, middle England roared with pride at who we are and what we can do. We should hold on to that. If we give way to doubt then we shall be all the more diminished and in a worse position than before. I urge you to continue to trust in you voting instincts, that we prosper because of who we are, not because of the EU.

I freely admit to having had some of the same initial uncertainties the moment it became clear that we were about to win – not least because victory was so unexpected (and I chasten myself for some of my earlier pessimism). When the gravity of what Britain had decided first hit, it was both awe-inspiring and sobering. It is fair to say that Britain has not made as consequential decision as this in a generation, and this one was made not by professional politicians but by the people.

Now, of course, all hell has broken loose. The turmoil in the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the markets was inevitable and hardly surprising, particularly since the doggedly pro-EU British government had spent months pumping out cataclysmic warnings about how the world would end if Britain leaves the EU. This will settle down, particularly once nervous speculators and jittery investors realise that Britain’s economic fundamentals did not suddenly change in the early hours of 24 June.

But developments are moving quickly now, and thinking Brexiteers must be nimble and quick to shoot down threats to the safe, staged and liberal approach to Brexit that we want. First and foremost, that means defending the referendum result against the kind of people (like Labour MP David Lammy) who would overturn the result entirely, claiming essentially that the British people were not in their right minds when we voted to leave the EU.

But future threats are also coming thick and fast. Now we must also be on guard to defend against calls for a second referendum, a souped-up form of “associate membership” of the EU, attempts to end Britain’s current preferential access to the single market or the puffed-up, self-important posturing of Nicola Sturgeon and the denialist Scottish nationalists.

It is heartening that EFTA itself has signalled that it would welcome Britain back as a member, thus allowing us to trade with the single market through EFTA’s EEA agreement. Given the close run vote nationwide, it should not be beyond the wit of even our politicians to promote this as a solid compromise which acknowledges Remain’s victory by taking us out of the EU and political union, while nodding to Remainer concerns by maintaining our single market access and at least nominal free movement of people.

Will any of this be easy? No, of course not. Things worth doing – things that might unleash radically greater freedom or prosperity – are never easy. A vote for Brexit was a vote for hard work, because we will no longer have the EU’s safety net to limit our choices and insultate us from their consequences, at the expense of our democracy. For Brexit to succeed, it is fair to say that we must all become better, more informed and engaged citizens. Having taken the first step toward clawing back power from Brussels it is not acceptable for us to now lazily leave all of those powers resting with the same Westminster MPs who readily gave them away in the first place.

So brace yourselves for more hard work. Achieving the best outcome from Brexit may prove to be every bit as difficult as winning the EU referendum. But there should be no doubt that it is possible.

At this time I am reminded of the words of John  F. Kennedy in his speech at Rice University, where the US president set his country the target of sending a man to the moon:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

As a country, we in Britain have not attempted anything remotely as inspiring or consequential as sending a man to the moon in the living memory of most Britons. Standing alone against fascism in the 1940s or (some would say) creating the NHS stand as obvious, depressingly dated examples. But now we choose to plot a path as an independent, democratic nation, and reject our current status as a vassal of a deliberately and profoundly antidemocratic EU.

After forty years of slow but steady political integration with the institutions of Brussels and Strasbourg, this will be difficult. Long-ago atrophied skills and competencies will need to be rebuilt at all layers of our government, while the case for democratic (and constitutional) reform in Britain must press ahead if we are to receive the full Brexit dividend.

On September 12 1962, with his country badly losing the space race to the Soviet Union, President John F Kennedy set his country an almost unimaginably ambitious goal. To quote another American president, he “dare[d] mighty things”. And by the end of that decade, the boot prints of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were stamped into the moon dust.

These days, our ideologically bankrupt politicians do not set us even the smallest of challenges or seek to inspire us to new heights of achievement, preferring to bribe us with promises of an easy life and more, better public services, always paid for by someone else. So since our politicians no longer dare to challenge us, now is the time for the people to challenge our politicians to set their sights higher. And that is precisely what we have done with this vote to leave the unloved, undemocratic and fraying European Union.

The occasion is piled high with difficulty – but also with promise – and we must all rise with the occasion.

28 June – 09:00

Apologies for the radio silence (except on Twitter). I trust that my readers have been well served, as always, by the blog, Pete North, Ben Kelly, Lost Leonardo and the other superb thinkers and writers of The Leave Alliance.

Updates will be patchier than usual until next week when full normal business will resume. In the meantime, this thread will remain live as a place for semi-partisan analysis of fast moving developments.


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Unmasking The Anti-Democratic European Union

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Elections alone do not make democracy

You’ll probably have heard it a thousand times by now, from a succession of glazed eyed EU apologists – “people have a nerve calling the EU anti-democratic! The European Parliament has proportional representation, which is better than the House of Commons! And what about the unelected Lords?”

The insidious idea that because parts of the British constitutional framework are undemocratic we should freely accept the deliberately antidemocratic governance of the European Union is glib and toxic, and deserves to be rebutted.

Fortunately, the bloggers of The Leave Alliance have been hard at work doing just that.

Lost Leonardo of the Independent Britain blog breaks it down to basics:

Democracy, from the Greek—demos and kratia—literally means ‘people power’. A democratic system is one in which decisions are taken as closely to the people as possible. The UK system of parliamentary or representative democracy could be said to be a limited democracy while the Swiss system of direct democracy is what one might call a true democracy.

The EU government, for that is what it is, is not only undemocratic but anti-democratic. The people have no control over the decision-making process whatsoever.

First of all, there is no self-identifying European demos. I am happy to identify as European, but I do not regard German or French people as my fellow countrymen. Although we are all born of the same civilisation, our different languages, cultures, customs and traditions makes us foreign to one another. The kind of solidarity needed to constitute a demos cannot be forced or faked and it is simply not present at the continental level. I am British first, not European.

As a result, the idea that the European Parliament represents the people of Europe is absurd. European elections are not really European elections so much as snapshots of how discontented a given people are with the politicians in charge of their respective national governments. Turnout in European elections is low, not only in Britain, and very few people take the results seriously. The European Parliament is the weakest of the five most important EU institutions: the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, the European Council and the Council of the EU.

Lost Leonardo then goes on to detail how the strength and breadth of the EU Commission’s power alone is proof that the system was deliberately designed to lift power and decision making as far above the heads of the people as possible:

There are three features of the EU system which cement the European Commission’s dominance. First of all, the EU is the supreme law-making authority in the Member States. The precedents for this are long-established in European and English law. EU law trumps British law, and where the two conflict, the judge will find in favour of the EU. In the event that a decision is disputed, the final judgement is made by what is, while Britain remains in the EU, the highest court in the land, the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Second, the European Commission has sole “right of initiative” within the EU. No new EU law can be proposed, amended or repealed without Commission involvement and approval. This is the key to the anti-democratic character of the EU. There is no way to “reform” this aspect of the EU because no initiative can or will progress without Commission consent. There is no mechanism to compel the Commission to act; legislative proposals put to the Commission by other EU institutions are advisory only.

The Commission is the executive arm of a supranational government, but the commissioners are not directly accountable to anybody. The European Parliament has the power to unseat the entire Commission, which has happened once, but there is no mechanism to hold individual commissioners to account.

Third, the Commission itself is comprised of political appointees who swear an oath of allegiance to act in the interests of the EU as a whole rather than representing the interests of any particular nation-state. Thereby does the Commission protect the body of EU law from democratic accountability.

This is the inverse of the British idea of freedom under law which is founded on the principle that no Parliament may bind its successor. Under the EU system of governance, every law is sacrosanct unless or until the Commission says otherwise.

Some EU apologists will try to hold up the fact that there is always a British commissioner as some kind of safeguard or firewall protecting our interests, but as Lost Leonardo points out this is entirely misleading – their allegiance is to the European Union only.

Tony Edwards of The Brexit Door blog gives us an overview of the type of calibre individuals which often make it to the European Commission:

Our present commissioner is Lord Hill, his role is in the financial stability portfolio. He has never been elected to any office in the UK. Other commissioners have often been failed or deposed politicians, none so more that the UK representatives: Mandleson, Kinnock, Patten, Jenkins, Brittan. Others were totally unelected at any stage such as Baroness Aston who was held the foreign affairs portfolio during the failed Ukraine adventure.

Which is less than ideal, because:

Individual commissioners cannot be removed by anyone but the commission or the council. The entire commission can be removed by a no confidence vote in the parliament.

So in essence the executive is almost unassailable, has prerogative on all legislative matters and its members are unelected. Not only that, they cannot be removed by the will of the people unless the parliament is willing to unseat the entire commission – a very unlikely scenario.

And Edwards rightly concludes:

The structures of the EU are in a sense democratic in one feature, in that they hold elections. But the power of the people is incredibly far removed from the real holders of power, the commission itself, which is not democratically elected nor removable by the people directly. It is not democracy in any form that would be acceptable in the UK institutions, and the people are largely voiceless in it.

Not only that, the bodies are constituted in such a way that those who are against the general direction of further federalisation are always in the minority. In effect, once a competence has been passed to the EU, there is no mechanism for it to be returned. The ECJ, by activism can also extend the role of the EU through interpretation of the treaties, and this transfer of competencies is also irreversible in practice. Any move to repeal legislation must realistically be made by or sanctioned by the Commission.

Reform of the EU is therefore impossible. It is designed with only one purpose, to integrate more and more power to the Commission which then acts as the head of a European Superstate. The commission makes the law and sets the direction of travel with little resistance from the EU representative structure.

But still, Remainers love to suggest that it is the United Kingdom which is democratically broken, and the European Union the white knight come to rescue us. Of course our British democracy has its flaws. The unelected nature of the House of Lords. The fact that Britain ranks alongside Iran as the only other country to have unelected clerics sitting in its upper legislative chamber – a literal theocracy.

But these are reasons to take back power first from the European Union, and then set about reforming our broken government in Westminster. We need root and branch constitutional reform to unpick decades and centuries of patching, fixing and bribing, so that at long last we have a constitutional settlement we might be proud of (or at least less ashamed of having to explain to perplexed foreigners).

We should devolve power equally to the four home nations of the United Kingdom, giving Wales, Northern Ireland and England the kind of policymaking and fiscal autonomy currently enjoyed by Scotland. Tax should be devolved even further, with a low base rate of UK income tax to fund the functions of the federal Westminster government – things like defence and foreign affairs – topped up by the home nations, regions and local authorities as they see fit, according to local needs and priorities.

But even if you disagree wholeheartedly with this suggested approach, these are decisions that Britain should make as an independent, sovereign state, not as a vassal of the European Union, which exists solely to act as a ratchet towards political union and for whom good governance is very much an afterthought.

But as Pete North darkly warns, we should be under no illusion as to what will happen if we fail to take this opportunity to wrest back power from the European Union as the first step toward revitalising our democracy:

Having failed to break the political deadlock the referendum will be used as an excuse to ignore the dissent and resentment bubbling under the surface. They will be free to do as they please as though a remain vote was a mandate. The cycle of introverted navel gazing will continue among our political class while the vitality of the media continues to drain away and journalism slides into the abyss.

And having surrendered the substance of government we shall see a further abdication from grown up decision making. We will have lost any kind of effective early warning system by way of having totally dysfunctional politics and we will be forever be on the backfoot, responding ineptly to crisis after crisis without the means to defend ourselves and lacking the political intelligence to formulate policy.

In that regard, one might have some sympathy with the remainer view that Britain does not have the capacity for self-governance. We have already squandered much of it. And if that be so, and the verdict from this referendum is that we should simply surrender and fade into obscurity, travesty though that will be, then this really is the end of Britain as an independent nation.

And what then?

There is a fork in the road. One road leads to a reboot; a collective reorganisation of everything to reshape our country to meet the challenges of the future. The other road leads to subordination, irrelevance and the quiet death of democracy.

In this, should we choose to remain, I don’t expect to see a big implosion. Just a very gradual crisis of competence. Things will break down without anybody quite knowing why – or even noticing that they are broken. Taxes will go up, prices will go up, the number and quality of services will decline. We will find ourselves paying for that which we assume we have already paid.

Corporates and government will do as they please to us as they will have figured out that all of the power is theirs and we won’t resist. We won’t rock the boat. We won’t risk anything radical. We will do anything to preserve the status quo and not let anything difficult intrude on our lives. Obedience is always the path of least resistance.

In that, you will be free in your gilded cage. Free so long as you live within the margins and pay your bills on time. If you make a stand individually you will be picked off. The whole weight of the system will come crashing down on you. You will have no democratic recourse. No day in court. No defence. No justice.

The European Union exists first and foremost as a ratchet process toward the full economic and political union of its constituent member states. You don’t have to take my word for it, or anyone else’s – the EU’s founders and past and present leaders openly admit as much. Only in Britain do we bury our heads in the sand as to this crucial fact.

This is the EU’s first and only priority. And if achieving it means dooming the south to permanent recession, exacerbating a worsening migrant crisis or committing any other kind of governmental vandalism, so be it. The EU certainly has no particular desire for individuals and communities to gain more control over their lives and the decisions which affect them – indeed, the entire structure of the EU reflects an enormous fear and disdain for the sentiments and priorities of ordinary people among the sainted “founding fathers”.

So whatever flaws may exist in our imperfect British democracy, do not believe for a moment that we shall transcend them by fearfully voting to remain in the European Union. We shall not.

And if you think things are bad now, wait until our Westminster parliament is truly just a council chamber in Europe.


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Little Englander Conspiracy Theories, Eh?

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It isn’t difficult to discern the trajectory of the European Union over the next decades. Just listen to the words of the EU’s leading political figures from past and present

Leave Alliance blogger Paul Reynolds has published an excellent retort to claims by assorted Remainers and EU apologists that those of us who warn of the impending European state are somehow indulging in paranoid fantasies.

For while everyone in the Remain campaign, from the prime minister on downwards, may be shouting “move along, nothing to see here!” while the scaffolding for a single European state continues to be steadily assembled behind their outstretched arms, any objective person can clearly see what is going on.

Among the examples given by Reynolds, in a piece entitled “A Profound Choice”:

“We have sown a seed… Instead of a half-formed Europe, we have a Europe with a legal entity, with a single currency, common justice, a Europe which is about to have its own defence. ” — Valery Giscard d’Estaing, President of the EU Convention, presenting the final draft of the EU Constitution, 13th June 2003

“The proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged. They have simply been dispersed through old treaties in the form of amendments. Why this subtle change? Above all, to head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary!” — Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, 2007, referring to the the Lisbon Treaty achieving the aims of the rejected EU constitution

“The Constitution is the capstone of a European Federal State.” — Guy Verhofstadt, then Belgian Prime Minister, now an MEP

“The European Union is a state under construction.” — Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs

“Of course the European Commission will one day become a government, the EU council a second chamber and the European Parliament will have more powers.” — German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressing MEPs,  November 2012.

“We need a true political union … we need to build a United States of Europe with the Commission as government and two chambers – the European Parliament and a “Senate” of Member States … European Parliament elections are more important than national elections … This will be our best weapon against the Eurosceptics.” — Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, January 2014

“For my children’s future I dream, think and work for the United States of Europe” — Matteo Renzi, Italian Prime Minister, May 2014

 “I look forward to the day when the Westminster Parliament is just a council chamber in Europe.” — Kenneth Clarke, Conservative Chancellor in International Currency Review Vol 23 No 4 1996

Reynolds then goes on to show how this was the plan all along. As it was in the beginning:

Nor should anyone believe that this is a recent development. The EU was always conceived as a vehicle for supra-national federal union, dating right back to its founding organisation, the European Coal & Steel Community (ECSC) established in 1951:

“Through the consolidation of basic production and the institution of a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and the other countries that join, this proposal represents the first concrete step towards a European federation ..”
 — The Schuman declaration May 1950

“By the signature of this Treaty, the participating Parties give proof of their determination to create the first supranational institution and that thus they are laying the true foundation of an organised Europe.” — Europe Declaration made on 18 April 1951, at the signing of the Treaty of Paris establishing the ECSC

Is now:

“Do you really want to participate in a common state? That’s the question.” — Francois Hollande, French President, addressing UKIP leader Nigel Farage in the European Parliament, 2015

And forever shall be:

This is reinforced by the proposals for the next EU treaty, The Fundamental Law of the European Union, published by the federalist Spinelli Group of MEPs, through the Bertelsmann house in late 2013. The preamble contains a telling paragraph:

“This proposal for a Fundamental Law of the European Union is a comprehensive revision of the Treaty of Lisbon (2007). Replacing the existing treaties, it takes a major step towards a federal union. It turns the European Commission into a democratic constitutional government, keeping to the method built by Jean Monnet in which the Commission drafts laws which are then enacted jointly by the Council, representing the states, and the European Parliament, representing the citizens. All the reforms proposed are aimed at strengthening the capacity of the EU to act.” 

European Political Union without end, Amen.

The time for childish, wistful self-deception is over. The British people need to wake up and make a decision – as Francois Hollande rightly exclaimed last year, in a moment of rare candour – about whether we want to participate in a common European state, or whether we wish to be independent, like every other major country in the world outside of Europe.

Ignorance about the intentions and trajectory of the European Union is no longer excusable. These quotes are not difficult to be defined. Neither can their existence be denied or countered in the way that the various economic claims on both sides have been subject to ridicule. These statements all exist because the real political leaders of Europe really do intend to take the European Union in this direction. Today’s EU institutions stand as testament to their vision and their determination to make it a reality.

Contrast the determined long game played by the euro federalists (the quotes selected by Paul Reynolds extend from 1951 through to 2015) with the flimsy, ethereal, cosmetic efforts of British politicians to supposedly win “concessions” from the EU. David Cameron’s renegotiation was nothing more than a grubby little fraud perpetrated on the British people, securing meaningless nods of assent from various heads of government acting in their own capacity, not the EU’s, most of whom will soon have moved on and been replaced by successors who do not feel bound to honour the various tidbits promised to Britain.

And leftists are no better. The once proud and principled tradition of left-wing euroscepticism is virtually dead, stabbed in the back by the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Jones (was the guilt and shame of this betrayal – and he knows he is betraying his true values – the reason why Owen turned in such a weak performance on Question Time last night?). And the leftists are now queueing up to talk about their utterly unachievable pipe dream of hands-across-Europe socialism, pretending to themselves and the rest of us that the EU can somehow be “changed” into a perfect socialist vessel. The EU’s founders and current leaders have been working toward a common state for nearly a century! What gives the likes of Owen Jones and Yanis Varoufakis such misplaced confidence that their little socialist tugboat can alter the course of the EU’s giant oil tanker, steaming at maximum knots toward economic and political union?

No, there are only two choices available to Britain – leave the European Union and seek to become a self-governing democracy once again (like every other major country in the world), or remain in the European Union and continue down Francois Hollande’s path toward a common European state.

There is no third way. David Cameron’s renegotiated settlement is not worth the used napkin on which it is scrawled – as far as the EU is concerned, a “Remain” vote mean that Britain is all squared away and ready to continue the march toward political union.

And those who continue to fatuously claim that the EU is simply about cooperation, trade and sharing cookies with one another are lying – to themselves, and to the British people. That benign version of “Europe” is not on offer in this referendum. We have a choice between independence and re-engagement with the world as a confident, powerful player on the one hand, and continued participation in the journey to a common European state on the other.

Do you really want to participate in a common state?

As Britons step into the polling booth on 23 June, this is the question which should ring in our ears.


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One Month Until EU Referendum Day. Time To Break Out The Rudyard Kipling

The unforgiving minute approaches

At the conclusion of The Leave Alliance’s recent highly successful TED-style talk, in which Dr. Richard North walked through the Flexcit staged plan for leaving the EU, a number of the alliance’s Bloggers Army and other audience members stayed behind afterwards to explain their own reasons for voting Leave on 23 June.

Here are a selection of those reasons – including a contribution from yours truly.

The Leave Alliance is comprised of a diverse group of people from across the political spectrum, some who have been devoted to this cause for decades and others for whom it is a much more recent obsession.

I have the honour of fighting the EU referendum campaign alongside this excellent group of people – a group which comprises Dr. Richard North, surely the foremost authority on the European Union in Britain, Pete North, a writer of very rare ability, the Bloggers’ Army, whose various research and writing talents all far eclipse my own, and our very generous readers and supporters. It is a singular honour to be associated with them all, and to make even a small contribution toward our common goal.

Things are not looking good for the Brexit cause right now. The list of unforced errors, media howlers and general acts of incompetence committed by the oh so politically savvy leaders of the official Vote Leave campaign grows by the day. By clinging stubbornly to disproven statistics and flat-out false arguments, Vote Leave squander credibility faster than we can possibly hope to win it back. Indeed, fighting this EU referendum with the likes of Boris Johnson as a figurehead for the Brexit cause is like trying to swim the English Channel with a ball and chain clamped to one’s ankle – strive though we might, we are inevitably dragged down beneath the waves.

It should be noted that nearly every single one of the official Leave campaign’s missteps and key points of criticism could have been avoided by heeding the advice of The Leave Alliance – not least in terms of the importance of having a robust Brexit plan to lay before serious opinion-formers and influencers.

But we fight on, and we fight to win. Though the path to victory for the Leave side is now very narrow indeed – essentially resting on significant unforced errors from the Remain campaign or major external political shocks, as this blog now argues – we must continue to make the bold, globally-engaged case for Brexit, and stand ready to quickly capitalise on any good fortune which comes our way.

This blog will be working flat out for the next month to achieve the impossible and secure a vote for Brexit in the referendum on 23 June. David Cameron managed to say one true thing during his round of media appearances this weekend – that this referendum campaign is indeed more important than a general election. And so it is. It therefore demands the best of all our abilities.

In his famous poem, “If”, Rudyard Kipling wrote of filling the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run. Well, the final month ahead of us between now and Referendum Day will certainly be unforgiving. We are behind in the polls, we have nearly the entire political and cultural establishment ranged against us screaming hysterically that Brexit would somehow usher in the apocalypse, and the man generally recognised as the figurehead of our movement is, for all intents and purposes, a malevolent lunatic.

So – that should make eventual victory having overcome these challenges all the sweeter, no? We at least owe it to ourselves to try, to work tirelessly for victory but also pragmatically so that we are positioned to turn a bad result into the best possible starting point for our next attempt. And when we feel despondent, let’s remember that these are not ordinary political times. One year ago, who would have said that Jeremy Corbyn would be leader of the Labour Party, or that Donald Trump would be the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee?

So let’s fill the unforgiving minute. Let’s leave it all on the field, as the Americans say – or on the pitch, if we’re being particularly British.

Who’s with me?


While normally it might be considered unbearably trite to quote Kipling, a close reading reveals that in fact there is barely a line which is not highly applicable to those of us struggling to voice a thinking person’s Brexit message in the hurricane of the national referendum debate. And so:


If —

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!


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The Leave Alliance - Flexcit

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Brexit For Grown Ups

Eurosceptic but tempted to vote Remain because of the Boris Johnson / Faragist circus that is the official Leave campaign? There is a better Brexit campaign out there, and they have a comprehensive plan for safely leaving the European Union which does not rely on trumped up statistics or school playground insults

Are you a eurosceptic or undecided voter who is instinctively sceptical of the European Union, but put off by the bombast and rank amateurism of the official Leave campaign?

Perhaps you sense that there must be a better campaign out there somewhere, that the well worn record of Nigel Farage and the ranting of Boris Johnson – a man who had not even decided which side he was on until a couple of months ago – cannot possibly make then the best ambassadors for Brexit.

Perhaps you appreciate that most of us already know and understand the reasons why the EU is bad, and that what matters now is convincing a majority of our fellow citizens that there is a safe and non-disruptive way to leave the political construct of the EU while maintaining, even enhancing, our status as a global trading nation.

If this describes you, then you may get value out of this excellent TED-style talk by Dr. Richard North of the blog. The video comes from a recent meeting of The Leave Alliance at the Royal Overseas League in London, and is a great visual exposition of the comprehensive plan for leaving the European Union known as Flexcit or the Market Solution.

Read The Market Solution pamphlet here.

Read Flexcit (the full-length plan) here.

It is vital for people to understand that the coming EU referendum is not like a general election, or even a by-election. We are not voting to elect the Vote Leave Party – thank heavens. That means that although Vote Leave often say some fantastical and frustrating things, and continue to spout statistics which don’t withstand the slightest scrutiny and end up helping the other side, fortunately it doesn’t matter because Vote Leave will not be in charge of the secession negotiations with the EU.

The idiots in Vote Leave do not speak for the whole Brexit movement, and their half baked plans for leaving (such as they exist) do not represent the political realities. In reality – when you take into account the inherent caution of the civil service and the composition of the Westminster parliament which would have to deal with a Brexit vote (more than 50% Remainers) – Britain would inevitably take the path of least resistance and exit to an off-the-shelf EFTA/EEA model (or a shadow version of the same) as a stepping stone, maintaining single market access but giving Britain the right of reservation, an emergency brake on immigration (like the one David Cameron failed to win) and a full seat on all world bodies once again.

This is why Remainers are desperate to falsely discount the EFTA/EEA model as something that Brexiteers either do not want or which would mysteriously be denied us – for it annihilates at a stroke every last one of their doom-laden warnings about economic apocalypse in the event of Brexit, while freeing us from the explicitly political union which they seem to love but dare not publicly say so. Adopting Flexcit (the Market Solution) leaves the Remain campaign with literally nothing besides their fear of change and love of having a supranational government increasingly do the hard work of governing.

For in truth, there is no cooperation between European countries which cannot flourish just as well – and often much better – outside the EU’s explicitly political, integrationist structure. Be it defence, international aid or the environment, inter-governmental cooperation can be far more effective than running everything through a set of institutions in Brussels which were designed not to foster effective governance, but to gradually sideline and undermine the various member states, creating immense resistance and resentment along the way.

If one reads the history of the EU, one quickly realises that the founding fathers never troubled to hide their intent, or the fact that two world wars made them see the nation state as the root of all evil, and the EU’s supranational government as the “cure”. This is not a conspiracy theory – you can read it in their own words. To think that Britain can stay in the club and not be swept along to the final destination is denialist fantasy.

As for staying “globally relevant”, this blog and my fellow writers in arms ceaselessly point out that most EU trade rules are actually set by global bodies like UNECE, Codex Alimentarius, the IMO and other organisations. The EU often does not come up with these rules and regulations, but merely passes them along to the member states, sometimes with unwelcome EU gold plating and tweaks which actually act as an impediment to global trade. The EU is certainly no longer the “top table,” as Remainers love to claim.

That is the future of trade and globalisation – global regulation. Being in the EU means that Britain surrenders our seat or vote on these bodies, must fight to be just one of 28 countries contributing to a common EU position, and has no right of reservation to say no to those regulations which could harm key industries or our national interest. Perversely, sometimes the EU, claiming competency and controlling the British vote, wields that vote against us in these global bodies. Brexit means we can rejoin the global regulatory environment as a full and active player, while remaining in the EU is quite literally giving up and conceding that Britain no longer has the ability or the will to govern ourselves.

But worst of all, voting to Remain because of understandable disillusionment with the mainstream Vote Leave campaign will doom us – quite unnecessarily – to a dismal future lived cowering behind the EU’s skirts while the opportunity to build a genuinely global trading and regulatory framework passes us by.

And for what? Nothing more than the pointless pursuit of a dusty, mid 20th century blueprint for a united Europe, dreamed up by old men scarred by the memory of two world wars and already out of date, long before it is fully realised.

Europe has moved on since VE day. And euroscepticism has moved on since the 1990s. Wanting Britain to leave the EU does not mean throwing your lot in with Nigel Farage, UKIP, Boris Johnson or anyone else, if you do not wish to do so. There is another way. There is a better Brexit campaign out there.

Take 30 minutes of your time to be an engaged citizen, and watch the video.

Then come join us.


The Leave Alliance - Flexcit

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