The Brexit elephant in the room
Hotblack Desiato 16 Jan 19 12:16
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Is that the EU, and many of its main nation states, are tearing themselves apart anyway, as general dissatisfaction with the direction of their lives mounts and becomes focussed on political elites. The attitude adopted by the EU political elite towards the UK in relation to the Brexit negotiation is a deliberate policy of being as difficult as possible "pour encourager les autres": to preserve the lie that it is not possible to have some, or all, of the benefits of a European free trade area, without the political edifice on top - were there a deep seated confidence within the EU that all was well with the European project, there would be less need to make an example of the UK.

 

And in case anyone doesn't believe me about the EU, and its key nation states tearing themselves apart, I would cite the following in evidence:

1. The German election results which has seen the rise of the right-wing, anti-Europe AfD, whose chairman was savagely beaten in the street with a metal bar (presumably for politically motivated reasons) last week.

2. The gilet jaune movement in France.

3. The Italian election results, which put the Lega Nord (a party which potentially wants to break up Italy and the 5 Star Movement in power)

4. The Catalan referendum of 2017, which saw Spanish riot police beating people for attempting to vote and threatened the break up of Spain itself

5. Greece, anyone?

6. The rise of nationalist parties in Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Finland, Poland

So, please, let's not pretend that everything is fine and dandy with the EU project. Because it isn't. In fact it looks like, Brexit is apart, it is in terminal decline anyway. In which case, why are we so concerned about the precise terms pursuant to which we are shackled to a corpse?

 

to preserve the lie that it is not possible to have some, or all, of the benefits of a European free trade area, without the political edifice on top

 

---

 

I stopped reading there

If Cameron hadn’t been so half arsed in his engagement with the EU and more importantly in his engagement with his own effing country, we could be leading reform of the EU and getting a better slice of the pie. But the little englanders aided by our enemies conspired to sleepwalk us into this shitshow. 

Now is the time for leadership, not running away.

 

OK I'll bite

 

the EU project is a massive success. it is being challenged by various forces, none of them are any good

the EU will prevail, it is the UK that will falter. approval for EU membership has never been higher, and that applies to all member states except the UK

you wanna keep taking about "a corpse" and a catastrophy "you need to get out of asap, lucky escape"? - fuck off then already. don't just talk about it

 

if there weren't a trend towards populism across the entire world your point might get off the ground

as there is, it doesn't

salvini won't last long

even afd is not talking about leaving the EU

the only khunts that are there to stay are orban - who is a dictator and shall face EU sanctions and kacynsky in poland, presumably

and this whole business of other states "tearing themslevs apart" is bullshit and wishful thinking of british idiots who want to believe everybody is in a mess like the brits are

all is well and orderly in germany

gilets jaunes - bannon's work - will p1ss off. it is easy to stage a protest in france, protests come and go

italian governments are short lived

and let's not forget how bitterly all these nationalists will fail, just like the brexiters

at some point, the disgruntled part of the public will be tired of the mugs of the "anti-establishment" as they will have become establishment themselves and have got nothing to offer and everybody's lives will be worse

Good crisp analysis from the OP and some searching questions.

Is it realistic to think we could lead in the EU without being in the euro?  I don't think so.

and I don't think anybody is suggesting it would be a good idea for us to join the euro?

DD, do you think there is a link between the tragic levels of youth unemployment in southern Europe and euro membership?

you think there would be more jobs in spain or italy without the euro?

frankly, people like the OP must not be active in brussels and strasbourg

why did you not ratify this deal? we want to get rid of you

First point - no need for the vulgar abuse. It does nothing to further debate, and tends to suggest a degree of insecurity about the opinions which the person is expressing.

 

Second point - for Heffalump, the fact that populism is on the rise around the world does not invalidate at all the argument in the OP. The very things that push people towards demagogues in the US, or Brazil are the same things that push towards demagogues in Europe, and against the EU: People don't feel in control of their lives, are struggling to make ends meet and feel that their government does not speak for them.

 

Third point for DD King "gilets jaunes - bannon's work - will p1ss off" Are you serious? You  believe that the French gilet jaune movement has been manufactured by the American, Steve Bannon? An interesting hypothesis, to say the least. Do you have any evidence to support it?

 

I do not have evidence but it is his work and also he wants to make this a pan european thing, he brought this stuff to the UK for example

The EU cannot make a United States of Europe. The countries are too culturally different. Not like the US where there is not that much difference between States. You could go from Washington State to Florida and people might be wearing t-shirts for different sports teams, but that's about it.

End 'The Project'. It'll never work.

no one intends to build a united states of europe

further integration in some fields does not mean we're living in the same state

HB- what current member of the EU had a border-line civil war on its territory for 30 years, used its armed forces to murder its citizens (as accepted by independent enquiries and led to public apologies from the then PM) and has a not insignificant proportion of its population that wants to breakaway?

actually agree with most of the OP’s criticism. The EU has a lot of problems. I just don’t think it therefore follows that it is in our best interest to jump out of the frying pan into the fire with no plan. 

Yanis Varoufakis account of the Greek crisis and his time as finance minister was utterly eye opening 

Agreed stru.

People just don’t get it. 

The problems of this country will not be solved by leaving the EU

They will only be exacerbated 

And that’s before adding in all the crap in Europe

Oh, and the US.

Here's a thought, maybe if there are problems within the EU we might want to think about trying to fix them. Our problem with the EU stems from the fact that we send complete fuckwits like Farage there to represent us. The UK has never worked in good faith with the EU.

It is the same thing with Obamacare in the US. it isn't perfect but it is a bloody good idea and instead of throwing away the baby with the bath water how about trying to fix what is wrong with it.

Meanwhile the likes of Putin and yes, Bannon, are stirring up all of this shit to to push Europe into turmoil. It is not a coincidence that Russia began bombing the shit out of Syria on the same day that Merkel said that Germany would open it's arms to refugees.

The Russians are absolutely killing it in the propaganda war against the West, as evidenced by fairly well educated and intelligent people such as those found of RoF (3 Dux excluded obviously) are seemingly falling for it hook, line and sinker.

if I was macron I would instruct the DGSE or whatever they're called to put a hole into bannon

send a message

"HB- what current member of the EU had a border-line civil war on its territory for 30 years, used its armed forces to murder its citizens (as accepted by independent enquiries and led to public apologies from the then PM) and has a not insignificant proportion of its population that wants to breakaway?"

Borderline civil war? None. The violence in Northern Ireland is nowhere near a civil war (believe it or not there is a judicial definition of the various types of political risk, ranging from riot all the way to civil war and war via civil commotion etc., it is a broad spectrum and NI does not get anywhere close in terms of the levels of violence. Italy and Spain suffered more fatalities from political violence in the last 50 years than the UK did:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism_in_Europe

Using armed forces to murder citizens:? France. Greece. Spain. Portugal. Germany. Romania. Hungary. I could go on - you do realise that almost all the EU countries were  fascist or communist dicatorships until, 1990 in the case of the Warsaw Pact, and 1980 (in the case of Greece and Portugal)?

Has a not insignificant proportion of its population that wants to break away? France (Corsica, Basque region). Belgium (Flemish nationalists), Spain (Catalonia, Basque region) Italy (Lega Nord), Denmark (Faroe Islands), Germany (Bavaria) - I could go on.

 

I am just going to float this out there, but I don't think that history or politics are you strong suits?

 

 

^lol @ this

 

bavaria wants to break away - comical

I didn't have HB down as a muppet, but now i do

DD Putin wants to be seen as a big man on campus. He sees himself in the tradition of Russian leaders,  strong abroad and feared at home. Oh, and he’s a crook. Just like Trump. Simple. Plus his people like strong leaders and are used to being oppressed.

HD, small break away countries want to STAY in the EU you prize chump - see also Scottish and Welsh nats.

"The EU cannot make a United States of Europe. The countries are too culturally different. Not like the US where there is not that much difference between States. You could go from Washington State to Florida and people might be wearing t-shirts for different sports teams, but that's about it.

End 'The Project'. It'll never work."

 

I am not necessarily advocating a United States of Europe but the comparison with the US does not help you - There were absolutely huge cultural and economic differences between the North and the South - which indeed led to civil war - that didn't prevent them coming together to form the United States.

actually agree with most of the OP’s criticism. The EU has a lot of problems. I just don’t think it therefore follows that it is in our best interest to jump out of the frying pan into the fire with no plan. 

 

That is an opinion that is plainly worth of respect, because it acknowledges the nuances of the situation. if only more of the debate about Brexit could be on those terms. I personally think that we are better off just getting on with making our own way, without trying to deal with the EU, because I think that it is the next recession away from completely falling apart, and, based on German export orders, which are a fairly reliable economic "canary in the coalmine" that recession (which is a global one) is probably already upon us. But I may be wrong about that.

 

^lol @ this

 

bavaria wants to break away - comical

I didn't have HB down as a muppet, but now i do

 

Apaz 32% of Bavarian's favour independence from Germany according to a 2017 poll.

https://www.thelocal.de/20170717/one-in-three-bavarians-want-independence-from-germany-poll-shows-bavaria

And Bavaria is Germany's biggest state with a population of 13 million. So 32% of Bavarians makes for 4.16 million German citizens who don't want to be part of Germany, or 5% of the total German population.

Now Scotland has a total population of 5.3 million, and in the last referendum 45% of Scotland voted for independence. 45% of 5.3 million equals 2.39 million. The population of the UK is 66 million. 2.39 million people out of 66 million is approx. 3.6% of the total UK population.

So in fact a higher percentage of Germans wish to be independent from Germany than British citizens want to be independent from the UK, but let's not let pesky things like facts and numbers get in the way.

I do not belive in that poll and those bavarians are very quiet indeed

if at all it is more of a running gag

"HD, small break away countries want to STAY in the EU you prize chump - see also Scottish and Welsh nats."

 

No need for the abuse. I was responding to a post, which asked a question about which other EU countries had a large breakaway faction. I answered that question with a range of examples. Whether those breakaway factions do or don't want to be part of the EU was not the point in issue to which I was responding.

I do not belive in that poll and those bavarians are very quiet indeed

if at all it is more of a running gag.

 

History and politics not your strong suit either? Germany was only unified in 1871. Scotland and England have been unified since 1603. Bavaria is predominantly Catholic, whereas northern Germany is predominantly protestant. Bavaria has it own right wing party the CSU, which while it co-operates with the CDU at the federal level, is a separate party. Bavaria is also more conservative than the rest of Germany. So the fact that what was an independent state until 1871, with a continuing separate political tradition, should have a sizeable pro-independence minority, is no more surprising than Scots nationalism.

I think a lot of these are similar to Calexit.  It's a fun idea to play around with California seceding from the US but it's not going to happen.  Plenty of people will advance good ideas in favour of it but in the end will say that they want to stay with the other states.  Similar in a lot of places like Bavaria.

 

Well you say that now, but Catalonia did vote for independence, but Spain refused to acknowledge the vote in 2017. In the end the Catalans acquiesced. However if a severe recession hits (and there are lots of signs that one is imminent) then that is exactly the kind of thing that exacerbates nationalist independence tendencies.

 

And I don't think Calexit is the right comparator at all because it never was an independent sovereign state. Unlike Bavaria.

Well done for missing the point HB.

Your OP stated that the EU, and many of its main nation states, are tearing themselves apart. You cited some examples, yet failed to reference that the UK could on many counts (see my post) be regarded as the EU member doing/done most damage to itself.

I merely wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of your post.

oh really, you big expert, I haven't noticed, yeah it is more catholic than the north and more conservative. and germany is one of the youngest european nation states

it is still a running gag

HB, I'd have seriously considered voting Leave in 2016 if the Leavers had had some kind of coherent plan that made sense for Leaving and offered it as an alternative vision to the mess that is the EU. Some risk of leaving the EU was fine, but not the fantasyland unicorns and rainbows type stuff that they were pitching. And so I voted Remain because I thought (still think) we are better off in. 

 

Of course, if the Leavers had done a sensible campaign based on facts etc, they would not have won, because they couldn't have been "all things to all people"..

Well done for missing the point HB.

Your OP stated that the EU, and many of its main nation states, are tearing themselves apart. You cited some examples, yet failed to reference that the UK could on many counts (see my post) be regarded as the EU member doing/done most damage to itself.

I merely wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of your post.

 

There is no hypocrisy in the OP. Nowhere do I assert in the OP that the UK is a cohesive united country. It isn't. It is deeply divided about Brexit for one, and Scottish Nationalism as another, to say nothing of wealth inequality and the polarisation of politics evidenced by a hard left Labour party straight out of the 1970s.

The point I was seeking to highlight were the widespread internal problems within the EU and its member states, which are largely overlooked in the debate.

 

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Scotland and England have been unified since 1603.

Heh.

Act of Union was 1707 m7. 

 

Touché

 

 

Hot Black there, apparently unable to apply occams razor

what is more likely, that people are mad about austerity caused by the banking crisis that saw them pay to bail out banks and shoulder 10 years of stagnation made worse by the blistering growth of previous years

or

after 50 years of relative contentment with the EU the average person has suddenly decided that actually a geo political trading block is actually responsible for all their troubles and the only way that they will be happy is if their country leaves said trading block, puts up shiny new border barriers to inconvience said average person who nips across borders at will and crashes their economy even harder than has been done previously

yeah

it's a fcuking pickle that one, if only we have some anecdotal evidence?

Oh wait, what was brexit fought on again? A FUCKING MASSIVE RED BUS DRIVING AROUND SAYING "MORE PUBLIC SPENDING!" 

A LEGION OF PEOPLE COMPLAINING ABOUT A LACK OF COUNCIL HOUSES AND WANTING MORE PUBLIC SPENDING?

PUBLIC SPENDING WAS IT?

ffs!

Just to build on the theme of the OP, I thought I would add:

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-47161500

Which for the lazy, is an article about the French recalling their ambassador to Italy. Amongst many bones of contention between Italy and France are.....excessive border checks by the French at the Italian border and the return of migrants from France to Italy contrary to free movement rules

Which puts all the posturing by the EU about the Irish border in context - EU countries themselves have borders, which if not hard, are at least flaccid and don't apply free movement principles when it comes to racial groups they don't like.

 

 

There are lots of good reasons to think brexters like the OP might be idiots, but the reason that they are undeniably idiots is that they seem not to realise that 99.9% of remainers know full well the EU is imperfect.

And yet, despite its manifold imperfections, it remains by a country mile (ho ho) better than any plausible or practical alternative.

now, don’t get me wrong, I too want Nirvana. But I wouldn’t be prepared to vote for a chance of it if the odds are overwhelmingly against the probability of Nirvana appearing. Especially when the almost certain downside risk is utterly shit.

"There are lots of good reasons to think brexters like the OP might be idiots, but the reason that they are undeniably idiots is that they seem not to realise that 99.9% of remainers know full well the EU is imperfect.

 

now, don’t get me wrong, I too want Nirvana."

 

Gautama Buddha say:

 

"Be careful about calling huge numbers of people idiots simply because you disagree with them about a matter of opinion."

The gilets jaunes movement is not directly relevant to the EU.

It began as a protest against the rising cost of living in France and the trigger point was the increase in fuel tax proposed by Macron as an environmental protection measure. It was widely seen to be a classic "Metropolitan elite" move, proposed by someone with plenty of money who lives in Paris, is driven around in a chauffeur driven car and does not understand that for the majority of people living in rural France, a car is a necessity rather than a luxury, and the increase in fuel tax was an unreasonable attack on the household budgets of people who are already financially stretched and feeling politically alienated.

The movement has ballooned into a general expression of discontentment, and this is where it starts to lose its sense. The original complaint is quite valid, but it was a "straw that breaks the camel's back" moment, meaning that an awful lot of latent dissatisfaction and frustration (some of it not particularly valid) is now coming to the surface.

On the fuel tax, yes, they've got a point. But the same people are also demanding increased spending on public services, pensions and healthcare, whilst simultaneously demanding tax cuts. This is where their argument starts to falter.

None of this is directly relevant to France's membership of the EU. Indeed, the "immigrants taking our jobs and undercutting our salaries" argument is much less valid in France than it is in the UK, due to the fact that the employment market is far less liberal and the French are naturally protectionist. People will willingly pay more for goods produced in France, partly due to a conscious desire to support the French economy (which is valid and coherent), and partly due to a (IMO mistaken) belief that goods produced in France are genuinely superior to goods produced elsewhere. They do not need any encouragement to behave in this way from the French government (which is just as well, since any such encouragement would most likely be illegal state aid).

The danger is that Macron, just like Cameron, will be seen as an out of touch elite who doesn't understand or care about working class people, and they will vote for the opposite of what Macron is promoting, whatever that may be. This could potentially lead to a 2022 election contest between the far left and the far right, with the EU once again becoming the ultimate scapegoat, taking the blame for what are largely domestic problems.

If there were to be a second referendum in the UK and the British people voted to remain, the anti-EU political movements in France (and probably elsewhere) would sieze on this as further "evidence" that the EU is undemocratic because whenever people vote against it in a referendum, they are either ignored (as the French were when they voted against the Constitutional Treaty in 2005) or told to vote again until they get the "right answer" (as the Irish were over Lisbon). The fact that the Constitutional Treaty was abandoned (albeit that some parts were carried over into Lisbon) and that changes were made to Lisbon which enabled the Irish people to vote for it are largely ignored by people seeking to make that argument. And so the fact that the British people could only have a second referendum if allowed to do so by their own elected representatives in the UK, and that they could only overturn the result of the first referendum if a majority of people then vote to remain, will similarly be ignored, as it would not support the narrative these people wish to advance.

The UK crashing out with no deal is probably what is needed to stop other countries from following in our footsteps.

Tl;dr

 

am I getting an elephant?  Strutter you put your pocket back the right way round this instant

I disagree Lady P, the chaos caused by disorderly brexit, while it will affect the UK worse than the EU is unpredictable and could well be destablising to the union generally.  The EU, unlike the British Tories are not foolhardy idealogues and will still work hard to ensure a deal. 

excessive border checks by the French at the Italian border and the return of migrants from France to Italy contrary to free movement rules

uhm, no ...

The French are returning migrants to Italy in full respect of the free movement rules. Those returned migrants do not have the right of free movement under EU law and can be returned. The Brits love to ignore that, I know.

The Brexit chaos in general is destabilising, Strutts, there's no doubt about it.

But if the UK is seen to peer over the cliff edge and then change its mind about jumping at the last minute, this will be spun by some as a successful attempt by the EU to subvert democracy by bullying a member state into changing its mind and remaining. The damage that a no deal Brexit would do will not come to pass. The UK will be seen to have suffered humiliation at the hands of the EU, rather than economic Armageddon by its own hand.

What we are witnessing at the moment is a culture in which legitimate concerns and very likely consequences of a particular course of action are being dismissed as "Project Fear". It seems that people are unwilling to believe in those consequences unless they actually witness them coming to pass.

This means that anti-EU movements in France or any other member state would be able to use exactly the same Project Fear rhetoric because there would be no real-life example of "Project Fear" actually turning out to be true.

If the UK backs down from charging off the cliff, the likelihood is that another country will decide to to what the UK was eventually not brave/stupid enough to do. If the UK charges off the cliff and gets smashed on the rocks at the bottom, enough people in other countries will think twice about it.

HB are you being intentionally dishonest or do you not quite understand freedom of movement?

The immigrants you refer to are not EU citizens. Freedom of movement only applies to EU citizens.