Saturday, October 26, 2019

Meanwhile, in Once-Great Britain

I am not sure where he was, but Andrew Sullivan is back… in the pages of New York Magazine. For those of us, your humble blogger included, who find the political mess in Great Britain to be barely intelligible, he provides us a useful set of guidelines.

Some time ago the people of Great Britain voted in a referendum to exit the European Union. Can you blame them? I cannot. But then, thanks to the rank incompetence of Prime Minister Theresa May and the bad faith of those who want to stay in the EU, the final act of separation has been postponed and postponed. It may not be self-evident, but the remain contingent sounds increasingly like a bunch of children throwing a tantrum because they are about to lose their security blanket. To those of us who do not know the details, it looks and sounds pathetically weak.

In the psycho world they call it separation anxiety, befitting a baby who cannot bear to be without his mother. It's about what you would expect from a world awash in therapy.

In any event, to keep abreast of the situation, we turn to Sullivan, who opens with a paean of praise for Boris Johnson. We note in passing that everyone hates Boris Johnson, which suggests that he is doing something right. In an increasingly feminized world he comes across as too boisterous for delicate sensibilities, but he accomplished something that the hapless May could not.

Sullivan explains:

In the U.K., we now have a second Brexit deal negotiated with the E.U., which, unlike the previous one by Theresa May that lost by 230 votes, actually won a preliminary 30-vote majority when the House of Commons took a first look at it this week. (The majority included 19 votes from Labour MPs in Leave districts, mainly in the industrial north.) Woohoo! A breakthrough, surely.

The new deal was achieved by Prime Minister Johnson in Brussels against the odds, (just) in time for the October 31 deadline. It included a big concession to the E.U., redrawing a customs barrier outside the island of Ireland and into the Irish Sea, but also signaled more future trade independence for the U.K., bringing the Tory Brexiteers along. Even Emmanuel Macron was impressed by Boris’s needle-threading: “He may be a colorful character sometimes, but we all are at times. He’s got a temper, but he’s a leader with a real strategic vision. Those who didn’t take him seriously were wrong.”

To top this off, Johnson also offered yesterday to extend the E.U. deadline of October 31 a couple of weeks to get the thing done, without any undue parliamentary rush, prior to a post-Brexit general election on the future on December 12. Win-win, right? Orderly withdrawal from the E.U. is accomplished, but plenty of questions about future trading arrangements with the E.U. or about domestic politics outside of Brexit could be debated and resolved going forward. The impasse of a government without a working majority would also be resolved by a fresh election.

Naturally, for reasons of petulance or dependence the Labour Party is doing everything in its power to scupper the deal:

The Labour opposition declared Thursday that they would not support the current withdrawal bill any longer and would abstain in a vote scheduled for Monday on a general election for good measure. It was a subtle message of “fuck you” followed by a clarifying “FUCK YOU!” As of this writing, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out a new election for December 12 by denying Johnson the two-thirds majority required to dissolve the current Parliament. The Liberal Democrats, for their part, want a do-over of the 2016 referendum entirely before any election so that this time, the voters will give the “right” answer they clearly flubbed the first time. So, back to square one.

Of course, the real problem is that the people of Great Britain voted to leave the EU. The obstructionist resisters are defying the will of the people… in the name of democracy, wouldn’t you know it. They and their supporters are about as incoherent as America’s Democratic Party:

It’s clear to me now — as it should be to any dispassionate observer — that the pro-Remain parliamentary and media elites in all parties have never had any intention of honoring the result of the 2016 referendum. And they still don’t. They are sabotaging that democratic decision simply because they did not like the result, and they’re too chicken to take that case to the polls. So they’re keeping this zombie minority government in power, while preventing it from achieving its primary goal indefinitely. For all this, in my view, they deserve nothing but contempt.

So the Remainers don’t want to crash out of the E.U., don’t support an orderly exit, don’t support a second referendum (yet), and don’t want an election. What do they want? A repeal of reality, it appears.

For those who want to understand the Remain rationale, Sullivan trots out inconsolable NeverTrumper, David Frum, who seems to think himself an authority on the issue:

The Remain strategy is helpfully laid out by my Remainer chum David Frum here. Basically: Claim the referendum is not dispositive because one side made false claims, and the British people were too stupid/ignorant/bigoted to know what they were voting for. Argue that the Brits have “changed their minds” since and therefore the referendum is now moot and can be ignored. Prevent a general election to resolve the question, because the Tories might win. Wait for enough 2016 voters to die and, at some point, hold another referendum to revoke the first one. David rejoices: “Brexit advocates often use the phrase now or never to convey the urgency they feel. This weekend, the British Parliament decided ‘not now.’” Suddenly, and for the first time since June 2016, ‘never’ looks plausibly like the ultimate outcome.” He’s psyched.

British citizens might have voted differently, but they still believe that the results of the referendum must be respected. One suspects that the Labour Party and their Liberal Party allies do not want to stand for another election because they know that they are going to lose, bigly:

More to the point, when you ask Brits if they believe that the result of the 2016 referendum should be respected, however they personally voted, a poll last month found the public backing this by a margin of 54 to 25 percent. This doesn’t surprise me. Who doesn’t think the clear, if narrow, result of a binary referendum should be respected? Imagine if you extended the Frum principle that new polling invalidates and instantly revokes previous election results. Trump would have been removed before he was even inaugurated!

So, we have a classic war between the voters on one side and the ruling intellectual elites on the other:

Did the Brits, as David implies, ignorantly vote under the illusion that Brexit would entail no sacrifices or economic collapse? Let’s say — for the sake of argument — that they did. So what? Are voters now to be overruled by their more knowledgeable overlords in retrospect? But they didn’t do so blindly anyway. The entire Remain campaign was based on two central assertions: that this was it, a Rubicon, that could never be altered; and that Brexit would be an economic catastrophe from which Britain would never recover. They called it Project Fear. The message was broadcast far and wide, as crudely as possible. It was unmissable. Yet the British people still voted for Brexit in the biggest turnout of any election or referendum in the country’s history. And since the referendum, the widely forecast economic catastrophe has not materialized.

Sullivan concludes:

But, call me crazy, I also believe in abiding by the result of legitimate national, democratic votes. Upholding that principle, even when it goes against our own strong wishes and personal vote, is foundational to liberal democracy. And retroactively nullifying by waiting out a referendum result solely because you lost is unacceptable, period. Consistently bullshitting about your own motives thereafter is contemptible. Preventing a new election in order to keep a zombie government in power, even when it is begging to be put out of its misery, is unprecedented.


Sam L. said...

The EUrocrats are not elected by the citizenry, and cannot be voted out. I can only wish that Queen Elizabeth could say "Time's up! We divorce thee, we divorce thee, we divorce thee! Bye-bye, toodle-oo, don't let the door hit you in the noses. A nd GOOD RIDDANCE." Damned shame she can't.

"Who doesn’t think the clear, if narrow, result of a binary referendum should be respected?" The Dems, but that's a whole 'nother story. Just about three years of it, to date.

Tammly said...

Well it seems to me, from this article, that you Americans understand the Brexit issue perfectly.


Anonymous said...

Andrew is blatantly transparent in his pretense of supporting the values of the voters. The way these groupthink corporate media people changed from cheerfully admiring the business and financial savvy of the celeb and mogul DT to hating the guts of the president DT --- and don't even the need to explain or attempt to explain themselves at the overnight transition -- is stunning.