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Weekend reading: There’s no silver bullet to finish off Brexit

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Warning: Brexit. My house, my opinion. Feel free to skip.

And so one of the finest dark comedies ever created has come to an end. But sadly, while we’ll see no more of Fleabag, we’ll get yet another season of Brexit Badly.

At least the schedulers are in on the joke. The new cliffhanger is set for 31 October – Halloween. Talk about comic noir.

You can’t make this stuff up. The last episode culminated with patriotic Brexiteers blaming the Queen for the dire state of Brexit. Nothing would surprise me now.

A polar bear strolling around Westminister? ERG members cooking meth in a taco truck on the South Bank?

Bring it on.

The Shining

Rising above another week of political misery, however, was one bravely recanting Leave supporter.

Peter Oborne – a former Brexit cheerleader for the Daily Mailwrote:

Brexit has paralysed the system. It has turned Britain into a laughing stock. And it is certain to make us poorer and to lead to lower incomes and lost jobs.

We Brexiteers would be wise to acknowledge all this. It’s past time we did. We need to acknowledge, too, that that we will never be forgiven if and when Brexit goes wrong. Future generations will look back at what we did and damn us.

So I argue, as a Brexiteer, that we need to take a long deep breath. We need to swallow our pride, and think again.

Maybe it means rethinking the Brexit decision altogether.

Oborne presents a laundry list as to why Brexit has failed to-date – and why it was probably a doomed project to begin with.

Obviously I agree with him, but I’d rather buy him a pint than listen to Remainers asking what took him so long. Any Leave voters coming to their senses deserve a smile not “I told you so”.

After all, Oborne’s volte-face is what Remain voters daily expect from the Leave contingent. Surely with the empty promises of the Leave leadership revealed as student political fantasy, ever more will want to call the whole thing off?

You’d think so. Yet in reality – indeed faced with reality – few seem to be changing their minds.

Perhaps that was why Oborne’s piece struck a chord. It wasn’t so much what he was saying – the case against Brexit is plain enough. It’s what the rest of the 17.4m are not saying.

Much more typical is this response I received on Twitter to one of my (doubtless tedious) anti-Brexit tweets:

Brexit would have been easy if the Commission had acted in good faith, the PM believed in ‘Leave’ and understood how to negotiate, MPs honoured manifesto commitments and the civil service and metropolitan elites weren’t determined to undermine the referendum. So much 4 democracy!

Such sentiment is rampant on social media. But you also see it in newspaper interviews and on TV.

One Brexiteer debating with Oborne even said on live TV that she thought Oborne might be a plant or that he’d been bought off.

The same woman said “not a single person has changed their mind” while standing next to this man who had clearly changed his mind.

It’s Orwellian stuff.

The Thing

Then again – rounding up to the nearest million – perhaps she’s right.

Three years in and Leavers still don’t understand the EU is an extremely powerful trading bloc, doing the business on behalf of its several hundred million citizens. They still don’t admit that as one nation against more than two dozen we don’t “hold all the cards”. They still don’t admit they had no plan.

Instead we just hear claims that a True Brexiteer would have negotiated a better outcome. This despite the fact that Brexit extremists can’t even negotiate with their own party – and caved in to vote for a deal they lamented only days before as ‘vassalage’.

These are not serious people.

There’s also no admission Brexit has already cost the UK £66bn1 in lost economic growth.

As I’ve warned before, the economic price of any Brexit will show up mostly in a lower GDP like this, for the foreseeable future – maybe decades. It’s pretty much guaranteed by the laws of economics.

Not a bang, but a wimpier UK PLC.

It won’t be something you can photograph or stick on a bus though, so they’ll blame something else. Or someone else.

The Omen

Meanwhile the prophet Farage is readying his followers for a new political push to the sunlit uplands. The man who once told his followers to ignore the “clever people” who warn that smoking is bad for you will surely find plenty of credulous takers.

How is this still possible?

There’s little point reasoning with the Barry Blimps, of course. But I don’t believe there are 17m Blimps in the UK.

There are however plenty who believed what the likes of Farage said in 2016 – statements since revealed to be mostly at best fantasies and at worst lies.

Yet instead of thinking again, the more vocal Leave supporters are doubling down and calling for a no-deal exit. It’s profoundly depressing.

I do have time – as I’ve said repeatedly – for sovereignty-first Leave voters2 who accept the economic cost of Brexit and who own the motley coalition that made up the 52% rather than denying it. Such people are rare, however.

And while I personally want to see a new Referendum informed by everything we’ve learned over the past 30 months, I used to concede a soft Brexit might be better than no Brexit, for the sake of national coherence.

But I’m less sure of that today.

Most Leavers are willfully ignoring the unfolding evidence. They will never be happy. Any deal will be a ‘betrayal’ of the impossibilities they were promised, while a disruptive no-deal will be the fault of the other side for not landing a deal.

What’s the point in indulging them – and all of us paying for it?

As for the investing consequences, it seems to me everything is still on the table. Even a no-deal Brexit – hitherto dodged, both in theory and in practice – could yet come about, though that now seems the unlikeliest outcome.

I discussed the ramifications of different Brexits in a previous post. Have a look there for more.

Have a great weekend!

From Monevator

What is a sustainable withdrawal rate for a world portfolio? – Monevator

From the archive-ator: The surprisingly savage way tax reduces your returns – Monevator

News

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!3

Labour considers house price inflation target for Bank of England – Guardian

OECD says the world’s Millennials are being squeezed out of the middle class – CNBC

Thinking about having a baby? Don’t forget to do the maths first [Search result]FT

‘That’s legal tender, pal’: bill aims to force shops to take Scottish notes – Guardian

US college graduates sell stake in themselves to Wall Street – Bloomberg

At least some of the 0.01% are waking up to the US wealth distribution problem – Barry Ritholz

Products and services

Reminder: Rolled-over NS&I index-linked certificates will track CPI instead of RPI from 1 May – NS&I

Freetrade app review – Quietly Saving

Eight steps to creating the perfect LinkedIn profile – ThisIsMoney

What is a ‘portfolio ISA’ wrapper and who offers them? – ThisIsMoney

NatWest offers table-topping £175 current account welcome bonus, plus 2% cashback on bills – T.I.M.

Ratesetter will pay you £100 [and me a cash bonus] if you invest £1,000 for a year – Ratesetter

How to track down the fate of an old building society account – ThisIsMoney

Selftrade’s stocks and shares ISA is now flexible [Was emailed, no web story]Selftrade

We both get a £50 credit if you invest £500 within 30 days on Seedrs via my link – Seedrs

Homes for sale that were once a pub [Gallery]Guardian

Comment and opinion

What’s your investment faith? – Morningstar

You have to live it to believe it – Morgan Housel

The secret life of an armchair trader [Search result]FT

What to do when it feels like you’ve hit the wall in your financial progress – The Simple Dollar

Sequence of returns risk and the (un)luckiest generations – A Wealth of Common Sense

My First Million: Paul Tustain, founder of BullionVault [Search result]FT

The money we don’t talk about – Of Dollars and Data

“I set myself up as a virtual assistant after I had a brain tumour”Guardian

The world’s oldest people don’t stress about (or even save much) money – Next Avenue

The definition of prosperity needs a rethink – Financial Samurai

Why Vanguard’s push into commodity futures isn’t as exciting as it seems – RCM Alternatives

Thoughts from Seth Klarman: The Oracle of Boston – Humble Dollar

Rightmove’s shares look dear,  but could yet be good value such is its quality – UK Value Investor

Brexit

Civil servants stand down no-deal planning after spending £1.5bn – Politics Home

Britain already £66bn poorer due to Brexit – Metro

Brexit exposes painful disconnect between England and Britain – Bloomberg

Personal relationships and the Brexit divide – Mariella Frostrup

Daily Telegraph forced to correct false Brexit claim by Boris Johnson – Guardian

“Brexit is the will of the people who were lied to” [Video] – James O’Brien via Twitter

Through the Brexit looking glass – Simple Living in Somerset

Amazon Kindle and Spring Sale bargains

How to Have A Good Day by Caroline Webb – £0.99 on Kindle

Eat Well for Less by Jo Scarratt-Jones- £1.99 on Kindle

Mortality by Christopher Hitchens – £1.39 on Kindle

What You See is What You Get by Alan Sugar – £0.99 on Kindle

Get three months of Amazon Music for free if you sign up before 19 April – Amazon

Amazon’s Spring Sale also touting TWO free audio books with its Audible trial – Amazon

Off our beat

Mysterious infection spanning the world in climate of secrecy – New York Times

Why are walruses walking off cliffs to their deaths? – The Atlantic

Black hole – first ever image, how it was assembled with an algorithm, inevitable controversy [Video]

The hidden meanings you might have missed in FleabagThe Tab

And finally…

“The trick is not to learn to trust your gut feelings, but rather to discipline yourself to ignore them.”
– Peter Lynch, One Up On Wall Street

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  1. According to S&P. []
  2. Even if I see such max-sovereignty as a hollow victory in practice, and Britain ultimately weaker post-Brexit in terms of most of the measures of power that matter in 2019. At least sovereignty is credible argument. []
  3. 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”. []

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • 51 Indecisive April 14, 2019, 8:23 am

    @Sam, comment #16
    “I don’t understand how any deal which involved Britain staying in the customs union or single market could be in any way described as a legitimate form of Brexit.”

    Because the proponents of Brexit described it as such before the referendum? Well, more the customs union bit rather than the single market, as far as people understood the difference before the vote.

    Over on Twitter Steve Analyst did a good round-up recently of why “No Deal” was not what was understood as “Brexit” at the time of the vote: https://twitter.com/EmporersNewC/status/1113547733300842497

  • 52 The Investor April 14, 2019, 9:43 am

    The sad fact is we all — individually to varying extents, and as ‘factions’ — emphasize what was said and done to best suit our agenda, and tend to downplay the arguments of the other.

    E.g. Obviously I think Remain has a far stronger argument in most respects, especially truth and facts, but Leavers have a massive trump card when they say that we tend to ignore/gloss over the fact that they won the Referendum. I can see how airy talk of what’s to be done to avoid leaving at all angers people who say they already won (although I have no sympathy with the Just Do It / Brexit Means Brexit / Soft Brexit is not Brexit brigade, for reasons already articulated in this thread. If only it were that simple.)

    As time has gone on, the stupidity* of this Referendum has only grown more evident. While I loathe the man and his methods — and indeed would consider his presence on my side a strong hint I’m on the wrong one — Farage is astute in framing this as a national crisis. What we have here is a (so far mostly, thankfully) bloodless civil war.

    Like many I discovered belatedly that many countries that use Referendum to decide constitutional issues require a 60% mandate to win, and Brexit makes it clear why. The idea that 2% this way or the other on some particular day after some particular Sequence of Events represents the “overwhelming” Will Of The People is ludicrous.

    *I sometimes wonder whether I’d shake the hand of David Cameron or even Theresa May if I met them. It seems an anathema to democracy not to, yet these people have behaved with such self/party-serving recklessness they’ve endangered that very democracy. I think on balance I’d be polite to May (who I have very little time for in every respect re: Brexit) but I honestly think I’d blank Cameron. I’m sure he’d live with it, but still. You just know he expects (and has doubtless gets) slaps on the back and “bad luck chap”.

  • 53 MrOptimistic April 14, 2019, 10:10 am

    The referendum was about stopping the conservative party leaking votes to ukip. David Cameron thought it would settle the matter by showing the nation was content to stay. To what extent he considered the possibility of a leave win I don’t know, except that he immediately bailed.
    It is now ironic that Farage is back ( my wife joined on Friday, so that’s £25 gone). The problem the Conservative party faces is an existential one. Their appeal was always tilted to The Shires and the older electorate, exactly the same people who tend to vote conservative.
    Irrespective of brexit, the conservatives have a problem getting votes in London and other cities, and with the young. Brexit has made this worse but not critically so. The anger about brexit up here in the more rural areas is becoming visceral. I suspect you underestimate it. Conservative party members are sending very clear messages to that effect. Theresa May hasn’t the political nous or the intellectual ability to navigate the party out of this mess.
    Conservative MPs can’t be far off panic. To maximise their advantage Labour will insist on a second referendum ( as a matter of political advantage, not principle despite what they will say). This won’t be acceptable to the Conservatives as it’s a route to their extinction.
    May’s deal is dead owing to the Irish border. That leaves a customs union. That aligns with some of Labours red lines so in adopting it the Conservatives can claim Labour is betraying brexit if it opposes it purely on the second referendum issue. It also appeases the rural leavers, at least to some extent. Think the dissatisfied conservative voters would largely come back to the fold if the alternative was labour and a second vote.
    So my money is on a customs union.

  • 54 Ben April 14, 2019, 10:10 am

    @TI
    “I sometimes wonder whether I’d shake the hand of David Cameron or even Theresa May if I met them”

    Interesting.

    I hold no enmity towards DC, the decision to head off Ukip seems rational at least.

    I can’t say the same for TM though. Reholding ‘meaningful’ votes while Rome burns…

    I’ll leave it there before we end up back in the quagmire though.

  • 55 The Investor April 14, 2019, 10:32 am

    @MrOptimistic — I’m not sure I do underestimate the anger, to be fair. 🙂 From the week after the Referendum result I warned on this blog that Brexit would unleash furious division across the country that would run for years, and commentators told me essentially “hey, we have elections all the time, what’s the big deal, move on”. This revealed to me that many Leave voters didn’t realize the enormity of what they’d voted for. I just now described the consequent fight as a ‘bloodless civil war’. Any student of history knows civil wars are typically the worst and most dangerous kind. 🙁 Fully agree with your comments about the Conservatives though. Have you seen the polling data on the youth vote? From memory for under-25s, they get below 5% of the vote. I know from experience (family members) that older Leave voters feel personally slapped in the face when you point out the demographics are moving against Brexit with every daily funeral, but it’s grimly true, and as things stand true of the Conservative party.

    @Ben — Yes, as I say I think about it specifically because it is difficult and it reveals how toxic feelings are running about this. Perhaps I should shake his hand and tell him he was wrong, and pointedly not slap him on the back.

    @Freemantle — I deleted your one line comment, as I have done with several on this thread from people on both sides of the debate. I warned I might above. It’s not constructive, especially if it escalates into endless tit-for-tat. Go to a newspaper site if that’s what you’re after.

  • 56 Matthew April 14, 2019, 10:48 am

    @ben – we would take EU rules as much as we choose to trade with the EU, US rules as much as we choose to trade with the US, Japanese, etc, and to some extent all trading partners will have to fit with us too. We will have choice between them, in the long term the economy may restructure.

    Yes, being in the EU gave us a minority vote on things within it, and they hardly had to listen to us when we were in, ie how they fobbed David Cameron off

    @two shillings, thank you, makes more sense. I’ve read that may fears a hard border succeeding as that would give Scotland more confidence to become independent

  • 57 Matthew April 14, 2019, 10:49 am

    @ben – we would take EU rules as much as we choose to trade with the EU, US rules as much as we choose to trade with the US, Japanese, etc, and to some extent all trading partners will have to fit with us too. We will have choice between them, in the long term the economy may restructure.

    Yes, being in the EU gave us a minority vote on things within it, and they hardly had to listen to us when we were in, ie how they fobbed David Cameron off

    @two shillings, thank you, makes more sense

  • 58 Fremantle April 14, 2019, 11:01 am

    @TI

    Your site, your rules. It was a genuine question though.

    Politics makes strange bedfellows and finding yourself on the same side with people that you disagree with on many issues is not a reason to abandon your principles.

    I came to my leave position through a continuation of my classical liberal belief system and assessment that democracy works more effectively in smaller body politics. Self determination has been a fundamental and previously considered legitimate motivation for political change.

    I supported Scotland’s move towards independence and would also support Welsh and Northern Irish right to question and ultimately change their path, even if I believe, as I do, that the Union they’d be leaving is beneficial to them from an economic, political, cultural and social viewpoint.

    My favoured Brexit has always been hard, max sovereignty version. I appreciate that there is no appetite in Parliament for that, and at the moment I think that the softest of softest exits will do, just to get out of the ever closer union, out of funding crazy ideas like a European army, or forcing Schengen and the Euro on all members, or chasing big internet tech out of Europe through regulation, censorship and taxation.

    I’m pro immigration, but freedom of movement undermines the democratic mandate to support it. Government cannot rebuild public confidence in immigration when it has no control of it.

  • 59 Old_eyes April 14, 2019, 11:02 am

    I quite liked the views from Seth Klarman, especially the comment “do you want to trail the market going up or going down?” That is a new thought to me on guaging your risk appetite.

    But I was puzzled by this:

    “In evaluating investments, investors should think things through much more carefully. In addition to risk and return, consider an investment’s fees, complexity, liquidity, tax treatment and the overall level of certainty or uncertainty.”

    Aren’t all the things listed part of understanding the potential reward and risk?

  • 60 MrOptimistic April 14, 2019, 11:03 am

    @TI. Cheers. Only thing I can add is that all the arguments, presentation of facts and so on, has made zero difference to the leave voters up here. Can’t vouch for downtown Bedford but in the rural areas it has only hardened attitudes along the lines of they are going to steal brexit from us and such like. ‘Facts’ are no longer listened too as it is all trickery by the London sophisticated and deep state. It will all go a bit French and get unfortunately muddled up with far right troublemakers. I have heard things I would never have expected to hear outside anarchist agiprop. Customs union or such like may square the circle and save the day. Don’t see any way of remaining and avoiding the destruction of the conservative party as a relevant force for a decade.

  • 61 Ben April 14, 2019, 11:22 am

    @Matthew Of course theoretically we have the choice to trade with these nations, in practice though we will have to trade with the US, EU etc, and it will be on their terms.

    Whereas we had outside influence in Europe. Did you notice at the emergency summit how all eyes were on Germany and France? We were in that league, we weren’t like the other 25, making up the numbers.

  • 62 The Investor April 14, 2019, 11:24 am

    @Freemantle — Well, the difference between Corbyn and his pro-Remain campaigning (such as it was) and David Cameron is the latter was the architect of this entire affair, and I think he was recklessly cavalier about the future of the country/Union (ironic for a conservative).

    I’m not saying I wouldn’t shake the hand of even Jacob Rees-Mogg or David Davis or Liam Fox. (I guess I’d have problems with Johnson for a whole variety of reasons.)

    Theresa May I feel similarly to Cameron about due to her poisonous framing of the result in the days after the result — again for personal/party reasons — but to a lesser extent (she would get a handshake) as it’s all been firefighting after DC’s initial hand grenade. The way to respond to the result was to admit an immediate national crisis, huge existential issue for UK, cross-party work from day one. It still would have been very difficult, but at least both sides would have felt respected at the start. Instead, she tried to surf the rise of populism and has (luckily, to-date at least) floundered.

    Her approach has made things worse. As I wrote in my piece, I was initially minded towards a soft Brexit as a fair result given the slim margin of win, but over time the Leave position — in sum — has looked ever less respectable to me and I’ve hardened. The same has clearly happened on the Leave side, where many more people now talk about no-deal as acceptable.

    But as I implied initially (and you’ll note I’ve almost immediately backtracked) I don’t think avoiding shaking the hand of a former prime minister who faced issues and made a stupid but legal decision represents the best of me. I more raise it for what the question/quandry reveals, and because it’s a challenge I’m trying to be alert to and confronting in my thinking. A bit fuzzy I know, but as you imply towards the end of this post (with the acceptance of a softer Brexit) I suspect we need more room for fuzziness and less dogma to unpick this.

  • 63 Ben April 14, 2019, 11:40 am

    @Freemantle

    “democracy works more effectively in smaller body politics”

    The 2nd year of the local precept increasing 40%+ without warning, or coverage by the local media would suggest theres a lower bound.

    I agree though, the nation state does seem to be a sweet spot. I’m not sure whether the EUs shortcomings are inherent or whether the complicated system was dreamt up to give the leaders of the individual states a voice, to get buy in from them.

  • 64 Steve21020 April 14, 2019, 12:10 pm

    @The Investor

    — “It’s Orwellian stuff.” —

    It is indeed. I think that one important factor rarely discussed in all this is the influence of the tabloid press over the last thirty years. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent half my life working in other European countries and thus see things from a different angle, but I’m amazed at how they’ve brainwashed so many people into believing the EU to be a ‘bad thing’. I still remember the actual day when it first hit me; reading the Daily Mail while working in France in 1988 and realising that an article critical of french working practices had absolutely not a grain of truth in it. Just as Orwell’s ‘1984’ had the obligatory viewscreen in every house spewing propaganda, so the tabloids have their pages of ‘Shock, horror, outrage’. The poor dumb creatures in his ‘Animal Farm’ were taught that ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ and started to believe it, with the pigs grinning at their clever manipulation. Maybe, after thirty years of this, the ‘animals’ may be starting to realise that not everything they were told is the truth. But as Winston Smith discovered in ‘1984’, after so many years of indoctrination, telling the truth can be quite dangerous. 😉

  • 65 Guy April 14, 2019, 1:08 pm

    The reasons brexit could now never happen is because apart from the inescapable reality of demographics shifting the electoral % needle daily, there is another powerful driving force. The extremist half of the Tory party will not compromise on the delivery of their utopian vision in the form of the purest/harshest (depending on your polarity) form of isolationism/ethnic nationalism. But this by definition splits their party between their own co-religionists as some want half a loaf in preference to no bread. While an opposition worthy of the name would win immediately by taking advantage of this chaos, labour are similarly riven by being a broad church of ideology. (a weakness of the 2-party system generating too diverse an umbrella of opinion to function)

    However, as the stalemate within the leaver camp alone continues, it works against the narrative in that the moderates figure it’s not worth it and drift to the centre, while the extremists become more angry and inflexible. In doing so they guarantee no overall movement and that convinces people that brexit is unworkable even if just because the personnel aren’t capable of executing the dream. (They will actually pick up the blame too) Because given time, the uncertainty harms the economy, so the neutrals feel the pain and they are the ignored silent third of the vote who ironically can swing everything.
    Neutrals here being defined as the third of the electorate who didn’t vote, for whatever reason, so are not immune to financial pain as they aren’t motivated by sovereignty.

  • 66 Algernond April 14, 2019, 1:52 pm

    Hi @TI.
    I think you’ve mentioned quite a few times that you can have respect for ‘sovereignty-first Leave voters’. However, there are other non- Barry Blimp reasons which are perfectly valid. There are many who see that Western civilisation is dying with the relentless onslaught from those on the left (in politics and educational establishments) who despise the West so much that they’ll align with ideologies that will show no mercy to them when all is said and done. I think Western values and culture are worth saving; otherwise what was the point of the Enlightenment and Reformation years, and the Suffragettes ..etc..? Brexit in this case is seen as a battle in the larger struggle to save Western values & culture. I am in this camp, but I’m certainly not a nationalist, and don’t spend time thinking about sovereignty.
    Of course people from my viewpoint realise that there is potential economic impact due to Brexit, but when we’re taking about the future of (civilised) civilisation itself, sacrifices have to be made.

  • 67 Ben April 14, 2019, 2:21 pm

    @Algernond

    “Enlightenment and Reformation years, and the Suffragettes ..etc”

    All those things were at odds with prevailing western culture though.

    Those West despising Lefties live and are of the west. If they ‘win’ their values become western values. So yes while this is a battle for the heart and soul of Britain (the west), your progressive examples don’t really work.

    I would also say that western values include openness, and working together and other values embodied by the EU, so your basis for leaving the EU is a bit like cutting your nose off to spite your face. Although you could say the same thing about me, based on your values.

    So either ‘western values’ aren’t universal, or they conflict in this instance, and Brexit is neither a net win or loss. Either way, it seems to negate the argument for using it as a basis for Brexit.

  • 68 Algernond April 14, 2019, 2:53 pm

    Hi @Ben,
    I’m not sure that the Enlightenment, Reformation years, and the Suffragette movement were at odds with the prevailing culture in the way that the things being pushed by the identity politics obsessed modern day left are. Progressivism ain’t what is used to be… Of course Western values include tolerance and openness, but in my book that doesn’t mean tolerating the intolerable, which many Leftists insist we must do… ’cause diversity init.
    In regards to some of the barbaric practices and customs we are told we must accept, I can sort of see the argument of some that it’s ‘their’ culture and ways, so what right have we to criticise what they do in ‘their’ countries (although, for example, the subjugation of women and gays is a powerful argument against this); but what right have the ruling liberal elites of the EU and member parliaments to change the culture of the (Western) countries they supposedly represent without at least consulting the public (e.g. Brexit sort of).
    Western values are of course not universal, but it’s quite valid to at least not want to see them regressed in Western countries, and indeed the rest of the ‘civilised’ world.

  • 69 MrOptimistic April 14, 2019, 3:09 pm

    The UK political parties arose from a class based alignment. Middle class and above, conservative. Blue collar Labour. Aspirational blue collar and upper working class, who regarded themselves as middle class much to the amusement of the true middle class ( in those days those in a ‘ professional’ occupation), tending to be conservative too. Benefit of parties is that it provides voting blocs which are effective compared to loose associations of individuals. Brexit has split the MPs along an orthogonal line so the basic alignment has failed ( whips now ineffectual). Hence the power stasis. Question is whether this brexit business is long term enough to cause a reassortment along other lines. Doubt it myself.

  • 70 Ben April 14, 2019, 3:27 pm

    “at odds with the prevailing culture in the way that the things being pushed by the identity politics obsessed modern day left are.”, “tolerating the intolerable”, “barbaric practices and customs we are told we must accept”

    I’m not really sure what things you’re referring to here, so I can’t really comment.

    “but what right have the ruling liberal elites of the EU and *member parliaments* to change the culture of the (Western) countries they supposedly represent without at least consulting the public”

    You know our Parliament is a member parliament? and they do consult via elections? and they have as much right the change European culture, as Brexiteers do, for they are also changing western culture (in a broad sense).

    I would object less, if you didn’t use the words ‘western culture’. No one in the UK can claim to be true defenders of the faith, over people in the US, France, Sweden or anywhere else. you would be on firmer footing if you claimed ‘British culture’, but the Welsh, Scots, and Northern Irish might have something to say, so you might have to settle for ‘English Culture’. But then I’m struggling to think of an example of where the EU have tried to change English culture?

  • 71 Algernond April 14, 2019, 3:59 pm

    Hello @Ben – I admit I’m a bit uncomfortable using ‘Western culture’, but I’m not sure what else to use. If I go to any European country, I can very much tell the difference culturally than any (e.g.) Middle Eastern country I’ve been to (except Israel of course). Maybe ‘Relatively civilised culture’; is what I should use, by that’s a bit of a mouthful and probably overly combative.

    I can see your point about consulting via general elections, but then again population and cultural replacement have never actually been in the manifestos of any of the main political parties..

    I don’t understand why you would think battling to stop society regressing in the UK is unrelated to what’s going on in ‘the US, France, Sweden or anywhere else’ ? We are all connected and can see what’s going on in other countries. Like I said, I’m not a Nationalist, so I quite easily feel more akin with people of similar views in ‘the US, France, Sweden or anywhere else’ than with those in the UK that don’t (have similar views).
    No, I cant think of an example where ‘the EU have tried to change English culture’. I don’t like the EU because of what it is doing to European culture (of which the UK is part of).

  • 72 Vanguardfan April 14, 2019, 4:13 pm

    I’m with guy here, and I now believe that a customs union type ‘compromise’ wouldn’t work.
    Leave voters are now being told the lie that Brexit always meant ‘no deal’ – utter nonsense but now being presented as fact including on this thread.
    Nothing will satisfy the brexiteers now (I suspect that they actually want brexit to fail so they can shout betrayal – witness the ERG refusing to actually allow Brexit to happen by voting for it in Parliament)
    I now think we have to face down the hard right and fight for remain.

  • 73 TahiPanasDua April 14, 2019, 4:49 pm

    My point has been made many times so apologies for repetition but I think it’s worth it.

    We are constantly reminded that the UK population is heartily sick of Brexit in the media. Of that we are all agreed. We wish it would all somehow go away.

    However, to what extent is the average person aware that leaving is only a first small step in a massive process that will involve dozens of mind-boggling and fractious Brexit-type negotiations with other trade groups including the EU? These typically take 5 to 10 years to resolve.

    “Brexit” will run and run. Lord help us!

    TP2.

  • 74 ZXSpectrum48k April 14, 2019, 5:10 pm

    What I’ve never understood is why the bulk of Leavers see their interests as being aligned with the Brexit Ultras such as BoJo, JRM, Liam Fox, Farage etc. I do think a significant minority of Leavers agree with the Ayn Rand style libertarianism that these characters desire. I’m not clear that the majority of Leavers really want the welfare state to be dismantled, pensions slashed, the NHS sold to US healthcare companies and workers’ rights to be undermined through a bonfire of regulations. I don’t see how they benefit from disaster capitalism and the UK being a tax haven. Are they happy if a reduction of EU immigration is simply offset by more immigration from EM countries?

  • 75 MrOptimistic April 14, 2019, 5:56 pm

    @ZXS. If there is the alignment you think you have seen I think it’s driven by a ‘ clean break’ mentality. Why you conflate this with deconstruction of the welfare state I have no idea. I don’t know what the term is for the propagandist technique of ascribing dark characteristics to your opponent merely to attack them but there has been plenty of it during the brexit ‘ debate’. Are Belgian nuns at risk next 🙂

  • 76 Indecisive April 14, 2019, 6:13 pm

    @Algernond, comments #66, #68 & #71

    “I think Western values and culture are worth saving; otherwise what was the point of the Enlightenment and Reformation years, and the Suffragettes ..etc..?”

    I’m one of that dying breed, a Christian – a faith whose values (and dark sides of its religion) have shaped western culture, the enlightenment, and the reformation. If anyone has a claim to speak on the decline of Western values and culture, we do. If anyone has spent the last 70 years arguing over it and losing the public argument, we have.

    I bring this up not to start any religious discussion (this blog is not the place for that), but to ground why I believe they are good values. And to ask why you believe they are worth saving?

    “There are many who see that Western civilisation is dying with the relentless onslaught from those on the left (in politics and educational establishments) who despise the West so much that they’ll align with ideologies that will show no mercy to them when all is said and done.”

    That’s a bold statement, perhaps you can evidence it? Examples would be really helpful as it’s an abstract statement.

    “…in my book that doesn’t mean tolerating the intolerable, which many Leftists insist we must do… ’cause diversity init.”

    Q: who are the “leftists” you hold up, and what do they stand for? I ask as I’d consider myself to be centre-left (believing all people are created equal, in social justice, but remaining selfish enough to want to be better-off than my neighbour), but see no reflection of your “left” in what I believe.

    “In regards to some of the barbaric practices and customs we are told we must accept”

    Who is telling us? And what are the practices and customs?

    “but what right have the ruling liberal elites of the EU and member parliaments to change the culture of the (Western) countries they supposedly represent without at least consulting the public (e.g. Brexit sort of)…”

    Are they? Can you point me to examples, because apart from the sharia law stuff that cropped up a few years ago, and some sexuality & marriage definition changes, I can’t think of anything that fits with this.

    “I don’t like the EU because of what it is doing to European culture (of which the UK is part of).”

    What is the EU doing to European culture?

  • 77 The Investor April 14, 2019, 8:05 pm

    @Indecisive — Thanks for fielding that, I’m a bit out of puff now. I’ve had enough comments/emails over the past few years telling me “it’s all about whether you want the UK to be a Muslim country or not” to know that these Brexit conversations usually end in this direction eventually. 🙁

    As with so much in the Brexit canon, it doesn’t even stand up by its own ‘logic’. (As you say, I haven’t noticed any impact whatsoever of this supposed erosion of Western values — if anything the permissive society in the West has overshot its Overton Window).

    Already migration from outside of the EU is up a bit, even as EU migration is falling. Defenders of these coded ‘Western values’ would find plenty of supporters in Europe, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Instead they’re trying to cut themselves off and rely on a moat. Bit late for that.

    It’s yet another way they’ve shot themselves in the foot. Europe as a bloc is perhaps powerful enough to come up with solutions to mass migration (leaving aside the issue of climate change, which needs an all-in sort of solution, and will otherwise be a big driver of migration) but the UK alone, not much. There will probably be no appetite for gun towers shooting boats full of refugees in the English Channel (or if there is we’ve got bigger problems) and in that sort of crisis/doomsday scenario if we’re outside of the EU little reason for the French/whoever to stop them departing.

    We are an integrated world. It’s too late / the world is too small / there’s too many people to pretend otherwise.

    Besides the fact of the matter is over the next 50 years the center of the world is going to move back towards the central belt running from North Africa through the Middle East and across Asia to China’s Eastern Seaboard. The demographics are plain, and just as importantly the leap / boost we got in the West from the enlightenment / gunpowder / South American gold / the industrial revolution / take your pick is exhausting itself. The US can maintain its place indefinitely (ironically partly due to inward migration from Latin America) but Europe is going to become old and less on the cutting-edge of everything and the UK not far from the front of that transition (again not at the front because immigrants have more kids, skewing down our demographics). We would be wise to position ourselves accordingly — both individually and as the West — for this transition, not kick at it with futile gestures of impotent rage, IMHO.

    Even this is to overlook the fact that the real drivers of change may yet be software / AI / robotics. I’ve visited many tech start-ups in London over the past few years full of bright EU workers who often founded these companies. Barry Blimp Jr of Bolton may rue his protest vote when London starts to lag on this score because it can’t attract as many bright young foreign things, he hasn’t got an unskilled job after all and he doesn’t want to pick strawberries even for a minimum wage up 10% because the Romanians went home, and his country’s GDP is 10-20% lower in 10-20 years than it might have been so taxes are lower so there’s less redistribution, strained NHS, even more stratified education opportunities etc.

    But I know, it’s not all about money. EXACTLY it is not all about money!

    Finally, for the record I do believe in Western values, and I’d even go so far as to say I think we’ve plenty to be proud of and to cherish and preserve. I equally know the likes of Farage and Tommy Robinson won’t be running my Western Values Museum. This is not to do impinge the commentators here, who I do not believe are from that school of thinking at all, they’re more from the middle, a sort of Scruton-eseque world view that has some valid points but doesn’t stand much contact with soundbites.

    However I do think there’s a spectrum, and equally that you always have to be careful you don’t kill the very thing you’re trying to preserve in trying to preserve it. Putting up borders, unilateralism, populist language about the enemies of the people and scapegoating sectors of society who in reality are pretty near the bottom of the pyramid in terms of the power they weild (as opposed to the shock they provoke in traditional garb on some High Streets, say) is not the way to go about preserving it, IMHO.

  • 78 Algernond April 14, 2019, 9:02 pm

    Indecisive – I can’t really respond to your questions any further without continuing in the direction that I know @TI doesn’t like (I have indeed tried not to mention that which must not be named).

    Indecisive, @TI,
    I do recommend ‘The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam’ by Douglas Murray as an interesting read. He does indeed cite the decline of Christianity as a contributing factor, even though he is not religious himself.

  • 79 The Investor April 14, 2019, 9:23 pm

    @all — Thanks for all the comments, and for people trying to keep within the spirit of discussion on this particular site (including that last one from @algernond). I’m going to close the comments here now everyone has had their say, as these Brexit discussions can be tough to moderate during the working week. Have a good one!