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How can the UK polity pick up the pieces after Brexit? December 4, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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A thoughtful point was raised by Pat Leahy in the IT this last week where he considered the options facing the UK at this point including:

…the UK sliding chaotically towards a hard Brexit in March, unable to reach a consensus in government or parliament on how to stop it.
No sensible polity would do that to itself, you might say. But we can no longer rely on the UK to act according to the logic that seems apparent to everyone else. One example: there appears to be no end to the list of British institutions – the Foreign Office, the Treasury, the Bank of England – that hard Brexiteers such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and his comrades are willing to trash to attain their objective of “out and out now”. You could call this several things, but you couldn’t call it conservative.

True. But it raises a different issue entirely. Where does this leave the UK polity six, twelve, twenty four, seventy two months down the line? Because fundamental institutions, none of which by the way is beyond critique and criticism, have been fairly comprehensively trashed by a segment of the political elite there. And while that’s no doubt compelling tactical political warfare it does leave them deeply exposed further down the line. And those who might gain a measure of state power. Granted the ERG seems much less influential today than it did even a few months ago. Those with the initials JR-M and even BJ appear much further from power, though who can tell where the chips will fall.

But they have played with fire throughout. It’s not even that they are radical, it is that they are foolish and ignorant and unthinking. And their approach is one that one suspects can and will be turned against them.

As to the UK? Well Leahy notes:

The prospect of a full-on political and constitutional crisis in the UK is now very real. I never thought I would see anything like it.

It is bizarre to see a polity set itself on a course that even at its best is clearly going to impoverish and diminish itself.

All that said much of what we see is due to dynamics already long in play – a disinclination and disdain for the working class, centrifugal forces in relation to Scotland (and NI) that not even devolution could contain, an England unable to define Englishness in the context of Britain (not to mention the UK), a media that was deceitful to put it at its mildest, a political class all too ready to blame others including Brussels for its own inaction and neglect and so on. Without question Brexit has acted as an accelerating agent, but all the above existed prior to it. Would they have manifested in quite the same way absent Brexit. That’s a discussion for another day.

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1. An Sionnach Fionn - December 4, 2018

Pop off to YouTube, find an episode of the BBC’s Till Death Us Do Part from the late 1960s and early 1970s and the rancorous politics and commentary seems not entirely unfamiliar. And the issues are much the same: the Irish, the immigrants, the Europeans, the loss of empire, etc.

Alf Garnett’s dismissals of Ted Heath could work just as well for Theresa May, his praise of Enoch Powell could just as easily be substituted with the names of Rees-Mogg and Johnson.

Arguably, Brexit has been forty years in the making and that the original vote to join the Common Market was the fluke. Not the Brexit vote.

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WorldbyStorm - December 4, 2018

+1

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Polly. - December 5, 2018

I agree. It’s forty years in the making.

It’s not even about the EU, it’s about FPTP, and centralisation, and lazy dependence by politicians on easy tax sources in financial services, and the lazy assumption that social welfare payments are a complete substitute for education and jobs, and probably ten other things. It’s not surprising a lot of apparent institutions are now being pulled apart and pulled down This is the country that galvanised itself to topple monarchy a century before any other large European country.

I think it may be on its way to something better for itself, and good luck to it, but the thing to watch is the collateral damage to us.

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WorldbyStorm - December 5, 2018

That raises an interesting point – how come there’s no anti-monarchical sentiment in all this in the UK? Or to put it another way no pro-Republican sentiment. I wonder does that suggest the essentially conservative, in parts reactionary, aspect to the ‘changes’ sought?

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Polly. - December 5, 2018

Well that’s there too. The majority of the pulling-down forces are backward- looking; but the past is not going to solve the things that are wrong in UK democracy – and that’s why I think the pulling-down will go quite far but new people and new ideas will then come in to the vacuum.

At least, I hope so –

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2. CL - December 4, 2018

“”There’s the European Question obviously, which has re-opened Britain’s place in the world question, which we have been grappling since the Suez crisis in 1956. It has reposed the Irish question in a new form. It is posing again the very union of the UK question because if it goes wrong, if it is a tough Brexit, it could well fuel the separation pressures in Scotland and a Referendum in the 2020’s.

“It is stress-testing our model of political parties because left/right can’t handle it. It has also raised the ‘condition of Britain’ question because the referendum drew up in stark relief the difference in life and life chances across the kingdom.”-Peter Hennessy.
https://www.rte.ie/news/analysis-and-comment/2018/1202/1014570-brexit-theresa-may-northern-ireland/

“An article in Le Figaro by Adrien Jaulmes goes to the heart of what is happening, saying that “the UK has built its power on two principles: keep the British Isles united and the European continent divided. Today it is close to succeeding in doing the opposite.”
Jaulmes goes on to cite with approval Jo Johnson’s denunciation of the Brexit venture as a failure of British statecraft not seen since the Suez crisis in 1956. Unfortunately, it is a much more serious failure than Suez where the crisis was short in duration, underlining the self-evident fact that Britain could not launch wars opposed by nationalist forces against the wishes of the US.
the British differ from other Europeans in having a positive collective memory of the Second World War which is ceaselessly massaged by books and television. The past gains a golden glow, far from reality, which fuels a comfy belief that predictions of disaster are either exaggerated or a malign effort to generate fear and sabotage the whole glorious Brexit project. It is difficult to imagine a cast of mind more likely to produce frustration and failure.”-Patrick Cockburn.
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-second-world-war-malaya-campaign-churchill-a8661561.html

‘Great Britain has lost an empire and not yet found a role.’-Dean Acheson.
Being European didn’t work out, but a relationship of some kind with Europe will have to be negotiated over the next several years. Ireland will be collateral damage, and may even receive some of the blame for the ongoing debacle.

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3. benmadigan - December 4, 2018

here are the options – don’t include the latest Revoke opportunity!

https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2018/12/02/9-days-to-save-the-british-world/

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