Saturday, 25 June 2016

Leaving do

The British people have voted by a narrow margin (four per cent) to leave the European Union, on the grounds that it's a millstone round our neck, it's dragging us down, it's burying us in red tape, and so on. Now we're about to be free of this ghastly institution, things can only get better and better. All our troubles will be over. Or so it's fondly believed.

But the opt-outers have been sold a pup. They've been conned. They've been taken for a ride. Ambitious politicians who want to make a name for themselves and climb the greasy political pole have spun a load of fibs.

They've painted an entirely false picture of the EU. That it's the cause of all our ills, that it tells us what to do, that it snares us in pointless regulations. And in particular that the large number of immigrants it sends our way are responsible for just about every pressing problem from unemployment to homelessness, the beleaguered NHS and high welfare bills.

Never mind that it's all untrue. Never mind that those familiar problems actually have a whole host of causes, mostly unconnected with the EU, like government spending cuts, a shortage of doctors, and not enough house-building. No no, they're all the fault of the horrid EU and we have to leave it fast or sink into a lethal quagmire.

What the EU really does has been deliberately suppressed. That it outlaws prejudice and discrimination. That it protects the environment. That it defends and improves workers' pay and conditions. That it strengthens our legal rights. And much more.

But all this has been thrown out of the window in favour of relying on our own government. A government that believes in austerity, spending cuts, selling off our public services, keeping wages down, and generally making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

If people really think they'll be better off under our homegrown politicians, with their contempt for ordinary folk, they are surely sadly mistaken. As the months and years go by, and nothing much changes, they will realise just what a massive trick has been played on them. And their fury will be horrible to witness.


  1. and when their fury arrives, who will they turn it against?

  2. I'm just sorry that the Brits have been betrayed by corrupted politicians , telling them that they will feel better and decide for their own when leaving the EU. Are all the Brexit voters brainless ? I just wonder...who can believe to live isolated on an island , dealing with foreign countries under self chosen decisions.I read some comments of Brexit leave voters saying that Merkel accomplished where Hitler failed. I am ashamed for those persons.My British friends overhere are really shocked.
    Mia More

  3. Kylie: Indeed. If they can no longer blame the EU, who will be the new scapegoat? The government? The Border Agency? Their local council? The Romanian family next door?

    Mia: I'm as baffled as you are. Did all those Leave voters seriously think they would be better off in splendid isolation from the rest of Europe? The Remain side just never stressed the benefits of EU membership clearly enough or strongly enough. Their campaign was half-hearted and listless from start to finish.

  4. Good balanced account, Nick. I wrote my own blog post Friday lunchtime when my tears started drying up. Wonder why no one has commented yet.

    You know what takes the biscuit apart from all the others? A fair number of those voting out doing so in the full expectation that remain would win. How crazy is that, Nick? Literally gambling with a nation's future for a joke. The brother of an acquaintance of mine actually voted "out" yet put a large bet (several thousand pounds) on Britain remaining in the EU. Bet, he was crying on Friday morning too - if for different reasons to mine.

    Even Johnson looked pretty shell shocked. Cameron must be kicking himself from here to Calcutta how massively he miscalculated the outcome. And Farage? I am not violent, it's not in my nature but you know what Farage and Trump have in common? When I see them (particularl) when the smile their smirky smiles I could punch them in the face. Yes, I know it's not ladylike but there you go.

    And, as you say, the blame game will go and on and on. Which reminds me, just before I read your post, I came away from another blogger. He is British but has lived in France since the early Seventies. His account couldn't be more different to yours as he appears to blame most if not all of British ills on Brussels. Otherwise he seems quite intelligent.


  5. Ursula: It's alarming how many people voted Leave just for the hell of it, or because of some quirky impulse, with little knowledge of what their choice would actually result in. Now they've seen all the instant dithering and backtracking by the Leave politicians, I guess a large number of them are already having doubts about their vote.

    Yes, I thought Boris was unusually subdued as well. He's suddenly seen the reality of having to take part in at least two years of tedious and controversial negotiations to leave the EU, while the Leave voters get more and more impatient and fractious.

    If your blogmate has lived in France for 40-odd years, he probably has little ideas of the complex causes of Britain's current problems, and is easily swayed by the simplistic nonsense spouted by the Leave brigade.

    1. The guy living in France since the seventies is Mister know all always having HIS WONDERFUL OPINIONS, right winged as right winged you can be . When I commented on his blog asking why he lives in France for more than 40 years in a nice home with Swimmingpool etc. He kicked me out. I think Ursula shared the same problem .
      Mia More

  6. Now the punishment begins.

  7. Hattie: Punishment from all sides. From a government that will become more repressive once the EU is no longer restraining it. From the EU, which will remove all EU funding as soon as possible. From employers who will now have a free rein to reduce wages and working conditions. What a dismal prospect to look forward to.

  8. There's little I can add, except the glimmer of enough remorse for Parliament to actually not push the button.

  9. Mia: I would have thought anyone who had lived in France for 40 years would be hesitant to give any opinion at all about a country he hasn't lived in for so long and whose culture he will be totally out of touch with. Likewise I would never presume to give an opinion about France or Germany as their culture is a mystery to me.

    Joanne: There is so much opposition to the referendum result from the defeated 48% that I think the government is discreetly looking for a way to ignore it.

  10. the root of all evil...
    self serving politicians.
    i'm sorry to know that my beloved UK is full of them as well.
    though not in the same vein as leaving or staying...
    it makes me think of our own utterly useless and ridiculous "leaders" who recently sat down in the floor... fighting with the ones who wanted to take their normal vacation break...
    before deciding on banning assault weapons and gun legislation. losers. all of them.
    no wait. the REAL losers are we the people.

  11. Tammy: I rather applaud the Democrats' protest in the House of Representatives, as attempts to tighten gun control by normal methods have got nowhere. And tighter controls are certainly necessary judging by the daily carnage all over the States. I was especially horrified by the massacre at the Pulse Nightclub.

    By the way, I visited the House of Representatives last year when I was in Washington DC. Not quite as impressive as I imagined!

  12. One of the reasons we moved to Costa Rica - apart from the immediate impulsion of medical malpractice in France - was the worry about where the EU was going.
    A free trade area was one thing; but the idea that the EU would form a counter block to the U.S. hegemony had clearly gone by the board. Later events have borne out our fears...who in their right mind would start tweaking Putin's tail as the EU have in the Ukraine?
    I quite agree - the current brand of U.K. politicians are beneath contempt - but at least people can get rid of them if they can move from protest into action: the EU you are stuck with.
    I was visiting mother in England just before the referendum and people were talking about the way in which they would vote: for the family where there is no way in which their kids can take on the debt of university education the EU has done nothing for them...nor for those who seek a properly paid full time job with pension. Yes, capitalism...but the EU has done nothing to restrain it in the U.K.

  13. The New York Times has an interesting article about populist anger on both sides of the Atlantic. Among other things it says,

    Donald Tusk, one of the European Union’s top leaders, has started to talk about the risks facing the political establishment. At a speech last month before Europe’s coalition of center-right political parties, Mr. Tusk cautioned his fellow political elites.

    “Obsessed with the idea of instant and total integration, we failed to notice that ordinary people, the citizens of Europe, do not share our euro-enthusiasm,” said Mr. Tusk, the president of the European Council, which comprises the heads of state of all the 28 member states in the bloc. “Disillusioned with great visions of the future, they demand that we cope with the present reality better than we have been doing until now.”

  14. Helen: Unfortunately the Conservative government was voted back into power at the last general election, despite its glaring failure to help all those struggling with the sort of problems you mention. And yes, the EU hasn't provided much help either. There hasn't been the huge revolt against austerity that other countries have seen.

  15. Jean: He's right. The EU have done a lot for ordinary people, but they've had little effect on basic problems like unemployment, unaffordable housing etc. But all the Leave voters who think quitting the EU will magically solve those problems are chasing pie in the sky. And what benefits they do get from the EU will suddenly disappear.

  16. I can't help wondering what Mrs. Farage's thoughts are on all this .
    Mine are unprintable ...

  17. Smitonius: We don't hear much from her, do we? She's probably as confused as the rest of us about what the hell happens next, as the Leavers seem not to have done any detailed planning for a Leave vote. She probably just thinks "Oh God, he'll still be gallivanting around and me and the kids will never see him."

  18. According to this Washington Post article, we ain't seen nothing yet.

  19. Do you think it's similar to what's going on in the States, where people are tired of the 'establishment'?

  20. Thanks for the link, Jean. I'll have a proper look at it later on.

    Bijoux: Absolutely. People are pissed off with remote, elitist, self-serving politicians, but instead of trying to change them for the better, they reject them all in favour of some eccentric, unpredictable, half-baked outsider like Donald Trump or Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage. The future looks pretty scary when people like that are taken seriously.

  21. I was listening to a clip of Farage mocking the EU parliament and thought how much like Trump he sounds. They are both tapping into anger and the misplaced nostalgia for a time of isolationist perfection that never really existed. It saddens and scares me.

    Incidentally, I think the Democrats who held a sit-in are on the right track. It wasn't about keeping poor Republicans from vacationing - the House and Senate are scheduled for more days off than ever before this year - but about attempting to force the issue of the gun crisis in this country.

  22. Agent: It's a rich irony that Farage endlessly mocks and derides the EU, but he's been an MEP for 17 years, happily picking up a fat salary and expenses.

    I agree the Democrats were right to have a sit-in in the House of Representatives. Since the Republicans resist any tighter gun control, while there are tragic shootings virtually every day, what other action is left to them?

  23. Embarrassed to be British after watching Nigel Farage speak in the European Parliament this morning.

  24. Scarlet: I know. Apart from all the pompous bluster, suggesting no other MEP has had a proper job is absurd. And how about him? Is stockbroking a proper job or just a money-shuffling racket?

  25. just now getting back here.
    no A/C in my apt for a few days.
    I too applaud the dems for their sit in nick.
    but ... it was pointless really.
    too little too late.
    this country is so gun crazy that it will NEVER find a solution.
    and the NRA lovers are solid.
    the whole mess is kind of like your leave voters chasing pie in the sky as you put it.
    i'm trying to look at the whole world now as a detached sociologist!
    better for my blood pressure!

  26. Tammy: Yes, looking at everything as a detached sociologist is probably the best course to take. UK and US politics is getting so fraught that getting too involved is guaranteed to raise our blood pressure! Parliament has the final say over the referendum result and who knows, they may eventually decide leaving the EU would just be too damaging to put into effect.

  27. I was in a state of total shock when I found out. I don't even remember quite what I did. And I felt quite odd for a couple of days afterwards every time I thought of the enormity of it. And towering rage at these awful people who conned the baffled and elderly with cruel promises they couldn't fulfil. And now, they'll be rewarded with top political jobs.
    Words fail me, really. I have tried to laugh about it but my God....

  28. And as far as Nigel Farage is concerned, he is just a troll who loves to be the centre of attention. The more outraged, the more delighted, like an unpleasant ten year old. The people I can't forgive are the intelligent ones, Gove and Johnson, who were nakedly cynical. I really do feel they should be brought to account, they have made us the laughing stock of the world and done so much damage not only to the Brits but to our neighbours as well. Makes me wish that mob rule wasn't so politically uncorrect.

  29. Jenny: Absolutely, promises they can't fulfill. A lot of Leave voters are already feeling grotesquely cheated as it emerges that promise after promise is either complete bollocks or very unlikely to be honoured. Well, good luck to them in what are going to be horribly complicated and frustrating negotiations. That is, if parliament hasn't put a stop to the whole crazy adventure first.

    Farage is making a prize fool of himself. He can't take part in the actual negotiations, so instead he's flouncing about, abusing everyone - almost like a bad loser than a delighted winner.

    I think the referendum was a kind of mob rule, which the Leave mob happened to win. But parliament has the power to reject the verdict if they think that's appropriate.

  30. I believe as I see catastrophe after catastrophe unfold, not least Brexit, followed by Drumpf, followed by tar sands, et al, that we truly are ringing a death knell. I can't see any kind of recovery to stability. Can you? Our pols are puppets only. Our climate is in a death spiral. I kind of envy people who pray to their ghost in the sky and believe in a golden afterlife.


  31. www: There are certainly a lot of very negative and destructive things going on right now. As far as the UK goes, my immediate hopes are that the government finds a way of blocking the referendum result and the Labour Party gets a new leader who can provide an effective opposition and win back all those lost Labour votes.