Hong Kong’s Chief Executive and Monetary Authority boss are hedging when they express their deep concern over the UK’s referendum on Europe. After all, the forex market is already freaking out. But looking at the big picture: why, exactly, should an East Asian city-state economy panic about one country in Europe leaving a regional bloc? There are fairly strong economic ties between Hong Kong and the UK (notably investment), but it’s not that big a deal. Life will go on, either way.
But apparently, it won’t. I can’t remember when so many usually-sensible people (George Magnus, say) were getting so worked up. It seems people are confusing leaving the EU with leaving Planet Earth. There’s an important difference: if you leave Planet Earth, trade, investment, immigration, regulations, taxes and death will come to an end; if you leave the EU – whether you love these things or hate them – they will all carry on, maybe with slightly different paperwork.
Commerce will continue because everyone benefits from it (it doesn’t happen otherwise). Migration will continue partly because at least a lot of people benefit, and partly because it’s a force of nature. Regulations/taxes/death go without saying. No-one gets ‘isolated’ or ‘liberated’ if Brexit happens. Brits in Spain will not be expelled. The UK’s Poles, Bangladeshis, Somalis won’t disappear. Everyone needs to get a grip. (The political fallout in Westminster is another thing.)
This is even more the case with the UK than other EU countries, because of something few people acknowledge: the UK is only half in the EU in the first place. It has nothing to do with the catastrophic Euro single-currency. It has a separate visa system and passport controls. From Euro-visionaries’ point of view, the Brits have already wrecked the EU. It was supposed to be a tight-knit, protectionist-leaning group destined to flower as a federal nation-state. The UK joined, put its weight behind free-market principles and insisted on letting a dozen or more backward and/or ex-Communist countries into the organization, rendering it unmanageable. Thanks to the Brits, the original dream is in shatters anyway, with only a flag, ‘parliament’ and pretentiously titled ‘president’ as reminders of what should have been.
Bottom line in the UK: Brexit would give emotional satisfaction to a certain segment (older, uncouth, supposedly dim, supposedly racist, probably angry), while Remain means another segment (young, sophisticated, ‘international’, probably doing quite well) feel righteous and victorious. Remain also spares officials some bureaucratic and administrative headaches – which tips the balance for the rational among us. If Brexit does win, the elites and bores and smug trendies have only themselves to blame for indulging in such a ridiculous scaremongering campaign.
Bottom line for everyone else: keep calm and carry on. It’s just the UK and the EU.
I declare the weekend open with the thought that, either way, we can get back to real life soon. (Unless the global elites’ worst fears are right, and this is the start of the under/middle classes’ revolt. Hmmm.)
Brexit is a nothing-burger either way. Watching the EU asshats squirm is arousing. So I’d like a big slice of that emotional satisfaction thingy, please.
If I were the EU president I’d be getting my Linkedin profile up to speed.
Perhaps Britain should never have gone in?
The British government will be free of the European Court of Human Rights, and thus British justice will be more able to follow the short term political considerations of the Home Secretary.
Marine Le Pen sends congratulations.
I’m sure Vladimir Putin is celebrating.
A sad day for the whole world.
The only other country that committed economic suicide like that was North Korea with juche — “self-reliance”. Should be a bad few years ahead for the UK. The only real question is how long they stick it out before they beg to be let back in the EU (see also the last time Britain went it alone followed by the resulting IMF bailout and 1975 Referendum to join the EU).
On a more serious note, how does Brexit affect the new Hooters? Should I be worried?
The Brexit referendum is not legally binding upon government, despite Cameron’s promise to honour it. But he’s resigning and won’t be around after October. In any event, to ratify the result, a vote will have to be taken in parliament, and the majority of both Tory and Labour MPs are pro-Remain, so what exactly was the point of this farcically divisive referendum?
The battle was fought primarily on the principle of sovereign democracy. The irony is that, come October, Cameron’s replacement will be a prime minister that no one has actually voted for.
Meanwhile, Nigel Farage addressed reporters upon hearing that David Cameron would be resigning, by insisting: “I’ll do it. Technically the prime minister doesn’t need to be an MP, thankfully.
“No, seriously, I’ll do it – I can start tomorrow. Let me do it, I could do it, I promise.”
Given that Scotland voted solidly to remain in the EU, I forecast another independence referendum following Britain’s departure, followed by an independent Scotland applying to rejoin the EU. The fallout from this vote is only just beginning.
This is the first of many, many de-centralisations and collapses of traditional power structures to come in this century … get used to it people, if there is a super-state in the future, it will be made up of a confederation of ‘states’ that are more akin to provinces, cities, even towns (think Principalities a la Italian Renaissance, except with direct democracy facilitated by deep and general AI and direct citizen participation). One major factor in this shift is the development of assymetric defense technology (i.e. drone hordes, nano bots, making up smart autonomous non-lethal defense systems guided by general AI).
For anyone who sees this as gloomy, on the plus side, this is the harbinger, the beginning of the end of grand centralising projects in the historical big picture – the CCP, and the great Satan, a.k.a. the good ole US of A; and the beginning of the end of their attempts to centralise economic power and political influence since the second world war (in Greater China in the case of the CPP and in the world at large in the case of Anglo-America). And yes inshallah, may this occur without bloodshed, and through awakening instead. [In other words, the probability distribution of Hong Kong’s long term political futures just shifted a few points towards some form of responsive, accountable, less than completely incompetent local government.]
Next will be the end of the Euro, when one of the southern EU debtor nations currently being shafted by German investors (haircut? we don’t accept zee haircut, unless it is the Americans writing off our debt post WWII, and fuelling our own economic miracle), decides to fuck the bankers and go rogue with their own hybrid crypto/fiat currency. The incredible human misery being caused in Greece, the evident bureaucratic statism, and the avarice for cut-price Greek national assets thinly disguised as monetary keynesianism (JM Keynes no doubt rolling in his grave), demonstrated by the EC and ECB ‘leaders’ in the Greek ‘crisis’ … is beyond disgusting. Sooner brussels goes back to being a good place for mussels, a nice monastery beer, and the neo-Maoists (here is looking at you Barroso), EU superstate fascists, useful idiots, and other shills and haters crawl back into their holes … the better.
(NB: I actually sat through an entire afternoon of an EU ‘think-tank’ conference – yes i lived through an absurd contradiction in terms – there was no tank and certainly no thinking – with an EU Minister about the energy infrastructure in the EU, in particular integrating power generation, power distribution, and power storage of the various legacy systems … the event was not only mind-numbingly boring, but made evident the impossibility of Europeans working together to accomplish … anything in a rational, common sense way, not even taking into account that not a single bureaucrat there was working for any authentic conception of the common good, but was only serving the interests of a very narrow elite, and … the EC bureaucratic class. Glad they are going the way of the do-do, and not a moment too soon).
Viva la evolucion!
MtU, Many thanks for the witty analysis. Decentralisation may indeed be the tendency in western Europe, but to get there, you may have to try out centralisation first– think Romans, Charlemagne, Napoleon, Victoria, Hitler and Juncker. To accede to such luxury, to stand up to the street corner bullies, you may need mature, educated, diverse democracy, itself growing out of the secular wars, brutal revolutions and genocides.
The history of France is basically a thousand years of revolutions, thirty years of prosperous peace and quiet, then much thrashing about and gnashing of teeth. Belgium and Switzerland are pure artifices, schizophrenic buffer states, only there because they’re not France or Germany.
China and America are not at all like that: both are homogeneous, linguistically united, geographically convex, semi-continental and, above all, without a rival “stove” within thousands of miles. Both are still consolidating their acquisitions: Indian rebellions almost until the end of the 19th century and melting pot in overdrive, grabbing of Tibet, Xinjiang, HK etc.
I can’t see any way Montana could peacefully get independence or HK, devolution. In fact, discussing the evolution of China at the same time as that of the Great Satan may simply amount to a displacement of the question, no 37 in the CP guidelines.
So Greece may easily return to backwater status, Germany to Wagnerian dreaming, and the medium-sized nation-state may indeed be dead. But a few decades of relative peace don’t mean, I’m afraid, the end of hegemonic history. Just ask any Filipino, Vietnamese or Japanese.
@Monkey the Unborn
Once again a fine analysis. Ref the Euro: the Truth That Could Not be Mentioned at the time was that we have a bunch of semi-corrupt, patronage-based social systems around the Med with clean (relatively), impersonal law-based systems in the north. How was that going to work? But of course, the guys and gals who float around Brussels have similar educational backgrounds, similar aspirations, and similar ways of looking at the world. I think they see national cultures and characteristics as products of a more dangerous, more smelly era, destined to die off as Homo Europanicus arises.
Here’s the best four minutes on the subject:
(credit to [email protected])
The referendum was held purely to avoid the collapse of the Cameron government and the Tory party as the anti-European MPs threatened to go rogue and join UKIP if he didn’t.
Whilst the referendum might not be legally binding, it’s clear that both Labour & Tory MPs in voting to endorse or ignore it face the unpleasant, Kafkaesque choice of either committing economic or political suicide.
A vote against leaving Europe means you almost certainly lose your job (unless you’re in one of the few constituencies that voted “remain”); a vote for leaving Europe means you keep your job but lose your economy and probably your country.
Given that MPs are in their heart of hearts awful weasels, my money’s on them following the winds of stupidity to save their job*, rather than standing up for their own beliefs and taking a personal hit.
*Possibly with the pragmatic hope that the “out” voters will have their wallets so badly hit by the economic fallout that the ones that haven’t died of old age/hypothermia will change their minds in short order.
News to me that the United States is homogeneous. I guess the 45-48% non-white population doesn’t count…