Brexit: The endgame

On 29 March this year[1,2], if nothing else changes, the UK will leave the European Union under the terms of Article 50. Unsurprisingly, lots of scenarios are being scripted, but the one I see as most likely doesn’t seem to be among them.

I expect that nothing much will happen until about 28 March. May won’t get a deal that can pass through Parliament. If she allows a vote at all, it won’t be until late January and it won’t pass. At that point, or possibly before, Labor will try a motion of no-confidence which will also not pass. There will be a push for a second referendum, but that will be stymied by the fact that the current law requires a minimum of 12 weeks to hold such an exercise, and that will be too late. There may also be an attempt to get an extension of time for the Article 50 notice, but at least one of the EU27 will find a reason to block it.

May will keep stalling for time, as she has done since taking office, until the deadline approaches. At that point, the ports will start to clog up, as shippers try to move goods across the channel before the No Deal exit. There will be attempts to negotiate temporary “No Deal deals” to smooth the flow, but they won’t go anywhere. By March 28, or maybe a bit earlier, panic buying will empty supermarket shelves and stockpiles of medicine.

At that point, the prospect of NO Deal will become too terrifyingly real to contemplate and there will be only one option left. Britain unilaterally revokes its Article 50 declaration, and everyone agrees to forget the whole sorry business.

Feel free to point out plot holes, or suggest your own script.

fn1. Rather less momentously, I will turn 63.
fn2. It’s generally good to be cautious about revealing your birthdate online. But mine is on Wikipedia, so I guess there’s no harm in that.

61 thoughts on “Brexit: The endgame

  1. “By March 28, or maybe a bit earlier, panic buying will empty supermarket shelves and stockpiles of medicine.”

    That sounds a bit melodramatic, Prof Quiggin. I doubt anything that exciting will happen and if Brexit doesn’t work out, the UK will seek to rejoin the EU. If that is the case, cool heads will eventually prevail and they’ll be let back in as the rest of the EU will see UK readmission as being in their interests.

    But I must say I find Brexit a bit boring so I take very little notice; there are dozens of much more important and interesting things happening in the world. Such as:

    – climate change
    – ecosystem destruction
    – the energy revolution
    – the sclerosis and decline of the European left
    – the rise of the xenophobic and reactionary right
    – the asylum seeker dilemma
    – intractable unemployment and underemployment
    – etc …

  2. As much as I support No Deal Brexit and despise the EU in its current form, I actually think this scenario is rather plausible if not the most possible.

    Panic buying of groceries and medicine is of course, only a temporary spike in demand, similar to fiscal stimulus but with larger multitude, which the stocks will be refilled by temporary shortfall of demand when people are taking long time in consuming the goods. In the event of an actual No Deal Brexit, panic buying will actually help stimulate the economy.

  3. On March 28 May loses a Tory party vote on her leadership. Boris Johnson wins the subsequent ballot. As PM he declares martial law in order for supermarkets to restock their shelves with “genuine British goods, best in the world”.

    Anyway, you did ask for plot twists.

  4. There cannot be another leadership ballot for at least one yest UNLESS May resigns which is highly unlikely

  5. It seems a little light snow sets off panic buying in London supermarkets so that part of the scenario sounds right.

  6. May was given the impossible job of creating reality out of a thought bubble, aiming for Britannia to rule in a revitalized Empire. Returning to the status quo is the most likely outcome, and in Britain’s and EU’s best interest. However, ‘Forgetting about the whole sorry business’, as John suggest, may take several generations. Too much division, too much bitterness, too much disappointment.

  7. Lets just imagine that Northern Ireland and Ireland are reunited, and then forms a forms a special customs union with England. Scotland and Wales, something contrary to EU rules. That customs union could then be extended to other neighbouring courntries, including, for example, the Netherlands, and effect a transformation of the EU. The obvious thing to do is to drop Brexit, but how could any government ignore the issues related to the Irish border? Why is Westminister so indifferent to the consequences of their actions for neighbouring countries?

  8. Robert Preston;

    It has been a catastrophic night for the prime minister here in Brussels.

    She was totally rebuffed by EU leaders in her request to them for a few weeks of fresh work by officials to formulate words of what she called “reassurance” such that Tory Brexiter and DUP MPs could be confident that the backstop they hate would only ever be short lived if implemented.

    “We do not want the UK to think there can be any form of renegotiation whatsoever” said EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

    This means that the PM knows that as and when she puts her Brexit plan to the Commons for a vote, more than 100 of her MPs will vote against it, plus the DUP and the opposition parties. She would lose by a colossal and humiliating margin of more than 200 votes.

    Her plan would be dead and the UK’s Brexit or no-Brexit future more uncertain than ever.

    All EU leaders provided was a bit of carrot and a big stick to persuade recalcitrant MPs to think again and possibly back May’s and their Brexit plan.

    The carrot is that “preparations” on the future relationship with the EU could start a month or two earlier than scheduled, as soon as the UK and EU parliaments ratify the plan – rather than after Brexit day on 29 March 2019.

    What EU leaders are trying to suggest with this concession is that they are raring to get on with the talks on the future trade and security relationship, so that there really should be no need for the backstop to take effect for more than a few months (perhaps!).

    But Juncker also put the boot in, implying that if talks were to take years and years and years, such that the UK fell into a backstop with seemingly no end – potentially driving that feared wedge between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and preventing the UK negotiating third-country trade deals – it would be the UK’s fault.

    How so?

    Well Juncker said he listened to the recent debates in our parliament and realised neither the government nor MPs have a clue what kind of future relationship with the EU they want.

    And absent a coherent plan from the UK, that future relationship with the EU cannot be settled.

    So he begged the government to give him more coherent detail in the next few weeks about the future relationship we seek.

    And he warned – waving that stick I told you about – that the EU is advancing its preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

    Juncker implied he was surprised May bothered to ask the 27 leaders for help – because their collective view having watched our MPs oppose her and their Brexit plan is that there is nothing further they can do to help her.

    Which surely means that May’s Brexit plan, constructed over 21 gruelling months, is not even on life support any longer.

    And the PM’s only choice now surely is to seek the will of MPs and the kind of Brexit or even no-Brexit (a referendum) they could coalesce around.

    And then having established what THEY want, sue for it with a disgruntled and disillusioned council of EU leaders.

  9. Pr Q speculates:

    At that point, the prospect of NO Deal will become too terrifyingly real to contemplate and there will be only one option left. Britain unilaterally revokes its Article 50 declaration, and everyone agrees to forget the whole sorry business.

    Feel free to point out plot holes, or suggest your own script.

    The UK Brexit is Britush Law, as defined by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. So it cannot revoke Article 50 unilaterally wighout repealing thus Act.

    Section 13 of the Act does in fact provide for a revocation process in the event that negotiations on Article 50 break down. But this is triggered three month prior to B-Day, well before the “panic buying” scenario is likely to eventyate.

    The Act’s section 13 contains a set of mandatory procedures for Parliament’s approval to the various possible outcomes of the government’s negotiations with the EU. One outcome is that there will be an agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union which sets out the arrangements for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU.

    In the Act the agreement is called the withdrawal agreement. The Act provides (section 13) that before the withdrawal agreement can be ratified, as a treaty between the United Kingdom and the European Union, an act of Parliament must have been passed which provides for its implementation. The Act allows (section 9) regulations to be made and in force on or before exit day for the purpose of implementing the withdrawal agreement, but only if by then an act of Parliament has been enacted “approving the final terms of withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.”

    An analysis of the process set out in the Act published by the Institute for Government discusses the procedure for approving treaties that is set out in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (CRAG) which may apply to the withdrawal agreement and the framework agreement for future relations, depending on what they contain. The procedure could prevent ratification, but in exceptional cases a government may ratify a treaty without consulting Parliament.[10]

    Alternatively (section 13 (10)), if by Monday 21 January 2019 – less than eleven weeks before the mandatory negotiating period ends on Friday 29 March – there is no agreement in principle in the negotiations on the substance of the withdrawal arrangements and the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom, the government must publish a statement setting out how the government proposes to proceed, and must arrange for debate about that in Parliament within days.

    So the deadline for a settled Article 50 Deal is 21 Jan 2019. If No Deal is done by then this will trigger a debate and another vote to presumably repeal the Withdrawal Act. The Remain forces must hold that debate and win the vote to repeal of the Act before getting the UK jumping back into bed with thr EU. That is by no means a sure thing.

    I would expect a Second refferendum to be held to break the impasse, whuch would apoear to favour Rsmain, since thus divorce apoears to messy. But there does not seem to be much time for that.

    The UK government may “unilaterally revoke” its Article 50 application.. But it cannot
    “unilaterally revoke” legislation passed by Houses of Parliament, unless we wish to return to the days of governance by regal fiat.

  10. Plausible. The hole for me is is the proposition that one of the other 27 would spike an extension of the Article 2 deadline. No-deal Brexit chaos would severely affect France for one, a core member, and a solution really is in the interests of the group. The point has been abused by Brexiters to support delusions about the strength of the UK’s negotiating position, but it’s not entirely false.

    Report in the Guardian that the normally Tory business lobbies have stopped being polite about no-deal Brexit. Toyota UK have pointed out that they don’t have warehouses, as their production system relies completely on just-in-time delivery. In other words, they would cease to function. *****theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/13/despairing-businesses-triggering-no-deal-brexit-plans-says-cbi

  11. PS: To be clear, the Article 50 extension would be on the basis of a clear British plan to hold a second referendum, backed by legislation and a Commons majority. Refusing this request would make the EU-27 and Brussels own the ensuing no-deal catastrophe. So far the EU has behaved very rationally and coolly throughout the process, unlike their British counterparts. It’s highly probable they would grant the extension. Ireland would want it as well as France.

  12. If the Conservative Party’s vote of no-confidence in Theresa May had been carried, who would have been the candidates in the consequent leadership election, and what would have been their campaign platforms?

  13. So, what people are saying is TINA – There Is No Alternative. It’s identical to the mantra of Neoliberalism itself.

  14. The EU is good at punishing nations that even question the setup, let alone want to leave it. Tyrants must always respond instantly with overwhelming force, way out of proportion to the threat – lest anyone else get any funny ideas.

  15. So, what people are saying is TINA – There Is No Alternative. It’s identical to the mantra of Neoliberalism itself.

    When you rule out alternatives, you’re left with fewer alternatives to pick from.

    + remaining part of the EU’s administrative structure is ruled out by the referendum result
    + remaining part of the single market as a rule-taker [eea/norway] is ruled out by Theresa May’s personal racism blocking freedom-of-movement [the single market is inter-alia a single market in labour]
    + becoming a third country able to set its own trading rules is ruled out by the good friday agreement.

    The third needs a bit of explanation: the framework of the GFA is that people in northern ireland will be allowed to regard themselves and act as if they were, indifferently, “irish” or… “british” [if you don’t know why there should be a footnote here, pay it no mind]. Which means they have to be able to move their stuff over the irish sea or the intra-irish border without paying it any particular mind, which means that pragmatically northern ireland has to be in a customs union with britain and with rest-of-ireland… and customs unions are transitive and rest-of-ireland is in a customs union with the rest of europe. The GFA binds the UK to be in a customs union with whomever the Irish want to be in a customs union with.

    So given current constraints and self-declared red lines the UK gets to chose between:
    + “the UK leaves the single market but remains in the customs union unable to control the rules of same”, or
    + “crash out, break the GFA, and get branded a pariah state”

  16. Which is to say: there are lots of sensible ways to leave the EU and not be strictly worse off. It’s just that the specific combination of:
    + opposition to freedom of movement and thus continued membership of the single market
    + the effect of the GFA, and
    + the lack of desire on the part of the conservative party to do some of the interesting/positive things that the UK could do as a member of the customs union but not the single market or EU
    means that it’s a shitshow. But it’s contingent on the whys and hows here, not an automatic result of leaving-the-eu.

  17. The UK and Ireland are parties to the Good Friday Agreement, but the European Union isn’t. The EU isn’t responsible for the terms of that agreement.

    When the Good Friday Agreement was written, the UK and Ireland were both members of the EU. I think there’s a strong probability that the question ‘How will the continued operation of this agreement be affected by departure from the EU?’ was not considered, because nobody involved thought there was any likelihood of the UK leaving the EU (or Ireland leaving either, I suppose I should add). I’m not sure they’re to be blamed for that; anyway, if it was a mistake for which the people involved at the time are culpable, that doesn’t make other people culpable for it now.

    If the Good Friday Agreement was written (as I am imagining) to operate in a way which depended on the UK (and Ireland) remaining in the EU, it’s not surprising if it turns out to be hard to find ways to keep it operating in a context where the UK has left the EU. That doesn’t make the UK (and Ireland) any less bound by it than before.

    Now that the UK is leaving the EU, it is appropriate for Ireland to raise the question of how the Good Friday Agreement is going to continue to be upheld after that departure. In fact, Ireland is pretty much bound to do that. The EU is not a party to the Good Friday Agreement, but Ireland is a continuing member of the EU and so it is appropriate for the EU to seek to assist Ireland in making sure that Ireland’s international agreements continue to be upheld. The EU is not attempting to punish or penalise the UK when it insists that the terms of withdrawal are such as to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement continues to be upheld, it’s just doing what it should do by helping a member (Ireland) uphold an agreement to which Ireland is bound, and if doing that produces results which people in the UK don’t like, that’s not the EU’s fault. The people of the UK now are not (all) the same people as the people of the UK when the Good Friday Agreement was made, but the agreement binds the UK over time despite population turnover: that’s the way these things work (and the only way they could work), people know that, and it’s not something for which the UK can fairly blame the EU.

  18. God, I don”t know what to think!

    I do know Labour movements, a cherished designed neoliberal caveat to drive down wages and disrupt solifarity and cohesion in places like Britain, destroying the unions and eventually much of social infrastructure as we know it is the root cause of the problem with Britain, if what I’ve read about spare labour numbers out of kilter with jobs available, is true.

    Of course many ordinary people know it’s a bankers EU and resent that, but as economists have warned for decades since de-industrialisation and automation began and BOP switched to financialised, computerised capitalism away from autonomous, self determining nation states, that the demolition of places like Britain in its current form was inevitable as these represented a break away from profit maximisation. Trump’s USA appears to be a similar version played out slightly differently.

    But I guess I head back to Grexit and the mercilessness with which Greece was treated, but not even the memory of that hasn’t prepared me for the animus of the EU in the form of people like Junker toward Britain. France is wobbly also and also a couple of other places, which seems to leave Germany left standing.

    Tking a step back, it seem the oligarchic forces did design and implement a world some what parallel in operation and function to a Great Panopticon. Risk has been minimalised to zed,Time has been frozen, and if the oligarchs don’t age, things remain permanently static and life medieval in nature. This is a truly Aristotelian miracle; dumbed down, the Fixed Stars as reality.

    I guess the best the English can now do is buy some old army greatcoats for the long winters to come and lynch the Great Idiot, Cameron, for putting them in such deep manure, for the rest of Europe now seems only interested in smashing Britain, to me.

    Prof Quiggin, congratulations of the your birthday, but I must regrettably inform you that you are STILL two years behind me and the way things seem to work, there seems no chance short of a miracle that both you and I can be concurrently sixty five OR sixty three.

  19. An interesting article where some aspects pertain to Germany and its role and behaviour in the EU.

    https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2018/11/corporate-power-and-the-self-destruction-of-neoliberalism/

    More generally, the article refers to the mutating role of corporations in the global economic system and their recent evasion or escape from their “traditional” role of paying taxes, taking on debt and making productive investments. Corporations now tend to pay no taxes or low taxes, to avoid debt (be creditors) and hoard money (via various financial instruments and stratagems) rather than make productive investments.

    Overall, the article shows why, for structural reasons, the EU is headed first for financial collapse and second for real collapse.

    Following the above analysis, we can see that the UK can certainly be better off long term by escaping from the EU via a Hard Brexit. There will be short-term pain and maybe some mid-term adjustment problems. Also, the UK would only be better off if it expunged neoliberalism from its own national economy. Leaving neoliberal Europe and staying neoliberal nationally would largely sabotage the benefits of leaving the neoliberal EU.

    As for the EU, its very DNA is neoliberal. That is to say neoliberalism is written into all of its treaties, charters etc. Neoliberalism is structurally embedded in the entire edifice of the EU. The EU is a neoliberal system through and through. As such it is un-redeemable and un-reformable.

  20. Ikonoclast, the article you link to analyses what’s been happening in Germany, but it goes on to say that similar things have been happening in the US and across Western industrialised economies generally. If it’s true that the structural developments described in the article are going to lead to a collapse, all Western industrialised economies are at risk regardless of whether they’re EU members, and arguing about leaving (or not leaving) the EU is a distraction and a waste of time and effort.

  21. Ikonoclast, among the findings of the most recently published Eurobarometer study of public opinion across the EU, conducted in the northern spring of 2018 were the following:

    The proportion of respondents who trust the EU is 42%, which is higher than the proportion (34%) who trust their national government or their national parliament. The level of trust in the EU has been higher than the level of trust in national parliaments and national governments at least since 2004, and probably longer. Conversely, the proportions who distrust national governments (61%) and national parliaments (60%) are higher than the proportion who distrust the EU (48%).

    40% report a positive image of the EU, 37% a neutral image, and 21% a negative image.

    58% of respondents say they are optimistic for the future of the EU and 36% say they are pessimistic.

    The full report breaks down this information by member country, if you’re interested.

  22. It isn’t that it will be revoked or not. It is that the whole process seems so Shakespearean – ego and happenstance creates a smaller and smaller group of ‘valid’ options and ill-fortune spins the wheel faster. Hamlet kills Polonius. It could all be stopped by admitting one’s failures and making amends but it never is and the final scene is devastation. The kingdom of Denmark collapses…

  23. Whatever those in the UK who voted for Brexit may think or believe, the apparent idea of some here that Brexit is in actuality about escaping from EU neoliberalism, is weird. Germany, in particular, has better welfare and working conditions than England. People like Boris Johnson, in making fun of EU regulations, were aiming for a less regulated market – ie more neoliberalism. I wish people would have some regard for evidence.

  24. the apparent idea of some here that Brexit is in actuality about escaping from EU neoliberalism, is weird.

    True, but the neo-Leninists who currently are leading the British Labour Party believe Brexit is some kind of anti-capitalist manouevre. Go figure, huh?

    I wish people would have some regard for evidence..

    Now, that is the forlorn cry of our times.

  25. Brexit is like the Iraq War. Lost of people support these ventures for totally contradictory reasons and expect that their version will be the one that will happen, rather than that of their allies. In the end, everyone gets a disastrous mess.

  26. The EU is like the Iraq War. Lots of people supported this venture for totally contradictory reasons. They expected their version would be the one that would happen. In the end, everyone got a disastrous mess.

    There is absolutely no denying that the EU is a mess… unless you have no regard for evidence.

    “The Euro is not working, in case anybody did not know that.” – Joseph Stiglitz.

  27. There is absolutely no denying that the EU is a mess… unless you have no regard for evidence.

    There is absolutely no denying that every human society in existence is a mess, but this does not justify the conclusion that people would be better off leaving those societies.

  28. I have noted that the pro-EU camp on this blog never present cogent arguments against the substantive points made by Stiglitz (and others) re the design limitations of the Euro. I suspect that’s because nobody on this blog, except the trained economists (practicing or retired), understand or even know about these points of argument. Without knowledge of these issues, any arguments (or rather non-arguments) presented can proceed only from ignorance and the “tribalist” shibboleths of the liberal centrist left (who economically speaking are of the neoliberal camp without knowing it).

    So far as I can see in most threads here, the trained economists writing on this blog, including J.Q., also make no serious effort to engage substantively with the ideas presented by Stiglitz (a Nobel Memorial Prize economist). Stiglitz, I might add, also has a good track record in being concerned about and analysing the rise in inequality under modern (neoliberal) economics. He is not a thinker to be dismissed lightly.

    For stating the above, I will likely be criticized again for (a) an appeal to an authority (Stiglitz) and (b) an appeal to the facts this authority presents. This is consistent with how the liberal centrist left argue on this blog. There are to be neither appeals to facts, nor appeals to recognized authorities attempting to deal with those facts. There are only to be appeals to the “tribalist” shibboleths of the liberal centrist left. The liberal centrist left is, in the main, socially progressive but suffers from neoliberal capture in terms of its misunderstanding economics and political economy.

  29. Alternatively you could list the things that Stiglitz stands for, rather than recycling his objections and demanding they be refuted.

    However, Stiglitz and others opinions on the EC are not the reason behind Brexit, if a reason could be found.

  30. Iko, the Euro is not the EU. There are (at least) four EU members (UK, Sweden, Denmark, Czech Republic) who declined to adopt the Euro and kept their own currencies. It is perfectly consistent to think that the Euro is a bad idea (or at best was maybe a good idea, badly implemented) as Stiglitz does and still support the EU, and certainly oppose Brexit as it is likely to happen.

  31. I would be prepared to accept the label of ‘anti-Brexit’, but not that of ‘pro-EU’. I am not sure whether it was a good idea to create the EU, and I am not sure whether it was a good idea for the UK to join the European Communities; I am not sure whether it was a good idea for Norway to reject membership of the European Communities and of the European Union. But I am sure that the UK decision to leave the EU after nearly half a century of membership means massive disruption and huge losses in exchange for dubious benefits. I’m sure it’s true that there are problems with the Euro, and I’m also sure that there are problems with EU membership even for those EU members which are not part of the Eurozone, but that doesn’t invalidate my reasons for thinking Brexit a folly.

  32. I’m only going to state my opinion here once. Note that I will not respond to tribalist responses from the pro-EU camp so save your time.

    Firstly separating the two issues of Eurozone and EU as a trading bloc. I’ll first address the obvious problems with the Eurozone. I won’t repeat the long technical arguments that has been done to death on the Eurozone. Just to state that it will never work without vertical and horizontal fiscal transfer and no, emergency loans between regional states will not work. The limits on budget deficit and public debt as a % of GDP makes no fiscal transfer mechanism even worse. France and Italy (after Greece tried and failed) are currently both facing this problem that addressing inequality requires the budget deficit to run over the what is allowed in the Eurozone rules, and the EU wants to fine Italy while at the same time it may let France off the hook. The chances of introducing fiscal transfers between Eurozone states and eliminating that budget deficit and public debit limit is close to zero. So Eurozone will not work therefore I’m against it.

    Now onto the EU itself. It is natural to support the idea of the EU from a leftist perspective because of its internationalist origin, such as freedom of movement of labour, free trade, more communications between countries and working towards common goal etc. The idea of a unified Europe (or the whole world) living in peace and harmony is also what a lot of leftist including myself dream of. So why am I against EU?

    Firstly, though not a reason to be against EU, it is obvious that a formal union such as the EU is not a necessary requirement for peace and harmony. If this is a requirement the the whole world outside EU would be at total chaos.

    Secondly, the EU is not showing evidence that it is reform-able to promote leftist ideas. To the contrary, it is becoming more and more technocrat by the day, to the point that it is boosting defense spending when there are social problems of inequality, unemployment and even poor public infrastructure where the money could have been spent. So much for peace and harmony project.

    Lastly, many argues that it is ironic for people on the left to claim Brexit would be beneficial for the left when it is the ultra right that is driving Brexit and anti-EU sentiments. However I believe this is because EU is becoming a common enemy of portions of the left and portions of the right, thereby allowing ultra rightwing political parties to gain popularity and power across Europe and this is dangerous. Why do the anti-EU left vote for ultra rightwing political parties? Well its simply because no political party on the left dare to be anti-EU due to pro-EU left is still very significant if not the majority of their voters. The anti-EU left is left with nowhere to turn to except the ultra rightwing parties which captured this portion of the left, do remember that while Italy’s Five Star Movement is an ultra rightwing party, its government wants increase payment to poor and unemployed, and the EU wants to fine Italy because this is resulting in budget deficit of 2.4% of GDP (nothing compared what Australia had in some of the years since the GFC). Ending the EU so that the left can be united again, reducing support for the ultra right and focus on actually governing the country instead of meeting obligation to an unaccountable supranational body is the most important thing in my opinion, hence I support Brexit and an eventual dissolution of both the Eurozone and the EU.

  33. @Ikonoclast
    But what’s the euro got to do with Brexit? Britain was never in the eurozone in the first place.
    And anyway, why are you changing the subject and engaging in ideological name-calling? This one’s a job for Sigmund Freud, methinks.

  34. Ending the EU so that the left can be united again

    United again? When was the left ever united, within or between countries?

  35. @Smith9

    The left nor the right is ever fully united in the sense that everyone in the respective camp have same stance on all issues. The decline of the a lot of the leftist parties across Europe is due to the lost of support of the anti-EU left to the ultra right, so in this context united again means regaining left voters support when EU is not an issue that splits the left anymore.

  36. As usual, there are are no substantive arguments offered for the EU and/or the Eurozone in their current form. I can only assume it’s because the bloggers on this thread can offer none. There are no rebuttals offered for Stiglitz’s analysis. I can only assume it’s because the bloggers on this thread can offer none. The Euro in its current institutionalized form (meaning all the monetary and fiscal rules currently in place) is the centerpiece of the EU and where its headed. These issues, on a full analysis, are inseparable. I am not changing the subject at all.

    I call “tribalism” on the liberal centrist left precisely because they offer no substantive arguments for supporting the EU in its current hardline neoliberal form (as manifested in the Eurozone). Right-wing British Tories and Nationalists support Brexit for their own invalid reasons (though even some of them are split too). This leads to a knee-jerk reaction by the liberal centrist “left”. So, without looking into analyses like those provided Stiglitz, the liberal centrists essentially say “Well, tribally we have to be for Remain because most Tories are for Brexit. They do this without subjecting the matter to a full analysis.

    In none of the recent Brexit threads have I seen any analysis from the liberal centrists, just their tribalist behavior of lining-up to indicate tribalist ideological affiliation.

  37. @Ikonoclast
    “Psychological projection is a defence mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others”.

  38. As usual, there are are no substantive arguments offered for the EU and/or the Eurozone in their current form.

    Not attempting to speak for anybody else, for myself this is true as I acknowledged before you made this comment: I am not offering any argument for the EU, I am offering an argument against the folly of Brexit.

    I heard a clip on Youtube from a UK radio talkback show, with an exchange between an anti-Brexit host and a pro-Brexit caller. The host pressed the caller repeatedly to explain one way in which his (the caller’s) life would be better as a result of Brexit. The caller went off on a series of tangents but could offer no answer to the host’s question. Can anybody? Whose life is going to be better as a result of Brexit, and how?

    The caller did not offer Tom’s suggestion that Brexit would make the left more united, so I have no idea what the host would have said about that, but I know what to say about that myself. The left in countries which are not members of the EU (such as Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland) is no more united than the left in countries which are members of the EU. It is possible–because nearly anything is possible–that leaving the EU will make the left in the UK more united, but at the moment it seems more likely to splinter the left.

  39. Do people apply the same odium to the $US? The unification of the states in America was arrived at after all sorts of disputes and conflicts plus 2 very bloody wars. It can be argued that the EU is also going through that process and I don’t see how Stiglitzs arguments are valid when compared with the history of the US.

    But this has little to do with Brexit, which seems to dominated by crusty old myopic xenophobes who appear to be happy to condemn the youth to a life of restricted freedom and denied opportunity.

  40. There is one argument out there, that the Brexiters are more ferocious and determined than the Remainers and should there be a second referendum and the Remainers win the resulting bitterness will damage the country.

    But much of the argument originally canvassed by Brexiters has been proven to be untrue and the application of Brexit is proving to be unsustainable.

    Why should anyone take notice of these tossers?

  41. Tim,

    I got it from your first post. Of course, I project at times as do all other humans. Regardless of whether I am projecting or not in this particular case, my call for substantive arguments remains valid. The “tribalism” jibe felt justified to me in this case precisely because no substantive arguments were being offered, just the standard echo chamber of liberal centrist orthodoxy. J.Q. does not hesitate to invoke it (the tribalism jibe) against rightist climate change deniers, so I felt I should not hesitate to apply it in turn in a case where I thought it justified. Or do liberal centrists think they are always and everywhere immune to tribalism? That would be as absurd as me thinking I am immune to projection.

    And still… no substantive arguments from the Remainers. J-D’s “It’s folly to Brexit.” is not a substantive argument. It is simply Argumentum ad lapidem or “appeal to the stone”: the fallacy of dismissing a proposition as absurd without giving proper proofs of its absurdity.

    Any Remainers want to view Stieglitz’s talk linked above (or read his book on the topic) and actually engage with his ideas seriously?

  42. Rog, It’s not odium being applied against the Euro (as it is currently set up in institutionalized form). It is a set of cogent arguments about the lack of transfer payments in the Eurozone. At the next level it is about the rigorously neoliberal construction of monetary and fiscal policy baked into the Eurozone monetary union and its agreements.

    As Stiglitz said, “It’s an experiment.” The experiment is now telling us that the real results of the current recipe are disastrous: A decade of lost growth in the Eurozone, far worse economic performance than the USA (as a comparable competitor), great depressions in places like Greece and Spain and major unrest in France (to name a few results).

    Stiglitz further says (in effect) “Either back out now or go forward into a proper fiscal (as well as monetary) union. Become a transfer union and more of a true Federation, though not necessarily as centralised as the US.”

    Now, the following are my words, not those of Stiglitz. The elephant in the room is Germany and its intransigence when it comes to the issue of creating a transfer union. Germany is absolutely against this. Germany’s motives or the motives of German capital bear close scrutiny.

  43. @J-D

    Just to address your point about the left outside the EU isn’t unified, therefore Brexit is more likely to splinter the left rather than unify it.

    My reasoning for my opinion of a stronger union of the left when EU cease to exist (not just limited to Brexit) is because a major point of difference – pro/anti EU cease to be an issue, while your opinion of splinter is your feeling without a reason.

    However, my point about unifying the left is not about unifying its views on issues as can be seen from my reply to Smith9. The situation that I’m referring to is the electoral slaughter of traditional centre-left/right and rise of ultra right (and to a lesser extent, the rise of ultra left) across EU countries. This means the the votes of the traditionally leftist voters have been split to a lot more of an extent to Australia, and even the US.

    Remember in Australia, ALP, LNP and the Green’s votes have been quite stable throughout the last 2 decades with Greens gaining support in ALP’s expense during this period (not that I mind though). The winner and losser of elections only loses by margins of few percentage points. This means the left/right is unified in the support of representative parties even though there are clear difference in views of particular matters. The same is true for US, where even though clearly Trump is more ultra right, the votes of the Democrat/Republican are relatively stable. This is completely different to Europe where new radical party such as Five Star Movement (even Le Pen was a threat even though she lost to Macro) actually wins government as traditional parties gets electorally slaughtered. To say left/right in Australia is less unified, you would need a situation of One Nations wins government while both LNP and ALP support diminishes significantly.

    I will also add that EU generally (it does have a lot of countries and situations for different countries changes from time to time) being more socially progressive than Australia and US etc. is true, but then that is good develops from the past and before the GFC where the weaknesses of the EU in dealing with crisis is not relevant. Since the GFC, the EU has generally been substantially more regressive than Australia with massive privatisation and cuts in social security for peripheral EU countries, and hikes in VAT (regressive tax) in the name of fiscal responsibility, then cutting taxes for the rich. Even in Australia where tax cuts for the rich is not unusual, increases in GST is still considered political suicide and has never been increased since introduction (scope of items has been widen though).

  44. Germany’s motives or the motives of German capital bear close scrutiny

    Germany’s motives are that they don’t want to give money to the Italians, Greeks or anyone else who they view as not as hardworking or thrifty as Germans (which means everyone else). This is where the pan-European fantasies of the likes of Yanis Varoufakis come a cropper. He imagines a European polity where people identify first as Europeans and don’t mind helping out the poor regions of Europe with their taxes, just as Australians don’t mind (much) helping out Tasmania, ‘cos we are all Australians first and foremost. Trouble is, Germans think of themselves as Germans first and foremost, and so do the other nations. (Though they do also have some intra-national identity issues to deal with.) There are limits to being a Good European.

    Or, put it this way. Suppose we shared a currency with New Zealand, an idea that comes up from time to time. How would you feel about sending your hard-earned their way on an ongoing basis?

  45. Ikonoclast

    Any Remainers want to view Stieglitz’s talk linked above (or read his book on the topic) and actually engage with his ideas seriously?

    The talk is over an hour long. Which part of it is about Brexit?

    J-D’s “It’s folly to Brexit.” is not a substantive argument.

    If you quote the conclusion of an argument and leave out the premise then of course what you have left is incomplete. You have omitted the reason that I gave for my conclusion and then announced that I gave no reason. The reason I gave is that Brexit means massive disruption and huge loss in exchange for doubtful benefits. Which part of that do you disagree with? If you don’t know why I think Brexit means massive disruption and huge losses, then I’m happy to explain that, but if you don’t dispute that point it would be a tedious waste of time to do so. On the other hand, if you accept the part about massive disruption and huge losses but think that there will be benefits to outweigh the costs, then I don’t know which benefits you’re talking about and don’t believe in their existence, so I think in that case it would be up to you to provide some further explanation.

    Tom

    Just to address your point about the left outside the EU isn’t unified, therefore Brexit is more likely to splinter the left rather than unify it.

    I did not write ‘therefore’. I accept some of the responsibility for not explaining myself as clearly as I might have. I was making two separate and independent points.

    The first point was not just that the left outside the EU isn’t unified. The strength of the left varies from country to country. There are EU countries where it is stronger and others where it is weaker; there are non-EU countries where it is stronger and others where it is weaker. It is possible, of course, to take one EU country where the left is weak and divided and compare it with one non-EU country where the left is stronger and more united and then use that observation, speciously, to conclude that it is better for the left to be outside the EU. But it is equally possible to take one non-EU country where the left is weak and divided and compare it with one EU country where the left is stronger and more united and then use that observation, speciously, to conclude that it is better for the left to be inside the EU. If you compare all the EU countries with the most nearly comparable countries outside the EU, as a group, then there isn’t the evidence to support either general conclusion.

    The second point is that the way things are going now in the UK specifically (without reference to or comparison with other countries), Brexit seems to be doing more to divide the left than it is to unite it. There are already a lot of pro-EU people on the left who are deeply dissatisfied with the way Jeremy Corbyn is handling the issue of Brexit, who think his heart isn’t in it and that he’s making a mess of it (from a left point of view). At the same time, there are a lot of people on the left who are strong supporters of his and who think that he’s handling the situation well and should be supported. This is the division I’m talking about, and it seems more likely to get worse rather than better as the Brexit process continues.

    Remember in Australia, ALP, LNP and the Green’s votes have been quite stable throughout the last 2 decades with Greens gaining support in ALP’s expense during this period (not that I mind though). The winner and losser of elections only loses by margins of few percentage points. This means the left/right is unified in the support of representative parties even though there are clear difference in views of particular matters. The same is true for US, where even though clearly Trump is more ultra right, the votes of the Democrat/Republican are relatively stable. This is completely different to Europe where new radical party such as Five Star Movement (even Le Pen was a threat even though she lost to Macro) actually wins government as traditional parties gets electorally slaughtered.

    No; this has happened in some EU countries, but it is not a pattern that has been repeated across the EU generally. Moreover, the collapse of old parties and the rise of new ones is something that has happened repeatedly through history, both inside and outside the EU, and even before the EU existed. If we observe it happening in several EU countries currently/recently, that’s not a valid basis for concluding that EU membership is the cause. Consider the collapse of the old parties in Italy in the early 1990s. That happened when Italy was a member of the EU, but not because Italy was a member of the EU. Political parties are like everything else in that they don’t last forever, and it would be foolish to expect them to.

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