Saturday, 25 June 2016

Like him or not, Nigel Farage is responsible for Brexit

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Brexit is the biggest shock in my lifetime.

I said to the Portuguese ambassador last week 'It's up to you, of course. We're off on Thursday". He gave me the smile a corpse gives the undertaker. But I didn't think for one moment that we really would be off. I went to bed at 3 yesterday morning unhappy, thinking Remain had won and was frozen in amazement at 6.45 the next day to open my browser and see the BBC call it for Leave.


I admit my feelings were mixed. Astonishment, pleasure but some fear too.

The electorate have let down the politicians very badly.

When the revolution finally came most (not all) of the left-wing middle class found they were on the side of the rich and the banks. Funny how things turn out.


It's a bit like when the crisis of capitalism finally occurred in 2008, as Stalin had predicted, and the far left was not there to take advantage. The centre-right not the left benefited. The old party divisions that we have had since the 1920s increasingly make less sense.

Nigel Farage is the man who did this. But poor David Cameron and Angela Merkel played equal parts. 

Whatever you think of him and you might loathe him, Nigel Farage, who is the reason this referendum was called, is one of the two politicians in post-1945 British history who changed the country the most. The other, of course, being Edward Heath.

The story of how an amateur, home-made, Ealing comedy party like UKIP, widely despised, directly or indirectly took Britain out of the EU is extraordinary. If it were a novel people would throw it away in disgust as absurdly far-fetched.

The same is true of the stories of Trump, Corbyn, the million migrants crossing Europe, the bizarre American row over transgender lavatories, ISIS, September 11th and so much else. God is not obliged to consider probabilities.

Mr Farage's referendum was hijacked by others and it's good that it was. I am reminded of what Reagan said, that there is no limit to what a man can do if he is content for others to take the credit.

He was not allowed to be part of the official Leave campaign, who were frightened he would make their brand toxic. in the eyes of many he would have done, but he had the wisdom to push immigration into the forefront of the campaign, knowing it was a much better issue for Leave than the economy. 

On the economy, Leave could not stand up to David Cameron's carefully choreographed Project Fear, but immigration let the Leave side instil its own share of fear. Making a major issue of Britain's support for Turkish membership of the EU must have won Leave many votes. It boxed David Cameron into a corner and showed him to have been very economical with the truth. It also enabled Leave to elide concerns about European and non-European immigration, although Brexit will not reduce and may increase non-European immigration.

I saw very few speeches during this campaign and none by Mr Farage, but this one, which i watched today, is remarkably good. He is a better speaker even than Messrs. Gove or Johnson. Why do many people in the UK dislike him so much? He predicted that "this will be a turnout referendum" and he was right. They were queuing round the block to vote. 

I am lost in admiration for the courage of the British people. It took a lot of courage to vote Leave. People thought very hard and in many cases changed and unchanged their minds.

It was absolutely not a result made on a whim, or from prejudice or knee-jerk reactions or to punish the government or taken unthinkingly. It was made very thoughtfully and there was an amazingly high turnout. No-one knows exactly what issues were in the minds of Brexit voters but they were surely many. 


It was not a plebiscite on immigration, though that was important. I think people didn't like being ruled by foreigners.

Had the referendum been held in a couple of years' time Brexit would have lost, because older voters were inclined to Leave and younger ones, educated in the pieties of internationalism and EU idealism, inclined to Remain. 

I am convinced that it will be hugely helpful to the rest of the EU. We might just have saved Europe from a totalitarian future once more.


I want to quote (again) these lines by Philip Larkin.




Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,

As epitaph:

He chucked up everything

And just cleared off,

And always the voice will sound

Certain you approve

This audacious, purifying,

Elemental move.

14 comments:

  1. I like the use of Larkin at the end for reflection. GB has certainly purified. - Jay

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  2. GB is leaving the EU.
    But what might be some of the economic implications?
    Please bear with me for a moment while I ask a few questions:
    Will the GBP loose status as a safe haven currency?
    will the GBP loose status as currency reserve?
    Yes, the BoE has the tools to support the currency and will probably take a "wait-and-see" approach rather than rush into action but do we expect bonds and FX to be re-priced?
    Will we see a rise in risk premium on assets?
    Will rising uncertainty cause a halt on UK FDI inflows?
    We cannot estimate intermediate term economic impact through financial modeling but what is the estimate for loss of GDP in the next 3 years? Might 4.5% be an accurate estimate?

    Don Basilio in Bucharest

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  3. I would vote for holding a General Election now. The public have just given a vote of no confidence in the Pro_EU Tory government and, if asked today, most Labour voters would probably vote UKIP.

    Please sign and share this petition if you agree:

    bit.ly/28XAeKn

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  4. https://www.facebook.com/DemocraziaVerde/videos/275977272757274/

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  5. I think the suggestion that the vote for Brexit was taken thoughtfully is nonsense. The voting results give the lie to this assertion. The regions of England with a high proportion of well-educated voters (London, Oxford, Cambridge) voted overwhelmingly for Remain. Where Brexit received its strongest support was in run-down industrial towns and impoverished agricultural areas (South Tyne, Sunderland, Boston), with a high proportion of ill-educated, disgruntled working-class people. Of course, they have a right to vote - but the flood of enquiries on Google after the referendum asking "What is the EU?" belies the suggestion that those voters were thoughtful. As for Farage's fulminations, they were a farrago of falsehoods and fabulation. He actually admitted, after the referendum, that his oft-quoted statement that the UK pays every day £34 million to the EU was untrue! Somebody said the Leave campaign was based on lies, damn' lies and Boris Johnson. That is the sad truth.

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely right.

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  6. Much credit for the result must also go to Merkel.

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    Replies
    1. Definitely! Without her Remain would have won. The migrants were not coming her but showed us what the EU leaders were like.

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  7. I do not know, my feeling is that it was about migration. Consider a political culture when blaming others for your failures is a norm, and then you will see that this may be a first step towards fascism. Looking at the interwar history I know that this is how it started in Germany and in Central Eastern Europe.
    Liv

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  8. Though Ronald Reagan was not the author, he had the quote on his desk. His best quote was "shucks".

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I didn't know.

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    2. He DID say, 'People say hard work never killed anyone, but I say why take that chance?'

      Looking back do you miss him and Mrs. T.?

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  9. Many things can be said about Farage, but I tend to think the way he described the EU in his recent speech has a point:

    "The reason you (EU) are so upset, you’re so angry, has been perfectly clear. You as a political project are in denial. You’re in denial that your currency is failing... without telling the truth to the rest of the peoples of Europe, you have imposed upon them a political union.

    When the people in 2005 in the Netherlands and France voted against that political union and rejected the constitution you simply ignored them and brought the Lisbon treaty in through the back door."

    Just wondering if the Brexit and the weakening prospects for the TTIP and TPP may not be coincidences and to say globalization actually only exists in the MNCs' income statements but not in employment/wealth distribution for the majority. I think history may later say dismissing Brexit as a whim" is too simplistic and could be a disconnect. Just IMHO

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