Brexit: this is it?

Since the Brexit referendum was hailed by many as representative of a new force in global politics, it’s of interest even on the far side of the planet, and I’ve watched the slow-motion train wreck with appalled fascination.

So, as far as I can tell, the Brexit deal Theresa May has come up with is pretty much the super-soft version. About the only immediate change it will produce is a return to blue passports in place of the EU burgundy, which, it appears, were always optional. And, it appears, the new passports will be printed in France.

All that assumes that the deal will go through. In this context, I’ve been struck by a lot of commentary supporting the deal on the basis that a second referendum isn’t feasible due to the timing requirements of the Referendums Act. Am I missing something here? Isn’t Parliament supreme? And given that this issue has consumed British politics for the last two years or more, can there really be any significant ambiguity about the possible choices articulated by May today: her deal, no deal or no Brexit?

Feel free to comment on these or any other aspects of the issue.

56 thoughts on “Brexit: this is it?

  1. J-D, I see you have pulled Ikon up on the ‘average’ footprint issue, so I won’t do that again. It is one of my bugbears at present though, the way ‘averages’ (and totals for that matter) are being used to disguise inequities of power and responsibility in climate discussions. However, the relevance to this debate is that way back near the start, Ikon was claiming that the UK was ‘unsustainable’ because of its population size, and therefore needed to restrict immigration. (Hence my Pauline Hanson jibe, though things have since moved on since then and the jibe could now refer to Scott Morrison or any conservative in Australia apparently.)

    The point of the ecological footprint issue is that it’s not population or immigration that makes the UK ‘unsustainable’, it’s consumption levels. Neither the UK, nor Australia, nor any other rich country, need to restrict immigration in order to become sustainable. As a first priority, we need to restrict consumption levels. That’s the issue many people seem unable to face.

  2. Val,

    Human impact on the environment is the product of three basic factors: Population, Affluence, and Technology. It is wrong to posit that over-population plays no role. Over-consumption also plays a role but population pressure alone, even at low individual consumption levels and low technology levels, can place unsustainable pressure on the environment.

    It is incorrect, ecologically speaking, to posit that Australia is a rich country. Ecologically, we are a very poor country, with a very low capacity to carry a human population at any given level of technology. Our central problems are water scarcity and topsoil scarcity.

    Certainly, we need to reduce wasteful over-consumption. Equally certainly, we need to ensure that ecological regions are not over-populated as this leads to regional ecological collapses. Ecologically, Australia is already collapsing.

    Yes, we should reduce our consumption footprint per capita. Equally, we should cap our population as soon as possible. This would require a policy of net immigration of approximately zero. This does not mean no immigration. Immigration may be used to offset emigration and a low fertility rate, each of which are considerable factors in Australia’s case. This also does not mean that we should reject asylum seekers. We should accept them according to all international and UN law and conventions.

    Again, we can balance the receiving of more asylum seekers by reducing voluntary immigration. There is no moral imperative on any nation or region to accept voluntary immigration. Having a net immigration rate of zero (but still taking immigrants to balance emigration and low fertility rate) also does not presuppose that the policy must be racist. The net intake can be of a non-racist make-up apart from the obvious contingencies of the refugee component (which will be inherently of a positive discrimination nature).

    The idea that we should run a high net immigration policy is absurd. It will destroy the Australian continent’s ecology and it will do nothing substantive for global over-population.

    I use above the logic of scientific realism plus leftist moral philosophy. As usual, the merely ideological left, like the ideological right, will advance arguments bereft of all realism.

  3. Is sustainable population denialism the Left’s answer to the Right’s climate change denialism? Fortunately, the sustainable population denialism isn’t nearly as widespread on the Left as climate change denialism is on the Right, nor is causing much harm, at least for the time being.

    From the Ecological Society of America:

    “There is general agreement throughout the scientific community that growth of the human population, and the resultant increase in consumption, is exerting an unsustainable amount of pressure on global systems.” ***

    I also note that the UN has from time to time expressed concern about the rate of population growth in sub-Saharan Africa and is that, more generally, it recognises population as a sustainability issue.

    It is a nonsense to say that Australia can have unrestricted immigration, and thereby population growth, without trashing its environment. It isn’t right-wing or racist to call for a cut to immigration. A smaller immigration intake can blind as to race. Plenty of very right-wing capitalists advocate a Big Australia.

  4. The original relevance of this line of argument is that Ikon appeared to be saying that the UK needed to control immigration – therefore this was a (possible) justification for Brexit. So it wasn’t off-topic in that sense, even though I think the reasoning behind it is wrong (my discussion focused on the UK, although I threw in the remark about Australia at the end, to which people have now responded). So it wasn’t entirely off topic.

    I will discuss in sandpit to allow for a broader ranging discussion, but there is no doubt that some people (I don’t mean Ikon in this case) are using supposedly environmental concerns to justify nationalistic, and sometimes racist, immigration policies.

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