Thursday 16 June 2016

Let's enjoy the next week while Berlin and Brussels fear we might leave the EU


I firmly expect Great Britain to vote to stay in the EU next Thursday, but let's all enjoy every single blissful moment of these halcyon days when our German and other European rulers think we might leave. This is the last moment when Great Britain roused herself to become a free country. After we vote to stay in, it will probably resemble what Claude Cockburn's tutor told him life was like after Oxford: just a long slow slope to the grave.

Bertrand Russell said ‘Collective fear stimulates herd instinct and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd’. I see a lot of this coming from the In camp who seem almost to hate or despise the Outs. Especially they seem to hate UKIP and despise the working classes. The viciousness is born of fear. I find it disgusting but it is what politics and democracy are about. 

Whatever your views on Brexit what a great argument this referendum is for lots more referendums. Though of course there is not really very much room in the EU for referendums.

The opinion polls today show Leave up to 7% ahead of Remain and the bookmakers, who are  always the best place to look, to find out what's going on  today give Leave an astonishingly high 30% chance. I give it a lot less (5-10%?) but what does impress me is that the polls are swinging towards Leave despite the attempts of the government the IMF and most of the establishment to terrify electors with stories of economic Armageddon.

And could we really leave?

I suppose yes!

And then?

Who knows?

The Germans could want to punish us very hard pour encourager les autres but this would do huge damage to the EU economy and especially Germany’s. The German Finance Minister says we will be booted out of the single market (the same Finance Minister who thinks if Germans do not take immigrants they will start committing incest – he really did say that recently). But I was more interested in what Juergen Hardt, senior CDU foreign policy spokesman, told Der Spiegel. If the UK votes to leave, he said the EU should gauge possible action to prevent a British exit from becoming a reality. “Brussels shouldn't close the door right away.”

I had dinner last night with a very Europhile British friend, 60, public school educated and well off, who is anguished that 'Literally ALL my British friends without exception want us to leave'. More than half his British friends live on the Continent, by the way.  

He made a number of weak arguments for staying in the EU. He said that all economists think we should stay (which is, of course, certainly not true) and that no former party leader thinks we should leave. I mentioned Michael Howard, Ian Duncan Smith, David Owen, Margaret Thatcher, Michael Foot. 

I could have mentioned Jeremy Corbyn who probably does not really want us to stay, but Corbyn is a name even less likely to persuade anyone than Foot's. Instead, I surprised him by mentioning Nigel Lawson. He had no idea that very experienced intelligent people like Howard and Lawson wanted us to leave.

Then he said that he thought nationals of other EU countries who live in the UK should have had a vote in the referendum. This was like the thirteenth stroke of the clock, that not only was not convincing in itself but cast doubt on the other twelve. I don't think he gets the idea of nationhood.


  1. As an expat living in Romania I have voted for "OUT". Why, because i am looking at the long term interests of Great Britain not the short term self interest of those scaremongers. I will never see the real success of Brexit and my pension my suffer if i remain in Eastern Europe as I intend to do so, but that is my choice. The long term interest of GB must be to control their own destiny and not be fobbed off with bickering and other nations trying to block GB's success. Being out means that trade agreement scan be speeded up. Old allies (Australia, NZ and Canada) can be invited back to the trade table. GB can benefit from cheaper food imports and subsidies can be directed to actually where they are needed and if not the tax take can be reduced or the surplus invested in providing better health and education .

    Why are the financial markets showing signs for loss - only because the money peopled are making money out of the situation. Why are Germany and France trying to scare the UK only because they will not be able to prevent GB's success as they do now and as to the Germas cling that trade will be lost, who are they kidding. They seem more to the UK than they but form the UK. Will they really cut the UK out and deny VW, BMW and Mercedes the opportunity to sell to GB - NO

    So here's hoping the population of the UK see sense and speak up and rebuild a strong and proud nation. For those Europeans in the uK now they have nothing to fear if they are working as the UK have always welcomed those who want to work

  2. David in Banja Luka16 June 2016 at 15:46

    I have spent most of my life living and working outside of the UK.

    I speak French and German and can get by in Serbian, Romanian and Bulgarian.

    I love Europe.

    I already voted "Leave" (by post).

    While we "Be-leavers" may win the referendum, I am not so sure that we shall see the UK leaving the EU.

    Its difficult to see the pro-EU establishment giving in so easily to democracy.

    Interesting times ahead but as Paul writes above, for the next week we can enjoy the growing discomfort of those who think they know what is best for us :).

  3. If I were a Brit, I would have voted "out". My general belief is that Britain has more to lose than win from staying in the EU.
    But I am a Romanian, and if asked to vote for my country, I would vote "in". Same two pence judgement tells me that it is still more on the positive side than the negative for Romania to stay in the EU.

  4. If things stay as they are the establishment is going to lose this referendum, but I fear it's going to pull some dirty trick to win it. The forces on the Remain side are just too powerful.

  5. Mr anonymous Please don't claim the established order has anything to do with the horrific and brutal murder of Jo Cox, an extremely funny articulate and deeply committed woman, however I think because of the event the whole debate is about to pivot. Paul sadly this ties in very well also with some of your thoughts on Orlando.

  6. When Napoleon took La Serenissima the Venetian nobles committed mass suicide, would that be in order if there is no Brexit?

  7. David in Banja Luka19 June 2016 at 09:10

    I like the current (10-23 June) Private Eye cover:

  8. Remainers Optimistic Brexit Will Never Happen Due to Nuclear War…

  9. Blackly funny. Thanks. Amazing that we did it. I am very proud of the old country. We have courage and greatness despite our long dreary Babylonian captivity.

  10. People say that the murder of Mrs. Jo Cox, which was followed by a strong shift to Remain in the polls, did not affect the result in the end, but it might have done. It is possible that the vote to Leave would have been much bigger had she mot been murdered.