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Brexit makes more sense than ever If Remain had won, we'd be wrangling over the EU's nightmarish Covid rescue plan

Credit: Ina Fassbender / dpa / AFP/ Getty

Credit: Ina Fassbender / dpa / AFP/ Getty


November 19, 2020   5 mins

I hate to admit it, but the Remainiacs were right. Everything that they said would happen, has happened. The traumatised economy. The emergency budgets. The empty shelves. The closed borders.

Of course, the cause of these misfortunes is Covid-19, not Brexit. And thus the main event of the last few years has become a sideshow in 2020. As a result, the anti-Brexiteers have struggled to promote their narrative. However, with the Brexit negotiations coming to a head, one of their talking points is now bound to be heard — which is that, deal or no deal, we’re leaving the EU at the worst possible time. Who needs an extra set of complications when we’ve got a pandemic to deal with?

It’s a reasonable argument, but one that overlooks the counterfactual. Had the referendum gone the other way our continuing membership of the EU would have caused a different set of complications. Indeed, we’d be in a worse situation than we are now.

If Remain had won in 2016, it’s hard to say who’d be Prime Minister in 2020, but whoever the lucky person, he or she would have had a European nightmare to deal with. Not Brexit, but Britain’s involvement in the EU’s Covid rescue plan.

Consider what actually happened in Europe this year. While every country has suffered, some have suffered more than others. Those trapped by the constraints of the eurozone are in a particular bind — because they can’t devalue their currency or print money. Therefore they need help from their fellow member states.

Just what sort of help (and how much) was the subject of a high-stakes drama back in the spring and summer. Though we barely paid attention to it on this side of the Channel, it was a showdown between the “frugal four” nations (the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden) and the Covid-racked countries of Southern Europe, especially Italy.

Even before the virus, Italy was in dire straits, condemned to stagnation thanks to the eurozone. Covid turned that crisis into an emergency, so something had to be done. The Dutch and their allies, however, were not happy about having to bail out the southerners again — and certainly not in the midst of their own national emergencies. In the end, the French and Germans forced a compromise, but not before Mark Rutte — the Dutch PM — was painted as the cold-hearted villain of the piece.

Now, let’s replay these events — only this time with Britain still in the EU. The frugal four would have been a frugal five — and the chief villain would have been the British PM. Indeed, if we’d been part of these negotiations, an already bitter dispute would have become something much worse — because the Franco-German proposal would have been impossible for Britain to accept.

The actual rescue package consists of €750 billion in grants and loans. The necessary funds are to be borrowed by the European Commission from the money markets, with the liability shared among all EU member states. Thus, assuming a similar package in the no-Brexit scenario, there’d have been two poison pills for the UK.

Firstly, money: we’d be paying tens of billions towards a “recovery fund” whose ultimate purpose is to bail out the eurozone. British eurosceptics have long warned that monetary union is inherently fragile to asymmetric shocks; that’s why everyone from Gordon Brown to Nigel Farage fought so hard to keep us out of the single currency. Yet, without Brexit, there we’d be, paying to prop it up anyway.

The second poison pill is about power: allowing the Commission to borrow hundreds of billions of Euros is a massive step towards fiscal integration, and hence a fully-fledged superstate. Of course, because of Brexit, that’s the EU’s business, not ours. But what if Brexit hadn’t happened and it was our business?

Back in 2016, the Government promised us that the “UK will not be part of a further European political integration” and that no “UK powers can be transferred to the EU in the future without a referendum”. Well, giving Brussels the ability to borrow vast sums of money is about as political as it gets, involving the transfer of national powers to the EU because agreeing to underwrite someone else’s borrowing reduces how much you can borrow in your own name. Thus, had we stayed in, the promise would have been broken — a nation of reluctant Remainers betrayed.

A Conservative Prime Minister would have faced a full-scale party revolt — including Cabinet resignations and backbench defections. Therefore, he or she would have no choice but to block the deal. There’d also be overwhelming pressure from the EU to let the deal through, and as the Greeks can tell you, the masters of the eurozone will do “whatever it takes” to save the single currency. All blackmail options would have been on the table — including an end to Britain’s budgetary rebate.

In other words, an irresistible force would have met an immovable object. And whenever that happens, something breaks — most likely the British Government. In the middle of a pandemic.

Back in the real world, we need to ask whether the rescue package is enough to keep the Italians and others afloat through the brutal recovery period that lies ahead. The answer is probably not — and, in fact, the cracks are beginning to show. In the run-up to this week’s EU summit, Poland and Hungary are threatening to veto the recovery fund and the entire EU budget. Even if that’s just brinksmanship, there’s a deeper problem.

While the recipient countries are happy to help themselves to the grant component of the fund, they’re not so keen on the loans — because these come with onerous conditions. Instead, the recipients have been borrowing the money they need on the open market, thus circumventing the conditions they object to. They’re able to do this at a low interest rate because of the European Central Bank buying up debt issued by eurozone member states. And so the weaker economies have been filling their boots, which is the sort of thing that got the eurozone into trouble before. The ECB could crack down by cutting off bond purchases. However, this could trigger the sovereign debt crisis the Bank is so desperate to avoid.

It would be easier for Brussels and Frankfurt to keep things under control if any extra money required over-and-above the €750 billion were also to be borrowed and doled out by the European Commission. There’s no immediate proposal for this to happen, but having crossed the fiscal Rubicon once already, the next trip to the money markets will be much easier — and the trip after that. I wouldn’t want to bet my house on this summer’s rescue package being a one-time deal.

Covid has taken all the old imbalances and fragilities in the eurozone and made them worse. Further bail-outs are all but inevitable. Given the new model for raising emergency funds, it’s just as well we’re no longer on the hook.

The words “post-Brexit Britain” conjure up an unfamiliar environment fraught with danger. By voting to leave, we’ve supposedly condemned ourselves to a future full of uncertainty, while our neighbours remain secure within the European Union. But as we’ve seen, the post-Covid world means risk and uncertainty for all.

The only way that any nation can prevail in such circumstances is to stay adaptable. We must react with speed and agility to the risks that we can manage, while reducing our exposure to those that we can’t. Remaining in the EU would have compromised our freedom of action on both counts.

It is not that the EU is completely paralysed. As the recovery fund demonstrates, it is capable of changes of direction — albeit after a protracted period of wrangling. However, when the breakthrough does come it is always in the direction of further integration, of further compromises to national sovereignty. In voting to leave we did not just leave the EU as it was in 2016, but also the EU as it is now becoming.

As a result, we still have the opportunity to make the wise and timely decisions on which our future depends. Of course, that does not mean that we will — because that requires a competent, visionary government.

But at least we will be responsible for our own failings, instead of being made responsible for those of others.


Peter Franklin is Associate Editor of UnHerd. He was previously a policy advisor and speechwriter on environmental and social issues.

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

The Poles and the Hungarians are vetoing the so-called Recovery Fund, which itself is a relatively piddling 750 billion that comes with all manner of conditions. The fact that it also heralds the mutual sharing of debt is indeed a significant (and inevitable) step, and one that we are best out of.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

“..and one that we are best out of.”Everybody knows that Germans can manage the budget/money and the British can not.

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Why is it that the only large German transnational bank all but fell apart following widespread management corruption and a wild external lending spree? It’s still as shaky as any Italian regional bank and represents the largest single collapse threat to the Eurozone. This is scarcely referred to in any discussion of EU financial stability, but remains as big a potential threat to the Eurozone and the EU experiment as Italian financial mismanagement. I suppose they think Merkel will bale it out but that would be only the beginning of the great European undoing.

Jay Williamson
Jay Williamson
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

They’re not happy with the migrant aspect of it.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Jay Williamson

And they are not happy with the pretend reason for punishing them by witholding money: that they are not complying with EU ideas of law and justice, i.e. they are not hanging on to their corrupt communist self perpetuating judges.

rapl10460
rapl10460
3 years ago

Yes!, too little discussion of the problem with the E European states. The differentiating feature of Western social democracies is ‘rule of law’. EU helped to get the new entrant economies up and running by directing Finance and economics measures. It ignored the ‘entrenched interests’ of the old communist regimes whose culture and self interest made only token adaption to a western system of anti trust laws acting in the interest of the people. Result: the old political establishment did ‘window dressing’ to stay in power and influence. There’ no established tradition in E Europe of ‘testing’ laws with court judgements, so laws are applied without questioning whether they are in the ‘interests of the people’ – so the status quo of the old establishment of sinecures at state corporations in friendly cooperation with the Syndicates (Unions) remained unchanged by an essentially communist-era establishment of lawyers and judges. The ‘Commission appears to not ‘get this’ as it attacks the popular Polish government.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The UK (or the residual parts of it) are going to be part of something. I suppose the choice is between Oceania and Eurasia, Eastasia being a bit remote. I suppose Oceania looks like the more desirable association at the moment, but as an inhabitant thereof I can tell you we have our problems, too, and the predicaments of Landing Strip One are not at the top of the list.

R Malarkey
R Malarkey
3 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

Part of Planet Earth,

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago
Reply to  R Malarkey

The UK should be part of Balham

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

But we’re not out of it. The UK has not, as part of the existing WA, escaped the potentially huge ECB/EIB shareholder guarantees. Last year the maximum exposure was ñ‚¬500bn, and it will now be greater than that.

Theodor Adorno
Theodor Adorno
3 years ago

It’s inevitable that feelings run high on the EU issue but there’s two issues that I’m genuinely puzzled about.

1. The stereotyped view of voting patterns in the Referendum was that Leavers were less well educated. Overall, that might be true but perhaps not with regards to the economics of it all. Unemployment rates amongst European youth have been at scandalous levels for a couple of decades and this can clearly be linked to the inflexibility of a single currency that is clearly advantageous to Germany’s economy. A feeling of solidarity amongst Europeans is one of the major values espoused by Remain voters, but I’ve never heard a convincing plan on how to solve the youth unemployment issue. Does this mean these lost generations are just acceptable collateral damage? I’ve tried discussing this with large numbers of overwhelmingly Remain student voters but they had no understanding of the economic issues, the fact that the unemployment figures were so shockingly bad etc. So it would seem that accusations of ignorance can be made about both sides.

2. My guess is that a significant number of Remain voters place a high priority on ecological issues. This is despite the fact that the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries policy are, and continue to be, environmental disasters. I can’t remember much discussion of this at all in the press. One small mention today was of an endangered shark that the US and EU have refused to protect in a recent international vote. Again, is an abstract sense of “Europeaness” worth the environmental costs?

These are two key issues that Remain voters often have no knowledge of and no apparent solutions…

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Theodor Adorno

1) There was (pre EUR) a large migration of guest workers (Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, ex-Yugoslavia) to Germany, Benelux, Switzerland and France. And they didn’t leave their home countries because of superior weather/food in Holland. Guess why the left their home?
2) The ones that voted Remain (in my circle) voted because of:
-job safety
-personal reasons such as husband/wife from Europe
-couldn’t stand Farage
-didn’t buy the Leave promise. As someone put it “how can we leave EU and have the same access as Germany”?

A former colleague of mine (he always claims to be English and not British) became a Europhile when in travelled to Holland for work (during the IMF crisis) and couldn’t convert his £ into guilders. As he once told me “we are always going to debauch the £, so I would rather have ñ‚¬ in my pockets”.

Theodor Adorno
Theodor Adorno
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Hi Jeremy, thanks for the response.

I appreciate that both sides of the debate have a range of reasons for their vote but my post was about 2 specific issues that receive puzzling little attention.

The fact there was pre-EU work migration still doesn’t address the core of my first point. A single currency means that Southern European states suffer from the consequences of that inflexibility – in the past countries like Italy could take independent action to address unemployment in certain sectors but now they are faced with immutable constraints (what would have been the Lira is stuck at being over-valued, what would have been the Deutschmark is permanently undervalued). These are structural problems that have become ossified by the Euro currency.

Meanwhile, on the shark issue – this recent vote was one of the first to be taken since the UK has become an independent nation in fishing terms. “Isolationist” UK voted for international protection, “internationalist” EU voted to protect the rights of Portuguese fisherman who kill 65% of the sharks.
Industrial trawlers are a blight on the oceans, I can’t see the EU being at the forefront of trying to remove them …

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Theodor Adorno

Southern Europe is structurally uncompetitive, it has absolutely nothing to do with EUR. (Think of Argentina and its endless devaluations and bankruptcies. )
Despite lira’s devaluations Italy had an ongoing migration problem (50s, 60s, 70s and now). That is the core problem: Italy is structurally uncompetitive. No devaluations (post WW2 experience) will solve those problems.
“Deutschmark is permanently undervalued…” not true; until 2006/7 ñ‚¬ was overvalued (c.15%) for the German economy and its exports sector was doing fine.
I don’t know about the shark thing so I have to read about it.

Theodor Adorno
Theodor Adorno
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Hi Jeremy,

The Euro does have an impact for the reasons I’ve already outlined. Some countries may have structural problems but, in the past, those structural problems like Argentina’s can at least be addressed and different solutions can at least be attempted.
The problem with the Euro is that individual countries now have zero control over their own currency, that’s an issue that can’t be wished away. The huge disparity between the budget surpluses/deficits within Europe is largely a result of this inability to change economic tack. When the economic pressure gets too much the EU technocrats take effective control of formerly democratic governments (Italy and Greece) whilst simultaneously lecturing to Hungary and Poland about the importance of democratic norms – that’s not a good look …

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Theodor Adorno

Argentina has gone bankrupt 7/8 times. Is that how you address the issue?

Jeff Bartlett
Jeff Bartlett
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

No! They need to root out corruption and employ logical and consistent economic policies, which sadly is unlikely because Argentine politics are very polarised, with ‘other peoples money’ Peronists and the more conservative opposition, so the pendulum swings wildly depending on which faction is in power…

Joe Smith
Joe Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Theodor Adorno

It’s not just currency, the EU has other rules such as state aid which limit the control of member countries over their own affairs.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

http://www.nationalgeographic.co.u...
A motion to protect this endangered species was put forward at the current ICCAT meeting by the UK, Canada and Senegal but voted against by the USA and EU, the latter to protect Portugese and Spaish fishermen who catch most of them.

Mark St Giles
Mark St Giles
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Much better to have both or more. I have a pre-loaded card with ñ‚¬ on it (avoids the fx ripoff), and also a credit card with £, as well $ cash in my wallet (vital in developing countries for the odd ‘tip’)

aemiliuspaullus
aemiliuspaullus
3 years ago
Reply to  Theodor Adorno

I can’t comment on the Common Agricultural Policy or the Common Fisheries policy because I don’t know much about it. But I can speak a little regarding high European youth unemployment. IIRC part of the reason for it is a lack of labour mobility. 30% of Americans reside in a different state to the one in which they were born. But a mere 2.8% of EU have moved to a different EU country.

Language barriers, cultural differences and non-transferable qualifications make it much harder for them to upsticks to find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in Europe also tie would-be workers to one place and make getting work less urgent. In most American states jobless workers qualify for only 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. Many EU countries support the unemployed for more than a year.

Many of Spain’s young unemployed need well-designed programmes to get them back into work. But the country’s employment services are run by regional authorities with little central co-ordination. In comparison to those elsewhere in the OECD, they find work for very few of the unemployed. Young Spaniards are more likely than peers elsewhere to drop out of school. And across the EU south, employers offer less vocational training and fewer apprenticeships than in Germany or the Netherlands.

High unemployment also reflects a long-standing feature of EU southern labour markets: a relatively large share of workers cycle in and out of temporary jobs. Cushy contracts for permanent workers, with high severance pay and lengthy appeals procedures, make it costly for bosses to sack them. Instead they hire lots of temporary staff, and respond to downturns by cutting their wages or not renewing their contracts. Collective-bargaining agreements for permanent staff can be inflexible”in Portugal, for example, they cannot include wage cuts, making it hard to cope with downturns.

Top of the list for the EU is more liberalisation of labour rules for permanent workers, so that the gap between them and (younger) temporary ones narrows. Spain/Greece have made some progress, but more is needed: a more flexible and less segmented labour market would encourage firms to hire more workers, and to give young people better opportunities. Another way to encourage the employment of the young is to cut payroll taxes on them, as Italy has just done.

Theodor Adorno
Theodor Adorno
3 years ago

Hi John,

Thanks for the detailed reply.

Labour mobility – I’d argue that you’re at risk of presupposing your own conclusions I.e. that if you can’t find a job in your own country you should be willing to migrate to another EU country. This only works if you believe in a de facto supranational working environment. I love Europe precisely because it consists of different embedded cultures and languages and I don’t enjoy visiting London because it feels rootless and transient (at one point pre-referendum I remember reading that London was the 5th biggest French population centre).

I take all your points about internal reforms that could be undertaken in various Southern European countries but the stubborn monetary obstacle of the inflexible Euro still blocks genuinely radical reform of any individual economy whilst the German surplus keeps piling up (against EU rules).

There’s also the point that even if Southern European youth unemployment pre-existed the formation of the EU, for the EU to be genuinely about European solidarity it needs to at least have the beginnings of a plan to sort it out, yet, the unemployment figures have stagnated at a high level for decades and, to reiterate, the Euro prevents a lower exchange rate based solution.

I understand that there needs to be a happy medium e.g. some labour mobility between countries to benefit both individuals and national relations, but I don’t agree that individual countries should absolve themselves, via migration, of making local communities viable. There are huge swathes of rural Italy and Spain in which small villages are dying off and whilst suggesting that the young people of those areas should all decamp to cities is certainly a solution of sorts, I don’t think it’s necessarily the only option to explore, or ultimately the healthiest.

Closer to home – I remember an episode of “Question Time” a few years ago hosted in Blackpool. A member of the audience asked the panel about a lack of job opportunities in the area and every single non-local member of the panel gave some trite answers about the need for more education in the area. Why? So that all the local youngsters could become qualified enough to leave and thereby drain the talent pool even more?

There was no sense from the panel that some people quite like their local community and would appreciate the chance to build a life there. It doesn’t make you a nasty Little Englander to think like that and I am convinced that these factors played a major role in both the Brexit vote and the fall of the Red Wall and the ever-growing disconnect between London and the rest of England, never mind the even bigger disconnect between EU functionaries and its burgeoning number of unemployed citizens.

mark.hanson
mark.hanson
3 years ago
Reply to  Theodor Adorno

Can you please point me to an example of a country that has successfully devalued its way to prosperity? The implication of your comments about the Euro is that it is possible, but there is no evidence for that. It certainly has not worked in the UK’s case. The problem in the eurozone is that German productivity growth exceeds that of other EU states.
Turning to your comments about Blackpool, how would you propose people “build a life there” ? They might start a business that could outcompete it’s competitors but without education and technical knowledge it’s hard to see how that would happen. Blackpool does have at least one successful technical firm, Gledhill who make plumbing equipment. Getting an education doesn’t mean someone will leave the area. Not getting an education does mean they won’t have the choice one way or the other.

David Waring
David Waring
3 years ago
Reply to  Theodor Adorno

Ha the difference between the Some wheres and the Any wheres.

R Malarkey
R Malarkey
3 years ago

The language issue is why the UK does so badly.

I know many foreigners who who speak passable English who work here. I only know 2 English who left – one to work in a Swedish company where English is the workplace language, but he has a PhD and is very bright and doesn’t need the EU to work in Sweden or anywhere else.

And another guy who moved to Sweden to live with his girlfriend – was unemployed for years because he didn’t speak Swedish, and eventually worked for his girlfriend’s father in a warehouse for not a lot. He’s the one English guy in that warehouse.

I’m sure the EU is great for the Poles. But it’s of limited value to the Brits.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Theodor Adorno

There was a lot of gleeful talk by Remainers about the greater proportion of graduates among Remain voters. Close to me, I noticed that this was true – for the young. Graduates and professional people of my age tended more to Leave, and to the latter, I would add those who ran small businesses.
Somehow, the Remain argument successfully argued that the EU stood for conservation, whereas I’m much more cynical, and see it as highly sensitive to lobbying. Conservationist pressure groups can achieve success, but so can fishermen, car manufacturers, sugar beet growers, olive growers, tobacco growers etc.. Of course any government including that of the UK is subject to lobbying, but the EC has the power of not only issuing directives to be turned into national law, but regulations, imposed on everyone; lobby effort well spent.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

“There was a lot of gleeful talk by Remainers about the greater proportion of graduates among Remain voters.”

… trading on the implicit assumption that a 22 year old gender studies graduate is better educated than a 35 year old electrician.

John Nutkins
John Nutkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Precisely and succinctly put.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  John Nutkins

Gracias Senor Nutkins.

anna.draycott
anna.draycott
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

It’s also a fallacy to dismiss older voters without degrees as ‘thick’,’uneducated’ etc. When I went to university 50+ years ago only 2% of the population did so. Many girls much cleverer than I were directed to secretarial courses; many clever boys started at the bottom of the career ladder straight from school, were spotted as promising material and learned on the job. Others created and ran successful businesses and served their communities. The average gender studies GINO (graduate in name only) couldn’t match them in intelligence and common sense.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  anna.draycott

Excellently put. Your sentence “[m]any girls much cleverer than I were directed to secretarial courses” describes my mother.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

It’s probably why that, now being given the proper chance, woman are making a better go of jobs like being Home Secretary than a lot of the useless acedemically laden down ones we have had for so many years.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

Couldn’t agree more.

mark.hanson
mark.hanson
3 years ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

You think Patel is making a good job of being Home Secretary do you?

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  anna.draycott

Yes but the average GINO graduate do know the correct way of addressing a gender fluid, trans, non CIS, LGBTQ ‘person’ without causing them too much offence….DLGMS (Dear Lord give me strength)

rlastrategy2
rlastrategy2
3 years ago

Love it!

juliabaytree
juliabaytree
3 years ago

So true!!

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  anna.draycott

The average secretary in the 80’s and 90’s or PA’s after that, was miles ahead of the average university graduate in so many ways in just getting stuff done capably, sensibly and indeed creatively.

And in understanding the world as it is in all it’s complexity and analysing problems.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Indeed!….

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago

Moreover 35 year old electricians are, whereas 23 year old gender studies graduates are not, accomplished exponents of applied logic.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I have never googled to find a gender studies, media studies, or PPE graduate…I am constantly googling (or more likely asking people I know and whose opinions I respect) for Plumbers, Electricians, Roofers etc.

rapl10460
rapl10460
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

The EU has a ‘Producer Economy’ susceptible to big producer lobbying without balancing ‘Consumer Interest’ mentality. It’s the result of the ‘democratic deficit’

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Yes – and it’s also another elitist argument. There was a widely canvassed argument some decades back that graduates should get 2 votes to non-graduate’s single vote. It’s just another way of saying, ‘I’m more worthy than you peasants, so defer to me’. Professionals, business owners, graduates equal the white middle classes…’nuff said.

John Nutkins
John Nutkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Theodor Adorno

Good points to which just one aside – ‘…..Leavers were less well-educated.’ Judging by the abysmal levels of intelligence and common sense so prevalent among the so-called ‘educated’ and ‘elites’, I consider it a great advantage to be rated ‘uneducated’ by the morons dominating academia and institutions like the execrable BBC.

jim payne
jim payne
3 years ago
Reply to  John Nutkins

Why the F, is it that everyone says Leavers were mainly less well educated ?
That shows how thick Remainers tend to be. They might have lots of letters after their names, but, the more time goes by the more I realise these educated Remainers are intelligent but certainly have no common sense.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  jim payne

Depends on your definition of “intelligent”

My definition includes:

– Ability to analyse
– Objectivity
– Common sense
– Emotional intelligence
– Listening skills
– Realising that the more you know, the more you understand how little you know

None of these skills are remotely guaranteed to accompany an academic certificate …

rlastrategy2
rlastrategy2
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Am I to take it then, Ian, that you possess no ‘academic certificate’ of any kind … ?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  rlastrategy2

My previous comment was aimed to try and encourage people to avoid associating too closely the concepts of intelligence and academic attainment.

As it happens, I have higher education certification (as I expect most folk on this thread do) but I believe this would be of no use to anyone without a decent subset of the things that I listed.

John Gleeson
John Gleeson
3 years ago
Reply to  rlastrategy2

You sound like a man who doesn’t have an argument but still holds onto the ‘all leavers are thick and uneducated’ hatred the media has instilled in you, and so are content with just some vile prejudiced ad hom snipes instead.

The usual malice remainders have.

chris carr
chris carr
3 years ago
Reply to  John Nutkins

I have a BA and an MSc, and I agree with you. Letters do not confer wisdom.

Paul Bailey
Paul Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Theodor Adorno

You can’t discuss the whole Brexit topic without taking on board how suspect on every level some of the Leave actors were/are.
I agree completely with the unaccountable beurocracy of the EU being unacceptable, never mind the “Parliament”, the Commisioners route to power smacks of the ultimate cronyism, but Aaron Banks? Come on..

ccauwood
ccauwood
3 years ago

Reading the pro Remain comments further down, still searching for a good reason to cancel Brexit, unless you have a villa in Tuscany, family or business upsets by leaving, most of their arguments seem to come from an academic plateau with little practical bearing. I started a job, back when, as an export sales engineer and was given Europe as one of my areas. I soon learnt Europe was the nightmare, the hot potato the new boy got to cut his teeth on. Selling to Europe as an SME you were cut out, sent belated paperwork to fill in for contracts, get the picture? Italy pays their suppliers only after 6-12 months; many other euro competitors were friends of their local MP and were encouraged, not surprisingly, to favour their in country manufacturer. I could go on but the EU was awful to deal with. The upside, Europe is a fabulous place to visit and I saw most of it, as I did some places without hindrance before 1975, as I will post 2020. All the other arguments are subjective; as pointless as debating Ford vs Vauxhall vs VW, Beatles vs Stones, Oasis vs Blur and Trump vs Biden. We, like Greece, should never have joined and have gained nothing other than being labelled cash cow suckers by Verhofstedt and his ilk.

Mark St Giles
Mark St Giles
3 years ago
Reply to  ccauwood

The best view of Europe I have heard from a very c/lever and well educated Chinese colleague, who had never left China, was ” I really want to visit Europe (and I suppose he included Britain) – all those funny old towns not modern like China” Says it all.

Paolo Mantovani
Paolo Mantovani
3 years ago
Reply to  ccauwood

You might want to check the comment above you for a hint to the very practical, non-academic consequences coming (probably) right from January.

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall
3 years ago
Reply to  ccauwood

Totally agree. I had similar experiences under similar circumstances and concluded after some years that Europe made for wonderful holiday affairs but was an extremely untrustworthy partner.
We were more successful in the US and Latin America.

Steve Craddock
Steve Craddock
3 years ago

Great article, thanks. “because that requires a competent, visionary government.” An excellent statement of need.
I think the one thing i would append to it would be; “working alongside an equally competent and importantly a constructive opposition”.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Craddock

Zero out of two is pretty bad.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago

The Eu is general and the Euro in particular are fundamentally flawed projects. The UK leaving was good for the UK, because it was never committed to “the project”, but it is also potentially good for the EU because it lets the EU move forward to try and address these flaws. My guess is they won’t for the following reasons:

1. The Eu needs slimmed down to about 10 (and maybe even 6) members who all share the same vision of integration, fiscal union, monitory union and government’s role. Right now the whole system is a mess. The question is can the EU actually bring itself to radical reform of membership and how does it manage the exit process. BRexit shows us that the EU is more interested in its own internal works and political power and is terrified of that prospect a former member being more successful outside the Eu than in it to let any of them go, no matter what the cost.
2. Without fiscal transfers within the Euro zone the Euro will only struggle from one crises to another until it finally implodes. That means Germany (and the other frugal members) increasing taxes to give to poorer members. It doesn’t take a genius to see that will go down like a bucket of cold sick in those countries.
3. Ultimately the EU is going to have to address is dyer economic performance over the last 50 years. In 1973 the 9 member EEC account for 33% of the world economy. Today the 27 member EU accounts for less than 20% and by 2050 it will be luck to account for 10%. The current structure benefits Germany and it’s low inflationary policy. The Euro is going to have to be devalued to promote growth in other areas of the zone and Germany is going to have to accept higher inflation than it is used to. (That bucket of cold sick is going to be needed again!)
4. The regulatory beast will have to be slayed to promote growth in the SME sector but the EU is governed by a corporatist agenda and it’s regulatory program is designed to benefit European based multi nationals. The change of culture that will require will frighten the EU’s main players as it represents a loss of control. The bureaucracy appears unable to give up power and it will resist any proposals that attempt to force it to do so.

If the EU refuse to change it will collapse. The only question that leaves unanswered is “how big will the mess be?”. We may discover the EU didn’t stop European wars, it only acted like a pressure cooker.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

All good points, in addition to the pressure to reform the idealistic ‘free movement’ approach that is so contentious.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

It’s an interesting argument that overlooks the third option – of remaining and using our disproportionate influence to reform it. Instead, in addition to dividing, damaging, and diminishing ourselves – we damaged the institution that UK trade is overwhelmingly depended on.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

You might call it “the third way”, but like the original we know it was tried and we know it failed. The EU does not want to reform and it’s political institution will never allow reform. Look at the way the ECJ has used it’s power to increase EU involvement in areas such as taxation which is supposed to be the exclusive preserve of member states but the ECJ has turned it into a “state aid” question, allow it to rule in the area.

There is also the issue of the EU’s rapidly declining economic power. In 1973 the 9 member EEC accounted for 33% of the world economy, today the 27 member EU accounts for less than 20%, and that is falling rapidly. Why do we want to harness ourselves to an economic corpse?

Then there is the UK’s actually trading with the EU. Currently 44% of UK exports go to the EU, but that includes goods shipped to Rotterdam and Antwerp to be exported outside the EU, which could be as much as 10% of all exports meaning the EU only takes 34% of our exports. The UK and Malta were the only two EU members who exported more than 50% of their exports outside the EU! So your argument is the wrong way round. Why should we stay in the EU which has regulations which stifle exports outside it’s tariff wall?

David Radford
David Radford
3 years ago

Great article. Add the substantial trade imbalance that the UK has due to imports of German cars, French and Italian luxury food and drink and Mediterranean holidays and the EU membership proposition is very weak. Yet Major and Blair who both made the proposition worse are still bleating that leaving is a huge mistake. Huh!

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  David Radford

So post Brexit the British will go to Blackpool instead of Corfu?

Martin Davis
Martin Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  David Radford

The UK trade imbalance is related to goods. This actually didn’t start deteriorating markedly until the late 1990s. Since then it’s been downhill all the way. But if you stripped out energy I suspect you would see deterioration from the early 80s. Long term neglect, if not wilful destruction, by both government and domestic capital, leading to dependence on inward investment. I am not sure how EU membership influenced this trajectory. But, however you slice it, it can only be reversed by government policy.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
3 years ago

Well quite, and there is very little coverage of the current crisis in the EU over the package in the UK press.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Check out the guardian and FT website. Both cover the Covid budget situation.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 years ago

‘Everything that they said would happen, has happened. The traumatised
economy. The emergency budgets. The empty shelves. The closed borders.’

We’re still in the transition phase. If we leave the transition phase from 1st Jan without a trade deal with the EU,who knows what will happen? It’s too soon to rule out chaos.
I voted for Remain in 2016 mainly because I did not trust either Labour or Tory to be able to deliver Brexit in a competent manner – nor did I believe all the bullshit about taking back control.

Very few of our politicians have experience and a track record in major project management – and with Boris Johnson at the helm we have even less chance of the transition being handled with any degree of competence at all. I don’t think their capability is any greater than the bureaucrats who will be managing the EU recovery Fund.

I stand ready to be corrected if I am proved to be wrong.

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
3 years ago

I’m a Leaver. Im not super intelligent. But im a barrister from a council estate so I have been used to fighting elites to be allowed into a profession. When I was asked to explain my vote by Remainers I would talk about decisions of some of the higher courts in the EU, and the developing jurisprudence of the Eurpoean Court itself. You can guess which of us came across as ‘ uneducated’.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

Yep, it’s all very tedious and simplistic and to some ‘sovereignty’ is an entirely notional, if not spurious and/or even wicked concept, but once it’s gone it’s the Devil’s own job to get it back, if not impossible.

Sure, the EU pretty much ticks the list of all the requisite ‘check and balance’ and ‘independent’ institutions like an executive, a parliament and a judiciary that in its and its proponents’ eyes define it as an ‘on paper’ democratic entity, but these are essentially artifice.

The EU famously purports to abhor the concept of sovereignty, believing it to be at the root of pretty much all European conflicts and yet, by ratcheting design, aided and abetted first by the customs union, then the single market and ultimately most powerfully by the surrendering of national currencies to the EU’s single currency, ironically that is exactly what is in the deliberate business of stealthily accruing for itself.

None so blind as those who won’t see of course, but I often wonder whether the 2016 would have been quite so close had the question been not been about leaving or remaining in the EU, as it was, but more along the far more honest and accurate lines of what it will become, at least on the current trajectory, and whether people were happy with becoming part of a USoE or not.

Hugh R
Hugh R
3 years ago

Mr Ryan, what is the point of your bile on these pages?
What’s even more relevant is, why does anyone care to argue with him?….don’t indulge the malcontent for the sake of all your individual sanity.
Seriously, life is too short, folks.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Hugh R

Where is the bile Hugh? I thought I was having conversations and asking questions. Are you sure you’re not projecting?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Hugh R

A point well made. A couple of people responded to recent comments of mine with more ‘insult’ than “intelligence”.

The good news is that the Editors seem to be aware of the recent appearance of “unhelpful content”, and have removed it.

Your final point is very apposite. Life is too short to waste it by “feeding the monster”.

Just enjoy trading ideas with civil folk ðƾ‘

Having said that – and having looked further down this thread, it seems that ‘poking the monster’ is a quite popular alternative pastime …

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

It’s an echo chamber you guys want, isn’t it? Som place where you can clap each other on the back for your sparkling repartee and witticisms and never have to listen to anyone who disagrees with you. Maybe that’s what Unherd is. I guess time will tell.

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

No that’s The Spectator comment pages although the two are converging rapidly

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago

At last a sensible article.

Phil Bolton
Phil Bolton
3 years ago

We can surmise all we like right now. Let’s return to this in 2 years time and then we will be able to crow or not. Until then, making assumptions that we would be worse off having stayed in the EU are pointless.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

“… because they can’t devalue their currency or print money. “
It is fascinating that in 2020 writers still bang on about devaluation.
Since the end of WW2 £ has only gone down, surely by now UK should be the exporting champion of the world and as rich as Switzerland?

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

If we had anything to export that was actually ours.

Simon Corder
Simon Corder
3 years ago

That’s all very macro… Just today I’m discovering that to do a three week job in Norway next February I’ll have to make a complicated visa application and pay six hundred pounds. Same job earlier this year involved none of the above. If that’s progress, I’m an international economist.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Corder

Ah Simon, but wait for the pleasure you’ll get showing your blue British passport to the trolley dolly as you step aboard the Bristol Britannia turboprop. Now they seen the meaning of a Brexit stiff upper lip, those Nordic johnnies will be no match for an English gentleman.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Corder

Why are you blaming this on BRexit? Norway is not a member of the EU

Paolo Mantovani
Paolo Mantovani
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

I hope you’re being sarcastic, David

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago

Did I miss Norway joining the EU? Last time I looked it was not a member!

Paolo Mantovani
Paolo Mantovani
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

Seriously. The UK had arrangements with Norway via the EU, which are currently lost. That’s Simon’s point. (basically Norway is part of the single market while being outside the EU).
You guys are making all efforts to confirm stereotypes on Leavers.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago

Yes the UK had arrangement with Norway, not through the EU but through EEA/EFTA. The UK and EFTA members signed a separation agreement in 2018 protecting everyone. The UK has also sign an interim agreement for goods and travel last month with EFTA members.

But the issue is one of perspective. Many remainers spend their time telling us about travel without documents and roaming charges. That is the only benefits of EU membership they can find. If this is all the EU has achieved at the enormous cost of the structural issues in the Euro zone, the problems caused by Schengen (which looks like it will be consigned to history by Covid), friction at it’s borders, etc then the EU has been a total failure and we will perform far better outside it’s restrictive practices!

Paolo Mantovani
Paolo Mantovani
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

So we can all travel to Norway!? That’s fantastic news, hail Brexit! Costly work visas are just petty details that only stingy remoaners would take notice of.

On the rest, you’re changing the topic. I wasn’t writing a treaty on the pros and cons of the EU. I only wanted to point out how pointless your comment above was and is – so totally out of place that I even thought you were perhaps being sarcastic.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago

But that is the point. Leaving the EU is about the long term benefits. So what if we have to stand in a different passport line going to Spain or spend 5 minutes applying for a visa on a website (like we do to go to the USA now) or a company has to email documents before the lorry leaves (like we do with the 55% of our exports that go to none EU countries now) instead of doing it all at the end of the month. The actual benefit of leaving the EU is the freedom it gives us. Just like the UK/Japan deal approved in the HoC yesterday which has additional provisions which are specifically good for the UK but were excluded from the EU/Japan deal in favour of other provisions that had no benefit to the UK! eg lower tariffs on food and drink products from the UK

Paolo Mantovani
Paolo Mantovani
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

No, that was not your initial point. I give up anyway and leave you to your treaty.

helenmcgmanson
helenmcgmanson
3 years ago

Thank you for this really insightful and thought-provoking perspective, Peter. It’s a ‘Sliding Doors’ exercise, helpful to play out, which shows our exit from the EU has been on the cards for a long time and being part of their COVID plan would have taken us there anyhow.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago

The central idiocy of the supposed “deal” under discussion is that it excludes services. The government should dig in its heels and let the current negotiations fail in the face of EU intransigence.

A fresh start. Sweep away the last vestiges of May’s incompetence, and start afresh.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago

A more scary what if scenario would be what if the die hard anti democratic remoaners who are trying every last ditch effort to sabotage BREXIT at the final hour succeeded. Fortunately that won’t happen as few real people care anymore – a blessing in disguise from the diabolical handling of COVID. We still need to see Boris live up to his promise and tell the Eurocrats where they can stick their “level playing field” and take us out on WTO terms.

Joerg Beringer
Joerg Beringer
3 years ago

I was a staunch Remainer, still think that Brexit was reckless and is very poorly executed.
I also always was an ardent supporter of the EU and envisaged a two tier membership of ñ‚¬ countries and the rest eventually happening, which would have suited the UK well and which it could have shaped.
I still think UK trade deals will be inferior and the damage substantial, but we’ll see.
I disagree with your assessment that the rescue package would have become a headache for the UK.
Instead, it c/would have become a purely ñ‚¬ one, finally facilitating that two tier membership structure.
But I have to agree with one thing now:
basically, it doesn’t matter (much) anymore.
The, totally unnecessary, Covid response damage is far greater and much longer lasting than any Brexit damage can now be for the UK.
And the EU will soon be finished and/as the ñ‚¬ will collapse (unfortunately, $/£ etc. won’t fare much better), so again, it simply doesn’t matter much at all.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
3 years ago

everyone from Gordon Brown to Nigel Farage fought so hard to keep us out of the single currency

Gordon only opposed our joining the euro because his bestest buddy, Tony, was desperate for us to go in (as a down payment on his ambition to be EU President). If Tony had been against the euro, Gordon would have pushed it for all he was worth.

Sarah H
Sarah H
3 years ago

“Of course, the cause of these misfortunes is Covid-19, not Brexit.” Erm…no, wrong; the cause is our response to Covid-19, I suggest. Viruses don’t cause empty shelves, do they?

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
3 years ago

Totally agree. I think the government will hold its nerve in opposition to the filibuster of the EU even when the EU will be aided and abetted by the Liberal Establishment calling for a transition extension as the EU allows the deadlines to pass.

The EU stands to lose $30 billion in trade under no deal conditions as they price themselves out of the UK market due to their goods becoming much more expensive with WTO tariffs.
https://unctad.org/news/no-

As you argue, we voted to leave the EU Treaties in order to rebuild and build back better our national sustainability, national resilience and national sufficiency and sars2 proves why.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

The ONS states in its most recent CPI release “After the transition period, we will continue to produce our consumer price statistics “Š in accordance with internationally agreed statistical guidance and standards. These currently include for the CPI, the rules underlying the construction of the HICP, developed by Eurostat in conjunction with EU member states and European Economic Area countries.” The UK CPI is also the UK HICP, so this essentially means that improvements in the methodology for the Bank of England’s target inflation indicator are to be determined by Eurostat not the ONS. This is unacceptable, especially for a country that will be neither in the EU nor the EEA. Arguably, the UK economy has already paid a heavy price for trying to be consistent with the EU in measuring consumer price inflation. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown removed housing prices from the target inflation indicator when he replaced RPIX with the UK HICP in December 2003. This happened because the ECB was already targeting an HICP for the euro area. Less than four years later a housing price bubble popped with the bank run on Northern Rock.

At the time it seemed that Eurostat would add housing prices to the HICP within a few years but 17 years later, this hasn’t happened. The EU was timid and gutless in rejecting adding an owner-occupied housing component based on the net acquisitions approach to the HICP in 2018. It would be folly for the UK to continue to be constrained by Eurostat rules for the HICP in defining the Bank of England’s target inflation indicator. The current monthly OOH(NA) series calculated by the ONS, while far from ideal, is still fit for purpose. With the necessary modifications for timeliness it could be added to the CPI, giving the Bank of England what would be, beyond any question, the best macroeconomic indicator of consumer price inflation in the world. Then the work could begin to make it an even better measure. The best should never be the enemy of the good.

The October 2020 CPI release saw a big jump in the annual inflation rate for the RPI depreciation component. The UK could already be experiencing another of the housing bubbles that have continued to plague its economy. The Bank of England really needs housing prices back in its target inflation indicator sooner rather than later, and a decision on this should come from the UK, not the EU.

ruthengreg
ruthengreg
3 years ago

There’s more sense in articles in Unheard. What a shame this kind of journalism is unknown outside these pages.
Every thing I believed wrong with the EU, is becoming obviously true. I am not one to gloat. But I am equally worried about other countries. Fiscal constraints are pushing them into even more depths!
The borrowing figures mentioned are to me good at maths yes but no genius, far too inadequate! The figure one way and another is more likely be 5 times more that the UKs!. And we’re nowhere near an end sum.

Charles Anderson
Charles Anderson
3 years ago

Peter in large part answers his own counter factual question himself, as the UK would have been outside the euro zone, it could have chosen to stand aside from these current rescue attempts, as it did during the 2007-8 Greek euro crisis.

Paolo Mantovani
Paolo Mantovani
3 years ago

Exactly. This article is pretty terrible

Adi Dule
Adi Dule
3 years ago

British brexiters complain why the others do not understand that brexit is not only about economy. But they fall into the same mistake in confront to the EU – EU is not only about economy either. What the British conservatives and leavers fail to understand is that the EU project is trying to preserve Europe and Europian values in a world of super states like China, Russia and US. It is the only option the Europian conservatives have and probably the British too

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Adi Dule

As someone who voted to leave the EU I agree that, on paper, that might indeed be one of the strongest ‘political’ arguments for not doing so, but it raises some uncomfortable questions.

Firstly, why does a sovereign independent country that largely shares similar economic, political and cultural interests with those similarly minded, close neighbours have to permanently and ultimately entirely forgo that political and economic autonomy simply in order to address another bigger, competing country’s conflicting agenda or even just to trade effectively with them?

And secondly, if we assume that the EU is the only answer to this question that you and others clearly believe has to be addressed, why do countries within the EU itself, like its most powerful member Germany, for example, seem happy to become increasingly dependent on Russian gas, estimated by Eurostat to be up to 75% of its gas needs in the future, despite vocal opposition from other EU members, never mind fellow NATO member, the USA?

Or, not dissimilarly, why do EU countries like Italy and Greece, again despite open disapproval from other EU members, seem all to willing to be wooed by China and the Faustian bargain offered by its, frankly quasi-imperialist, Belt and Road Initiative?

The problem here is that there is a very obvious credibility gap between the rhetoric and mythology of the EU and its blindly devoted acolytes and the cold hard reality of what is actually going on on the ground, I’m afraid, and whilst it’s a cosy idea that the EU template apparently helps to iron out all these national differences with its ties designed to bind, its poorly and unfairly implemented ‘integrationist’ political, monetary and economic policies are, in fact, ironically often one of the primary drivers for these moves that are slowly but surely serving to undermine it, particularly in the latter two’s cases.

Adi Dule
Adi Dule
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Well I suppose it is about when you will set your line of defense. Trying to protect the nation state as it used to be probably is not posible and may be wishful thinking so probably the best next thing which has better chances if done in the right way, is the EU project with all its practical faults that nobody disputes

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
3 years ago

There is no Covid Rescue plan in the EU. It’s been vetoed.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Aden Wellsmith

Why should there be?
It’s the greatest scam since the Resurrection.

David Kirkwood
David Kirkwood
3 years ago

One thing I never understood about those “protests” – who paid for those huge floats?

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  David Kirkwood

Tsar Vladimir and the Emperor Xi. And George Soros.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

Well said. Thankyou.

David Shaw
David Shaw
3 years ago

Amen to that

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Ye gods, why is the UnHerd Censor so puerile?

Angela Frith
Angela Frith
3 years ago

Time will tell if Brexit was the right decision.
Let us see what the next generation thinks of Brexit in twenty years time.
Successor or failure, we can only guess. They will pay the price, whatever it may be.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Angela Frith

Or reap the rewards.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago

For all those BTL still trying to present Britain’s leaving the EU as a consequence of right-wing populism, here’s an interesting article in today’s Critic magazine: https://thecritic.co.uk/whe

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago

For all those still trying to present Britain’s leaving the EU as driven by right-wing populism, there’s an interesting article in today’s Critic magazine. Google The Critic When Brexit was unfashionable he was there.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago

Thanks Caroline. An equally fascinating read is Cumming’s own blog article in which he set out the strategy he devised for manufacturing and manipulating right-wing populism for the purpose of driving through Brexit.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

I doubt he put it that way!

Jay Bird
Jay Bird
3 years ago

Imagine if one day John Lennon’s wishful thinking came true and we saw ourselves just as Earthlings. We could no longer slag off the profligate Italians or perhaps admire the frugal Dutch but instead recognise that we are all citizens of the Earth and need to take care of our wonderful homeland and cooperate together to share a reasonable life style, where no one who contributes to the general good, according to their attributes and capabilities, is without food, shelter, the necessaries of life and the opportunity to seek personal fulfillment through education, sport, the arts etc. Utopia now please!

Rob Alka
Rob Alka
3 years ago

Someone needs to explain to me why we have to agree on standards if we just want to trade with the EU rather than be restricted in our global trade initiatives or MO by by remaining an EU member..

I take it as a given that if we want to export anything to the EU whether tariff free or on World Trade Terms we have to meet EU standards for the product we are exporting.

I assume that we remain entitled to export a different standard to countries outside of the EU, a standard which the EU might not wish to accept. So be it.

I further assume – and recognise the rationale – that the EU cannot deal with us on a tariff free basis while worrying whether we might (accidentally?!) have exported to the EU some other standard used for export outside the EU, one which doesn’t meet EU standards. Therefore it is logical and fair that the EU is obliged to check at their customs that we have exported to them the acceptable standard as promised.

This means that for all such product categories where we have only ONE standard for all export customers – EU and non-EU – it is reasonable to have a deal which is tariff free provided that the lorry or pallet only contains those product categories where Britain can vouchsafe that they do not permit the home manucture or importing of a lower standard.

It’s a messy arrangement but only slightly so.

So why the impasse?

Are we are also talking about political standards, eg free movement, employment laws etc? Because, if so, there won’t be a deal of any kind. In theory, there might not even be a way of exporting anything into the EU if they don’t like our poltical policies, legaal system or employment laws.

I think the onus must be on the EU to give us the benefit of the doubt of not being or behaving as a rogue nation. Because otherwise the negotiations in search of a deal are pointless.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Rob Alka

The modern day EU, which essentially came into being in the 1990s with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, turned what has become rather ominously known as the European Project nowadays from an economic project previously facilitated by its politics into an overwhelmingly political project now facilitated by its economics.

Thus, a vote to leave the EU in 2016 was primarily a political choice with likely short term deleterious economic consequences, rather than the act of long-term economic self-harm that some people disingenuously seek to, almost exclusively, portray it as.

The UK is now effectively its competition and leaving the bloc therefore, for the EU, literally has got to be seen as rendering it, the UK, demonstrably worse off (or certainly no better off) for fear that other member states, at least those now dwindling few in a position to do so ie significant net contributors to the EU, aren’t in any way tempted to do the same, particularly should any competitive advantage for the UK soon become apparent.

Given its size and apparent heft you might imagine that this should be a relatively straightforward ‘might is right’ prospect for the EU, except it isn’t, not least because the UK, after the US and China, is still one of its biggest markets and, to boot, it’s right on its doorstep and is closely politically and economically aligned and integrated with other EU member states, so it knows that any attempt at a ‘Carthaginian Peace’ might well backfire over the longer term.

So, the simple answer to your question is that this isn’t just about trade by any means, and the various horse trading and sacrifices that go on in normal trade deals designed to boost trade (usually by pretty measly amounts, but often at huge domestic social costs, incidentally) like say the recent efforts the EU has agreed with the distant Japan, Canada and the Mercosur.

This is, arguably, a potentially existential deal for the EU hence the reason it has been making unprecedented demands of the UK not just in terms of relatively straightforward trade itself, but in terms of trying to legally secure an agreed indefinite future promise of a degree of political sovereignty over the UK.

Rob Alka
Rob Alka
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Thank you GH for reminding me so eloquently and in useful detail of what I already had concluded, which is that once outside the EU we (Britain or the UK) are ……..

1) a commercial enemy on the EU’s doorstep because ……

2) while distant trading countries might focus on Europe as a whole and then, within that, choose the UK because it is more flexible / less demanding / apolitical in its manner of trading and negotiation ……

3) consequently the EU is surely right to perceive the UK as a too-close-for-comfort direct competitor to the EU cartel (contiguous thanks to the tunnel)

4) which motivates the EU to undermine our commercial and economic potential by preventing or hampering our efforts to export into Europe (the EU can always import from elsewhere)

5) and the EU’s choice of weapon is to insist on conformity to EU political and trade standards

6) not merely when trading with the EU but also ….

7) with the added political twist that that this conformity must exist not only when when trading with the EU but the rest of the world, ie we cannot export to the EU if we are exporting a different standard to non-EU countries which does not conform to the EU standard. (German home manufacturing has played this game long before the EU existed)

The key questions arising from my previous posting was:

Q1 Is point (7) correct?

Q2 Or does point (7) merely mean that:

a) If we have this double standard does it mean the EU will be justified and willing to operate custom checks on ALL our exports into the EU? …..

b) …..Or better still limited to our exports only for those product categories where there we have one standard for the EU and other standard(s) for ourselves or non-EU countries?

Q3 And if the answer to point 7 and Q1 and Q2a or b is Yes, does that mean we can at least export to the EU under World Trade Terms and therefore facing customs checks and posssible tariffs?

Q4 And if the answer to Q3 is yes does that mean the EU will in all likelihood

a) impose unreasonable tariffs out of political-economic spite unrelated to either dumping or protecting home production, and/or ……

b) create hold-ups at custom borders making our exporting so costly and troublesome as to be unfeasible?

Q5 And if the answer to Q4a or b is yes, why doesn’t anyone else in government or media or on forums spell this out, not just nationally but globally?

Q6 And if the answer to Q4a & b is no, then …..

a) what’s the problem?

b) What is it exactly that our Government is trying to negotiate and making heavy weather of it? Fishing waters? Gimme a break!

c) Why isn’t anyone asking the government these rhetorical or concerning questions?

d) Why doesn’t your excellent thoughtful reply to my previous posting throw any light on these questions? I’m not complaining, just asking!

Rob Alka
Rob Alka
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Thanks for confirming that the trade agreement has a cartel or Mafia-like undertone to achieve either political conquest or ruination or emasculation of one’s foe at the other end of a tunnel.

I presume it therefore follows that if the UK pursues WT rules the EU will play hardball in money-wasting custom delays and/or spiteful tariffs to render UK export prices unaffordable or uncompetitive.

Yet I get the feeling that in spite the gimlet-eyed poker-playing at present the EU recognises that when thinking about what the UK buys from the EU, they really don’t want to kill the goose that is laying some golden eggs

I sense that the higher echelons of EU are finally, at the 11th hour, beginning to realise that Barnier’s negative style of negotiation might end up with the EU’s cutting off its nose to spite its face

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Rob Alka

The UK is indeed a significant market for the EU as well as being a significant, albeit now departing, net contributor to its budget. A hole which needs to be filled somehow.

The beauty of the WTO, if that’s the right word, as it’s certainly flawed within itself, is that over the decades it has been largely responsible for reducing the cost of doing trade for all its members across the globe.

The net result of this is that, on average, the theoretical cost of the UK trading with Europe/the EU has substantially diminished over the decades, regardless of membership, to around 3%.

What this means in practical terms is that the EU’s effective means for snaffling and essentially assuming the sovereignty of member nations for itself via economic means ie through the customs union and the single market, has been gradually diminishing accordingly.

Being tied to the single currency and effectively surrendering indefinitely your monetary and, by extension, a substantial amount of your own fiscal sovereignty is a different matter, of course.

Paolo Mantovani
Paolo Mantovani
3 years ago

1) ‘Even before the virus, Italy was in dire straits, condemned to stagnation THANKS TO THE EUROZONE’. You clearly know nothing about Italy. Italy has structural problems that are entirely independent of the EU and the eurozone. You’re buying into socio-economically illiterate, illiberal, populist arguments sweeping the continent and beyond – those, for instance, driving Poles and Hungarian vetoes. Congratulations. If you actually knew those representing your claim above in Italy, even you, probably, would not want to side with them.

2) Why you assume that the UK would be among the ‘frugal’ countries bailing out the others? Do you have any idea of how much the UK is indebting itself to face the pandemic? The recovery fund was set up (with all the difficulties that you describe) to help the countries most badly hit by the pandemic in the first wave. The UK was as badly hit as Italy, if not more, have you checked the stats? (with the aggravation that they had at least 3 extra weeks to prepare).
It is a possibility that, all this given, the UK would have been a beneficiary of the fund.

Also, as you say, a lot of this stuff will be a eurozone affair, so why bother?

On the bigger picture, you seem to have no idea of how different (in a bad sense) the perception of the UK across the world is since 2016. And this is likely to feed through pretty much everything, from the economy to geopolitics to when your children will go abroad on holiday or studying abroad etc.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago

Yes, one can be unpopular for doing the right thing. But adults ignore playground threats.
Is it ‘economically illiterate’ to attribute Italy’s stagnation to the Euro straitjacket on top of its structural problems? Ashoka Mody and many other important economists might beg to differ.

Paolo Mantovani
Paolo Mantovani
3 years ago

It is economically (and historically) illiterate to attribute Italy’s stagnation to the Euro. The sentence of the article that I picked on does not mention ‘structural problems’, does it? And banging on the Euro (aside of being entirely irrelevant to the UK) is the easiest of the easiest scapegoats used by populists of all sorts across Europe (speaking of childish attitudes).

I associate liberalism more with scepticism than with ‘doing the right thing’. And the global ‘popularity’ I was referring to may be something you don’t care about, Caroline, but I’m afraid that loosing it is likely to have far reaching practical consequences for many people.

We’ll see anyway. I’m sure there can be better cases made for Brexit than this article.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
3 years ago

It is almost certainly wrong to suggest that the UK might have become a beneficiary of the EU coronavirus fund. The reason for this is because we are a major contributor to the EU budget.

So we would have been a beneficiary in the usual sense. IE that the EU would take a huge sum of money from us and then give us back a percentage of it, with strings attached to its use and also conditional upon it being clearly explained that this was a generous gift from the EU.

We don’t need to be that sort of beneficiary. We are better than that, and perfectly capable of governing ourselves – once our flabby government and public sector regain some of their intellectual and governmental rigour and skil. With luck that will only take a decade or so

Paolo Mantovani
Paolo Mantovani
3 years ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Italy is a net contributor to the EU budget and indeed a ‘major contributor’ to it (boom!). We’re talking £4-5bn and £6-8bn of net annual contribuition in recent years for, respectively, Italy and UK. Small sums compared to the ones of the recovery fund: they are talking 82bn euros to Italy plus another 127bn of free loans – and the caveats seem fairly lax and sensible (invest in green economy and digital infrastructure).

So yes, given these sums and considering how bad the first wave of covid was in the UK (in terms of deaths per million and gdp loss), the UK might have been a net beneficiary of the recovery fund. You need to find a better reason than ‘we are a major contributor to the EU budget’ to assume the contrary. You (and the article) might be confounding the UK with Germany or Denmark.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago

So, let me understand. The same government that manufactured and manipulated mass populism and evaded Parliamentary scrutiny to impose Brexit for the benefit of shadowy cronies, manufactured and manipulated mass populism and evaded Parliamentary scrutiny to impose Lockdown hysteria for the benefit of shadowy cronies.

And the problem, in each case – is the EU?

An entertaining thesis. As the witching hour approaches, the Brexit reality distortion filter is getting turned up to “10”.

maico61
maico61
3 years ago

The UK would not have been part of any ECB bailout package, the UK has never been in the Eurozone.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  maico61

The budget is an EU budget, not Eurozone budget, so we would have been involved.

Peter Turner
Peter Turner
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

So obviously correct that it seems surprising it should need to be pointed out.

Ian Turton
Ian Turton
3 years ago

Surprising to see this slant from a conservative party adviser and speachwriter?
Consistency? E.g on the one hand painting “we would be pressured to acceed, yet then nothing the Polish/ Hungarian veto?
I could go on. But why. Minds are made up, sides taken.
Follow the money (like the PPE scandal for which no senior criminal will be adequately tried never mind punished?). Who pays Peter …probably the same mob?

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Turton

On PPE I have one simple question, what would the headlines have said if the government hadn’t bought enough and there were now shortages and NHS staff were dying as a result?

PPE is only a scandal if you prefer the alternative!

aemiliuspaullus
aemiliuspaullus
3 years ago

In hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the European Union?

Right to leave: 38% (-3)

Wrong to leave: 51% (+2)

Via @YouGov, 11-12 Nov

Changes w/ 4-5 Nov

Record high % wrong and record high lead of wrong over right.

polidoris ghost
polidoris ghost
3 years ago

I don’t pay attention to YouGov polls, or most other polls for that matter.
As someone observed recently: When you commission a poll the first question that the polsters will ask you is “What result do you want?”
I find dissecting chicken giblets to be both a cheaper and a more reliable guide to how the public will actually vote.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

The Romans were great fans of inspecting chicken entrails, and look where it got them.
The greatest Empire the world has ever seen, the invention of the middle class, an astonishingly liberal society when it came to sex, race and gender, plus magnificent ‘games’ the like of which we can only dream of.
S.P.Q.R.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

The Romans were great fans of inspecting chicken entrails, and look where it got them.
The greatest Empire the world has ever seen, the invention of the middle class, an astonishingly liberal society when it came to s*x, race and gender, plus magnificent ‘games’ the like of which we can only dream of.
S.P.Q.R.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

All polls have lost all credibility. They are designed to find a specific answer and are as fake as the media that commissions and reports them.

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

Does not matter what a poll says.
We are going and good bye to the EU.
Good luck to the EU, no leaver I know wishes harm for Europe.
Unlike some people in this country for us!
We did not and still don’t want to be run by them.
English first
British second
European never

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

I’d adjust that slightly:

European 3rd and “EU never”

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I stick by number 3
I was never raised to be a European.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Understood – I was just having a “love thy neighbour’ moment.

aemiliuspaullus
aemiliuspaullus
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

I think the UK has already left. Parliament ratified the withdrawal agreement, and the UK left the EU at 11pm GMT on 31st January 2020.

aemiliuspaullus
aemiliuspaullus
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

I think the UK has already left. Parliament ratified the withdrawal agreement, and the UK left the EU at 11pm GMT on 31st January 2020.

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
3 years ago

No we haven’t. We are still in a ‘Transition Period’ and we are still paying them lots of money.

When we stop paying, we are out.

aemiliuspaullus
aemiliuspaullus
3 years ago
Reply to  Aden Wellsmith

I’m talking from a legal and constitutional point of view. The UK has ceased to be a member of the EU. British citizens are no longer EU citizens; there are no British MEPs or commissioner; British ministers will play no further part in EU lawmaking; And no British prime minister will attend EU summits.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago

We don’t care what YouGov says.

aemiliuspaullus
aemiliuspaullus
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Good for you.

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith
3 years ago

I’ve got plenty of experience of YouGov polling. You need way more detail than you provide. For example, how many were polled? How were they selected? (Many YouGov self selected!), how were the questions set? (Again many are set by regular poll responders), What form did the question take?

Otherwise you might as well knit fog.

aemiliuspaullus
aemiliuspaullus
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Smith

This is from the YouGov site. You can contact them to check the methodology.

David J
David J
3 years ago

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but this poll will be more relevant after the Transition Period is over, and we are properly done and dusted with EU membership.

Say in 1-3-5 years time, not in the middle of a pandemic and not when feelings are running high in the late stages of tortuous negotiations.

aemiliuspaullus
aemiliuspaullus
3 years ago
Reply to  David J

True, but at this stage its all academic anyway. The UK has already left the EU.

William Cable
William Cable
3 years ago

A snapshot at a moment of global difficulty and low faith i the current government, utterly meaningless

aemiliuspaullus
aemiliuspaullus
3 years ago
Reply to  William Cable

All polls are snapshots surely?

Philip MINNS
Philip MINNS
3 years ago

“But at least we will be responsible for our own failings, instead of being made responsible for those of others”.
Doesn’t this conclusion sum up exactly why the British (or rather the English) have never been happy with the EU ? The Remainers were never able to make a proper case for remaining (and were outgunned by shameful propaganda) simply because, right from the beginning, the British preferred to walk off in a huff , or threaten to, rather than engage in meaningful debate with other members. Who was so keen on enlargement to the East ? the British! But they didn’t take the trouble to engage with the former members of the Soviet bloc and win them over. Why did Cameron pull the Conservatives out of the EPP and not engage meaningfully with Merkel in an attempt to build a coalition of like minded members like Germany, The Netherlands, the Baltics, the Scandinavians, who would have warmly welcomed such a approach ? No, it was far easier to blame everything that went wrong on “Brussels” and the “Club Med” countries and appease an ossified political party, many of whose voters are well-to-do upper middle class pensioners who refuse to believe that Britain’s imperial past is finally over ! The NO vote was ultimately the failure of an entire political class to try and understand the EU, to engage meaningfully with its other members, to try and win some if not all of the arguments and make an honest case to the electorate. As always, those who refuse to engage and walk off in a huff are the worst off, but the EU is sadly weakened too by the future absence of the collective political wisdom acquired through centuries of British pragmatism.

R Malarkey
R Malarkey
3 years ago
Reply to  Philip MINNS

The British engaged in debate with its “partners” for the entire duration of its membership, for which we earned the nickname of ‘the awkward squad’.

At some point you just have to accept the marriage ain’t working.

Paolo Mantovani
Paolo Mantovani
3 years ago
Reply to  R Malarkey

I bet that history will tell that the marriage was working fantastically well for Britain

John Gleeson
John Gleeson
3 years ago

Please go away and stop your silly, immature, bitter one-liner trolling. Go headbutt the wall or attack a pillow or something and imagine its a leaver who left you jilted at the EU alter.

That would be more productive for all concerned.

Paolo Mantovani
Paolo Mantovani
3 years ago
Reply to  John Gleeson

Well that’s a mature, well argumented, constructive comment!

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago

“But at least we will be responsible for our own failings, instead of being made responsible for those of others.”

I believe you have posed an example of the fallacy of logic know as distinction without difference.

polidoris ghost
polidoris ghost
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

I don’t think he did actually.
I made a very similar point in my comment on Scottish independence.
We are both saying that we no longer give a pair of dingo’s kidneys what you think, do, or say. We are just being very polite about it.
As Dylan once sang when chucking a chick “You just kinda wasted my precious time, but don’t think twice it’s alright”

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago

Annoying, isn’t he. I blocked him a few days ago.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Also pretentious and angry, but fun to provoke! (to my eternal shame).

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Of all the comments on these pages Richard, this one stands out as the worst.

I don’t see any abuse or trolling from this guy ‘Nun’. Just a different point of view than the one you hold. And positions he’s prepared to discuss.

You, on the other hand, have identified yourself as someone who will not hear an opposing view or listen to someone from outside your own echo chamber. Don’t you think that’s a shameful position to take ?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Thanks for pointing this functionality out.

I love reading passionate and informed rebuttals, but will use this feature to avoid the childish stuff

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I blocked somebody, and soon discovered that – instead of previously being irritated by the lack of insight in their comment – it is now quite fun to try and work out what their blocked comment might have contained – based on the rebuttals that their “now inaccessible comment” generates …

A new evolution of the “cryptic cross word” perhaps…

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

You’re very welcome!

crazydiamond2310
crazydiamond2310
3 years ago

Brexit is a complete disaster and it’s only going to get worse. The far right drivel spouted by Tories and Brexiteers just makes me even more determined to campaign for re-entry as soon as possible.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago

The EU is a racist, corporate club that has the only constitution in the entire world that has effectively outlawed Socialism with its rules on competition and procurement and its regulations on State Aid. How do you square that round peg?

It seems to me that those who fawn over it live very comfortable lives and selfishly fear change.

Geoff Cox
Geoff Cox
3 years ago

Hi Helen – Heard there was a pro-Brexit article? Must get over there and make an anti Brexit comment without even reading the article. Being paid to troll?

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago

Brexit and Trump tell us a lot about human psychology. Both were angry protest votes, but with understandable causes.The big problem comes afterwards when the protestors find themselves holding the bag for a terrible decision and facing the scorn of half the population. A siege mentality mindset sets in, where they bond over their pariah status and it becomes impossible to admit the mistake. “I knew things would be this bad, that’s exactly what I meant to happen”. It’s why they’re so angry, even when they ‘win’. I nearly (but don’t) feel sorry for the Brexiteers and the level of cognitive dissonance roaring in their heads. Every news cycle brings confirmation that the outlook is just as bad as predicted. The latest being the unlikelihood of friendly terms from Biden. They can practically feel the donkey ears growing out of their heads and they hate it. They sold the real concrete benefits of being in the world’s largest trading bloc for a handful of magic beans. This article adds another one, an empty counter-factual speculation about covid. What choice do the Brexiteers have now except to squeeze the magic beans very hard and wish it all better?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Your attitude is why you lost. Patronising nincompoop.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

H.L.Mencken
Sometimes the idiots outvote the sensible

polidoris ghost
polidoris ghost
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Yes but your definition of idiot is anyone who puts their own
well-being before the well-being of young Master Jeremy.
Oh! How very dare they!
It’s a basic mistake. One that Mencken would not make.

PS: And he wasn’t pompous either.

polidoris ghost
polidoris ghost
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Yes, but your definition of idiot is anyone who puts their own
well-being before the well-being of young Master Jeremy.
It’s a basic mistake. One that Mencken would not have made.

PS: And he wasn’t pompous either.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

I am using Mencken’s definition of idiot.

polidoris ghost
polidoris ghost
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

But you are not. That’s my point.
Look on the bright side, Jeremy, I am the only one round here who is not ignoring you.

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago

You’re not.

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago

Not ignoring who?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

And sometimes they don’t. Your point is … ?

David Stuckey
David Stuckey
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Well constructed argument countering all the points that Ryan made-good references and support on the basic points. No wonder I read Unherd so avidly, although I must admit the comments on the Guardian are only slightly better-sad that people just insult rather than trying to counter arguments. Maybe because I am getting on in years and am an Engineer-if we design things with as little logic as this thread then the world would implode!

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  David Stuckey

It’s the same old stuff we’ve been hearing for four and a half years, and it’s boring. Time to change the record.

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Ah the others are to blame. They are plebs who have revolted because they are revolting.

So your problem is your lack of thinking. If they have revolted in teh way you describe, what have you done to them they they choose these awful, as you put it, options? You’ve done worse to them.

On Brexit, lets take one example. The EU puts the cost of its regulations at 6% of GDP. They also state for every £ cut in regulation costs you get £2.70 in new economic activity. A 50% cut of EU regulations gets 162 bn a year. That’s why the EU demand regulatory control over the UK. That’s one example of the damage you cause. That’s without getting into wage suppression and massive subsidies to low paid EU migrants.

But I take it you are pissed off that you won’t be able to employ cheap servants subsidised by others.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Aden Wellsmith

“the EU puts the cost of its regulations at 6% of GDP. “
What study is that?
Do you know any regulatory system that doesn’t have a cost to GDP?

“That’s without getting into wage suppression and massive subsidies to low paid EU migrants.” – and yet English farmers couldn’t get English workers to harvest produce!

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Yes because it is pointless for English low paid workers trying to make ends meet on British low end wages.

It is not pointless for Romanian workers (for example – who will get c. 6 x higher wages than at home) to come for a season, share a rented accommodation with as many as will allow, before returning home with a hefty pay packet.

Try supporting a family, or even pay rent or a mortgage in the UK with agricultural workers salaries. I am guessing that you have either not worked a minimum wage job before, or worked with migrant workers. Or perhaps forgotten both.

In the 70s and 80s many British workers did migrate for more lucrative pay elsewhere, but today there are very few places that pay enough to make it worthwhile – not certainly in the magnitude it is for Eastern European workers (and others) to come here. Not a criticism of these workers one bit – fair play to them – but it’s a fact that defenders of free movement fail to grasp.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Because many jobs are low productivity jobs so the wages have to be low. How much do you think Pret can charge for a latte if all the workers are British? £5 !
I worked my last 2 years (16-18) of high school at my local McDonalds.

You are mistaken, there are plenty of high paying jobs in Switzerland,
Austria, Norway, Germany, etc. The British workers lack the skills to compete.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Because many jobs are low productivity jobs so the wages have to be low. How much do you think Pret can charge for a latte if all the workers are British?

Yes i do not disagree with that. But the outgoings of a resident Brit trying to live a life in the UK (perhaps with a family) is significantly higher than for a migrant worker who comes temporarily to benefit with low outgoings and limited dependencies. So the job is literally not worth doing for the Brit as they won’t make ends meet with the wages.

Ordinarily, Pret would have no workers, and so be forced to raise costs and wages to cover this, but in this environment they don’t have to as there is a migrant worker there to be paid the lower amount.

I worked my last 2 years (16-18) of high school at my local McDonalds.

Fair enough

You are mistaken, there are plenty of high paying jobs in Switzerland,
Austria, Norway, Germany, etc. The British workers lack the skills to compete.

We are talking about unskilled work not all jobs – and whilst paying higher than the UK, those countries do not pay in the magnitude of 6 x higher (Romania) or even 3 x higher (Poland). That is the same for high and low skilled employment.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

I was talking about skilled blue collar jobs.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I was talking about skilled blue collar jobs.

No you were not at all. That is either forgetful or dishonest. See your original comment which I was referring to:

English farmers couldn’t get English workers to harvest produce!

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

2 separate comments.
unskilled labor and skilled labor. I don’t think a northern English girl moving to Berlin (cause it is fun) to make lattes/cocktails was/is a solution for the British workforce.
That is why is said “lack the skills”…you don’t need much skills (I can testify) to flip burgers at McDs.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

British workers lack the skills to compete because our corporations and underfunded public services such as the NHS find it more cost effective to employ people trained abroad than it would be to train their own workforce’s.

Penny Gallagher
Penny Gallagher
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Well round here they were overwhelmed with offers and several young people I know who applied when able to get jobs as they were all filled.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

“and yet English farmers couldn’t get EXPLOITATIVELY CHEAP English workers WHO ARE UNAWARE OF OUR EMPLOYMENT LAWS to harvest produce!”

There, I’ve fixed it for you.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Aden Wellsmith

Source for that 6% of GDP stat?

I’m not pissed off. I’m more sad about what you’ve done to your country to gain nothing, not even your own happiness.

polidoris ghost
polidoris ghost
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

C’mon Kev,
You are delighted.

David J
David J
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

What saddens me is that you can toss centuries of sovereign independence into the bin, in exchange for a few decades of an EU, whose future is unknown and uncertain.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  David J

I don’t give a fig for sovereign independence. It’s as arbitary a concept as the EU. You can consider the EU as a collection of capitalist bankers ganging up to exploit the workers or as a visionary organisation spreading understanding or anything in between. Same as the UK.

R Malarkey
R Malarkey
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Well, I’m pretty happy. 🙂

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Has it occurred to you that many intelligent, sane people, voted for Brexit because, on balance, they thought it better that they should be be able to elect the people who pass their laws? It’s not complicated. Surely any intelligent, sane person would concur?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

“…elect the people who pass their laws?”
True
UK Lawmakers were/are responsible for:
– c/97% of taxation (part of VAT is EU responsibility) and 100% of borrowing
– .98% of public spending (aside from CAP)
– education and job training
-NHS and elderly care
-criminal & business law
-infrastructure, R&D and CAPEX
-housing policy
-Iraq, Libya and Syria
-Light Touch Regulation

Those sane people would fail the most basic test{s) about British government and constitution.
Blackpool, Clacton, etc. didn’t vote Leave because they truly understood the impact of Lisbon Treaty on UK Constitution.

Simon Bond
Simon Bond
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Two points.. there were many who also voted for the status quo without understanding Lisbon or indeed the EU… just wanted more of the same, a fair view but not a detailed or researched one. Those voters may also have lived in Clacton and Blackpool as well. Also I think you’ll find it was the direction of travel, not where we were in 2016 that prompted the majority of people to vote Leave…. incidentally by a similar margin to Biden’s “landslide” in the US popular vote….

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Bond

I never claimed that Remainers understood EU better. I just pointed out that a large segment of British population decided to ignore the fact(s) that all the really important issues were/are decided by the British voters indirectly through their government in London.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

You did, and you do

Blackpool, Clacton, etc. didn’t vote Leave because they truly understood the impact of Lisbon Treaty on UK Constitution.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Wow. So, you think all those lovely people in Blackpool and Clacton read the text of the Lisbon Treaty, cogitated a while and then, with this knowledge gained en masse, went to the ballot box on referendum day and cast their votes safe in the knowledge that they completely understood the whole process and subsequent consequences of the Lisbon Treaty.
But the acquisition of the knowledge and the processes and consequences of the Lisbon Treaty were denied somehow to Grimsby, Dagenham etc…and thus these stupid, ignorant people cast their votes without this knowledge.

What a complete wanchor you are!

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

You need to read my comment again.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

No mate, I don’t.

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

No, it’s because they understood the impact of the Lisbon Treaty on Clacton better than anyone in Islington did

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian

Yes, Lisbon Treaty killed tourism.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

You may despise the opinions of the people of Blackpool and Clacton, and you are entitled to think them mistaken when they vote, but you’ve given me no reason to think they aren’t capable of making a better decision than you.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

I simply pointed out (read my comment again) that all the important issues that affect every day life are managed by UK GOV.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

The usual question – tell me then Andrews, which Brussels laws specifically do you object to? Which ones have so compromised your quality of life that you felt it was better to lose all the real economic benefits and personal freedoms that Eu membership gave?

paul19
paul19
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

You need to read the article and understand the argument (doesn’t mean you have to agree with it), understand EZ economics, OCA economics and why Target 2 is important, then come back with an actual intelligent question rather than repeating O’Brien level nonsense.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Wah wah wah…

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

…tumbleweed blows…crickets chirp….nigels wah wah…

Jonathan Marshall
Jonathan Marshall
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Why are you talking to yourself?

Bob Green
Bob Green
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

The unusual question then.
You tell us which laws passed by the unaccountable beaurocrates in Brussels have directly benefitted me and which personal freedoms I had in the EU that I didn’t have growing up in 1950’s Britain.
Leave aside the health and safety and human rights dross and come up with something we can all be personally grateful for.
There is nothing worth having from the EU which, had it been necessary, would not have been enacted by an independent UK government over the last 40 years, while the petty fogging detail of underworked clerks in Brussels could have been usefully ignored..
.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob Green

What’s wrong with health and safety and human rights? Why are they dross?
Regulations protect us all from those who are only interested in making money, and don’t care if it’s at the expense of others.

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

The human rights are dross because neither our parliament nor even the European Commision get to vote to change them. They are laws without voter oversight.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian

That is the whole point of human rights, no parliament can take them away from you.
Similar to the Bill of RIghts in USA.

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

You are referring to a different type of human right.

A right that prevents the state taking an action and one that forces the state to take an action are different beasts.
E.g. The right to bear arms.
In the bill of rights this means the US federal government may not take away your arms.
It does not mean the US federal government is forced by the US courts to provide free guns to any citizen who wants one.

The very broad rights adjudicated by the ECHR but with no political oversight are the second type of right. This essentially gives the judges in that court and all lower courts political power over anything their interpretation of the law can dream up.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob Green

If you tell me that human rights law is “dross” then I can tell that we’ll be speaking past each other from that outset. But assuming the question is genuine..
You are correct, much (I think most) of what emanates from Brussels is health +safety regulation. Food standards, babyseats etc. The kind of stuff that impacts your life in a small way hundreds of times a week (mainly for the better). No great shakes, says you, but also no big threat to your sovereignty.
More importantly what EU membership gives you (for one more month) is the free movement of goods, people and services.
You could choose to up sticks tomorrow and make a new life or retire to Italy, Germany or Sweden with nothing to stop you. Your kids and grandkids could study, train and work in any European city without permits, visas or limitation. Their qualifications don’t find them work in Slough? They have the option to try Stuttgart or Siena.
Most importantly the Eu is giving UK factories and businesses free access to a potential market of 300m people. I worked in freight and logistics many years ago and I helped prepare the kilo of paperwork that UK lorrydrivers needed for every innocuous load across Europe. If you dont think that the return of trade barriers, duties and customs to UK business will have a massively detrimental effect then you are deluded. Dreams of “1950s Britain” is exactly the nostalgic tosh that has landed the country with its worst economic decision for generations and now, with Covid, the timing couldn’t be worse.

Jonathan Marshall
Jonathan Marshall
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

“Dreams of “1950s Britain” as “nostalgic tosh” are part of the patronising garbage you Remainers projected on to the Leave voters. I have never met a single fellow Leaver who subscribed to these views, and if you read Mr Green’s post a little more closely you would see that he didn’t either – he just asked which personal freedoms he had in the EU that he didn’t have growing up in 1950’s Britain, which is a fair question and one which has nothing to do with nostalgia.

R Malarkey
R Malarkey
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Mostly the EU is a protectionist customs union, so those laws mainly drive up the price of goods for marginal benefit. And possibly if you happen to be a producer blessed with protected status, but you probably aren’t, you’re probably a consumer, and so got screwed.