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Weekend reading: Armistice Day 2020

Weekend reading logo

Yeah, Brexit, then the rest of the week’s good reads.

The news is not good but it is official: at midnight 31 January 2020 an armistice is in effect between the forces of Remain and Brexit.

The four-year long war is over. Remain lost.

The terms of the armistice agreement – or ‘surrender deal’ as many will call it – will be tough to swallow for Remain’s exhausted troops.

But given the decisive victory for the Brexit Barmy Army in the climactic 12 December 2019 battle, fighting on was hopeless.

The key concessions granted from 31 January:

  • British citizens and their children give up their birthright to live in any of the EU’s 27 member countries.
  • British citizens and their children also lose their automatic right to travel and work in any of the 27 countries.
  • Britain will pay £33bn to our former ally, the EU, over the next four decades.
  • UK companies can no longer be assured of access to the EU’s ongoing market of 450 million consumers and its £13.5 trillion economy.
  • British companies can no longer assume they can recruit vital and skilled workers from the EU.
  • Britain will exclude itself forever from the trade and political deals made between the EU and its fellow superpowers the US and China, and will have to acquiesce to innumerable rules and regulations imposed by Brussels without our input.

After four years of bitter struggle, this is tough to read.

And nothing can bring back the £130 billion the Brexit War has already cost the UK.

Some who fought in key skirmishes such as The Battle of the Enemies of the People will never forget the blows to our institutions in the fighting.

Historians will dissect the conflict for generations. After all, when a million people marched for Remain compared to the barely 300 that muddled about for Brexit, it seemed the tide was turning.

But whether by winning hearts and minds or by bamboozling brains, the forces of Brexit triumphed.

Blitzed spirit

Of course an armistice – a cessation of hostilities – is not a peace treaty, let alone a Marshall Plan.

With Brexit’s leaders struggling to articulate a strategy that fits the facts on the ground, it’s difficult to be optimistic about Britain’s potential to make great gains from here.

One Brexit commander, Michael Gove, is already briefing UK business that it will indeed be impossible to secure friction-less trade with the EU, under the government’s own vision of Brexit.

But this is the same side that said we’d pay not a penny to the EU – compared to £33bn – so who knows what other reversals lie ahead.

Even more than money, one wonders about the long-term consequences of the conflict and its ramifications on the social fabric.

A campaign to raise money to have ‘Big Ben Bong for Brexit’ raised a feeble £273,000 and received only 14,000 donations (£50,000 of that from one key Brexit backer), underscoring the lack of euphoria across much of the nation.

Indeed many Brexiteers still seem incredibly angry despite their victory, frothing and waving Union Jacks as they marched out of Brussels.

This contrasted with our former allies in the EU singing Auld Lang Syne to wish us a fond farewell.

Barry Island

Set against all that, Britain is a wealthy nation.

Admittedly its economic output is but a fraction of the mighty EU perched off our shores.

But we will muddle through. Poorer, almost for sure, and more isolated by definition. But not broken, as Barry would no doubt stress.

Perhaps our leaders will look to the example of post-WW2, when the ruined nations of Europe came together – barely a decade after killing millions of each other – to form the European Union.

The formation of the EU ushered in a golden age of peace, prosperity, and cooperation the likes of which we’d never before seen.

Let’s hope we’re so lucky.

From Monevator

How much wealth do I need in my ISA versus my SIPP to achieve financial independence? – Monevator

Getting hands-on with your budget with Money DashboardMonevator

From the archive-ator: Review: How To Make A Million – Slowly, by John Lee – Monevator


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!1

UK house price growth at 14-month high, says the Nationwide – BBC

UK interest rates held as economy shows signs of picking up – BBC

MPs’ report calls for inheritance tax to be replaced by 10% tax and a death allowance – ThisIsMoney

London stock traders push to shorten their day by 90 minutes – Bloomberg

Portugal set to curb tax breaks for wealthy foreigners [Search result]FT

(Click to enlarge)

What happened to UK house prices over the past 174 years? – ThisIsMoney

Products and services

The best deals on interest-free overdrafts [Search result]FT

The best apps to get fit with your friends: from Fitbit to StravaGuardian

RateSetter will pay you £20 [and me a cash bonus] if you invest just £10 for a year – RateSetter

Disgraced Neil Woodford’s smaller Income Focus fund will reopen on February 13 –ThisIsMoney

Homes with unusual roofs [Gallery]Guardian

We both get a free share if you open an account with FreeTrade and fund it with £1 – FreeTrade

Fintech mini-special

Vizualising the current landscape of the fintech industry – Visual Capitalist

Every company will be a fintech company – Angela Strange/a16z

Comment and opinion

Why market timing can be so appealing – Of Dollars and Data

Buffett’s bet against hedge funds revisited – Humble Dollar

Do recessions need to happen? – Cullen Roche

“I made headlines as a personal finance guru. Within months, I was drowning in debt”Guardian

Putting the next market downturn into perspective – A Wealth of Common Sense

Art as an asset class: Evidence from John Maynard Keynes [Research, PDF]Oxford Academic

The hidden risk [not all…] FIRE investors miss – Movement Capital

Nobody wants your shit – Abnormal Returns

The investment impact of an ageing population – The Evidence-based Investor

Naughty corner: Active antics

Stop worrying and learn to love momentum – Klement on Investing

Pondering power prices and premiums – IT Investor

Politics and Brexit

The seven stages of Remainer grief – UnHerd

Martin Wolf: Britain after Brexit will not be alone, but it will be lonelier [Search result]FT

Why one left-wing Brexiteer won’t be celebrating Brexit Day – UnHerd

Can you still live in the EU after Brexit Day and other questions answered – BBC

At last we hear from everyday Leave voters the compelling reasons for Brexit [BBC video] – James Felton via Twitter

Kindle book bargains

[Note: These prices will expire end of Friday 31 January.]

The Looting Machine: Warlords, Tycoons, Smugglers and the Systematic Theft of Africa’s Wealth by Tom Burgis – £0.99 on Kindle

The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo – £0.99 on Kindle

Economics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang – £1.99 on Kindle

Off our beat

The two key questions that will determine if the coronavirus outbreak becomes a pandemic – Vox

Different kinds of easy – Morgan Housel

Why procrastination is about managing emotions, not time – BBC

Stay quiet and get to work: Why you shouldn’t share your goals – Art of Manliness

And finally…

“Looking for a manager who will beat the market for you over the next 20 or more years is like looking for a needle in the proverbial investment universe haystack.”
– Tim Hale, Smarter Investing

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every Friday!

  1. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”. []

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • 1 ermine January 31, 2020, 7:03 pm

    In the spirit of magnanimity/abject surrender, I suggest Brexitards who want to hear Big Ben ring out their freedom from the yoke of the EU download a recording of Big Ben from the Parliament website given that the original is hors de combat 😉

  • 2 Matthew January 31, 2020, 8:04 pm

    Trade might not be frictionless but it wont be zero – we won’t be forbidden from trading with the EU any more than we trade with the US or china – choose which country you want to sell to, make your product to that spec (not just EU spec!) – we wont have a say in EU policy like we dont have a say in US or chinese policy but our say in the EU 27 was always debateable at best. If anything the world will be more open to us once we nolonger have to follow the rules of only one customer.

    A union is an anticompetitive thing by nature, the EU tried to use collective bargaining for its trade deals, which is protectionist.

    Laws are not one size fits all, the EU is too cumbersome to govern efficiently or apply policies that suit every corner. The EU was much more nimble when it was first formed, with more valuable countries – what do you gain by adding countries that have no money to buy from us and the only trade they can do is by taking money for undercutting our workforce?

  • 3 The Escape Artist January 31, 2020, 8:15 pm

    Well done for including the Paul Embery article. I highly recommend watching his interview on the excellent Triggernometry podcast:


  • 4 Tony Edgecombe January 31, 2020, 8:37 pm

    A sad day indeed.

  • 5 Wicker January 31, 2020, 9:01 pm

    Armistice be b****red! My kids are ‘triggered’ by Brexit, incandescent and shaking with rage tonight and can barely talk to the few members of the family that voted for Brexit. I don’t think we are at the point of an armistice at all. Kids are now looking for the Brexiteers to deliver on their promises.

    For the record these promises are: more NHS money, more money for farmers, more money for scientists, more money in your pocket, scrapping of VAT on fuel bills and tampons, no EU beneficiaries left worse-off, no short-term economic disruption, no damage to trade with the EU or our cooperation with the EU, all guaranteed in a treaty which we’ll sort out before 2020, we won’t have any obligation to follow EU laws, we’ll cut immigration with a new system in place by 2020, that doesn’t favour EU citizens, but which gives Irish citizens total free access. Stronger border controls but no controls on the Northern Irish land border with the EU, and the union with Scotland will be stronger than ever.

    As for me I applied for my German passport before the deadline. Last one out switch the lights out please.

  • 6 no ill will January 31, 2020, 10:43 pm

    for those that want to stay in the EU, and want foreign passports to get out , you know were the door is and don’t let it hit you in the arse on the way out!

  • 7 Jonathan January 31, 2020, 11:34 pm

    Not a day to be optimistic, but presumably one way or another the country will muddle through. Economically we may end up behind where we should, but in all honesty Britain has had a poor track record for achieving its potential anyway.

    But in terms of economics, goods traded elsewhere need to meet regulatory requirements. It seems I have been naive, but I would have thought it better to fit with the regulatory requirements of a major bloc you have helped shape than need to have different products for different markets many of which you are trading with under disadvantageous terms.

    Lo0king at your other links, the academic article about art appreciation in value was interesting. I and my wife occasionally buy stuff we both like – as recently, part of a pact to choose a joint Christmas present for each other – but of course nothing like at the level of Keynes’s Cezannes and Degas. It’s bought for pleasure not investment, current account not capital, but that doesn’t stop me occasionally being curious about whether its value might be maintained.

  • 8 Mr Optimistic February 1, 2020, 1:30 am

    The last four or so years have been so unedifying. The minority won’t accept the majority but they can’t muster the arguments such they can revoke the decision they don’t like. They can’t formulate compelling arguments why you should subsume your existence to a superstate controlled by people and institutions you are only half aware of, from cultures different from your own.
    Well, as a remain voter I don’t see the problem.

  • 9 arty February 1, 2020, 5:03 am

    I suspect I’ve probably made this point before, but I do hope that your active investing relating reading isn’t as extraordinarily one-sided as your reading on Brexit appears to be (recognising that your reading may well be more balanced than the articles that you repost here).
    In the spirit of providing a bit of balance, I’ll offer a couple of articles with a slightly different perspective that I found to be of interest:

  • 10 Andrew February 1, 2020, 9:20 am

    I would like to wish everyone a very happy Brexit Day.

  • 11 The Investor February 1, 2020, 9:49 am

    @all — Morning! I have a super busy weekend and won’t be able to debate in-depth here, so I’ll add to my narrative very occasionally.

    Please note abusive stuff from either side will likely be deleted. I’ve left Mister “leave the country” in above so everyone remembers a segment of the people we’re dealing with (this stuff abounds in vox pops / on social media etc, but when it shows up here, which is thankfully not often, I tend to delete.)

    They can’t formulate compelling arguments why you should subsume your existence to a superstate controlled by people and institutions you are only half aware of, from cultures different from your own.

    On the contrary, we’ve made innumerable compelling arguments as to why we should remain part of the EU:

    It’s massively economically advantageous, Britain very likely benefited hugely from membership as likely shown by trajectory from 1970s to 2010s, we were able to influence Europe in a more free-market direction which has helped us in turn, the UK over-benefits from integration in financial services and from immigration into important areas such as technology start-ups, the EU promotes extremely useful scientific, technical, and legal information sharing and cooperation, it’s an institution that has held Europe together and peaceful since WW2, we enjoy the automatic right to freely travel, live, and work across all 27 member states, membership has no proven downside except possibly slightly lower wages at the very bottom c.10% (best corrected via redistribution) and some pressures on housing and services, and we believe in today’s world Britain in one of the few super-sized political blocs (with the US, China, Russia, perhaps one day India) is a more powerful than a little island nation of 60 million.

    Leave voters don’t like these arguments / don’t agree with them. They can’t really refute most of them IMHO because they’re facts

    But they don’t *feel* the same about the fuzzy subjective edges (cooperation, benefits of travel/movement).

    Which is fair enough.

    In contrast, most of the argument given for leaving are not about facts. What facts they give are just wrong. It will not be economically advantageous in any foreseeable scenario. Immigration will not *stop*. We will not go back to the (mythical) Britain of the 1950s, let alone Empire. We will not become a white nation again. (No NOT all Leavers at all, I doubt more than 20% at a guess, but all of that ilk are Leave voters. Please look up ‘logic’ if you’re confused.) Britain will not forge a new destiny as a more significant player on the global stage. We will not be able to do lots of things we couldn’t do because of crippling regulation from Brussels — because there was basically, rounding down, no crippling regulation, as has been shown lots of times by asking Leavers to name the crippling regulation that’s affected them.

    The only good factual reasons for voting Leave — more control over immigration/free movement, and more *technical* sovereignty.

    We can definitely make our own laws as a nation more independently without being part of a larger body, by definition. But sovereignty isn’t just about the laws you make, it’s about your freedom of action. As a smaller, weaker state with reduced soft power, arguably we lose as much as we gain here.

    That’s basically what it’s come down to, as we’ve discussed 1,000 times on this site.

    I wasn’t going to do Brexit again but the absolutely half-arsedness of the ‘celebrations’ yesterday (culminating in a weird fusion of a 1970s Last Night of the Proms / Royal Wedding crossed with a Tommy Robinson rally) just summed up what a pathetic waste of time this is.

  • 12 The Investor February 1, 2020, 10:04 am

    I suspect I’ve probably made this point before, but I do hope that your active investing relating reading isn’t as extraordinarily one-sided as your reading on Brexit appears to be…

    When the Referendum was first mooted, I read a lot from both sides, albeit from more credible less partisan sources (e.g. FT, Economist, Prospect, several economic studies).

    I admit I didn’t expect to be dissuaded much from my position. I’ve long been a c. 70% pro-EU / 30% against sort of person. I recognize there are issues with supra-states around feelings of democratic representation (still are in e.g. the US) and I am wary of ‘ever closer’ union. I also don’t like the Euro.

    However I thought maybe I’d read about how membership actually had curtailed this or that UK industry. Or how I’d not appreciated some huge drain on UK services from higher-than-expected inward migration. Or that the amounts we paid in were larger relative to the benefits than I understood. Or how we really had no control over a million people coming here and signing on for benefits and doing nothing.

    Not a bit of it. I read nothing at all of that ilk.

    E.g. Just *one* economic report found a small downward pressure at the lowest decile, which could be corrected via redistribution and seemed a small price to pay for the benefits (there will always be winners and losers).

    If anything we had more ability to control who claimed services than I understood before. Ditto the EU seemed — while far from perfect — slightly more democratic than I’d appreciated before. And the economic benefits from integration and friction-less borders were clear.

    All I heard from pro-Leave sources was essentially patriotic nationalistic guff or nostalgia, or worse. There are only two sensible arguments for Leaving – ‘reduce immigration’ and ‘we can make ALL’ our own rules, though to what end was never stated. These weren’t compelling to me.

    Even after the vote I thought well let’s see. Maybe it is easier to make a deal. Maybe they have got some great plan.

    Anyone who says the last four years proved anything but the absolute opposite is not assessing the situation half fairly.

    And even what ‘facts’ they gave have turned out to be nonsense. (A deal will be an afternoon’s work, we won’t have to pay a big bill to leave, the EU will treat us terribly, countries will line up to give us trade deals.)

    So forgive me if I don’t spend time re-posting links to propaganda wrapped in the flag saying it’s a bright new future for Britain blah blah blah.

  • 13 The Investor February 1, 2020, 10:10 am

    In the interest of balance, here are some pro-Leave voters who went to Trafalgar Square being interviewed by the BBC last night:

    (Turn the sound up.)


    This is the impression I get of the majority of Leave voters, whatever some write here about how Remainers are being patronizing etc.

  • 14 Bill G February 1, 2020, 10:19 am

    So disappointing that after four years of Brexit headlining the news agenda people still spout lies (misunderstandings if you’re feeling generous) about the EU.
    How Paul Embury can call it anti-socialist defies logic. Which other supranational body takes huge sums of money from its richest members to fund infrastructure in its poorer areas?
    And as for state support of strategic industries, has he never done business with the Lander in Germany?

  • 15 PC February 1, 2020, 11:24 am

    A very sad day. “Coming together” feels like the new “you lost get over it” to me.

  • 16 A Betta Investor February 1, 2020, 11:30 am

    This book,
    although badly written, explains why Europe has always been too fractious to be ruled by one entity. The Roman Empire came closest but never really succeeded in raising enough taxes from its far flung empire to sustain itself.
    However, the bonds created by the latin language and the christian church it fathered allowed Europe to grow in a competitive tension, i.e. wars, that ultimately led to the industrial revolution and our modern society.
    The author argues that this could never have happened in a monolithic hegemony like China because no top down authority ever allowed it.
    On this interpretation Europe could now be poised for more growth as competition increases.

  • 17 Mike N. February 1, 2020, 11:34 am

    “Freedom of Movement has been rubbish for the average Brit… Yeah, it means Brits can work in the EU. However it also means they can come here to work…. It’s been a one way street of Europeans escaping stagnant economies and rubbish wages coming to the UK.”

    You know that in relative terms there are more UK citizens in the EU27 than the other way around, right? So, apparently there were more British people eager to get out than EU27 eager to get in.

    “A union is an anticompetitive thing by nature”

    Yep, let’s hope Scotland, NI and maybe Wales realise that “truth” soon as well.

  • 18 FI warrior February 1, 2020, 11:48 am

    It’s interesting if totally unsurprising, to see the gloating brexit victors now refusing to free the Scots, when they make the exact same arguments in support of ‘throwing off the yoke of vassalage’ from a bullying, bigger neighbor. We’ll now see what the Romans did for us.

  • 19 Seeking Fire February 1, 2020, 11:57 am

    Au Contraire Rodney (Investor). You seem to think Brexit is a bad thing for most people. That is unlikely to be the case. There is strong economic and geo-political evidence that Brexit is going to be (moderately) positive for the majority of people. And I don’t understand why people can’t see it. If your Chinese, American, Russian, Indian you’ve just witnessed a fracture within one of the biggest trading blocs that geopolitically provides a significant counter balance to your own ambitions (which largely entail relatively speaking becoming wealthier than the Europeans). Obviously if you are part of the European Union or worse British, things don’t look so rosy given your loss of geopolitical clout. But hey that’s just a minority of people and they’ll have increasingly less influence as economically & militarily their significant decline. For most people globally, it’s probably a good thing. Just not us.

    Let’s not worry that in this coming decade the largest economy in the world will not be a representative democracy and has fundamental differences to us (and is largely populated by a race many of whom believe that they are superior genetically to others – read if this is news to you), that the second largest economy, which hitherto was largely aligned to us, is becoming increasingly nationalistic as its hegemony is challenged. Let’s not worry that for the first time since the zenith of the British Empire the balance of power is dramatically shifting away from Anglo Saxon world to Asia. Let’s not worry that 85% of the economy is services and 50% is sold to the biggest trading bloc that we’ve left. We’re going to have blue passports.

    The devil takes the hindmost is potentially the best outlook over the next ten to twenty years for individuals. I say this as someone who is no great supporter of the EU, can see the flaws, has very limited interest in the Euro, think some of the stuff coming out of the integrationists is fantasy and can swing both ways voting. I just think people in the UK are broadly speaking completely blind as to what is happening geo-politically and I’d rather be part of a group of people who I broadly agree with than swinging the bat on my own. Particularly when my bat isn’t very strong.

  • 20 Kraggash February 1, 2020, 12:13 pm

    Maybe if the EU had been more explicitly recognised as what you imply – a global super power, along with USA and China (note, Russia is nowhere in site) – by more in the UK, there would have been more people voting remain. Instead, there was huge focus on niggles and It’s ‘growing pains’ than the big picture.

  • 21 The Investor February 1, 2020, 1:36 pm

    @Kraggash — Russia has one of the two largest nuclear arsenals in the world and could wipe out the West in 10 minutes. That makes it a superpower by default.

    The lack of discussion about the ongoing potential for nuclear disaster by the *cough* hard headed realists *cough* of the Leave intelligentsia is yet another flaw in their fantastical case.

  • 22 David February 1, 2020, 2:08 pm

    “But not broken, as Barry would no doubt stress.”

    Au contraire (are we still allowed to say that?) … as an Englishman living and working in Scotland it’s clear that the pressure for independence is growing. We’re perhaps not broken yet, but the cracks are beginning to show. The long-term outcome might well be the break up of the union. Ironic considering the official name of the party that led us to this.

  • 23 Passive Investor February 1, 2020, 2:20 pm

    @investor ‘it is an institution that has held Europe together and peaceful since WW2’. I think the consolidation of democracy at nation-state level and NATO really take the credit for post WW2 peace in (Western) Europe. Whether or not you agree with that you can’t seriously be arguing that Brexit makes peace in Europe any less secure, surely?
    ‘Patriotic,nationalistic guff’ and the mocking of the two inarticulate women in Trafalgar Square reveal a complete tin ear for the natural and benign emotions that hold a country together I am afraid. This is the story of the last few years for me. Affluent technocratic metropolitans who feel they have more in common with their counterparts in the EU than with their compatriots in generally poorer parts of the country.
    I understand the arguments for staying in the EU but I don’t understand the anger of (some) Remainers or their need to conflate a desire to leave the EUs institutions of government with xenophobia or worse.

  • 24 Matthew February 1, 2020, 2:36 pm

    @ti – why would russia nuke us? What would it gain? We’re not threatening them and they dont need our resources, if anything theyd harm their own investments doing so

    And putin will step down, and the soviet days a fading memory

  • 25 Brod February 1, 2020, 2:37 pm

    And so it’s done.

    I’ve got an exit route and I’m going to use it. I don’t want to be part of this little Englander fantasy. So the country loses yet more highly educated professionals.

  • 26 Indecisive February 1, 2020, 2:54 pm

    @Matthew, #1: “what do you gain by adding countries that have no money to buy from us and the only trade they can do is by taking money for undercutting our workforce?”

    Do you recall which country argued for eastern expansion of the EU?

    I’ll give you a clue: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/eu-enlargement-a-uk-perspective

  • 27 The Investor February 1, 2020, 2:55 pm

    @Matthew – I haven’t got time for Internet rabbit holes today.

    The point is Russia is a superpower, as opposed to not one per comments of a Brexiteer earlier.

  • 28 Matthew February 1, 2020, 3:25 pm

    @indecisive – it was the previous UK administrations (ie ‘the establishment’ which includes old guard tories) that did indeed want eastward EU expansion, and indeed to suppress wages – and indeed doing so helps the overall economy, it was just thought that in Majors/Blairs time that nobody would pay attention to the ukip like faction of the day. But with time it grew and grew, people could no longer blame the old left-right model for wages. You could also say that perhaps more people are getting entrenched in the benefits system as more people rent, so therefore more people get undercut when someone will work for peanuts without benefits.

    @ti – military superpower, yes. Military power can secure physical resources, although maybe not financial assets, unless perhaps you used them for extortion

  • 29 Fremantle February 1, 2020, 4:13 pm

    This is a good article going into the reasons for Brexit


    The EU has always been an ill fitting suit as far as the UK is concerned. Being outside the Euro, our rebate and other get out clauses has limited our influence on EU policy, making the loss of control less palatable. The 2011 currency crisis and bypassing of the UK altogether when push came to shove.

    Very few Remainers have argued for currency union, but instead painting our in-but not fully committed arrangement that has kept us on the periphery of EU power as some how the best of both worlds, rather than an unsatisfactory compromise that it was.

  • 30 Jonathan February 1, 2020, 4:19 pm

    Matthew, I wonder if the factor which made the UK among others favour eastward expansion of the EU really was just about the economic effects of a low wage labour pool. Might it have been at least as much cultural /political? Countries like the former Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary were historically pretty aligned with Western European culture, and I think there was a feeling they had been let down by being allowed to suffer Soviet domination after WW2.

    I don’t think it ever occurred to either John Major or Tony Blair that 52% of the UK electorate might think it undesirable to combine those cultural bonds with economic ones – though they must have thought hard about the way those countries’ recovery from the Soviet era would inevitably need supporting with EU funds contributed by the richer economies.

  • 31 Seeking Fire February 1, 2020, 5:07 pm

    Hard to see how Russia won’t get some benefit from Brexit. Quite possibly very minimal. Outside chance the Union breaks up at which point the ability of UK / NATO to exert influence on the North Sea lessened plus trickier to hide the nuclear deterrent in England as opposed to Faslane. That would really be knocking the ball out the park for Russia. More likely (hopefully that’s all) is the distraction caused by Brexit limits further the ability of EU to be a concerted deterrent to Russia economically plus the slower economy means less expenditure available for the UK militarily. I admit EU already weak as Russia largely has Germany by the metaphorical balls given it supplies most of its gas – Germany is geographically disadvantaged so always has to look both ways. The Fukushima disaster was a great outcome for Russia given Germany decided to halt its nuclear power plants. But anyway I only mention Russia as I feel they might be a beneficiary. Russia is an odd one given in the three times the UK has really been under the pump militarily in the last few hundred years (Napoleonic wars, WW1 and WW2) Russia (or its nearest previous incarnations in the Prussians (I know not quite the same)) were allies. Anyway they are probably a bit of a side-show and I agree very low chance of Russian conflict as their eyes are also looking east to a country they share a very large land border with that they can’t obviously police – Russia must be worried about their declining population no?

    The real action for us outside of Europe will be with the US and China. Trump v keen on Brexit principally as it’s good news for the US, which is the republicans current foreign policy – anything that benefits US. Weakens Europe and UK economically. Means we can be pushed around more. Ditto the Chinese but they’ll do it in a different way. Maybe it means your children / grand children will be more likely to work for a US / Chinese company in the UK with reduced regulations making the world of work worse than it is already becoming. Maybe I am talking nonsense on that point and I admit that’s pure speculation. If’s and maybe’s. But Ermine said it – if you can get on the side of capital.

    So what’s our plan? Hug the EU – if so pointless leaving but limits economic impact and we have to follow the rules. Hug the US – if so boost US trade, probably don’t fully offset loss of EU trade and why is taking the rules from the US any better than the EU – particularly with the US becoming less predictable given it’s dominance is under threat. Maybe a Singapore on Thames (certainly benefits me the most and is the logically the answer given the vote. But I see no appetite at all (and there never has been historically) amongst the electorate to deregulate…..do you? Labour / Liberal may have got stuffed but they got a lot of votes). With the fourth likely option being rejoining the EU in the future at a weaker position than we are currently in.

    At least that’s William Waldegrave’s (former conservative minister) view. But probably not until we’ve tried the first three options in various forms. Let me ask the question again…what’s the plan? I haven’t seen much of a clue and that’s with a dominant govt that can largely do what it wants for the next 4 years. I’m not sure there is a plan.

    Why is the UK still a permanent member of the UN security council? We have very little influence. Witness Syrian / Turkey offensive – UK calls a security council and achieves..nothing. UK foreign policy has been a disaster (and now a non-entity) for the last 15-20 odd years since Blair said we’ll be with you whatever.

    We have got to cut our cloth accordingly, realise we are a small but great country with declining influence and focus on bettering ourselves in this highly highly competitive world. Vietnam / Thailand / Indonesia – quite possible they overtake us in the next 50 odd years. Why not? What do we have that demands we stay in front? The saying that the first step to solving a problem is realising there is one looms large here.

    Let’s aim to become self sufficient through renewable energy in the coming decades – yes it’s good for the environment but it will also be good for standards of living as we can reduce imports and concern ourselves less with meddling in the countries where those imports come from. As an example of what the dialogue should be about even to say – no that’s wrong for these reasons….

    On Brexit – we joined the common market in the 1970’s but the electorate has been deceived for decades that this was an economic project. It’s in the first few pages of the treaty of rome that is is clearly a political project. I’m not saying its right or wrong but I can understand that as the process of political integration gathered pace in the EU the level of discomfort in the UK increased amongst the political elite. Quite understandable – Spain for example is a relatively recent democracy. Italy has always been inherently unstable since it was founded 150 years ago. Germany are the dominant force in the EU and we’ve been best of Frenemies with you know who for ever. I would have preferred making it work though than the options outlined by WW above. It’s seriously bad news for the EU which could splinter over the coming decades given the greater German / Franco dominance now may upset some of the smaller members.

    If you feel concerned about all of this then the FI message of getting on the side of capital to achieve independence for you and your family continues to have great resonance. And my rant is done!

  • 32 Robert Harrison February 1, 2020, 6:24 pm

    Will you please stop using the term “Brexitard”. It is derived from the word “retard”, which is a term of insult and derision for people with learning difficulties. Somebody on this thread was chided for using the word “arse”. In my opinion “Brexitard” is a much more coarse and insensitive expression.
    I don’t like nagging people, but if you want to successfully present yourself as high minded you have to use high minded language.

  • 33 Kraggash February 1, 2020, 6:33 pm

    @The Investor – are you calling me a Brexiter? I think you are a bit out of sorts today. I am as Remain as you can get, as was my comment.

    Obviously, I was talking about an economic superpower, but if if you wanted to talk nukes, EU with French and British arsenals could make quite a mess of most countries.

    But, most definitions of ‘Superpower’ consider economic, soft, cultural, and technological power, as well as military. Russia would not make it, and I dont think anybody counts it as one nowadays.
    (Nor would EU, as it’s not a country or State, as yet, but it is more than trading block)

  • 34 The Investor February 1, 2020, 6:50 pm

    @kraggash — apologies if required. Moderating off the phone at a wedding today so pretty hectic / quick scan based!

  • 35 White Dragon February 1, 2020, 6:55 pm

    Two points:

    Investor: A plan you say? Kind of hard to formulate a plan or even articulate it when, since the very moment of the result being announced back in 2016, those in a position of power have essentially been trying to ignore or reverse the result, whilst simultaneously seeking to brand those who voted the “wrong” way as racists, xenophobes, retards, “barry blimps” and all the rest. Give it a rest. It really is beneath you to continue using such language and detracts from an otherwise great blog. Whether you agree with Brexit or not, trying to reverse the result of a democratic election by non-democratic means is a slippery slope to far greater problems…

    The reference to the UN Security Council seat above was interesting. I wonder what pressure will now be brought on France to bring both its nuclear weapons and UN Security Council seat under “common” EU control and how France will react to that. You can see how France is not at all happy with the UK leaving. With the UK still in the EU, France can happily bring pressure on the UK to give up control of its nuclear subs and UN Security Council seat while France retains its own. With the UK out, the spotlight is now on France…

  • 36 Neverland February 1, 2020, 7:16 pm

    Fact is brexit has fractured the union of the uk and fractured england itself.

    The scots and northern irish are heading out the door.

    And the English are at each other’s throats.

    This isn’t an armistice.

    It’s the beginning of the long cold war to be fought in england.

    Why should anyone who want britain to be in the eu accept the 2016 referendum, brexiteers didn’t accept the 1975 eu referendum?

  • 37 Vanguardfan February 1, 2020, 7:18 pm

    Unless ‘I’m at a wedding’ is some sort of euphemism, or an easy cover story for when you are busy, you do seem to go to a lot of them

  • 38 Neverland February 1, 2020, 7:22 pm

    @Seeking Fire

    “So what’s our plan?”

    There is no plan, just sound bites:
    “Taking back control”
    “Red, white and blue brexit”
    “Get brexit done”
    “£350m a week for the NHS”
    “England for the english” (this last one, I just made up)

  • 39 Matthew February 1, 2020, 8:53 pm

    @johnathan – I think as you say there was a political alliance aspect to this, although these previous uk leaders at the time were very pro-immigration, and still are. Blair I think was aiming for the middle class, the effect on council estates that never voted pre-2016 was not a consideration

    @others – good riddence to scotland and NI, London is the only place in the UK that really brings in the money

  • 40 Mousecatcher007 February 1, 2020, 8:55 pm

    @ The Investor:

    ‘This is the impression I get of the majority of Leave voters …’

    You’re just trolling now. I’m disappointed.You can do better than this.

  • 41 Grislybear February 1, 2020, 9:14 pm

    Well its not completely gloomy. Two benefits come to mind straight away, Farage will finally shut up and go sit on a lilly leaf on some pond and we can look forward to Scottish independence and their re-entry into the EU.
    @Matthew, ” choose which country you want to sell to, make your product to that spec (not just EU spec!)” . Im sorry to disappoint you, thats just not how its done , take for example REACH ( EU directive) Chinese and US companies comply with it to make it easier to sell chemicals worldwide.

  • 42 Charles February 1, 2020, 9:40 pm

    On the plus side should be easy to get a doctor’s appointment on Monday with that extra £350m the NHS has got.

  • 43 Jonathan February 1, 2020, 9:43 pm

    Seeking Fire makes good points (if a bit verbose). Politically the UK’s Security Council place is a throwback and there is no longer the accompanying influence; surely sometime there will have to be a UN re-boot and we will indeed be at a similar level to Vietnam. From Russia’s point of view, needless disunity in Western Europe is a big gain.

    And in trade terms, it is difficult to see export opportunities to either the US or China which won’t be dwarfed by the imports we are forced to accept. At the same time, dropping home regulatory standards for either of them would hugely diminish any chance of maintaining historic markets in the rest of Europe. And we would have no seat at the table for any of them!

    But I also agree that a lot of the problems arose from when prominent EU figures talked about political ambitions not just economic. I actually don’t think it is wrong for the EU to have been discussing the ultimate direction of travel, but it would have been much better had those ambitions emerged from the normal democratic processes – in other words from requests by the EU Council (representing all member countries) for discussion papers, or from debates in the European Parliament.

    And Neverland also makes good points about the scars left on internal UK politics. How can Scotland and Northern Ireland not feel they are being ruled by an oppressive colonising government, ignoring their wishes and aspirations? In theory Boris Johnson’s government could use its majority position to rebuild bridges, but the language doesn’t encourage one to think that is likely.

  • 44 Fremantle February 2, 2020, 12:22 am

    I thought it was the Brexiteers who were obsessed with WWII references.

  • 45 Barry Maud February 2, 2020, 12:52 am

    I did not vote for Brexit although I was in favour. I did vote to join in 1973 or whenever it was. At that time I saw anything that encouraged the countries of Europe and, if possible beyond, to live in harmony as very worthwhile. And I was right. That harmony was achieved.
    The situation now is that the EU has become disfunctional in the management of it’s member states’ economies and the resulting disparities are such that they are more likely to cause dangerous frictions. The opposite of what I wished for Europe.

    Now is the time to stop posting corrosive and unhelpful opinions and to start positing constructive ways that we can build the economy to replace the lost billions caused by spending three and a half years trying to reverse a democratic decision taken by your fellow Brits. Happily democracy won and we can continue to be an example of how true democracy really is the ‘least worse way’ to achieve harmony amongst people with different opinions and priorities.


  • 46 britinkiwi February 2, 2020, 1:27 am

    I take @TI’s points that economically its likely to reduce growth in the UK, probably has done, at least short term, but exclaiming that an alternative non-EU past 30 years (assuming the referendum to remain in the EEC was lost) would have been worse is evidence free – as it must be, given the massive number of potential variables. Its an opinion, a model, even an expert opinion (!) but not something which can be measured and compared. Ditto with predictions to the future – we will not know what alternate realities may/would have produced.

    Gawd knows the incompetence of the UK political class and state may not have helped!

    And accepting Bloombergs 130billion lost growth and methodology at face value is just…. …see CapX for some thoughts on that https://capx.co/the-problem-with-the-big-cost-of-brexit-numbers/

    FWIW I suspect that the last few years uncertainty has had an impact – and as we know, markets and business hate uncertainty. It follows that incessant debates, arguments and discussions on second referendums and campaigns to reverse or ignore the 2016 vote created uncertainty in spades – and responsibility for this can be shared around……even to this great blog.

    @TEA – I agree, I have lot respect for Paul Embury and I’d recommend Matthew Goodwin also for a very articulate perspective on recent UK politics – here on Triggernomotry too https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kf1YKeq7lA

    Re: the Cononavirus – you can watch it develop on website like this one from John Hopkins – which looks very like a CDC screen in a modern zombie apocalypse movie – but then I’m a bit closer to patient zero than the UK and working in the health care field to boot.


  • 47 The Investor February 2, 2020, 3:36 am

    @Vanguardfan — I have *four* weddings this year, which is quite a tally at my age!

    None mine though. (Tiny violins! 😉 )

  • 48 Naeclue February 2, 2020, 4:07 am

    @Barry, I find it “corrosive and unhelpful” for Brexiteers to continually blame Brexit failure on Remainers. Sure there were people who consider Brexit a colossal mistake and sought to limit the damage or get the decision reversed. But there was also a great deal of infighting amongst Brexiteers themselves, with incompatible views about what sort of Brexit they wanted.

    As we move forward, it will become clear that a lot of the Leave side statements made before the referendum will turn out to be false and promises prove undeliverable fantasies. Will Brexiteers accept and acknowledge this, or will they continue to blame Remainers? Or will they look to blame the EU instead?

  • 49 The Investor February 2, 2020, 7:49 am

    @mousecatcher007 — I’m not particularly mocking them. I’m saying their inability to articulate the problem and the at best inchoate description of how life post Brexit is going to be better in any real way (let alone versus the huge concrete losses I list in my post) is the impression I get from very many Leave voters.

  • 50 Gary February 2, 2020, 8:39 am

    I’ve been following this blog for 10 years and this is the absolute low point. Time to move away from UK\EU noise.

  • 51 BBlimp February 2, 2020, 8:57 am

    Well I’m ecstatic ! We’re out !

    We no longer have to pay the membership fee – after rebate was pushing £12bn a year going forward which over 30 years dwarfs paying our share of spending commitments

    We can now trade freely with the 94pc of the world that isn’t in the Eu. All of which is faster growing than the EU. Let the EU hide behind their trade barriers… a bit like BA merging with Iberia adding a couple of rubbish companies together makes a larger rubbish company it’s the same with economies

    And to top it off, it’s lovely to see that remainers finally have to accept their place in the world. As equals with leavers, not their betters. They can cry and wail and repeat the same arguments that have been rejected time and again since 2016 but they couldn’t overturn it 😉

  • 52 JimJim February 2, 2020, 9:15 am

    A good friend from the antipodes sent me this in an email this weekend. “condolences on your MASH moment (Monumental Act of Self Harm)”
    I do not blame those who voted for leave, people will always vote with their hearts. Let us imagine that not all voters in this country, on both sides, are well informed about the nature of the E.U. or the benefits/problems of it. Where would they access this information? The expert opinion was delivered, as experts tend to, in a dry factual manor. The tabloid press did the opposite, posting headlines of moral outrage about petty rule changes and the cost of it all weighed against an invisible benefit that got barely a mention over the period of decades whether it was fact or fiction. Investors tend to look at a story and ask themselves why is this story trying to persuade me that this outcome will occur? what has the writer to gain if I accept his truth?
    Then I look at the actors, not the story. What have the few in the ERG got to gain? What skin in the game have the owners of the press got who tell me of straight bananas and euro sausages? Why the moral indignation in the press when the BBC does not represent their side enough but barely a sound from the side of remain when the asymmetry is reversed?
    Knowing the truth of the situation is difficult through the “message”
    Did the many really vote for a better economic outcome?
    I think the battle will rage on, just as it did when we joined in the 70’s and the eurosceptics lost they carried on the fight.This time Remain lost. Remainers still exist, but perhaps they will now fight as Rejoiners, may be not in as many numbers, at first not as vocal, but as soon as the promises of the leavers are proved dust in the wind they will be. Give it another 40 years and some daft headlines and see.
    What is business as usual now? Not even the government know this yet, there will be winners and losers in the next year if we are to get a deal with Europe. Place your bets.

  • 53 John B February 2, 2020, 9:43 am

    Armistice is the wrong word as its WWI connotations suggest its at an end. In fact the war continues with all the power with the Tory party shorn of their moderates. Nothing any of us say will make any difference now. I think they will do a dreadful job, but the flood tide of misery cannot rise high enough to get me, so I wash my hands of it.

  • 54 PC February 2, 2020, 10:05 am

    The battle will rage on and it will get worse as reality intrudes. There’s no reason the decision can’t be reversed in a few years.

  • 55 FI Warrior February 2, 2020, 11:35 am

    Well, an indication of what to expect in our immediate future lies (pun intended) in the stated aim of the new regime to be uncompromising in the upcoming EU negotiations. This is at odds with the conciliatory appeal to (the English people) to ‘come together and heal now’. With their tails up from their recent victory, they know they can only win with extremist posturing including condoning bigotry, it’s proven to just get more votes and the Chinese minority are now taking their turn to experience the hostile environment. It doesn’t look possible for the country to ‘settle down and get on with it’ when one half are continually provoked. Historically, calm has returned to upset countries with this sort of situation only when the victors are genuinely compromising (South African power handover at independence) or the losers are a small enough minority to be rode over roughshod, not an equal weighted half of the population.

  • 56 Matthew February 2, 2020, 11:41 am

    What @eugene says also ties in with how terrible ‘experts’ are at beating the stock market, we of all people shpuld be dubious of economists

    I have to say also that a psychological tactic of remain doesnt work with leave – the experts sneering at the emotional & uneducated – better to be the former than the latter, you’d think? Not necessarily, better to be the common man/woman than the snob.

    It is true that many leavers cannot articulate the full reasons, but I bet many remainers cannot to any depth either, and also I find both sides understand better than they can articulate, especially when they havent developed a politically correct/acceptable way of talking about the impacts of immigration despite having some notion of it. Besides showing a handful on screen in no way implies an average.

  • 57 JimJim February 2, 2020, 11:49 am

    @Mattew… “What @eugene says also ties in with how terrible ‘experts’ are at beating the stock market, we of all people shpuld be dubious of economists

    I have to say also that a psychological tactic of remain doesnt work with leave – the experts sneering at the emotional & uneducated – better to be the former than the latter, you’d think? Not necessarily, better to be the common man/woman than the snob”

    History: Mao?, Pol Pot?.. I hope your hands are hardened through work and your eyes need no spectacles come the revolution that holds experts in low regard.

  • 58 The Investor February 2, 2020, 12:04 pm

    It’s not hard to beat the market because experts are bad at their jobs or useless.

    It’s hard to beat the market because experts are so good at their jobs that they have competed away all hanging inefficiencies in prices (and net it’s a zero sum game.)

    This anti-intellectual anti-expert aspect of Brexit gilds the lily of its irrationality.

    Look around you. It’s 2020. We fly in planes and power our homes with nuclear power.

    You’d think the days of dissecting chickens for augurs and relying on gut feelings would have passed…

    But here we are, with a Leave platform partly enabled by it.

  • 59 Matthew February 2, 2020, 12:06 pm

    @jimjim – it takes a brave expert to go against the wisdom of the masses, like going against an index – there is a feeling that experts are more likely to take a “good for the whole country” approach and would sacrifice the masses if it means higher gdp, and then try to sell that. The talk of unfilled jobs, and yet never the mention that that may raise wages, the talk of inflation, but not a mention that that’d make mortgages fade, and there comes a time when inequality is so extreme that the good of the country no longer correlates with the good of the masses

    What we’re seeing is democracy vs technocracy

  • 60 ZXSpectrum48k February 2, 2020, 12:25 pm

    @Matthew. “Wisdom of the masses”. Give me a break. At least my 8 year old has grown out of believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden. I wish I could say as much for a large section of the population about a variety of issues. I’ll take technocracy please.

  • 61 The Rhino February 2, 2020, 12:33 pm

    Not sure I could survive without Strava and my Wahoo Bolt and associated sensors. Once you’re in there’s no going back. I had great fun reverse engineering the TrainingPeaks algorithms into my own spreadsheet. I was thinking a good side hustle would be offering myself up as a coach via TrainingPeaks. In a similar vein I was hoping to get into offering swim video analysis as a service. Trying to come up with a few more plan Bs if the RE part of FIRE is forced upon me..

  • 62 Matthew February 2, 2020, 12:52 pm

    @zx – in the long term if we ignore the masses, then our rulers nolonger serve the masses, and the masses ultimately end up serving the elite….

  • 63 JimJim February 2, 2020, 1:20 pm

    @ Matthew, Re “in the long term if we ignore the masses, then our rulers nolonger serve the masses, and the masses ultimately end up serving the elite….”

    When, in our history, have the masses not served the elite? I’m struggling with that one.

  • 64 FI Warrior February 2, 2020, 1:28 pm

    Elites never serve anyone, precisely because they don’t have to. So they simply look after their own best interests exclusively, hence their apex position on the social ladder. They either openly subjugate the masses through fear and raw power as in dictatorships or lull them into thinking they chose to live as they do through illusory dramas called democracy for example. There is little real free choice.

    This is the fundamental ugly truth of how human society has always been ruled, the most intelligent and or violent controlled the rest, from caveman days through serfdom and slavery until today’s pseudo-democracies. They are so few in number because they are predators and parasites and so need a large resource base beneath them to support their far superior lifestyles. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone thoughtful about modern life where we in first-world countries buy a 3 quid T-shirt made by the poorest in a third-world slum sweatshop, living in shacks where their children play next to open, toxic sewers. (If they’re not the ones making those shirts)

    Corporations (who are entities definitely not noted for charity) wouldn’t pay to enable an advertising/marketing industry worth billions if influence of the masses didn’t work. That would be obvious if common-sense was indeed common. Similarly, spin doctors wouldn’t run election campaigns, so the wisdom of the masses is an oxymoron at best.

  • 65 Guido Maluccio February 2, 2020, 1:47 pm

    So sad. Looks like Brexit will still be the splinter in England’s psyche.

  • 66 Joe February 2, 2020, 1:58 pm

    First time to comment. I have been following this blog since 2012. It taught me most of what I know about personal finance and investing, and I have always enjoyed reading the comments below the articles. It saddens me deeply to see the comments thread turn into this: BREXIT, conspiracies and delusions. This does indeed feel like a low point.

  • 67 Matthew February 2, 2020, 2:09 pm

    @jimjim – the premise of democracy is that the rulers serve the masses, so its effectively masses serving the masses – we pay tax, and we decide what sort of government we have. Work in the private sector on the other hand appears much more “master & servant” but actually in a capitalist system the rich must either spend, or invest, or if nothing else provide liquidity for a bank with cash, so what goes around comes around, and they are the customers of wider society too

    @fiwarrier – i used the term elites a bit too loosely, meaning our rulers – ie political leaders, who should serve us under democracy

    As for private elites, their money is serving society – they either provide liquidity to the secondary markets via investing (which enables new assets to be issued), or provide liquidity to banks via cash, or they spend, and arguably on the road to becoming an elite one must contribute to society, even if thats through investment.

  • 68 Neverland February 2, 2020, 2:18 pm

    The thing is when leavers talk about democracy they mean majoritarianism or as de tocqueville put it the tyranny of the majority

    That works both ways

  • 69 Passive Investor February 2, 2020, 2:27 pm

    @TI ‘This anti-intellectual anti-expert aspect of Brexit gilds the lily of its irrationality’. It just isn’t right to say that the arguments for Brexit are irrational.

    The political arguments for leaving are absolutely clear. The political structures of the EU are not democratic or properly accountable and it is not irrational to reflect on the historical success of Nation-state based democracy and decide that Brexit is a good thing. (This is particularly so when you consider that the direction of travel for the EU is ‘ever closer union’).
    The economic arguments are secondary but I agree are more open to debate. It may be that the introduction of some tariffs and friction to trade with the EU (the worst case scenario) has a small negative effect on economic growth – though it isn’t clear that this is the way the negotiation will end up. All economic predictions depend on numerous assumptions of course and there is so much uncertainty about these and counterfactuals that in 10 years time we’ll never be able to say to what extent Brexit has harmed or enhanced growth.
    Finally it isn’t right to compare intelligent scepticism about Economic Experts with a failure to believe the laws of Physics or to trust Engineering Experts (in your reference to planes and nuclear power). Economics was called the dismal science for a reason so never forget the 364 Economists who criticised Thatcher in 1981, the Treasury Economists consensus about the Exchange Rate Mechanism in the early 1990s and the Queen’s wonderfully disarming question at the LSE ‘Why did no one see it [the credit crunch] coming’ in 2008.

  • 70 Neverland February 2, 2020, 2:55 pm


    “The political structures of the EU are not democratic or properly accountable and it is not irrational to reflect on the historical success of Nation-state based democracy and decide that Brexit is a good thing. ”

    Now consider the same sentence construct with a couple of words changed:

    “The political structures of the United Kingdom are not democratic or properly accountable and it is not irrational to reflect on the historical success of Nation-state based democracy and decide that Scottish independence is a good thing.”

    Leavers are very selective in their application of “democratic principles” to suit their english nativist agenda

  • 71 The Borderer February 2, 2020, 3:02 pm

    “…the premise of democracy is that the rulers serve the masses…”

    I think not. The premise behind a representative democracy, which is our system, is that elected representatives (MPs) represent their electorate, including those that didn’t vote for them. I think ‘rulers’ serving the ‘masses’ might be more akin to a benign tyranny or autocracy.
    Because we live under a Parliamentary democracy as well, it is the duty of MPs to hold Government to account and to vote against Government if its proposed laws would not be in the best interests of their constituents.
    At least, that’s the theory.
    Must have got lost in the post somewhere.

  • 72 Matthew February 2, 2020, 3:22 pm

    @borderer – i imagine the opinion of the electorate should normally feature higher on the list of “best interests”, democracy afterall being an expression of opinion, they technically could get elected and then ignore their electorates opinion, if they want to face a similar fate to corbyn’s crew

  • 73 The Investor February 2, 2020, 3:28 pm

    @PassiveInvestor — Economic forecasting has a bad track record, we agree. Though remember that’s partly because economics changes what it observes (eg BOE cuts rates after Referendum to stimulate the economy, there’s then a slowdown but no recession, and then the BOE is criticised for panicking and cutting rates.)

    However long run big picture economics has a great explanatory track record. Incentives work. Comparative advantage works. Being in a big frictionless trading bloc works.

    It is armchair Telegraph readers rejecting that side of economics and waffling about India, China, and British Leyland that I object to.

    As you know I’ve often gone out of my way to restate often what I see as the legitimate (though not sufficient for me) reasons for Brexit — max sovereignty and more potential to curb immigration (not that we even used what we had).

    Most vocal Remainers see no legitimate reason to vote Leave but still I have “disappointed” Leave readers. Presumably they are disappointed I haven’t accepted their terrible decision was the right one. (I’ve accepted Brexit has happened, as in my post above, so that must be their complaint…)

    Anyway, Leavers can have those.

    They don’t get to have things that aren’t true, due to economics, like superior economic growth after leaving a super rich trading bloc, on the fumes of nostalgia. In anything short of a minor revolution (eg nation transformed into Singapore-lite) then for at least a couple of decades we can only be worse off.

    Fine, if one feels that’s a price worth paying for political reasons. But own it.

  • 74 Marked February 2, 2020, 3:43 pm


    Was reading the Morning Star article about the risks of FIRE, and didn’t realise that SWR rate was so sensitive. They said the following

    “Portfolio values can be extremely sensitive to withdrawal rates. For example, a retiree in 1965 with an initial 4.17% withdrawal rate ran out of money while a 3.37% withdrawal rate resulted in leaving a $2 million legacy”

    Wow – Double wow – a 0.8% delta made so much difference. My take from this is where you think about an SWR in probably 0.5% chunks it could make a mega difference. Certainly an eye opener.

  • 75 Neverland February 2, 2020, 3:49 pm


    0,8% is 30% of 3.37% so it’s really not so surprising at all that it makes the difference between running out of money and not

    The lesson I took from that realisation years ago was to avoid investment products with high annual fee percentages like leper colonies

  • 76 Indecisive February 2, 2020, 3:50 pm

    Good grief, this week’s post has brought out the worst in the so-called “winners”. Are you all emboldened by the government doing something symbolic?

    @Eugene, “Before the referendum we had expert after expert forecasting catastrophe if we voted for Brexit. We’ve now left the EU and we’ve really not experienced any adverse effects…”

    Come on, you’re a Monevator reader and can think through the flaw in that.

  • 77 ZXSpectrum48k February 2, 2020, 4:04 pm

    Off-topic but regarding the “dismal science” of economics. Professional economists understand how bad their short-term forecasts are but they required to forecast everything on a quarterly or monthly basis. To put a number on a variable at 2.33% for Feb when the best they can really say 2-3% over the next year or three.

    Economics has lots of issues compared to a science like physics. At a fundamental level, it’s flawed because it doesn’t deal with physical observables. “CPI” is an imprecise measure of an artificially created statistic. “Real GDP” we use that imprecise measure on yet another imprecise measure of an artificial statistic called nominal GDP. Economists make too many simplifying assumptions; their models are too linear, they assume processes are ergodic etc. Statistics are sometimes used carelessly without the probability theory that underlies it being understood. Nonetheless, given all of the above, their long-term ability to understand how economies actually behave in response to various stimuli is very impressive.

    People just need to accept that anything to the right of the decimal point is basically economists trying to demonstrate they have a sense of humour. Which given the abuse they get, they clearly need.

  • 78 Neverland February 2, 2020, 4:21 pm


    The stuff on the forum is just kiddie stuff to English nationalists

    Next up is intimidation of minorities. Oh look, already happening:


    We’ve already had the suspension of an uncooperative parliament, vilification of Supreme Court, government threats to the BBC and the murder of pro-EU mps

    How long till the first story about someone being beaten up on the street for ‘not speaking English’?

  • 79 The Borderer February 2, 2020, 4:52 pm

    @Matthew (74)
    “i imagine the opinion of the electorate should normally feature higher on the list of “best interests””.
    The Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, who formed what is probably the first ‘true’ Parliament when he got rid of the King and the House of Lords, said about the populance “…it needs the guiding hand of wisdom…” and that Parliament should be “for the peoples good, not what pleaseth them..”. Wise words.
    Unfortunately, with populist politicians egged on by the right wing press, I’m afraid you’re quite right – any politician who votes with his conscience will be out of work come the next election. Maybe that’s why people say ‘democracy is broken’?

  • 80 Passive Investor February 2, 2020, 5:18 pm

    @ neverland. If a majority of Scots supported independence in a referendum I would respect their decision regardless of the economic effects. The 2014 result was 55% vs 45% in favour of the Union

  • 81 Passive Investor February 2, 2020, 5:25 pm

    @ neverland. You can’t have a binary result (ie in out) referendum and not end up with the majority getting their way. Were you one of the Remainers arguing for tyranny of the minority? The Norwich poster is very ugly but it is notable that for all the rancour in debate in fact the number of racist or violent incidents has been small. The behaviour of Brexit supporters has been much more civil than for example the Scot Nats or Momentum support.

  • 82 The Investor February 2, 2020, 5:34 pm

    @Eugene — Re: Populism, terrorists etc.

    I’m deleting any more comments from you here. Please take your contributions to the Daily Mail website.

  • 83 Neverland February 2, 2020, 5:39 pm

    @semipassive/semi truthful

    The majority of voters in the 2019 general election voted for parties in favour of remain or a second referendum but it turns out you can just ignore their views

    Table of actual votes in here


    Expect rancour when you ram your views down other people’s throats

  • 84 The Investor February 2, 2020, 5:45 pm

    @Neverland — I’ve deleted your one-liner about the murder of Jo Cox MP. Same to you as @Eugene, albeit from the other direction. Monevator is not the venue for that sort of thing.

  • 85 Neverland February 2, 2020, 5:58 pm

    @ Investor

    Do what you like but the fact remains that there are only three reasons that any English mps ever got as assasinated:

    – debt
    – Irish independence
    – English nationalism

    Quite how dark a road nationalism takes you is the whole reason for the EU project


  • 86 FI Warrior February 2, 2020, 6:32 pm

    The commentary here alone on this topic, (even strictly moderated to prevent tempers fraying to the point of making the exercise meaningless) shows that the nation will never heal. The opponents are evenly matched in both numbers and fervour, as happens when a decision forces one half to live a life they can’t stand. In a bitter irony the kingdom is anything but a UK, so can never prosper, as with a divorced couple forced to co-habit in toxicity.

  • 87 Wicker February 2, 2020, 7:09 pm

    My family have been told to ‘clear off’ to the EU in the comments here so a bit of cold sweat at the comment by FI Warrior. Could partition happen here in the UK? Impossible? Like, Yugoslavia, India/Pakistan Norway/Sweden, Slovakia and the Czech Republic?

  • 88 Passive Investor February 2, 2020, 7:10 pm

    @FI warrior. I wouldn’t say never and in my real life (largely populated by Remainers) I would say things are already much calmer than before December 12th. Twitter and message boards such as this attract people on both sides who feel passionately about the matter (myself included). I predict that there will be some kind of loose and patchy FTA, the friction won’t be noticeable (no lorry jams at Dover), the UK will continue as a liberal open society, there will be not too intrusive working visa arrangements for students etc, the EU will push to closer union with lots of internal opppsition and Brexit will become yesterday’s argument with only a minority wanting to rejoin. Hardly anyone argues for joining the single currency today or removing the independence of the Bank for example or against the Good Friday Agreement which were all highly contentious issues 20 years ago. Perhaps I am over optimistic perhaps I am offending strong Remainers but there you go..

  • 89 The Borderer February 2, 2020, 7:19 pm

    @Eugene (83)
    “By “populist politician” you mean a politician that got elected who (sic) you don’t like?”

    No, I mean a politician who purports to agree and support something that he knows is bad for his electorate or the Nation as a whole, but is only doing so to further his own political career. I can think of several, as I’m sure you can too.

  • 90 FI Warrior February 2, 2020, 8:15 pm

    @ Passive Investor. I’m not so sure, I too would like to be optimistic, but we now have a party in power who have purged themselves of anyone vaguely moderate and convinced that they won via extremism pushed by the rabid end of their ideological spectrum. They therefore have every incentive to keep the winning formula, so while I agree the losers will want to give up for an easy life, the constant provocation wont allow them to forget it.

    Added to that, when quality of life corrodes with the upending of the entire way of life here, the half of the country that expected it will resent what they see as a needless reduction of their standard of living that was forced on them when they did nothing to deserve it. The half who didn’t expect it because they believed it’d never happen will feel betrayed by the enemy of their choice and need a scapegoat to take it out on. Both sides will have anger that the impasse will keep stoked.

    So @Wicker, I don’t think partition will happen within England itself, but this new apartheid could deteriorate until it’s like Northern Ireland where generations later there is no dimming of the suspicion, fear and loathing of the other community. They only settled through exhaustion into living warily side by side, but really are still mostly separated in housing, schools, socialising, marriage or other voluntary association by walls either physical or mental. And even that uneasy truce was brokered by the US (when it still cared for others) and the EU, so that wouldn’t be possible today and as such continuing peace can’t be taken for granted.

  • 91 Naeclue February 2, 2020, 8:40 pm

    It hardly requires an expert to understand that putting up trade barriers between us and a very large market on our doorstep will make trading more bureaucratic and more expensive.

    It does not require an expert to understand that businesses with frictionless trade will have a competitive advantage over those that don’t.

    It does require an expert to realise that multinational companies will invest where they will make the best return and trade frictions, regulations on rules of origin, etc. will matter to those making investment decisions.

    It should not require an expert to realise that exiting the single market and all our existing trading agreements is a wee bit risky. Risk means uncertainty. Risk means there is a chance that the rosy all upside, no downside opinions of the Brexiteers might be total b******s and a lot of people may end up at lot worse off.

    As for the EU being undemocratic, I do not accept this is true just because some loudmouths claim it is. MEPs are voted in. The Council is made up of member states with democratically elected governments, and the Commission (the executive) cannot do a lot without the approval of the Parliament and the Council. Now I accept that a great number of people feel that they are not being heard, or their opinions are being ignored, they don’t like many of the decisions being made, but these misgivings exists within all democracies. My kinsman know all about those feelings. The EU is democratic. The UK is also democratic, despite many voters being disenfranchised by the FPTP system, an unelected chamber and a hereditary monarchy.

    I am totally unconvinced by the sovereignty angle. I agree completely that leaving the EU will mean fewer constraints over parliamentary law making, but that is not the same as saying we have more sovereignty. Any EU country can choose to leave the EU, so being in the EU means no loss of sovereignty and none is gained by leaving.

    What many Brexiteers continually fail to take in is that whenever a country signs an international treaty, including trade agreements, it has to accept constraints over law making. To really “Take back control” and have total freedom to make our own laws, we would have to abandon all our treaties and not make any trade agreements.

    For a concrete example of constraints on law making, consider chicken pies. Let’s say the government decides to provide more information to consumers about source of origin and animal welfare and proposes a law saying that chicken pie manufacturers must state from which countries the chicken came from and the proportion of types of chicken being used (caged, barn, free range). No problem until we want to do a trade agreement with say the US who want to sell us chicken. Most US chicken is from caged birds. The practices used in caged chicken farming in the US are now illegal in the UK/EU. The US say that before a deal is done, the proposed new labelling on pies must be dropped as it is anticompetitive. If we do the trade deal, we have given up the right to label pies as we decide. We have a constraint on our law making, we have lost control, and for those who conflate restraints on law making with sovereignty, we have lost sovereignty.

    And by the way, pie makers can forget about exporting pies to any EU country if the pies might contain US chicken. Goodness knows what hoops would need to be jumped through to get them into NI.

  • 92 Matthew February 2, 2020, 8:59 pm

    @naclue – from your chicken pie example, youre saying that the degree to which our laws/sovereignty are affected by trade, is basically the same degree to which products we buy/sell might not meet either sides criteria? If so we can surely have our own laws and they can have theres, but for one to sell to another the product has to meet the criteria of its target market?

    So thatd not really be about trade deals so much as trade itself, and even china would be affecting our “sovereignty” as likewise by that analogy we affect theirs

    But the EU is something more – everyone must now have vacuum cleaners that cannot pick up and nobody can sell an iphone charger cable anymore

    @borderer – you could say at every election that the public dont know whats best for them – next time they vote in socialists for example, pfft silly electorate lol

    But also people have personal reasons for leave and must be trusted if they think its worthwhile making a hard economic sacrifice for a more fluffy notion like sovereignty

  • 93 Naeclue February 2, 2020, 8:59 pm

    @FI Warrior, “The half who didn’t expect it because they believed it’d never happen will feel betrayed by the enemy of their choice and need a scapegoat to take it out on.”

    Yes. Most Brexiteers seem to have the attitude that nothing is their fault. As an example, we delayed leaving solely because of disruptive antidemocratic Remainers. Brexiteers fighting like cats in a sack were nothing to do with it.

    If Brexit goes badly I expect it will be the fault of Remainers or the EU, or maybe some other scapegoat. It could not possibly be because Brexiteers were wrong.

  • 94 Naeclue February 2, 2020, 9:09 pm

    @Matthew, No. What my chicken pie example did, I think fairly clearly, was to demonstrate how entering into a trade agreement (an international treaty) might put constraints on chicken pie labelling, taking away OUR RIGHT to label OUR PIES as we wanted to. The export difficulties this might introduce for pie makers, proving rules of origin, etc. was purely an aside.

  • 95 Naeclue February 2, 2020, 9:12 pm

    Haven’t a clue what you are on about re vacuum cleaners or charger cables by the way. Is this more straight banana stuff?

  • 96 Naeclue February 2, 2020, 9:19 pm

    @ZXSpectrum48k, unfortunately the vast majority of the population don’t do probability.

  • 97 Matthew February 2, 2020, 9:23 pm

    @naclue – the customer could always force the supplier anyway, with or without law, they could just say ‘I want leek/mushroom with my chicken pies because theyll sell/taste better” – and the supplier would lose “our right” to make “our pies” the way we want to make them anyway. Besides which I don’t think its an insurmountable problem to track and label a product for a major customer, may increase cost, but not a killer

    A buyer of an aircraft carrier could say “I want this to carry a different plane” – and the supplier would have to comply anyway

  • 98 FI Warrior February 2, 2020, 9:50 pm

    @Naeclue. If I were a Scot I’d fight for my life for a referendum on independence asap because brexit invalidated the last one. Anyone sane would agree the T&C’s were totally changed and that that ‘bait and switch’ is fraud. Then I’d vote to confirm my EU privileges I never renounced and swerve the Euro. In short, try to get as close as possible to the undeservedly better deal than the average member that the Tories spurned. Then welcome the best brains south of the border to come and turbocharge Scotland, especially EU citizens so cruelly treated for the last 3.5 years.

    If I were the Irish government, I’d shovel passports to the estimated millions of English people of Irish blood who would similarly lift Ireland with all those skills and savings. This is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to benefit from a neighbour choosing to turn inwards in a negative spiral, think of all the companies wanting a civilised, highly-educated, English-speaking, friendly harbour to use as a gateway to the biggest market in the world. (Thousands of Japanese ones alone)

    As for predictions of the demise of the EU for whatever supposed reasons, those have been around since its formation and the diminishment of England and its last little adjoining colonies will be an antidote to any other members that were thinking of leaving. (The EU’s death has long been greatly exaggerated.) The world has changed so fast and by so much that it is beyond the understanding of those lost in the mists of 20th century bigotry. China has quietly resurrected the old silk road connections with Europe, (including maritime routes) and in doing so returned power to Eurasia from North America, gaining strength while the US continues to waste the last of its energy in wars to enrich its elite via the military industrial complex.

    This means that though a Europe in relative decline will play second fiddle to a still-rising China, even so it will be well positioned to benefit from a de-facto, triumvirate trade alliance with Russia who supplies all energy needs, gas to Europe and oil to China. So as the planetary resource pie shrinks from over-population and correlated degradation, nations will fight harder to maintain their lifestyles and being a small country on the periphery will make you weak. Some might say citizens of nowhere.

  • 99 The Investor February 2, 2020, 10:20 pm

    @Neverland — I agree with you about the dangers and pernicious of nationalism of course. However that murder was a one-off incident, and supporters of Leave could equally start to throw murders committed by non-UK nationals into the mix to try to make some sort of anti-integration case. (I’m not proposing anyone start doing that or vice versa). Using specific examples like that is a futile tit for tat in this instance.

    One of the very very few positive features of this whole debacle has been the absence to-date of any systematic violence by the vast majority of either side. Sure Remain can march a million through London without incident, sure EDL types require heavy policing, but the latter are not representative of the mass of Leave voters, at least not so far. There’s been no riots, no sustained campaigned of physical attacks — despite irresponsible stoking of the fire by elements of the “Enemies of the People” brigade.

    It’s been ugly and perhaps we have been lucky to-date, but while we’ve been lucky I’d rather not have one-line throwaway comments about a horrible murder lobbed into the debate as chum. (Your response post here I’ve left up, because it adds some value to the discussion.)

    Perhaps this seems arbitrary but it’s part of trying to keep the debate constructive. Cheers!

  • 100 Matthew February 2, 2020, 10:22 pm

    By definition I believe the SNP can’t be inherantly pro-eu nomatter what, just for now as a matter of circumstance and as an excersise of the scottish will. After rejoining, if in the future down the line scots later decided to leave the EU again, the SNP would be expected to champion leave

  • 101 Indecisive February 2, 2020, 10:29 pm

    @Eugene, 82
    “Perhaps you could expand your thinking a little bit? Your response seems a little bit cryptic..”

    We’ve symbolically left, with a transition period* keeping everything the same for now. Unless you were being ironic in #56 (impossible to tell) the answer for why catastrophe hasn’t happened should be obvious.

    [* A transition period that had to be fought for, and looks like an own-goal of the non-ardent Brexit MPs who insisted on it, at the expense of their jobs. And an own-goal for Remainers, but one I’m glad about – country before politics and all that.]

  • 102 Matthew February 2, 2020, 11:46 pm

    @ti – violence luckily doesnt sit well with the ideals of either group, neither an english or european thing, and I think that most realise, especially after jo, that violence wont help their cause. I suppose like the northern irish laid down weapons to actually have more influence peacefully, and this time I suppose you dont even have a religious divide to add passion. I suppose beforehand leavers were pretty consigned to hopelessness so they can live with any chance of failure, like the people who selected Corbyn in the first place thought “fluff it, ive got nothing to lose, maybe this fellow will stir things up and maybe that will benefit me, because its not working now”

    Also, even within surveys, voters are coy to show their more conservative and nationalist views, perhaps out of fear of job consequences/ general outcasting/ being pounced on publically – so both brexit and trump were a surprise, which shows that either people actually fear being honest with pollsters or that pollsters aren’t good enough at representing these people – people who traditionally may not have voted and its hard to predict whether they will in future.

  • 103 The Borderer February 3, 2020, 12:06 am

    @matthew (96)
    “you could say at every election that the public don’t know whats best for them..”
    Perhaps, but that’s not my point, which I’m obviously not making clearly enough.

    The idea of a representative democracy is that an MP makes decisions based on their opinion on what is in their electorate’s best interests, not what the electorate are currently interested in, otherwise it’s simply popularism; or even worse, the tyranny of the majority (or, in many cases, the minority), where MPs vote only in the interest of those who voted for them, and not of those who didn’t.
    And worst of all, vote solely as they are directed by their Party, irrespective of the needs and wants of their electorate or the Nation.

    That’s why this ‘will of the people’ nonsense is so frustrating for anyone with any knowledge of the British constitution. The ‘people’ vote their MP into Parliament to act in their best interest, not what they may want at the time as informed by the press or twitter or whatever, and which can change with the coming of the seasons.

  • 104 SemiPassive February 3, 2020, 12:49 am

    Neverland, you seem to keep referring to me for some odd reason – a mixup with another poster I presume?
    I’m not stupid enough to get into an argument over Brexit on an investment/personal finance site, so have not commented thus far on the weekend post.

    I am however itching to get into a discussion of the impact of Coronavirus on the markets if this turns out to be “the big one”, but that can wait until later in the week, or month.

  • 105 Naeclue February 3, 2020, 12:57 am

    @Matthew If a country signs a treaty, including a trade agreement, the country cannot make laws that conflict with the treaty. At least, not without breaking the treaty. Is that really so hard to understand?

    In signing treaties, a country “gives up some control” over its ability to make future laws. There is always a tradeoff between benefits obtained from a treaty and restrictions on the ability to pass laws. Brexiteers are in for a shock when this finally sinks in.

  • 106 Naeclue February 3, 2020, 1:17 am

    @FI I think Scotland has every right to another independence referendum given the way Scotland was taken out of the EU against its wishes and with zero consultation on the future relationship. I really hope they don’t get one for a long time as a referendum needs to be taken with a cool head. Scotland leaving the UK would likely be far more damaging to Scotland’s prosperity than the UK leaving the EU, even if Scotland were able to get back in to the EU fairly quickly. It would also be a total nightmare in all sorts of ways for the rest of the UK.

    I totally get the anger of Scots towards the English over this, but another stupid decision would compound Scotland’s problems, not mitigate them.

  • 107 Matthew February 3, 2020, 7:15 am

    @naclue – a trade deal can have laws to force common production to facilitate trade, but does it necessarily have to if sovereignty, and the ability to trade with others, is a sensitive issue? Why cant we say zero tarrifs, standards of what we/they import, but with freedom of production within the country? – so whilst we may not be able to buy 100% of their produce, both parties can tailor their products to every country on an individual basis

  • 108 W February 3, 2020, 7:33 am

    @FI Warrior “or lull them into thinking they chose to live as they do through illusory dramas called democracy” This.

    @Matthew “and we decide what sort of government we have.” Wrong, *we* don’t.

  • 109 Passive Investor February 3, 2020, 8:02 am

    @ semipassive @naeclue. He / you were referring to me @Passive Investor.

    @naeclue There was a clear majority of Scottish votes for remain but still 40% voted Leave and there was a majority for Leave in Wales so to blame Brexit purely on English Nationalism isn’t quite right. It also isn’t right to imply (as I think you do) that Brexiteers were motivated by Nationalism in the the sense of the ugly Xenophobic sentiment you think it is. The vast majority of Brexiteers have positive feelings to people from outside the UK but wanted the laws that govern them made in the UK. That was it for most of us I believe including (@TI) readers of the Telegraph!

  • 110 Indecisive February 3, 2020, 8:09 am

    ‘I am however itching to get into a discussion of the impact of Coronavirus on the markets if this turns out to be “the big one”, but that can wait until later in the week, or month.’

    That will be an interesting discussion! I wasn’t investing when SARS hit; while it wasn’t the “big one” did it affect the markets?

  • 111 Neverland February 3, 2020, 10:17 am


    “One of the very very few positive features of this whole debacle has been the absence to-date of any systematic violence by the vast majority of either side”

    Give it time. An optimist believes we live in the best possible world, a pessimist fears that is true.

    The UK has a long and glorious tradition of bloody riots from the peasants revolt to the London riots in 2011.

    You might remember from 2011 how quickly the illusion of order falls apart when just a small minority refused to be ruled.

    You just have to scroll through the comments to see a nation at each others throats.

  • 112 Barry Maud February 3, 2020, 11:31 am

    Well Mr Investor I am stunned to see you claiming that your original post and all those responses are intended to be constructive. Your posts are invariably dismissive and superior. The whole Brexit debate has already gone on three years too long building frustrations to boiling point. At last the debate in Parliament is over and we must move on. I would have stopped following your blog by now had it not been for the fact that I am the father of ‘Mrs Accumulator‘ and new you when you were a callow youth.
    Over Christmas Mr and Mrs Accumulator and I tried to debate Brexit but as they are both ardent ’remainers we had to agree to differ. I represent ’the stupid old blimp’ in this debate being in my 77th year but out of respect for my children I did not vote for Brexit. I am inordinately proud to say that as well my wonderful daughter being the partner of the Accumulator my son is a senior manager in a huge high profile international company in Germany with a Chinese wife, who is Swedish and five year old son who speaks three languages every day. Needless to say he is a ‘remainder’.
    We, like everyone in this country, will live together and love and respect each other and now just wait to see what the outcome is. I will continue to be seen as ’a lost cause’ and I will continue to see them as accepting ‘second best’ as members of the EU but we will love each other just as fiercely though whatever ensues.

    And, Mr Investor that is what you should now be promoting.

  • 113 Mike N. February 3, 2020, 11:44 am

    “Haven’t a clue what you are on about re vacuum cleaners or charger cables by the way. Is this more straight banana stuff?”

    Yep, it’s more straight banana stuff.
    On vacuum cleaners the EU banned the sale of the most inefficient ones. Inefficient measured by suction power vs. electricity used, it has nothing do to with suction power alone.
    On cable chargers, the Parliament approved last week a request for the Commission (I don’t know how it’s called, but the goal is that) to legislate on a common standard for phone chargers (this is something the EU has tried a lot over the past 15 years at least, just to show the kind of superstate they are!). That would mean that Apple would probably have to move to use the same USB-C standard as anyone else (since they already use that standard for their laptops it would not be a stretch to do). But of course that does not mean Apple would have to stop selling current phones (these kind of rules only apply a few years into the future for new products launched after that date), nor that cables for current phones would not be sold well into the future.

  • 114 Matthew February 3, 2020, 11:51 am

    I think this is the beginning of the end for the EU, without us there there will be less reason for other countries to stay, especially if they over time take on more if the migration we had, you’ll see more and more vocal farage equivilents -give it time. If we pull this off we will be a trailblazer, and other countries will learn from our lessons with the difficulty we have had – perhaps there shouldve been seperate referendums on single matket membership and customs union membership, or parties will have to pledge to vote even for a deal from another party if it is the only way to respect the referendum/ get reelected

  • 115 JimJim February 3, 2020, 12:02 pm

    If it is *just* about sovereignty, then we have gained 2% more of it by our Brexit efforts…

    “The British government has voted against EU laws 2% of the time since 1999.
    Official EU voting records show that the British government has voted ‘No’ to laws passed at EU level on 56 occasions, abstained 70 times, and voted ‘Yes’ 2,466 times since 1999, according to UK in a Changing Europe Fellows Sara Hagemann and Simon Hix.

    In other words, UK ministers were on the “winning side” 95% of the time, abstained 3% of the time, and were on the losing side 2%.

    This is counting votes in the EU Council of Ministers ”

    If you look deeply into the 2%, they are mainly protectionist votes to favour our industries, (or the shareholders of them)

    Is the 2% worth the loss(or gain)???

  • 116 The Investor February 3, 2020, 12:03 pm

    @Barry Maud:

    Thanks for your ongoing interest in our site, despite Brexit, and congratulations on your wonderful daughter. Many years ago I discovered she was a far better debater than me. I sincerely believe that if I could have learned more from how she conducts debates herself then you probably wouldn’t find my articles so disagreeable! But unfortunately I was only able to nudge the dial.

    To that end, I’m afraid I’m also going to be in the agree-to-differ camp, and will only disappoint you further when it comes to my coverage of this country’s dreadful and economically illiterate decision to Leave the European Union.

    To that end:

    And, Mr Investor that is what you should now be promoting.

    I agree with those who say Brexit was/is an imperfect fit for this site. (Which was why I tried to ignore it until the calamitous Referendum result made that impossible.)

    And so as has been the case for some time, my current ambition is to write fewer articles about Brexit.

    Unfortunately our government does not make this easy.

    For example, I read today Boris Johnson is set on continuing to make the threat of a self-destructive no-deal Brexit part of his negotiating posture with the EU.

    So that’s another year of uncertainty, depressed growth, millions of citizens not knowing where they stand, etc, all for no great end.

    In as much as I will be promoting any view about what we should do regarding Brexit, it’ll be to have another Referendum (say in five years) and then to rejoin as soon as we can in order to staunch the inevitable bleeding — economic and cultural — and to get this country back to where the majority of its young people who will live with the consequences want it to be.

    Sadly we can’t get back to where we *were*, and such a result would leave many people who wanted Brexit aggrieved. Don’t blame me, blame the people who came up with this toxic anti-EU nonsense in the first place. And those who voted for it.

    Ian McEwan put it far better than I can in the Guardian this weekend:

    The magic dust of populism has blinded reason, and damage and diminishment lie ahead


  • 117 The Investor February 3, 2020, 12:06 pm

    If it is *just* about sovereignty, then we have gained 2% more of it by our Brexit efforts…

    @JimJim — It’s even worse than that. In the future we will zero influence on the 27 nations just over the Channel. This means, for example, that they could well head off into a more Statist, less market-orientated direction that many of those nations would have historically have favoured.

    Besides likely diminishing their own GDP, this will have a knock-on affect on our own growth (because we’re so geared to the EU economy), and of course this is to say nothing of the wider ramifications of being a greatly diminished actor in an international stage that badly needs *more* not less cooperation.

  • 118 The Investor February 3, 2020, 12:09 pm

    @all — I have deleted all of a certain poster’s comments from this thread and others, by their request after I deleted a particular one that I didn’t find acceptable for this site. (Which as you should all know by now is a benign dictatorship. End of the comment policy.)

    There are plenty of pro-Brexit views on this thread, and on the whole it’s been constructive.

    Also I deleted a comment by someone on ‘my side’ for the same reason, which they took with good grace.

    p.s. Just to add that’s a total of two deletions on this thread, prior to the ‘delete everything’ request, plus one that I did not approve from moderation. Out of 119 posted. This isn’t a massively ‘censored’ discussion you’re reading, in other words.

  • 119 Tony February 3, 2020, 12:24 pm

    I thought Monevator generally sought to steer away from Brexit? Not that I object. But for rejoiners, every reason to be optimistic. If Brexit is a failure, there’ll be a third referendum. When is the question. Demographic change of itself will favour rejoining. In 2016, below 45, a majority of voters were pro EU and vice versa. With population change, even by 2019, there was evidence that had tipped to remain. If you read various demographic predictions, there’s a solid reason to predict the different ideologies on the EU, which associate with when you were born, will have a diffent majority. Similar to how those born in NI after the troubles ended are far more likely to favour reunification. Ideology on many issues involved in Brexit vastly differ depending on your dob. Immigration being one.

  • 120 Naeclue February 3, 2020, 12:31 pm

    @Matthew, there are WTO restrictions on trade agreements. The MFN rule is a biggie: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/mostfavorednation.asp

    The general idea of a trade agreement is that we lower our barriers to trade if the other side lowers their barriers. As part of the process each side does not want to open its own businesses to unfair competition, state aid for example. So clauses go into trade agreements to ensure fair competition, clauses that place restrictions on our own ability to make our own laws. The ultimate trade agreement results in a single market with no restrictions on trade between SM members. We have a single market in the UK, to be broken next year courtesy of Johnson’s brilliant withdrawal agreement. With a SM comes a lot of legal restrictions on member nations law making abilities. We are leaving the EU’s SM, but that does not mean we make laws as we please and trade as we please. As a member of the WTO we are already restricted (MFN I have already mentioned) in how we trade and what trade agreements are permissible. Every trade agreement we do will add further law making restrictions.

  • 121 Matthew February 3, 2020, 12:34 pm

    On the 2% of times we’ve voted no, bear in mind reluctance to use the veto because then ither EU states would use theirs in tit for tat, or at least start a blame game. Also bear in mind that previous UK leadership was clearly not in step with public opinion, our own leaders made decisions behind closed doors without informing us, or without anticipating the impact

  • 122 Neverland February 3, 2020, 12:40 pm

    @Barry Maud

    “At last the debate in Parliament is over and we must move on.”

    Why must we move on exactly?

    Really I am dying to know exactly why we must move on?

    Did we move on in 1975 when 67% of voters in a referendum voted to stay in the EU?

    Don’t think so.

  • 123 Passive Investor February 3, 2020, 12:57 pm

    @TI I keep on wanting to leave this debate which is getting a bit circular but I will pick you up on calling the case for Brexit ‘economically illiterate’ which is rude and wrong. Say you disagree, say you think it’s risky or a minority view but stay polite.
    Trade with the EU is 45% of our trade (down from 55% before the single market), roughly 15% of our GDP and involves around 6% of UK companies. Being in the EU means that we have been unable to negotiate trade deals with other economies and that all our economy has to be aligned with EU rules. (The latter is true essentially because the Commission sees the Single Market as first a political project and only secondly an economic one). The single market is in many respects unsatisfactory on services which are clearly extremely important to the UK economy. It is coherent to argue that over the medium term the UK economy can thrive once it is not tied to what is quite a sclerotic inward looking trading block. Just look at the FT report on Nissan today to see how the economy can adapt and potentially thrive after whatever economic shock leaving the Single Market brings. I know and understand the reasons you disagree with the above view and I accept my view is currently a minority view amongst economists. But reputable economists (who are not illiterate) make the argument that we can prosper outside the EU.

  • 124 Neverland February 3, 2020, 1:03 pm


    I read the same article about Nissan making cars for the UK and quickly realised they scented a possible opportunity to jack up their prices and make fatter margins due to less competition from imports

    Higher prices for UK consumers due to lack of competition because of tariff barriers doesn’t seem like a “brexit dividend” to me

    Some businesses with mainland competitors are no doubt rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of tariffs but it isn’t because it will do UK consumers any good

    Anyone who actually remembers the Britain of the 60s and 70s will remember how crap and expensive everything was

  • 125 Naeclue February 3, 2020, 1:03 pm

    @Passive Investor, you are putting words in my mouth. I did not blame Brexit on English Nationalism, although it certainly played a part.

  • 126 The Investor February 3, 2020, 1:15 pm

    @Passive Investor — The EU is by far our largest market. It is also a natural market, off our shores, which means that I would happily bet you several thousands pounds here and now that it will remain our biggest market in 50 years (certainly for anything physical). (E.g. Switzerland, not in the EU, sees the EU account for 60% of its volume of trade from memory.)

    It will likely be many decades before the other-oft cited markets beloved of Brexiteers could even approach being as important (China, India) by which point they will be massively more powerful and in an even better position to broker a good deal for themselves.

    Even then the EU currently buys what we sell, versus more trade via those future touted superior deals with other nations. (High end services and value-add). So the consequence of trade lost now must be compounded for decades/generations in terms of our net wealth.

    We can and already do sell to these other markets, we just do it within the context (or confines if you like) of our existing agreements with the EU. In the vast majority of cases that matter, inferior terms of trade deals are not why our goods and services don’t do as well as we might like in e.g. India or China. It’s because they need/buy less of what we sell right now, or we can’t compete (e.g. low end goods.)

    On top of all this, the EU negotiates better trade deals than we will manage both because of the advantages of its size (it’s c. 5x bigger than us from memory) which gives it more clout and makes it more attractive and because members pool resources (so, simplifying massively, they best negotiators from each country are on the EU team and not just redundantly making the same deals).

    As I am near-certain we’re about to find out, we are entering a multi-decade period of making slightly worse deals with countries around the world from scratch, whereas the EU already has numerous great deals and is filling in the gaps.

    If whatever deal we agree introduces friction into just-in-time arrangements, that will be an ongoing point of pain forever that will make many of our companies less efficient forever. We benefit from picking and choose from the best in the EU in constructing, for example, cars. We don’t have the scale of say China, the US, or Japan. Even Germany which comes close uses multiple other countries.

    Anything which reduces immigration, especially skilled immigration but not only, will be bad for UK GDP, even if one sees desirable social outcomes.

    As I have oft-caveated, there is a way around the above, which is to massively reduce regulation/ red tape/ redistribution/ social provision. This will burn any deal with the EU but might offset some of the disadvantages we’re about to inherit from Brexit. To say that many Leave voters (especially the provincial disaffected ex-Labour voters) chose this is a gross misreading of reality, however. Still, it’s possible.

    The number of economists who disagree that the UK will be a net loser economically from Brexit is an extremely small fraction of the majority, due to all this and more. That is why nations around the world try to get into superior trading blocs.

    Sure, I could very carefully police every word I use to avoid offending anyone, but when I am expressing my own view, I’m happy to use ‘economically illiterate’ to capture the above.

  • 127 Mike N. February 3, 2020, 1:17 pm

    ” If Brexit is a failure, there’ll be a third referendum. When is the question. Demographic change of itself will favour rejoining.”

    The UK rejoining is unrealistic. If it rejoined the EU it would have to join the Euro and the Schengen area (it’s a legal obligation of all new members after certain conditions are complied with), plus all the other carve-outs it got during the decades would not apply any longer. So yeah, close to zero chance of that happening.

  • 128 Mike N. February 3, 2020, 1:21 pm

    “It will likely be many decades before the other-oft cited markets beloved of Brexiteers could even approach being as important (China, India)”

    Considering that India wants at the bare minimum visa free travel to the UK for its citizens (and at the maximum free movement; wouldn’t that be fun if they replaced free movement in the EU with free movement with India?), it is hard to see what type of trade agreement we’d get with India besides one that doesn’t change much beyond the status quo.

  • 129 Neverland February 3, 2020, 1:24 pm


    “So yeah, close to zero chance of that happening.”

    I remember when Obama made fun of Trump’s presidential ambitions at a white house correspondent’s dinner in 2010. How everyone laughed and laughed.

    In 2016 Trump was elected president of the usa

  • 130 The Investor February 3, 2020, 1:25 pm

    p.s. I note that you’ve written “we can prosper outside the EU”. To be clear, as I’ve again now written dozens of times to ward off inevitable false claims in the future, I’ve never been a doomster predicting economic collapse from Brexit. (For me the big tragedy is social/cultural, and that is already evident). The UK will survive, and in as much as you believe it is prospering now (which many Leavers evidently don’t, though I do) then it will continue to do ‘okay’ in the future. It’s just all I’ve written above will IMHO make our economy slightly worse forever, reducing growth indefinitely, and compound into a meaningful reduction in the standard of living that we would otherwise have had were we never to have Brexit-ed.

    [Edit: Updated slightly incoherent first take here, apologies. Writing from a phone between meetings. I should close comments at this point but want to let everyone have their say! 🙂 ]

  • 131 Neverland February 3, 2020, 1:34 pm

    @Mike N

    “Considering that India wants at the bare minimum visa free travel to the UK for its citizens”

    Surely not, other countries we might want to do trade deals with couldn’t possibly not fail to dazzled by sheer brilliance of our leader’s magnificent barnet and banter and so forwith scurry to sign trade agreements with us and be glad we took the time to deal with them?

    Whoever could have possibly predicted that?

    I mean are we not ‘Great Britain’?

  • 132 Mike N. February 3, 2020, 1:43 pm

    “I remember when Obama made fun of Trump’s presidential ambitions at a white house correspondent’s dinner in 2010. How everyone laughed and laughed.
    In 2016 Trump was elected president of the usa”

    He he, true. But I think the situation in the UK would have to be pretty bad for the public sentiment to shift so much that Schengen and the Euro would become acceptable. But, of course, you never know.
    And if the UK rejoined I think we would swiftly comply with all requirements (because that’s what we do; e.g. on free movement, as we’ve discussed a lot here, we’ve followed to the letter all EU rules, while a lot of other countries did it a more leisure pace and complicated life for immigrants at their will) and join Euro/Schengen rapidly, we wouldn’t be like Sweden or Poland that are always “five years from joining the Euro” (the only country with a carve out for the Euro is Denmark, all the others “have to” join when they reach certain conditions).

  • 133 Passive Investor February 3, 2020, 2:01 pm

    @TI. I do understand your view and you have argued it consistently. But in my opinion you give the single market too much credit for UK trading success and are too negative about the prospects for economic realignment substitution under whatever new arrangements arise. I can’t really give this the time it deserves and I am on a phone too but consider the following facts that don’t sit easily with your view:
    1. from 1993-2015 UK exports to the 11 founding members of the Single Market grew at 1% CAGR. This compares unfavourably with a mean CAGR of 2.88% for UK goods exports to 111 countries we trade with under WTO rules.
    2. Isn’t it striking that the Commission now seems reluctant to offer the UK a Canada-type agreement. The only motivation for this would be that they are afraid to see us as thriving out of the EU. They don’t want this as it undermines their political project which as a said they prioritise over economic benefits.
    I could go on. To cut through the detail the main difference between us is that I do believe there are economic opportunities to be had ONLY outside the Single Market (So we won’t for certain be 1 or any % poorer in perpetuity). Also I don’t believe there is a stark choice between EU (over?) regulation of employment conditions / product standards and some kind of return to Victorian / Chinese factory conditions. Finally when I said ‘prosper’ I meant over and above the current economic conditions (which I agree aren’t bad).

  • 134 Naeclue February 3, 2020, 2:04 pm

    @Passive Investor, “It is coherent to argue that over the medium term the UK economy can thrive once it is not tied to what is quite a sclerotic inward looking trading block.”

    Seriously? The EU is a “sclerotic inward looking trading block”? So how does that fit with the EU having more FTAs than any other trading bloc or country? It is at this point, rightly or wrongly, that I feel I am conversing with someone who has been so conditioned by decades of anti-EU propaganda they are willing to believe any anti-EU statement made about the EU, no matter how absurd. It is at this point, again rightly or wrongly, that I feel it is a lost cause continuing the conversation.

  • 135 Passive Investor February 3, 2020, 2:13 pm

    @ naeclue. I believe that around 33% of EU trade with external countries takes place under a FTA. Suggests to me a trading block that is more interested in protecting the internal status quo than promoting the economic advantages of tariff-free trade.

  • 136 The Investor February 3, 2020, 2:15 pm

    @Neverland – This sarcastic stuff is just provocative and unhelpful. The odd line to liven up a proper response is one thing, but IMHO you’re just trolling now. Further will be deleted.

  • 137 ZXSpectrum48k February 3, 2020, 2:19 pm

    @Passive. “from 1993-2015 UK exports to the 11 founding members of the Single Market grew at 1% CAGR. This compares unfavourably with a mean CAGR of 2.88% for UK goods exports to 111 countries we trade with under WTO rules.”

    Of course. It will always be the case that exports tend to grow faster to countries which … well … grow faster. You’re going to have a higher export growth rate to an economy like China that grows at 6-10% than to the EU that grows at 2%.

    It does not follow, however, that being outside the EU means that you can export any faster to those growing countries. You don’t have the counterfactual. If we’d been outside the EU between 1993/2015 then for all I know the growth rate in exports might have been 1.88% or 2.38% or whatever. Moreover, that is just growth rates. The starting stock value actually matters. I can always grow small numbers faster than large numbers (as the Chinese economy is starting to find out). You can’t just think about flow.

    What we do know is that we know need to strike bilateral trade deals with the 3 primary blocs (EU, USMCA, China). Nobody actually trades under WTO; they use bilateral and multilateral agreements. There are 135 agreements between the EU and the United States, of which 55 are bilateral; there are 65 between the EU and China, of which 13 are bilateral; and 82 agreements between the EU and Australia, of which 18 are bilateral.
    To hammer out those bilaterals will take a long time or to get them done quickly we’ll have to compromise significantly.

  • 138 Naeclue February 3, 2020, 2:23 pm

    @Passive Investor, you can believe what you want, but a link to a credible source would be more enlightening. For comparison purposes, what percentage of other major trading countries, such as the US and China’s trade with external countries takes place under a FTA?

  • 139 Tony February 3, 2020, 2:32 pm

    @ Mike N. 127- absolutely the Euro issue would complicate rejoining. And there are multiple other variables affecting a third referendum outcome and to get to hold one. Most obviously will Brexit supporters get what they thought it would deliver? Even if factually they didn’t, would they nonetheless believe he’s made Britain “great again.” On the Euro, as we know from the debate around Scottish independence, rules are one thing but in practice, it’s exactly one of those classic Brexit grey issues in terms of what it means, and how it can be debated both ways, as indeed you allude at 132. What we’ve all learned from Brexit (and Trump) is what we think we know is not so certain. ie don’t assume the Euro rules won’t be applied flexibly to the UK nor irrespective, that they would rule out rejoining. My post 119 was highlighting how demographic change will have significant impact on the next referendum outcome. (I was referring to age. It’ll be even more marked if 3 million EU citizens here obtain British nationality. And even if not, if Labour ever govern again, they give voting rights to resident EU citizens.)

  • 140 Factor February 3, 2020, 2:42 pm


    I am a Remainer but not a complainer, thus my reaction to Brexit is one of dignity in defeat.

    As I am sure that you will, please continue to conduct Monevator entirely in your own personal way, so that I shall continue to gain from your and your co-authors thoughts, even if I find the quality of some of the ensuing comments to be as low as in some in this particular thread.

  • 141 Matthew February 3, 2020, 2:44 pm

    @naclue – more depth = more trade with whoever we make a deal with, but you can’t have a deep deal with everyone because legislation would clash, could many shallow deals be worth more than one deep one? It would take time of course.

    And also bear in mind the UK financial service industry basically brings money in from abroad, perhaps physical trade is not really much of a thing here, relatively speaking

    Also could we just slap on a label for stuff that is made in a way that accords to EU law? I believe the docks in preparing for no deal seemed confident, perhaps they have a way of just checking the paperwork, for example

  • 142 Mike N. February 3, 2020, 2:45 pm

    @Tony, the current EU paradigm is that there is no more carve outs for any new members nor any tailored quasi-memberships like the Swiss and Norway have. Yes, they can change that, but imagine the scandal on the EU side if the EU decided to shift the rules again for the ungrateful UK, which got everything they wanted over 47 years, left the Union based on a bunch of lies about the EU, and then wanted different rules again when rejoining. Yeah, I think that’s even less likely (and for good reason) than British people accepting the Euro and Schengen.

    About the comment that “only” 33% EU trade being with FTA countries, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s true. But one has to keep in mind that the US refused to do further work on the TTIP FTA (and that’s over 15% EU trade) and China is another 15% and an FTA with them is highly unlikely (as they would not accept all that the EU would demand).

  • 143 Fremantle February 3, 2020, 2:53 pm


    Do you think that a referendum in the UK on the Maastricht Treaty would have been in favour?

  • 144 Neverland February 3, 2020, 2:58 pm

    @Mike N.

    You can know that we would get worse terms but you can’t know that the terms we would get would be unacceptable.

    Imagine the effect, for instance of a Nationale Rallye victory in the next French presidential and parliamentary elections, a Northern League/Forza Italia victory in one of those elections Italy has increasingly periodically or even a Russian incursion into one of the Baltic states to shore up the popularity of a new Russian president.

    There are some things (e.g. trade deals are hard and take time) that you can predict, but the future is basically unknowable.

  • 145 Neverland February 3, 2020, 3:06 pm


    I was actually living just outside Maastricht in 1992 working for a dutch company

    I can’t remember if Maastricht was before or after Black Wednesday

    If it was before then probably the country would have backed John Major into Maastricht since he won the 1992 election handily, afterwards it would not have because the economy went in a short sharp recession

    In relation to that, one David Cameron was special adviser to chancellor Norman Lamont in the whole run-up t Black Wednesday. Failing upwards as always

  • 146 Naeclue February 3, 2020, 3:40 pm

    @Matthew We are already party to large numbers of shallow trade deals as well as full blown FTAs (see ZXSpectrum’s comment). Many of these will fall away from the end of the year, unless the transition period is extended.

    The Financial Services Industry (and other services) are a very important part of the economy. We have a trade surplus with the EU on services, yet from what I have read, we are heading for a trade deal with the EU that is unlikely to cover much in the way of services. Hardly inspires confidence in this government does it?

    No you cannot simply slap a label on something saying it is in compliance with EU rules. Why would anyone believe that? Watch out ahead for arguments about verifiable rules of origin and conformance testing.

  • 147 Matthew February 3, 2020, 3:53 pm

    @naclue – a compliance label would have the level of trust of the authority issuing it, or at least whoever regulates it – like ingredient labels – how do you know you can trust that? Our assumption is that the regulator would sue a non complient company. Bank notes and bonds are also a thing of trust. I imagine there could well be a lot more to it but I’d like to understand why the ports said they were ready for no-deal, what their plan was

    I do find it strange how “services” is such a broad category – ie lumping asset management & insurance in with retailing, consulting, etc. Nevertheless I think the valuable, financial side would not face such natural barriers, did they beforehand I wonder? – I don’t know, perhaps we mightve been forbidden from providing financial services in the way one country wanted it by how we had to do things at home.

    I wonder if the countries that have deals with the EU already will want to renegotiate now…

  • 148 The Investor February 3, 2020, 3:59 pm

    @Matthew — While other readers are engaging with your statements I’ll presuming they’re seeing something to engage with, but for me you’re just making blanket statements about reinventing terms of trade that have been around for many decades. The issues regarding for example financial services are well-known and much discussed. (Google “passporting” and start from there). Similarly, the reason we don’t import US chlorinated chickens is because chlorinated chickens do not meet our (/EU) standards. This isn’t about unknown people bartering at a market stall! It’s incredibly sophisticated and long-established.

  • 149 JimJim February 3, 2020, 4:45 pm

    Call me paranoid, but re-reading some of the statements I am beginning to suspect one among us is not human.Sure there are human touches like spelling mistakes and words out of place, but that is easy to fake…Is an A.I. sophisticated enough to fool a bunch of respondents to a financial blog??? A splendid question!
    Cough up @TI, who is it? And is this your Turing test fail moment! 🙂

  • 150 Neverland February 3, 2020, 5:18 pm

    @ JimJim

    Nope, robots would have better arguments.

    “Simple. I got very bored and depressed, so I went and plugged myself in to its external computer feed. I talked to the computer at great length and explained my view of the Universe to it,” said Marvin. “And what happened?” pressed Ford. “It committed suicide,” said Marvin and stalked off back to the Heart of Gold.”douglas adams

  • 151 JimJim February 3, 2020, 5:33 pm

    That’s you out of the frame Neverland

  • 152 Fremantle February 3, 2020, 5:46 pm


    Maastricht was signed Feb 1992
    Black Wednesday was 16 Sept 1992

    There were several votes before it was finally ratified on 3 Aug 1993, with Major having opposition from both Labour on the Social Chapter, and survived a vote of no confidence with several Eurosceptic Tory ‘bastards’ losing the whip.

    A referendum on June 1992 in Denmark saw it defeated, finally being passed on a second referendum (one of the sources of the ‘keep voting until you get it right’ jibes).

    A French referendum saw it narrowly pass 50.8% in September.

    Major was not that secure, he only had a majority of 20, and was faced with significant Tory rebellion on the issue.

    I’m not entirely sure it would have succeeded is put to a vote, particularly as Labour and Liberal Democrats were opposed to the opt out clauses.

  • 153 Grislybear February 3, 2020, 6:24 pm

    This has been a really good comments section. Great comments from everyone. Even the father of ‘Mrs Accumulator‘ decided to join in, I would like to congratulate him on the success of his sons emigration to Germany.

  • 154 Naeclue February 3, 2020, 10:10 pm

    On a more positive note, I found the news about MPs proposals to abolish the current inheritance tax rules quite refreshing. The full paper is here for anyone interested:


    The idea to heavily reduce the rate from 40% to 10% (possibly increasing to 20% death tax on higher value estates) and seems a step in the right direction. The present system is crazy, as anyone who has had to administer an estate or two will likely agree. Having to trawl back through 7 years of accounts to try to identify gifts, then match them to recipients, then allocate to income, £3k allowance, etc. is a total nightmare.

    The new system would sweep away most reliefs, get rid of CGT uplift (CGT is cancelled on death at present) and charge a 10% tax on gifts over £30k per year.

  • 155 Mousecatcher007 February 3, 2020, 11:58 pm

    @ The Investor

    But you didn’t say ‘many’ Brexiteers in your original comment; you said ‘most’. We both know the difference matters. And so does your sleight of hand.

  • 156 The Rhino February 4, 2020, 10:13 am

    @Naeclue – thanks for the follow up link on the IHT reforms. I found it a pretty interesting read.

    The current IHT setup is a horrible mess for sure and encourages all sorts of avoidance behaviours. The general feeling I get is that if you pay it (or at least you pay it in full), then you’re stupid. That’s not a good start for a tax.

    The proposals look better, but that said, the worked examples do show that there are problematic edge-cases, i.e. farmers all go bust.

    I’ll be watching developments closely, but in the meantime, expensive tax accountants are still the lesser of two evils.

  • 157 The Investor February 4, 2020, 10:14 am

    @Mousecatcher007 — Well actually I said “very many” in my reply to you, if we’re being pedantic, not “many”. In any event I’m happy with the general inference, which is that I’ve found Brexit-supporters as a group unable to articulate the point of Brexit, except, as ever, where they focus *specifically* on maximum technical sovereignty (albeit usually for no discernible end they can explain, but as an axiomatic best position) and/or to potentially reduce immigration.

    One might reply that this is because I disagree with them, but that’s not entirely so.

    For example, I disagree with bringing back the death penalty, but I fully understand the case for doing so. I’d vote against it all day long in referendums, but I wouldn’t be sitting there wondering what I was missing, or hear supporters say things like “well the murderer will be dead” that left me thinking “hang about, no they won’t, that’s not true at all” which is what listening to most Leave supporters has felt like for four years.

  • 158 Passive Investor February 4, 2020, 1:09 pm

    @TI – sovereignty isn’t just technical. There is a world of difference in the UK Parliament choosing say to align regulations to enable a trade agreement and having the regulations imposed from Brussels. It’s about political and democratic accountability. It’s about people caring where and how decisions are about them are made. And it’s also about having a sense of history and realising the importance of trusted institutions in a stable society. If you can’t at least understand this despite disagreeing then that is perhaps why the ‘debate’ on this thread sometimes has the atmosphere of ships passing in the night.

  • 159 Neverland February 4, 2020, 1:19 pm

    @Passive Investor

    “There is a world of difference in the UK Parliament choosing say to align regulations to enable a trade agreement and having the regulations imposed from Brussels.”

    That’s only true if you live in England mate. If you aren’t English but you’re British, Brussels/London what’s the difference?

    Trusted institutions – really? I can’t name one universally trusted UK institution right now except maybe the ONS and OBR?

    Stable society – The government just suspended parliament illegally and we are about to cut 50 year old diplomatic ties with 3m people from the EU living here, how is that stable?

  • 160 The Investor February 4, 2020, 1:23 pm

    @Passive Investor — I can “at least understand this” which is why I repeatedly make that concession. 🙂

    The reason I say ‘technical’, which is a term I’ve used many times in the past including with conversations with you, is the flip side of the same points you make about the ex-regulatory, ex-Parliamentary, ex-judicial nature of Sovereignty.

    The reality is that as a smaller, weaker, isolated nation, we are going to have more sovereignty in theory because we’re not in the EU, but in practice we’re going to have to make all kinds of other concessions to reflect that reality. So yes, we will make our own trade deals, fully under our own steam. But they will by and large, with exceptions here and there, be weaker than the deals we could have made or had under our old EU arrangements (assuming no bonfire of regulation, social welfare, taxes etc). That is the reality of trade negotiating.

    Similarly, we may not be bound by the purported greater political integration of Europe that many resist or don’t want at all. But we will have a half-arsed nuclear arsenal and weak military that cannot act alone, so we will be more beholden to allies, principally the US.

    Again, we may get some of these deals Brexiteers are so fond of championing with, for example, China. But our ability to push back on them with our human rights agenda will be curtailed.

    I could go on and on.

    Yes, legally more sovereignty, as I’ve said many times. In practice, being in the EU has cost most Leave voters absolutely NOTHING in terms of their freedom of action, rights, and pocket books. I’d argue in fact it’s boosted all those — more travel, more rights, and for the majority richer.

    In contrast our decision now leaves us king of a shrunken castle.

  • 161 The Investor February 4, 2020, 1:59 pm

    @all — Closing comments here for the usual reasons. These Brexit threads just take too much moderation to leave open, and I don’t want them to sit on the web and become infested with mooks. 🙂

    Thanks for all the thoughts. Hopefully we can have a break for a while. I don’t intend to write up the blow-by-blow accounts of the trade negotiation now, as realistically we’ve vested Johnson and his government with all power.

    We’ll just have to wait and watch for clues as to what we’ll get, calibrating accordingly.