Say no to Brexit

[Update: and the answer was: leave. Oh dear.]

This indecision's bugging me
(Esta indecision me molesta)
If you don't want me set me free
(Si no quieres librame)
Exactly who I'm supposed to be
(Digame que tengo ser)
Don't you know witch clothes even fits me?
(Sabes bruja ropa me queda)
Come on and let me know
(Me tienes que decir)
Should I cool it or should I blow?
(Me debo ir o quedarme)

I thought the mixed-in Spanish verse was a nice touch for a post about Europe.

This post is largely for me to record my own opinion, so that in later years I can read it and realise how foolish I was. Or how wise; time will tell. But unlike, say, GW vs denialism (the denialists are bozos) or Vim vs Emacs (gvim, of course) or Perforce vs Git (p4, naturally) I don't have a very strong opinion on Brexit.

Perhaps I can explain that at least in part by pointing you at the closest thing I've seen in a public statement to my own opinion, which is a column in the Torygraph Times by Matthew Parris. Who has a better marathon time than JA or Maz, so his views must be taken seriously. Like me, he is keen on the idea of Europe in theory, but has no love for the institutions of the EU as currently constituted; not happy to be in the company of those who wish to leave (Timmy excluded, of course); and wonders what knock-on effects there might be on the world at large. Certainly, now seems a poor time to be rocking the boat. We seem to have stumbled into this whole mess by accident; volume n of "the Tory party tears itself to pieces over Europe", wished on the rest of us only because Cameron accidentally and unexpectedly won a majority and had to make good on his promises.

My own views were crystallised when I asked my 18 year old just-eligible-to-vote-this-year son how he would vote. I expected indecision and not-really-thought-about-it; instead, I got an instant "In", and when pressed for why, an excellent reason: because he wants the option to easily work anywhere in Europe.

I've seen so many words about this whole thing, and so few of them seem to be worthwhile. Almost all the arguments put forward either for or against appear besides the point, unreliable, or wrong.

Another question is, "Could Brexit be a good thing for Europe?" The FT considered this and pretty well everyone agreed that the answer was No: Brexit would be bad for the EU. I agree with that. We're mostly deciding for ourselves, I suppose, but shouldn't be selfish.

The stupid way the EU tries to beat up Google is another reason to dislike it; but a relatively minor one; Google will outsmart them. Would you rather trust the EU or Google to do something useful? Google, obvs.

In a vague nod to the ostensible topic of this blog, The Economist notes the odd connection between Brexy-ness and GW denialism; but the thought doesn't really go anywhere.

This draft was started about a month ago. I rather hoped to tidy it up into something more coherent before publishing it, but if I keep on at this rate it will be after the referendum; so I'll just press "publish" in its current state.


* Anything goes
* Jump!
* Caius, Pembroke, Maggie and Clare
* The CDM spawned a small industry of project developers, assessors, MRV professionals and climate finance experts - this from someone who supports it.
* The Stunning Victory Of This Capitalist Neoliberal Globalisation Thing
* James offers sage advice, as ever.


See #4 for my thoughts on Boris. But it seems unfair to criticse him for naked politicking without doing the same for Corbyn: whilst nominally "in" he can't resist mixing in his own bizarre hobby-horses and damaging the "in"side.

More like this

What about Arctic Sea Ice?

The latest value: 10,923,963 km^2(May 22, 2016)

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 23 May 2016 #permalink

Phil, Arctic SIE is low for this time of year, but WC can hold on to the fact that the 2nd and 3rd lowest years for this date did not set the record for lowest extent. The correlation between May SIE and the final September minimum just isn't very strong.

That said, weather models look to be setting up the same dipole for June 2016 that we saw in June 2012 when SIE plummeted over a two-week period in June.

WC needs clouds and lots of 'em, but as Wayne Davidson has pointed out trending La Nina years have fewer clouds than average over the arctic.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 23 May 2016 #permalink

> WC needs clouds

Yea, fortuitously we're in the descending part of the solar cycle so increasing cosmic rays should pump up cloud formation .... hmmmm .....

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 23 May 2016 #permalink

If we leave, Boris will become Prime Minister.

[I don't think I ever had much time for Boris, but his naked opportunism in joining "leave" just because he gets to lead it - whereas had he jumped the other side of the fence to "remain" he'd be part of Cameron - is just disgraceful. I'm astonished he hasn't got more stick for it; it just shows how much that kind of behaviour is now simply acceptable, to pols -W]

By Steve Milesworthy (not verified) on 24 May 2016 #permalink

Yeah, undecided as well.

Although leaning towards brexit on the grounds that it might shake the EU out of it's terrible complacency, and allowing mass immigration to a country with a severe housing shortage is, well, daft. On the other hand it could trigger possibly the most unappealing general election in history. If there was ever an argument for politicians to be selected by the same process as juries..

Glad I'm not the only one who prefers Perforce to Git. Always thought it was just me not 'getting it' about Git.

By Andrew Dodds (not verified) on 24 May 2016 #permalink

vi, really? Crumbs.

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 24 May 2016 #permalink

On Brexit, I note that a lot of large US companies that have their European HQ in London are concerned that they'll suffer various forms of adverse consequences if it passes. London is handy, but it's value as an HQ is due in part to the ability to easily move money, goods and people between there and the Continent. There are a lot of high-value jobs in London that depend on that dynamic.

By Rick Woollams (not verified) on 24 May 2016 #permalink

There are many reasonable criticisms that can be made of the EU. As an institution, it is a decidedly mixed bag. Unfortunately, the pro-Brexit mob are (as far as I can see) not reasonable, and their desire to leave seems to be motivated by a desire to do less of the good and more of the bad.

I'm also terrified that, if we leave, they'll send back all of those ghastly expats who have ruined so much of Europe...

but... you're being so negative, and today St. Nicola is across the meeja saying "don't insult voters" with "fear-based arguments". Odd that her bunch had all those billboards, adverts and leaflets suggesting that Bremain would result in horrendous cuts to our dear NHS – which her government actually controls.

Oh, of course that was the last referendum. Funny how "project fear" is always supposedly what the other side is doing.

Ok, if I ever meet Mr. B.R. Exit I will say "no".

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 24 May 2016 #permalink

I wonder in the case of a Brexit whether GB would then decide to buy itself access to the EU single market, just like Norway and Switzerland do.

Could be fun if GB does, since this requires adherence to many EU rules, and perhaps even more stringently so.

Marco -

Yes, in practical terms I doubt it would make much difference.

The biggest single problem that Europe has is the Euro, which has been a disaster for everyone, except Germany. A single currency demands a single government - or a single set of laws, which amounts to the same thing. Luckily we never joined..

By Andrew Dodds (not verified) on 25 May 2016 #permalink

The whole Brexit debate has brought into sharp focus the simple fact that, by and large, politics and by extension politicians have lost much of their power to affect change

Sure a tinker here a tinker there! – but on the big stuff the markets have the final say

The irony is that those Brexiters who trumpet the “democratic deficit” card the loudest are often the same ones who over saw the abdication of power from politicians to the markets throughout the last 40 years

As globalisation roles ever forward that “democratic deficit” card becomes increasingly irrelevant – imo

And historically it was probably their strongest

"In a vague nod to the ostensible topic of this blog, The Economist notes the odd connection between Brexy-ness and GW denialism; but the thought doesn’t really go anywhere."

The link is extraordinarily strong though. Every time I've checked what a prominent Brexiter thinks about climate science, I've found them to be either an outright denier, or at the very least a "do nothing"er.

They even have a film (Brexit: The Movie") made for them by Martin Durkin (of Great Global Warming Swindle" notoriety), which is packed full of Brexiters who are also science deniers.

Make of this what you will. What I make of it is that these people aren't to be trusted when it comes to assessing evidence that contradicts their ideological preferences.

yes I did larf when I was shown that on youtube

the first speaker being the old "interpreter of interpretations" no less

another one I have been directed to is the one

the interesting thing about it is not that it has the arch anti scientist Christopher Booker as one of the contributors - that is a given

no, it is the fact that as you watch it something seems a bit odd, then you realises it looks like it has been shot in the 1950's - utterly bizarre, simply full of old men sitting in big comfy armchairs

and yet presumably made in the last few months

the message seems to be - to go forward, we need to reverse back to the days of the Empire

The irony is that those Brexiters who trumpet the “democratic deficit” card the loudest are often the same ones who over saw the abdication of power from politicians to the markets throughout the last 40 years

That is not an irony. That is why they are in favour of it. Little UK will not be able to stand up against power abuse by economic forces. London listens to Murdoch, Brussels does not. WMC may not like what the EU did to Google, but at least they could, UK could not.

[I don't see any abuse by Google. But I do see abuse by the EU; I don't see this as a pro-EU argument. I'm in favour of smaller government, if that wasn't obvious already -W]

In Germany you can only get rid of a Chancellor (PM) by getting a new one elected. That would have been a good idea for this referendum as well. What do the people advocating a Brexit want?

Switzerland (open borders, but doing everything the EU wants, but have no say),

Canada (travel allowed, migration not, trade with EU, but all headquarters will leave London for a EU city, including ECMWF),

Paraguay (only the rich can travel, splendid isolation, just trade with EU as cumbersome as with USA and China, pretend that (war in) Europe does not influence UK).

Which of the alternatives would have a majority (if Brexit gets a majority)? My guess would be none.

[I suspect your question is rhetorical, but I think the answer in many minds if "return to the golden imperial era of the past"; of course that isn't actually an option.… -W]

By Victor Venema … (not verified) on 26 May 2016 #permalink

Did you mean:
Don’t you know which clothes fit me?
(¿No sabes qué ropa me encaja?)

[I most certainly did not ;-) -W]

@ Victor

to clarify

my sense of irony is tickled by the people who take these lunatics seriously when they witter on about "freedom"

in the same why i larf when the Koch brothers manage to get old men out in wheelchairs protesting about affordable healthcare

but I am in agreement with you :-)

I don’t see this as a pro-EU argument. I’m in favour of smaller government, if that wasn’t obvious already -W

Yes, you are kinda a hopeless case, but this is a public forum and most people do not want to be ruled by amoral corporations, but prefer rule by the people, also called democracy. It is even necessary to keep markets free and efficient. Corporations will not do that for you, they like to have market power, that helps them to optimize profits. Read your classical liberals, like Adam Smith, rather than those libertarian fairytales that are spread by the billionaires.

I suspect your question is rhetorical

Not really. If the UK votes for a Brexit, the majority of the population would likely see the situation afterwards as worse than now. A no votes makes no sense without saying what the alternative is.

By Victor Venema … (not verified) on 26 May 2016 #permalink

Victor, the alternative would be something new (which is always nice) that isn't shackled to an unreformable undemocratic robot programmed to move towards ever-closer union in small irreversible steps. As the Economist said a few years ago, this robot - the Monnet Method - has had its day. Nobody really wants ever-closer union any more, not even in the Eurozone, and the usual shtick of imposing 'more Europe' as the standard fix to crises triggered by previous ever-closer union ('It's simply a techical matter, old bean; no need to trouble the electorates with it') has, thanks to financial woes, finally collided with the democratic deficit in a game-changing way. Whatever the outcome of the UK referendum, the EU will have to find new ways of doing things. There is no advantage to the UK in staying in while these are worked out because they'll be decided within the Eurozone. Good luck with that. My advice would be to become more intergovernmental: get rid of the euro and the parliament and remove the commission's legislative powers. But that's not going to happen.

By Vinny Burgoo (not verified) on 26 May 2016 #permalink

" I’m in favour of smaller government, if that wasn’t obvious already -W"

such a false dichotomy

err I am for a bloated inefficient bureaucracy.

you often get this when debating conspiritards (and science deniers too)

when you question there evidence, they simply accuse you of being a government shill - and believing everything you are fed by the MSM

" I’m in favour of smaller government, if that wasn’t obvious already -W”

Everyone should be in favor of 'Goldilocks' government - not too big, not too small. *smaller* is simply a relative term. Failed states are typically *already* too small.

One could easily make the UK's government smaller by simply re-privatizing healthcare. Privatize all the roads, highways, bridges, rivers, and bicycle paths. Sell off every publicly owned park and wilderness area. These are just a few of the things possible.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 26 May 2016 #permalink

Anybunny want to bet on how long Scotlant stays as part of the uk after brexit. What would be really amusing would be a celtic nation of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. For the hell of it throw Brittany in

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 26 May 2016 #permalink

Eli, the celts long ago united to form OPIC, the Organization of Peat Igniting Countries

[I don’t see any abuse by Google. But I do see abuse by the EU; I don’t see this as a pro-EU argument. I’m in favour of smaller government, if that wasn’t obvious already -W]

Maybe you don't have an Android phone, or if you do, you don't care about them all having Google services.

Also, perhaps as the EU dealt firmly with Microsoft Google didn't push the boundaries.

[I have an Android phone. It works. I want the EU to leave it alone. In terms of tech, the EU is clearly incompetent, unlike Google -W]

By Steve Milesworthy (not verified) on 27 May 2016 #permalink

My Samsung Ace worked till the Google applications overloaded its memory. I quite like some of the Google apps, but I also quite like the fact that the EU are keeping an eye on them as they do with Microsoft.

Cutting roaming charges, and preventing manufacturers promoting vacuum cleaners based on the number of macho-watts rather than their effectiveness is good too.

[On vacuum cleaners, I still think… is correct. On roaming charges, I would make a similar argument -W]

By Steve Milesworthy (not verified) on 27 May 2016 #permalink

Here in the U.S. people want small government but only so long as they still get their goodies. Our farmers tend to be Republicans who abhor government interference (but love their market-distorting subsidized crop insurance). The elderly are our most conservative age cohort (but the AARP is one of the country's most powerful lobbying group). And then there are these folks.

As for the EU-Google kerfluffle I don't know the details but of course that won't stop me from commenting on it. Large corporations like Google act pretty much like people in general -- they tend to behave better when they know that someone's watching. Whether the EU has overreached in this particular case I have no idea.

[Wow.… is great. I agree with you, people are attached to their benefits. It doesn't alter my opinion; it does very much chime with something out of Hayek that I'll share with you all when I'm ready -W]

By Raymond Arritt (not verified) on 27 May 2016 #permalink

Raymond Arritt writes: " The elderly are our most conservative age cohort "

This is true, but it's skewed by old white people. Old non-white people are actually the most Democratic age cohort.

[Errm, have you confused "conservative" with "Republican"? A "conservative" old non-white Democrat is no contradiction -W]

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 27 May 2016 #permalink

WC writes: "[Errm, have you confused “conservative” with “Republican”? A “conservative” old non-white Democrat is no contradiction -W]"

In theory there can be conservative old non-white Democrats.

In theory.

I've seen no evidence in any survey that they exist in significant numbers. There is evidence that older generations (both white and non-white) are more conservative on several social issues, but that's about it. Did you have any particular data in mind?

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 28 May 2016 #permalink

@ Eli

that is one of THE most interesting conundrums of this whole farce

the SNP said the Scottish impendence vote was a once in a generation thing - but then as Harold Macmillan noted

"a week is a log time in politics"

if the vote is for OUT and Scotland vote for IN - then it will probably trigger another Scotland independence referendum

log = long
impendence = Independence

There's a chance that a vote for IN could be decided by fully Irish (not dual-nationality) UK residents like Sir Bob Geldof. That'd be fun.

By Vinny Burgoo (not verified) on 28 May 2016 #permalink

When President Trump confers with PM Johnson in their triumphal first meeting, they will celebrate all the minor but quite real benefits of the UK leaving the EU, I'm sure. Including the probability that the UK's departure will has a good chance of starting the decline of the EU, perhaps a fatal decline.

I doubt if those two worthies will mention the real reason for its existence and prior success. Those being WWI and WWII.

By Thomas Fuller (not verified) on 29 May 2016 #permalink

re Tadaas #32 "if the vote is for OUT and Scotland vote for IN – then it will probably trigger another Scotland independence referendum"

It will be droll if Scotland votes for OUT – watch the nationalists birl as suddenly they'll have to rejig their argument,
If it's Brexit, will they still claim it's against the sovereign will of the ScotNats people?
If it's Bremain, would they then use a Scottish OUT majority to demand indyref2, BECAUSE.....

Either way, what will really trigger their demand for another referendum is opinion polling that makes them think ScotOut will win. The interesting question is whether the UK government will then say ok, have another go of neverendum..

Well, best of luck over there.

[Thank you. It is a bright sunny morning meteorologically at least -W]

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 23 Jun 2016 #permalink

> hope this

Too late, the fringe Texans are talking secession yet again.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 24 Jun 2016 #permalink

We'll build a wall around Texas and make them pay for it.

By Russell the Stout (not verified) on 25 Jun 2016 #permalink