A quick note on the Brexit debacle

I think Barry (here and here) and Edwin (here and here) have made the best contributions to the debate on the EU and sovereignty here at NOL to date, so I’m just going to add a couple of open-ended thoughts to the recent vote (which I think was a huge mistake).

One of the big theoretical debates over the years concerning the EU is the concept of European-ness and how it can never replace the nationalisms that already exist in each state across the pond. This makes no sense to me, though, especially if you buy the argument (as I do) that nations come and go largely in reaction to current events. German-ness or French-ness or British-ness could easily be subsumed by a European-ness.

I don’t want to be one of those doomsayers who claims that, because things did not go my way, all will be lost. The UK is going to be in for a little bit of hurt, financially, as is the European Union; losing the UK is a big deal, and so is leaving the EU. However, the UK is not exactly Sweden or Germany. The United Kingdom is poorer than Mississippi, the poorest administrative unit in the United States. It’s possible, if a bit unlikely, that the UK will be better placed to negotiate itself back to economic prominence if it doesn’t have to work through the EU to attain some of its goals. The UK has deep connections with a number of states and regions around the world thanks to its now-dead worldwide empire, and I don’t why a more Euroskeptic UK would decide to shun the rest of the world too, especially if the “rest of the world” was once a part of the UK’s empire (the glorious past of the UK seems to be an important talking point for Euroskeptics).

Immigration may not cease either. An irony here is that the Euroskeptics who won rode hard a wave of anti-immigration sentiment sweeping across the UK (and the rest of Europe, too). But it seems to me that, because of the UK’s deep connections to its former imperial provinces, most of the immigrants in the UK are going to be South Asian or Gulf Arab rather than Polish or Greek. Given that much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric in Europe stems from a deep distrust of Islam, I find it odd that British voters could be so gullible on this matter.

Does anybody know if this vote is the final say on whether or not the UK will leave the EU? [UPDATE: see Dr van de Haar’s comment for an answer to my question] It seems to me that there has got to be some legal mechanisms, via courts, that have been put into place in order to slow down things like mob rule mass voting.

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2 thoughts on “A quick note on the Brexit debacle

  1. I think you’re wrong here, Brandon, or at least could be, if the UK decides to back off some from the welfare state that has shackled it since the 40s. That, however, remains to be seen. In any case, it’s the 5th or 6th largest economy in the world, although, like us, manufacturing is in decline. Nationalism, especially in an old nation-state, like the UK, is not easy to overcome, especially when it is coupled with a history of freedom, against even one’s own rulers (take your pick here).

    A referendum in the UK is simply advisory, only the Parliament can make it so, but I doubt they really have much choice on this one, I think they risk a revolt to do otherwise.

  2. In Britian the referendum was formally an advise, yet as the resignation of PM Cameron shows, eyerybody takes it as the final and decisive word on the matter. But that is only domestically. Formally the British government now has to send a letter to the European Commission (or European Council, I am not sure), that is wants to make use of article 50 of the EU Treaty. This is the article that arranges for a memberstate to leave the EU. From the moment that letter is received in Brussels the UK and the Member states have two years to finalize things. Cameron said he leaves the letter writing to his sucessor (possibly Boris Johnson), so it is still unclear when the two year period commences. In that period the terms of leaving need to be agreed. Most importantly trade arrangements, the labour market positions of EU nationals in the UK, and issues such as the current British civil servants in the several EU bureaucacies. It is up to the Brits to replace their current EU-based legislation with national laws. Of course this is not happening in a vacuum, all kinds of treaties still regulate a lot, most notably the Council of Europe and its immensne influence on legislative issues, and of course the WTO Treaty.

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