Tuesday, September 10, 2019

"Brexit Saboteurs"

A National Review Online article titled "Brexit Saboteurs" by NRO regular Kyle Smith has this to say about the British horror of a hard Brexit:

The European Union is the new Hotel California: You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

Any hopes that the British government might actually go ahead and achieve Brexit, after more voters supported it than have ever voted for anything in the entire history of this formerly great country, were pretty well dashed this week when Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a spectacular series of defeats in the House of Commons, capped by the utterly humiliating departure of his own brother Jo, a Remainer, who quit both his brother’s government and his seat in the Commons rather than be an ally for the Brexit Johnson has repeatedly promised would occur, “do or die,” on October 31. Jo Johnson said he was putting “the national interest” ahead of party and family.

After many in his own party deserted him, and, more to the point, deserted the country, by joining the pro-EU coalition in Parliament, a bill set to become law on Monday will require Johnson to go on bended knee to the EU to seek a second extension. After that outcome is secured, a general election looms.

In proving that it is terrified of a no-deal Brexit, Parliament has effectively stripped the United Kingdom of all its negotiating leverage and made it probable that nothing like a clean break with the EU will occur. What Britain will wind up with will evidently either be continued EU membership or some sort of sham Brexit like the one that was repeatedly rejected when Theresa May tried to sell it to the Commons.

How about this idea? “A simple referendum will solve Brexit,” Tony Blair writes in an op-ed in the Evening Standard. Hang on, I thought there already was one. But no, you see, that referendum delivered the wrong result. Britain checked out of the EU in 2016, but it can never be allowed to leave.
Europeans' commitment to transnational progressivism—the idea that individual countries' sovereign governments should fall under the umbrella of an even greater, continent-spanning governmental power—runs deep, and this includes Europeans in the UK. Look at the UK country by country to see how true this is: Scotland is a prime example of a nation that can no longer even imagine what it's like to be independent. This is no longer the Scotland of independence advocates like Sean Connery; Scotland had a 2014 referendum in which it voted to stick with the UK instead of breaking away, but when Brexit happened in 2016, Scotland became horrified at the notion of remaining with the UK if that meant being separated from the EU. Talk of a second referendum began. I've lamented the loss of Scotland's testicular fortitude several times on this blog; it really is a pathetic sight, at least when seen from a distance. It's a bit like watching the Greeks desperately cling to the eurozone when what they really need to do is have a Grexit, go back to the drachma, solve their own problems (mainly by paying down their massive, crippling debt to Germany), and only then think about dealing with the rest of Europe as a truly self-empowered nation that has recovered its dignity. A single Scot might still be a brave, fear-no-death bloke, but the Scots collectively have become meek little sheep. Of the UK countries, England is the bloc that voted most strongly for Brexit. Perhaps, in the end, it's only England (and maybe Wales?) that will leave the EU, and any notion of a UK will evaporate in the wake of that sea change.

My own intuition is that a hard Brexit will be hell on the UK's economy for the first decade or so, but in the long term, this will all prove to have been worth the trouble, especially if Brexit leads to a cascade on the Continent: a Frexit, an Italexit, etc., and a return to 1980s-era, pre-eurozone Europe. Will this mean the reappearance of tariffs and trade borders, perhaps the partial dissolution of the Schengen Area? Yes, but the upside is the resuscitation of national sovereignty and cultural pride, and the prospect of better trading arrangements than the ones currently in place. Pie in the sky, to think this way? Maybe. But my bias is toward national sovereignty, not transnational progressivism. In the meantime, Parliament needs to find where its balls went and do the right damn thing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


One of my friends and I have discussed Scotland several times with respect to both their attempts to leave the UK and now the issue with the EU. Scotland is very socialist and very broke. If they leave the UK, Russia or China will step in to support their economy in exchange for a naval base, say in Scapa Flow. The Scots probably see the EU as a protection from England so they can maintain their socialism at no cost to them. After all, the EU is a socialist structure.