Brexit: Britain’s Prohibition

The prohibition of alcohol in the USA was one of those occasions when a nation seemed, to the rest of the world, to have taken leave of its senses. It is one of the most draconian and long-lasting restrictions on personal liberty imposed by a major democracy in peacetime. And it was enacted in a country which has liberty and the pursuit of happiness among its founding principles.

Essentially, prohibition happened because a series of political and social factors lined up at the right time. Campaigners had been trying to get alcohol banned for years without much success. But in the early 20th century United States there were a lot of worried people. Many in rural and small town America felt uneasy about rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. The immigrants arriving to work in the new industries were seen as a threat to the American way of life. The success of campaigning organisations like the Anti-Saloon League was largely due to their ability to link their anti-alcohol aims to these wider fears about immigration and social change.

In this narrative, the cities, with their crime, low morals, drunkenness and immigrant populations contrasted sharply with the small towns with their social order, morality, temperance and Anglo-Saxon protestant populations. Drink and drunkenness were urban and foreign. It was a powerful story. The alliance between the Anti-Saloon League and the Ku Klux Klan, a far more powerful organisation in the 1920s than it is now, linked the causes of nativism and prohibition.

There were well-meaning liberals involved in the campaign against alcohol and suffragists, who thought that sobriety would stop husbands beating their wives. There were even some socialists who believed that, once the workers had sobered up, they would realise the extent of their oppression and rise up to overthrew capitalism. For the most part, though, it was a campaign led by conservatives.

The final piece to fall into place was the brewing companies’ loss of political influence during the First World War. Most of the brewers were of German descent. Anti-alcohol campaigners portrayed drinking as unpatriotic. Any counter arguments the brewers made  were drowned out by anti-German hysteria.

Opinion polling was in its infancy in 1920 so we can’t be sure how far the American public supported the ban on alcohol. The reaction when it was enacted suggests that many did not like it at all as they started trying to get around the law right from the start. Nevertheless, the noisy and hysterical campaign for prohibition convinced many in Congress that they would be unwise to oppose it. President Woodrow Wilson, who tried to veto prohibition, was scathing about the supine legislators:

These miserable hypocrites in the House and Senate . . . many with their cellars stocked with liquors and not believing in prohibition at all— jumping at the whip of the lobbyists.

Prohibition was described as a ‘noble experiment‘ but it was, by and large, a disaster for America. Not only did it enable the rise of powerful crime syndicates, it also had many unintended economic consequences. As expected, breweries closed but so did restaurants, theatres and haulage firms. Many states were heavily dependent on liquor taxes. Around 75 percent of New York’s revenue came from taxes on alcohol. According to some estimates, prohibition cost the federal government a total of $11 billion in lost tax revenue while costing over $300 million to enforce. One of the reasons for the change of heart in government was the plummeting tax revenues during the depression. In the end, Congress wanted tax revenue more than it wanted people to stop drinking. The journalist H.L. Mencken remarked that the one good outcome from prohibition was that it had completely refuted all the arguments of the prohibitionists. After 14 years, America finally gave up on one of its worst ideas and prohibition was repealed.

The parallels with Brexit are striking. As with prohibition’s advocates, the success of the Leave campaign was in linking something people didn’t much care about to something that concerned them a lot. As the Economist noted last week, before the referendum, the UK’s membership of the EU was a non-issue for most people. Immigration, though, was something a lot of people had been concerned about for a long time. The two issues became conflated during the referendum campaign and, as this chart from Migration Observatory shows, the EU shot up in importance as the campaign progressed.

As with prohibition, support for Brexit was driven, at least in part, by a reaction against a changing world and a sense of being out of step both culturally and economically with the prevailing political climate. In England and Wales, rural areas and small towns tended to vote Leave while larger cities voted Remain. Like prohibition in the 1920s, Brexit became a lightening rod for various forms of discontent. The resentment crystallised around a single issue.

And once again, legislators were bamboozled into submission by the noise. Most MPs supported Remain yet placidly voted to leave the EU without asking many questions. Labour MPs allowed themselves to be convinced, on questionable evidence, that there was a mob of angry white working class voters ready to turf them out of their seats if they opposed the triggering of Article 50 in any way. Sure, there is a noisy sub-group of Brexit voters who call for the hardest Brexit and scream about betrayal at every opportunity but they are not representative of most Leave voters.

As the negotiations drag on, the economy starts to slow down and the drain on government resources prevents it taking much action on anything else, the enthusiasm for Brexit is likely to diminish. The FT’s Janan Ganesh perhaps echoed H.L. Mencken when he said, “Brexit is an idea whose only effective rebuttal is its own implementation.” As with America and prohibition, we will have to try it before we realise just how bad an idea it is.

Prohibition didn’t alleviate any of the grievances which led to its implementation and neither will Brexit. Already, the leading Brexiters in government are backtracking on immigration. It is likely that the Leave voting areas will be hit hardest by the economic disruption that follows Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. A few opportunistic carpetbaggers might get rich but the majority of us will be worse off.

Historians will study Brexit as they study prohibition, with bemusement that a nation can do something so massively disruptive but with so few benefits. What, they will wonder, made the British do something so pointless? Like prohibition, Brexit is another ‘noble experiment’ which will one day be judged as a spectacular mistake. The Americans, though, were able to reverse their reckless decision. We will not be so fortunate.

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72 Responses to Brexit: Britain’s Prohibition

  1. Jim says:

    You have the comparison 100% arse about face.

    Prohibition was a leap in the dark because no-one else had ever tried it. The US was the first, in a modern secular democracy anyway.

    Whereas all the Brexiters want is for us to be like all the other countries in the world (the majority) who are independent states who are not part of a supranational body that is well on its way to becoming a state in its own right. All they are asking is to be like New Zealand, or Australia, or Canada, or Brazil, or Switzerland, or Japan etc etc etc. Which presumably aren’t groups of people who have taken leave of their senses.

    Its the EU that is the prohibition, the leap into the dark, the attempting something that has never been achieved before, the forcing together by democratic means of a group of historically very disparate nations into one political bloc.(its been done by the sword of course, but unless you think the EU should force member states to remain by force, thats hardly relevant). Just because the EU has been going for 60 years does not mean its not still an experiment. Its certainly NOT the status quo in regards to how people collectively organise themselves – the nation state is the default position for that.

    • joeotten says:

      Nobody has been forced to join the EU. It is a treaty organisation. It is defined by treaties freely signed by sovereign nations, signed because it was in their interests to do so.

      • Teflon DOn says:

        but there is creeping change. What Britain voted for originally was a trde organisation not the political entity introduced after Maastricht

    • P Hearn says:

      Please don’t mess up RIck’s carefully skewed analogy with logic, Jim.

      Didn’t you realise that the EU is “le meilleur des mondes possibles”? Anyone who disagrees is an idiot, racist, fascist, bigoted little Englander who deserves to die of cancer in an un-staffed NHS hospital. So there. Nah nah nah nah nah – and you smell too!

      I’m sure lots of countries can’t wait to contribute massively to the EU budget, be told what their farmers must grow, surrender their fishing industry for others’ political purposes and take part in the monthly pantomime of Brussels / Strasbourg parliamentary switch.

      Perhaps Russia will join in our place?

    • I’m 100% in the Remain camp and I’m devastated we’re leaving. However I totally agree with Jim’s point that the comparison in the post is slightly backwards. The ever closer union is the experiment.

      But I’m afraid that Rick will be dead right that historians will look back and marvel out how we can shoot ourselves in the foot so belligerently!

    • pawa50 says:

      A Union of different states. Hmmm. Where have I heard of that before the EU?
      Could it be the USA? Why, yes it is. Is that the most successful country in the world? Why, yes it is. But its different because States are countries, the word State means… er what I want it to mean?

      • Tiger says:

        well, they were initially set up from 13 colonies who had much in common, they had to weather a major civil war on way to success, and most importantly they were blessed with a extraordinarily favorable situation in terms of resources and geography that they were able to have a largely super-successful 200+ year run, over which period they were able to bond and mix to the point of overcoming their earlier local identities. The US common identity/solidarity with each other didn’t come in a day. If you had asked Maine to finance a big budget deficit in Mississippi in 1820 i bet someone would’ve shot you in the face. I think that’s also possible for the EU, but it will literally take a hundred years of shared prosperity (which will keep any economic conflicts at very low levels) for that to happen, and given the current state of things I doubt we have even 10 years left, so am very skeptical.

    • Steven Davy says:

      Jim, You have been misinformed. The UK is already an independent nation. I am a little surprised that a grown-up was unaware of this.

    • N. N. says:

      “Prohibition was a leap in the dark because no-one else had ever tried it. The US was the first, in a modern secular democracy anyway.”

      Finland had prohibition from 1919 to 1932, and had been dry for seven and a half months already by the time the United States went so in January 1920.

      The Finnish prohibition bill had been passed (unanimously by the way…) by a democratically elected parliament in 1907 and again in 1909, but assent was refused by the then head of state, Emperor Nicholas II of Russia. It was the collapse of the Russian empire that allowed it to be signed into law after a decade in limbo.

    • Well Jim, the great thing about Brexit is that Leavers will no longer be able to whine about Big Bad Brussels. The onus is now on you lot to deliver this golden prosperity that you have promised. Better start rolling up your sleeves.

      • Dipper says:

        Yes. Exactly. The vote was an expression of confidence, of ambition, that we are happy when responsible for our lives, make our own choices, and that we can thrive as an independent outward looking nation. Cue lots of “intellectuals” slapping us down, telling us we are useless, too stupid to become nurses and doctors so we must import clever foreigners to do these jobs, and we are fit only to live the life of benefits and minimum wage jobs that our betters hand out to us.

      • mark adams says:

        No they blame the eu for not giving in to their rightious demands of all benefits of membership without the obligations of membership

    • John says:

      Sorry, but as a New Zealander who lives in Australia, has spent time in Switzerland, Canada and Brazil, and spent many years in Britain, you could not be more wrong with your comparison. Many of the countries you cite are in general outward looking, cosmopolitan; some of them deliberately federated and show no signs of breaking those federations up; their news services are full of overseas news. Britain, by contrast, has become inward looking, parochial, and fixated on visions of Empire which the former colonies find sad, amusing, or offensive. Don’t project your concerns onto us, thanks very much.

      • Dipper says:

        Any other quasi-racist stereotypes you’d like to give us today?

        If you are so keen on federations perhaps you’d like to launch a campaign to have New Zealand become a state of Australia ruled by the government in Canberra. Lets see how well that goes and how quickly “Little New Zealanders” become inward looking and parochial before you start complaining about other people’s countries.

        • Jessica says:

          Are you implying the UK has been absorbed into another country as an additional state and is no longer ruled by Westminster?

          • Dipper says:

            Federalist voices were getting ever louder and no-one was shutting them up. Increasingly large numbers of laws were decided in Brussels not in Westminster. Cameron’s safeguards didn’t look like safeguards at all.

            Companies in former mining areas were recruiting directly from Eastern Europe and not employing local workers. Under EU laws the UK government was powerless to stop this.

            The direction of travel of the EU towards a Federal Europe was clear. Martin Schulz, widely seen as the main contender to Angela Merkel as the next Chancellor of Germany, is a Federalist. If we had voted to Remain in the referendum it is hard to see how we could have resisted the slide to Federalism. Better to exit now whilst we have a chance.

    • Richard Bentall says:

      Hi there everyone. This is a message from 2022. Rick’s analogy looks increasingly like a good one from here. There are big trade disruptions, taxes and prices are rising rapidly, and everyone is losing faith in Brexit. Pretty much just like prohibition.

  2. Carl Rackman says:

    If I may redress the balance, I think it’s an excellent comparison.

    I’m sure the desire for the EU came from centuries of internecine warfare. The suggestion made in previous comment that the EU is somehow held together at gunpoint is ludicrous, especially as one of the first notable actions after the invocation of Article 50 was Britain threatening a European neighbour with war over Gibraltar, something that hadn’t happened in the European Community since 1945.

    The parroting of certain interest groups in the national media, giving certain parties a platform out of all proportion to its significance, and the toadying acquiescence of responsible government to the whims of a vociferous but influential minority in the name of electoral fear is all too familiar.

    • Jim says:

      Can’t you read? I never said that the EU was held together at gunpoint. I said that what the EU was attempting, namely to create a superstate from a disparate collection of very different nation states, has never been achieved in human history OTHER than at gun (or sword) point. Even the USA had a civil war over the creation of their national structure. Thus what the EU is attempting is a shot in the dark, something that has never been done before without it descending into a civil war at some point. It (the EU) is the unusual scenario, the comparison to Prohibition, not the sovereign nation state which has been the de facto unit of self determination for centuries, maybe even longer.

      • Michael says:

        Jim, you have a myopic view of history. *All* nation states have formed from the coalescence of disparate towns, areas and regions – usually to stop continuous wars, raids and strife. England was created out of a collection of kingdoms, the addition of Wales was by conquest, Scotland and then Ireland coalesced with England/Wales in Unions that were political not martial. In recent times many countries have been formed from collections of city states, Germany and Italy spring to mind as local examples, Malaysia and Indonesia a little further away.

    • P Hearn says:

      “…Britain threatening a European neighbour with war over Gibraltar”

      That’s plain incorrect, as well you know.

      Find the quote where the government threatens anyone with war over Gibraltar post Article 50 and cite it here. Otherwise, consider yourself caught out.

      • Charlie says:

        Michael Howard suggested it was a possibility and Theresa May didn’t publicly slap him down. The fact it was brought up at all by anyone is telling. These idiots are emboldened now.

        • P Hearn says:

          Michael Howard is not in government, Charlie – I presume you know that? If you take him seriously, I have a bridge to sell you.

          So the point stands that Britain did NOT threaten anyone over Gibraltar and Carl Rackman immediately invalidates his argument and is being disingenuous in suggesting otherwise.

          • Richard Stanton says:

            Michael Howard was put up by Ms May’s Conservative Party to be PM not so long ago. It’s a bit disingenuous to pretend he’s a complete nobody!

          • Guano says:

            Howard was at one time the leader of the Conservative Party and his suggestion was taken seriously by some mainstream newspapers. Theresa May’s reaction was weak: she appeared to be more upset about the wording of an advert for a seasonal event involving chocolate.

          • P Hearn says:

            This really is a bit desperate. Howard resigned the Conservative leadership after two years in charge in 2005. He left parliament in 2010 to take up a cushy number in the HoL with all the other freeloaders like Kinnock and Mandelson.

            The government did not threaten Spain, nor would it.

            Arguing against cold facts is something your side likes to accuse others of doing, yet here’s you are indulging in that very game.

  3. Charlie says:

    Good article, and I see it’s already attracted Leave voters who refuse to engage with reality or say how they plan to make Brexit work.

    • Jim says:

      Which bit of ‘We’d like to be like all the other independent democratic nations of the world that aren’t members of the EU’ didn’t you understand? How do all those countries ‘make it work’ not being in the EU? How come that can manage just fine, but somehow we can’t, outside the EU? If anyone is refusing to engage with reality its the Remainers, in effectively saying that any country that is not in the EU has taken leave of their senses and must be suffering terrible economic hardship. They aren’t and they haven’t and we will be just fine, like they are.

      • bearcaveoxford says:

        Well, let’s look at Australia and New Zealand for starters. They, as near neighbours, have a free trade agreement, with common market regulation including open skies and common food standards, and free movement of their citizens between the two countries. Does this sound familiar?

        That’s what the other countries you cite actually do. They enter voluntarily into agreements where they cede some measure of control over domestic functions to gain benefits from being part of a wider sphere. For more examples, have a look at the, what is it, 60+ separate agreements Switzerland has with the EU, including free movement – but not including access for Switzerland to EU financial services markets – and realise just how much of what I guess you would describe as ‘control’ Switzerland does in fact cede to Brussels. Similarly, look at what NAFTA forces on Canada, and check what Canada has voluntarily bound itself to in the new Canada-EU agreement. That is the reality.

        So, what’s your vision? Do we refuse to join any free trade zone? Or do we do the obvious thing, behave exactly like the countries you cite, and join the free trade zone on our doorstep?

        • Jim says:

          We’d quite like to have a free trade agreement with the zone on our doorstep, its up to them if they want to give us one or play silly b*ggers and beggar thy neighbour over us leaving.

          And yes Australia and NZ have free movement of people between them. But not between them and other countries that they trade with in Asia. If you want to move to New Zealand you have to pass stringent immigration tests, ditto Australia. Which is exactly what we’d like for the UK, free trade, without free movement of people from countries that are at entirely different stages of economic development than we are. Australia and New Zealand are entirely similar economically and culturally. The UK and Romania, not so much.

          Free trade does not require free movement of people, certainly not right of abode. In fact I’d hazard a guess that most free trade zones do not allow uninhibited free movement of people and the EU (again) is the odd one out.

          • Jessica says:

            I’m a New Zealander living in the UK and am getting increasingly tired of Leavers bringing my country into their Brexit arguments. We may be an isolated island, but I hope that’s where the similarities with Brexit Britain end. Yes we only have freedom of movement with Australia (although immigration with the Pacific is pretty lax too), but we are not a homogenous Anglo Saxon society. Immigration from Asia is high and Auckland is more diverse than London. In fact, when I moved to the UK freedom of movement was part of the appeal, not just because it gave me the freedom to live in 27 other countries, but because I benefited from the diversity that brought to London. I wonder if these Brexiteers that have been championing sovereignty will be cheering from the sidelines when New Zealand and Australia inevitably abolish a foreign monarchy as head of state. I highly doubt it.

          • gunnerbear says:

            We should never ever have let any Easties into the UK until their dirt-poor countries pay levels were the same as ours…..the scum in government sold the UK down the river…

        • Steven says:

          I live in Australia and the free movement of people between New Zealand a Oz is a disaster. We have an uncontrolled third world level of population growth and the NZ agreement is a big part of that problem.

    • P Hearn says:

      I think if you check, Charlie, it’s blogs like this one that revel in pointing out how Brexit won’t work, rather than devoting any effort or suggestions into considering how it might be made to.

      Given how clever the Remain camp is, (and we know that because they never stop telling the rest of us), one would assume it’d only take them an afternoon to figure out a Brexit++ scenario between chai lattes.

      • Charlie says:

        Our solution is simple – don’t leave the EU.

      • M. says:

        Why should it be up to “blogs like this” to show how Brexit will work?

        The world and his dog have been waiting for a coherent plan from the Brexiters. Not just since the Referendum, but since they opened their mouths in massed chorus in the 1990s.

        Comments like yours illustrate how deeply screwed Britain now is.

  4. rogerh says:

    I can understand politicians not daring to say boo to an electorate, where else do unskilled workers get such high pay. I can understand D Mail and Sun readers? voting for Brexit. I can understand that right wing parties would go for Prohibition (for the masses). I can understand a right winger’s hatred of the EU. I can understand why Brexit might look an attractive plaything for loonies to toss about in their playpens and think tanks. But what I can’t understand is how any sane person would actually want to do it for everyone (including themselves). How does anyone, even a rabid right winger get any benefit from such a daft move. Apart from some kind of Bullingdon masturbation-fest.

    Will there be a plentiful supply of chambermaids and butlers? Will the value of land and property go up and up? No. Ah, but there is sovereignty, better to dwell in freedom’s hall and all that. Get real, our sovereignty is worth nothing, it has no practical value unless of course anyone fancies re-writing CE regulations in Olde English and forget about starting wars. For the horrible fact is that we are locked into a modest sized place in a large world economy and we have to obey the rules – like it or lump it. I suspect that is what riles the Brexit drivers – but they have not demonstrated any way out of that uncomfortable place.

    Some cite the move to sunny uplands and Britain as the new Singapore. If that were anything like true we would be boosting education big time, building the 3rd runway and cutting turf on the outer M25 as well as building offices and research centres and factories left and right. None of that is happening and a little thought tells us the whole sunny uplands/Singapore tale is pure fantasy.

    So, I reckon that unless Mrs May has a cunning plan (and lives to tell the tale) the political landscape will change dramatically as a result of the failure of the Brexit project and we will be begging the EU to let us back in. The question then is under what conditions. Truly a disaster in the making.

  5. David says:

    Charlie , given the inevitability of leaving it would seem that the best solution would actually be for you to leave (and leave the leavers remaining) then if you took Rik with you we’d all have some peace , but somewhat less amusement .
    Being , almost , serious for a moment , just why is everyone that’s SO allegedly ‘devastated’ by leaving not simply making plans to do just that instead of all this name calling and faux wailing and gnashing of gums ?

  6. AC says:

    One key difference between Brexit and Prohibition: Prohibition was easy to reverse. Brexit, not so much.

  7. I was simply going to make a couple of comments: first, that prohibition still distorts American politics through the ‘War on Drugs’, largely instituted to give the apparatus of booze control something to do after people were allowed to drink again; and, secondly, to compliment you on the analogy I thought the former comment was the more depressing, given the implications, but then I read what others have said about your piece. Oh well.

    Brexit is a faith-based exercise: the EU is a 40 year-reality for the UK but we are told that not only will the alternative inevitably be better – an assertion made without any evidence but as a matter of apparent principle – but that it also represents, apparently, a return to a somehow deeper-reality of the nation-state, which is axiomatically better-functioning and ‘democratic’. The irony!

    National self-determination in Europe was a 20th Century experiment to address late 19th Century conflicts. The very idea of the nation state is relatively modern. However, it didn’t and doesn’t work in Europe, even after the forced migrations of 1945, because peoples inconveniently overlap with territories, as they do in Ulster to take one example close to home. A nation-state can form the basis of a polity, but it is rarely sufficient in itself. The EU is in part an attempt to deal with the continent’s ongoing dysfunctions: a limited, supranational, authority smooths away difficulties such as Gibraltar and the Irish border; or the South Tyrol, to look further afield.

    Of course other countries do all right in different arrangements. They’re different countries, with different history, geography and neighbours. Europe has twice in a hundred years acted as crucible for global conflict but has avoided it for a longer period than any other post 1945 through a superficially radical but actually a deeply conservative arrangement: the building block of the EU is the member state, which is why the Council of Ministers is so much more powerful than the European Parliament. The EU is hardly a failed experiment set against some other ‘natural’ order.

  8. M. says:

    And to further add to the analogy, this “Jim” character sounds just like a Prohibitionist, drunk on his own religious fervour.

  9. Guano says:

    As the original post said, the two Leave campaigns associated in the electorate’s mind immigration with the EU. It is unlikely that the electorate was much interested in whether or not the EU is dangerously federal. The problem is that to opt out of free movement of EU nationals, the UK will have to leave the Single Market as well as leaving the EU, ruling out something like the Norway option. Meanwhile the UK has developed its economy over the last 30 years on the basis of being a full member of the Single Market. Nobody on the two Leave campaigns appears to have much idea what will actually need to be done to adapt the UK economy to being outside the Single Market. Lies were told about how it would be possible to have the advantages of having access to the Single Market while not being subject to some of its rules, and lies will be told about the EU being unreasonable in not letting the UK have its cake and eat it. Mrs Thatcher was one of the architects of the Single Market and she, and her Party, surely knew that free movement of labour was one of the Four Freedoms.
    It was relatively easy to end Prohibition. The effects of leaving the Single Market, with no idea how the economy will be restructured, will have permanent effects.

    • Dipper says:

      “It is unlikely that the electorate was much interested in whether or not the EU is dangerously federal”

      no. The democratic deficit and the slide toward federalism was a big factor for many people. Once we had the referendum how were we going to stop it? Threaten another referendum?

      Rick has done post after post highlighting the problems of the UK economy, the entrenched trade deficit, the difficulty of cutting the fiscal deficit, and most of all the decline in productivity. Miraculously on June 23rd last year all these problems disappeared and the UK economy became a hugely successful economy with a glorious future which had just been maliciously trashed by an ignorant and gullible electorate.

      • Brendan says:

        The ‘ democratic deficit and the slide toward federalism’ wasn’t anything anyone cared about until the referendum. Immigration was a factor before the referendum, but polling data in this very blog post shows the EU itself just wasn’t anything the electorate cared about until the referendum.

  10. It is not leaving the EU that is an experiment it is leaving the single market that is a great economic experiment. No country has ever cut itself off from it’s trading partners & from a market which it is completely integrated with before.
    The creation of EURO is probably nearest to it in scale but something like that had been tried before; the Latin Monetary Union.
    If Brexit, which some leave supporters had suggested, would have meant remaining part of the single market it would be a minor hiccup but now it is to be an economic experiment to end all economic experiments. It might be Ok it might not.

    • Guano says:

      “It is not leaving the EU that is an experiment it is leaving the single market that is a great economic experiment.”


      And the plan appears to be to leave the Single Market, even though there has been no explicit vote about that and no real consideration of the implications. It would appear that Theresa May has unilaterally decided to go beyond what was voted on because of a desire to opt out of free movement of EU labour and to opt out of the European Court of Justice. It is unexplained why she thinks these reasons are so important that she wants to launch the UK into this experiment of leaving the Single Market.

      • Chimpy says:

        The reason is purely to save the Conservative party from annihilation. May’s predecessor called and hosted a very risky and duplicitous referendum. The party now has to see it through it order to stave off a rebellion (via the right wing press) that would lead to a resurgence of UKIP or whatever party Arron ‘who’s the sugar daddy?’ Banks is planning to fund next.
        It’s high stakes poker and May is now all in. Shame it’s our livelihoods at stake.

  11. Dipper says:

    okay Europhiles explain this:

    We are told that FOM is a two-way benefit; it is beneficial to the UK to have workers from the EU coming here, and it is beneficial for UK workers to be able to work in other EU countries. The UK has voted to leave the EU so it looks like we will forgo both these benefits.

    But hang on! If its a two-way benefit for the UK its also a two-way benefit for rEU. So Germany for instance benefits from having UK workers go to Germany, and also benefits from Germans coming to the UK to work. We have stopped them enjoying the benefit of coming here to work as a right, but they are still free to benefit from UK workers having the right to work in Germany if they so choose as maintaining FOM for our workers to work in rEU is still an option for them. No-one in the UK is demanding they withdraw FOM for UK workers in rEU.

    But no. We are told rEU is going to withdraw that right. Why, if it is such a benefit, are they doing this? In particular Germany is facing a declining population and is keen for workers to come, so why are they not unilaterally maintaining FOM for UK workers in Germany?

    Seems to me another piece of dishonesty from the EU and the Remain camp. They don’t really believe in FOM or else they’d keep it for UK workers in the EU. It is clearly a deal, with one part being the price you pay for the benefit of the other part. They like us being able to take the workers they cannot employ themselves and so saving them from civil unrest at home, but that’s all they like.

    • fecareersiag says:

      Because Germany will be able to source labour that fulfills their skills needs from elsewhere in the Union through quicker, more accessible, less bureaucratic means.

      • Dipper says:

        … but FOM isn’t about “fulfilling their skills needs”. Any country can have a policy of “fulfilling their skills needs” through a points-based system e.g. Australia, Canada. FOM is about capital moving around the EU freely and sourcing labour from wherever they wish.

        • fecareersiag says:

          What you describe as a negative against FOM is still “fulfilling skills needs”. Moving bulk labour into a country to perform low skills work in the most cost effective way is still fulling skills needs. Germany has a skills need requirement for those wishing to immigrate from outside the EU. Giving 1 country a special circumstances clause to be outside outside the EU yet still have FOM isn’t ever going to be in their interests to the cost implications and fallout to their relationships with all of the other countries outside the EU.

          • Dipper says:

            still not agreeing. Your statement sees FOM as something that exists to benefit the host country. That is not how it has been sold to or applied in the UK. Companies that take EU grants to set up in areas of high unemployment in the UK and then specifically recruit from South and Eastern Europe are not fulfilling any kind of collective need.

            Skills do not fall from the sky. People are not born with skills. They have to be trained in them. “Fulfilling a skills need” through immigration is just another way of saying cutting costs by leaving your own population on the skills scrap heap.

          • fecareersiag says:

            FOM has demonstrably an economic benefit to the host country and has been to the UK

      • Russ says:

        The UK is not, as many in the UK tend to believe these days, the navel of the world. Germany has 26 other EU nations from which to source it’s requirements.

        As a Brit working in Frankfurt who is regularly back “home” to visit friends and family, I am with increasing frequency appalled by what I see, hear and above all read. Most Europeans with whom I come into contact with all see Brexit as the most enormous case of self-harm. Time will inevitably tell, but just look at how the Government was blind-sided by the Madrid/Gibraltar clause in the Brexit Heads of Terms…. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence!

        • Dipper says:

          Just to bang on about this, FOM is not about “sourcing your requirements” or “fulfilling a skills gap”. As lots of people keep pointing out the UK has considerable non-EU migration.

          FOM for the UK is an increase of 16 million, which is slightly less than the population of the Netherlands, in little over a generation, into what is already one of the most crowded nations in Europe. If Germany thinks this is such a great outcome, why aren’t they doing it?

    • Guano says:

      The EU is not withdrawing anything. It is the UK government that wants to withdraw the UK from the Single Market, which is a grouping of states with a set of rules and arrangements for trade and development. The UK was a prime mover in developing these rules but is now unhappy with them and wants to withdraw from the grouping.

      • Dipper says:

        The EU is saying it wants to withdraw the right of UK citizens to work in the EU. We are told this is a benefit. So why are they dropping it?

        • Guano says:

          Please explain what you are referring to: who said what, and when?

          As far as I am aware, it is government that has said that it wants to withdraw that right by saying that it wants the UK to opt-out of free movement of EU nationals. But maybe you have other information.

          • Dipper says:

            Well maybe I have this wrong then, and that the concern about the fate of UK citizens in the EU is misguided as UK citizens will still be free to travel freely, to live and work in Europe. I must have missed leaders of EU nations saying that as Free movement of UK citizens in their nations is a direct benefit to them they will keep it.

  12. Ian Lee says:

    The article is fact free

  13. Leveller says:

    To summarise :

    1. We assume Brexit will be bad for Britain
    2. Ergo, Brexit is an act of madness

    • Dipper says:

      individuals do not in general vote “for Britain” they vote for themselves. Lots of people may have felt that being in the EU was not benefiting them, and if we left they would benefit more.

  14. I believe in a need for free change I do not want the future refem Global political and civic engagement this has definitely stayed in my interest I love to think where political technology can overlap to deal with the world for modernization

  15. Pingback: Economic well-being and Brexit | Michael Roberts Blog

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  17. Dipper says:

    … and can I just say how much I’m enjoying the reaction to Hungary’s Viktor Orban, in much the same way that one enjoys watching one’s neighbours garden fence fall over in strong winds. Not that I admire or agree with Viktor Orban in any way, but as a Brexiteer I regard Viktor Orban as a problem for the people of Hungary, not for me. After being told repeatedly by Remainers that there was no threat to Britain’s sovereignty and independence from being in the EU, the same newspapers are now carrying articles on how the EU must intervene in Hungary and stop this dreadful man from destroying Hungary. So no threat to Hungary’s sovereignty there then.

    • Dipper says:

      … and to bang on, there seems to be a collection of opinion emerging around some seemingly unconnected things; a belief that the UK should be in the EU that goes beyond “on balance” to some kind of cosmic destiny; a relief that Trump has bombed Syria despite not having gone through any legalistic process and in the absence of an over-riding strategy, and now a conviction that the EU should intervene in Hungary.

      All these things have a kind of belief in the divine right of intellectuals to rule without having to do anything as dull and tedious as win elections through force of argument, follow any kind of due process to establish a legal or democratic basis for action, and a sneering contempt for any disagreement that veers toward the dismissal of contra-opinion as demonstrating an inferiority in the opponents that disbars them from having an equal say. Aren’t all these qualities together indications of some kind of fascistic tendency?

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