The Other I

June 24, 2016

Brexit the morning after

I was up an hour earlier than usual this morning, and was stunned almost speechless to see the Brexit result.  My thoughts are now tumbling on so fast that I don’t know where to start.

As I made clear in my last post, I was committed to the Remain-in-the-EU side because, although I deeply appreciated the limits of the EU, I thought Britain would be in a better position to influence change – for itself, for the EU, and for the world – in rather than out of the EU.

But probably the most appalling thing I heard today was from Donald Trump who claims that it was his influence that swung the British to the Brexit vote, and that he now wants to instigate the same thing in the USA as president.

Why is that so appalling?  First, because I assure you Trump did not swing that vote.  Hundreds of thousands of British people signed a petition asking that he be barred from ever coming to this country.  And because the issues over Britain’s position in the EU are in no way the issues facing the US.

The essential problem for Britain in relation to the EU is a democratic deficit that the US would never tolerate.  The US would not tolerate another country telling it that it MUST accept any migrants from 26 other countries who wish to live there.  It would not tolerate a ruling that convicted criminals – rapists, murderers, gangsters – may not be deported back to their own countries after they have served their sentences if it would “violate their human rights.”  In one case, the human right being violated was that the ex-convict would be separated from his pet cats.  (I kid you not.)  The US would not tolerate thousands of dictates a year from an un-elected bureaucracy in another country which they are bound to implement.  Everything from how much cargo must be carried on trains to the size of pans one may use in their kitchens.  The US would not tolerate a Supreme Court making the final decisions about whether its laws are legitimate.

Nor was this vote primarily motivated by bigotry or racism or religious intolerance.  It was a vote about sovereignty.  As one person said to me yesterday at the check-out counter of our local farm shop:  “It’s about making our own rules for ourselves.”

In any case, the decision has now been made, and the implications are huge, if not yet clear.  Both the Tory and Labour parties here are already feeling the repercussions.  So have the pound sterling and the stock markets.  How it will eventually affect the economy here is unclear.  Will it eventually break up the United Kingdom?  Scotland says another independence referendum is now on the cards, Northern Ireland shares an open unmanned border with Ireland which is member of the EU, a problem which must be addressed.  Hundreds of issues in relation to trade with the EU and with non-EU countries around the world will need to be negotiated.  And the EU itself, deeply shaken by this unexpected vote, must decide how to relate to an independent Britain and its effect on countries already within the EU that also want big changes in relation to the authority in Brussels.  The EU itself may not survive.

Enough blathering for now.  I am now off to have a Friday gin & tonic, followed by some very English fish & chips.


  1. I accept everything you say, Terry, including your point that it’s being about sovereignty — if I can add freedom from the tyranny of the moneyed interests in the Southeast which seems to control the rest of the nation as they will.

    Over here I see now that it isn’t about Trump or Bernie. It’s the same “ignorant,” as the establishment folk see them, people who are just tired of the status quo that means more misery for them and more wealth for the wealthy and the comfortable middle class.

    I love the way some of those Brits who are comfortable and well-educated who opposed Brexit are calling “the poor, the uneducated and the old” who voted for exit nasty names, comparing them to savages, for example. If for no other reason than that, you’ve got to wonder if maybe those leave-voters aren’t on to something. Bernie seems to think so. He, like Jeremy Corbyn, understands that the vote wasn’t about Brexit. It was a protest vote and would have occurred whatever the issue or candidate up for a vote. Calling this phenomenon irresponsible or runaway “populism” is just showing how out of touch they are with a very large percentage of their populations.


    Comment by Thomas J. Hubschman — June 24, 2016 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for your input, Tom. One of the things I’ve noticed is that actually living in a country gives me a different view than seeing it via cyberspace and newspapers. So I particularly appreciate hearing views from the US that I respect in relation to issues as important as these.

      And yes, I agree with what you say as well. The more I think about it, the more similarities I see between the UK and the US. The surface content might be different, the occasion for protest may be different, but the revolt from the voters comes from a sense that somehow they have been disregarded for too long by the politicians and the well-off in general. Not that I think the far-right proposals will necessarily solve their problems. It might quite possibly make them worse. But it is a complex question exploring uncharted territory. And frankly, although some of the left’s ideals are more appealing to me, some of their proposed “solutions” I think are just as bad as those on the right. In my view, Jeremy Corbyn would be a disaster as Prime Minister over here. Many people say he is unelectable, but that’s what they said about Trump getting the GOP nomination and what they said about Brexit.

      It’s exhausting. But you can’t say it isn’t interesting, can you?


      Comment by theotheri — June 26, 2016 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  2. It’s a funny thing. Here we have 90% of the citizens wanting some gun laws. 90%! We have a democratic system, and yet the Senate couldn’t pass a simple law which would put those on the no-fly list on the no-buy list for guns. The NRA owns the Republican party. In the House of Representatives the leader wouldn’t even let that proposition come up for a discussion. If there is no way to throw out the “elites” what can anyone do but stage a sit- in or leave? Perhaps the EU needs some kind of political power over the elites in Brussels. But it just seems from our experience here that elites rise no matter what!!!
    There is so much we need to do together, as human beings all over this planet – climate change, hunger, health care, poverty, housing, education. Maybe all the systems are just too big. Sorokin, the love sociologist, said we need a dozen St. Francis of Assisi’s…maybe two dozen by now!


    Comment by Beth — June 24, 2016 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

  3. trump is claiming credit for your decision to pull out of the eu. and yes, i think there is a strong parallel here with folks who are fed up with politics as usual (sic gun control) these are interesting times we are living in.


    Comment by kateritek — June 25, 2016 @ 12:32 am | Reply

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