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. This is one of the few issues where I have a different opinion to the majority of the Left. I do actually support Brexit and an eventual dissolution of the Eurozone, but it is also true that the May Government has messed this up miserably. As you say, for the last 2 years or more, they still don’t seem to have come up with proper plans for the different potential forms of Brexit. This poor management of Brexit is much worse than Yanis Varoufakis’ plan with leaving the Eurozone.

  2. Wanting to leave the EU is separate from knowing how you are going to do it. It’s clear the people campaigning for Brexit didn’t think they would win and therefore didn’t have a plan or even a conception of what would be involved in Brexit and the people campaigning against it didn’t bother to come up with a defense because they thought they wouldn’t lose. What a colossal generational failure – politicians, bureaucrats, pundits and the media share the blame for the mess.

  3. Brexit is a classic illustration of the chasm between theory and practice. They simply don’t have the time to acquire the necessary skills to renegotiate their trading and immigration policies.

    After creating this mess the likes of Cameron, Johnson and Farage have stepped back from taking responsibility leaving Therese May to do all the heavy lifting. Farage recently claimed that the EU were mocking the UK. If so it is well deserved as the UK listened to the likes of Farage.

  4. Given the whole Brexit thing is founded on blaming the EU for everything wrong in the UK, I predict more blaming of the EU for the failure of Brexit to fix it all.

  5. Certainly, a true democratic-socialist Europe would be a good thing but the EU is not that project. The EU is a straight neoliberal / monetarist project run by capitalists for capitalists. The proof is in the extreme austerity and pro-cyclical financial destruction for the entire periphery. The “assistance” for Greece and others is really money doing a circuit and returning back into the coffers of the central European banks (mostly in Germany, France, Benelux) as essentially government assistance for the rich bankers and financiers. Follow the money.

  6. Of course the EU is a neoliberal corporatist project. All projects holding any power in the last forty years or so have been neoliberal and corporatist. That includes all states, and in particular the UK. The difference is that the EU has stood for a softer version of neoliberalism than the UK. Assuming that leaving the EU will weaken neoliberalism in the UK is folly.

  7. Tell the Greeks that EU neoliberalism is softer! Sure, its fine for the middle class in Germany and favoured parts of France and Benelux, if that is one’s only yardstick. Germany runs ordoliberalism and (some) social democracy at home but neoliberalism and austerity abroad, meaning for the EU periphery in this context. It’s a two-tier system which favours Germany and to some extent parts of France and the Benelux countries.

    “Germany ensures that Germans fill the leading positions in EU bodies. The EU rules through its institutions, but the German government rules those institutions.

    Germany has created a system of rules that entrenches its competitive advantage. The single currency rules out devaluation within the euro-zone. It also ensures that the euro is worth less than a purely German currency would be.” – Robert Skidelsky

    The UK people, if they have the brains and the will, can more easily remove a neoliberal government in London than an austerity-for-the-periphery government in Berlin.

  8. re the “Lexit position it’s worth remembering the brilliant Kinnock speech of 1985

    ““I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, out-dated, mis-placed, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council – a Labour council – hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers”.

    Brexit is a nutshell

  9. If a structure is designed and built entirely incorrectly, if it is in danger of imminent collapse and about to crush everyone under it and around it, then it is un-repairable. It must be demolished in a controlled manner. If something like it is still needed, it must be built anew, from the ground up but in a new way to a new and sound design.

    The EU is a tool of neoliberalism par excellence and, as such, supporting its hegemony in Europe is the same thing as supporting neoliberalism in its most developed and centralised form. A fracturing of globalised or continentalised neoliberalism back to “mere” national neoliberalism is a step in the right direction.

    At the level of the genuine, and relatively democratic state, as a national polity, there remains the possibility of the citizens being able to vote for, and the nation to implement, a system which is not neoliberalism.

    Neoliberalism thrives on hierarchicalism, super-centralisation of power (and wealth) at the top and on supranationalism, where power is corporatised; that is the power is from and for the corporations and capitalists and not from or for the people. The further these structures are from the people, in terms of layers of hierarchy and power differentials, the more can the elites, at that level, function without oversights and without let or hindrance on their power.

    The centrists and soft left are entirely misguided on the Brexit and EU issues and clearly lack an integrated understanding of the forces at work. It is folly to think that the greater centralisation of corporatised power (as in EU ordo-liberalism) will deliver social and democratic gains.

    See Samir Amin’s excellent article “Brexit and the EU Implosion: National Sovereignty — For What Purpose?”

    Amin identifies the need to use national sovereignty for socialist purposes (at this stage of history) and to demolish the (semi-) globalised and centralised structures of neoliberal, corporatist capitalism.

  10. Iko:
    Jean Monnet was not any flavour of liberal but a conventional Frenh Colbertian statist. He ran de Gaulle’s Planning Commission – in a government that nationalised the banks. In recent decades the ufologists has shifted towards ordoliberalism (not the same thing as neoliberalism) under German pressure, but it’s not in the EU’s institutional genes.

  11. “Imminent collapse”‘, yawn more conspiritard nonesense, what is it with Brexit and Climate Change denial that it magnetically attrack cranks

  12. This article puts it well.

    “Why the Left Should Embrace Brexit”

    Some clear facts in it on how the EU is an economic failure in relative terms.

    “The data clearly shows that not only has the Single Market (starting at the green line) failed to improve the EU15 economies relative to the US, but would actually appear to have worsened it.”

    IMO, the UK should cut the Gordian knot by making a hard Brexit immediately and unilaterally; refusing to give a further penny to the neoliberals in Brussels, Paris and Berlin, and falling back onto WTO conditions and agreements (prior to some possible renegotiation there as well). They also need to vote out their own neoliberals (the Tories) and vote in a Corbyn led Labor party which (hopefully) will enact genuine social democratic and economic policies.

    Of course one can never be entirely sure of outcomes in a complex, chaotic (and likely non-deterministic) world system. But on the balance of probability, and on the preponderance of empirical data on the performance of the EU to date, strengthening centralised neoliberalism and centralised austerity will simply lead to more neoliberalism and more austerity.

  13. George Monbiot – How to really take back control; linked by BRAVE NEW EUROPE, April 5, 2018

    George Monbiot: How to Really Take Back Control; YouTube Mar, 23, 2018
    The must have story. All ‘restoring order to the land’ stories are the same – the heuristics of two opposite stories yet having the same narrative structure: keynesian social democracy and neoliberalism, from 13:00 to 23:00min. Neoliberalism has failed, restoration of keynesianism not an option on a finite planet, so another way, a new ‘restoring order to the land’ rescue story, from 23:00 to 30:10min:

    Monbiot in brief… Communities and the commons, subjugation by enclosures, peasant poet John Clare’s brilliant C18th descriptions of community and environment lost. Then enclosures to capitalists, to their 1% parliamentary democracy, to global subjugation of democracy by that 1%, no hope in restoration by keynesian stimulus, to Monbiot’s vision of communities taking back control and ending with the Sanders and Corbyn volunteer community campaigns… and timing.


    Community campaign timing? Here and now.
    In Sydney this evening, Melb 20th, Bris 21st ‘Future To Fight For, Rethinking Our Economy’
    Steph Kelton senior economic advisor to Bernie Sanders. POLITICO top 50 American Political influencer. Becky Bond digital iconoclast senior advisor on the Bernie Sanders national grassroots presidential campaign. Winnie Wong co-founder of People for Bernie Sanders, an organizer, internet activist and agitator. Osmond Chiu senior policy and research officer CPSU & secretary of the NSW Fabians)

  14. Ikonoclast says:
    “It must be demolished in a controlled manner. If something like it is still needed, it must be built anew, from the ground up but in a new way to a new and sound design.”

    However the central Euro powers, France and Germany, it seems now are dead set on a Euro military to ‘defend’ it/them. Of course that means an attendant Euro MIC. And of course that means far more concentration of wealth and anti-democratic power in the hands of their elite corporates and the 1%.

  15. Yes, it fits in with the Parallel trajectory of GB’s Tories and even back to Blair and his crawlers.

  16. Iko: there are two frontiers of intest, st Fundalk on the Irish border and Dover as the gateway to Europe.
    On the former, Wren–Lewis (cheered on by yours truly) shows how the binding promise of no hard border with Ireland implies that NI stays part of the single market. In turn, May’s promise to the DUP that there will be no trade border in the Irish Sea implies that the rest of the UK must stay in the single market.

    At Dover, many thousands of trucks a day keep the UK supplied with food, medicines, parts for car factories etc etc. Rad hung out on WTO terms requires the U.K. to levy tariffs (MFN clause), so every truck has to be checked. There is no software or administration in place to do this. There is a serious risk of supermarkets running out of food and pharmacies of drugs, with deaths and rioting.

  17. Iko: there are two frontiers of intest, st Fundalk on the Irish border and Dover as the gateway to Europe.
    On the former, Wren–Lewis (cheered on by yours truly) shows how the binding promise of no hard border with Ireland implies that NI stays part of the single market. In turn, May’s promise to the DUP that there will be no trade border in the Irish Sea implies that the rest of the UK must stay in the single market.

    At Dover, many thousands of trucks a day keep the UK supplied with food, medicines, parts for car factories etc etc. Rad hung out on WTO terms requires the U.K. to levy tariffs (MFN clause), so every truck has to be checked. There is no software or administration in place to do this. There is a serious risk of supermarkets running out of food and pharmacies of drugs, with deaths and rioting.

  18. There’s no denying that the UK has got itself into a terrible pickle.

    Northern Ireland is a colonial possession. The UK should cede it back to Ireland except that the Protestant Unionists (mostly of British descent?) don’t want that to happen. Legally, it can’t happen without a Northern Ireland referendum outcome in favour of it . Theresa May depends on the support of the DUP. In fact, she is pretty much hostage to them. Yet at the same time, the UFU (Ulster Farmers Union) is at odds with the DUP.

    The UK is unsustainable. Without enormous imports of food and other goods, the UK collapses. The UK has allowed itself to become over-populated. Without a population policy, and an immigration policy tailored to UK needs, the UK collapses.

    These and other factors are historical errors coming back to hurt Britain. One might even say they are Karma for running an exploitative empire. There’s a direct link. Running an empire permits the core (of the empire) to become over-populated and over-developed. The core depends on the periphery for loot, to not put too fine a word on it. When control of the empire is lost, the loot does not flow home. The core of the empire is left in an unsustainable position.

    All that is left as “options” are uncontrolled collapse or controlled contraction. The UK (actually Britain) needs controlled contraction. It needs to get out of its excess entanglements which are constraining its freedom of action as a democratic polity.

  19. I don’t think there is much else to say about Brexit except “slow motion train wreck”, plus that it was caused by deceitful fools, and enabled by Corbyn, who should know better.

    Ikon, the problem with UK, like other wealthy countries, is not over-population, and it’s certainly not immigration (who are you, Pauline Hanson?). It is over-consumption. Do some reading on ecological footprint.

  20. re Dover – it’s less the issue that “every truck has to be checked” than that the systems for declaration are simply not there. No border checks every truck or train or ship. Instead, they pull aside a (small) selection. Like most taxes, 90% of tariffs collect themselves – the exporter makes an electronic declaration, the system assesses the amount due, the goods are released on payment. This of course requires that all exporters have access to the system or have a broker with access, and are connected to the transporter (who enters the truck/container number, eta and so on). All this costs – and requires UK Customs to have a system that can handle the volumes, brokers in place etc. Such systems typically take years to build or to expand significantly. They also make just-in-time logistics significantly harder, as truck and train movements are flexible in a way that maritime movements are not. Not that maritime will be unaffected – a large chunk of UK trade moves short-haul from Felixstowe to Rotterdam and Hamburg or vice versa, and this will now all be accounted twice (at entry/exit from UK to EU and then EU to third party).

    The queues at Dover (and Calais) will be of trucks waiting for clearance, either because the tariff payment has no cleared or some reconciliation is needed.

  21. Brexit, economically, is like erecting a gallows and putting a noose around our necks while standing on a wobbly wooden stool. Then we get to negotiate with the EU as to what they want in return for them not kicking the stool away. It is not the strongest negotiating position.

    As for UK over population: the UK is unable to feed itself and is still building over agricultural land to provide housing. That is not a problem only as long as there is a world food surplus, or we have – as a member of the EU – priority access to the EU’s food surplus.

  22. If a structure is designed and built entirely incorrectly, if it is in danger of imminent collapse and about to crush everyone under it and around it, then it is un-repairable. It must be demolished in a controlled manner.

    Ikonoclast, departure of the UK from the EU will not bring closer any such controlled demolition of the EU; not by one millikelvin or scintilla. So the comment, whatever its intrinsic merits, is irrelevant to discussion of Brexit.

  23. The UK is unsustainable. Without enormous imports of food and other goods, the UK collapses.

    The same is true of every city in the world. Without enormous imports of food and other goods, Sydney collapses; Melbourne, Canberra, Kalgoorlie, London, Dublin, Belfast, Beijing, Muncie, Samarkand, Santiago, Singapore, Timbuktu, Ulsan, Vijayawada, Washington, Xiamen, Yerevan, Zurich; each and every one of them is dependent on imports of food and other goods without which it would collapse. So what?

  24. Peter Thompson: Thanks for the clarification. It does not affect my argument: since the required customs software is not in place, an early hard Brexit will cause extreme and destructive chaos. If Brexit had been steered on the British side by grown-ups, they would have spent the £100 million or whatever it takes to get the system in place before triggering Article 50. Without it, hard Brexit is unthinkable, and the British negotiating position rested on bluff, which has been called.

    Iko: I notice that your response to Wren-Lewis’ and my syllogism about Ulster is to endorse Sinn Fein’s aim of reunification. In the real world, peace in Ireland rests on the Good Friday agreement, which is in turn anchored in an open border with the Republic. Preserving this is far more important than the hypothetical (indeed imaginary) gains from Brexit. Dublin has been quite right to insist on the point, and Brussels to back Dublin.

  25. Nadine Dorries, a Conservative MP who is an ultra-Brexiter, has slammed Mrs May’s deal because under it Britain won’t have any EU Commissioners or MEPs, and so no influence in Europe.

    This woman must be the most stupid politician in the world, surely.

  26. I am a bit surprised by how many commenters are conflating the European Union as a trading bloc and the European Monetary Union (Eurozone). It seems obvious to me that they are not the same thing, and did not have the same motivations. They do not even cover the same regions!

    It is clear that the Eurozone is, as stated, a corporate monetarist project; and a deeply flawed one at that. And the EU is not perfect as it has been hijacked to an extent by the cancer of neoliberal ideology.

    The UK has been in the perfect position in that they are full members of the EU without adopting the Euro, which is a defacto gold standard within the Eurozone. It is this last fact that has brought about the pain of the so-called PIGGS countries; at least that and the behaviour of some very large banks. Mark Blyth has had much to say on this subject.

    Most of the UK’s problems are of their own making. The EU is a convenient scapegoat, and will continue to be because brexit was “done wrong” or whatever convenient excuse distracts the population that a plague of chinless idiots with PPE degrees is not fit to run their country.

    I commend this article to you:

  27. Lachie A’Vard says: “And the EU is not perfect as it has been hijacked to an extent by the cancer of neoliberal ideology.”

    And that is about to be bolstered by an ever increasing EU military industrial complex.

    Below the line some in Eire now go as far as calling it the United States of Germany, here:

    “The EU security and defence budget is set to increase 22-fold in 2021 to €28 billion.

    This is not including border control with a budget of €21 billion for an army of 10,000 border guards or the many other billions interwoven into every aspect of the budget that will aid in the development of the defence industry in Europe.

    This defence industry was already worth more than €97 billion in 2014, and employs over 500,000 people directly and 1.2 million indirectly. It is an untapped goldmine in the eyes of Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and many other EU officials.

    France and Germany have some of the biggest arms-making companies in the world and the EU arms exports amount to over 27% of the world’s total, just second after the United States who export 34%.

    When you question why they are militarising the European Union you must understand that this it is not to protect or defend you. It is about money and billions of it.”

  28. @Lachie A’Vard

    Undoubtedly, there are people who confuses the problems of the Eurozone and the EU which the former is hopeless beyond repair as it does not have the sufficient criteria of the optimal currency area and introducing the deficient criteria like fiscal transfer is extremely unlikely.

    However, a person can be critical of both of the Eurozone and EU as you said yourself “And the EU is not perfect as it has been hijacked to an extent by the cancer of neoliberal ideology.”

    The problem with the EU, besides the Eurozone, is the diminishing influence of regional democracy (nation states) and sovereign rights. One of the benefits of democracy that people value is the possibility to bring change, regardless if their decision is well informed or not. It is this diminishing influence of regional democracy which forms the basis of ultra Right campaigns and they are gradually gaining support, as it resonated well with the voting population.

  29. While the guardian and other newspapers have published many articles on Brexit negotiations, I had difficulties getting information on details. I appreciate it is difficult to provide details during various stages of the negotiation and therefore terms such as ‘hard Brexit’, ‘soft Brexit’, etc. have been used. I do find the EU website helpful:

    Food, medicine and aviation transportation had received a lot of attention in the press in general. One of the most tricky issues, the interlinked supply chains in the manufacturing sector of the UK and many EU countries, has received less coverage. The production of the Airbus is perhaps the most obvious example. These production facilities cannot be moved as easily as, say the head quarter of an international bank. Without an agreement along the lines negotiated, would a part of an Airbus produced in the UK be levied with a tariff when shipped to France or Germany? Supply chain management is related to ‘just in time’ inventory management. Time is money in a sense.

    Farage, Boris Johnson, et al seem to have worked off a textbook on Ricardian trade theory (oranges vs machines or was it clothes). IMHO their observable strategy was consistent with the premise that the EU will break up as a consequence of Brexit (which would result in a condition that is not in direct opposition to the said trade theory) and the UK will negotiate with some individual countries in the EU. A bluff, as James Wimberley put it. [Brexit was not the first attack on the EU. The GFC and the preceding financial game plays regarding Greece leading to the so-called Euro-crisis came first, after much internet trolling or propaganda. Now its the extreme right wing political parties who dream up all sorts of reasons to undermine the EU with S. Bannon trying his very best to assist. Interestingly, some of the movers and shakers in this respect met in the EU Parliament. For example Farage from UKIP, Beatrix von Storch from the AfD, Le Pen.]

    I did read Theresa May’s speech before the Brexit referendum. Those with expertise in politics may find many flaws in her speech. IMHO, May made a serious attempt to consider the costs and benefits of leaving the EU and reached the conclusion that on balance the benefits of remaining in the EU outweigh the costs. The said Brexiters now argue repeatedly no better deal is reached because May is a ‘Remainer’. Their mind game continues.

    It seems to me the best possible ‘deal’ will fall short of the pre-referendum conditions within a planning horizon that can be related to the time horizon of currently young people.

    It is of course up to the UK citizen to assess whether the withdrawal agreement results in an improvement or otherwise versus the agreement before the Brexit referendum – there are questions that go beyond economics or anything measurable.

  30. J-D,

    You will have to take my word for it. I predicted to myself that you would make a post of that very point. It is indeed true that every city collapses without imports. Every household collapses without imports too.

    As the entity or polity which cannot survive without imports and which is under discussion becomes larger there is a qualitative change in the meaning and ramifications of the phenomenon. At the largest end of the scale is this statement. “Global civilization cannot survive without imports”. It sounds nonsensical until you consider global footprint analysis. Global civilization is already using resources at an unsustainable rate.

    As the Footprint Network site says “Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.7 Earths to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year.” This is clearly not a sustainable situation.

    The sense in which we “import” under this scenario is that we use natural capital (resources and services from the biosphere) faster than they are replenished. This will lead inevitably to civilizational collapse, full or partial. Collapse will take on a regional nature. In a condition of critical shortages, functioning nation states will endeavor to ensure that domestically produced resources and goods in short supply are supplied to their cities and populace first and not exported.

    The logic of comparative advantage trade breaks down under severe shortages of staples and necessities. The logic of autarkic survival (surviving on what a nation can produce itself) comes to the fore. A nation in severe ecological or footprint deficit, like the UK, is in more serious danger on this front than a nation not yet in ecological or footprint deficit. The latter can supply its cities with basics in autarkic mode. Life will be livable, albeit without surpluses, extras and luxuries. All this is thrown up in chaos if regional wars break out.

    Wise nation states will endeavor to ensure that they do not exceed their footprint capacity or if they have exceeded it they will endeavor to trend back towards it. This applies to nation states of a certain scale. Small nation states “need not apply” as the saying goes. Small nation states are not in a position to apply this logic. They will tend not to have a hinterland large enough to guarantee autarkic survival for the bulk of their over-population.

    Autakic “survivalism” will not manifest absolutely or apply right across the board among large nations surviving in that fashion. Trades will still occur to some extent. But we can expect trade in necessities (staple foods and prime non-renewable energy sources like oil) to plummet. We have seen hints of this already, for example when Russia stopped all wheat exports after a bad harvest.

  31. To argue against myself, I would state a position that a European Union can work and that it still could work despite current problems. However, it needs to progress, as rapidly as possible, to being a constitutional democratic republic. Also a moot point is the question of the make-up (constituent states) of the first constitutional and democratic Republic of Europe and the admission of further states after the inauguration of that Republic.

    Other large unions are worth looking at in terms of their history and development. I am thinking of the USA and India in particular, as these are both constitutional republics and democracies (however imperfect). Certainly, India presents the example of greater diversity, greater population and greater developmental problems than Europe. Yet India remains reasonably integrated as a republic.

    But we must remember the example of India. Not everyone wished to join it. Certainly not Jinna’s party, the All-India Muslim League and then the Muslim League, and their supporters. The result was Partition. The effects of British interference in this process are incalculable, of course.

    In like manner not every state or region wants to join the EU, or the EMU. The wishes to join or not join are divisive and fluctuating. Joining a Republic of Europe is an even more momentous decision. The core of the EU (in the face of its current centrifugal forces and fracturing tendencies, needs to grasp the bull by the horns and form a Constitutional Republic of Europe. The first step is a full constitutional convention.

    The central core of the EU arguably consists of Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These nations are part of the EU, the EMU and form a core where supply-side shocks are highly correlated (Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria and possibly Italy as opposed to a periphery where such shocks are uncorrelated (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and the UK). (“A history of the European core and its periphery: How an optimal currency area forms” – Nauro Campos, Corrado Macchiarelli 12 March 2018.

    This indicates, on economic criteria, that a Republic of Europe, naturally with a common currency and a shared federal law system should initially be constituted of Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg with possibly also with Denmark, Austria and Italy. But the citizens of each such nation would have to be solidly in favour of joining, one would suggest by a two-thirds majority. First would have to come a constitutional convention to hammer out a constitution. Smaller nation would have to be happy with the power sharing arrangements.

    To boil it right down, at the minimum France and Germany need to unify, on terms acceptable to both, into a Federal Republic of Europe. The bona fides of Germany in particular, but not only, would need to be fully explored and tested. Will Germany equitably share power or does Germany still want to dominate Europe in one form or another? This is a key question.

  32. “In like manner not every state or region wants to join the EU, or the EMU.”

    In like manner not every region of every EU nation may want to remain within the national borders where they find themselves currently. I believe many may first demand separate State status within such a mooted Federal Republic of Europe. For example, could France itself remain unified?

  33. Ikonoclast, if you meant ‘the level of consumption of resources in the UK, as in developed economies generally, is ecologically unsustainable’, you could have written that. However, that’s another point which is irrelevant to a discussion of Brexit. UK departure from the EU will neither help nor hinder any plan to reduce the developed world’s consumption of resources (just as it will neither help nor hinder any plan for the controlled demolition of the EU as a whole).

  34. France and Germany would probably have to cease to exist as such and each become several large states within a Republic of Europe. If the people and national governments of France and Germany won’t contemplate this then they are not serious and in good faith about a Republic of Europe which is not dominated by France and Germany at the core. In which case they might was well give up the whole charade.

  35. “France and Germany would probably have to cease to exist as such and each become several large states within a Republic of Europe.”

    There’s probably more than a few Bavarians, Bretons and so on who’d be happy to break away from their mother ships; joining with each other, not so much.

  36. Smith 9, that is the issue n the first place.
    The loss of autonomy.
    No resistance to foreign imposed gas fracking,say, no right to plan the economy, significantly including employment/unemployment.
    Both Grexit and Brexit have demonstrated that states are not permitted to legislate on plans for local benefit, serving those who voted for and paid their salaries, if this upsets big international money.

  37. paul walter

    I must have missed the part when Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson campaigned for Brexit because they didn’t like international money neo-liberal capitalism. In fact, the Brexit campaign seems to have funded by suspicious (to say the least) by international money.

  38. Also, when a country signs up to international agreements (such as those that come with EU membership), that means they are supposed to stick by those agreements. Necessarily this means their freedom to act in ways contrary to the agreements is constrained. Another example is the Paris agreements to reduce carbon emissions. Of course there will always be people who don’t like the obligations that come the agreements.

  39. Smith9,

    There is competition between capitalists. Some see advantage in Brexit. Some see advantage in Remaining. Where the capitalists are united in their views is that none care about the ordinary people. Capitalists compete over methods for exploiting workers and taking the spoils.

    The Paris Agreement is a bad example. It is non-binding. EU agreements are binding. It’s globally symptomatic that an agreement to try to save the planet is non-binding (though Europe does not bear the responsibility for that failure), yet agreements over how wealth is to be funneled to capitalists are made as binding as possible.

    Even binding agreements can be reneged upon. The issue then is the power of the aggrieved party to punish or exact compensation.

  40. Actually, I wonder if Hard Brexit plus unilateral free trade would work for the UK. A number of other social policies would be necessary at the same time. A Job Guarantee and a proper social safety net would be an absolute requirement under that scenario. Of course, the UK would retain its sovereign (and floating) currency.

    The problem would seem to be that all the necessary, complementary policies could not be enacted and implemented rapidly and simultaneously. Unilateral free trade without a Job Guarantee, or at least a UBI and full social safety net, would be a disaster for poor people.

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