During the run up to the Brexit referendum in the UK last year, I speculated and indeed hoped that Brexit might be the catalyst to begin a major shake-up in the political and economic scene here in Europe.
Of course this was the very reason why many Europhile “experts” advised the British people to vote “Remain”. To their credit, and my great surprise, the Brits voted in the majority to “Leave” the EU.
However, the sky did not fall on us and the sun rose the next day and everything seemed to carry on, much the same as it did before.
Then the US presidential elections came along. This seemed to carry far less impact for Europe, especially since Russia had already been forced out into the cold and Putin was well and truly demonised. We all expected Hillary Clinton to win the election which would have just perpetuated the political status quo in the world, certainly as far the USA was concerned.
Much to my and many others surprise, Donald Trump became President instead and suddenly the direction of the influence of the USA on world affairs became unclear.
One person who seems to me to have a good grasp of the reality of our current politics is Peter North. I have been following Pete’s blog for some while now and I always enjoy reading his articles. Pete has an amazing knack of ripping the real truth of an issue out into the open and explaining it in a few simple words. Not to mention his dry humour. You will always be entertained whilst being educated at the same time.
This past week, Pete has really been on an inspirational roll with one superb article following the next. I finally realised that he has painted a wonderful picture, so to speak, of where Brexits and Trumps are leading us to, and why. And I largely agree with his conclusions.
It is better that you visit his blog and read through all of the articles in their entirety. However here is a smorgasbord of extracts to illustrate what I have been saying.
The world we are living in through the eyes of Pete North:
…..It seems to me that our woes are snowballing and that Brexit might just be the thing that tips us over the edge. It doesn’t seem like it will take much. Given the government’s approach to Brexit, it will be more through luck than by judgement that we avoid a recession. I think when the shit does hit the fan, all of it will hit all at once.
I take the view that successive governments have failed to take the necessary radical action to revive UK dynamism and in part I think the EU has stood in the way of that kind of economic realignment. Too much policy is set in stone without the possibility of reform. That is why we are so vulnerable.
I am also a believer in the virtues of capitalism. Capitalism reinvents and replenishes by killing off zombie businesses and making room for new innovation. It runs like a forest fire, clearing away the deadwood so new growth can occur. In fear of the short term consequences, no government has been in any rush to let capitalism do its thing so we have been on a knife edge for some time, throwing everything including the kitchen sink at preserving the status quo. The status quo, it seems, has become too big to fail so we keep bailing it out.
Remainers would have it that the Brexit voting majority are slobbering simpletons who read a lie on the side of a bus and voted accordingly. This is a slander. What we see in the actual result is pretty much the whole country turning on London and demanding change. Some argue that Brexit is a little drastic but when you have places like Huddersfield and Newport which remain similarly depressed regardless of the economic weather, radical is perhaps what it takes.
Had we voted to remain in the EU, the referendum would now be a distant memory. Ukip would still be grunting away in the background and the same old issues would continue to fester. We would not though see any change of course. Our political class would have taken a remain vote as permission to resume business as usual. That is insufficient. For sure there are plenty of other things we could do to other than leave the EU, but the bottom line is that nothing was going to change unless we forced our political class to do something they don’t want to do.
And what choice did we have? A Labour party with nothing to offer but for the same old unfunded spending and a Tory party entirely bereft of any real ideas. The best we can expect from them is semi-competent managed decline. It may well be the case that the British public are more willing to look the facts in the face than the politicians.
We were told that the EU underpins our prosperity but that is a weak message for those in the north watching the vitality drain from their towns. With so little to lose, why not take a gamble on something radical? We know that there is short term chaos from Brexit and we know there is a price to pay but a reordering of the economy could well open up avenues nobody predicted. A healthy economy is one where money is on the move. Presently we are seeing stagnation with asset hoarding and very little dynamism. Brexit blows it all wide open.
In the meantime, as established systems and trade patterns break down it is more than likely we will see new movements in politics, sweeping away the incompetents who brought us to this pretty pass. There is no longer any place for the Labour party and the Tories are about to be exposed as monumentally inept. If Brexit clears out the rot in that regard then we really do have little to lose – and much to gain.
By now, if you’ve examined most of the popular reasons for leaving the EU you will have found they are a bit thin. This rampant global free trade agenda of Brexiteers increasingly looks like a delusion. As to deregulation… fuhgeddaboudit!
There is one reason though that seems not to be spoken which is “I just don’t want to be in the EU”. Of itself, superficially, it is a wholly irrational reason. It’s not even a reason. But for me, it very much is. The EU is all about the creation of a supreme government for Europe. I don’t think Europe needs one and if it does I do not want the UK to be a subordinate of it.
I could list a number of philosophical arguments as to why, but ultimately it comes down to whether a large construct like the EU can ever truly be a democracy. I do not believe it can – and I don’t think that is the direction of travel. But my reasoning is even more superficial than that. I’m British and I very much want to stay that way.
We are told that such irrationality is the basest of nationalist sentiment, but what it is, is identity politics. And what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. How many times have we seen tear soaked remainers blubbing to the camera that “My European identity is being taken away from me”. Course this is utter rubbish. Identity is entirely a construct of the mind and the EU, as much as it pretends to the contrary, is not Europe. It’s just a political construct. So why are their irrational identity proclamations more valid than my own?
Well, the answer is….they’re not. And so we have have a free and fair way of settling the argument. Referendums. We had one and it turns out that for whatever reason, the majority of the UK does not want the EU for a government. Cool beans.
…..I think we are suffering from a systemic decay because our political system is overwhelmed by a self-serving class of entitled incompetents and nothing short of a purge is going to fix it. To me it’s a wonder that anything still works at all. I think we achieve a base level of good governance because we have good legacy systems but on the whole our political class is incapable of responding and effecting successful change – and Brexit will show this dynamic in its full glory. With a system this broken, the only solution might very well be to knock it all down and start over.
As much as Brexit is about a democratic realignment the public have also voted for an economic reordering. A quick visit to Newport or Huddersfield shows you that some regions do not grow regardless of the economic weather and the status quo is not delivering for them. You can argue that Brexit won’t make it better, and may even make it worse, but in the end what the economy suffers from the most is the stagnation of the status quo and any movement is sure to bring out a new pattern of economic activity in which there will be winners as well as losers.
What we can say is that there will be change. It’s tempting to get bogged down in technical minutia, but we should not lose sight of the fact that Brexit is a deeply political, not economic movement. There are stresses and strains aggravated by Brexit but they were always there. Brexit is the process of settling some of these divisions.
…..What happens is likely what needs to happen. The economic disparity between the regions and London needs addressing. The Scottish question needs to be settled one way or another. We have to stop pretending there has been a peace process in Northern Ireland. We need a genuine rethink of our economy to meet the demands of the globalised economy and if that means letting go of some of the sticking plasters which have stood in the way of real reform, then so be it. It is a mistake to believe the EU status quo could linger on forever.
The EU has always overreached and its mandate was fragile. Even if the remain camp had won by 2% it would not be sufficient to settle the matter. The same stresses would still exist and would limp on unaddressed until there was a reckoning. It may be inconvenient and costly to have that reckoning now but it was coming anyway. Growth in the the City has been masking a zombie economy for some years now and though we have seen minor increments in GDP, for most of us it’s just numbers on a screen. It’s the finance tier that is immune to trickle down economics.
Twitter is in smugness overload this evening – with remainers gloating that they warned a second Scottish independence referendum was a consequence of Brexit – and we dismissed them as fearmongers. The truth of the matter is that we rather hoped it wouldn’t come to that but ultimately we didn’t care enough to be blackmailed. Even if Scotland becoming independent was a dead cert I would still have voted to leave the EU.
…..The point though is this. It is not Brexit that has brought about a second referendum. Or at least it isn’t Leave voters. Scottish independence had already jumped the shark but its corpse has been exhumed by the media and the remain inclined as a political device to make Brexit a pyrrhic victory. There is nothing they would like to see more. Such is their churlishness. Sturgeon is the ideal noisemaker to give the remain-o-sphere a launchpad for another attempt to delegitimise Brexit.
In that regard I am happy to call their bluff. If Scotland feels that trashing the Union is right for them then fine. Independence as a principle in its own right is a worthy enough reason and technical arguments aside, it’s the same reason I voted for Brexit.
What Scotland should know though is that if the economics do not stack up for Brexit – and they really don’t, then that goes double for Scotland. There are plenty of English who would be more than happy to cut off the umbilical and there are no Brussels bailouts to be had without a price. The EU is not going to tolerate a leftist tax and spend splurge and it will slap Scotland down in much the same way it did Greece. It will be a most hollow independence.
…..The short of it is though, Britain is leaving the EU. It was always going to leave. And Scotland’s attachment to the EU is only as strong as its usefulness as a stick with which to beat England. That fever will pass. Eventually.
Scotland may piss and whine about it but culturally and economically, independent or not, it is always going to be tied to England. The sheer force of human behaviour will undermine any barriers the EU erects. That’s because there is a real and lasting bond that transcends the EU and the SNP. Whatever barriers go up will only last as long as the EU – which isn’t for that much longer. So it’s time to let Scotland run its own experiment in democracy. We can ride it out.
Ultimately European Union is a falsehood. It is a narcissistic delusion. There is nothing about it that compares with the Union of the United Kingdom and though ossified structures may melt away into history, we will remain as one – because we are one. Scotland will find that divergence is little more than a bagpipe dream and that our fates are linked – economically, socially, technically, geographically. It will remain so long after the EU has crumbled to dust. The EU has failure in its DNA.
I’m not exactly sure what game Donald Trump is playing. What I can see happening on the present trajectory is NATO becoming a redundant shell and little more than a flag of convenience for joint UK/US operations. Keeping Europe on the fringes will likely lead to ramped up efforts toward greater European defence cooperation.
NATO is pretty much a cold war relic and like the EU is part of the post-war peace architecture. The NATO aspect though is the framework for the US military empire. It is key to US defence exports. If the US is rowing back from NATO then it is pretty much ending its military dominion over Europe – with the exception of the UK.
…..In terms of the much vaunted “European army” we are already seeing acceleration toward that end now that the British question has been resolved. How far it can go is all really dependent on how much EU citizens are willing to tolerate further erosion of their defence sovereignty.
This is actually why Brexit is brilliant. Britain can participate in joint EU military efforts but will always remain detached as a non-member. It keeps doors open to Norway and close Commonwealth naval allies.
As far as trade goes the Commonwealth is dead but in terms of military ties, Canada, New Zealand and Australia remain key allies and Brexit ensures that they will not be frozen out. Through the UK’s carriers are largely useless they are prestigious defence assets and will buy us considerable EU cooperation. Politicians and generals like big shiny toys.
In effect we have stopped the creation of a European military superpower and the EU is now the junior partner in a Western alliance. This is why UK defence spending is more crucial now than ever.
If you’re a peacenik, you may not see the point of all this but ultimately this is about power and empires. It always has been. The EU has always had ambitions of being a superpower and we’ve just killed that dream.
…..Thanks to Brexit, EU defence cooperation will remain a disjointed and unpopular platform struggling for relevance. It survives only as long as the political elites driving the EU – which is not for much longer by the looks of it.
As to NATO, it will probably linger on in a semi-dormant state for as long as Trump is president. Trump though, will eventually be gone. What the world looks like then is really all dependent on his successor.
…..I for one could not be more delighted. For all that cretinous bilge from remainers about us Brexiteers “stealing my European identity”, I say bollocks. You have no European identity. It is a figment of your imagination. You weren’t watching a French cop show on Netflix last night were you? You didn’t go and see a Spanish superhero film at the cinema last week. You know more about US politics than you do about the EU. Culturally, militarily and politically we are Anglospheric. That is a fact.
For all that we have seen remainers amphibious with grief, I say go and look at the traffic jams and the behaviour of drivers in Rome or go and watch the Spanish torture a bull to death and tell me that your culture is in any way reflected in Europeans. That’s when I tell you to fuck right off.
If I have to pick an empire to be allied with, I choose the USA every single time. The land of The Wire, South Park, Rick and Morty, the First Amendment. The country that never needed any persuading that Communism is the manifestation of evil on earth.
Say what you like about Donald Trump, but Donald Trump is not America. Trump is for four years or so. Moreover, Trump is a good sign. Yes, he’s a brash, oafish wrecker but he was elected on the back of a total rejection of American leftism. That which has aggressively moved to bury all moral norms and free speech along with it.
This is why Trump is weakening relations with the EU. Ultimately the diseased politically correct establishment in the USA is the consequence of a detached and corrupt liberal elite. In that respect the USA is in a more advanced state of decay than the EU – but we should view it as a warning. The soft left political consensus of the EU, with its deeply ingrained NGOcracy is that same disease. Brexit is not Trump. Brexit means we avert having one of our own.
…..In that respect, we are “taking back control”. We are snatching Britain back from Euro cultural oblivion. The all pervasive creeping erosion of our institutions has already left us weak and vulnerable. You can see it in how Brexit is being handled – by a crop of criminally incompetent and stupid politicians lacking any guile or wit. This is what happens when national governments atrophy. Sooner or later that starts to manifest in more noticeable ways where we cannot respond to existential threats with any moral certitude. Which is exactly what the self-hating left has always wanted.
To that end, it is no surprise that the fightback has started in the USA. We may not like the messenger, but we are seeing a return to that conservative order – the one that defeated fascism and communism and brought about great leaders like Thatcher and Reagan. For all their many faults, they were staunch defenders of liberty and ensured we had the means and the will to fight our enemies.
Right now the focus is on Russia. The EU is pushing Russia away and half of the eastern bloc with it. I can see Poland eventually leaving the EU. We have made an enemy out of a potential ally in a future conflict. If you pay any attention to trade at all you will see that China has been waging an economic war on the west for more than a decade.
China is undermining Western power overseas and weakening our economic power. There is nothing in the EU arsenal to counter this not least because there isn’t even a recognition of what is happening. Trump may not have the right strategy but he at least sees that there is a threat. If the fightback has started, I am glad that, once again, Britain stands with America.
…..There’s two points I would make here. Firstly we don’t know exactly what Brexit looks like. It might well be that for many businesses, the trading environment does not change.
Secondly, I’m not bothered. Right now, the only thing propping up the economies of the regions is massive state spending. Hinkley Point, Trident, HS2 consultancy, the QE carriers, F35 etc.
When we are told that European firms are investing in the UK we have to ask what they mean by investing. What it tends to mean is buying failing shell companies just to make use of their established infrastructure such as a UK headquarters then bidding for OJEU contracts. They won’t bring any expertise of their own. They will hire engineers and managers on a zero hours basis and cream off a cut for themselves. They are shell companies that add no value – and many of them are subsidiaries. I’ve worked for three of them in recent times.
…..Brexit shatters these economic norms. In fact, if the Tories do make a pigs ear of the Brexit process then in all likelihood we won’t be able to borrow and spend our way out of this as our credit rating will be shot to pieces. Again, my give-a-fuck-o-meter needle is barely moving.
As it happens, Brexit is going to cause quite a lot of economic realignment and abandonment of long standing policies. And that’s the whole point of it. And will we be substantially less well off for it? For the time being, yes. It will be made even worse by the Tories who have no idea what they are doing. But then that’s what you get for handing over governance to Brussels for forty years.
I’ve been noticing quite a lot recently that the UK economy is a ponzi scheme and ever since the 2008 crash we have been operating on cartoon physics. We don’t fall until we look down. Brexit bursts that bubble.
…..China is waging an economic war on the West and the Chinese don’t give a shit that we’re doing less and producing less. It will only take a generation or two to rob the West of its financial hubs and then we are left with nothing. All the while, as we become dumber and less capable we see a gradual bleed of vitality. We will lack the ability to bring about any kind of economic restoration.
Further to this, Brexit has not caused any new divisions in the UK. It has only revealed them. There is a massive economic and social disparity between London and the regions and that cannot continue. It is that more than anything that is breaking the Union. Anything Scotland can say can also be said by Yorkshire – only Yorkshire doesn’t have a clan of knuckle scraping nationalist gobshites to make noise in Westminster.
What we need is an economic forest fire to allow light to fall on the green shoots. This economic era is one belonging to the previous century and we need to remodel it to cope with the globalised Internet world.
The remainers would rather duck this question. It’s expensive, it’s time consuming, it’s a hassle and yes, it’s quite a bit scary. Nobody my age or younger has ever experienced political upheaval of this magnitude. We are presently in a phoney war where nobody quite understands just how profound Brexit is and just what will happen when it hits. There will be economic casualties. Our habits will change and so will attitudes. We’re going to be correcting a few mistakes and making a few new ones.
There is no real certainty to be had save for one. Things are changing. And that’s good because they need to change. This unreality bubble of bogus prosperity has to be popped. If we don’t do it then we will hand this poisoned chalice to the next generation and leave a bigger mess for them to sort out.
So no, I don’t care about foreign investment. I don’t care to maintain the status quo nor do I wish for my generation to preside over the stagnation and cultural decay caused by political inertia. Just look at Westminster. That’s all the proof you need that we cannot go on like this.”
Brilliant, Pete, simply brilliant.