Brexit – not in my name, thanks

It’s a day after last night’s drubbing for the tosspots who thought it was a clever idea to hold the 2016 EU referendum in the first place. So what is the conclusion they came to?

Election results, courtesy Jacob Rees-Mogg in the torygraph. Apparently it’s a blessing in disguise. Dunno what he’s smoking, but I bet it isn’t legal if it’s that strong

Take it away, Jacob Rees-Mogg. What did you learn?

Most obviously, Brexit needs to happen in a true form. The vassal state that apparently the Government and the Opposition have agreed, including a Customs Union and high alignment, is not the answer. This will simply ossify the failure that has just been punished in the local elections.

The Tory party needs to be the Brexit party and to win back all those who are planning to support Nigel Farage and my sister, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, at the European elections. To do so will show the path to a clean Brexit. This is not to deny that the current House of Commons has set its face against leaving the European Union properly and wants to remain at least semi-attached, but Parliament against the people cannot work for long. Voters will not tolerate such a state of affairs.

Hmm, that sounds like a challenge, Jake. It’s perfectly possible Britain is so enamoured with pure “kill em all” Brexit that Annunziata will romp home with the bacon at the end of this month. We shall see, eh? In the meantime, do you have a good explanation for the lib dem and green shift in your pic, Jake, seeing as they aren’t fans of any sort of Brexit? Jake wasn’t the only fellow to make this category error.

election results show voters want both main parties to ‘deliver Brexit’

Eh? How the hell do you interpret massive gains for the Liberals who are unashamedly pro-remain, and the Greens, who are functionally pro-remain, as a massive support for Brexit? Why is UKIP down more than half? WTAF is with the tin ear and blinkers?

It may not signify a massive push for Remain, after all, these elections are meant to be about local issues, which Brexit most certainly isn’t, but if you were to read anything about Brexit into it, less rather than more Brexit would seem to be the obvious inference to draw.

And anyway, Treeza, you took on this job so it’s your problem to deliver it. Verhofstedt was right that the Brexit was a catfight in the Tory party that got out of hand, so if it destroys your lot then perhaps that’s the price you pay for not kicking out the nut-jobs early on. This voter doesn’t want anybody to deliver Brexit. Not in my name, thanks. I was lucky enough to be on the winning side this time.

In a delightful twist today I got a welcome invitation to vote for the EU parliament elections.

Well I never, an EU Parliament poll card, against May’s apple blossom. That’s the month of May, not Theresa, whose nemesis JRM quoth “Never glad confident morning again”

The People’s front of Brexit and the Brexit people’s front

can go and stick it as far as I am concerned. I wasn’t for it in the first place, I thought May’s deal matched roughly the result of that 2016 vote but it appears that wasn’t good enough for the nut-jobs. FFS it wasn’t good enough for the nut-jobs supposedly on her side, they wanted a pure ‘and we curse you and the horse you rode in on’ version of trading with our nearest neighbours. I will try and understand the d’Hondt proportional representation system of the EU elections to maximise the pro-EU form of my vote. Brexit was wrong then in my view but it was doable and fair enough in 2016. It’s gotten even more wrong as time passed by, an amped up all or nothing caricature which doesn’t justify the slim margin. If you want that sort of extremism, then put it to another bloody vote, and this time, Brexit lovers, say what you are FOR rather than against. Give the People’s front of Brexit form.

Here’s how it’s done.

I have not been represented in UK elections the last time

and I’m getting sick of it. Everybody seems to be yelling about the will of the people as in the 52% who voted leave, and ever since 2016 anybody of the 48% gould go swing in the wind. The result of that damned referendum was only slightly over 50%, it wasn’t overwhelming. Due to the nature of the voting system in the UK1, there are basically two choices in with any chance, and both of them promised to promote the goddamned Will of the fricking People as sampled in 2016. But the Will of the People is a moving target. We’ve had a general election since then. It would have been nice to have had a chance of voting for an unashamedly pro-Remain party, that had a chance of winning if there were enough Remainers to carry it. But there was nowhere to go for the for a Remain vote. I voted for one that didn’t have a chance of winning rather than vote for either of the two main parties who were in fear of the Referendum. This was a general election that happened after the bloody Referendum. the whole point of an election is that the answer can be different from what it was last time. Else what’s the point?

The thing that scares me most about Brexit is why it’s most ardent fans are so obscenely rich

The referendum was for leave, but not necessarily the most extreme leave. The result wouldn’t have cleared the 2/3 majority bar many countries set for constitutional change, so feelings weren’t extreme. Rich people seem to be taking us to the more extreme end, for example let’s look at the good people of the European Research Group2

Jacob Rees-Mogg worth >~ 50M, BoJo worth ~1.5M Iain Duncan-Smith who was gifted a house worth > 1M

There’s nothing wrong in itself about being so rich, but when I was a nipper politicians were not all born with such a huge silver spoon in their mouths. Harold Wilson (1960s)  came from Huddersfield and went to a grammar school, Edward Heath, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major were all civilians, not well into the 1%.

There’s some argument that people who are meant to represent us should have some awareness of how the rest of us live. Presumably IDS, the glowering bald geezer on the right of the ERG pic, didn’t really have any idea that his Universal Credit, that leaves applicants over a month before they get any payment might cause hardship? What would a fellow who was gifted a house worth £1M know? Let the buggers eat cake3, eh IDS? Why five weeks FFS, Iain, it’s not like we are still in the time of Hollerith punched cards and big iron. Does not the term living from paycheck to paycheck have any resonance in the primal soup twixt your ears?

Nigel Farage, ex-commodity trader worth ~ 2.5M

Farage who was cheerleader of UKIP until it became infested with people even more extreme than him [how is that even possible?] is obviously down to his last £2mill or so, so he has got his buddy Richard Tice to front up the replacement Brexit party. Haven’t got any source of Tice’s networth but since he is in property management with 500M AUM is not exactly some common man either. Tice was there from the get-go, a participant in the plot for creating a non-political ‘out’ group to persuade people that they would be better off out of the EU, with the help of Lynton Crosby.

It all seemed easier in 2016. There weren’t the swivel-eyed nut-jobs banging on about Britain ruling the waves and vassalage, it seemed possible to have a conscious uncoupling and still speak in a civilised manner to our erstwhile trading partners in matters of common interest.

Didn’t turn out that way for some reason, and since Remain was pretty much out for the count with all the Furies hollering ‘will of the people’ there seems to have been no resistance to the current form, which is the will of the filthy rich people.

Deep Throat was right – but you can’t follow the money in Brexit

One thing is clear, if this is worth so much money and Sturm und Drang for the most extreme for of Brexit being pushed, perhaps the wise move for those fortunate enough to be able to think about early retirement is to buy into some of these companies. Except that you can’t. Tice’s Quidnet Capital isn’t listed. I suppose you could sign up with Rees-Mogg’s crew Somerset Capital Management, if you have deep enough pockets you can get on the board, but you can’t buy shares.4

So Deep Throat‘s advice will get you nowhere. There isn’t a way to make money from Brexit, because the advocates are want to keep the spoils of Brexit for themselves, and may the Devil take the hindmost.

That’ll be everybody else. At least if you voted for Brexit you won’t mind taking the shaft to make these good people rich because you got what you wanted. In the meantime, it is time the 48% got a push on to resist this takeover of the whole thing by the 1%.

The EU isn’t perfect in any way. But Brexit is deeply more dysfunctional in most ways

In the past it’s been difficult to get that excited about EU elections before, since the EU Parliament seems to have a largely ceremonial role to rubber-stamp the technocratic decisions of the Commission (update this appears to be wrong, see this comment for a more accurate summary). But the full-spectrum clusterfuck that is Brexit shows that there is a much worse way, and that is diktat by the endlessly interpretable negative. It looks so easy, what could be more democratic than a referendum? Well, if the electorate were good enough to actually vote on the specific issue of the referendum, all would be well. WP highlights the problem, however

Critics of the referendum argue that voters in a referendum are more likely to be driven by transient whims than by careful deliberation, or that they are not sufficiently informed to make decisions on complicated or technical issues.

Referendum fans should be forced to make their proposals deliverable with an action plan of how to start. Sure, no plan survives contact with the enemy, but a negative with no action plan is dangorous. I know, let’s have a referendum on stopping war. Abolishing poverty.  They’ll probably both be carried, but are tough to deliver. What you want and what you can get are two very different things. That’s one of the nice things about elections rather than referendums. It’s conventional to have some sort of a plan in a manifesto, as opposed to the simple ‘do you want to leave the EU (the devil is in the details over there)’

You can make a coherent case for Brexit, but 2016 was high on emotive crap and low on analysis on both sides. Voters also tend to use referendums as a general punching-bag for what they don’t like about the current administration, or at least there’s a lot of that mixed in with the actual issue. The punching-bag is why we have general elections.

Whatever’s wrong with the EU, and there’s a lot wrong with it, is dramatically outweighed IMO by what’s wrong with the gnarled and twisted negative that is the state of Brexit. Why it’s so hard for people to grasp that Britain is a middling-sized developed country that needs to rub along with its trading partners rather than an imperial Colossus straddling the globe beats me. We don’t have to trade in the EU, but since they will be our largest trade partners, some sort of agreement on common ground would be a good start.


  1. I was dumb enough to favour keeping it in the 2011 referendum, although the proposed change was the alternative vote system, which I am still not sure I understand, and the Electoral Reform Society says it’s a piss-poor way of electing a Parliament: “AV is the best way to elect a single person, like a president or mayor, but it’s a flawed way to elect a parliament as it isn’t proportional”  
  2. I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again that the ERG is a misnomer, there’s nothing European about the ERG which are a bunch of little Englanders, and no research goes on because research that implies you are looking for information you don’t already know, rather than seeking confirmation of an existing set of views about the world. 
  3. from that dry Parliamentary report: When the system runs smoothly, claimants now face a mandatory wait of five weeks for their initial payment once they have claimed Universal Credit. This wait can be much longer if claimants struggle to make the initial claim, or if they are not paid on time. In March 2018 the Department failed to pay 21% of new claimants their full Universal Credit entitlement on time. The Force of general awareness and compassion is not with this IDS one, the Ermine observes. If his version of Brexit is as good for the rabble as his version of improved social security, then so help us God 
  4. SCM seem to be taking some bother in their reviews, presumably for the extracurricular antics of the monocled and top-hatted one. I kinda liked the pithy summary of – Financial front for the far right 
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66 thoughts on “Brexit – not in my name, thanks”

  1. The EU will become the new State and the UK will become, in effect, just a submissive area within. If you are ok with that, then fine.
    If not, then you need to reappraise. Please do.

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    1. «The EU will become the new State and the UK will become, in effect, just a submissive area within.»
      But consider the case of England: it is a submissive area within the UK’s supranational state, it has no control over its own borders, its own budget, its own laws, its own courts: all decision and laws and courts it is subjugated to are the decision of the UK government, the laws of the UK, the courts of the UK.
      And the position of Somerset within the UK is even worse: a colony at best, no control over its own laws, budgets, borders. Faceless, unaccountable mandarins in Whitehall rule over Somerset.

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      1. Quite so Blissex, thank you; you have hit the nail on the head. Which is why we have our 6 Demands at:
        http://harrogateagenda.org.uk/ and this recent presentation by our leader Maj. Niall Warry explains is succinctly in 15 mins:

        We are based in Somerset and think highly of the region. It’s a great shame that the county has been so badly mismanaged although we do put some of it down to central government ‘austerity’. Our library in Bruton is now being run by dint of voluntary support which is a travesty given the crucial importance of libraries in general.

        The Tories will be devastated in the coming elections and rightfully so.

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      2. Sigh, you’re on notice, I had to troll through a lot of stuff again 😦 In your favour, no lizard people, no conspiracy theories, no racism I could ID. All sensible stuff, though I don’t personally agree, bigger units rather than smaller in a more complex world, but I admire the sentiment. My younger self was exercised by the issue that Britain has no Constitution. I will hopefully get away with it by the time I have my ticket to ride, there are worse places to be wrong about that aspect of life. But I am glad that there are people who care passionately about it. It may matter to future generations.

        Though you lost me wanting to follow the US Constitution, call me square and a cheese-eating surrender monkey but anything that gives my fellow citizens the right to bear arms scares the living shit out of me. I am not a believer in the answer to a bad armed guy is a good armed guy. Even if London has a problem with knives, thnx Don. But we may disagree without rancour, I am more than halfway through my life, perhaps this is not my fight.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. > UK will become, in effect, just a submissive area within
    I am perfectly OK with that, from what I have seen of the last three years of the UK taking back control. The EU can be incompetent bastards in their own right – see Greece but incompetence is nowt compared with the sheer greed and malice of these rich Brexit boosters. We’ve had a general election since the referendum, where a clear vision of Brexit could have surfaced. In the meantime, while Brexit constipates the body politic, years are passing where other shit is going down that needs tackling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If the UK had indeed taken back control (and LEFT) then this matter would be behind us. May is a Traitor. Simply amazing how the USA and China survive without being members of the EU, isn`t it? Anyhow, I enjoy your Blog so will go quiet now. Respect. Google “Holocaust Deprogramming Course” one day. Mind Control is very real.

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      1. After Brexit is done, and we have taken back control, Oxfordshire can leave England because the rest of the country is holding us back.

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      2. We can agree to disagree, I am sure this issue will continue to exercise minds for time to come.
        USA, China being not members of the EU, well it’s an old ‘un but good ‘un. Size matters.
        There is the minor issue of scale:
        USA: pop 326M
        China: pop 1379M
        UK: pop 65M
        There’s a 5:1 issue of scale. There are 600lb gorillas out there, and we just ain’t one of them. For interest
        EU: pop 517M, or should that be 450M 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Well now – it may be no surprise to find a hardcore Brexitter promoting anti-semitism and Holocaust denial, but depressing to discover such a repulsive racist comment as that by Mr Watson on Ermine’s otherwise excellent site.

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      4. “Revolting” is how you have been programmed to feel. Mind Control is very real gentlemen. If you find reality revolting then that is cause to look much, much deeper.

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      5. > “Revolting” is how you have been programmed to feel.

        Rubbish. I absolutely respect your right to your opinion but racism does not agree with my values. This is my space so therefore my values rule here. Kindly cease and desist. I am proud to wear the mantle of the thought controlled sheeple if that’s what conspiracy theorists pin on me if I don’t go round picking on people because of their ancestry or any other protected characteristics. Post anything even hinting on these lines and I will ban you and remove the posts.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. P.S. DW you were warned, bud. My space, my rules. In my book Holocaust denial is racist. I may be wrong about that on a technicality in some universe, but it’s not something I care to debate. End of. Life is short enough as it is.

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  3. The thought of the this government negotiating its own trade deals is terrifying if their attempts to negotiate Brexit are anything to go by. And why would we give up all the economic advantages we’ve had since joining the EU? Maybe because the extremist Brexiters have got ulterior motives – after all, leaving certainly won’t benefit most of us. Thanks for this insightful article.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s a dirty job and all that. You’re going to need a very comfortable armchair and an endless supply of popcorn to sit this one out. I have the feeling this movie ain’t even got to the intermission yet.

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  4. It’s not the European Commission that makes EU law, it’s the Council of Ministers, composed of Ministers of the Member States- yes, including members of our own dear Cabinet. The European Parliament has powers of co-decision over many areas of policy, which means that a law needs the agreement of both the MEPs and the Ministers. Sorry to be po-faced on this but the ludicrous canard that EU laws are imposed on us by the Commission needs to be called out whenever it surfaces – its unchallenged repetition in parts of the UK Press over decades is largely what has got us into this mess (IMO).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve obviously been reading the torygraph and general British yellow press for too long 😉 I have linked your comment as a correction, thanks!

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      1. Having both worked directly for the EU and voted for Brexit, you can price in a bit of bias here, but whilst not necessarily wrong Tyro’s comment is arguably misleading.

        The issue is what we mean by “making” law. If we mean proposing law – in the way that only the Goverment can really do here in the UK – then yes it is the Commission. Of course, there is more to it once the proposals have been made than simple rubber-stamping per your initial draft, but the fundamental fact that the Commission has a great deal of power, relatively far removed from democratic accountability at the hands of any electorate is true.

        The implication of Tyro’s comment that there is not a democratic deficit in the way EU law is made is, in my personal view, false. That said, we’re all guilty of using the facts to fit our preferred narrative, so I’ll say simply that there is an oppositve view from the more hardcore end of Remainers that does not regard the obscure mechanisms of the EU with the critical eye they warrant.

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    2. You are right technically Tyro, thank you, but in practice it works entirely differently. It’s more like the queen being the head of parliament. The EU commission is all powerful and there are very few instances of MEPs going against their rulings which is quite obvious really because a similar thing happens in UK with MPs also being clueless and which got us into this mess in the first place. It is the executive that wins every time:

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      1. For everyone’s future reference – go easy on the YT links, it would be a shame to have to add YT to the bad words list. They are a pain for me as i have to step through a load of cruft to ensure there isn’t extreme content, YT seems to hold a lot of that. I didn’t really find anything to object to in that one, but moderating video isn’t really a job I want to sign up to.

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      2. Many thanks ermine for your reply and your important points are carefully noted. I agree with you about YT but some of it can be educational if you can parse the rubbish and disinformation. I do try to fact-check where I can and having written a book on the subject my research is as complete as my poor efforts allow.

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  5. I avoided Heathrow on my recent trip back from Rome to Montreal, but I’d really like to include British Airways in my plans next year (they hold all my airline points.)
    Any chance this whole mess will be sorted by May 2020 and I can then use Heathrow as my hub to fly back to Canada from Italy?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’d hope we might have made progress by then. Look on the bright side, though – the pound is a lot cheaper, which can’t be all bad for non-Brits. I live in an area which draws a lot of tourists for its historical connections and ruins, and I have seen a very noticeable uptick in visitors which is great. Presumably this is because accommodation, which has historically been a bit dear in the UK compared to Continental Europe, has had a fifth knocked off. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

      Plus heck, Britain’s collective nervous breakdown is giving others some free entertainment in it’s sheer incompetence!

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  6. Orsm rant again sir, quite entertaining and put a smile on my face to start the day. However, though you may mock the Church of the latter day Unicorns, half the electorate in this green unpleasant land of Brexistan worship at it’s cake-shaped altar. Thus you risk the enmity of half the population when throwing around facts, logic and stuff like that, tis no country for wise men undeterred by the incessant farages of bullsh*t thrown around by the propaganda machine. (A very fine and expensive Lynton Crosby, model 2019)

    Its amusing though to see the tin-ears immediately drawing the conclusion that if it doesn’t work, it must be proof that you need to double down on the strategy; no cognitive dissonance there then. Perhaps they’ll get the time to keep digging in their holes to create a race, so we see who can be the first to break clean through to Oz. Re: a small muddy dot in the atlantic becoming ruler of the world, you can’t really improve old sayings, they have it all, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. The most amazing thing is how close it has come to a bloodless, right-wing coup being pulled off by such a miniscule elite. For those against, fight to vote and then vote for your lives, disaster capitalism ruins countries forever and the human pain is incalculable.

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  7. “Tyro”‘s description is mostly right, but to improve it:

    * The EU Council is both the lower legislative chamber (“Commons”) and the cabinet of the EU, and each ministry is held “in commission” by the board of all the relevant member country ministers. In practice the most important by far is the board of heads of government, who has “in commission” the role of prime minister, who makes all significant decisions and enacts all significant EU Laws.
    * The EU Parliament is the upper legislative chamber (“Lords”/”Senate”) and it can inspect, advise and delay an in some times veto EU Laws approved by the EU Council (and very limited powers to introduce
    * The EU Commissions is the civil service of the EU Council and has no votes as to approving or block legislation.
    There are various other roles, like the secretary of the EU Council (which is called its “president”, but has no vote and no political role), and the

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  8. I’ve met JRM over a dozen times in recent years as part of my fund activities. He’s clearly well educated and a superb orator but he has little use for facts. By comparison, I’ve never met Corbyn. I do think both of them share the same characteristic which is a total absence of intellectual curiosity. They both believe that they are already in possession of absolute “truths”. Empirical data and scientific method mean nothing to them unless it supports those preordained beliefs. In the case of Corbyn that seems to be some 60s Bennite ideology. In the case of JRM, it means libertarianism.

    That’s why I’m confused by many Leavers. I can understand why some voted Leave to regain national sovereignty, even if economically this is a negative. Personally, I see the nation-state in the early 21st century is as obsolete as the imperial state-nations were at the start of the 20th. Technology drives change and trying to return to national sovereignty is about as realistic as King Cnut being told he could turn back the tide.

    The odd thing though is that JRM also doesn’t believe in the the nation-state (one of the few things we agree on). For him, however, it’s ideological rather than technological. The preeminence of the “sovereign individual” over the nation-state is key to his outlook. That means lower taxes, less regulation, totally free markets, an unwind of the post-war state benefits system, including the NHS and state pension. Many Leavers seem diametrically opposed to these ideas. I think these Leavers will become even more disenchanted once they realize they have been used by the Ultras.

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    1. Like you I can understand the sovereignty part, though I’d rather be slave to the EU than to the will of the filthy rich people, or Brexiters of any flavour to be honest. No man is an island. I can also understand the people who voted Leave about immigration, particularly if they had unskilled jobs. Immigration is good for the economy but not good for unskilled workers who lose their jobs and where there is no safety net, see Iain Duncan-Smith’s universal credit. And the punitive unemployment system with its ceaseless mantra work is the route out of poverty. Not at the bottom end it ain’t. A generation ago perhaps it was, but globalisation has meant that lower-end work in developed countries is uncompetitive, we need a public policy response to this change in work, not exhortations to take minimum wage variable hours work that doesn’t put a roof over one’s head. The EU didn’t do that to them, globalisation and austerity did. The EU is still well to the left of the ERG and the rich Brexit backers, I don’t find that a bad thing.

      > superb orator but he has little use for facts

      rant on:

      This is one of the more disturbing things about the way the Internet has destroyed the gatekeepers and with it quality control. Anybody can bloviate (including mustelids, natch) to an audience. The loss of quality controllers, who had to believe that the message would make them a profit before they published, seems to have given us a contempt for what can be analysed and quantified, and observable in the same way by unrelated observers. It’s simply bloodless compared to rabble-rousing rhetoric, be that vassal states, Make America Great Again, or even Make Britain Great Again which seems to be what Brexit is all about. One might be able to make America or Britain great, it’s the Again which is where the problem lies, yesterday’s solutions won’t fix tomorrow’s world.

      When I was growing up some of what was believed as facts turned out to be wrong, but there was still a decent respect for the truth as established by the scientific method. Several generations of this has put us where we are, probably the richest generation that has lived. And yet we seem to be surrendering that respect, because we are retreating to echo-chambers of free comment devoid of facts. Some people seem incapable of telling opinion apart from fact, though information is easier to hand than it used to be. The sleep of Reason is producing monsters. JRM and Corbyn are different facets of that sleep IMO, and I fear for the future, because though emotion is what makes us uniquely human, it needs the guiding hand of wisdom.

      rant off:

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      1. In my opinion this withering of respect is linked to the rise of the social sciences. Economics is the main culprit but also sociology, politics etc. These subjects like to pass themselves off as science like but they are not. They create far too many spurious “experts” and “technocrats” who are often just glorified salesmen for a dogma or ideology. I would suggest that the general public has become increasingly cynical and exasperated with the tsunami of destructive self serving BS these people pour forth. Genuine empirically based expertise has been caught up in this growing lack of trust too unfortunately. More and more people see every expert as having a self serving agenda or being in the pay of some vested interest. As people become unable to distinguish the genuine experts from the shills they retreat into simply doubling down on their own prejudices or whatever world view is most comfortable and advantageous for themselves. I should mention that I studied social sciences myself at uni.

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      2. Excellent comment cat793, thank you, and I entirely agree that academia has gone mad. We have so many specialists that few are able to talk or understand each other and our societies are following a similar pattern. The problem with economics and finance (in which I specialise) is that it has become psuedo-mathematical and the statistics are lies and more lies.

        Take the GDP figures for example. They claim that the USA has been in recovery since 2009 but the truth is far worse – in fact the US economy has been at depression levels since 2008 and it’s getting worse. We are witnessing the end of growth as we know it because of a ratio known as EROEI (Energy Returned on Energy Invested). This website will give you a clear idea of why this is so: https://surplusenergyeconomics.wordpress.com/

        Dr. Tom Morgan wrote a book about all this in 2013 and his predictions are coming true now:

        I have also written a book (unpublished) which confirms Tim’s views and a free pdf is available on request to peter@underco.co.uk so that as many people as possible can understand what is truly going on in our crazy, ponzi-driven, global financial system which is due to crash soon – it is already wobbling.

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  9. ” …it needs the guiding hand of wisdom.” So said the Lord Protector in 1653: Government should be “for the peoples good, not what pleaseth them..”

    Sometimes we might be wise to consider what ‘pleaseth us’, otherwise we might get it, good and hard.

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  10. lots of good comments and lots of good opinions.
    I don’t really know what to add that adds anything but from my perspective there is a gap in understanding of what’s important. The ERG types moan that Britain has lost its sovereignty – and to many that doesn’t mean much. The SNP feel that the EU protected Scotland from the Tories/Westminster so the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Same in NI with nationalists. But for the ERG and 1% types, sovereignty just means that they have the power. They want to be sailing lone into the wind and to abandon the EU flotilla. They don’t really care if they are sailing off into stormier seas, and they are all a bunch of monarchs of the sea.

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  11. Nice to come across a discussion about Brexit which is both interesting and civilised (and thanks to DIY Investor whose web link brought me here).

    Having myself complained in the past about democratic shortcomings in the EU, I now realise I was making a mistake by trying to understand it in terms of British parliamentary democracy. It is different!

    I think a much better analogy is the US Presidential system (although you have to ignore the fact there are 3 different EU politicians with the title “President” who would make more sense being described as chairmen, plus a “Presidency” which is taken by the different countries in rotation). The EU Council has the role of President, having the top-level executive powers but subject on most matters to confirmatory approval elsewhere. The EU Commission corresponds to the American cabinet (Secretaries of State and so forth), consisting of presidential appointees rather than democratically elected politicians, heading up the various departments of the civil service but pretty much lacking any powers of their own without presidential approval. Finally the EU Parliament corresponds to Congress (both houses I suppose) which carries a lot of the legislative detail and oversight, in a rather more grown-up way than the British Parliament.

    Now you may think the US style democracy is imperfect, but it is one that is adopted in very many countries. Having the top position taken by a committee is cumbrous, but it would take generations if ever for the whole EU to relate to a single individual who could be accepted on a majority vote – and of course it avoids the risk of the position being abused in the way we see daily across the Atlantic.

    Where there are democratic shortcomings is in the perceptions of the EU within the UK. Our politicians all seem to treat it as “them against us” rather than talk about their common cause with partner groupings in other states they share aspirations with. And media follow a similar line, with negligible reporting of the democratic processes within the EU apart from those specifically relating to Britain.

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    1. Daniel Hannan made the point in one of his books on Brexit that I read that Britain’s Common law legal system is very different from the legal system of most of Continental Europe with its roots in Roman law. He summarised the difference in principle of common law being what is not forbidden is allowed, whereas Roman law tends to be what is not allowed is forbidden. Brits will therefore bitch about excess regulation they didn’t need in a shared system, where Roman law systems will need the regulations for permission.

      Britain is the odd man out here, so perhaps it’s harder for us to map the EU form of democracy to the model that is closes to us. I was unaware of the role of the Council of Ministers until Blissex’s comment, the EU is doing itself no favours in outreach as to how it works. Although I note that the EU description of the Council of the EU which appears to to be the closest mapping to that states

      Negotiates and adopts EU laws, together with the European Parliament, based on proposals from the European Commission

      Which brings us to the vexed question of the unelected European Commission originating and proposing EU law. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if it is “the civil service of the EU Council and has no votes as to approving or block legislation.” – presumably British law is actually drafted by the civil servants to get the Is dotted and Ts crossed such that the judiciary can interpret the law in a consistent manner. But the statement based on proposals from the European Commission looks bad to British eyes, perhaps jaded through 40 years of the UK press snarling about the EU Commission.

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      1. A worthy comment and on target, thank you. (But – there is always a BUT). The EU is as you say based on a different law code and alien to us Brits. Nevertheless, as a Libertarian, I favour the precedence of the individual’s rights over the collective which is why I favour Brexit as I am not happy with collective imperialism.

        I doubt the machinations of the EU Commission as being in the favour of the vast majority of member states. It is rarely found that the Commisssion’s proposals are rejected by the EU parliament which acts in name only IMHO.

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      2. Fair enough, that official description could have been deliberately written to provoke the British right wing press. I suspect that constitutionally the Council has the upper hand in the sense it directs strategy, but pragmatically since it consists of a committee of part-time politicians (part-time in terms of their EU role, they are all full-time in their day job in their own countries) they need someone to have written the agenda and drafted some resolutions in advance of their occasional meetings.

        Looking again at the description as I write, it could alternatively just be that we don’t think of the intended context. If it refers specifically to lawmaking that is not really done by the EU Council except at top level (e.g. “we need directives to get all our countries protecting the environment better, getting more things recycled”). The detailed legislation will emerge by a process of civil service drafting (under the aegis of the Commission) and scrutiny and refinement by the European Parliament.

        But it is fair to say the fact it isn’t obvious to us British says something about how as a nation we are not as embedded in the EU as most other members. What is behind that can be speculated upon (different legal system, different democratic tradition, historic “small island” mentality) but surely contributed to so many being taken in by extremists promoting Brexit.

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      3. The difference in legal systems need not be troublesome. The Common Law described by Hannan and mentioned by you is not actually British but English Law. Scots Law has elements of Statute and Common Law but is ultimately based on Roman Law, quite specifically so. Both systems work and don’t cause much friction in everyday life. I still haven’t felt the need to get a lawyer the instant I cross the border.

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      4. > The Common Law described by Hannan and mentioned by you is not actually British but English Law.

        I certainly agree in needn’t be troublesome, but those unfamiliar with the difference may balk at the unfamiliar. Indeed, Scotland I believe was largely remain, perhaps they were not so much at this disadvantage as England’s voters. Although there were no end of other variables. but perhaps the endless grizzling in the yellow press didn’t find such fertile ground. Although Iwas aware that Common law and Roman law had different roots, it was only on reading Hannan that I became aware of this difference . Assuming, of course, that Hannan is correct. While I disagreed with his conclusion, I tried to follow his argument, and could see that, preferably if you had enough money to ignore the economic repercussions, the sovereignty and cultural differences could lead to his conclusion. I did not find him an incoherent thinker in any way, and my general education was improved a little by reading his book.

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      5. Please, not that recycled old chestnut of the U.K. somehow being uniquely unsuited to the E.U. because of common law.

        This argument is just pure English exceptionalism and is demolished by basic logic checks. It ignores the very different Scottish system. It ignores that Ireland, Malta, Cyprus, all former British colonies, also have common law while being EU members. It ignores the very wide diversity of legal traditions in EU member states and mischaracterises civil code traditions, where to the reverse fundamental constitutional rights are the bedrock of the rule of law.

        But most importantly it ignores the reality of how basic freedoms are defended in the U.K, which runs counter to the core of this argument. Where the U.K. is the odd man out is in not having a formalised constitution, having primacy over whichever law has been produced by the majority of the day in Parliament. The nebulousness of the U.K. constitution actually makes these basic rights hard to enforce. This is why human rights lawyers so often rely on the principles of E.U. law and the ECHR (that the U.K. committed to by treaty), and not common law principles, to enforce human rights in court against the U.K. government.

        And what are those freedom fighters for common law pushing this argument intent on doing next, after leaving the E.U. ? Taking the U.K. out of the ECHR, and thereby removing the last easily enforceable defence of human rights. Hannan himself campaigned for leaving the ECHR.

        They are no principled libertarians. They do not want to defend their fellow citizens’ rights, they want unrestricted power for themselves. What they really hanker for is feudalism, colonialism and class domination. They just want to be bigger fishes in a smaller pond.

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      6. You may well be right, Olivier, and thank you for sharing.
        “…..and not common law principles, to enforce human rights in court against the U.K. government”

        Whilst I agree that your views have merit and I myself have experienced challenging issues for my clients in the EU human rights courts in the past, I feel that together with ‘rights’ we must combine ‘responsibilities’ which appear to be sadly lacking in the EU legislation.

        One example of this where it has failed is in regard to UK state pensions not being incremented annually for inflation for expats in previous commonwealth countries like Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The pension is frozen at the time of taking it and never increases. We have taken this to the final arbiter in the EU without success. This is a gross inequality and should be corrected. And don’t let the UK claim they can’t afford it – they can find £80Bn+ for an electric train set without any bother at all!

        Furthermore, my experience in English common law and Roman-Dutch law in South Africa leads me to believe that our system does combine well the rights with responsibilities and I do feel comfortable with the format.

        However, your reservations about the advantages of the ruling elites in UK are absolutely correct and I do fight on the side of Libertarians in this respect. I am retired now but have spent many happy years volunteering for the Citizens Advice Bureau (now just Citizens Advice) and still rely on their website for information and knowledge about general life managment issues: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
        It is an amazing organisation and their email advice service is second to none.

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    2. Thank you for a very sound posting Jonathan. You have it all right and all credit to you. However what some are missing is the overall vision of the EU. They have a state with fiscal, budgetary, taxation, and political unity which in any other words is a ‘super state’. Inside the EU we will lose all control over our financial and economic welfare and be forced into the euro to boot.

      This is not something that I can sign up to, but then I am old and ready to pass on, so let the younger generation decide which is why I think any referendum 2 should preclude ‘old soldiers’ and allow the young to decide their fate.

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      1. > They have a state with fiscal, budgetary, taxation, and political unity which in any other words is a ‘super state’.

        Although I comprehend your fears about the direction of travel, note that the utter fail which was the treatment of Greece is proof positive of the absence of taxation and political unity. You just can’t make the case. Perhaps that’s where some Eurocrats would like to go but I don’#t expect to see it happen. One of the big challenges of the EU is that there is not really a political common cause across the continent. Let us take it for read that the Brits will either self-eject of be ejected, Juncker was right that it was never a very passionate affair.

        Even then there’s not enough commonality. Imagine if London (the richest part of the UK) in the role of Germany told Northumbria (NE England is the poorest region of the UK) that they had to go through the pension cuts, massive rise in unemployment and general debt deflation that was savaged on the Greeks.

        Yes they went through austerity but it wasn’t the sort of thing visited upon the Greeks, which was an EU epic fail. It shouldn’t have happened because if you want monetary union you need fiscal union, and than means a trasferunion that the Germans are so shit scared about. London subsidies everywhere else in the UK. New York state probably subsidies a lot of Michigan. It helps common cause over a large region if you all speak the same language and you have some common culture.

        The modern world is much more complex and interconnected than it was fifty years ago. The concept that the nation-state is the optimal first level administrative grouping for all time is nuts, but on the other hand cultural change takes time. I hope to live long enough to see the Euro blow for the damn fool idea it was and still is without an EU Central bank as lender of last resort, and a Treasury of Europe with the power to levy taxation, but the EU laso lacks some of the other aspects of a state – defence of the realm being an obvious shortfall. Arguably NATO is in this space.

        So I don’t fear am EU superstate, personally. I fear the Brexit ultras one hell of a lot more than the EU – Jacob Rees-Mogg and his merry band of ultra high-net-worth sovereign individuals pissing on the rest of us from a great height, hollowing out the common weal for personal gain is a much more present danger to my welfare than Eurocrat’s delusions of grandeur IMO. It’s not the Big State that frightens me. It’s the Small State.

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      2. A very interesting angle of argument ermine, thank you. And I must say that I can’t disagree with your premise. Perhaps the future is a globalised supra-state where strong economies subsidise weaker ones in an air of cooperation? It certainly beats what we have now, so I won’t disagree with you.

        But (and there is always a but) I have a tendancy to go with my feelings, being generally right for me, and the EU just doesn’t do it for me – there something Machiavellian about it somehow – a bit like the ‘deep state’ concept and as you say, billionaires ruling behind the curtain. All the forces seem to be pushing to keep us in the EU and only the mad ERG are determined to exit regardless; I am sure calmer heads will prevail in the end.

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      3. I agree with you, in that there are those who are trying to push the EU too far too fast. It has been a success in a number of ways, creating bonds between countries who historically haven’t always realised how much they have in common and creating an economic bloc which counterbalances the macho tendencies of the USA and China. But the move to a common currency was a risk which very nearly went wrong, and it still isn’t clear that its differential impact on countries can be mitigated in the near future. Similarly the refugee crisis highlighted risks that were forgotten in an idealistic view of free movement, and no doubt there will eventually be some adjustment of the principle.

        The people at the middle of the EU government, to some extent the same as politicians anywhere, get caught up in their own hype. They forget that while some of the bonds holding the EU together are strong, the framework is still relatively young and will probably take decades to embed to the extent where “ever closer union” will work.

        As with most viewpoints, mine comes from my history: quite a few years ago now I worked in America for a couple of years. It was a great interlude, but at the end I came back knowing that I was a European. That is where my values fit – culturally, economically, politically. And now Brexit has pushed me to stand up and say so.

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      4. Excellent overview Jonathan and a fine share, thank you. I come from the other side of the fence and I am old and due to pass on long before the EU reaches that nirvana which you envision. Which is why I say that a second referendum should be invoked to allow another generation, who will be affected by the Brexit decision, to make the final call and there another 3 years of new voters as well as some oldies having dropped off. The close call last time could turn in favour of Remainers this time around.

        Although it is not democratic to suggest this – I do think that people over the age of 75 should be excluded from the vote because they will not be affected by the process. It is the young who will pay the price of a wrong decision now and so they should take the lead and responsibility (I am 75 this year and I am happy not to vote).

        So go for it and let’s get on with it, but I think they won’t because it’s all politics isn’t it?

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      5. > and the EU just doesn’t do it for me – there something Machiavellian about it somehow

        It’s fair enough, you will have your own fears and predilections, and this is ultimately a political decision about values as well as facts and risks. It is a deep shame that Leave was not forced to state what sort of leave they meant by Leave, since it covers a wide spectrum, from no deal to BINO.

        I am also uncomfortable with ever closer union, not in and of itself, but because this is a political decision and I don’t recall being asked at the time the economic union of the E.E.C. became a political union called the EU, which was around Maastricht. This fight should have been had in Britain around then, I agree with James Goldsmith even though he was another rich bastard that thought he could buy political change.

        When France called a referendum to ratify the treaty in 1992, Sir James decided to do something. He began by donating 500,000 pounds to help former editor of the Times Lord Rees-Mogg challenge the validity of the Treaty in the English courts.

        Where have we heard the name Rees-Mogg before, eh? Nevertheless, Goldsmith’s words seem prescient in other areas:

        “The effects of a single currency go far beyond the economy. They would transform the political structure of Europe as well as the stability of its societies.”
        “The true purpose of proposing a single currency is to force through the creation of a unitary state while pretending to promote a largely economic idea. It is yet another example of the Eurocrats acting by stealth so as to achieve their aim of a homogenized European union.”

        He was right about the single currency, I would say the creation of the Euro was the high-water mark of the United States of Europe dream.

        But the ship foundered upon the reality – too many different national cultures. The Greeks just don’t want to live like the Germans. In the past the Drachma could take the strain, and inflation could enforce the wage cuts by stealth. A historical chart of DM:Drachma would have told them all they needed to know. This has not been solved, and the problems of the Euro have not been resolved. We will see this fight again – perhaps it will be in Italy rather than Greece, but there are differences in national character, and without a transferunion like the UK’s regions or the American states where internal transfers happen without any hullabaloo the circle cannot be squared.

        > All the forces seem to be pushing to keep us in the EU and only the mad ERG are determined to exit regardless; I am sure calmer heads will prevail in the end.

        I’m not sure why I am batting on his side, but the odious Farage is not the ERG but he is up for no deal, indeed regards himself at its champion. The ERG are closest to the actual levers of power, but if Brexit is really in Britain’s collective destiny, well, cometh the hour, cometh the man on the 23rd…

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Excellent discourse ermine, thank you, and I entirely agree with your assessment and quotes, most prescient IMHO. You may note my comments to Jonathan which is my position on Brexit and I would not vote in a 2nd referendum by reason of old age!

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  12. If most people are honest, they don’t understand even the basics of the functionality of EU vs UK law, so their intellectualisation of their tribal political choice is at best simply a lack of self-awareness of their own prejudices. A lot of Europeans are politically maturer in that whatever their actual understanding of the systems, by simply observing the facts alone, they trust their own national governments less than the EU entity. This is far from naively believing that the EU is perfect, more that they don’t see a better alternative yet.

    After centuries of jingoistic exceptionalism, the English mostly still choose to believe their own government is working in their best interests, even though we are approaching a second decade lost to needless austerity and many feel the pain on a daily basis. Otherwise why would they keep voting in the same party that trashed UK manufacturing as acceptable collateral damage to destroy the working class in the project started 3 decades ago that also entailed selling off essential infrastructure. The latter was an act civilised countries wouldn’t sanction for reasons of national security alone, given the highest bidders could be foreign, an irony seemingly lost on those claiming to be driven by sovereignty rather than plain bigotry.

    Now we are in phase 2 of that ideological project, (lets call it socialism for the rich only, via taxpayer bailouts) the middle classes are being eviscerated too, this is price you pay for looking away when the autocrats come for someone else. Our time has come, just most don’t see it. So those who give up their freedoms for the promise of safety and prosperity, neither deserve nor shall receive either.

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  13. Over the last couple of nights, I watched the excellent “Brexit – Behind Closed Doors”. It did two useful things; it showed what it looked like from the EU side (at least the EU Parliament side), and reminded us of the sequence of events. We forget how many mis-steps, diplomatic gaffes, failure to master the brief and grandstanding from the British contingent led us to where we are.

    I have to say that Verhofstadt and Barnier did not come across as delightful people, one scheming and sharp elbows, and the other pompous and up himself, but they did seem sincere. In sharp contrast to our own team.

    The progression from sorrow, to frustration, to outright anger on the part of the EU negotiators was fascinating, as was the apparent total inability of the British politicians to grasp the very basics of the political system they were trying to exit.

    We didn’t look good guys, we did not look good!

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    1. I caught up with it on iPlayer – very illuminating and a good watch. For me, it did highlight the chasm between the reality of the negotiations and some of the British media’s reporting of events.
      I don’t agree with your view on Verhofstadt and Barnier. I thought they came across as committed to the cause; as did the whole team.
      Loved all the sweary bits though! Straight out of The Thick of It 🙂
      Since the referendum though, I’ve become genuinely worried about the political climate. The whole environment has become polluted and coarsened and media reporting has become increasingly entrenched, jingoistic and polarised. You only have to watch an episode of Question Time to see it! I gave up on QT some time ago, but I do dip in occasionally, depending on the panel. The BBC, as the national broadcaster should be doing a better job of dealing with the intricacies of Brexit. Instead, we just seem to get regurgitated headlines and press releases.
      I have no idea how all this division and damage will be repaired.
      All a bit sad really…

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    2. @richardmiller587, your account made me curious enough to get past the unenticing title and subject matter, so I watched it, even if cringing through fingers by the end. It reminded me of when very small children are trying to manipulate to get something they want and are the only ones in a room who don’t know that the adults have seen several moves ahead and are totally onto their game. So they’re confidently continuing the charade while the adults look at each other and try not to laugh.

      The scary thing in the documentary was that far from working out they’d been sussed, Team UK 3 years later was making the same moves, seemingly oblivious to reality as well as having integrity and empathy by-passes. The impression it gave was you were seeing the one-eyed leaders of a country only for blind people, somewhat surreal, like ‘In the Thick of it’ but with the thicko’s more delusional than aggressive. Only in the age of Trump could this pass as normal and you can easily see how we sleepwalk into wars and environmental disasters, I don’t think as a species we’re evolving towards having a higher IQ.

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  14. It’s almost three years since the referendum and much longer than that from where the campaigning began. That’s far too long. This isn’t a vote to choose a new Scout leader, President of the Stamp collecting club or even your MP. It turns two generations upside down. The people need to have another vote. They need to take back control.

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    1. At least Remain seems to have discovered some sloganeering mojo to match ‘take back control’. I’m quite a fan of Bollocks to Brexit

      Although in all fairness Leavers could make the same argument that it’s been far too long to deliver whatever specific form of One True Brexit floats their particular boat. The search party has been out for a method of Brexit that isn’t, on balance, likely to cause economic hara-kiri and keep coming up with nothing. It appears too few politicians have the nuts to deliver that self-immolation, presumably ‘cos they fear being roasted at the next election for the carnage.

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  15. Much as I despise the vacuous Brexit arguments, I thought that calling that campaign ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ was one of the most stupid things I’ve seen for years and did a lot of harm to the Remain cause. A bus travelling around the UK with those big swearwords on simply gave the impression of a Lower Sixth form prank and I was surprised they were allowed to get away with it and weren’t arrested. It was demeaning, embarrassing and infantile. Most of the Brexit arguments are just hot air and nothing else. Shame the campaigners couldn’t have thought up a better slogan.

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  16. Interesting and erudite comments. Thank you Ermine for setting this hare running.

    But at the end of the day, our future will be decided by MPs whose primary driver is not to vote in the peoples’ interest, but rather to vote in the interest of the people.

    Oliver Cromwell got it bang on.

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  17. Hmm … so the clear message from the European Election vote is … don’t call your opponent an idiot! There is Psychological evidence (Group Polarization) to suggest trying to brow beat your opponent into opposition only results in more extremely held positions! But this shouldn’t be news to anybody in the FIRE community, after all, we know that perceived ‘common sense’ in investing makes for bad decisions (e.g. follow the money). So, now is the time to respect the other party as an equal, and begin talking; otherwise whilst one side might (by hook or crook) win the battle, democracy will ultimately lose the war.

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