I suppose many will be sick of Brexit now, nevertheless I feel like adding my tuppence worth. My futuristic novels generally have some aspect of alternative governments in the background, or as settings for the stories, and in some ways the Federal form in one of the trilogies, and in one other story, has similarities with the EU. The reason I raise this is because I do not feel that Brexit was just a wildly irrational thing to do (and that does not mean I think it was a good thing to do) but rather I think it was a failure of governance on the part of the EU, and a failure of leadership by Cameron.
Take as an example, one Brit I saw interviewed stated his wages were reduced by three quid an hour recently, and his employer did that simply because said employer could get cheaper labour from Eastern Europe. With free movement of labour, wages fall to the lowest available, but the cost of living does not fall correspondingly. The benefits of said lower wages fall into the laps of the employing class. Accordingly, we might suspect the EU bureaucrats are more interested in assisting the welfare of the rich than considering that of the masses. Now, if that happened to you, would you vote to retain such competition for your job? More than one who voted to leave, when interviewed, said something like, “I’m broke, so I vote to break the system that broke me.”
There were two interesting concentrations of votes to remain. The first was in London, where many are professionals, and many are cheap labour from the East, both of whom benefited greatly from remaining. The second was from Scotland, and my guess is some of that was insurance: if exit won, the Scots would wish to exit from the UK and hope their voting for the EU would let them remain in the EU. In short, it was partly a vote to exit from the UK.
The votes to leave apparently mainly came from the unemployed or the wages class, and those with lower levels of education. They also came from the places that used to be part of the UK industrial zones (except for Glasgow, and it was interesting that although Glasgow voted to remain, the turnout was seriously down there, in accord with the theory that they wanted Scotland out of the UK).
There have been threats of dire economic consequences. I do not believe that trade will suffer significantly. Germany sells a lot of manufactured things to the UK, and it is hardly likely to want to lose those sales, and if it wants to keep its sales, it has to permit the UK to sell into the EU. An important point is that neither the manufacturing base nor the demand from people will change dramatically. The main danger is spiteful “punishment”. Undoubtedly there will be adverse economic consequences, and probably the one the EU fears the most is further exits. Greece must be seriously considering it.
The fact that the stock markets went crazy intially is irrelevant. As one of our Prime Ministers once noted, stock traders tend to behave like reef fish: as soon as one heads off in a new direction, all the rest follow. There was another interesting aspect of these markets, and that is a lot of smart traders took short positions. This tends to stop total collapse because the shorts have to be covered, and a sensible trader takes a good profit when on offer. Further, it did not last. At the time of writing this, the FTSE 100 was up on pre-referendum prices.
Another major concern with the EU is the influence of the bureaucrats and technocrats, and it is designed to protect entrenched interests. Thus given the bad choices by BOTH participants, it is the Greeks that must suffer rather than the owners of the German banks. The British, at least, see the EU run to maintain the traditional class system, and if you happen to be nearer the bottom, why maintain it? Over the last decade, the system has run in a way in which the establishment has caused considerable financial chaos through a mix of greed and ineptitude. So who pays? Not those who caused it. Sure, they will have taken hits, but the wealth continues to trickle up in their direction. A week later and some reality is setting in. Some of the countries like Poland and the Czech Republic have expressed concern that Germany, Italy and France are starting to take too much control; they saw the UK as an important counterbalance.
Meanwhile, the overall level of common sense seems to be diving. I have seen some commentators claim the exit is not necessarily going to happen. One way out is for the government to call an election, and if Labour won, they could take that as an endorsement not to leave. The problem with that reasoning is that it is the people who would normally vote Labour who voted to leave. Meanwhile, there was a massive vote of no-confidence in Corbyn, the Labour leader, by his party politicians because he did not campaign strongly to remain. Corbyn refuses to step down, showing a strong commitment to democracy and convention, but perhaps he is right because it is the people who he represents that voted to leave. Meanwhile Cameron has lashed out, saying he should do the decent thing and go for his failure. Failure for what? Rescuing Cameron from his ineptitude?
So, what now? I recently saw a speech from a “leaver” to the EU parliament (at least I think it was) and it was a dreadful example of diplomacy. If ever someone tried to maximise the irritation of his audience, this would have been an example, and the sad thing is, I don’t think it was intended that way. Instead it was simple uncaring stupidity. This makes no sense at all. As to what will happen next, I don’t think anyone knows, which shows the ineptness of Prime Minister Cameron. You should never call a binding referendum unless you have a reasonably clear idea of what you will do if either side wins. Cameron seems to have decided he knew what he would do if remain won: nothing. Unfortunately, that seems to have been his option if exit won, and it is simply not adequate.