Eight reasons why in the end, Britain still won’t Brexit

brexit-AP-cropped

Let me make a prediction:

The United Kingdom — should it continue to exist — will not in the end withdraw from the European Union. The enormous legal, economic, bureaucratic, personal and political consequences engendered by such a move simply cannot be sustained based on the outcome of a single non-binding referendum that was decided by such a narrow vote, not over the long term. And while Thursday’s vote occurred at a specific moment in time, its implementation will require a full-hearted commitment to EU withdrawal over a period of several years that I do not think exists.

At the moment, of course, that is a distinctly minority viewpoint voiced by few if any in power. British Prime Minister David Cameron dismisses it out of hand, with a spokesman saying that a second Brexit referendum is “not remotely on the cards.” That’s what Cameron should say, and must say, so soon after a national referendum that he himself proposed. No leader, not even one who has announced his impending resignation, can so quickly thumb his nose at public opinion.

But here’s the reality:

1.) Under Article 50 of the European Union constitution, the withdrawal process doesn’t begin until a member state officially notifies the EU of its intent to withdraw. Despite the referendum outcome, Cameron has balked at issuing that formal notification, indicating that he will leave that responsibility to a replacement who won’t be selected until the ruling Conservative Party convenes in October. On the EU side, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also endorsed the idea of waiting at least until the fall, and if you can wait until the fall, then perhaps you can wait even longer to begin the process.

2.) Given the chaos within the Conservative Party, nobody knows who will replace Cameron, or what the new prime minister’s position on Brexit might be. The Labor Party is also undergoing a leadership crisis. Britain seems to be entering a period of great political instability, with very little likelihood of it producing a strong government that is committed to carrying out Brexit. In fact, a general election is a growing possibility before the year is out, and if the newly elected government campaigned on staying in the EU, then it would be easy to argue that the June referendum has been overruled.

3.) If and when British leaders do officially invoke Article 50, British and EU officials will begin to negotiate the unraveling of some 40 years of intertwined laws and regulations covering trade, immigration, labor, finance, consumer protection, environmental protection and other areas of the law. Then they must negotiate agreements to put all that back together again in a new arrangement. It will be incredibly complex. What happens to the 2 million British citizens now living and working in EU countries? What happens to the millions of EU citizens living and working in Britain? What about tariffs, and intellectual property laws, and foreign investment, and tax laws? As pointed out in a report drafted for the House of Lords prior to the Brexit vote, it typically takes somewhere between four to nine years for the EU to negotiate a trade agreement with another country, and the EU-Britain divorce agreement would be considerably more complex than a normal trade agreement.

4.) Under Article 50, the EU and an exiting member state have just two years to negotiate an exit agreement. However, with a unanimous vote of EU members, that two-year window can be renewed any number of times, meaning that the process can continue indefinitely. And under European law,  Britain can legally reverse its decision to withdraw at any point in that negotiating process, right up to the moment at which that withdrawal is officially complete and ratified by both parties. That point is at best years away.

5.) Now that their bluff has been called, British advocates of Brexit are already acknowledging that many of their biggest promises were moonlight and ashes.  Immigration is unlikely to be curtailed to any great degree, as Leave proponents had claimed. Hundreds of millions of pounds a week will not be diverted from the coffers of the EU into the National Health Service, as top Brexit supporters had promised.  And many Leave supporters, confronted with the enormity of what they have done, are expressing misgivings that are likely to deepen over time.

6.) Brexit advocates pooh-poohed experts who warned that it would bring serious economic repercussions, but unfortunately those warnings appear to be valid. The British pound is at its lowest level since 1985 and British stocks are tanking, with British bank stocks being hit particularly hard.  Goldman Sachs is predicting a recession in Britain next year, and Standard & Poors has downgraded British government debt by two notches, its largest downgrade in history, warning that additional downgrades are possible. “In our opinion, this outcome is a seminal event, and will lead to a less predictable, stable, and effective policy framework in the UK,” S&P warned. In addition, foreign investors are balking at additional investment in Britain and some are looking to pull out of existing commitments.

7.) Absent a written constitution, British law can be murky, but there’s a strong case being made in the UK that the British government cannot commit itself to EU withdrawal without the approval of the Scottish Parliament, and since Scottish voters overwhelming opposed Brexit, that approval is unlikely.  In fact, Scottish elected officials have made it clear that if Britain carries through on its decision to withdraw, Scotland will in turn demand its own independence so it can rejoin the EU as an independent nation, on its own terms.  In short, to the degree that British authorities avidly pursue withdrawal from the EU, they also avidly pursue the breakup of the 300-year-old United Kingdom.

8.) Brexit advocates also told voters that they would be able to negotiate a new deal with the EU, preserving all or most of the benefits of EU membership without most of the obligations and compromises that membership entails.  EU leaders show no signs whatsoever that they are open to such an arrangement. “In is in. Out is out,” as the German finance minister argued before the vote. “At some point, the British will realize they have taken the wrong decision. And then we will accept them back one day, if that’s what they want.”

I don’t profess to be an expert in British or EU politics, but at some basic level, politics is politics and bureaucracies are bureaucracies. Traumatic changes on this scale can be carried out with the decisive support of the public and the strong, durable commitment of a government, but in this case neither exists. Instead we have a policy backed by a tiny majority of the electorate, opposed by three quarters of the British Parliament, to be implemented over a period of years by a likely succession of British governments, any one of which could end the process and could cite multiple good reasons for doing so.

In the end, I’m dubious that’s going to happen.

Reader Comments 0

2104 comments
otherview
otherview

Everybody loves democracy until they lose a presidential election or a referendum

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

Lol, The Washington Post pushing the narrative of race as the be-all, end-all. 

Just like their counterparts at the DNC Times I mean The New York Times

Such a convenient narrative for the Democratic Party. Funny how that works.

Guess it must be election time. lol

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@Hedley_Lammar @Donnie_Pinko 

Not a conspiracy exactly. These papers speak for the middle and upper middle class layers that gravitate around the Democratic Party. 

They don't have to be in cahoots per se. 


Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/03/03/how-political-science-helps-explain-the-rise-of-trump-the-role-of-white-identity-and-grievances/


Their influence on mass politics became stronger in the 1960s and 1970s. As the Democratic and Republican parties took divergent stands on civil rights, attitudes toward blacks became a powerful predictor of which party Americans identified with. Attitudes about African-Americans are a majorreason why the once solidly Democratic South has become a Republican stronghold.


Vanderbilt political scientists Marc Hetherington and Drew Engelhardt showed last week just how much more racially conservative Republicans have become in recent years. They concluded from those findings that “it is not surprising that a candidate (Trump) who is well known for questioning President Obama’s citizenship…and said that black youths have ‘never done more poorly’ because ‘there’s no spirit’ would be attractive to a party that these days is dripping with racial resentment.”

Nor is it surprising that a candidate like Trump who has made a number of insensitive statements about minority groups performs best among Republicans who score highest in white ethnocentrism,anti-immigrant attitudesracial resentmentfear of Muslims, and racial and ethnic intolerance. Appeals to racial and ethnic anxieties have often succeeded in activating support for racially conservative politicians.


You can stick your head in the sand if you want to Donnie. And see this as some systemic problem with capitalism etc etc.


But the explanation for Trumps rise is far simpler. And more disgusting.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

But to come back to the original point, Hedley, you are of the view that the concerns motivating Trump supporters - like their counterparts in the pro-Brexit camp in Britain - are strictly racism and bigotry, the resentment of a bunch of uneducated bumpkins that can be safely ignored, yes?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Donnie_Pinko For the most part yes.


1. The GOP isnt all white by accident

2. It isnt a coincidence Trump was a birther

3. Nor is it that he was going to deport 11 million of "those" people


That is basically his entire stump speech. And white identity politics worked well in the GOP primaries.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Donnie_Pinko You can even see it in the age demographics in these votes comrade.


Do you think older people tend to be more racist ?


I do.


And they are voting that way.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@Hedley_Lammar @Donnie_Pinko 

So it's all about race, huh? 

Nothing to do with the inevitable popular resistance to an economic system that, as Bernie Sanders says, is an engine for the creation of vast inequalities of wealth? 

Surprise, surprise. Workers in Britain, many of whom have seen a decline in their standard of living while the very rich in their country have become much richer, have turned their backs on the European Union and a globalized economy that is failing them and their children.
And it’s not just the British who are suffering. That increasingly globalized economy, established and maintained by the world’s economic elite, is failing people everywhere. Incredibly, the wealthiest 62 people on this planet own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population — around 3.6 billion people. The top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the whole of the bottom 99 percent.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/29/opinion/campaign-stops/bernie-sanders-democrats-need-to-wake-up.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region®ion=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0


FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Environmentalists oppressing black and brown people?

Shame on them!

“If a person doesn’t have a job, it’s going to affect their health — they can’t get the right kind of medical (care) they need for their families,” said Pastor Kevin Barnes of Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church, denouncing the proposed legislation before the meeting.

Dueling demonstrators outside City Hall chanted, some waving red “No Coal Exports” signs while others demanded that the council support a project that could bring thousands of jobs to West Oakland.

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Hundreds-pack-Oakland-City-Hall-for-coal-ban-vote-8328358.php#photo-10456910

Looks like the city council backed out on the deal.

AGAIN...shame on them!

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/immigrants-did-not-take-job

Another from the extremely conservative Cato Institute.



But if immigrants “take” jobs from Americans, then so must any new entrant in the workforce also take a job from another American. If the number of jobs is fixed and adding new labor just increases unemployment—which would be the logical conclusion to this argument—unemployment should increase over time as the population grows. The reality is the precise opposite.


From 1948 to 2012, the size of the U.S. labor force went from 60 million to 156 million—a two-and-a-half-fold increase. Over the same time, the number of people employed in the U.S. labor market has increased from 58 million to 148 million. There would be about 90 million fewer employed Americans today than there are if new workers entering the labor market actually prevented older workers from getting jobs.


This 90 million net gain in jobs since 1948 is impossible to explain for people claiming that immigrants “take jobs” from Americans.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Immigrants as consumers increase the demand for goods and services. This higher demand in turn affects the labor market by boosting the demand for labor, leading to an increase in equilibrium employment.


In summary, the quantitative evidence shows that, overall, immigrants do not take native workers’ jobs in the long term and that they stimulate job creation through increased production, self-employment, entrepreneurship and innovation. Evidence also shows that for the most part, these findings align with public opinion in developed countries.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amelie-constant/5-reasons-why-immigrants-_b_8036814.html


A good response to the " They took yur job !!!!! " nonsense


Keeping immigrants out will mean fewer jobs. For all of us.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

DANG! This column's been on the plate since Monday.

Where's the bacon, jay?

schnirt  

SFM_Scootter
SFM_Scootter

@FIGMO2 It don't matter where the bacon is. The parrots will be squawking about Trump and the GOP no matter the topic.  LOL

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

So Hedley, do you see any connection between Trump voters in the US and the British voters who voted in the referendum to leave the EU? 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Donnie_Pinko Of course.


They voted against the brown guy down the street too.


Leaving the EU is thier version of building a wall.


The UK is far less diverse and far more conservative than America. So the results there dont exactly predict a Trump victory.

td1234
td1234

@Hedley_Lammar So in your opinion black folks in this country do not want jobs to come back to this country? They do not want higher wages because of supply and demand of labor? 


Wow, I thought all American working class and middle class folks would want this for their families regardless of race. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@td1234 @Hedley_Lammar So in your opinion black folks in this country do not want jobs to come back to this country? They do not want higher wages because of supply and demand of labor?

Different job pool altogether.

Frankly most of this is over your head.


Kicking an illegal out who is picking produce doesnt magically bring high paying steel jobs back to Pennsylvania. 

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@Hedley_Lammar @Donnie_Pinko 

There are many ways of measuring 'diversity'. The foreign born population of the UK is currently estimated at around 11%, not too far off from the 12 or so percent for the US. Not really a huge difference. 

But again, considering the outsized importance of the massive world city of London, an even more dominant role in a smaller country than New York or Los Angeles has in the US, I think you're greatly overstating the lack of diversity in the UK.

td1234
td1234

@Hedley_Lammar @td1234 Oh, so black folks do not want manufacturing jobs, construction jobs or to work in restaurant industry? Is that the job pool you are talking about? 


To claim that all illegals that come here only work picking produce is a bigoted comment. When is the last time you have been in a neighborhood where houses are being built? 

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@Hedley_Lammar @Donnie_Pinko 

As for the claim that the UK is more 'conservative' than the US, that's also, like 'diversity', a difficult category to even agree on a metric for, let alone agree on the respective extents that each country embodies it.

But the claim that the UK is across the board 'more conservative' than the US is, certainly from a historical standpoint, a very shaky claim at best.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Donnie_Pinko @Hedley_Lammar About 90 percent of the English identify as white


That number is about 70 % here


If you cant see the difference in those two numbers there isnt much left for us to talk about

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@td1234 @Hedley_Lammar To claim that all illegals that come here only work picking produce is a bigoted comment.


No it isnt. Its just a fact. The low wage jobs they are doing aren't the same ones Americans are hoping Trump magically brings back


Not even close.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@Hedley_Lammar @Donnie_Pinko 

As I said, there's a huge problem of metrics here. You're zeroing in on racial identification, which is just one among many possible metrics. 

Too bad PaulinNH is not around at the moment, would be interesting for him to weigh in on this.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Donnie_Pinko @Hedley_Lammar  As I said, there's a huge problem of metrics here. You're zeroing in on racial identification, which is just one among many possible metrics


Its clearly the most accurate one. But it hurts your argument so you push it away


Sorry doesnt fly.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@Hedley_Lammar @Donnie_Pinko 
Except that it'[s not. 

The presence in the country of actual foreigners/immigrants- those born on foreign soil - is the best measure of that. That's why Los Angeles and Miami are the most 'diverse' cities in the United States, as they have the largest foreign born populations as a percentage of the overall population.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Donnie_Pinko @Hedley_Lammar  The presence in the country of actual foreigners/immigrants- those born on foreign soil - is the best measure of that


And based on the numbers they have far fewer of those.


It isnt even close.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@Hedley_Lammar @Donnie_Pinko 

The percentage of the overall population is in the same general neighborhood.
The US foreign born percentage was somewhat higher than the UK at the turn of the century, but the gap appears to have been closing in recent years. 

Now Australia is a different matter entirely. It is a super-immigrant destination AND a small country and puts both the US and UK to shame in terms of diversity.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

Just for you, td: 

"Believe it or not, the GOP Zika bill reverses the ban on flying the confederate flag at military cemeteries. Really! Idiotic."

— Senator Harry Reid

td1234
td1234

@Nick_Danger Can you please go into the bill that was filibustered in the Senate and show us where the word Confederate or Flag is anywhere in the bill? 


While you are at it then please explain to us why anything to do with the flag should be incorporated in any spending bill on Zika? 

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@td1234 @Nick_Danger

I, for one, am glad to see that, with your support of Donald Trump, you have finally evolved on the issues of abortion and gay marriage and are now totally cool with both.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@td1234 @Nick_Danger 

"While you are at it then please explain to us why anything to do with the flag should be incorporated in any spending bill on Zika?" 

Completely agree, td.  Can you write your Congresscritters, and tell them this is about saving the unborn, not flags?  I already have.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@td1234 @Nick_Danger Democrats opposed the bill, which they complained was negotiated between Senate and House Republicans with little input from them and was loaded with "poison pill" riders that cut health programs, restricted funding for birth control services from Planned Parenthood, weakened clean water laws and blocked a ban on displaying the Confederate flag at U.S. military cemeteries.


I guess they are just making that up huh ?


http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/06/28/bill-provide-11-billion-zika-funding-dies-senate-vote/86463734/

honested
honested

Glad I went to bed early.

Seems that the 'intentional suspension of disbelief posse' was stuck-on-stupid all night.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@PaulinNH @honested Its shameful


But they have no shame. 


Much like a Trump voter they see the world in Simpleton terms. Rubes will do that


Muslim = Bad


Its no coincidence most Trump voters are not college educated. Nor is it one that the GOP is basically all white these days.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@Hedley_Lammar @PaulinNH @honested 

Its no coincidence most Trump voters are not college educated.

-

Hmm, that seems to dismiss the possibility that any of the concerns Trump supporters have might be rooted in legitimate grievances.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@honested  Yep - 41 people killed at Ataturk Airport and a RW circle jerk making jokes about Westboro - UFB

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Donnie_Pinko @Hedley_Lammar @PaulinNH @honested Yes


Don't forget Trump started with two issues


1. Obama wasn't born here

2. I'm gonna build a wall


White identity politics


And to 99.9 % of his supporters that is enough.


They dont know the TPP from toilet paper. If you think they do you are kidding yourself.