Some thoughts on Brexit

Although I was a member of the Centre for European Reform’s Commission on the UK and the Single Market, I declined to sign a resultant letter to the newspapers on what the UK ought to do, as well as similar subsequent efforts. There were two reasons for this. First, I’m not British, and I know how irritating it is to have foreigners tell you what to do at times like this. Second, it wasn’t at all clear to me that economists’ letters were particularly helpful. On that score at least, I think I was right.  But Thursday’s vote is going to have implications for all of us, and especially for Ireland, so we all need to start thinking about what happens next.

Oxford vote 70% to 30% in favour of remaining in the EU, and I have lots of colleague who are absolutely devastated this weekend. It’s hard for people outside Britain to understand just how sad so many people are at what has happened. This isn’t just about economics, or even mainly about economics: it’s about identity, and a great many English people feel, profoundly and sincerely, that they are both European and British. Both identities are under threat today.

Of course, a healthy majority of English people are happy with the outcome, including some friends of mine, and I’m pleased for them. And presumably we all wish England well. But it’s also true that the English voted without paying the slightest heed to what was in the interests of Ireland, including that part of the island which remains part of the United Kingdom.  It was ever thus, for perfectly understandable reasons having to do with the relative sizes of the two countries, which is why Irish independence was always both inevitable and desirable. But that is another matter.

One of the truly extraordinary features of the British political landscape today is that neither the Leave campaign, nor apparently the British government, knows what it wants to happen next. But it is perfectly obvious what we in Ireland should want to happen next. England and Wales have voted to leave the European Union, and hence the Single Market. The reality therefore is that, as things stand, the UK is headed out of the Single Market that it was always such a keen supporter of. And that would be bad for Ireland in a whole host of ways that are by now well understood.

Of course, the British may decide to reapply for Single Market membership, as part of the process of negotiation which now has to take place on the terms of their exit from the European Union. They are perfectly entitled to do so.  If they do reapply, they should be granted membership of the European Economic Area on the usual terms: Ireland, and Britain’s many other friends in the European Union, should insist on this, and indeed it would be in everyone’s best interests. But only the British can decide if this is what they want. Given that labour mobility will be part of the deal, I would have thought that such a decision would require another referendum on both moral and political grounds. I don’t view that as an insuperable obstacle, since I don’t see why such a referendum could not be won — especially since this may well be the key to avoiding a hard border with Scotland. And if the English don’t want to join the EEA, we need to know that too.

The rest of Europe should resist the temptation of a “fuite en avant”, attempting to move full speed ahead towards a fiscal and political union that nobody wants. (Yes, that has implications for the survival of the euro, at least in the long run. So what? The single currency was always a terrible idea.) Far better to accept the reality of a multispeed Europe, which better reflects the diverse opinions of its many citizens.  If the United Kingdom, or England and Wales, were to become firmly embedded in the European Economic Area, while remaining outside the European Union, not only would economic disruption be kept to a minimum, and Ireland’s best interests be protected; this would be an important move towards a looser and more shock-resistant economic architecture for Europe as a whole. And there would actually be a certain upside to that.  Too much rigidity, and the entire European project risks implosion. This is not so much a case of “reculer pour mieux avancer”. It is a case of “reculer pour survivre.”


74 replies on “Some thoughts on Brexit”

The EEA as a half-way house to ultimate EU exit (?) as baked by the Adam Smith Institute (h/t Martin Sandbu of the FT)!

Would Ireland be also pushed into it? Would other smaller EU countries be tempted? Would it break the Franco-German fulcrum of the EU? (The answer to the last question is almost certainly yes).

Another UK referendum on the idea? Not a chance.

An absolute sine qua non is that any u-turn by a power with such a high opinion of itself as England must be suitably camouflaged. An “associate membership” for the UK, mediated through the EEA, suggest itself, even at this early stage.

It would not include the blatant coat-trailing in the Adam Smith Institute paper which would be absolute anathema to France and Germany.

Why “absolutely not” ? Vindictiveness won’t secure the EU. Groupthink in Brussels and Frankfurt is one of the parents of Brexit. People across Eurkpe are sick of neoliberalism. It doesnt work. What is tbe German 10 year yielding today? I would be more inclined to listen to business than to wonks at the moment.

” This isn’t just about economics, or even mainly about economics: it’s about identity, and a great many English people feel, profoundly and sincerely, that they are both European and British. Both identities are under threat today.”

Perhaps it is about identity, but as shown by the London vote, a healthy bank balance makes up for the loss of a considerable amount of identity. I assume the same is true of Oxford.

It will be interesting to see how working class voters in the North of England react when the split rump of a dying conservative party try to push the cost of Brexit onto them. Will they rally to UKIP or go back to Labour. My bet is that they will move left, and in that sense Corbyn had a better feel for where his traditional support base was going at in this referendum.

I cannot understand, nor have I seen any good reason other than spitefulness, as to why the EC and the ‘six’, have rushed to boot Britain out the door. Why would they demand immediate withdrawal, knowing that the legal position was that Britain had to invoke article 50, not the EU. [We have all been lectured by EC, ECB, etc on the importance legalities being adhered, except of course when it suited them not to adhere to such legalities]

With a small modicum of goodwill, and patience, workable solutions can be found, but they will not be found in abandoning the working class in Britain or elsewhere to liberal market forces. Whatever agreements are reached, they must roll forward, not roll back, protection of working and wage condition in Europe.
An FTT would be a very good start in forcing some social cohesion in Europe. And London, that dearly wants in to remain the EU, should be asked to accept an FTT as the price of EFTA or whatever association subsequently emerges.
Hopefully Ireland will now abandon its opposition to the FTT.

So, if economics was a bigger factor than identity in this vote, why did Scotland vote overwhelming to remain but England voted to leave, while nationalist areas in N. Ireland voted overwhelming to remain but unionist areas voted to leave? Is it because Scotland is wealthier than England and nationalist areas wealthier than unionist areas? Hardly. Or is it because their non-British identity is more compatible with a multi-national Europe than the British identity that many English (particularly the less-eduacted) and the N. Ireland unionists share?

” Is it because Scotland is wealthier than England and nationalist areas wealthier than unionist areas? ”

The figures for 2013 and 2014 in the attached link (HM Revenue and Customs) would say that Scotland is wealthier than many of the UK regions. [ N-Irl voting patterns are not always economically intelligible]
But I do concede that Brexit was not just economics, and that an anti-EU stance, and job competition particularly for so-called unskilled work, has been whipped into a nationalist fervour.

The stats are worth a look, even if we disagree on other issues.

Economics ultimately drove the English vote. The neoliberal project was adopted most ferventky in 2 countries. England and tbe US. Both are going through a political meltdown. The GOP is finished. The Tories may go the same way.
Neoliberalism is a wealth reistribution scam especially at zirp. What percentage of wealth do the richest 1% of Brits control ? Zirp is for them.The system pauperises working class people. Philip Green vs BHS workers and pensioners. I bet none of the 700k Brits on zero hours contracts voted remain.
How many English people rely on Food Banks?

Brexit is going to hammer UK productivity which is already overreliant on Finance. The Airbus jobs are of the well paid type tge country cannot afford to lose. Bojo wrote an airy fairy article in tbe Torygraph yesterday but the damage he did to the UK will be measurable in percent.

Until neoliberalism is dumped we can expect continued chaos.

There is no solution to the crisis until the ‘United’ Kingdom is dissolved. Fortunately, this looks very likely now. The latest polls show that, post-Brexit, support for Scotland’s independence has risen to over 60 per cent.

The fundamental reason for British nationalism’s hostility to the European project, which has been there right from the start, is that a successful European Union means the end of the ‘United’ Kingdom.

There are four nations (at least) in the ‘United’ Kingdom. There is no shared feeling of identity between those nations (although obviously they should be friendly to each other and cooperate with each other like the Nordic countries do). Anyone who doubts this should watch tomorrow’s England v Iceland match in a pub in Glasgow and see if the Scots are supporting their ‘fellow countrymen’. This lack of shared identity wouldn’t matter so much if the ‘United’ Kingdom had allowed all four nations to prosper. But, it hasn’t. Of the four nations, the ‘United’ Kingdom has been a success for only one of them. In terms of economic and social development, three of the four nations have lagged far behind every other north-western European nation. One of the four nations saw its population fall by over half, while two others have seen their populations grow at a far slower rate than the rest of Europe. And the real clincher, the only one of the four nations that managed to partly escape this ‘United’ Kingdom has gone on to grow and prosper in a way that far outpaces the ones its culturally close to, but which remained within the ‘United’ Kingdom.

The reason the Celtic nations have gone along with the idea of the ‘United’ Kingdom is fear. They are told ad nauseum that they are so stupid, useless and incompetent that, if they dare to rule themselves instead of letting Mother England rule them, they willl face economic ruin. This was the main plank in the unionists’ argument against independence for Ireland a hundred years ago. It was the main plank in the unionists’ argument against independence for Scotland in the 2014 referendum. A successful European Union completely undermines this argument. It gives the Celtic nations an alternative (to rule by Mother England) for developing social and economic relationships with the rest of the world. Hence British nationalism will always seek to undermine the European project, will always seek to denigrate it, and will always seek to portray it as a disaster for those countries taking part in it. Does anyone seriously doubt that, if the Lonfon-based media were not continually portraying the euro as a disaster for those countries using it (including Ireland), Scotland would have voted overwhelmingly for independence in 2014?

Ireland, of course, is critical to the whole argument. When part of the ‘United’ Kingdom, it was the poorest of the four nations and was depopulated on a scale that dwarfed that of any other European country. And now, a century after declaring independence, far from the economic armageddon predicted by unionism, its the wealthiest, the most vibrant and fastest-growing of the nations in these islands. Partly inspired by Ireland’s success, Scotland is now going down the same route.

The ‘United’ Kingdom is clearly dissolving before our eyes. In the past fortnight an MP has been murdered by a British nationalist (imagine the furore if it had been an Irish or Scottish nationalist that did it), the least-educated, least-enterprising, least-hard-working, most-bigoted, most-racist, most-obese, most-tattooed section of the electorate in England have voted for Brexit, achieving a stunning victory over the rational, sane, educated, hard-working section of that same electorate, the enterprising classes on whom future prosperity depends are in despair, immigrants from eastern Europe are being abused in the streets, the Prime Minister has resigned in tears (to be probably replaced by a buffoon who makes Donald Trump look like a cross between Nelson Mandela and Albert Einstein), the main opposition party is under revolutionary marxist leadership and imploding, while the only politician able to command respect and exude authority is the leader of the movement aiming to bring about the very dissolution of which I speak. Its a total mess. The pieces will never be put back again. We must all hope that this dissolution proceeds without further loss of life and without damage to the prosperity and economic prospects of all people in these islands

So, what should the Irish government do in the immediate situation?

In this transitional period, when we are well on the way to seeing the dissolution of the ‘United’ Kingdom, but not quite there yet, Ireland should use the powers of veto it has in the European Union to hasten the dissolution of the ‘United’ Kingdom and to bring about a just settlement for all the nations in these islands. Post-Brexit, It should veto the ‘United’ Kingdom’s access to the Single Market and any agreement between it and the European Union unless both agree to and facilitate Scotland and N. Ireland remaining full members of the European Union. Both these voted to remain in the European Union and it would be monstrous if they were expelled from that Union because England says so. If the only way this can be facilitated is by Englland having customs and immigration controls between it and the island of Ireland and along Hadrian’s Wall, so be it. It would be their choice and its no more daft than the alternative of having them on the Derry/Buncrana road, in Strabane, Pettigo, Aughnacloy and Newry. If England agrees to these terms, Ireland should then do everything it can to facilitate a harmonious agreement between England and the countries remaining in the European Union.

As a half Irish, half English, non-obese, well-educated, workaholic, liberal, travelled fair-skinned entrepreneur, I broadly agree with your “fundamental reason for British nationalism’s hostility” and your proposed actions. But I protest against your immoderate description of those who voted for Brexit.

Perhaps you should accept the results of the referendum for what they were; respect and try to understand the reasons for the views of the majority of your fellow citizens, not inflate the very modest economic success of the Free State since independence from the mainland and consider offering constructive contributions (as other commentators do) relating to how the present ‘moment of truth’ and current political freefall can best be shaped and exploited in the interests of all.



I have made plenty of constructive contributions, I suggest these for a start:

(1) Ireland be reunited under a federal set-up that allows a high level of autonomy to N. Ireland.

(2) Scotland be granted full independence.

(3) Wales be granted semi-independence (with a view to full independence in a decade or so when its ready)

If its too ambitious to implement all these immediately, it will suffice that structures be established that pave the way for their implementation within a reasonable timescale.

(4) In the new circumstances ((1) to (3)) England rerun the referendum on its own relations with Europe. With British nationalism rendered toothless, as a result of (1) to (3), I have no doubt that the common sense of the English will prevail and they can make a sensible decision.

Its important to note that, at least up to the referendum, the economies of these islands were doing well. The crisis is not fundamentally economic. The Irish economy was the fastest-growing in Europe and the British economy one of the fastest. Both were doing better than France, Spain, Italy and almost all other European countries. Unemployment in Britain was among the lowest in Europe and unemployment in Ireland, although higher, was the fastest-falling in Europe, Its not economic collapse or despair that’s caused the current crisis. Its that the political structures do not match the reality of there being four separate nations in these islands. There is no British nation, If there was a British nation, then Scotland and Wales would be in mourning tonight after the football. I doubt if they are. There is simply a British state in which one of the nations, England, is totally dominant, while the others are deprived of all their national rights in relation to such matters as being part of Europe. With the recent growth of Scottish nationalism, and ever-present Irish nationalism, the British state is no longer viable. Scotland and Ireland will simply no longer tolerate the important decision of their relations with Europe being decided by England. That’s the root of the crisis.

You are, I regret to say, falling into the same error as those with whose views you disagree i.e. wishing their opponents’ demise. That is not, and never has been, how the EU works. It is a unique organisation based on law. It operates on the basis that NO member state has a veto (although some matters are decided on the basis of unanimity). It will deal with Brexit in this spirit. For example, it cannot, and will not, deal directly with Scotland as a valid interlocutor until, and if, it becomes an independent state capable of applying for EU membership (whether starting from scratch or on the basis of some legally sound fast-track procedure to be decided).
The strategy you suggest would probably result in the other countries coming to the conclusion that NONE of the nations/countries of the “British Isles” should remain in the EU.
They might, indeed, arrive at that conclusion in any event.

Germany has a veto, DOCM. The German fear of inflation has delivered deflation across Europe. The sum total of all the huffing and puffing since 2008. Debt needs 2% inflation to be manageable but nobody in Frankfurt understands that.


It’s not just the UK which is dissolving, it’s the Conservative party and Labour Party dissolving as well.

A divided house cannot stand on its own. The U.K. Is stepping onside the club effectively rudderless, risking splits in the main parties and in the Kingdom itself. Talk about pushing the self destruct button!

Bank of America is predicting the UK will go into recession quickly.

Other nations who think they can adopt a cavalier attitude to club membership should hold their tongue and see what happens to the UK.

When Airbus relocates its U.K. Wing factory to Spain or Portugal causing a loss or 100,000 direct and indirect jobs then the UK the electorate will begin to understand the gravity of what they have done.

If FDI depart, the U.K. National debt will climb relative to GDP, causing borrowing costs to rise.

Meanwhile in Spain Rajoy is increasing his support as the Brexit has galvanised pro EU activists into action (Bloomberg).

It is by no means certain others are going to follow the UK example.

IMO the calamity which is going to engulf the UK will put manners on any other nation with a populist and foolish electorate.

Waning international influence. A big hit to productivity. Political chaos. Lower economic growth.

#take back control my arse

The EU is ruled by Law, but there is a the letter and spirit of the law, and the EU has managed to cope with unusual situations before. It is nonsense that Scotland, which has been in the EU for over 40 years, should have to wait a long period before being allowed join. There could be short interregnum, but this should not be one in which there is any doubt of the ultimate conclusion.

As for NI it is clear that it should remain in the EU, the question is what political arrangements allow this to happen? A real problem is that all of these things happening at the same time reduces the political bandwidth available for the considerable work required to put proper arrangements in place.

@JTO I am interested in how you think NI can proceed here?

@Dearg Doom It depends on what the Bexiteers are aiming for. I’m beginning to think that Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have pulled off a huge con on their supporters and that their real aim was simply to seize the leadership of the Tory party. They may negotiate a deal with the EU that involves minimal changes to the current set-up. Nigel Farage was on tv tonight saying he was now very worried that Johnson and Gove were going to sell-out. If this is the case, N. Ireland would continue as it is at present. However, if they actually do negotiate a deal that involves controls on immigration and trade of such severity that they require a ‘manned’ border to enforce them, then the Irish government and the nationalist population in N. Ireland must resist this ‘manned’ border being located in Ireland. I have no objection whatever to England doing what it likes to control its own borders. They are perfectly entitled to. But, I object strongly to England placing border control posts on Lifford bridge. These days its now as easy to go from Tyrone to Donegal as it is to go from Offaly to Laois. There are no checks at all. Thirty years ago it was like Checkpoint Charlie. You could queue for ages and be subject to hostile questioning when crossing the border. This helped devastate the economy of the border areas. There must be no return to those days and the Irish government must veto any ‘agreement’ between the UK (or rump UK) and the EU that would bring those days back. I’m fairly confident that this won’t come about as the border between N. Ireland and R. Ireland is completely artificial and incapable of being sealed.

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Abraham Lincoln.

Sporthog, your opinion (below) is, I argue, a tad short of the reality.

“IMO the calamity which is going to engulf the UK will put manners on any other nation with a populist and foolish electorate.”

Really? Populist and foolish electorates? Nope. Please refer to the quote above. Sure we live in a interesting time. With circumstances that require lateral thinking and quirky analyses, not their linear and analogue counterparts – to extricate, illuminate and parse the actual cause/s of the slowmotion slowdown in all our economies; west and east, developed and non-developed. Our political and economic elites made promise after promise then ystematically abandonded each one – except the one where they promised to enrich themselves. And they have done so. So who are the ‘foolish’ then?

I have written about this several times on this blog – and have not yet been challenged about it. You cannot expect a physical system to expand (ie. grow) at an exponential rate-of-growth (similar to compounding interest). Such positive rates-of-growth must eventually inflect over and decline to zero. After that there will be a period of stagnation followed by an era of irreversible economic decline. The immutable laws of thermodynamics and phys/chem mandate this. My guess is that we are (in economic terms) in the inflection sector.

Let me put it this way. If I booked the EU economy in for an NCT test – the result would be FAIL – REFUSAL and I would likely be advised to call AA Rescue and have the vehicle transported to the nearest garage for essential repairs. Interesting times indeed.


This is the foolishness I was referring to.

Have a read of it yourself, and no I did not write it. It would appear I am not the only one suffering from a reality check.

BoJo thinks the Pound is still at 2013 / 2014 levels, obviously he is unaware of the pound being at the lowest level in 30 years and still dropping. BoJo is a bluffer plain and simple.

UK pension deficit has increased to 900 billion.

Housing expected to fall, Source FT

UK auto makers are now weighing options. source FT.

Banks begin moving operations out of UK. Source FT

BoA expects the UK to enter recession quickly. Source FT

Who is more foolish, the fool or the fools who follow him?

From this carnage…. it is possible though by no means certain some elites have positioned themselves to make some money. But for the voting electorate who have brought this calamity upon themselves, I sincerely doubt they have profited from this event.

When the Nissan Car plant in Sunderland closes with the loss of 4500 jobs, that will put manners on them.

Turkey’s do vote for Christmas.


If rates went back to say 4% that UK pension deficit would be less than 100bn
ZIRP is a social construct that reflects the power dynamics in the UK. Nothing natural about it. .

Sporthog, “Men of affairs venture sometimes on acts that the comon judgement (received truth?) of the world (west of Suez?) would pronounce absurd; they make decisions on apparently impulsive and human grounds.” Joseph Conrad; ‘Nostromo’.

They sure do. But, the UK voters who supported Leave are not fools – by any rational measure. Sure, they have been taken for fools, played for fools and mocked for their follishnesses. But, I reiterate: they are not fools (or turkeys, or whatever).

The English have Magna Carta (and a decapitated monarch) to protect the common folk against rapacious, unrepresentative governance. As far as the English are concerned they regard the EU Commission as the modern day equivalent of King John’s supine privy council and the English folk are having no more of it. And quite rightly so – if you actually subscribe to a parliamentary (the Commons) style of democracy which is periodically accountable (to the common folk). Once you hand the selection of your govenors to the Monarch: you’re back in Feudal times. Funny how the European mainlanders needed the Great War and its 1939-1945 sequel to coerce them to adopt (the westies, not the easties) universal suffrage and free elections. Spain and Portugal were somewhat late. And Greece had a bad experience with the Colonels. The EU project is simply a grand attempt by the Mittle to revert to type. Mother’s milk and all that.

“When the modern corporation acquires power over markets, power in the community, power over the state and power over belief, it is a political instrument, different in degree but not in kind from the state itself. To hold otherwise – to deny the political character of the modern corporation – is not merely to avoid the reality. It is to disguise it. The victims of that disguise are those we instruct in error.” J K Galbraith.

Until the victims eventually cotton on and exercise their vote. Lets see who ‘chickens out’ on this one.

Agreed – interesting but not surprising how little comment is emerging from media and political circles about the very obvious need for The European Integration Project crew to have an in depth look at their plans for an EU superstate despite the likelihood that a strong majority of EU citizens do not want such an event to happen….

Too late ‘for essential repairs’ – ‘breakers yard’ more appropriate along with those EU superstate plans….

Globalization and neoliberalism (in the EU and beyond) have left swathes of dislocated, deprived, and angry communities all over the western world. In England this can be seen in the rundown English towns and post-industrial waste-lands across the North and West. It’s not confined to these communities of course. But these are communities which have seen their life opportunities severly diminished over the last two generations, and they have borne the brunt of swinging cuts in recent austerity drives. The new global order has seen lots of winnners, most spectacularly the super rich elite, but also to a large extent the mobile, cosmopolitan professional class. Overall standards of living have increased, sometimes impressively, but we all know about the great and growing divide. Western governments, national, EU, and US have singularly failed to acknowledge this down-side, let alone address it. True there are EU measures designed to even out prosperity – from structural funds to balancing workers rights. But the bulwark against deprivation and the engine of re-distribution has been the nation states and they have failed miserably. We are only beginning to feel the resulting whirlwind.

It would take a spectacular change in momentum for EU and National leaders to turn all this around. For national leaders to honestly communicate the benefits and achievements of EU membership, and EU leaders to reach a shared understanding of EU flaws and begin addressing them in earnest. All of this would take courage, statesmanship and vision way beyond what is available in Europe today; and sadly I cannot see it happen. Instead the retreat behind national flags that began a long time ago – even before the crash – will likely continue. And the peoples of Europe will see their continent drift even faster into an irrelevance of mid 21st century.

“It would take a spectacular change in momentum for EU and National leaders to turn all this around”

• “No matter how well-written or delivered, a speech cannot divert whole societies from a well-established course of action. Policies in motion tend to remain in motion; to change the trajectory of a deeply-entrenched set of initiatives requires the application of political forces of equal momentum” Steve Walt

We are beginning to see the end stage of neoliberalism materialising. In less than 6 months the GOP has collapsed and the Tory party has been fatally wounded .

If I could add a further comment. Labour in Britain are in turmoil. But not because of Brexit. In one sense the causation is the other way round. Labour in Britain ran into a stomach churning existential crisis after Blair. Labour lost its ability to connect with those communities it hitherto represented, and Brexit is partly the consequence. The prosperity enjoyed during the Blair years, when the world boomed, and, to be fair, New Labour’s strong support for the NHS and education, especially during its second term, masked what was happening underneath: the continued fragmentation, drift, and alientation among working class communities. The loss of manufacturing to insecure, badly paid service jobs is surely a factor here. In any case, Labour has an incredibile challenge ahead to become relevant to these communities. And where Labour fails, it’s not hard to guess who will next represent these communities and the kind of politics they will espouse. Farage achieved his aim – the exit from Europe – but who thinks his machine will fade away now, goal achieved. Not likely. He has a ready-made electorate. Perhaps if the UK had had some form of proporionality, and UKIPs 4 million voters had managed a voice in Parliament, say 30 or 40 seats, instead of the single one they have, perhaps the kind of catharsis represented by Brexit would have been less intense. One way or another, Britains political system is in for the biggest remake since Labour itself shattered the old edifice of Liberal/Tory.

@ Tomaltach,

Perhaps the traditional duo of Labour / Conservative will morph into Brexit / Bremain? :-))

BoJo could achieve his aim of becoming Leader of the Conservative party and P.M.

But does he have the courage to push or not push the Article 50 Button? Either way he will be snookered!

Bojo is too unstable. Plus too many Tories hate him, and he is a womaniser so not good for the female vote

BoJo is a noisy bluffer who has grievously miscalculated.

There is still hope that the UK will remain in the EU yet. But it is by no means certain.

It is ironic that the Brexiters have caused the most damage to themselves in the pursuit of an ideology.

Perhaps the British anti EU sentiment is a boil which is required to be lanced once and for all. After which we will all be better off?

Politically the UK is imploding, not a good sign that Brexit was a “good idea”.

Brexit is like a great party that ends with someone dying. 100K jobs in the City is real serious stuff.

I bet May will be levered into the Tory leadership in the name of sanity . Barclays, RBS, Pru, Roldman etc don’t want any of this crap

There is something so symmetrical about the pound hitting 31 year lows. 1985. Another bit and it’ll be back to 1979 levels….Kondratieff forex…

What Merkel is saying now (courtesy Bloomberg).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel comments to reporters in Berlin Monday * “There can’t be any informal negotiations before there’s a formal declaration of intention to leave the European Union.” * Merkel says she has “some sympathy” if U.K. needs time to file the Article 50 needed to trigger a member state’s EU exit * Says she can’t allow an extended waiting game with the U.K. * Merkel says can’t dictate that the U.K. makes a quick notification of its intention to quit *
That’s about it!
Being jerked around while Team Brexit figures out what to do next is immensely damaging in terms of furthering economic uncertainty, the question being whether the UK is to become a bigger victim than the EU and the rest of the world economy.
On the points made by JTO above, one question that arises is whether the Irish body politic has the capacity to actually behave as representative of an independent country within the EU. The reaction to the statement of opinion by the Commission on the legal situation with regard to water charges would suggest that the answer is no. In short, when the Commission announces the availability of money, its view is welcome, when it tells us to obey the law, it can take a hike. That is not the reaction of a responsible body politic capable of steering a sovereign nation.

Lots of unsubstantiated opinions here. I would like some analysis. For a start there have been some data and graphics about the correlation between the % leave and (a) voter age-group, (b) education level and (c) income in the Guardian last Saturday. However these variables are not independent of each other and I would like to see some statistical analysis which controls for this.

Having said that, the age-group voting patterns appear to be particularly striking and I would almost be prepared to bet that even controlling for everything else, age will be seen to have been an important factor. If that is the case then the idea that the losers from globalisation are wot won it (to quote The Sun) may be an oversimplification. Anyone seen any preliminary statistical/econometric results?

The North East and Wales were heavy supporters of Brexit – both areas suffered greatly under Thatcherism/austerity/neo liberalism – became recipients of ‘crumbs from the table’ policies of the well to do and protected elites – Brexit became an opportunity to kick the ‘cosies’ in the youknowwhats….

For the record, the situation as viewed by Bojo per his Telegraph column.

“I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be. There will still be intense and intensifying European cooperation and partnership in a huge number of fields: the arts, the sciences, the universities, and on improving the environment. EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU.

British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down. As the German equivalent of the CBI – the BDI – has very sensibly reminded us, there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market. Britain is and always will be a great European power, offering top-table opinions and giving leadership on everything from foreign policy to defence to counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing – all the things we need to do together to make our world safer.

Yes, there will be a substantial sum of money which we will no longer send to Brussels, but which could be used on priorities such as the NHS.

The only change – and it will not come in any great rush – is that the UK will extricate itself from the EU’s extraordinary and opaque system of legislation: the vast and growing corpus of law enacted by a European Court of Justice from which there can be no appeal. This will bring not threats, but golden opportunities for this country – to pass laws and set taxes according to the needs of the UK.

Yes, the Government will be able to take back democratic control of immigration policy, with a balanced and humane points-based system to suit the needs of business and industry. Yes, there will be a substantial sum of money which we will no longer send to Brussels, but which could be used on priorities such as the NHS. Yes, we will be able to do free trade deals with the growth economies of the world in a way that is currently forbidden. ”

Our esteemed MOF described this view as contradictory, which is a mild way of putting it. It is a fairy tale and Bojo must know it. But then, it may be that he is already taking the view that someone else should be responsible for explaining why it cannot be delivered.

From the FT by Kiran Stacey, 27th June 2016.

The markets fallout from Brexit is hurting a lot of people – even those that backed Brexit themselves.

Peter Hargreaves, the biggest individual donor to the Brexit campaign (he gave £3.2m to Leave.EU), has lost more than £400m in the last few days on the shares he holds in his investment company Hargreaves Lansdown.

But he has told the Guardian he has no regrets:

The shares have suffered a fallout just as everything else has. Hargreaves Lansdown has fallen quite a lot.

I didn’t do this for personal gain. I thought it would first and foremost be good for Britain.

If one was to take the comments above by Johnson at face value, it boils down to the UK swapping its current side of the table in the EEA to sit beside Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

I am reminded, in this context, of the best comment that I have seen and that is by Martin Sandbu in the FT.

“No matter what the leading Leave campaigners have said, let alone what they now say, the arguments that won the vote were arguments against foreigners — against sitting around a table with foreigners and making decisions in common that would be binding on all; and against letting foreigners work, contribute taxes and more than pay their way in the UK.”

This is a peculiarly English attitude and endemic among those who actually get to sit in conference rooms. They carry the entire responsibility IMHO for what has happened. To quote the Economist “chaos was predicted and chaos has ensued”.

Questions are being asked why should the language of Shakespeare be the Official Language of the EU?

“Push to bid adieu to English as EU lingua franca

Under Brexit, language of Shakespeare would be official tongue of only Ireland and Malta”

by : Guy Chazan and Jim Brunsden in Brussels 27th June 2016

With only 1% of the EU population using English as it’s main language, perhaps it is time for French to take the primary role?

Those crafty French are not going to miss an opportunity!!

From the FT : “No functioning government, no effective opposition, no plan for Brexit”.

A peacetime catastrophe. Cameron is an idiot . He makes Dick Roche look like a statesman.

“With only 1% of the EU population using English …”

Population of EU is 500 mill + a few. Population of UK, Ireland + Malta is – 60 mill or so. Is 60/500 x 100 = 1?. Maybe its some new EU math or someth. But then there are the US, Aus, NZ. And throw in a few miserable islands here and there. So what did being able to speak English ever do for us? Or does it go without saying?

Look, the UK has decided in principle to vacate the EU – for some quite good reasons. Its not gone yet. Chill out for a bit. Enjoy the spectacle.


Perhaps you require to read the FT a bit more, they have a deal on atm, 3 euros a week.

Are the last few weeks the worst in the long glorious history of England? It sure looks like it.

An MP has been murdered by a right-wing nationalist.

The uneducated rabble have voted to destroy the economy.

The dynamic go-ahead entrepreneurial classes are in shock and despair and queueing at foreign embassies (including the Irish one) for passports.

Its youth are in uproar against the referendum result and demanding a rerun. Huge demonstrations are planned.

The Prime Minister has resigned, a broken man.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has gone missing.

The Leader of the Opposition is on the run Ceausescu-style from his own colleagues.

The government party is split in two, with each side hurling venom and abuse at each other.

The main opposition party has imploded.

The stock market is collapsing.

The £sterling is collapsing.

At least two ratings agencies have downgraded its credit rating.

Scotland is seceding.

Gibraltar is in talks with Spain to allow it to remain in the EU.

Twenty per cent of the population of London say they want to secede.

It football team has lost to Iceland (population 300k).

Its football manger has resigned, a broken man.

Someone needs to get a grip or irreparable damage will be done to all of us.

I suggest Nicola Sturgeon be appointed temporary UK Prime Minister until sanity is restored.

And just why did Brexit come to pass anyway?

Or is it not politically correct to mention it?

Surely it can’t be about straight / bent cucumbers or bananas?

John, joking above aside, closer to home apparently the DUP was the only N.I. Party to recommend Brexit.

Where do you see their future re election prospects going?

Swing to UUP perhaps?

About two-thirds of the foreign-born in the UK come from countries that were once British colonies while the UK’s foreign population of 13% is the same as the US and Germany’s.

It’s striking how fast the Leave leaders have been rowing back from their big lies and both Michael Heseltine and Janen Ganesh of the FT are correct in suggesting that the Leave leaders should handle divorce talks with the EU – watch how poetry will turn to prose!

It’s also striking how the once “workshop of the world” – as coined by Disraeli in 1838 – no longer makes much of consequence (its biggest tech firm employs 3,000 people and designs only) and is dependent on services, the sector that is most exposed by Brexit.

Again, it’s also striking how a large economy like the UK is dependent on foreign capital flows and it has had a persistent current account deficit for 30 years while the last trade surplus was recorded in 1998 — increasing exports sales is much harder than armchair experts believe.

Direct employment in Irish food/beverages is 50,000 as it is in drugs’medical devices while exports of the latter have a value of 6 times the former.

Janen Ganesh of the FT wrote on Sunday:

In his column in The Telegraph on Monday, Mr Johnson sketched a model of exit that seems to entail “access” to the single market — whatever that means — without paying in, observing its laws or honouring free movement. He did not say whether he also intends to bake a pie and put it in the sky. Whatever the sceptics, lacking his Homeric largeness of vision, think of his plan to cajole sentient heads of government into letting Britain systematically undercut them in their own market, he is entitled to try. Those of us who misjudged his potential to win the referendum cannot dismiss his capacity to bring something worthwhile out of it.

But Leavers will understand one thing on taking control. Mr Cameron and George Osborne, his chancellor, did not sex up the official advice they received about the economic costs of exit. If anything, they sexed it down to avoid the charge of lurid alarmism that came anyway. The private dreads of people at the summit of the British state were worse than was ever let on. Unless they are taken with a sudden intellectual sunniness, it will remain the advice that Mr Johnson and his ally Michael Gove, justice secretary, hear as the new masters.

Nobody seems to want to suggest this. Many who voted Out are motivated by xenophobic sentiments and / or are idiots. Either they themselves are perhaps self denying xenophobic, or they are at least happy to enable and encourage same. They either didn’t bother to educate themselves about or didn’t believe or didn’t care about the likely consequences.
As this is a seminar I put this out as a competing hypothesis
Sometimes a cigar is a cigar

That xenophobia played a role is not disputed. The main issue, however, is dealing with those who exploited it. That their calculation is (i) take a tolerable economic hit initially and (ii) watch the EU disintegrate. (At least, Farage has made no secret of the latter objective!). Hopefully, they are wrong on both counts.
cf. article by Peter Sutherland below.
Needless to say, those pulling the strings are indifferent to the interests of the constituent parts of the UK outside England/Wales; and Ireland!
The choice for Ireland is existential. Either the country is fully part of the EU, which will now set about defending itself, or it is not. Were it not for membership of the euro, how the status of the country would be viewed by the other member states would be in some doubt. But institutional structures cannot trump geography. It may, therefore, still be.

Those who said London 2012 showed a country at peace with its identity may need to think again.

From The Guardian
For months leading up to last week’s vote, politicians poured a British blend of Donald Trumpism into Westminster china. They told 350m little lies. They made cast-iron promises that, Iain Duncan Smith now admits, were only ever ‘possibilities’. And the Brexit brigade flirted over and over again with racism.
Michael Gove and Boris Johnson peddled their fiction about Turkey joining the EU. One didn’t need especially keen hearing to pick that up as code for 80 million Muslims entering Christendom. Foregoing any subtlety, Nigel Farage said allowing Syrian refugees into the UK would put British women at risk of sexual assault. In order to further their campaign and their careers, these professional politicians added bigotry to their armoury of political weapons.

DOCM; “Peter Sutherland tells it as it is.” No DOCM, Peter is ‘telling it’ as he perceives it. But he would say these things, wouldn’t he? In operatic terms all we have experienced so far is an overture: the Fat Lady only comes on at the end.

If you wish to have some insight into the ‘British’ mindset with respect to continental europeans – read Keynes’ – ‘The Economic Consequences of the Peace’. Nowt has changed much since – except the Empire had gone. Only Gibralter remains.

As for the markets (aka; globalized, electronic gambling casinos). Its when the punters, on entering the casion, give their stakes to the owners who then gamble amongst themselves. Guess who the losers will be. Methinks some losers are now a tad p*ssed off and are refusing to ‘play’. The silly sods!

A domment on the “Slow Train Wreck” post (in the absence of a comment thread there).

In many of the advanced economies centre-right and centre-left parties were beginning to struggle to hold on to their lower-income core supporters (who generally adhered to these parties for historical and cultural reasons) from the early 2000s. Some centre-left parties had defied political gravity for a while by “triangulation” – i.e. tacking to the right. Think Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder. But that proved unsustainable. The centre-right parties proved a little more successful because they were able to maintain coalitions of greedy rent-seekers and conservative, identity-focused voters. But that too is proving unsustainable.

The Brexit vote is the result of a conjuncture of revolts by current or former Tory and Labour core voters. And, while they would traditionally be at each others’ throats, there are economic and identity-related grievances they both share. But what they probably share more strongly is disgust and anger at being taken for granted by their respective party high commands and at being exposed to economic exploitation and abuse by the forces of global capitalism.

Both the traditional centre-right and centre-left parties in most advanced economies are too complicit in the construction and enforcement of the economic arrangements that are causing this popular anger and disgust to be able to chart a credible course out of this morass. In some polities the centre-right is holding on, but increasingly (apart from exceptions that prove the riule in Portugal, Greece and Sweden), the centre-right and centre-left are being forced in to coalition – as in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and, most likely, Spain. (Even in the quaint Irish polity, the centre-right FG is being forced to get intimate with the corporate centrist FF – with FF, of course, determined to keep one foot on the floor.)

However all are under assault either from a disinterring (and, in some cases, a rejuvenation) of the know-nothing, unreconstructed left or of the xenophobic, populist right. (Not very pleasant examples of the latter are in power in Poland and Hungary.) The only course is for sensible centre-right and centre politicians across the EU to begin, collectively and co-operatively, to tackle the abuses of global capitalism and the internal endemic and pervasive rent-seeking – similar to the administration of Theodore Roosevelt tackling the robber barons in the early years of the last century. But these politicians have become so suborned by these baleful and greedy forces – and have become so used to threatrical posturing – that they appear totally incapable of rising to the challenge.

As is often the case, I agree with many, if not most, of the comments that you make. The problem that I have is that, while it is an analysis on which there is broad agreement, it does not address the immediate question; what we do we do now to deal with the collateral damage of a mistaken decision by our nearest neighbour? Or rather, how do we deal with those that engineered it? Given the deeply-held sentiments of the electorate that fell for such a false prospectus, it is difficult, if not impossible, to see any light at the end of the tunnel.
I have just heard a reference to entering “a period of phoney war” (in the context of access to UK university places) which describes the general situation perfectly. The best hope is that the discovery of the truth of the devil being in the detail will force acceptance of an EEA plus solution i.e. acceptance of the status of Norway with added bells and whistles. After all, this is what Bojo has just told his faithful Telegraph readers will happen.

It’s probably worth recalling that just short of 50% of those who voted in the UK general election of 2015 cast their votes for etiher the Tories (11+ million) or UKIP (just short of 4 million). The Lib Dems were obliterated (probably terminally) as a meaningful political force. Labour lost its Scottish fastnesses and began to lose its grip on its north of England heartlands. Labour is now at the point of abandoning any possibility ever of providing a credible opposition and government-in-waiting. It’s only hope of exercising any political power depends on the extent that political and economic power is devolved to the metropolitan regions around the major cities – London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds/Bradford, Tyne-side/Tees-side, etc.)

It’s also worth recalling that from the Elizabethan era through to the mid-18th C English foreign policy was characterised by piracy, extortion and expropriation, which was pursued with increasing enthusiasm, sophistication and effectiveness until, towards the end of the 18th C, England acquired an empire in a fit of absence of mind. Three times during the subsequent century and a half England was required to expend blood and treasure to contribute to the resolution of bloody European conflicts. Since then its engagement with European institutions has been transactional at best – and reflects its long history of piracy, extortion and expropriation. The activities of the City of London are merely a sophisticated continuation of this tradition. So a Norway or Switzerland style association with the EU is perfectly possible – and the Tories will, as ever, pragmatically, come together to deliver it (dressed up with the typical British flummery) and it will secure sufficient popular consent. And pragmatic arrangements will be crafted to deal with Irish concerns.

yep… the mess gets messier
shibboleth, dead ahead!
“English is one of the EU’s 24 official languages because the U.K. identified it as its own official language, Hübner said. But as soon as Britain completes the process to leave the EU, English could lose its status.

“We have a regulation … where every EU country has the right to notify one official language,” Hübner said. “The Irish have notified Gaelic, and the Maltese have notified Maltese, so you have only the U.K. notifying English.”

“If we don’t have the U.K., we don’t have English,” Hübner said.”

That’ll be the day!
“The regulation listing official languages of the EU would have to be changed unanimously by remaining countries if they want to keep English as an official language, Hübner said.”
If there can be agreement that the ECB work almost exclusively in English, why should there be any difficulty in keeping English as an official language?
The topic of the language regime is, however, of broad and immediate interest as it goes to the heart of what might be described as the ‘Great Misunderstanding’ i.e. that the EU aka Brussels is separate from the member states rather than congruent with them, the central theme of the Brexit campaign cf. this interesting ECB legal study.
The member states are, to all intents and purposes, the executive of the EU, not the Commission.
Correcting the Great Misunderstanding has to be the overriding objective of all European politicians, ostensibly at least, in favour of maintaining the EU. Irish politicians generally have an abysmal record in this regard. This is a major risk in the current crisis (although not listed in the government’s risk analysis, for obvious – water related – reasons).

George Osborne, free from having to pander to fellow MPs for votes, said this morning:

“We are in a prolonged period of economic adjustment … it will not be as economically rosy as life inside the EU. It’s very clear that the country is going to be poorer as a result of what is happening to the economy.”

Problems coming thick and fast for the UK rudderless Govt….

Who will now invest 100 Billion pounds to keep Britain’s lights on?

By Jessica Shankleman and Anna Hirtenstein

“As if managing the Brexit crisis weren’t enough, the U.K. government also needs to find 100 billion pounds ($132 billion) to keep the lights on nationwide after 2020.

With more than a dozen power plants due to close in the next decade, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government has been working to lay out incentives that will draw in money for new electricity infrastructure. Finding that investment will be made more difficult by voters’ decision to leave the European Union, said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency.

“Decision makers don’t like uncertainties, especially in the economic outlook,” Birol said in an interview in London. “The U.K.’s electricity system is one of the oldest in the world. It’s aging very quickly, and we need to bring in new capacity.”

There’s already evidence of investors rethinking British projects. Vattenfall AB, which is planning a 5.5 billion-pound wind farm off England’s east coast, said it’s reassessing the risk of working in the U.K. PensionDanmark A/S, which also is funding energy projects in Britain, has said it would lose interest in new deals if the U.K. voted to leave.”

On the plus side with a expected / projected fall in economic output perhaps they will not require new power stations and electric infrastructure?

A most interesting article here…..

Brexit: The facts, laws and politics of the Leave vote by David Allen Green

Some snippets as I do not wish to post the article as it is against FT policy…

“So far, no politician seems to want to commit themselves to pressing the red button of notification.

So there is a prospect of substantial delay. In the UK, constitutional delay is almost an art form

And so there is a referendum result that is not going anywhere quickly, and faces being slowed down by a number of factors. And if events overtake it — say a general election or a second referendum — it is a result that may be going nowhere at all.

David Allen Green writes the law and policy blog at

So the 3 Trillion dollar loss over the last 4 days was perhaps “all for nothing”…………..phew … for a while you had me convinced!!

It is fanciful to think that this seismic event is anything but very negative economically for the UK, Ireland and Europe as a whole. The uncertainty alone will reduce activity, regardless of the eventual shape of the UK/ EU relationship. Policy flexibility is needed and that is not available under the existing Stability and Growth Pact, Ireland should immediately lobby for a change in the rules so as to allow capital spending as a whole to be excluded from the Expenditure benchmark . Indeed it is time to end the charade of the Pact as it currently stands; the Commission has implemented it in a clearly political way, excusing France’s blatant flouting of the rules while threatening to fine Spain and Portugal.
This is a significant economic shock and more QE or a further step into negative interest rate territory is not the answer. Fiscal policy has to become more active to counter any prolonged and substantial fall in private sector demand.

‘Ireland should immediately lobby for a change in the rules so as to allow capital spending as a whole to be excluded from the Expenditure benchmark .’

+1 I’ve had more than enough of this ‘Kompact Nonsense’.

My old exec chairman Jon Moynihan has been guest lecturing since 2009 in MIT, LSE and elsewhere on the underlying problems that have led to pro-Brexit attitudes. His analysis is more valid than ever in my observation:

Moynihan was a prominent Leave proponent. His argument boiled down to getting the UK to abandon the lemmings who refuse to confront the underlying problems of the West, despite the pain of the the required adjustments in the UK to post-EU life. He also argues passionately – not for austerity policies but for a gradual slimming down of the scope of government in Western economies from spending 51% of GDP in the UK’s case to something closer to 35% – closer to what is seen in developing countries. He also describes, with impeccable evidence to back his argument, the ongoing equilibration of daily billing rates of workers in the West (USD200/day in 2009) and in BRICS states (USD5/day in 2009) and the end of the underlying political truce between governments and their citizenry concerning annual increases in income and employment creation. It is this latter issue that has finally undermined socio-political business-as-usual in the UK and US.

The only way to progress is a package of changes:
1. refocus on top quality education and strip out all political nonsense
2. undermine the leverage of what he calls “entitled groups” in society who enjoy premium returns at the expense of all others and normalise their incomes. These are the rent-seeking groups you often refer to
3. focus remorselessly on the development and commercialisation of technology and on innovation by rewarding tech entrepreneurship. Note than Finco is largely bereft of innovation (it patents very little) and is a parasitic form of tax farming that needs to be scaled back
4. reduce state involvement in all sorts of areas where it has no business to intervene

The slide into the increasingly polarised Brave New World that has been unfolding, divided between Alpha’s (political/media types), Beta’s (senior managers and entrepreneurs) – living in the principal cities, and the waged and unwaged (everybody else – down to Epsilon Minus Semimorons – see here: ) must be arrested. Most Alphas and some Beta’s will have to be faced down. The media-reported turmoil among UK and EU Alpha’s and Beta’s notably the evisceration of New Labour is arguably evidence of this.

I personally find her narcissism and rejection of commonly accepted ethics and communitarianism rather extreme. But play the ball here if you would.
The waste in Western states, not found in developing states, is becoming unaffordable e.g.:
1. Paying able-minded citizens to retire on the public purse to decades of idleness
2. Lavish bureaucracies in healthcare, finance, education, gov administration
3. Ingrained infantilisation of citizens in justification of interference in every aspect of their public and private lives
4. Lavish defence spending and pointless state surveillance of citizens
5. Second and third level education systems and state-funded promotion of entrepreneurship designed to hothouse an idle young in states with little meaningful employment to offer
and so on.
This burden is ultimately borne by a declining cohort of the productive. While larger entities can and do go stateless, and cherry pick where to locate operations, assets and where to pay tax, the SME base is more restricted and becomes discouraged.
I don’t really care about Rand and other controversial non-combatants. I think that what is needed to save the EU and the UK is waste elimination. The alternative will be to watch the gradual dissolution of welfare states and worse.

Very good points Anthony, but is that not the hallmark of what humans do?

Public service is all about well intended hard working people producing very poor results. Ireland’s implementation of the Hague convention WRT intercountry adoption would be just one example. ICA has in effect been regulated out of existance by well meaning hard working groupthink. Another example, the current Irish housing crisis.

In the end it is not about the result which counts, it is all about protecting your own position. Such is the nature of humanity.

But the wasted opportunity is hard to watch.

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