92 thoughts on “Brexit now a reality

    1. Yup, rather symbolically the UK officially left the EU at midnight… Brussels time! I can’t help having a niggling suspicion that this could be indicative of the UK’s negotiating strength in all of our post-EU trade deals.

  1. Going to be a painful year for many. Just a few minutes ago the Senate voted no witnesses. What a surprise…

      1. Yes, I think Collins needed to vote yes to keep from getting hammered back home. For Romney, who knows. He is not up next election. I do think a lot of Republicans are going to be punished for this, particularly as more stuff comes out later. Should help the democrats chance of getting the Senate. They must get that or getting Trump out won’t mean so much.

        1. I sincerely hope that you are correct, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see “president” Trump re-elected.

        2. Susan Collins got what Senate insiders call a hall pass. For purposes of helping her back in Maine, McConnell didn’t strong arm her to vote against witnesses because her vote would not change the ultimate result.

          1. I suspect McConnell may have told Lamar Alexander last night that he was going to get the votes he needed one way or the other, including by squeezing Susan Collins if he had to. Alexander, who I think originally planned to vote to hear witnesses, and who isn’t standing for reelection, took a bullet for Collins, so she could claim she’d shown some independence when campaigning during the general election in Maine next Fall.

            None of it ended up mattering, of course, since Murkowski of Alaska also folded her cards this morning and went along with McConnell.

          2. Romney got disinvited from CPAC so there’s at least some indication his vote wasn’t given the blessing of the Turtle.

            Still funny in light of the feigned outrage of Republicans a few days ago when it was leaked that Trump had threatened fence-sitters with reprisals. Who could possibly believe he’d do such a thing until he did exactly that.

            1. Even though Romney isn’t up for reelection until 2022, pro-Trump PACs began running television ads against him as soon as it seemed he might vote in favor of hearing additional witnesses at the impeachment trial — clearly a warning shot to wavering GOP senators.

              And look what happened to arch-conservative Michigan congressman Jordan Amash (a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, for Chrissakes) when he came out for impeachment after the Mueller report — he drew a well-funded primary opponent (and lost his own big donors) the very next day and ended up being read out of the Republican Party. (He’s now a registered Independent.)

              I don’t know if Republican senators were expressly told (as has been reported) that if they crossed Trump on impeachment they’d end up with their “head on a pike,” but that’s plainly the message that was sent and understood.

              The GOP plays dirty, and they play for keeps.

    1. Never been more disappointed in our federal government. World’s greatest deliberative body, my ass.

      It’s been nothing more than a Soviet-style show trial, a complete capitulation by one political Party to a caudillo-style strongman. In the chamber that once held Republican senators like John McCain, and Howard Baker, and Baker’s father-in-law, Everett Dirksen, and Barry Goldwater, and Jacob Javitz, and Margaret Chase Smith. Now it is a caucus of craven, cult-of-personality lackeys.

      Our rule of law hangs by a thread. Our system of checks-and-balances on the executive branch of government is gone, save (for now) for our quadrennial elections.

      I can’t imagine how low morale must be among honest, hardworking career people at the State Department and at the Justice Department and in the intelligence community, and elsewhere in the federal government where a shred of decency persists. Maybe as low as I feel right now about my own government.

      1. There has been speculation among MSNBC commentators that the vote against witnesses will be a hard blow against the Republican senators since 75% of the American public want them. I am not so sure. Republican senators not up for election this cycle probably think correctly that when they do come up again their votes will be forgotten or not held against them. For those up for re-election this cycle, if they are in deep red states, their votes will not matter. In closer states they think that the Trump cult will carry them to election. This remains to be seen. Only Susan Collins of Maine thought that voting against witnesses could really hurt her.

        1. I think Collins will still lose in Maine. I also think Gardner is toast in Colorado and McSally in Arizona. Maybe Tillis in North Carolina, too. The Dems will need all four of those seats, if Doug Jones loses, which seems almost assured in deep red Alabama, just to get to a 50-50 split in the senate.

      2. This is where the administration starts leaking like a porcupine’s waterbed. Having seen the complete failure of regular procedures as well as the Trump admin’s determination to pursue and punish whistleblowers who go through official channels, expect leakers to start just dumping anything they can get their hands on into the media over the next few months. Hopefully including Bolton’s manuscript before its official publication date.

    2. I’m glad democrats are saying it’s a sham trial and thus no acquittal. Schumer had some strong words and I can’t figure out if he’s adding amendments to the impeachment or what. Something strange is going on. We’ll see. Parnov wants to testify as well; the House should subpoena him. Not surprised, but justice has not been served and Americans not in the cult see right through it. How could you not?

    3. The only interesting bit left for the impeachment saga is where Senators give speeches on why they voted the way they did. Some will echo Trump’s position that the whole thing was a partisan hoax but some will try to tell us that what Trump did was wrong but just not wrong enough to throw him out of office. This will be a tough needle to thread. On one hand, they risk pissing Trump off and on the other, if they don’t slam Trump at least a little they will give soundbites to Dems and their GOP primary opponents in their reelection campaigns. Should be a good sporting event for us to watch.

    4. I thought “No witnesses” was an edict issued by gangsters before a hit when they, errm, actually meant “No witnesses left alive”. If I was one of tRump’s close associates I’d start to be very, very nervous…



  2. The UK will float down the Atlantic Ocean, pass the equator and settle itself next to the Falkland Islands, far away from everything, in a splendid isolation.

      1. Yes, the Falklands have five species of penguins: Gentoo, King, Magellanic, Rockhopper and one other that I can’t remember.

      1. Well, Norway is quite rich with its oil and gas, just like Saudi Arabia. I believe re research and science they have the same position as Switzerland. And in the UK Scotland is eager to rejoin the EU. By the way, now that Brexit is a reality, the Church of England has immediately started meddling with its statements that sex between unmarried people should be illegal. Just what happens in Hungary and Poland, unexpectedly. Religion and democracy don’t mix (idem in the US with what kind of people support Trump).

        1. “the Church of England has immediately started meddling with its statements that sex between unmarried people should be illegal”

          Weird, do you have a link?

      1. No, but I have lived in the UK. I even bought a house there (with a blue plaque saying that Sophia Jex-Blake was born in this house) but Thatcher’s three-fold hike of interest rates quickly killed this dream.

  3. Right now, the UK is like Wile E Coyote having just run off the edge of a cliff—suspended in mid-air. Nothing has yet changed for the UK except it no longer has members or votes in the European parliament. It won’t crash to the ground until the end of the year when the transition period is over. BoJo thinks he can negotiate free trade with the EU, but I see no reason why the EU will give him that. Why would they give away the milk for free when the UK no longer has a claim on the cow?

    1. BoJo thinks he can negotiate free trade with the EU, but I see no reason why the EU will give him that.

      I wonder if BoJo will follow the Trump pattern: lots of talk, lots of bluster, lots negotiations, lots of “us vs. them” talk, eventually come away with nothing more than the EU has already said they give, then claim he made a “great deal” and celebrate and hold a parade.

      1. Pretty much sounds like his plan. Theresa May’s Brexit deal was virtually the same as Johnson’s (but without the border down the Irish Sea), and her proposed 5G network agreement with Huawei was almost identical, too. Take all the credit, diss your predecessor, and tell whatever lies you need to get you through the day seems to be the new modus operandi – on both sides of the pond.

        1. We do not know how truly “independent” EU nations will be in another decade if an EU army is established and more integration happens.

          I think it is a bit premature (and arrogant) to declare Brexit a disaster or a triumph – I am agnostic.

          I think both sides had good arguments – only time will tell.

      1. But it defied the Fascists because it was allied with democratic European countries. Why else go to war over Poland? Actually, the British nationalists, the ancestors of today’s nationalist Brexiters, asked exactly that question. And it was Britain’s international friends that helped defeat the nationalist Nazis (National Socialist). How do you interpret this as something that shows nationalism is better than internationalism?

        1. I assume you are against all the ex soviet states that declared independence – from Estonia to Georgia. (being facetious 🙂

          I am not suggesting that pro-EU brits are in favor of a “Soviet” style super-state, or that the risks associated with Brexit are not serious.

          My point is that some Brexiteers have a visceral distrust in the principle of an EU superstate. Individual rights have a weaker track record in the EU than in Britain.
          Fascism and Communism is a European thing and both Napolean and Hilter dreamed of an continental empire.
          Many Brexiteers might be small minded, but not all of them.

          “How do you interpret this as something that shows nationalism is better than internationalism?”
          The Soviets were the prime internationalists and co-invaded Poland in 39!
          Do you think all forms of nationalism is toxic and all forms of internationalism is benign?

            1. “Do you really see an equivalence between the EU and the Soviet Union?”

              No, the Soviet experiment was brutal and the EU thus far has been a champion of progressive rights, far more positive than negative. (I live in Ireland where most Irish would say that joining the EU improved Ireland beyond measure)

              The equivalence with the Soviet Union might be a huge bureaucracy and the impracticability running so many languages and ethnic groups. (Good thing Turkey did not join!)

              Unlike the US, the EU do not have a common language/culture and the citizens might feel they do not have direct democratic influence and the north/south economic divide could become more serious.

              As you know the original idea was a “Customs Union” and we do not know how the EU will develop in the future, I suspect it will become less democratic with less sovereignty for the member states if it survives.
              However, economic pressures might break it apart.

          1. Individual rights have a weaker track record in the EU than in Britain.

            Really? I don’t think so. Now we are out of the EU, expect to see the British government rolling back a lot of the rights that we have acquired through being members of the EU. We have already lost the right to live and work anywhere in the EU. Next will be the workers’ rights enshrined in EU law.

            Fascism and Communism is a European thing and both Napolean and Hilter dreamed of an continental empire.

            And you know why neither has gained a foothold in Europe in the last fifty years?

            Many Brexiteers might be small minded, but not all of them.

            I would characterise most of them as badly misled, not stupid or small minded.

          2. “Fascism and Communism is a European thing and both Napolean and Hilter dreamed of an continental empire.”

            This seems an incredibly specious argument. Both fascism and communism had strong roots in the UK. And you have to be wearing pretty large blinkers to forget centuries of world wide British empire.

      2. Kow-towing to the UK’s home-grown crop of fascists and racists is a great way to celebrate winning WW2. Brexit is all about race and getting Johnny Brown-skin Foreigner out as quickly as possible.

          1. My (very white) Russian wife has had over fifteen years of that bigotry, the moment she opens her mouth. It’s nothing new. But with a quarter of my immediate family having visible “negro” pigmentation, that came as no surprise. (There’s a better than evens chance that everyone on Dad’s side has invisible “negroness” too – I’d have to find out the birth dates of several generations back and compare them with the second marriage date of … was she a great granny, or great-great. Somewhere back in the 1870s or so.)

  4. This is England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales leaving the European Union together? That’s how I understand it.

    1. Yes, those are the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. The devolved Scottish Government will now press for another referendum on Scottish Independence. The economics would indicate that the case for Scottish independence is now weaker. (from memory: about 64% of Scotland’s exports go to the rest of the UK and about 16% to the EU).

      1. It can be seen that Scottish independence would be utter madness. The chaos surrounding Brexit would be amplified many fold if Scotland decided it wanted to leave the UK.

        The problem is the perception that English voters are making poor decisions for Scotland and this looks like a strong case for Scottish independence. I expect that, in another independence referendum (which admittedly won’t happen while the Tories are in power), Scotland will vote for independence. Brexit will literally destroy this country.

        1. The SNP are pushing for a “consultative referendum” without approval of Westminster. My money would be on it passing with a sizable margin. But such is the consequence of the logic Brexiteers have unleashed. I don’t see many paths for the UK to remain united.

        2. Brexit will literally destroy this country.

          Wrong tense. The country is destroyed, it is just twitching a bit.
          What the Westminster crowd say about the next independence referendum is pretty irrelevant. We’ve already had wars supporting the right of nations to determine their own future. The remaining question is when the next one starts.

  5. When this first started happening a few years ago, I thought it was England that wanted to leave the United Kingdom.

  6. While I can appreciate people wanting to throw a monkey wrench into the works when they perceive government not working for them, it’s too bad that they usually only end up making things worse, as will likely be the case here. Instead of unrepresentative bureaucrats in Brussels, they’ll have unrepresentative bureaucrats in London who won’t do anything substantial about the issues that led people to vote for Brexit in the first place, but who will take advantage of the loss of environmental and worker protections mandated by the EU, and other good regulations, to enrich their business buddies.

  7. Hopefully the secession of Scotland won’t drag on even half as long. Ideally they get it done this year and spend 2021 renegotiating back into the Eurozone.

    1. Can you explain why it would be a good thing when:
      Scotland receives about £12bn more from the UK than it raises in taxes (including North Sea Oil revenues)
      About 64% of Scotland’s exports go to the rest of the UK and about 16% to the EU.

      1. Because the Brexit model has already taught us that nationlist fervor trumps sober analysis of pure economic interest. Why should it start mattering now?

        “Oh they’ll never leave. They’d be shooting themselves in the wallet…just like we did!”

        1. The SNP case is even more emotional – and makes far less economic sense than BREXIT. They blame the “English” government for “austerity” when they are receiving a massive subsidy from the UK exchequer. Equivalent to about £5,000 p.a. for every Scottish taxpayer.

        1. Pretty soon it will be little England alone with all things English. BoJo’s pipe dream of turning England into a European Singapore is laughable. Most leave voters are protectionist.

        2. Some of the member states might have other ideas. Spain might veto it because it sends a message to its own regions that want independence.

          Anyway, there will be no IndyRef2 for as long as a Conservative government is in power.

          1. They can hold a “consultative referendum”, apparently, without UK government approval. What exactly would result from this isn’t clear to me, but I imagine it would put pressure on the Conservative government to allow a “real” vote. /shrug

            1. The problem is that the current government will just ignore it.

              I do agree that, unless we end up going back into the EU or the alleged sunlit uplands of Brexit turn out to be real, the break up of the UK is going to happen eventually. I think it will be far worse for Scotland than Brexit has been/will be for the UK, but rational thought has long since deserted politics on this side of the pond and Channel.

              1. The Republic of Ireland with its five million people and EU membership seems to do just fine, with per capita income higher than the UK. Why can’t a Republic of Scotland with the same population do as well as long as it can get EU membership? Scotland should study what the Irish did and copy their model.

              2. A Scotland in the EU would need a hard border with the UK. Almost all of Scotland’s trade is with other parts of the EU. Brexit will be a picnic compared to Scottish independence.

    2. Not a chance.

      Boris Johnson will never allow IndyRef2.

      Furthermore, You better pray it doesn’t happen. Brexit is utter chaos, will cause untold misery and will cost the UK billions. And this was just a sovereign country exiting a fairly loose federation that it has been in for only fifty years. Scotland and England have been united as a tightly knit single entity for three hundred years.

  8. For England I hope they can work it out and find a way back. Going out on their own is not the answer.

    For us the only thing that saves us is a total flogging of the republican party in less than a year. If we cannot do that, I mean get rid of Trump and gain the majority in the Senate, we are toast. Luckily I am old and have no kids.

    1. England is not an independent country. It’s the United Kingdom, or Great* Britain that has just left the EU.

      *”Great” here refers to the fact that it is the largest of the islands of Britain, not that it is a great country, which it manifestly has ceased to be.

  9. While Britain is a historic nation state which its people identify with the EU is a group of countries trying to become a nation state, a nation with which the bulk of the people do not or cannot identify with. The cart is being put before the horse.
    Rather like the USA becoming a member of the American Union with much of its government in Caracas. Good for growth, trade, peace, and free movement of people but not a happy home for most USAians.

  10. I’m not well versed in Brexit.

    I will admit here that my prediction of a Trump removal was wrong.

    I was a fool to believe…

    Is it hyperbole to suggest that Nov. 3rd, 2020 is the most consequential day in recent American history? Since 12/7/41?

    I think not.

    Even if I’m off a bit, it’s going to be a hum dinger.

  11. The UK’s position is fairly strong. If the EU tries to play hard ball, the UK can just sit things out until December 31st, and a “no deal” Brexit will automatically occur. This means trading on WTO rules, EU automatically loses fishing rights in UK waters, European Court and other EU-related bodies lose all jurisdiction in UK, etc., etc. And the EU itself loses privileged access to UK markets. Since the UK imports far more from the EU than it sells to the EU, this is to the disadvantage of EU manufacturers. And a weak sterling will make it even harder for EU exporters to compete in the UK market. On top of this, the EU has lost its biggest net contributor after Germany, and Germany right now is going into recession. The EU is going to need have to cut back its spending. The dilemma is, should it cut back on the boondoggles that keep the poorer EU countries loyal, or on the lavish perks that keep the bureaucrats happy?.

    1. Sorry but this is just a fantasy.

      The fishing industry is a trifling irrelevance. There are about 12,000 people involved in the British fishing industry. The Nissan plant at Sunderland employee 7,000 people by itself and supports 27,000 other jobs in the UK. The British fishing industry exports about 80% of its catch to the EU. Under WTO rules, both the fishing industry and the Nissan plant will probably be gone.

      Furthermore, we can’t just magically stop importing things from Europe ands switch to making them locally. What will happen is our imports will become more expensive and our exports will become uncompetitive.

      Manufacturers in the EU will still have the rest of the EU to sell to, plus all the trade deals they have done with other countries – trade deals to which we will no longer have access.

      The UK is not in a strong position at all. The EU can just let us swing in the wind if they so choose.

      1. The fishing industry is “trifling” precisely because the UK gave up its rights to its waters in order to join the EU. (It also gave up its space program for the same reason, incidentally.) The fishing industry was much larger in the past, and used to be a mainstay for numerous coastal towns the have fallen on hard times since then.
        There is a whole world to trade with. Your doom scenario is only plausible if the EU implements a blockade and the UK exhibits no entrepreneurial initiative. Or if Cornyn and his gang of commies ever get to rule.

        1. The fishing industry is trifling because the fisheries are almost fished out and because the fishermen sold their quotas to Europeans. They didn’t have to, they could have gone fishing in other European waters.

          If the Nissan plant shuts, which it may do because tarif free trade with Europe is critical to its profitability, no amount of rejuvenated fishing is going to offset that.

          Corbyn is utterly useless, but not a communist.

          1. Corbyn is an old fashioned Fabian specialist who refused to go along with the Blair revolution. This makes him identical to a revolutionary communist in all ways except one: he shuns violent revolution, and seeks to achieve communism by legal and constitutional means.

            1. ” This makes him identical to a revolutionary communist in all ways except one” No it doesn’t. Many people didn’t go along with the Blair revolution who are not communists.

              1. Corbyn is so obviouslya communist, it’s absurd to deny it. He has a fifty year history of aligning himself with communist organizations and causes, including the Soviet Union; his deputy and long-time ally in the party is John McDonnell, an avowed communist who claims Marx, Lenin and Trotsky as his greatest influences; his other key allies within the party and in the media are also either avowed communists or have praised communist leaders (e.g. Ash Sarkar on TV, “I am *literally* a communist”, and Dianne Abbott, “Mao did more good than harm”, again on TV), or are members the “Entryist”, “Trotskyite” (according to those on the more centrist wing of the Labour Party) organization, Momentum. And then there’s the 2019 general election manifesto, which is clearly a communist document — calling for an extreme amount of nationalization and redistribution that would have been considered bold even by the Old Labour” off the 1960s.

  12. Here’s a good piece by Ian McKewan outlining what Britain has tossed away.


    Much of it is stuff that half the English don’t care about anyway–

    “Take a road trip from Greece to Sweden, from Portugal to Hungary. Leave your passport behind. What a rich, teeming bundle of civilisations – in food, manners, architecture, language, and each nation state profoundly and proudly different from its neighbours. No evidence of being under the boot-heel of Brussels. Nothing here of continental USA’s dreary commercial sameness. Summon everything you’ve learned of the ruinous, desperate state of Europe in 1945, then contemplate a stupendous economic, political and cultural achievement: peace, open borders, relative prosperity, and the encouragement of individual rights, tolerance and freedom of expression. Until Friday this was where our grown-up children went at will to live and work.”

    He also correctly locates a large part of the blame on the supposed “opposition Party” which failed completely to do any opposing, as its leader has been not only anti-EU but anti-NATO his whole life, and was too slimey to admit publicly that he still is. So instead he sabotaged the Remain campaign and forced through the decisive vote on the legislation to leave.

    Far right populists are always lurking in the political landscape somewhere, but they only flourish when the opposition fails.

    1. I read that excellent article by Ian McEwan with mixed feelings because some of the points that it makes were not sufficiently highlighted by UK mainstream media much earlier (especially not by the BBC). The most fundamental of these is covered in the following section:

      ”Set aside for a moment Vote Leave’s lies, dodgy funding, Russian involvement or the toothless Electoral Commission. Consider instead the magic dust. How did a matter of such momentous constitutional, economic and cultural consequence come to be settled by a first-past-the-post vote and not by a super-majority? A parliamentary paper (see Briefing 07212) at the time of the 2015 Referendum Act hinted at the reason: because the referendum was merely advisory. It “enables the electorate to voice an opinion”. How did “advisory” morph into “binding”? By that blinding dust thrown in our eyes from right and left by populist hands.”

      Parliament legislated for an advisory referendum. Both main parties then promised to ‘implement’ the result – in other words, promising to treat the Referendum as if it was binding, but they did not attempt to legislate for that. Instead, much of the public were fooled into believing that the Referendum was binding by both Conservative and Labour MPs. It took a body outside of Parliament, represented by Gina Miller, to take the Government to court to confirm that the Referendum was advisory, yet MPs continued to refer to the Referendum result as a ‘mandate’, a ‘decision’, an ‘instruction’, the ‘will of the people’, and so on.

      I complained to David Cameron when he was my MP, but received only false Conservative propaganda in reply, which makes me wonder whose side Cameron (the leader of the official Remain campaign) was really on.

      Given the damage that Brexit has already done, let alone the damage that it is projected to do, the whole thing appears to me to be a gigantic fraud.

        1. He was certainly instrumental. Labour whipped MPs to vote with the Government and allow Theresa May to decide whether to trigger the Brexit process (rather than allow Parliament to properly debate the momentous issue of whether the UK should leave the EU). Theresa May subsequently triggered the process on the false implied basis that the Referendum was binding!

          I fail to understand how that sequence of events could be considered constitutional. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty states that any member state may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. Not only did Corbyn not point this out, but almost immediately after the Referendum he had said that the Brexit process should be triggered immediately! His idea of the role of leader of the opposition reminds me of the role of the Counsel for the Defence, played by John Cleese in the Monty-Python courtroom sketch, weedling a confession out of the accused.

          1. Corbyn did practically everything wrong. He didn’t even have to allow the last General Election but he gave the Tories everything they wanted by letting it happen.

            We’ve had three of the worst prime ministers in history in a row and Corbyn still lost two elections against them.

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