Further Thoughts

In these days of social media we are bombarded with our friends’ opinions. Many people succeed in making sure that those opinions match their own and delude themselves that everybody believes the same thing they do. Somehow, I’ve managed not to create an echo chamber. What I have succeeded in doing is surrounding myself on facebook with people that can argue civilly, for the most part.

One result of this is that my Brexiteer friends have been mostly silent. I’ve heard reports from other quarters that people of the racist/xenophobe type have become emboldened by the referendum result and are now really happy to sling their vile views about Johnny Foreigner around, but I’m lucky enough to have seen none of that. The majority of people I know have voted for thought-out reasons and have been classy enough not to crow. In fact, they’ve been mostly classy enough to stand back while the Remainers let out their collective wails of despair as the economy started tanking as a result of the turmoil.

Why am I writing this? Well, a lot has now been said by Remainers and Leavers on my Timeline over the last couple of days, and I’ve responded to it. So I’d like to gather together some of the things I’ve said to various parties in one place. Much of what I’ve said has been clarification of procedure and predictions of the future. If nothing else, it will be interesting to look back in two to five years and see whether or not I’ve been right.

There is one key thing to remember: the vote is advisory, not binding. In practical terms, what that means is that it’s up to the government whether and when they invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which is the EU legislation for a country’s exit.

As for predictions: the first item is the economy. One Leaver has said to me that Friday’s complete tanking of the pound (where it hit its lowest against the US dollar in 30 years) was something we’ll recover from. Well, put simply: we won’t. The evidence is already in as I write on Saturday night. There was a bounce back from the early Friday trough and it looked like things might swing back up quickly. However, things have settled and the pound has still firmly lost ground. It’s evened out at about $1.37 to the pound for now. Moody’s (one of three international banks that set countries’ borrowing rates) is suggesting that our credit rating is likely to go down, increasing the cost of national borrowing. And this is all down to uncertainty. An uncertainty that has been prolonged by Cameron resigning. We’ve got 3 months before we even know who’s running the country. After that, we don’t even know if or when the incoming leader of the Conservatives will trigger exit. According to Aticle 50, there is a two year timetable of exit negotiations even after that. And that can still be extended by any given other EU member state putting blocks in the process. And even after that, we won’t have the EU’s international trade deals and will have to renegotiate everything. This could take years – and we will be in an economic depression for that whole period, I have no doubt. No wonder the EU is demanding that we begin negotiations as soon as possible – we’re a big economy and our status will create uncertainty for the entire common market.

Are we leaving? We’re certainly acting like it. There’s an exit committee. Bizarrely, Nigel Farage feels snubbed that he’s not part of it. He’s not an MP and his party has one seat in the Commons. He’s an irrelevance to the process. He may try to throw his weight around the European Parliament, but I’m not convinced he’s got enough political weight to actually throw around. But really the decision rests with the government. And we haven’t technically got one.

Now that Cameron has resigned, a lot of things are up in the air. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 means that it’s very unlikely that an election will be called. It would need the agreement of two thirds of the Commons. So we’re getting whoever the Conservatives decide as Prime Minister. Clearly, judging by who jumped ship to the Leave campaign around Johnson, Boris is a serious contender with support within the party. But the party don’t necessarily choose the most logical candidate. The Conservatives live in a bubble and only their internal machinations matter. Given that he’s been the policy driver for some years, Osborne could be in a good position to take over the reins. Osborne and Johnson may even make an alliance (although my biggest fear right now is Osborne continuing as Chancellor, so I bloody hope not). The by-elections triggered by the electoral finance investigations (which I believe are ongoing) could leave the Conservatives as a minority government. This could cause legislative floundering for the next three years, and an actual exit from the EU would be defined by that context.

If Johnson does end up as PM, he indicated right at the beginning that his plan in leading the Leave campaign was to try to renegotiate with the EU, then go back to the British public with what’s on offer. He’s a Europhile and always has been, so it’s entirely possible that he’s intending to back out of an actual exit at the eleventh hour. It will be difficult. It will potentially alienate British voters. And it will irk EU leaders that we’ve caused an economic convulsion for nothing.

As for Scotland? That was a close referendum, too. One of the tipping points for them staying in the UK was that they would have to ask to come back in to the EU. Regionally, Scotland voted Remain this time round. The previous question of Scottish independence was framed in terms of a status quo that has now drastically changed. I think a second Scottish referendum is not only inevitable but reasonable. At least it would give them an opportunity to return to the common market. But much depends on further negotiations with a Westminster government that doesn’t currently exist.


~ by Scary Rob on 26 June, 2016.

One Response to “Further Thoughts”

  1. A thorough and interesting article. If I never see NF again it will be a day too soon. Boris might have some popularity with the general public but, as PM, he would make the Conservative Government look like a laughing stock, so I would be surprised if had wide backing as a candidate. But then again any old thing can happen these days.

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