Reflections on Brexit
The most extraordinary thing about Brexit was the immediate and unreasoning hysteria it provoked. A lot of very foolish people acted as if their lives had immediately changed -- when NOTHING will happen for at least a year. For anything to happen, laws have to be changed -- and I am sure that we all know what a glacial process that can be. Still, the dishonest predictions of disaster put out by the establishment in the lead-up to the vote must bear some responsibility for the panic.
And the very first indicator of disaster has already reversed itself. The stockmarket plunged, only to bounce back to end up on the week. Though some shares are still down of course. The stockmarket is like that. If you think there's anything simple about it, you are headed for a fall. I have seen people who had all the answers lose big money.
So people will have plenty of warning about changes before they change and will be able to make any adjustments to their affairs that they may see as needed.
So what are the likely changes? Not much. Some money now going to Brussels will probably be diverted to to where it is desperately needed -- the public hospitals -- so the hospitals might not bump off grandma as quickly as they have been doing -- but that is probably about it. The new Prime Minister will almost certainly be the popular Boris Johnson and party politics will return to their accustomed ways. Everyone from David Cameron down has been promising that, though there will undoubtedly be a few sore-heads.
A threat that some people have made much of is that Scotland might secede. Scotland voted solidly to stay in the EU. But that is nonsense. If Scotland were to become an independent country with different immigration arrangements, the border between England and Scotland would become an international border to be marked by a fence and passport controls. Free movement between the two countries would be halted for the first time in hundreds of years.
And Scotland would no longer be able to use the British pound as its currency so would probably have to adopt the troubled Euro -- possibly leading to an overnight drop in the value of Scottish savings. If Nicola Sturgeon thinks she can get Scots to agree to that she has haggis for brains.
The big threat that hung over the whole campaign was the possibility of British industry losing markets for its goods and services. When Britain leaves the EU, will the EU abandon free trade between itself and Britain and start putting tariffs and other import restrictions on British goods headed for Europe? It's most unlikely. Trade wars almost always provoke retaliation. And Britain has plenty to retaliate with: a market of 60 million people, to be precise.
As I have said previously, If Britain's tariff-free access to Europe were cut off by some big-bottomed bureaucrats in Brussels, Britain could very rapidly and very effectively retaliate. A Prime Minister, Boris Johnson could and probably would announce a complete embargo on the importation of European farm products into Britain.
That would be particularly disruptive to France, including the already-stressed French wine industry. The Brits now buy twice as much Australian wine as French wine but Britain is still a major market for French wine. And one cannot imagine the French farmers taking that lying down. And French farmers always get their way. One imagines them getting into their tractors and blockading the Berlaymont building, the primary seat of the EU Commission in Brussels. And when cut off from their supply of beer, chocolate and stinky cheese, the Brussels bureaucrats would undoubtedly cave in. "Temporary" or "transitional" arrangements would be made.
In short the EU will, as far a Britain is concerned, revert to being what it originally was: A free trade area with Britain inside it. Norway already has a free-trade-only agreement with the EU so a model for such arrangements already exists.
What about visa-free travel? That's less certain. There have always been visa-free travel arrangements between some countries and it would certainly be highly desirable to retain such arrangements between Britain and the countries of Europe. Hundreds of thousands of French and Italians have moved to London to find work and hundreds of thousands of Brits -- mostly retirees -- have moved to France and Spain for the better climate there. So both of those groups would be inconvenienced by a cessation of the existing travel arrangements.
So why might there NOT be visa-free travel arrangements? That takes us right to the whole heart of Brexit. I put up yesterday on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH four lengthy essays that attempted to explain why the British people voted to leave the EU. And they all did a reasonable job of it -- "unresponsive elites" and all that. But in fact there was really only one standout issue between the people and their establishment: Immigration.
Let me summarize the whole issue in the language of the people: "The politicians are letting too many bloody wogs into the country". In formal English: "The politicians are letting too many accursed foreigners into the country". And most of those "wogs" got in under EU rules. Brexit was about giving England back to the English.
So, given that aim, any new immigration arrangements will have to be restrictive -- and that will almost certainly include at a minimum passports and visas for everyone entering Britain.
So is that racist? You would have to define racism very broadly to say so. But Leftists do define it extremely broadly. Any awareness of group loyalty at all can attract cries of racism from them. They use the ghastly memory of the socialist Hitler to imply that any degree of racial or ethnic consciousness is only a hairsbreadth away from genocide. So something as simple as patriotism becomes racism in their unending outpouring of hate for normal people.
They fail to take into account that it was patriotism, Russian patriotism, that defeated Hitler. Something like 80% of German military casualties in WWII were incurred on the Eastern front. And Russians to this day refer to that war as "The Great Patriotic War".
So the resentment that many Britons feel towards the influx of foreigners might in part be due to a love of England as it was but there are also huge practical reasons behind the resentment. The millions of foreigners who have arrived in recent years have put a strain on basic services -- hospitals, housing and transport facilities -- that the British government has done little to address -- because of the large costs involved.
So parents find that they cannot get their kid into a nearby school, they constantly get stuck in traffic jams, they can find standing room only on commuter trains and rushed hospital staff make errors that lead to serious harm and even death. And the price of housing has become unaffordable to many would-be buyers. There is no irrationality in wanting to stop further deterioration of that already dire situation
Finally, what are we to make of the age difference between "Remain" and "Leave" voters? The older the voter was, the more likely they were to vote "Leave". The cause is fairly straightforward. Older voters remember a time when Britain did quite well on its own, thank you very much, and could see no reason why Britain could not do so again. Younger voters, on the other hand have known nothing but the EU and accept it as normal, warts and all. They were afraid of what was to them the unknown.
There is however some anger among young people about not getting their way and that will hopefully be a good lesson to a spoiled generation. -- JR.