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Thread: So, the UK has officially shot itself in the foot...

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    So, the UK has officially shot itself in the foot...

    ... and now will spend the next few years cutting off more toes. What a pointless exercise.

    As there's no other threads on this, and as today the first day the UK has officially left the EU (dragging Scotland out against its wishes and putting a border in the Irish Sea, not to mention the other untold damage this has caused us) I figured I'd start this one. I believe there are at least a few posters who, if not British, then at least have a passing understanding of the damage we've done to ourselves.

    Today is interesting - we now know with absolute clarity that the leave campaign was a lie, the promises were a lie, the reasons to leave were a lie, the benefits were a lie (though this was blindingly obvious to many of us for years). Though I am furious that my rights have been stolen from me, and that my country is now poorer and has lost so much face on the worlds stage - all of it utterly predictable and avoidable - I direct that burning resentment towards the liars and fraudsters who perpetrated this on my once great country. The people who were lied to - even if they haven't got to the stage of openly admitting this yet - I do not reserve my anger. After all, I have family members who were lied into voting to damage their country, my own mother amongst them.


    The venting helps, even if I- like many others- have been a helpless bystander over the last 4 years. We can't even indulge in any cassandrafreude - that we've been proven to be utterly right in the scale, scope and magnitude of the lies told by our right-wing print media, this brexit government and other various hangers on is thin gruel.

    What an awful day.


    But, to invite comment and not just to rant and rave - does anyone who knows what's been happening over the last 4 years have any predictions for what comes next?

    Will we see interruptions and problems around the borders in a few days time? (The British government waited until yesterday to release case studies of how the borders with the EU will actually operate - and lo & behold, a mountain of extra red tape and extra costs, yet another lie from what was promised)

    Will the UK have signed trade deals with the rest of the world to compensate for the loss of EU trade by the end of the year? (Another promise made by the leavers during the referendum)

    How long will it take for the deregulation of workers rights, environmental protections, food standards etc. which were promised by this brexit government would never happen but purposefully never put into law under the guise of cutting costs to business due to the increased costs of brexit?

    Any other thoughts?

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    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I'm from Northern Ireland, which, as you probably know, is a bit of a special case.

    In answer to your question about predictions, I am not making many, partly because I am SO not an expert in either politics, economics or business. I am not optimistic, but time will tell. I doubt we will know for several years whether it was a good idea or not. In the short term, it's likely to be a bumpy ride, and the bumpiness will now probably be compounded by the probable worldwide recession that's looming because of the impact of Covid.

    I voted Stay. My general view beforehand was that being in the EU was not broken, and I could not see a compelling reason to fix it.

    That said, it was never clear to me throughout the campaign what the actual pros and cons (of being or not being in the EU) were. There was a lot of rhetoric, but as I saw it, hard facts and data were in short supply, possibly because it was so complicated. For instance, I would have liked to have known how much it actually cost a British person (the average 'man in the street' as it were) per annum, to be in the EU. I realise that it is not easy to tally up all the financial plusses and minuses, and obviously many factors would not have been strictly financial, but I would have thought a rough figure could have been attempted. Maybe it was and maybe I missed it. As I saw it, even the misleading (Leave Campaign) slogan on the buses about how much it cost (and thus how much could be diverted into the NHS) was never adequately countered. But then I think many people, including those with influence, were complacent, and thought that a majority vote for Leave would never happen.

    I have to admit that the ability of anyone in NI (and this was always the case) to have dual citizenship (now non-EU British and EU Irish) is a major bonus and a relief. I would be more worried if that were not the case. In other words, if I was English, I'd be more worried. But I can only speak for myself. There may be, presumably are, those who are optimistic.

    I might be able to offer you one potential plus. The chances of Britain getting rid of NI have gone up, I feel.

    You personally may or may not see that as a plus, but I could understand if most British people, and Especially English people, did. I think I would if I were them. Quite apart from the trouble and strife we've caused, we're a financial drain, and always have been I think.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

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    US resident, and have been somewhat following this impending disaster for years. Heck, even a science centered YouTube channel I watch did a couple videos on what a mistake this was. The real reasons for it seem to be based in the same kind of bigotry and jingoism that infests the republican party here. Blame the foreigner for your problems, claim big benefits for ill conceived policies, and then turn everything to shit. The only thing I'm not seeing is who, if anyone, is going to be profiting off of this. Predictions? Prices for imports will go up, exports will drop because of the added expenses. Heard this could cause a lot of problems in Ireland if they start doing border checkpoints. I hope that doesn't happen.

    My wife had a lifelong dream of going to the UK. Luckily we managed to go to London in '19. Between the pandemic and this it looks like we made it just in time.

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    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    I have had the general impression my whole lifetime that Britain was much more willing than its mainland European neighbours to economically, culturally and politically 'Americanize'. My broad impression now is that Brexit is in some ways just the latest development in that story. I think it's a political shift to the right and towards a more deregulated, free-market capitalism. Whether this will benefit Britain as a whole or not is hard to tell, but I am half-expecting more chlorinated chicken meat to be arriving fairly soon.

    On another note, there was, I think, an ongoing suspicion that Germany and France were effectively running the EU for their own benefit and agendas (not least in terms of the desire to expand quite rapidly). But this is another issue/allegation that I did not see fully analysed during the campaign. There again, as I said, I am not up to speed on politics, and I may have missed where it was analysed. If it were the case, then maybe Britain will do better out of the EU in the long run. For instance, it has been said that staying out of the Eurozone and retaining Sterling as a currency was a smart move. Maybe this will be too. Which way is the EU heading? If it is sinking, it may have been good to jump ship before anyone else.

    It does not seem the EU is at all glad to lose us, which may be telling, and maybe there are EU members who now wish they had given David Cameron a few more concessions a few years ago when they had the chance.

    One thing I will say is that I think the British can, if they put their minds to it, stand on their own two feet, and I hope that is what happens now that it's too late to wish Brexit hadn't happened.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

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    Veteran Member funinspace's Avatar
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    I suspect that the UK is going to have a undramatic slow grind, falling behind the EU in many ways. FWIW, my general world view is that the world economy is going to slowly shift its orientation towards East Asia as it becomes more and more dominant. The recent EU-China trade deal is hints of that, done when our (US) Clownstick in Chief is still railing and ranting against China.

    I suspect as part of the UK's decline, that financial services and manufacturing will face a slow bleed for years until it sometime bottoms out. I also suspect that this is at least partly tied to the slow unwind of the UK no longer being a world superpower, a long ago past from which the UK controlled the seas and dominated finance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marc View Post
    Blame the foreigner for your problems, claim big benefits for ill conceived policies, and then turn everything to shit. The only thing I'm not seeing is who, if anyone, is going to be profiting off of this.
    Politicians.

    Boris Johnson and other Leavers have built their careers on fostering resentment of foreigners. The same people who voted Leave to stop the foreigners coming in will be pleased with the UK's new immigration policy. The UK appears to be closing its borders, and that is all the benefit they need in order to believe that Brexit was a good idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marc View Post
    ... what a mistake this was. The real reasons for it seem to be based in the same kind of bigotry and jingoism that infests the republican party here. Blame the foreigner for your problems, claim big benefits for ill conceived policies, and then turn everything to shit. The only thing I'm not seeing is who, if anyone, is going to be profiting off of this....
    I am a Yankee who hasn't set foot in Europe for 35 years so my view may be wrong. Please tell me if that is the case.

    Just as with Republicanism in the U.S., the hoi polloi who were suckered into supporting the mistake have completely different motives from the rich and powerful who financed the suckering. The hoi polloi are motivated by bigotry and jingoism — just as Trumpists and Republicans are — but the top leaders and those pulling their puppet strings are motivated by financial greed. Deregulation is a primary goal of both Brexit and Republicanism — stripping away environmental, safety, health, tax and employment regulations enriches business at the expense of mere people.

    It is often supposed that businessmen want a booming economy, and therefore argued that business would not support a Brexit which reduces GDP. This is incorrect. Businessmen care little about the size of the total pie; they just want to enlarge their share of it. (Indeed, one of the best times for a creative businessman is "when there is blood in the streets.")

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    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    Just as with Republicanism in the U.S., the hoi polloi who were suckered into supporting the mistake have completely different motives from the rich and powerful who financed the suckering. The hoi polloi are motivated by bigotry and jingoism — just as Trumpists and Republicans are — but the top leaders and those pulling their puppet strings are motivated by financial greed. Deregulation is a primary goal of both Brexit and Republicanism — stripping away environmental, safety, health, tax and employment regulations enriches business at the expense of mere people.
    I suspect this is all true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    It is often supposed that businessmen want a booming economy, and therefore argued that business would not support a Brexit which reduces GDP. This is incorrect. Businessmen care little about the size of the total pie; they just want to enlarge their share of it. (Indeed, one of the best times for a creative businessman is "when there is blood in the streets.")
    If memory serves, business in general, and the major Banks (including The Bank of England) leaned away from supporting Brexit. That is not to say that some were the main backers of the Pro-Brexit drive.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    It is often supposed that businessmen want a booming economy, and therefore argued that business would not support a Brexit which reduces GDP. This is incorrect. Businessmen care little about the size of the total pie; they just want to enlarge their share of it. (Indeed, one of the best times for a creative businessman is "when there is blood in the streets.")
    If memory serves, business in general, and the major Banks (including The Bank of England) leaned away from supporting Brexit. That is not to say that some were the main backers of the Pro-Brexit drive.
    Businesses and "businessmen" are two different groups; But I still should have qualified my statement, writing "Many smart businessmen" rather than "Businessmen." As you say, banks in particular are an example of business which hopes for general high growth; their aversion to Brexit was compounded by the diminishment of the London financial center. Other sectors badly harmed by Brexit include ... ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by marc View Post
    ... what a mistake this was. The real reasons for it seem to be based in the same kind of bigotry and jingoism that infests the republican party here. Blame the foreigner for your problems, claim big benefits for ill conceived policies, and then turn everything to shit. The only thing I'm not seeing is who, if anyone, is going to be profiting off of this....
    I am a Yankee who hasn't set foot in Europe for 35 years so my view may be wrong. Please tell me if that is the case.

    Just as with Republicanism in the U.S., the hoi polloi who were suckered into supporting the mistake have completely different motives from the rich and powerful who financed the suckering. The hoi polloi are motivated by bigotry and jingoism — just as Trumpists and Republicans are — but the top leaders and those pulling their puppet strings are motivated by financial greed. Deregulation is a primary goal of both Brexit and Republicanism — stripping away environmental, safety, health, tax and employment regulations enriches business at the expense of mere people.

    It is often supposed that businessmen want a booming economy, and therefore argued that business would not support a Brexit which reduces GDP. This is incorrect. Businessmen care little about the size of the total pie; they just want to enlarge their share of it. (Indeed, one of the best times for a creative businessman is "when there is blood in the streets.")
    Indeed. A rough timeline is as follows:

    The Brexit referendum was mainly designed by the Tories to see off Nigel Farage and his UKIP party which was slowly eating into Tory votes. The EU prior to this point wasn't even on the top 10 list of things voters cared about, but it has been an issue bubbling away within the Tory party for decades. The hope by Cameron was that he'd organise a referendum, win it easily and shut up his headbanging backbencher MPs for a bit.

    The referendum was advisory (meaning it wasn't legally binding) but Cameron was so sure he'd win that he made a pledge to stand by the result. The main remain campaign was hosted by Cameron and his colleagues, with several leave campaigns taking part simultaneously, but it was mostly backed by the more right-wing of the Tory party, as well as an even then well-known opportunist Boris Johnson. Johnson himself had written two columns for the newspaper - one backing remain, and the other backing leave. He chose to back leave as he thought it best helped his chances to get into Number 10.

    As the whole referendum was mostly a Tory issue, unfortunately most other parties didn't or full-throated support for remaining. The reasons for this were varied - the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was anti-EU himself and had been for decades so was at best mostly quiet about it. The remain campaign, led by the Tories, didn't make any effort to offer reasons as to why the EU was positive (they had spent decades blaming the EU for various British decisions, as had many British Governments- so they couldn't very well admit that all the stuff people were complaining about was actually due almost entirely to the UK itself, not the EU). The remain campaign led by the Tories instead decided to list all the reasons why leaving the UK would be bad, but no reasons why staying in is actually good. It was a very negative (if largely accurate) campaign.

    The Leave campaign, mostly led by the Tories was all things to all people. Various promises were made, either by people ignorant of the rules within the EU and how it actually worked, or because they never thought they'd be made to actually follow through with any of the promises. No mention was made of the fact that the UK's relationship with the EU is deeply entwined both socially and economically, and that leaving would involve some form of trade off. However, the way in which we were asked to leave was presented as a binary choice. No one type of brexit was ever pinned down (arguably even now it hasn't been pinned down) as there was never one type of brexit which appealed to all brexit voters.

    As both main leave and remain sides were all led by the Tory party, and they didn't want lasting damage within the party after the vote - they didn't really make much effort to point out and highlight all the lies by the leave campaign. Nor could they explain that the things they knew people were unhappy with wasn't actually the fault of money sent to EU, or immigration - but years of ideologically led Tory austerity and even longer (not just Tory) chronic lack of investment in vital infrastructure such as housing.

    Every voter for leave did so for a variance of different reasons. Some because of immigration, others because they felt emotionally that their voice had become forgotten in the mass of politics and some again who felt, with little evidence that we had no sovereignty or that the UK was not in control of its own laws. Add in addition to this decades of right-wing newspapers lying about the EU and various laws and in many ways it is surprising more people didn't vote to leave. Roughly 80% of the print media was/is pro-brexit.

    Much like the 2016 US election - remain was expected to win by everyone - leaving was such a stupid idea and would cause so much financial damage that it was never really taken seriously. Combined with the fact that it was seen as 'giving the government a bloody nose' by people who rightly felt ignored for decades, leave narrowly won the referendum 52% to 48% and Cameron resigned rather than take ownership of the trouble he had caused.

    Their belief that the referendum would produce a remain vote clearly meant - for them - there was no need to consider defining what "brexit" meant. In fact, Cameron prevented officials from preparing plans for a leave vote in the referendum in case it encouraged people to vote leave. Several people argued that as remain was undefined and could take the UK in any direction (conveniently forgetting the UK’s ability to veto any it didn’t like), then the Leave option should be undefined as well. As the government didn't expect this to happen, no plans for what brexit actually was in practice was ever drawn up prior to the referendum being called, the headbangers flooded into the vacuum.

    Interestingly, as I mentioned earlier - the referendum was officially advisory, even though due to Cameron's promises, it essentially became politically binding, if not legally so. But importantly because it was only advisory, different rules applied. If it were a binding referendum it would be void due to illegal spending by the leave campaign(s), but as it's advisory, this does not apply- due to government being able to technically ignore it if they wanted to.


    I'd point out that at this point no one knew what Brexit was (as explained above it was all things to all people, so the moment the government wrote it down it would all fall apart and not gain a majority), and there were terms being thrown around like a 'hard' or 'soft' brexit. Simply, what these mean is the level to which the UK was closely aligned with the EU on a trade deal. A 'soft' brexit was less damaging to the economy (all forms of brexit are damaging, however), but kept us closely aligned to rules we no longer had a say in, as we were no longer a member. A 'hard' brexit was less aligned with EU rules (though what this meant in practice was left a mystery - they didn't say if they wanted to lower our standards, but raising them could be done in the EU), but also allowed for potentially more trade abroad outside the EU. This would be the most financially damaging, as we'd leave our closest trading partner (along with all the other treaties in tech, engineering, security and others. Lastly, it was at this point 'no deal' started to be used as a term, which didn't exist at the time of the referendum. It meant crashing out of the EU and trading on world trade organisation terms. This was the most damaging type of brexit, and was used by the UK government to try to threaten the EU with, as they were the weaker negotiating partners. This didn't work.


    After a short leadership campaign where after a lot of typical backstabbing Theresa May became PM. She swiftly drew up red lines of staying out of the customs union and single market. Note that during the referendum the main leave campaigns all said that no one was talking about leaving either (they actually said that we could leave the EU but retain full access to the benefits with none of the costs, which was as laughable then as it is now). Due to insisting on leaving the CU and SM, the British government then were headed for a 'hard' brexit, and a deal with closer ties to the EU (which would make sense, given the nearly 50:50 split on the vote) was off the table. A sensible compromise between the 52% and the 48% could have been one which took the U.K. out of the EU’s political structures while staying in the single market & customs union to prevent trashing our economy and would therefore have been a pragmatic way forward. It never happened because May was a hostage of the headbangers and Corbyn was too tribal and short-sighted to work with Tory remainers to force the issue.

    I've already gone on, so I shall now skip several years - during this time Brexit is never defined, nor is any of its tangible benefits ever outlined. Parliament cannot agree on the type of brexit it wants, and is stalemated. Theresa May tries to call an election to increase her majority in parliament (due to the unpopularity of the labour leader) and loses even more seats than she began with.

    Boris Johnson eventually takes over as PM, and hosts another election, this time winning an 80 majority with 43% of the vote. During this period, the 'heavy hitters' of the Tory party are thrown out and replaced with brexit true-believers, yes men/women and sycophants. Corbyn is also thrown out, replaced by Kier Starmer as Labour leader.

    Fast-forwarding again, and the brexit deal has finally been agreed, which looks nothing like what was promised during the referendum. Labour felt they had to vote for the deal, as they thought if they didn't they may get a no-deal, which is the only thing worse on the table. All the talk of no-deal over the last few years has successfully lowered the countries standards of what to expect, that now we're pleased it's over and at least is a deal or sorts, even if it is incredibly bad. The moving of goal-posts since 2016 has been quite a sight to behold.

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