Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Brexit blues

Anything happen while I was away?

For what it's worth, I was a Remainer. This was because although I've never been a particular fan of the EU, and would probably not vote to join it if we were not already members, I thought whatever benfits might result were not worth the economic, political and diplomatic pain and trauma of unraveling a 40 year relationship. Still, we are where we are now and there's little point in rehashing all that. The question is, where are we?

One of the biggest deficiencies of the Leave campaign was a persistent failure to spell out exactly what "Leave" meant. Albanian models, Canadian models, Norwegian models, Serbian models - all of them were raised, but none of them were defended in any depth. So despite the apparent clarity of the question, the answer doesn't actually get us very far.

By (very sensibly) declining to invoke Article 50 on the morning of the result, David Cameron has ensured that we now have a bit more time to thrash out what answer we are looking for. This really is something you would have expected the Leave campaign to be on top of but there we are.

There is, in fact, a perfectly good reason the Leave campaign ran on vagueness. The Leave vote was, effectively, won on the back of votes from people who feel left behind by globalisation and want much less immigration. The UKIP campaign deliberately sought these votes out. Many if not most of the Tory leavers, by contrast, stand for an open economy, open borders, and a sort of turbo-charged liberalism. Hey, me too but if this had been the tenor of the Leave campaign they'd have been lucky to get 15-20%. So what they did was hold their nose and pander to the anti-immigration ticket while presumably secretly planning to ignore it if they won. I don't think this shows Boris, Gove et al in a particularly good light.

What should we do? Fucked if I know, frankly. But the people have spoken, and now it's up to our politicians to try and parse their answer into an outcome that is as un-disastrous as possible. That's going to have pretty serious implications for all the main parties - without even considering the fact that at least two of them are going to be having leadership elections.


Blogger Recusant said...

I think you might be being a tad unfair on the Leavers and their 'lack' of a plan. The referendum was a binary question: In or Out. That's all. They were not standing for office and they would not be implementing the result; the people would be issuing an instruction. An instruction which the government had pledged to implement, as only they could, because they are the government.

If there are to be criticisms for lacking a plan, they should be directed at the government. They knew they would be the ones in charge of implementing the result, whatever the outcome. They knew it was a question with only two possible answers. They knew it was not beyond the realms of possibility that Leave would win and yet they made no contingency plans. That, frankly, is disgraceful. For goodness sakes, the government has contingency plans for asteroid strikes.

Anyway, as you say, we are where we are and it would help if our political class could get a grip. And our media could stop their hysterical hissy fit. Yes, they didn't want the answer given, but it has been given and they could at least make an attempt to respect it.

11:03 am  
Blogger Tim J said...

Yes but. The Government don't know what Leave means, and the absence of a lead on that from the Leave campaign makes it very difficult for the Government to make a plan!

11:49 am  
Blogger Recusant said...

Well, I suppose you could say it means 'Leave'.

There weren't further options on the ballot. So they can now negotiate any settlement as long as it involves leaving the EU. What I am saying is that it would have been useful if they, the government, had gamed this before.

12:09 pm  
Blogger Gilman Grundy said...

The problem is that there are two mutually incompatible visions of what "Leave" actually means. One keeps free trade. The other excludes freedom of movement from Europe. They cannot both be achieved.

The best course is to wait and see whether enough people have their minds changed by the chaos that is currently unfolding in this country to reverse the decision to leave. Three months of the simultaneous implosion of our economy, and explosion of hated against immigrants in this country, may well have that effect.

If after three months of that people still want Brexit, then I might as well emigrate.

1:21 pm  
Blogger Recusant said...

There isn't going to be another referendum in three months: we've had it and that is it. But the version of Leave that will win is the free traders vision, not the stop-the-worlders.

1:58 pm  
Blogger Tim J said...

It's not free trade as usually understood that's really at stake - we can almost certainly negotiate a trade agreement with the EU. It's the single market in services, and especially the passporting of financial services that's at stake.

It's going to be a right old tightrope someone's going to have to walk...

9:47 am  
Blogger Recusant said...

To be honest, Tim, the Single Market in services is a bit of a red herring. I've been selling my services business on the continent for 25 years and I have been selling it in the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and trade policies, regulations and all the rest have never even impinged on my consciousness anywhere. It's a non-existent problem.

Now if I was selling agricultural products or manufactured goods, that would most definitely not be the case, but that comprises only 12% of our economy and less of our exports.

Financial services could go either way. I would not put it past the EU to mess up and hand a huge competitive advantage to the City, like with the US in the Sixties: Eurodollars, anyone?

2:08 pm  
Blogger Recusant said...

Tim, sorry to come back for another bite, but European banks actually rely even more on passporting to get access to London. London is almost certain to remain the dominant financial centre; European banks would suffer as much or more than UK ones if the passporting system was eliminated (and a close substitute was not created).

12:34 pm  

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