British ‘democracy’ in action

What will Brexit mean, both short and long-term?  Could it lead to more countries’ rank and file voters deciding to take back control from the elitists who denigrate the hoi polloi?  Or will the elitist establishment continue trampling on democracy?

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Britain’s Brexit and the accelerating death of democracy

Britains Brexit and the accelerating death of democracy  By Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 1 June 2019

Is Boris Johnson today’s Winston Churchill? Or will he, like Mahatma Gandhi, go to jail for saying what he believes to be true?

That questions as outlandish as this can be asked realistically shows you just how astonishing, and even dangerous, British politics has lately become. Brexit can titillate people with its endless drama and farce, it can bore people with its impenetrable Euro-waffle Brussels-speak and institutional complexity. It can inflame people with passions of patriotism or international liberalism. It can be a Rorschach test on which everyone can project their worst and best fantasies.

But make no mistake. Our beloved friend, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is enduring its worst political crisis since the beginning of World War II. And it is stoking political divisions that seem to deepen and become more poisonous every day and that have no apparent means of resolution.

The next chapter is the leadership campaign within the Conservative Party. Boris Johnson is the frontrunner, ahead by a mile, a dangerous place for any politician to be at this stage of the race.

The forces aligned against Johnson are what you might call meta-democratic; that is, beyond democracy. For this week, in a stupefying first, a British court deemed that a private prosecution should go ahead against Johnson for the way he campaigned for Brexit.

The idea that the courts, rather than the democratic electorate, should determine what politicians say is a grievous assault on liberal democracy. During the Brexit campaign, Johnson was often seen in a bus that carried the slogan that the EU cost Britain £350 million a week. Needless to say, this is a controversial figure. The EU certainly costs Britain an enormous sum of money. Otherwise the EU wouldn’t want Britain to pay nearly £40 billion ($73bn) as a divorce settlement, money the EU claims Britain should pay to acquit the obligations it undertakes as a routine part of its EU membership.

However, depending on how you factor in the EU rebate for Britain and a multitude of other considerations, the £350m figure is legitimately controversial. It is not as if nobody attacked it during the campaign. Both the mainstream parties, Conservative and Labour, campaigned for Remain, as did most minor parties such as the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, the Scottish and Welsh nationalists and so on. Almost all of the mainstream media, and all but a vanishingly small portion of academe, were overwhelmingly pro-Remain and the Brexit campaign was excoriated and lampooned at every point.

At the end of all that, in the biggest vote in Britain’s history, 52 per cent voted to leave anyway. A huge part of the crisis in British democracy today is that the British establishment has never accepted the legitimacy of that vote.

Because they don’t agree with the outcome of that vote, they have tried to make it appear illegitimate. Brexit, the UnCivil War, a movie with Benedict Cumberbatch, is a classic of establishment propaganda. In one scene the heroic leader of the Remain campaign is screaming at the BBC that they should not be even-handed because the pro-Brexit campaign is putting up fools and charlatans to debate his people who are economics Nobel prize-winners.

The movie does not include the inconvenient truth that all, every single one, of the economic predictions the Remain campaign made about what would happen if Britain voted to leave was proven wrong. The Remain campaign stated as fact, not just a wild guess, that there would be an immediate recession and the necessity for a harsh austerity budget should Britain vote Leave.

None of this happened. But the liberal urban elite in most Western societies is so profoundly convinced that it represents the truth at some deep level that mere facts cannot get in the way. Yet no Remain campaigner has been taken to the courts for their outrageous misrepresentations during the campaign. These campaigners included the then prime minister, David Cameron, and the then chancellor of the exchequer, ­George Osborne. They were speaking, they said, on the basis of civil service advice. Thus they were surely public officials speaking recklessly, the very charge brought against Johnson.

Johnson was mayor of London at the time of the Brexit campaign so the charge against him is that he behaved recklessly as a public official. The British legal system has traditionally been the finest in the world, its judges incorruptible and a model of disinterested legal deliberation. That is partly why this Johnson case is so shocking.

The definition of a modern liberal, it has been widely said, is a person who will fight to the death for your right to agree with them. Western liberalism has been in the process of going mad these recent years. It has become coercive and undemocratic and, in the process, illiberal. Imagine if Bill Shorten faced criminal charges because the Labor campaign in 2016 suggested the Liberals might tamper with Medicare, or if Scott Morrison faced jail because the Liberal campaign this time around suggested Labor was considering a death tax.

Britain is tearing itself apart over Brexit, and it is starting to tear its democracy apart. A source close to Johnson was widely quoted in the British press as saying: “This is nothing less than a politically motivated attempt to reverse Brexit and crush the will of the people. The claimant has openly admitted that his plan is to overturn the referendum via a legal challenge and he clearly intends to try and undermine the one man who can truly deliver Brexit.”

All the nations of the West are undergoing different versions of the same crisis and there are trends, pathologies, that seem to afflict every patient. One of the most noxious in the West is the powerful tendency to criminalise politics, to make dissent from illiberal liberalism a criminal offence.

The mechanics of Britain’s crisis are complex and the establishment resistance to Brexit will play out in a series of moves during the coming weeks. The Conservative Party will start holding votes on June 10 to determine the final two leadership contenders. At each vote, the least supported contender in the field will drop out until there are only two left.

These two will then have a period of some weeks to go before the 160,000 rank-and-file members of the Conservative Party around Britain choose the new prime minister in a postal ballot. Many in the party think this cumbersome process is an agonising and unaffordable delay in a crisis moment. Others note the bitter consequence of the uncontested coronation of Theresa May as leader after Cameron quit when Brexit won the referendum.

It has been well argued that May is the worst British prime minister since Lord North in the 18th century. Lord North lost the American colonies, the most valuable possession the British Empire ever had.

May, with her worst of all worlds surrender agreement so often rejected by the House of Commons, wanted to make Britain effectively a colony of Europe. Nobody could describe any aspect of her prime ministership as successful. She had been a determined but quiet home secretary and people mistook that for strength. But her complete inability to connect with voters, form effective alliances, lead a team or handle herself in debate may well have become evident if she had faced a proper leadership battle. Instead, Michael Gove, who had been Johnson’s campaign manager, decided Johnson was no good and that he wanted to run for the leadership himself. In the process Gove discredited Johnson for the moment but also hurt himself. Everyone pulled out so that May could enjoy a coronation. That was an unmitigated disaster.

This time, the reverse seems to be happening. At the time of writing there were 12 declared Conservative leadership candidates. They are: Johnson, Gove, Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom, James Cleverly, Esther McVey, Kit Malthouse, Rory Stewart and Mark Halperin.

Most Brits would struggle to recognise half of them. Some have been senior ministers, some not. Indeed, it’s a piquant point that two recent successful prime ministers, Tony Blair and Cameron, came to the position with no ministerial experience, whereas two of the most unsuccessful, with two of the shortest tenures in the 20th century, Gordon Brown and May, had extensive ministerial experience. The prime ministership is not about a CV. It’s about the ability to lead, to take hard decisions, to build alliances, to keep your nerve and to connect somehow with the community you lead.

Brexit is the problem from hell partly because there is no middle road compromise that is possible. The choice is stark: Britain either leaves the EU with no deal, which means trading on World Trade Organisation principles, or it stays in the EU. The compromise May tried to craft is a nightmare. It seeks to satisfy the democratic needs of fulfilling the result of the referendum, while not actually taking any serious action to move beyond the EU’s control.

It is rightly labelled BRINO — Brexit In Name Only. Because Britain would have no legal means of leaving the backstop, in which it obeys almost all EU rules, without EU consent. Britain would be in a much weaker position than as a member of the EU.

Former Conservative minister Leadsom, when she resigned from the cabinet a week or two ago, said that under May’s deal Britain would cease to be a sovereign nation. It would lose the basic mechanism of democracy because all the rules it lived under would be made in Brussels.

Part of May’s bitter legacy is a much more polarised Britain. In this, it resembles Europe. The big outcome of the European elections was the decline of the centre left and centre right, and the rise of the Greens on the left and the nationalist populists on the right.

Most of the Conservative leadership candidates, especially Johnson, Rabb, McVey and Leadsom, say they would embrace a no-deal Brexit if necessary. All say they would renegotiate with the EU and get a better deal. Most say Britain must leave the EU by the new deadline of October 31.

There is no indication that the EU would renegotiate May’s deal. That means the new Conservative PM would have to pursue a no-deal Brexit. But the Conservative majority, in alliance with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, has only a thin majority. Enough Conservatives are determined to avoid a no-deal Brexit that they might even cross the floor and vote no confidence in their own government rather than let no deal proceed.

This would force an election. So in reality the two most likely outcomes, whoever becomes PM, will be a new referendum or a general election. The Conservatives, who would have to campaign for a hard Brexit, could lose massive votes to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party on the right and to the Liberal Democrats on the left. Jeremy Corbyn could becomePM.

Although Conservatives hate the idea of a second referendum, there are two reasons they might implement it. One, they could stay in government while it was held. And two, they could ensure a fair question was put, between a no-deal Brexit and staying in the EU (as opposed to a May-like deal or staying in the EU, a question the British establishment could use to thwart Brexit). This may be the only way to gain legitimacy for the tough decision ahead. Both sides have convinced themselves the opposing view is illegitimate and the prospect of this polarisation going on and on and on is real.

Johnson is the only contender who is a certified Big Beast, whose campaigning and personality could possibly change the situation. It would be absurd to equate Johnson at this stage with Churchill. However, like Churchill before he became prime minister, he has enormous and obvious faults. But he still may be the best chance Britain has in a time of unique national peril.

GREG SHERIDAN

FOREIGN EDITOR

Greg Sheridan, The Australian’s foreign editor, is one of the nation’s most influential national security commentators, who is active across television and radio and also writes extensively on culture.

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EU Making Brexit So Torturous So No Country Ever Dares Leave EU Again

EU Making Brexit So Torturous So No Country Ever Dares Leave EU Again  By Amalric de Droevig, 21 May 2019

If EU bureaucrats were bargaining in good faith and genuinely interested in striking a deal, there would be one already

I have long observed the Brexit debacle in bewilderment. Why has it been so hard for Britain to leave the EU? Why do the talks seem so complex and obscure? Of course, we can not discount the role of the British ruling class in holding up the process. The business community in the UK has never wanted the country to exit the EU. Along with its allies in the lying press, it has pulled out all the stops to prevent Brexit from ever actually transpiring. UK elites believe it their moral obligation to ensure the rubes and the bigots and the racists don’t win in the end. Western power players are seriously warped people, people who believe that democracy means voting how they tell you to vote.

If one reads the Wikipedia article on Brexit, it reads as a pure propaganda piece against Brexit. It is so one-sided and extreme it almost strains credulity. It is equally hard to believe this site has the chutzpah to call itself an encyclopedia. You would finish reading the article believing that Britain’s economy will collapse like a house of cards the moment it actually exits the EU. You would think the British economy wasn’t the most powerful and prosperous economy in the world long before the EU was even conceived of as a concept. At long last anyhow, I have come to conclude that the primary reason Brexit has not materialized, the primary reason that the process has been so long and arduous and fruitless, is because that is precisely how EU bureaucrats want it to be.

Aspiring totalitarian EU bureaucrats don’t just want to punish Britain for leaving the EU, they want to make the process so complicated and torturous that no other European nation will ever even contemplate leaving the EU again. The EU is a fundamentally anti-democratic institution after all, and always has been. It is the Stephen Moore of political unions. The EU is about money and capitalism and greed and always has been, the people and their consent be damned.

British politics are today in disarray (Theresa May will soon be gone) because the British people once childishly imagined their EU pals were really pals. They weren’t. Their EU pals were in it for themselves all along. That always meant that any divorce would be an acrimonious and uncooperative process. The British people should have been prepared to play hardball. They should have been ready to shut the borders down, to shock their own economy for the sake of negotiating leverage, etc. Instead, they imagined they would just prance out of the EU with smiles on their faces and daisies in their hair. Did they really think EU[SSR] bankster sociopaths like Guy Verhofstadt and Donald Tusk were going to make it that easy?

Your typical EU banker: Guy Verhofstadt

Since the Brexit victory–a glorious victory, mind you, for ordinary Brits over their extractive, semi-tyrannical, anti-white overlords–the EU has outwitted the British Government every step of the way. They understand that the UK Government is basically a Cultural Marxist puppet government controlled by banksters and oligarchs. EU negotiators have always had the UK’s number because they know precisely what the UK is trying to avoid at all costs, namely any economic pain at all.

The truth is, you can’t reason with oligarch-puppets, which is why EU oligarch-puppets have never tried to to reason with UK oligarch-puppets. You must hit oligarchs and corporations in their purses to change the conduct and negotiating positions of their puppets, which is why the EU has held economic pain over Britain’s head from day one. Money is the only language these people speak. The UK is trying to negotiate from the standpoint of principles and fear with people who don’t care about principles and who are masters at exploiting fear for their own gain.

That negotiating posture is one of unbelievable weakness. The UK has been willing to concede anything to avoid a painstaking and unpleasant Brexit. This is sheer folly. It is basically a game of chicken, and Theresa May is the ultimate chicken. She is so busy clucking and twitching and shaking that I have had the compulsion on more than one occasion to reach through the TV to start plucking the gray hairs out of her witchy head.

Moreover, Brexit was never going to be pain-free. EU bureaucrats were always going to make sure of that, and any major economic restructuring is guaranteed to be difficult and unpleasant. Change is painful, for both individuals and economies.

The first negotiating guidelines drafted by EU[SSR] apparatchik Donald Tusk included a “divorce fee” of $90 billion to be paid by the UK to EU member states upon exiting the EU. The first negotiation between the UK and the EU in 2017 involved Theresa May making numerous concessions to the EU, including very generous residency allowances, but the EU rejected them. The EU’s position on migrants and residency is basically the Democrat position on immigration here in the US, namely that any concession is worse than the default arrangement (that is, what happens if nothing is agreed to). So long as Brexit is drawn out and unrealized, EU courts continue to have jurisdiction in the UK regarding the rights of EU citizens living there, so why change or concede anything?

President of the European Council Donald Tusk, formerly Prime Minister of Poland

Not even a week after the Brexit referendum was held, Mama Merkel herself stated that the UK could only remain in the single market (a free trade union), if the free movement of people was also guaranteed. In other words, if you want free trade, you’re going to have to accept untold hordes of rapefugees with it. Is being ethnically cleansed from your homeland really worth a few extra shekels? I bet the children in Rotherhamcelebrated wildly in the streets after hearing Merkel’s proclamation. And by the way, what is Mama Merkel the mother of exactly? A human trafficking syndicate? Shades of Mrs. Minassian in Brandenburg it seems.

These are but a few examples, but they should give you a fairly good idea of what is truly going on here. EU officials are not really negotiating in good faith. They also care even less about what the British people want than do the shamefully corrupt leaders of the UK. You can’t make parties negotiating in bad faith change their bargaining postures or positions by pleading and arguing in desperation, especially when they have most of the sticks, when the result of any transaction will invariably be a net loss to them, and when you have little to offer them in the way of carrots. Remember, for the EU, no Brexit is better than any Brexit. The only way to negotiate in such a circumstance is to promise to make the process and the results of that process even more painful for the other side if they don’t come along reluctantly. The UK has very little to offer the EU, save the withholding of pain, but the UK can’t withhold what it is unwilling to inflict, and to inflict pain means harming itself.

In other words, it is time for UK Brexit negotiators to get tough, even if that means enduring minor blows to their own economy. Sometimes it is perfectly rational to chop off one’s pinky to save one’s arm. If Cultural Marxist EU bureaucrats want to trample on the British people, it is the duty of British leaders and representatives to cut out the EU’s legs with bayonets to protect their subjects. Let’s see if the EU can, or will even attempt to, enforce their fees and penalties and formal rules and preposterous laws. What is the EU going to do if the UK deports its citizens or expels its judges? How far is the EU really willing to take this? Not very, I suspect. If the UK crashes out with no deal, I’d like to see the EU army try to enforce a mammoth Brexit fee!

The EU is bluffing, plain and simple. The banksters who command the EU don’t really want a war, of any kind. They simply think Brexiteers are soft and unwilling to endure any economic hardship. That is their leverage. They think they can steal and extract anything if they just promise to make the mugging painless. They are like schoolyard bullies who promise not to hit you, just so long as you keep giving them your lunch money. The problem for them is that the underbelly of the EU is even softer. It won’t take a lot of pain or defiance to make the EU fat cats cry uncle. The UK may have to take a punch or two to liberate itself from EU domination, but it will be worth it in the long run.

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Forget ‘Project Fear’, This Is What A “Hard Brexit” Could Mean For The UK

Forget Project Fear, This Is What A Hard Brexit Could Mean For The UK  By Patrick Barron, via The Mises Institute, Zerohedge, 22 March 2019

When Britons voted on June 23, 2016 on whether or not to leave the EU there was no discussion of a “hard or soft Brexit”. These terms were invented after Brexit passed by a surprisingly large margin and the mostly anti-Brexit Tory Party government, especially its leadership, decided that it needed to negotiate the terms of leaving. Brexit supporters regard such terms as betraying the 2016 Brexit referendum itself. These 17.4 million Britons undoubtedly believed that Brexit would mean exactly that: Britain would no longer be governed by any EU laws, regulations, etc. Nevertheless, all that the world has heard since that day in June 2016 is a debate over the terms of leaving, with any so-called terms being labeled as a “soft Brexit” and leaving without any agreement as a “hard Brexit”.

In a “hard Brexit,” Britain just leaves and all EU regulations, etc. are null and void. It’s pretty clear cut. A “soft Brexit” can mean almost anything that is not a “hard Brexit”; i.e., Britain would agree to continue some or all of the manufacturing regulations, tariffs, and intergovernmental agreements — such as ceding jurisdiction to the European Court of Justice — that apply to EU countries. The list is almost endless and the time frame very nebulous, a perfect playground for those who wish to have a Brexit In Name Only. If there is to be Brexit of any sort, however, Parliament must act. Experts in British constitutional law claim that only Parliament can actually take Britain out of the EU and only Parliament can decide under what terms, if any, it will do so. Of course, one of the terms of separation could be that there are no terms of separation — thus, a “hard Brexit.”

The Effect on Imports

The current government has been exploring the possibility of dropping all import tariffs to zero except on “sensitive industries”. This would be very good for consumers, because the EU imposes tariffs on almost all imports from nations not in the EU itself. Most notably in its attempt to insulate inefficient European farms from worldwide competition, the EU imposes onerous tariffs on non-EU agricultural products via the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Eliminating these and many other tariffs would significantly lower the cost of living for the British people. The success of Brexit may depend entirely on whether Britain does in fact eliminate tariffs on most goods. It is a golden opportunity. The EU itself is very export oriented, so it is unlikely that it would impose any restrictions on member countries selling goods to Britain. So far so good!

The Effect on British Exports

Exports are another matter entirely. No longer in the tariff free customs union, it is assumed that the EU would impose tariffs on British products as it does on any other non-EU country, raising their cost to EU buyers, which one must assume would result in fewer British sales. The real harm would not fall on British exporters but on Britain’s EU customers, who now are forcibly prohibited from buying British goods at the previously advantageous price. On the other hand since it no longer must meet onerous EU manufacturing regulations, British industry might enjoy lower manufacturing costs which would enable it to sell more to non-EU countries. Although it might take time for Britain to develop new markets for its goods, some countries, led by the U.S. itself, have stated that they are ready to sign free trade agreements with Britain as soon as it leaves the EU.

The Effect on the City of London

The City of London is a massive global hub. Its banking and insurance companies are dominant in the EU and likely to remain so for reasons of depth of market knowledge and a high reputation for honesty and fair dealing. Although some companies have moved some operations to Frankfurt, it is unclear if these moves are significant in number and may be simply part of normal market flux. The same fears about the fate of the City were raised when Britain secured an opt-out from the 1992 Maastricht Treaty which formally created the euro. Unless the EU imposes some special tax or regulation prohibiting EU members from utilizing London firms, it is unlikely that the City will be much affected by a “hard Brexit”.

The Effect on Controlling borders

Uncontrolled illegal Immigration into the EU became a key issue for passing the Brexit referendum. There had been much concern for decades over loss of British sovereignty to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels and the economic cost of belonging to a closed customs union with high tariffs and onerous regulations, but the movement to leave came to a head over border controls or lack thereof. One of the four pillars of the EU is freedom of movement of people within the EU. (The other three were freedom of movement for goods, services, and capital.) Illegal immigration came to a head following the crisis of refugees from the Arab world. Once inside the EU, these refugees could migrate anywhere within the bloc, including Britain, raising the cost of providing social services and disrupting settled life. Britain was not the only EU country that opposed this unforeseen migration. In fact immigration control may yet break apart the EU, as the elite in Brussels insist that every EU country not only accept a dictated number of refugees but also that every country then allow refugees to migrate freely within the EU. A “hard Brexit” would remove the requirement that Britain accept more refugees than it believes it can assimilate. Uncontrolled border crossings would end as modest checkpoints are reinstated.

A separate border issue pertains to the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland over goods. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and there has been much concern over continuing the free flow of goods into and out of the Republic of Ireland. This seems to be much ado about little. Most probably goods to and from the Republic of Ireland would be subject to random checks with very little hindrance on trade. The EU has lobbied for an “Irish backstop”, whereby Northern Ireland would remain in the EU for some period of time. Naturally this has incensed loyal British subjects, especially in Northern Ireland, and has almost no chance of being part of a “soft Brexit” deal.

A Positive Conclusion

In conclusion the effect of a “hard Brexit” on Britain itself should be overwhelmingly positive, especially if Britain does in fact remove all tariffs and conclude free trade pacts with the rest of the world fairly quickly. Naturally my advice to Britain is to unilaterally remove all tariffs on all goods, including “sensitive industries.” Free trade deals then become irrelevant. Britain could lead the way in showing the world the benefits of unilateral free trade, just as it did in the nineteenth century with the abolition of the Corn Laws. Perhaps this outcome is what the EU fears the most, because it would call into question the benefit of belonging to a closed customs union and would spell the end of the EU itself.

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About Peter Senior

I'm a very experienced and pragmatic management consultant. I've reviewed and led the restructuring of many organisations - large and small corporations and Government Departments, much of the time as President of the New Zealand Institute of Management Consultants. Before that I was General Manager of a major NZ newspaper; earlier, an analyst for IBM UK. I gained an honours degree in engineering at London University, and studied management at Cambridge University. This wide range of experience has left me frustrated: I continue to see too many examples of really bad management. Sometimes small easily fixed issues; sometimes fundamental faults; and sometimes really tricky problems. Mostly these issues can be fixed using a mixture of common sense, 'management 101' and applying lessons from years of management experience. Unfortunately, all too often, politics, bureaucracy and daft government regulations get in the way; internal factors such as poor culture and out-of-date strategies are often evident. So what's gone wrong, and why, and most importantly, how to fix 'it'? I hope there are like-minded people 'out there' who will share their thoughts enabling 'us' to improve some significant management failures that affect the general public. If you just accept bad management, you don't have the right to complain! If you'd like to share thoughts on any aspects of management, send me an email to petersenior42@gmail.com . My latest project has the interim title 'You’ve been conned. Much of what you were taught and read is largely irrelevant, misleading or plain wrong – this is the REAL story of life: past, present and our possible future.' The working paper so far comprises 105 pages, many listing references and interim conclusions. The main problem is finding sufficient credible evidence, and realising the more Iearn, the more I realise I don't know!
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