Monday, June 27, 2016

Remaking The World

The ripples from Britain's decision to leave the EU keep spreading. The most immediate shocks, of course, are being felt in the UK. Michael Harris writes:

David Cameron and his government, gone; Britain’s senior EU official, Jonathon Hill, gone. Aflame with divorce anger, European leaders wanting the UK out of the marital home tout de suite. More than a million Europeans living in London potentially gone. The opposition Labour Party in chaos with half the shadow cabinet resigning after millions of voters rejected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s injunction to stay in the EU. And the unthinkable prospect of a Donald Trump/Boris Johnson transatlantic political axis.

On the economic side, Moody’s lowered the UK’s “outlook” from stable to negative. Overnight, Britain slipped from the fifth-largest economy in the world to sixth, leap-frogged by France. The pound dropped like a stone. There are reports that Brexit wiped out $2-trillion in wealth, though it is far from certain whether those assets were made of anything more substantial than paper.

And then there is Scotland. Scots recently voted against independence largely because they were told that if they split with the UK, they would also be splitting with the EU. Now that Scotland has apparently lost the highly valued EU connection, there has been an immediate call for a second vote on independence. In fact, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is threatening to veto the Brexit vote, and directly lobby EU member states to allow Edinburgh to remain inside the pan-European trading bloc.

The United Kingdom may soon be a thing of the past. And, likewise, the EU -- at least as it is presently constituted -- may soon be assigned to the dustbin of history:

The whole European shooting match is now in play. What is to stop hard-right nationalists in places like France and the Netherlands from demanding a referendum of their own on their futures in the EU? There is already the same anti-immigrant sentiment in those countries waiting to be exploited by native populists cut from the same cloth as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

Both countries will be facing elections next year and it’s a safe bet that leaving the EU will be front and centre on the political agendas, pushed by National Front vice-president Florian Philippot in France, and the Freedom Party in the Netherlands. And they are not the only countries that might be thrown into chaos by the euroskeptics taking heart from the Brexit vote.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the political opposition in Sweden has been inspired by Britain bailing out of Europe. Opposition leader Mattias Karlsson told the WSJ the British vote was inspiring and that, “We will start campaigning for a Swexit.”
Likewise with Italy’s Northern League and its leader Matteo Salvini. He said that it’s time Italians had the chance to pass their own judgement on EU membership. Salvini, who is an unabashed Trump supporter, is known for his vitriolic attacks on migrants, and his praise for the “good works” of fascist Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini. Trump in turn has expressed his hope that the Northern League leader will be the next prime minister of Italy.

The world is being remade -- and whether or not it will be for the better is entirely uncertain.


Dana said...

I thought this might interest you. No need to publish it if you don't want to. This is supposedly a public Facebook page so it shouldn't be a problem. Quite disturbing though.

Owen Gray said...

This passage struck me, Dana:

Nuneaton, the home town of George Eliot and Ken Loach, had more charity shops in its high street than anywhere I’ve ever seen. And some of those charity shops had closed down. What does it say about a town when even the charity shops are struggling?

It seems to me that passage neatly summarizes what has happened.

Anonymous said...

Not always a fan of the Greenwald's's thoughts when it comes to the US versus Russia, but I thought his recent article in the Intercept on Brexit was spot on.

The news today that an Angus Reid poll found Canadians generally unimpressed with NAFTA is really just more grist for the mill that Greenwald talks about. The Nuneaton reference above shows the disconnect between the toffs in London and actual real down-at-heels England.

Scotland, who knows what they were on about.

Having traced my life from Scotland through England to Canada and back to UK, living years in both London and the rurality of East Anglia and finally back to Canada, I'd say the elite and reasonably well-off people in England regard themselves as a class above the hoi polloi. The serfs decided to aim a well-placed kick to the crown jewels of these folk to remind them that most people are not that amused at, face it - crap pay, lack of jobs and bad housing, all of which have gone downhill since Maggie strutted about ordering everyone around and privatizing HM's government pencil-sharpeners and office chairs.

The Brexit reaction has been, as Greenwald suggests, that the better-off Remainers have decided to call the Leavers mere racist bigots to explain their Leave vote rather than to spend a reflective moment as to real motives. It's either big-headedness or a desire to avoid reality, so they malign the other side as knuckledraggers and "that's all one needs to know, dear boy - just beasts who don't know which side their bread is buttered on". Thereby completely missing the point.

The UK is now even more of a mess. Unfortunately, the schemers of the Right may well take over government, so Boris the extreme right winger with a jovial smile becoming PM and with only self-interest to guide him, may well inflict punishment on the Leavers far worse than even the dolt Cameron could have dreamt up by privatizing the NHS.

These continual media reminders that 75% of the 18 to 24 year olds voted Remain and feel betrayed ALWAYS NEVER mentions actual number of votes involved, but as usual, the low turnout young stayed home and spent the time on the Internet and were uninterested in civic duty. The only upsurge in the young voting recently was in our own Canadian general election last October. Otherwise it's apathy as usual in the 18 to 24 year old category.

It'll be interesting to see what happens now. I just hope it's not horrifying as well.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, Anon. You can tell the common folk to eat cake only for so long. After that, all hell breaks loose.

Dana said...

It's astonishing to me how many people are chiming in to tell the Leavers that they didn't actually buy what they were sold. It's as though, having been sold a car, they're now being told by those who know better that in reality they bought a convenience store.

The Mound of Sound said...

John Pilger has an excellent opinion piece on Brexit.

Read it and you'll realize how facile is most Canadian opinion on the subject.

Owen Gray said...

An excellent piece, Mound. I find myself drawing attention to certain passages in the links readers send. I note this one:

The aim of this extremism is to install a permanent, capitalist theocracy that ensures a two-thirds society, with the majority divided and indebted, managed by a corporate class, and a permanent working poor. In Britain today, 63 per cent of poor children grow up in families where one member is working. For them, the trap has closed. More than 600,000 residents of Britain’s second city, Greater Manchester, are, reports a study, “experiencing the effects of extreme poverty” and 1.6 million are slipping into penury.

The geography changes. But the story is the same.

Owen Gray said...

It's an old story, Dana. They're being told that their betters know better.

Dana said...

Here's a fairly wide ranging set of predictions from people who are not journalists as are, or were for their failings, Johnson and Gove.

Dana said...

And a bunch of historians weigh in.

Owen Gray said...

Garton Ash's comment that, despite what happened, you can't ignore history is spot on, Dana. But I still make no firm predictions. All I know for sure is that we are at what historians call "a turning point."

Owen Gray said...

Expert opinion -- not surprisingly -- appears to be divided, Dana. Only time will tell who was right.

Dana said...

And just a short time ago England had their lunch money stolen by wee Iceland by a final score of 2-1. Harbinger? :-)

Owen Gray said...

I just caught that on the news. Some economists believe that small is beautiful, Dana. Perhaps there's a message in another upset.

Asuransi Rumah Terbaik said...

I still can catch the point of why British hesitate to out from European United. Are this came from society aperture? As I know, this action takes by British would affect on World Economics Sustainability. Need deeper thought,thank you.

Sincerely, Patricia.

Anonymous said...


The England , Iceland result was the opening discussion to Brexit.


Owen Gray said...

Indeed, Patricia, we need deeper thought.