Four Things We Learned From Brexit

What was he thinking? 

The UK, with or without Scotland and Northern Ireland, is leaving the EU, but first it has to slog through two harrowing years extricating itself from its most important market (44% of all of the UK’s exports go to the EU) and trying not blowing itself up in the process.

Lord only knows what he was thinking.

David Cameron’s historic blunder taught us some important lessons.

ONE:  Politicians are elected to lead, not govern by referendum        

One hundred and thirty eight Tory MPs wanted Britain to leave the EU.  David Cameron couldn’t toss them all out of caucus without destroying his government so in order to unite the party (and embarrass Labour who didn’t want a vote on the EU question) he punted the issue to the public—in a referendum that would be decided on the basis of a 50% plus one majority.

This was irresponsible.

The result, which any good politician could have predicted, was chaos.

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PM David Cameron

The Leave vote will trigger one, more likely two, leadership races.  A Tory leadership race to replace Cameron and a Labour leadership race to replace Jeremy Corbyn who is seen as not doing enough to support the Remain side.

The big question now is how far their replacements will go to keep the anti-immigration crowd from defecting to nutbars like UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Mr Farage claims the razor thin majority supports his “take Britain back” campaign.

Take Britain back from what?  According to The Times of London writer A A Gill it means “taking Britain back from Johnny Foreigner”.  It certainly does not mean taking Britain back to Miss Marple who gets along with everybody including the murderer who left the body in the library.

Britain’s relationship with Scotland and Northern Ireland has become more fraught.  They both voted to Remain.  Scotland is now considering a bid for independence to avoid being dragged out of the EU against its will and Northern Ireland is worried that tensions will escalate on its border with Ireland once the EU guarantee of free movement across borders is withdrawn.

The EU itself is alarmed at the prospect of other member countries following the UK example and conducting Remain/Leave referendums of their own.

Lesson:  If a politician can’t manage internal dissent he must step aside.  Defaulting to a referendum is an abdication of leadership with grave consequences.    

TWO:  A wake up call for politicians, banks and big business

Mr Cameron called in political and economic heavy weights like Barack Obama, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to underline his argument that leaving the EU would cause untold economic hardship.  (Mark Carney joined the debate of his own accord and will likely suffer the consequences as a result).

The public didn’t buy it.  They’ve heard all this before but know from personal experience that indiscriminate and unchecked globalization does not guarantee increased prosperity.

Lesson:  The people are no longer prepared to support globalization at all costs.  It’s time to move to Plan B and address the growing inequity between the rich and the poor.

THREE: Don’t trust the experts

The Leave vote blindsided the financial experts.

World markets lost $2 trillion.  The British pound went into a tailspin and fell to its lowest level since 1985 (creating great buying opportunities for the very foreigners the Leave crowd wants to keep out of Britain in the first place).

David Rosenberg, a financial writer, says the dramatic drop in the market could have been avoided if investors hadn’t been so complacent and treated the “Remain” vote as a fait accompli.  Rosenberg says no one trusted the pollsters (understandably so, given their failure to predict the Tory landslide in 2015) and instead took their cues from betting shops (!!) which put the Remain camp at 90% at the start of the vote count.

Lesson:  If the experts don’t trust the experts, why should we?

FOUR:  Power to the people

Thirty three million Brits (72 percent) turned out for the Brexit referendum vote with 48% voting to “Remain” and 52% voting to “Leave”.

A petition posted before the vote asked the government to hold a second referendum if the vote was less than 60% for either side and the turnout was lower than 75% of eligible voters.  More than 3 million people have signed the petition.

This is a sensible request, unfortunately it came much too late in the process.

If these 3 million voters had inundated their MPs with such a petition months ago they would have had an impact on the referendum process.  The referendum (if it went ahead) may have delivered an entirely different result (or perhaps the same result but with greater support and legitimacy) and some of the anguish resulting from Mr Cameron’s poor judgment might have been avoided.

Lesson:  See #1.  A democratic society has the right to expect its leaders to lead, not “govern” by referendum.  Otherwise we risk letting the mob (Trump supporters, I’m talking to you) run away with the country.

keep-calm-and-carry-on-1

The world seems to be spinning out of control but with any luck we’ll learn from Mr Cameron’s mistakes.

Meanwhile let’s all try to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

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63 Responses to Four Things We Learned From Brexit

  1. cyberclark says:

    Susan I watched closely the interviews on the British Media for more than 3 weeks prior to the vote. The British Media were very consistent and thorough this exercise. The question asked of the working people who indicated they would vote yes was Immigration! A follow up question was has any immigrant ever caused you any problem you would care to talk about. The answer across the board was NO. You could describe this group as British bigots. The more things change the more they stay the same! Witness:
    http://www.businessinsider.com/george-orwell-on-brexit-2016-6

    On the suits interviews, same questions but response was the economy and Belgian. I personally think the iron hand rule of the Belgian crown is obscene and its Merkels fault countries are leaving.

    On the other hand with the very narrow margin of win I feel comfortable saying it was done by the British Bigot!

  2. cyberclark says:

    Then as a follow up look at Trump jumping on board and more than a few conservatives to my mind at least that hammers the case home.

    • cyberclark I caught a Denton’s Law webcast out of London this morning. The panel highlighted the immigration issue (cast in terms of freedom of movement across borders) as as major factor in the vote. As an aside they pointed out the UK will have to “regularize” the 3 million Europeans living there right now (assuming they still want to stay).
      There was a lot of discussion on your point about the lack of sovereignty. The treaty under which the UK joined the EU specifies that EU law is paramount. So the UK will be under EU law while it negotiates its way out and rewrites its domestic laws re: immigration, discrimination, employment, agriculture, privacy, environment, and procurement. These laws impact financial services, manufacturing, airlines, energy, health, construction, development, transport, and HR. Given that the UK wants to maintain a good trading relationship with Europe and given that the majority of its trading partners are members of the EU, this is going to be a painful exercise that might not change things dramatically for the guy in the street.
      Government insiders told a member of the panel that they don’t have enough lawyers to do the job. So it looks like the lawyers will do just fine. I’m not so sure about everyone else though.

  3. Jim says:

    Susan, I have to say that you hit the nail on the head with this post. I just hope our Canadian politicians don’t fall into the same trap.

    I also believe that the Brexit referendum was an opportunity for the British citizens to protest against the current Tory government and to protest against the EU’s emigration policy which supports the massive number of refugees entering the EU countries and placing a major financial & social burden on these countries. I view this as more of a protest vote as apposed to a desire to exit from the EU.

    • Jim, thanks. I worry when politicians use referendums to “decide” controversial issues. As the Brexit vote demonstrates it’s very hard, if not impossible, to reduce a complex, emotionally charged issue to a yes/no vote. The majority who voted to Leave represent 37% of the voters and on the basis of that 37% the UK is going to leave the EU. The referendum is not binding, it’s advisory only. It will be interesting to see how Parliament responds. The 3 million plus who signed the petition for a second referendum are bombarding their MPs requesting a re-think. Scotland says it will block any effort by Parliament to trigger Article 50 and start the withdrawal process. It’s going to be quite a process!

  4. jvandervlugt says:

    Hi Susan. Wow. My question is what spurred all of this? Why? Why has this arisen? Inflation? Crime? Immigration? If its immigration that’s very sad. Did the govt weigh the pros and cons and consequences? Quite a mess.

    Oh, and Trump, GAWD! I saw him on the news this morning while cleaning up the breakfast dishes. It was either toss a tomato at the TV–the man is so disrespectful–or mow the lawn. I mowed the lawn.

    • Joanna, from what I’ve read Cameron made a campaign promise to hold a referendum in the general election in 2015. He didn’t expect to win with a majority and thought that his coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, would kill the idea when they joined together to form government. He ended up with a majority, didn’t need the Lib Dems to form government and felt he had to keep his promise (odd, majority government usually cherry pick which campaign promises to keep and which to ignore). I think in his heart of hearts he thought he’d be able to convince voters that the Remain position made economic sense and decided to risk it. The gamble backfired, the Leave voters carried the day and his career is over. He’ll go down in history as the politician who pulled the plug on the EU and if the pundits are right, triggered the disintegration of the United Kingdom. Quite a legacy!

  5. Peter Usher says:

    From the guardians comments section:

    If Boris Johnson looked downbeat yesterday, that is because he realises that he has lost.

    Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron.

    With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership.

    How?

    Throughout the campaign, Cameron had repeatedly said that a vote for leave would lead to triggering Article 50 straight away. Whether implicitly or explicitly, the image was clear: he would be giving that notice under Article 50 the morning after a vote to leave. Whether that was scaremongering or not is a bit moot now but, in the midst of the sentimental nautical references of his speech yesterday, he quietly abandoned that position and handed the responsibility over to his successor.

    And as the day wore on, the enormity of that step started to sink in: the markets, Sterling, Scotland, the Irish border, the Gibraltar border, the frontier at Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market, re-issuing passports, Brits abroad, EU citizens in Britain, the mountain of legistlation to be torn up and rewritten … the list grew and grew.

    The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction.

    The Conservative party election that Cameron triggered will now have one question looming over it: will you, if elected as party leader, trigger the notice under Article 50?

    Who will want to have the responsibility of all those ramifications and consequences on his/her head and shoulders?

    Boris Johnson knew this yesterday, when he emerged subdued from his home and was even more subdued at the press conference. He has been out-maneouvered and check-mated.

    If he runs for leadership of the party, and then fails to follow through on triggering Article 50, then he is finished. If he does not run and effectively abandons the field, then he is finished. If he runs, wins and pulls the UK out of the EU, then it will all be over – Scotland will break away, there will be upheaval in Ireland, a recession … broken trade agreements. Then he is also finished. Boris Johnson knows all of this. When he acts like the dumb blond it is just that: an act.

    The Brexit leaders now have a result that they cannot use. For them, leadership of the Tory party has become a poison chalice.

    When Boris Johnson said there was no need to trigger Article 50 straight away, what he really meant to say was “never”. When Michael Gove went on and on about “informal negotiations” … why? why not the formal ones straight away? … he also meant not triggering the formal departure. They both know what a formal demarche would mean: an irreversible step that neither of them is prepared to take.

    All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign.

    • ABCanuck says:

      Speaking of dumb blonds, what did Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Rob Ford, and Ralph Klein all have in common?

      That is, in addition to a slavish adherence to a non-sensical right-wing conservatism, a loathing of taxes to support social programs, crudity of expression, a catering to simple-minded bigotry, a pretence of speaking for the common man, and leading their respective constituencies down disastrous paths?

    • Peter, what astute observations…are you sure you’re not a politician? 🙂
      Given that Cameron felt leaving the EU was a HUGE mistake and given that governments are not known for keeping their campaign promises one would have expected Cameron to use the Leave sentiment as a bargaining chip when he negotiated with the EU for more concessions (some political analysts suggest that he could have pushed for an a la carte approach). The EU had already given the UK some leeway, it’s too bad he didn’t fight harder for more and then used the time and resources he ended up devoting to the Brexit campaign to educate the public on why this was a better alternative to leaving all together.
      Your last paragraph is intriguing. Time will tell whether such a person exists in the political firmament.

      ABCanuk, I think you’ve captured it very well.

    • carlosbeca says:

      Peter I do not agree with you that Brexit is unachievable. Why not? Just because it is difficult? That sounds to me a little like the ‘inevitable’ and the ‘invisible hand of the market’ and ‘society does not exist, only individuals’ we have been bombarded with for the last 30 years. I think I can understand why Britain has voted the way it did. Whether it is right or wrong no one knows. In the short term it looks bad but I would bet that in the long run they may be better off. I have always believed that this so called free trade is a lot of baloney and that more self-reliance is way more beneficial to people in general.

      • Carlos, I think achieving Brexit will be more than difficult, it will be ghastly. I blame the politicians who bit by bit for 43 years gave up the UK’s sovereignty in return for an economic advantage that flowed more to the big corporations and big banks than the people. That’s not to say the EU didn’t send billions of dollars to the UK to support local industry but the trade off in the loss of sovereignty was too high a price to pay (IMHO). The Leave camp was right in its stance on the loss of sovereignty, but it pitched its campaign to appeal to racists and xenophobes. This, together with the fact that the younger generation wanted to Remain means the process of leaving will be fraught with social upheaval on top of legal and financial upheaval.
        I would be very uncomfortable is I were one of the 3 million Europeans living in the UK right now waiting for Brexit to play out.

      • Peter Usher says:

        On Monday, the former Canadian High Commissioner to the UK advised that Britain’s entry to the Eu followed an Act of legislation passed by Parliament and it can only be revoked through another Act of Parliament and it will also need the approval of The Scots in Holyrood. As we know, the results of the referendum are not binding thus Parliament, with a different PM, will have to navigate murky dangerous channels in preparation for a Brexit. By stepping away, PM Cameron has told those who are posturing for his job, it’s up to you to negotiate. Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove now know that the PM had a Royal Flush poker hand and I would not be surprised to learn that he had received astute royal advice from Her Majesty on this matter.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan I fully agree with your comment. That is exactly what happened. Economic advantage over everything else has been the motto. Now we have a situation when Germany is controlling the EU and they are all very integrated and loosing their political control. So now the picture changed. Suddenly political and social control is also important. 🙂
        Cultural differences, different political objectives and a very long history are all extremely important and have been ignored in favour of billions coming in, like you mentioned happened in Britain. Well in countries like Portugal, Spain, Greece and Ireland for example these billions basically built major highways and phone infrastructures and subways…etc. Everyone at the time thought that to be an amazing advantage and that is why so many countries wanted to join. With the free movement of people and the standardization of the educational diplomas and credits any professional in any country can go anywhere and find work as long as they speak the language. With the crash many are doing that along with the thousands coming from Africa and the middle east. Immigration suddenly becomes a problem as well because when they all had enough jobs not many people moved. Now many professionals are doing so and especially to Britain because everyone speaks English. Now professionals in Britain are in deep competition with their counterparts in the rest of the EU. The real problem now is that when these situations get going, extremism is right around the corner waiting to lift its ugly head and that is what is happening. In Europe where they just have not been able to integrate very well due to their very ingrained class and nationality mentality, things can quickly get ugly. I predict they will get very ugly.

  6. fjwhite says:

    Susan says “Politicians are elected to lead, not govern by referendum”
    Susan what evidence do you offer to show that politicians have been doing such a terrific job leading over the past 4 decades. Have you taken a look around recently at the global mess we’re in? For example, consider what evil Washington has visited upon us worldwide during this period. I am not advocating for rule by referendum, but a transition from a financial capitalist system to something approximating a social democracy might be worth a look.

    • Fair comment fjwhite. The only politician I can think of who’s a good leader is Rachel Notley. She campaigned on her principles (she said she’d hike personal and corporate taxes, revisit royalties and take action on climate change and she did.)
      I agree with your point about Washington and wonder at the silliness of the Three Amigos (Mexican pres Enrique Pena Nieto, US pres Obama and Cdn PM Trudeau) praising the virtues of the free market this week when Obama killed Keystone XL and did everything possible to support the country of original labeling (COOL), both of which benefit US business at the expense of Canada. Doesn’t seem very “free marketish” to me… and that’s just an observation on free trade, if we start discussing all the other mistakes the US has made over the years this comment will go on for pages!

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Cyberclark you forgot to include the costs to store the spent fuel rods.
      Nuclear is tremendously expensive and I am not sure why you say the fuel is free.
      I do not agree with you at all on this one.

      • cyberclark says:

        There must be a dozen configurations to every nuclear design now. I take it you never bothered with the link. the most common as of 3 years ago was a 2000 mw configuration. Rods last 3 years where they deplete from 4% to 1%. A year’s use of rods would fit in a family size refrigerator box.and the sites are built to keep 40 years on hand without transport. Rods can be recharged back to 4% There is essentially no waste. Candu reportedly the most expensive configuration can recirculate it’s own rods zero for waste product. at less than 1/10th the cost of wind.
        Something a kin to superstition sets in on nuclear debate. Those against hold in their mind the pictures of 3 mile island which was totally antiquated, design and configuration taken directly out of US submarines.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Yes I bothered with the link but I do not believe everything I am told unless I can confirm it and to be honest to you I have never heard of an almost no waste nuclear power. I also have to say that the numbers of 1/10th the cost of wind is probably on some leaflet of the Candu salesperson.
        I do not doubt what you are saying but in the case of nuclear reactors I would have to see to believe. I worked in the Nuclear industry in 1975 and I realized the exaggerations in order to get the funds. Remember the propaganda that energy is going to be so cheap that we do not even need meters? I know this was 30 years ago or more but I still have to see it to believe it. The construction costs of reactors was mind boggling.

        Three Mile Island is not even a disaster – you have to look at Fukushima for a real melt down.
        We are now just learning what is happening with Fukushima. It was all hidden. They had a full melt down and last week they revealed that they will not even be able to touch anything for years to come. Probably hundreds of years.

      • cyberclark says:

        I have a new Logitec BT keyboard; takes some getting used to. Slow by comparison and unforgiving.
        And, I apologize to Susan for expanding this on her very good brexit article.

        Nuclear power plants are built in many different configurations now. They have one that is active by using boiling salt water! A lot of money an innovations has gone into this industry while the public superstition and arguments are centered on a technology that was taken out US submarines and given free to industry without telling that same industry there was an overheating problem. Companies had to cut production to 50% to control heating and went broke in the process.
        When the water used in cooling passes the core it picks up free radical oxygen which in turn rusts the cooling tubes and causes regular shut down and maintenance.. 3M company has come up with a membrane that goes into the cooling system that removes this oxygen. That projects a lifetime of 100 years same as the plant!

        The costs to initiate are extremely high but the life expency is very long hence the very low cost profile.

        Fuel rods on models put out in the last 5 years have storage built into the plants to store rods for 40 years. Rods stay in the pile for 3 years so, you are looking at 120 years service. The Rods can be recharged by exposure to plutonium. France and Japan have built plants that can do this. Lavelon (Candu) have a plant that can recharge its own rods. Consequently an initial purchase of energy rods and that’s it!

        Fukashema was not a nuclear fault. First the plants were 2 weeks away from official shut down when the wave hit. Nothing in the world anyplace was engineered to stand a wave like that! The water went over the walls knocking out the generator for the cooling system. It is important to know that not 1 human being was killed by radiation in this giant conflagration! A great many passed on by other reasons like disease and flood related,

        Germany pounded by public opinion and running first generation nuclear plants decided to shut down the Nuclear and go back to coal generation. This change back is expected to cost Germany 1000 million euros! Now they too are looking at the new designs and alternatives.

        Chernobyl was a disaster waiting to happen. When the Checks and Russian put forward their plan for that ill fated plant the world at large told them not to build it an gave them a book of reasons why it would fail. Yet, they went ahead. No amount of begging or threatening would change their minds. This is the reason that Germany has so much public pressure.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        cyberclark thank you for the long description about nuclear power developments.
        I think that what you describe is wonderful but I think that it is either at pilot level or development level. If what you said was already in place, there would be line ups to build these plants. We are talking almost no waste, rechargeable fuel rods and 100 years life span. This is like almost perfect. So why are we not building them? In my opinion it is because we have heard all of this before and when plants were built, reality was quite different.
        I may be very wrong about this but I take your information and I am going to try to investigate it. If France and Japan have plants built with rechargeable fuel rods I should be able to read about them.
        I was part of the construction group that built the ‘Angra dos Reis’ reactor in the State of Rio de Janeiro in 1975 and it was extremely over budget. It was German technology. At that time all of them were almost impossible to predict in terms of costs. As far as the waste I do not even want to know. You just have to look at what happened with the Bay of Guanabara which in 1975 was still one of the marvels of the world. Today, after the bright decision to dump the waste of 10 million humans 4 Kilometers into the ocean, it turned into a septic tank. So you can imagine what happened to the nuclear waste.

  7. GoinFawr says:

    . Regarding #1: Mandates from the masses are not searches for leaders, they are job descriptions for elected public servants. In my opinion that is a fundamental element of democracy: that the will of people is the primary ‘leader’ of government action. Pols may look to lead their individual parties, but ultimately their only job is to undertake legislating the policies their electorate hands them (within the confines of a just, individual-protecting constitution, natch). In a democracy it is crucial to understand that pols are not the rulers, but the ruled.

    And in the democratic process referendums represent the epitome of direction from the masses. IE. we should be so lucky as to be “governed by referendum”, or plebiscite; subsequently there ought to be a whole lot more of them. Aren’t you sick of the majority wanting one thing, while pols simply ignore the mandate, or worse, tell us they ‘know better’? Aren’t you tired of effectively being ruled by lobbyists? (Eg Think GMO labeling)

    Also, “chaos”? Really? I think that may be a bit of an hyperbole. Certainly, there is now a lot of work to be done regarding the UK’s international relationships, but London hasn’t become Tripoli, nor is it likely that it will anytime in the near future, at least not as a result of this referendum.

    #2 is an excellent observation.

    • fjwhite says:

      GoinFahr writes: “the will of people is the primary ‘leader’ of government action”.
      The question is: Which people? The evidence is in and it’s the ruling elites that influence government policies and decision making, not average citizens. As a former member of the Liberal Party, and voting delegate to the leadership convention that chose Dion over Ignatieff, I participated in a process at the convention that created a set of policies to go to a party committee. That was a charade of participatory decision-making — none of the policies the delegates formulated and submitted were reflected in the final set of approved policies.
      I suggest that anyone who still has delusions about the power of “the will of people” read the findings of a 20-year empirical study of American politics by two academics. Here is the “central point” that emerged from their research —
      “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
      Here’s a short link to the PDF file of the study: http://tinyurl.com/nwvq7yh

      And if you think that Canada is that much different from the US when it comes to the influence of average citizens on government policy, there is lots of evidence available online to prove otherwise. But this comment is already too long. So I’ll shut up now.

      • GoinFawr says:

        fj, the tone of your response doesn’t seem to indicate you caught it, but if you read my whole comment you should have noticed that we’re on the same page regarding what are some of the inconsolable differences between what is currently being sold as democracy, and what one actually is.

        The answer to “Which people?” is always “the majority” in a social democracy, with the individual protected from any temporary madness of the masses by a just constitution.

        I’ve read that study and it is indeed disheartening, or alternately a wake-up call to masses, but they’ll have to decide that for themselves, each and every one.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I could not agree more with you fjwhite. The interesting thing about this all situation to me is that despite talking about this over and over and fully knowing we no longer have any control whatsoever over politics we continue to talk about participatory and representative democracy..etc. There are no democracies period. There has never been in my opinion.
        Charade after charade is the norm. We are in the same boat and if we do not wake up we will learn the hard way as everybody else.

      • cyberclark says:

        The general population in the US have nothing to say about government in any case. Control starts at the college level (elected officials). And, when they are elected anything but Government is a consideration. While I was in Texas I was told by a group of respectable people “we hire the sheriffs and tell them what to do and by God they better do it!”

  8. ronmac says:

    For better or worse David Cameron was the face Remain campaign. Take a good long look at him. Would you buy a used car from this guy? Can you trust him to tell the truth and nothing but the truth? And if he is telling the truth, is he telling the whole truth?

    Is he the kind of guy who’ projects confidence, sound judgement, a steady hand, a beacon of strength in a world of turmoil? Is he the last guy you would expect to accidently leave his 8-year old daughter behind in a pub?

    Hey! Wait a minute! He actually did!

    • carlosbeca says:

      Well I think he believed he was going to get a good commission with the referendum win except that the outcome was not properly controlled. Britain has been downgraded to the compost bin as Greece and Portugal. Others coming next. It took Germany a little longer than expected to win the war. France is next.

      • Carlos, I think France is going to put the UK through the ringer on this. It tried to keep the UK out of the EU right from the get go. The UK applied to join the EEC in 1961 and was blocked by the French. It reapplied in 1967 and the French blocked it a second time. The UK was finally accepted into the club in 1973. The media is reporting that France sees Brexit as an opportunity for it to reassert dominance (really?) in the EU. Politics, politics and more politics.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Susan France also blocked Portugal and Spain in the 1980s. France always saw the Eu as a special place for the civilized countries in Europe. Of course they never considered Portugal and Spain as civilized. This may sound crazy but I know Europe well enough to understand what the real reasons for blocking other countries are. In the case of Britain it was of course because Britain was not European. Britain never made an effort to be and furthermore they beat the French in too many wars 🙂 🙂
        France is another old empire just like Britain and Portugal and they cannot shed that mentality of self importance. France no longer has the power to dominate the EU because these days money talks and France just like the rest of them is legally bankrupt. Culture counts little now so they are dreaming in Technicolour..

      • cyberclark says:

        You are so right! What Germany couldn’t achieve in the second world war it is now achieving through Bankers and Brussels.

    • Ronmac, apparently this wasn’t the first time it happened. Also the Camerons had all three children with them but somehow managed to lose just one and take the other two home. Maybe they lost track of who was taking care of whom (I get it, I’m a parent, I remember “losing” my youngest in a store when she hid in a clothes rack, I went through the roof and she never did that again!) but wow, he’s a major political figure, it’s an ugly world out there.

  9. GoinFawr says:

    oooer

    “irreconcilable differences”

  10. Peter Usher says:

    After Brexit, the English now have Engxit. Their football team was knocked out of the European Championship by ‘mighty’ Iceland today. Pub trade will increase exponentially as they further wallow in their misery.😂

  11. cyberclark says:

    Merkel has far more at risk than does the UK. She and by inference Brussels will make any concession to pull this thing back from the brink. This, I am sure of. The elephant in the room is again Iran. The have better than 100 billion dollars in assets between the US and Britain. Recently the Ayatollah announced all his pounds and dollars were to be coveted to the EURO as it was a gold standard, the other two were simply paper. His people will be working very hard around the world to usher in accommodations.

    What kind of shape would the Britts be in if they had to pay that back in pound sterling?
    Germany has unsecured loans in the billions out to Greece and Spain with Italy in the wings not so quiet. Merkle has invested in these countries in order to hold the union together. I laughed out loud when she told Harper she didn’t need his advise while on TV.

    The despot control that Brussels holds over the union is a problem in any ones world. If she loosened up Brussels’s control a bit, changes rather drastic could be made to immigration and she could save face in changing it.
    Cameron will be around long enough I think to see a new deal put into place and sign it for a duration to protect it from the Mayor of London.

    I would like to say that Brexit is a lot to do about nothing but, its a little bigger than that.

  12. Carlos Beca says:

    Great comments as always. I just have to disagree with the general tone against referendums. I would never accept resolving an issue like this one in any other way. In Britain, like in Canada many people are not represented in parliament. I would not want any MP to make a decision this important on my behalf anyway. The excuse that people are not prepared to make decisions of this magnitude is to me not valid. If the people are not educated then that is part of a democratic process that simply does not exist. Do you really believe that the MPs are educated?
    British people, just like most of us are done with the status quo, the unregulated capitalism and scandalous inequality. This is happening in most democracies in the world, exactly because most know that democracy is a charade. This to me was another clear message of discontent. Yes they are also concerned about immigration. Why should they not be? Here in Canada we are not because most of the jobs that are taken are low pay and it does not cost too much to the middle class. We keep professional jobs fairly protected. If like in the EU we could not do that I wonder if we would be so sympathetic?
    It is costing them, well if we only make serious decisions in our lives based on the need not to make waves and not accept certain sacrifices then there is no point to have a democracy. Just let the corporate world and the elites rule. Why bother? The problem is that people are finally waking up to the reality that our comfort and greed now may mean an irreversible situation of total paralysis in our lives in the near future if not already. Reversing the progression of inequality has been talked for 20 years and it continues faster and faster and nothing happens.
    Globalization is nothing but the beginning of the take over by corporations that want as much as possible to take advantage of the financial disarray and create their own paradise before it is too late.
    I honestly believe that we maybe in a deep political crisis that could snowball very quickly. All a consequence of a political class that has been taking us to the cleaners year after year election after election. It could now be too late to stop it.
    1989 was an important year for the world with the collapse of a fake system. We could very well be witnessing the collapse of another fake system.

    • cyberclark says:

      I notice the relatively high turn out for the vote; that’s something that seldom happens in Canada. I’m a bit envious actually. And, it was truly a show of Democracy.

    • carlosbeca says:

      Interesting because I thought that for an issue this important, anything below 80% is low turnout.
      Referendums, not rigged and with a question accepted by all parties, are always a show of democracy. This is why I like the Swiss system.

      • GoinFawr says:

        “The interesting thing about this all situation to me is that despite talking about this over and over and fully knowing we no longer have any control whatsoever over politics we continue to talk about participatory and representative democracy..etc. There are no democracies period. There has never been in my opinion.”

        (?) Well, at least you like the Swiss system. I agree that anywhere the voter turnout averages 80% or so good things get done; Eg. Iceland.

  13. Seems to me the issue of whether a referendum is the democratic way to make a decision of this magnitude rests on whether you think the voters can be trusted to decide the issue. As Carlos points out this depends on whether the voters are educated on the issue (you can be certain that politicians won’t “educate” them in anything but their own biased positions.)

    At first I thought it was critical to get the ballot question right, then I looked at the Quebec referendums of 1980 and 1995. The 1980 ballot question ran to 108 words and left the impression that Quebec could achieve sovereignty while at the same time maintaining its economic relationship with Canada (something that was under dispute) and said a second referendum would be required. The 1995 ballot question was 43 words long. It didn’t make it clear that sovereignty meant Quebec would be a separate country and created the impression that Canada and Quebec had already engaged in talks leading to a “partnership”. Notwithstanding these ambiguities, the turnout was high and the vote both times was No (1980: 85.6% turnout, 59.56% voting No; 1995: 93.5% turnout with 50.58% voting No).

    I think the voters made the right decision but I wonder whether those who voted Yes would agree with me.

    • GoinFawr says:

      Well of course they wouldn’t, Susan, that’s how a democracy goes….but at least MOST of the people always end up more or less happy. Yes as a rule, the closer to consensus a vote the better, but it’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time. Democracy is like any relationship, you have to take the good with the bad.

      “…the issue of whether a referendum is the democratic way to make a decision of this magnitude rests on whether you think the voters can be trusted to decide the issue”
      A referendum is absolute democracy in the raw, so I don’t think that is the question at all. In fact, the more important the decision, the better the reason to put it to referendum, in my opinion, regardless of the outcome. Surely you’re not suggesting that all important decisions be left to a handful of ‘elites’?

      Sure the majority can/will make their collective mistakes, I agree, but they can collectively realize it too, and usually correct it once that realization sinks in. Also, the majority will never deliberately make decisions that damage their interests in favour of The One VIP, whereas self-purported VIP’s purposely make decisions that negatively affect everyone else All. The. Time.

      Collectives may suck collectively, but when they succeed everyone benefits.

      • carlosbeca says:

        You are absolutely correct.
        The idea that only educated people can make good decisions is what created dictatorships in the first place.
        Democracy is a risk prone system and learning to be resilient to take the consequences is the best education we need.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Susan with all due respect I think that you are expecting a referendum to have to be an almost perfect tool. They are not but in my opinion they are the best tool we have for complex decisions like the Brexit case.
      Now the questions in the Quebec referendum were absolutely pathetic and should not have been allowed. The problem is that we do not have experience with referendums and Quebec at the rime was trying to confuse people and get what they wanted. I think that is dishonest and that is how I still feell about that referendum. Yes the question almost suggested that we are going to have everything we have now but we are independent. That is immature and created a bad reputation for referendums in Canada. At the time I thought Quebec politicians were behaving like 12 year olds.
      I do not think that those who voted yes (for separation) agree with you. 🙂

      • Carlos and GoinFar: I am very uneasy about the use of referendums for value laden issues because positions supported by facts are often swamped by emotion. For example 82% of Canadians agreed with Harper’s position that it should be mandatory for Muslim women to remove their niqabs at citizenship ceremonies. They argued a Muslim woman’s face must be fully uncovered so officials could verify her identity. When it was pointed that a Muslim woman’s identity was confirmed by officials prior to the ceremony by having her unveil in front of a female officer in private (the factual argument), the opposition to the niqab shifted to a patriotic argument–namely anyone wanting to become a Canadian should be proud to show their face at the ceremony (the emotional argument). If this matter went to a referendum the polling data indicates that the emotional argument would win the day notwithstanding the fact that it was factually unfounded.
        But enough of that, let’s agree to disagree on referendums.

        I don’t know much about nuclear power and am learning a lot from your discussion and the links attached. Thanks.

  14. Carlos Beca says:

    I did some preliminary investigation on nuclear power today. As I expected I did not find the best of news. I decided to start with France which has the second largest number of operating reactors. I also wanted a good respected source and I found one from 2015 from Scientific American.

    One of the most advanced countries in nuclear power – France – is choosing to reduce its reliance on it by 25%. Furthermore the new plants that they are building in other countries are not doing very well. I have to mention here that every country that owns nuclear technology, somehow only builds them in other countries – we are one of them. We continue to sell the Candu but we do not want them. I wonder why?

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/france-loses-enthusiasm-for-nuclear-power/

    So from my very first search it seems that since I realized that nuclear power was not a good bet in my future, things have not changed much.

    cyberclark I am not trying to be a pain here at all but I am a bit tired of letting go of stuff that is said about this kind of energy that it just is not true. You can read about it and it is all paradise but in reality that is not the case.

    Why would France try to slowly get out of its own program? Have they not heard about the plants you are talking about? They certainly know about nuclear power. They have built their first plant in 1977. According to the article they have 58 running reactors.

    I will continue investigating it but to be honest I do not expect to find anything of much value.

    Lets invest all the money we have into solar and within 20 years we can produce energy with better developed solar panels and we do not need to worry about waste.

    Thank you

    • cyberclark says:

      Avena the reactor builders have not had a clear run on most things they continue to have problems probably because they have not changed design since 1977. They look after the maintenance and rebuilds of all the uS reactors incidentally.

      India on the other hand is putting about 50 new reactors of the 500 mw size. GE is the contractor.
      500 MW seems to be the US choice of size for the “mini” reactors while China has settled on 1000MW for its “mini” size. China are in the course of installing 20 more as we chat here.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I still have not found the reactors you mentioned on your first post.

        Like I said before I think that is the usual theoretical talk from the Nuclear industry.
        That they are still building reactors in India and China does not surprise me at all. You just have to look to how they deal with their other types of waste to realize that the nuclear waste or a melt down is not really a big concern for their leaders. In the West there is not a single one being built.

        China right now has rivers that can be set on fire due to the chemical content. Not that we do not have similar issues but it is way more prevalent in countries like China and India. Their environmental regulations are way more lax. There is a reason way western companies like to move there. The wages are low and the regulations can be changed with bribes pretty easy.

      • cyberclark says:

        Which power plant is that specifically? If it is the 2000 mw I refer to they are built in segments of 1000 or 500 MW each independent of the other working in unison. Follow that Utah link on the blog and see how the configurations can actually be manipulated.

  15. Carlos Beca says:

    ‘Fukashema was not a nuclear fault. First the plants were 2 weeks away from official shut down when the wave hit. Nothing in the world anyplace was engineered to stand a wave like that! The water went over the walls knocking out the generator for the cooling system. It is important to know that not 1 human being was killed by radiation in this giant conflagration! A great many passed on by other reasons like disease and flood related,’

    Cyberclark – this is absolutely true but why take these risks? If this plant was a coal power plant the consequences would have been just the clean up and of course some contamination. In this case the consequences could be catastrophic. Let me remind you that this plant has been leaking radiation to the outside and to the Pacific ocean since 2011. According to Japanese authorities there is no plan at all to stop it because even robots that have been built to approach the melt down area cannot withstand the radiation and malfunction. So what do you think will be the final body count on this one? No one knows. I personally do not want to guess.

    ‘Not 1 person was killed’ is just the count now. Nuclear energy likes to deal with existence in thousands of years. What is going into the ocean could very well destroy every living organism in it. I personally cannot believe that a country that is built on one of the most active volcanic areas in the world, with consistent earthquakes every other year, builds a nuclear power plant at all. They are not the only ones. The US has now some of the oldest reactors on earth (100) and they have to decommission them soon. I doubt they will. Some states are going to be left with the plants and the fuel for many generations to come. They have not even started cleaning up their nuclear war sites that they have abandoned.

  16. DHT says:

    The following link will likely cut close to the bone for those who want a simple way to describe the Brexit outcome, that said, you’d do yourself a favour by listening to the message.
    https://theintercept.com/2016/06/25/brexit-is-only-the-latest-proof-of-the-insularity-and-failure-of-western-establishment-institutions/

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Thank you for the link – this article is exactly what I think about Brexit.
      the quote “If you’ve got money, you vote in. If you haven’t got money, you vote out.” explains very clearly our attitudes in today’s political and social reality.
      Glenn Greenwald always captures what it is to me the reality and has never surrender, like most media, to the embedded and controlled media. Good for him.

    • cyberclark says:

      Excellent link; I can subscribe to that!

  17. Thanks for the link DHT.
    The discussion, encapsulated in the sentence: “Even now, Western elites continue to proselytize markets and impose free trade and globalization without the slightest concern for the vast inequality and destruction of economic security those policies generate.” was what I was trying to get at in #2 above.

  18. GoinFawr says:

    “But enough of that, let’s agree to disagree on referendums.”

    oK Susan but I think this Saul quote underlines our difference of opinion, especially the last sentence:

    “The conclusion drawn by most of our élites is that the population constitutes a deep and dangerous well of ignorance and irrationality; if our civilization is in crisis the fault must lie with the populace which is not rising to the inescapable challenges. And yet civilizations do not collapse because the citizenry are corrupt or lazy or anti-intellectual. Civilizations collapse when those who have power fail to do their jobs.” John Ralston Saul

    That is: democratic societies elect public servants, not rulers.

    To suggest that referendums are too dangerous because a mistake can be made is to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and in favour of what? a technocracy?

    Iceland has held 8 (count ’em: eight) referendums, and they’re still around.

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