Brexit: the visionless vacuum

Here’s a situation I’m sure will be familiar to many of you. You embark on a major organisational change programme. At first things go well but soon you run up against a problem. There are important decisions that need to be made but the overall strategy isn’t clear. How can you restructure an organisation, re-design processes or implement a major system (or even all three at once) without understanding the overall direction of the company? At some point people start asking, “Why are we doing this? What’s the purpose?” Questions get referred up the line and nothing comes back.

This goes on for a while until a bullish and task-focused programme manager (who has been given the role for precisely those reasons) tells everyone to stop whinging and navel-gazing. There are deadlines to meet and work to be done so just get on with it. Like good soldiers, everyone rallies round and a period of feverish activity begins. But, sooner or later, the same problem comes back. You are trying to make far-reaching operational decisions in a strategic vacuum.

Usually, one of two things happens. Either the project grinds to a halt or else the tyranny of the deadline takes over. Senior executives make policy decisions on the hoof just in the interests of getting something done. You bang in the new structure or system and hope that the problems will sort themselves out somewhere along the line. I say ‘bang in’ because it often feels as though you are hammering a large peg into a wrong-shaped hole. Eventually, the organisation’s strategy evolves and it does develop a long-term vision. At this point you realise that, had you known some of this, there are things you wouldn’t have done and decisions you would have made differently. This is why organisations find themselves making the wrong people redundant, building offices where they don’t need them and implementing systems that are obsolete a year after going live.

Of course, some of this is inevitable. The world changes and sometimes it outruns the careful plans you have made. Most well-run organisations aim to keep such risks to a minimum, though. Sequencing is important. Kicking off an expensive operational change programme while not being clear about why you are doing it is rarely a good idea.

Yet this is exactly where the UK finds itself now.  We have to make decisions on all sorts of fiendishly complex detail, from hundreds of trade deals to thousands of regulations without actually being clear what sort of country we want the UK to be and what sort of relationship we want to have with Europe. Every week, something new comes to light. “Euratom, is that a big deal then?” ask the MPs who voted to leave it. “Oh dear, lots of clever people are saying it is. Not sure we really wanted to do that.”

What do the British want?” ask exasperated EU officials. We don’t know, of course, because we are working in a strategic vacuum. We have never discussed what the UK might look like after leaving the EU. Apart from concerns about immigration and, perhaps, about globalisation, it’s not clear why people voted Leave. It’s not even clear what those who led the Leave campaign want, as Stephen Bush says:

[M]ost Leave-backing Conservative MPs don’t really have a plan for after Brexit: leaving is a destination, not a staging post to anything else. It is the end of the process, when of course the most important questions around Britain’s Brexit deal hinge on the shape and size of the British economy and the direction of British policy afterwards.

Like those bull-headed project managers. We’re doing it because we’re doing it.

Yesterday’s report by UK in a Changing Europe assessed the consequences of failure to reach a deal with the EU. One of the authors, professor Anand Menon, concluded:

’No deal’ doesn’t mean the country would come to a stop. But even under relatively benign conditions and with time to prepare, the impacts would be widespread, damaging and pervasive.

Yet the less clear we are about what we want, the more likely we are to get something we definitely don’t.

Some have suggested we need a national conversation about post-Brexit Britain but it’s a bit late for that now. Imagine you are an executive kicking off the biggest organisational change programme in your organisation’s history. The system providers, building contractors and other suppliers have all been locked in and there are legally binding deadlines. You have committed hundreds of people and millions of pounds. Then you say to your exec team colleagues, “I think we need a company-wide conversation about our vision, purpose and future direction.” You’d probably be looking for another job soon afterwards.

The time to have had that national conversation was before the referendum. David Cameron set us off on this path with no thought to where it might end and no contingency planning. He lost and the people who won have no idea where they want to take us. The opposition are almost as clueless. No political leader is giving us any idea of what Britain outside the EU might look like. This is no position to be in when going into negotiations with an organisation like the European Union.

As Mr Barnier says, the clock is ticking. KPMG recently published a Brexit Navigator with decision deadline dates. To be sure of being able to continue their operations in the EU there are a number of things that different types of organisation will need to decide. Because of the lead times, to make sure everything is in place by March 2019, these decisions need to be taken well in advance. According to KPMG, the first of the deadlines are in September of this year. In short, then, when people get back from their summer holidays they will need to start making calls on what they do next. The less clear the government’s direction is, the more likely firms are to mitigate their risks by moving activities to the EU. That applies also to EU companies trading with the UK. If the UK looks like it might become a difficult place to do business, they will look elsewhere. Businesses can’t wait for clarity from the government. They need to make decisions now.

Making decisions in a strategic vacuum rarely leads to good outcomes. But, as David Brent would say, we are where we are. As ever, the soldiers will soldier on and do what they can. Civil servants, companies and public sector bodies will try to make the best of it, second guessing what might happen and making decisions in the hope that they will turn out to be not too wrong. That is what people do when there is no direction from their leaders.

By the time we leave the EU we will be thoroughly sick of wartime metaphors and appeals to the Dunkirk spirit. The analogy doesn’t work. In the Second World War the objectives were clear and we were led by people who understood what needed to be done. Now, we are leaderless and visionless. There will be no hero’s welcome for the little ship of Brexit. It is adrift on an open sea, rudderless and heading for God knows where.

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112 Responses to Brexit: the visionless vacuum

  1. Dipper says:

    A typical Remainer whinge that will worry Brexiteers not one jot.

    There are two sorts of people, planners and opportunists. Retainers are planners, Brexiteers are opportunists. Brexit is an opportunity so by its nature cannot be planned.

    Consider for a moment the tablet, and Microsoft versus Apple. Microsoft tablet failed because it was a closed system and Microsoft did not have enough applications. Apple succeeded because it was an open system and supported apps that others wrote. Lots of people did write apps, and it became a world beater. If you had asked Apple before the launch what their plans were for apps, how many they expected and what they would do, any plans they may have had would have been miles away from the evolved reality.

    Brexit is an opportunity. More markets, fewer regulations business friendly, outward looking. I have no idea what is going to happen, just a belief that if we support business on a global basis, make us a place people want to do business, train people and build infrastructure, we can have a great future. Our future will be something we create, not an output from a planning spreadsheet that Brussels mails to us.

    • Charlie says:

      Spoken like a true Brexit supporter who can’t actually answer how we’re going to solve the issues at hand, just trout out some vague ‘it’ll be OK!’ guff.

      And god knows what your Microsoft v Apple analogy has to do with anything.

      • Dipper says:

        “And god knows what your Microsoft v Apple analogy has to do with anything”

        The fact that you don’t understand the relevance of the analogy is a perfect illustration of my argument. Thank you.

        • Rick says:

          The fact that you resort to cheap jibes like that is a perfect illustration of your inability to explain your analogy.

          • Dipper says:

            it isn’t a cheap jibe. I have no idea why you think it is.

            Planning is over-rated. It plays to a delusion that the future can be controlled. That we can sit here and determine the future. If you do that, the only future you will have is a diminished future as you will have excluded many possible futures because either we cannot see it now, or we can see it but cannot plan a route. Furthermore when your plans start to not work, you will have no alternative course of action.

            Most complex environments develop through evolution, not planning. Lots of things get tried, some work and develop, others don’t work and die. So the key to success is to have an environment that supports evolution; one in which new ideas can be generated and nurtured, one in which a selection can take place, one in which winners of the evolutionary contest can develop.

            Microsoft went for a planned controlled future – the Microsoft tablet died. Apple went for an environment that supported evolution – it thrived.

            The most planned society in history was the Soviet Union. It failed completely. To quote its last leader Mikhail Gorbachev ““The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe.”

            The demand of Remainers that Leavers must submit detailed plans for your approval is just ridiculous. You are clearly overstating your ability to have knowledge of the future, deluding yourself about your abilities to deliver a planned future of any value. It is a demand that is based on the false idea that you can select a future. Our future will be something that we as individuals, groups, and a nation create, that we develop through trial and error, through exploring opportunities, not something that we plan in detail and move toward at a plodding pace.

            The kind of planned future the EU delivers is an illusion that will collapse. The future, in or out of the EU, is a scary place. It needs an eye for opportunity, an ability to respond quickly, and engage in a bit of hand-to-hand fighting when needed. So drop this ridiculous “where are your plans” stuff. That isn’t how the future will unfold.

        • Chris Webb says:

          Let’s go back to military examples. Moltke sr’s famous comment about ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’ was not a condemnation of plans, more a realistic understanding that one needs a backup plan and that competent tactically capable field commanders who have worked within a system and understand the end goal of the campaign (project) will improvise ably on the spot. Where German armies failed between 1815 and 1945 it was either because they were completely outnumbered or the end goal wasn’t clear.
          With Brexit we have (as FCR points out) no clear goal, no strategic plan, no contingency plan, no common purpose within the tier 2 management, and troops who are somewhere between disillusioned and mutinous.
          Whatever the rights and wrongs of leaving the EU (and I’m a Remainer) any objective assessment of the execution of this has to agree that it’s been unbelievably inept and nationally embarrassing.

      • Just like to back up Tony’s point. Not only is iOS a proprietary (i.e. closed) operating system, but it is technically far more restrictive than Windows. Many app developers consider it to be a baleful influence on software development.

        As regards the commercial strategy, Apple had a very precise plan for apps before the launch of the iPad (and iPhone), which was to force them through iTunes. This not only gave them a huge rent-extraction opportunity, it also gave them an unfair advantage in biasing app development (i.e. new apps had to be written for iOS first to gain traction).

        The reason for Apple’s success had much to do with the quality of the hardware (the bit it has long been good at, though perhaps not so much now) and the success of its branding and marketing (i.e. fashionability), but it also owed a lot to Microsoft’s unwillingness to cannibalise its desktop/laptop market by pushing the tablet (Surface) too much.

        • Dipper says:

          I think you and tony are missing the point. The analogy is that iOS is a platform that others can develop on, and a post Brexit UK is a platform in which businesses can develop. In both cases asking what is going to be developed on that platform is a futile question, as that will be decided by evolutionary forces which by their definition are not predictable.

          Did Steve Jobs ever say “if we develop this tool we can play games with hedgehogs and multi-coloured sweets?” No. but that’s what we all use it for.

          Brexit is about providing a platform for the country to develop. To ask what the plan is for that development is to demonstrate that you don’t understand how the process works.

          • No, Dipper, you’re missing the point. The Apple platform is actually more restrictive than the competition in terms of development opportunities.

            This can only succeed as a commercial strategy if you enjoy some external advantage, such as hardware, that forces developers to write for your platform.

            In the context of Brexit, what is that external advantage? If one doesn’t exist then the UK’s “opportunity” is an illusion.

          • David says:

            Your sales patter reminds me of the South Sea Bubble example inviting people to invest in a company “For carrying-on an undertaking of great advantage but no-one to know what it is!!”

          • TheOctopus says:

            And what, pray, is the plan for the “platform”? What opportunities will businesses have in a post-Brexit UK (and what kind of post-Brexit UK that will be, nobody knows) which they don’t have now? Did Steve Jobs ever say “we have no idea what we’re going to do next, apart from cut ourselves off from our largest market in an unpredictable way, so please sign up to our platform, whatever it’s going to be, once we’ve dealt with the fallout from the disengagement process in the next decade or so?”

    • Tony vasir says:

      Apple is a tightly controlled system. Tighter than Microsoft. Everything has to go through iTunes for release.. Android is an open system.
      Still a weird analogy. Completely irrelevant here.
      .

    • pjshvision says:

      “I have no idea what is going to happen”. Let’s all listen to this guy !

    • JakeS says:

      “More markets, fewer regulations business friendly, outward looking. I have no idea what is going to happen, just a belief that if we support business on a global basis, make us a place people want to do business, train people and build infrastructure, we can have a great future.”
      There is some considerable irony in the Brexiteers proposing as a plan the resurrection of the British East India Company, only with England playing the role of Bengal this time around.
      – Jake

  2. Witters says:

    Apple products and iTunes an open system? I suggest you redo your homework my friend. Your typical iphone and associated apps are among the most tightly controlled and regulated in the world today. Hence the high quality Apple are renowned for.

    Perhaps what appears easy and natural from the outside, could in fact be the result of meticulous preparation and planning?

    • Dipper says:

      loads of people write apple apps. No-one planned what would be on there. Provision of an environment in which development can take place is very different from planning the actual applications. We have lots of regulations and laws that provide an environment for people to manufacture and sell lots of products and services, and then we let the individual people and companies come up with those products and services.

      The obvious counter example is the Soviet Union. Meticulous planning, tight control. What a success that was.

      • Charlie says:

        We’ve jumped from Apple to the USSR now? Do you just pick your analogies/examples out of a hat?

        • Person_XYZ says:

          Further up, Dipper has told us the very process of planning is a waste of time. His comment is like something David Brent would say if called out for not preparing a proper business plan for his team.

  3. Anyway, enough about totalitarian regimes and brainwashing (Apple, USSR? You take your pick). Back to Rick’s actual post …

    By and large, the business of government is predominantly about maintenance and refurbishment, to put it in generic terms. Though politics (of both left and right since the 70s) is rhetorically committed to change, the reality is mostly continuity leavened with organic and incremental development. More is prompted by the civil service – as opposed to think-tanks and lobby-wonks – than is popularly supposed, and most major changes go through a long period of normalisation (and thus a degree of “testing”) before becoming policy.

    Brexit is a classic project in which the pivotal stakeholders (the electorate) have provided an opaque and incomplete spec. This would be bad enough, but what makes it much worse is the lack of project management competence among the political class (it’s worth remembering that a key PM skill is the ability to interrogate and refine a statement of needs). The remainers inability to craft a coherent compromise, which has led to the ultra demand of “no Brexit!”, is just as damning in this regard. This is compounded by the civil service’s failure of contingency planning (I find it odd to say this, but you’re being too harsh in lumping all the blame for this on Cameron).

    As regards Dunkirk, you’re eliding the war (a commonly-understood and widely-supported objective, and – after initial wobbles – clarity about strategic priorities and method) with a specific campaign (a badly planned exercise that was actually saved by the “forced march” of project management necessity – i.e. JFDI). The Dunkirk spirit is not what Brexiteers should be invoking, unless they think the object of the exercise is to limit the damage of an epic miscalculation (or turn defeat into “opportunity”, in Dipper’s terms).

    I think it was David Runciman in the LRB who made the point that Theresa May’s ministerial career has been chiefly characterised by doggedness: a determination to see often difficult and divisive policies through to completion, come hell or high water. This is not a bad thing for a project manager with a narrow brief, but it is fatal for a programme manager. You lack breadth of vision, an understanding of inter-dependence and you hoard resources that could be better used elsewhere.

    Number 10’s simultaneous failure to provide clarity and leadership on the Brexit project, and its paucity of ambition with regard to the wider programme of government, is not merely the product of a general election that evaporated the Tories’ majority and sapped their morale, it is the inevitable consequence of the wrong person in the job (something the British electorate appear to have picked up on quicker than the commentariat). I never thought I’d agree with Andrew Mitchell (and I’m certainly no fan of David Davis), but a new programme manager is an urgent requirement.

    • Iain Coleman says:

      Remainers have a perfectly coherent compromise position, which is EEA membership.

    • gunnerbear says:

      “Brexit is a classic project in which the pivotal stakeholders (the electorate) have provided an opaque and incomplete spec.”

      No, the vote was to leave the EU…can’t get clearer than that – to remove the EUs grip on the UK and to make the UK Parliament sovereign once again. To ensure the ECJ can’t tell UK courts what the law should be….

      • JakeS says:

        No, that’s the worst kind of unclear spec: The one where the plain reading – that you want the same international status as Belarus – is clearly wrong.

        – Jake

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  5. Jim says:

    And of course the future of the EU is mapped out in perfect detail for the next couple of decades right?

    What? There’s no knowing if the EU will still exist in its current form inside a decade, given the structural fault lines that exist within it? The problems of the euro zone and its lack of fiscal transfers? The growing migration problems? The debt crisis in southern Europe? The ever increasing lack of democratic accountability of the European governing class?

    • All true, but the issue isn’t the well-known flaws of the EU but the quickly emerging flaws of the Brexit project. The fact that Hitler was an evil twat didn’t stop Dunkirk being a monumental cock-up. We could hope that a “small flotilla” might appear to save our bacon, but perhaps it might make more sense to plan this exercise properly while we have the chance.

      • Jim says:

        The point is Brexiteers are being derided for ‘not having a plan’ when there was (and is) no plan for the direction Europe is going to take over the coming decades. If we had voted to Remain we’d have no more idea where we’d be in 10 years time than we do out of Europe. Being in has an illusion of security and knowledge of the future, but thats it, an illusion.

        I think thats what a lot of this is about – the difference between people who want to hold on to nurse, and those who want to strike out on their own.

    • Ben says:

      What you beleagured Brexiteers fail to understand is that outside the EU whatever shape it takes in next ten years will now have zero UK influence. So it could gonoff in a direction that may negatively impact us but that will be our tough luck because we ran away in a sulk 10 years earlier.

      • gunnerbear says:

        We’ve been trying to reform the EU for years….the EU wants to be the USE…the UK doesn’t want to fit into that model….the two goals are incompatible.

        • perebois says:

          I don’t think the EU does want to be a single federal country, actually, but greater harmonisation and coordination is necessary to make a success of the Euro, now performing so much more strongly than the pound, reflecting the fact that the EU is performing, in general, so much more strongly than the UK. It would be strange to object to greater assimilation, which you would denounce as attempts to create a USE, when such steps are necessary to avoid an economic and political catastrophe.

          Meanwhile our successful efforts to avoid being bossed around by the Germans, as you would characterise it, have resulted in our farmers being bossed around by the Americans, which I should imagine you are far more comfortable with.

          • gunnerbear says:

            When it comes to standards and regulations – once again Monbiot the idiot shredded – might this be of interest….

            http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86552

          • Paulchevin says:

            gunnerbear,

            I’ll address your nonsense regarding climate change when I have more time in the morning. However, using yet another blog post (ie opinion piece) from Richard North as though it constitutes evidence (which it clearly doesn’t) will do nothing to enhance the credibility of your argument.

            North is NOT the reliable and “respected” source you think he is and he clearly has a grudge against Monbiot after the Press Complaints Commission ruled in Monbiot’s favour over a previous dispute:

            https://thinkprogress.org/racial-slur-amazongate-disinformer-richard-north-loses-two-uk-press-complaints-commission-cases-989cd88d69e

            You would also do well to read the section entitled “Reception of the academic community” in the Wikipedia entry for North:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_A._E._North

            This is significant because academics, unlike journalists, have a vested interest in evaluating evidence in an objective, unbiased way.

            I suspect that you are so ready to unquestioningly believe North because he tells you what you want to hear. As Clive Matthews said, North is guilty of “pandering to his audience’s preconceptions and prejudices”.

  6. bill40 says:

    The fact is that in 10 years time we may look back on brexit as the greatest thing we ever did. This cannot be described as anything other than a leap of faith, there is no known path to follow and no facts to fall back on, brexit is an almost religious point of view. Yes we may find new markets but our priority has to be with our nearest and biggest market which is the EU. I have no faith whatsoever in those tasked with achieving this or seen any hint of what they want to achieve.

    The problem with most of the Leavers is that the low tax low regulation threat is actually their preferred desination but they daren’t say so. Andrew Neil outlined it in his Hayeck memorial lecture, a tax haven on the edge of the worlds largest market playing beggar thy neighbour with third world standard regulation. Be careful what you wish for.

    • gunnerbear says:

      It was s**t EU regulations, way worse than the old UK BSI standards, and the EUs insane climate change policy that made the Grenfall Tower into such an inferno….but no, you go on cheering to be ruled from Berlin…..

  7. Madra rua says:

    The simple truth is, Brexit is an opportunity for the mega rich to seize greater wealth by picking the carcasses of those who will inevitably be casualties of the upheaval. In so far as planning versus opportunism goes, we exist in a highly developed society with complex interwoven relationships based primarily on personal wealth and the ability and opportunities to accrue it. As such, stability and certainty are virtues that can only come with careful planning and robust regulation. Anything else is chaos. Brexit is designed to be (in so far as the is a design) creative chaos providing openings and opportunities for those placed to exploit them and the mindset of those fortunates is those that aren’t so placed can go hang.

  8. perebois says:

    What Dipper seems to be saying is that it is not possible to have a plan. But the article is all about what happens when great organisational change takes place without a plan.
    The other point is that no Brexiteer is now quantifying which will be the diurnal benefits noticeable to ordinary people once Brexit takes place. There is no money for the NHS after all, there is no target for migrants, there are no claims that food prices will fall. But still people like Dipper try to persuade those of us who are less driven by faith that there will be benefits, but it is not yet possible to know what they are. This would not have been a persuasive message before the referendum, and of course if there was another referendum the Brexiteers would be stymied by a complete lack of an evidence-based case.
    Behind Brexit there are two fundamentally opposed points of view. One is that life in the EU was pretty much all right, despite reservations about the EU as being bureaucratic and unresponsive and having an impractical structure for its (despite everything) highly robust currency. The other is that life in the EU was intolerable because it was a bar to parliament having the final say all the time. And so those in the latter camp are now telling the rest of us to have faith that things will get better, because they know we won’t be interested in their claims about sovereignty. The problem for them is that most people never noticed the EU in their daily lives, but will now be noticing their salaries don’t go as far in their daily lives. And this is what will eventually tell, I think.

    • gunnerbear says:

      People notice the role of the EU in their daily lives when the doctors waiting room is full of people speaking Eastern European languages and English isn’t spoken as the main language in their child’s classroom.

      Brexit will mean that the scum in Westminister won’t be able to hide behind the mantra of, “the EU won’t let me do it…” because post-Brexit UK laws will be nothing to do with the EU.

      • perebois says:

        Users of the word scum, especially in relation to our own duly elected representatives, rather let the cat out of the bag …

        • gunnerbear says:

          What else do you call ’em?

          • perebois says:

            There’s an offensive fury about the Brexiteers. They see nothing wrong with calling the people we elect to the House of Commons scum. They secretly harbour a deep contempt for democracy, yet go on and on and on about a narrowly won referendum a year ago, and how that should bind our parliamentarians forever. We can never now change our minds. The decision to leave the EU is etched in stone and cannot be interpreted by anyone other than the high priests of Brexit themselves. I wonder, gunnerbear, what your preferred kind of Brexit would be? Out of all the institutions? In the single market? Outside the customs union? For or against a second referendum? And do you offer any forecasts about whether ordinary people will be better or worse off than now after five years of Brexit? If we are all going to be worse off than now, do you think that matters at all?

            I bet I can predict your answers to all those questions.

  9. Martin says:

    If we are looking at analogies then I think we should see ourselves as a partner in a professional business that has decided to quit and setup business on their own. We have put in our notice and have started to unpick the relationship, which is not easy. We have hopes of moving some of the contracts to our new enterprise but unsurprisingly our ex-colleagues are less keen on that and are actively working to hold on to all the work. The family was split, some encouraging the move, others saying “don’t do it”, but they got to decide. Now those that said the latter are now asking where the money is going to come from in April 2019 and asking if we can stay on at the company a bit longer but as a contractor. Those that encouraged us to leave are still saying “I am sure it will be ok” whilst secretly worried that we have just swapped a role as a partner to a role as a second rate contractor. How I see it is that there was never a real intention to leave, it was just a ruse to get a bit more out of the business for ourselves, there never was a proper plan for a new business nor perhaps a belief that there was actually an opportunity at all. Now we are working our notice period and the future is looking very hazy.

  10. Chris Webb says:

    Spot on, as ever. The blind leading the blind off a cliff they don’t believe is there.

  11. rogerh says:

    Been reading about quality improvement among surgeons. This led to thinking about quality improvement in politics. From whence to Dipper’s point about planners and opportunists (forget the Apple stuff). Something of the same kind of difference in individual psychology has been found among surgeons and airline pilots. For both professions a serious failure means death. Both professions have seen a big increase in monitoring and removal from work if they fall below standard.

    Then we can compare political systems and find similar psychological types. And of course a pretty disappointing lack of professional standards, a lack of measurement of outcomes and no way to bring failures to book apart from elections. Even elections do not seem very effective especially when as in the US and here in the UK the choice of parties is so small. What is missing is a government of government.

    Therein lies the difference between the adversarial British system and the more collectivist EU. The EU proceeds slowly and uncertainly. It may not even be excellent but it is seldom very bad either. All working together tends to act as a government of government. Whilst the Brexiteers hope for sovereignty and the opportunity to be excellent. The trouble is this ‘excellence’ is very likely to be illusory. Our own government has no effective government to control low quality thinking or policies. Like sloppy and arrogant surgeons working in badly funded hospitals with lazy management the outcomes will not be good.

  12. Point one, to be clear, is that both the EU and the UK are being run on antediluvial principles with antiquated methods, so both need extensive reform.
    The chief problem is threefold. The Tories gamble to keep their party from fracturing over Europe has massively failed. Brexit’s chief proponents, Boris and Nigel lied outright and are not held accountable for the massive consequent misunderstanding. Corbyn, while massively popular, is gamely trying to respect democratic will while being personally not for leaving. He’d rather work within the EU to improve it for all. Quite the job, but at least he has the advantage of personability, something totally lacking on the Tory front unless you count Boris as resident court jester having any other more useful function.
    Teresa May has no heart for Brexit either, but lusts after attention and power so badly she has accepted the challenge to lead the Tories off the electoral cliff. By pursuing a Brexit non-strategy of such appalling ham-fistedness, rudely aggressive disdain and vituperative hostility she is begging for -and guaranteeing- the worst of all possible outcomes, all the while her husband finances arms deals with Saudis, a blatant conflict of interest.
    No one has any illusions about the EU after the way Greece was treated, and the migration issue if not resolved to everyone’s satisfaction will continue to both tear it apart and reveal its humanitarian pose as mostly just that.
    The UK was the EU’s most experienced, expert troll and Brexit will be the ultimate trolling, saved as parting gesture. By pressuring the EU to grow too quickly and include countries utterly unready, the wedge was introduced into the fissure by the immigration crisis and driven deeper by nationalistic right wing movements hankering for the old pre-Shengen, pre-Euro days.
    The Euro is a dog’s breakfast, immiserating the poor and enriching the comfortable.
    There is some good EU legislation, and some residual enthusiasm for the great project it could be notwithstanding the neoliberal brain rot and opaque institutions.
    It could be redeemable.
    Since the Greenfell Towers incineration and the Government response to it, I struggle to see any good in the Tory party worth saving.
    If the government falls, and Corbyn is PM, then we could either slow Brexit way down and hope that the EU reforms enough meanwhile to be an obvious enough benefit even to hardened Brexiteers and redo the referendum.
    A slim hope is all that’s left .

    • gunnerbear says:

      There is no way the EU could reform enough to make it attractive to Brexiteers….the EU wants to be the USE with national parliaments reduced to the level of little more than talking shops, with the EU deciding where UK forces get killed, whwhat currency the UK has to use, what interest rate the UK has to use, how many economic migrants we must be flooded with as Berlin demands to run the EU….

      …Brexiteers will never stand for any of that….

      ….Brexiteers want the UK parliament to be answerable to the UK people so that ministers have to stand tall and explain why the ministers have done things without the cover of being able to say, “Well, I’d love to…but Berlin the EU won’t let me…”

  13. Jim says:

    ” The EU proceeds slowly and uncertainly. It may not even be excellent but it is seldom very bad either.”

    Are you serious? The EU consistently takes leaps into the dark, as long as they are leaps towards their basic aim of further integration and ultimately a USE. The Euro was an utter leap in the dark, far more so than than Brexit. And look where its gotten them – a huge economic schism between the North and the South, or Germany and everyone else in truth. Ask the Greeks if they think whether the way the EU has developed post-Euro has been ‘very bad’ for them or not!

    • perebois says:

      The Greeks have been asked this loads of times by pollsters, press, and in elections. And they always say they want to keep the Euro and have no wish to return to the Drachma. They would have to find a larger currency bloc to underwrite their national borrowing and it is hard to see where this would be coming from – Russia probably doesn’t have enough Euros to persuade Euro banks to offload the debt onto Russian banks. And Greece would become an international pariah in consequence, and would probably be no better off in any case.

      The EU, via Schaeuble, has been unbending (he would argue that this has been of necessity) but there are other kinds of hardliners, including the admirable Verhofstadt, who fully understand the need for the EU to become a full currency transfer union with a single Chancellor of the European Exchequer. This will happen in the medium term. The current crisis of banking in Greece and Italy and, indeed, in Germany, should in the end be enough for such a transfer union to be formed. The Euro would be impregnable and one of the most desirable and bankable currencies in the world. It would be most interesting if, by then, the UK was in such parlous straits that we might find joining the Euro and rejoining the EU an attractive prospect.

      • JakeS says:

        A full fiscal authority would help, but hardly suffice to render the Euro a viable construction as long as the ECBuBa is allowed to abuse its position to dictate fiscal policy.
        – Jake

      • Jim says:

        Of course the Greeks want to stay in the Euro, the alternative is even grater poverty by having to go back to their own currency now the euro has turned their economy into a smoking crater. Thats the point. Prior to the Euro the Greeks had a nice little country, not very wealthy, but its low currency encouraged tourists and everybody got by. Their weak currency meant they couldn’t borrow too much money so they couldn’t get themselves into too much trouble. Plus the weak currency prevent too many imports and encouraged exports (or tourists).

        Then the Euro came along, suddenly there was big money being thrown around, because they could borrow money on the same terms as the Germans, and the stronger currency mean imports were relatively cheaper. All the prices went up, everyone bought a Mercedes on credit, and the tourists went away because Greece wasn’t a cheap holiday any more. And the spiral of decline began. Not helped of course by the Greek tendency to vote for politicians promising more spending paid for by borrowing, and by their refusal to pay any tax. And eventually they’ve ended up where they are today, between a rock and a hard place, facing either an instant halving of national spending power outside the Euro, or grinding austerity forever inside it. Ask the Greeks if they’d like to go back to how things were before the Euro, and you’d have a landslide Yes vote.

        The Euro has created the Greek problem, and there is no good way out of it for the Greeks, unless the Germans relent and allow them to default on their debts and stay in the Euro. Which seems unlikely, given the amount of opportunities they’ve had to do so, and have steadfastly refused.

        • Jim says:

          Greater poverty indeed!

        • Excellent explanation of the Greek issues, Jim!
          May I share?

        • perebois says:

          An excellent analysis, and I agree with it. Capitalism is heading for a widespread outbreak of debt forgiveness, because the current model is wildly inappropriate for a neo-liberal world in which incomes that are not quite enough for people to live on is leading to an explosion of consumer credit that is now at unprecedented levels. Debt almost everywhere you look is, to a greater or lesser extent, unrepayable, and rising, and getting more so.

          Which is why a full transfer union in the EU will, eventually, happen. This would turn out to be another way of forgiving Greece her debts.

          • gunnerbear says:

            There could be full fiscal union in the EU but it would leave the Germans in total control….and then the Greeks, the French et al. will then really feel the pain to keep Germany rich and exporting.

        • gunnerbear says:

          The Greeks wanted to pretend they were Germans….it’s the Greeks own fault. None of the Southern Arc states nor the ex-Sov Block states should be in the EU….chop away that lot to leave an EU of Germany, France, Holland, Denmark & Ireland & the Benelux countries…then the UK might have stayed in.

    • gunnerbear says:

      Yup….the EU wants to be the USE…..we don’t want anything to do with that….there is no way to square that circle though the Remainers pretend that there is.

  14. Keith says:

    I do not think the outcome of Brexit, if it happens, is difficult to predict. The EU will be both unwilling and unable to give the UK a favourable deal or deals on trade. So UK trade with the EU will suffer reducing growth in both the UK and EU. This follows from the political need to discourage other from leaving and the fact that the UK by leaving has given up its legal and political leverage as a member, a very stupid idea. Non EU countries want to trade with the UK but also the EU so any trade arrangements by the UK will have to be acceptable both ways. The bonanza of extra trade promised by the anti EU camp is an illusion. Modern trade agreements are complex many faceted and must be acceptable to blocks of countries. So very little flexibility. As for being a very low tax and low regulation territory that has two problems, 1 it will be unpopular with the voters in the UK who will vote against it, and 2 if it upsets the EU it will provoke trade retaliation. Brexit is a fools errand. No benefits and probably less wealth as a consequence.

    • gunnerbear says:

      And if that’s the case, then later we can decide in another vote if we want to be ruled by Berlin, forced to accept anyone who holds an EU passport, kowtow to anything Europe wants, have to send billions to prop up eastern Europe, have European courts overruling UK courts and making HM Forces subordinate to some plastic General in Belgium as part of a Euro-army……

      • JakeS says:

        It’s cute how you think getting back in will be a trivial formality.

        – Jake

        • gunnerbear says:

          You’re right it won’t be because the Leavers will never, ever stop fighting to keep the UK out of the clutches of the EU….or do you want the UK to be forced to have mass immigration and the Euro?

          • JakeS says:

            Me, personally?

            No, personally I want Britain partitioned, shorn of its colonies, and forced to submit to European banking and press regulation.

            I think Brexit is a lovely opportunity to make some real progress in the EU’s relationship with Britain. I’m just confused on why the British think it’s a good idea.

            – Jake

          • George Carty says:

            Doesn’t Britain need immigration though?

            When the Blair government made its fateful decision to not only push for EU eastward expansion but also give eastern Europeans an immediate right to work in the UK (something done by no other EU15 state except Ireland and Sweden), there is an argument that this was done in the belief that Eastern European immigrants would be less unpopular than (for example) South Asian immigrants.

            This belief turned out to be misguided — did they just underestimate English xenophobia? Or was it that they failed to account that the close-knit rural communities where many Eastern Europeans went were far less receptive to immigration than the towns and cities preferred by earlier immigrants?

          • Dipper says:

            George

            Freedom of Movement does not give you the immigration you need, it gives you unlimited immigration irrespective of any need. The immigration you need you can get as an independent state like every other independent nation.

          • JakeS says:

            “Freedom of Movement does not give you the immigration you need, it gives you unlimited immigration irrespective of any need.”

            Actually, as currently constructed EU freedom of movement is only the freedom of movement of *labor* – as in, you need a job in the new country to move freely. No job, no EU-guaranteed freedom to relocate.

            Whereas as a backwards semi-industrial country of some eight million people (sixty once Scotland separates), it’s open season for every mid-tier power to demand visa waiver programs as a concession for extending EU-equivalent trade terms.

            – Jake

  15. Dipper says:

    Clearly trying to explain the limitations of planning by using an analogy isn’t working, partly because people don’t seem to understand the difference between a regulated and controlled environment and the unplanned freedom to do things that meet that regulation and control criteria. So time for a different tack.

    What kind of plan are you expecting? What is it that is missing? And for that example please explain how being in the EU would give us a plan, and what the mechanism is for there UK to veto the EU plan if we didn’t like it.

    • Pete says:

      Usually a lurker, but in this case I’ll bite. The issue is that no one knows what the equivalent of the “regulation and control criteria” will be.

      To take one under-discussed example, let’s look at data protection. What is UK data protection law meant to look like after Brexit? Are we going to keep in lockstep with the EU so that we can continue receiving EU data unimpeded? Most of the official pronouncements on the subject say yes, but they all hedge a bit, and that doesn’t seem to sit too well with the “bonfire of the regulations” stuff you’re selling? I presume a very similar argument holds for anyone manufacturing goods, making hiring plans or offering financial services in the UK. Everyone would like to know what the rules will be and how that will affect their international position, and no one has any idea. They don’t even know what broad principles those laws will be based on, because no one has yet articulated such principles. That was the entire point of the original post.

    • JakeS says:

      “What kind of plan are you expecting? What is it that is missing?”

      How do you know you will be able to keep the lights on? The entire legal and commercial structure around the British foreign energy trade (and Britain is a net energy importer, so this is kind of important). And so do the pipelines, so there’s no magic third country fairie to bail you out if you mess it up.

      What happens to your ESA membership? Do you stay in the ESA as an associate member, or are you out? Same question for CERN, the Erasmus exchange program, and the Bologna process for mutual accreditation.

      Are you going to stay in Europol? On what terms? Euratom?

      Are you going to remain compliant with EU data protection regulations?

      If the EU-26 does not like your answers to the above questions (for example if you want to stay in Europol but dump the data protection regulations, they will tell you to go play on the highway), what is the priority order?

      This is a small sample of the kinds of questions that Britain needs to answer within the next 21 or so months. There is going to be about a thousand more of them, each one a major strategic policy decision in normal times. Now, a plan does not have to provide detailed and specific answers to these questions at this stage, but it does have to provide guidance on how to obtain those answers, timelines (at least tentative ones) for when they need to be available, and sufficient personnel and escalation structures to actually obtain them.

      Right now there isn’t even a plan for mapping out the questions that need to be answered, nevermind for answering them.

      – Jake

      • JakeS says:

        Typo: “The entire legal and commercial structure around the British foreign energy trade…”

        … goes through the EU.

        – Jake

      • gunnerbear says:

        “What happens to your ESA membership? Do you stay in the ESA as an associate member, or are you out? Same question for CERN, the Erasmus exchange program, and the Bologna process for mutual accreditation.

        Are you going to stay in Europol? On what terms? Euratom?” By bunging ’em a few quid on a programme by programme basis….and in the case of Europol…we’ll scribble out an agreement just like Europol has with non-EU countries…

        Likewise…we can help fund CERN but that doesn’t need FoM nor European law being supreme in the UK.

        • JakeS says:

          Ah, the “EU a la carte” plan.

          Britain has been whining about wanting that for forty solid years. What makes you think the answer will be different this time?

          – Jake

          • gunnerbear says:

            Because we’re leaving and the stuff you’ve listed doesn’t need us to be in the EU.

          • JakeS says:

            The EU says it does.

            The EU is not a pay-per-view subscription service. It never has been, and it has no appetite for going into that business.

            – Jake

      • gunnerbear says:

        “If the EU-26 does not like your answers to the above questions (for example if you want to stay in Europol but dump the data protection regulations, they will tell you to go play on the highway), what is the priority order?”

        Do they want access to information held by our intelligence and security services…if they do….then there won’t be a problem….just as there isn’t an issue with Interpol working with non-Interpol member states.

        • JakeS says:

          Ah, the “we’re so important that we’ll get special treatment” plan.

          What makes you think that May will have more luck with that plan than Cameron did?

          – Jake

          • gunnerbear says:

            Because the EU now know we’re leaving….not playing at leaving under a Remainac pig-f**ker.

          • JakeS says:

            And the EU should care because?

            You seem to be laboring under the misconception that Britain matters. It doesn’t. It has no strategic geographic location, no heavy industry, very little manufacturing industry, a shit rail net, is a net food and fuel importer, it has no cultural or religious authority, and has little in the way of natural resources. And it’s full of Tories, which is hardly a selling point either.

            Britain is Egypt without the Suez Canal, and I don’t see Egypt getting special preferential treatment by the EU anytime soon.

            – Jake

          • Paulchevin says:

            Great comment Jake!

            I might add that not only has the UK lost nearly all its manufacturing to the Far East (something which leaving the EU won’t counteract), but around 80% of the UK’s jobs and most of its GDP are dependent on the service sector.

            The UK has been attractive to the service sector precisely because it is inside the world’s largest single market…….. something that both May and Corbyn want to take us out of. The threat this poses to the UK economy ought to be obvious and is something that new trade deals with more distant countries can’t hope to counteract. There’s an excellent short video that explains the problem here:

          • JakeS says:

            “around 80% of the UK’s jobs and most of its GDP are dependent on the service sector.”

            And a not entirely trivial share of those “services” revolve around tax fraud and money laundering for foreign criminals. Another point that does not precisely endear the UK to its European partners, nor bode particularly well for retaining the privileges that enable it.

            – Jake

      • Dipper says:

        Jake.

        The plan is to continue to do as much trade and international co-operation as possible whilst maintaining our ability to set our own laws and own policies where appropriate.

        Many of the examples you give are mutual benefits, so to take Euratom if the UK is not a member and trade of nuclear material ceases then the EU is going to accumulate a large amount of nuclear waste it does not have the capacity to process, so my guess is that we will do a deal on that. CERN is nothing to do with the EU and we are the second largest contributor.

        I believe that many trade deals now refer to supra national organisations and bodies, so the EU itself will not operate its own regulations but agree to meet regulations overseen by another body.

        The underlying threat is that if we leave the EU then the EU will use these regulations and processes to punish us, but in many cases these regulations and bodies are not specific to the EU and are in any case designed to foster international co-operation not to blackmail countries into giving up their independence and accept foreign rule or else their continued independence will become impossible.

        • JakeS says:

          “The plan is to continue to do as much trade and international co-operation as possible whilst maintaining our ability to set our own laws and own policies where appropriate.”

          That’s just a fancy way of saying “EU a la carte.” That hasn’t been on the table at any point during the last forty years, but if you’re okay with betting your balance of payments on that then Article 50 does give you that prerogative.

          “Many of the examples you give are mutual benefits,”

          The EU is not a used car dealership. You don’t get to haggle over individual programs like that. This has been explained to the UK at some length for some decades by now. It’s kind of worrying that it doesn’t seem to have sunk in yet.

          “I believe that many trade deals now refer to supra national organisations and bodies, so the EU itself will not operate its own regulations but agree to meet regulations overseen by another body.”

          Well, first of all that’s not nearly as true as you need it to be for your plan to be feasible. And second, it’s not really the point. The point is that Britain is only a member of these organizations by virtue of its EU membership, and it’s not immediately obvious that it will be recognized as inheriting those memberships if it leaves the EU.

          “The underlying threat is that if we leave the EU then the EU will use these regulations and processes to punish us, but in many cases these regulations and bodies are not specific to the EU and are in any case designed to foster international co-operation not to blackmail countries into giving up their independence and accept foreign rule or else their continued independence will become impossible.”

          What color is the sky in your fantasy world? “Blackmailing countries into giving up their independence and accept foreign rule” is *precisely* what organizations like the IMF and WTO are about.

          – Jake

          • Dipper says:

            Jake – if we are being blackmailed as you say, then they won’t stop if we agree to their demand. It will never end. Better to take them on sooner rather than later.

          • JakeS says:

            Britain was never blackmailed by the EU while it was a member – quite the contrary, Britain was if anything excessively accommodated. But once Britain leaves it’s just another mid-sized country with no raw materials and a Soviet-era manufacturing base. A country like that? That is going to get blackmailed. A lot.

            Speaking as a European, I’m actually all for Brexit. The UK has been a toxic influence on the Union at least since Thatcher, if not before. And that’s even without considering the possibility of splitting off Scotland and Gibraltar, and realigning some of the British client states like Malta toward the continent.

            But speaking as someone who has friends who will be left alone with the Tories after Brexit, the humanitarian collateral damage is rather scary.

            – Jake

          • Dipper says:

            Jake – I’ve heard that view from other Europeans since the referendum and I think it just reinforces the decision to go. And you friends may not be left alone with the tories, they may be left with Corbyn who ironically has plans that can only be implemented if we leave the EU.

            As for Britain being “excessively accommodated” I couldn’t see that continuing into the future once the referendum had taken place. As others have said above the “lack of a plan” accusation goes both ways.

          • JakeS says:

            You still seem to not have understood the fundamentally different bargaining position of the two parties here.

            The EU-26 does not need to have a plan for how to reach an agreement on future British relationship with the EU, because for the EU a Brexit trainwreck is an entirely acceptable outcome. Not, perhaps, the preferred one, but entirely acceptable. So the EU can credibly present an ultimatum, setting out the conditions under which it is prepared to entertain continued British involvement.

            Britain, by contrast, can not live with a Brexit trainwreck; at least not in the style to which its citizens have become accustomed. So Britain cannot credibly reject an EU ultimatum.

            The Tories and Kippers brought a spoon to a knife fight.

            – Jake

          • Dipper says:

            Britain can credibly reject an EU ultimatum and it will.

            Britain leaving the EU will magnify the cracks and flaws in the European project and will bring forward the day when some serious decisions have to be made in Europe.

          • JakeS says:

            Aah, the “and then the people will realize” plan.

            As every dead insurgent movement in history attests, this is a bad plan.

            – Jake

          • gunnerbear says:

            Are you seriously suggesting the WTO won’t allow the UK a seat at the WTO….the WTO doesn’t insist that the UK has to have open borders…the WTO doesn’t demand the right to insist that the UK must pay benefits to people that have no right to be in the UK.

            Once we’re out of the EU, the next step is to get out of the ECHR and the ’51 Convention on Refugees.

          • George Carty says:

            “Once we’re out of the EU, the next step is to get out of the ECHR and the ’51 Convention on Refugees.”

            And thus gunnerbear lets the misanthropic cat out of the bag!

          • JakeS says:

            “Are you seriously suggesting the WTO won’t allow the UK a seat at the WTO”

            Assuming the UK is found to not be a full successor state to the EU-27 inheriting all its duties and privileges (remember, the UK did not exist as a distinct entity for international trade purposes when the General Agreement was signed, so the legal status is unclear), then it would presumably have to apply for membership according to the normal procedures… which require unanimity among the existing members.

            There is a long history of using WTO accession to wring humiliating concessions out of prospective entrants (see, e.g. China’s accession process). So let’s count the number of places around the world that might hold a grudge against the British Empire and see how well that works out for you…

            “Once we’re out of the EU, the next step is to get out of the ECHR and the ’51 Convention on Refugees.”

            Somewhere upthread I compared your foreign policy doctrine to that of Belarus. I now realize that this is in error; it is better comparable to that of North Korea.

            Let me know how that works out for you.

            – Jake

        • gunnerbear says:

          Well said!

          • ardj says:

            @JakeS I think you mean, the EU did not exist when GATT was signed – the UK certainly did exist, as far as I can remember

          • JakeS says:

            No you read it right the first time. *For international trade purposes* the UK did not exist as an independent entity when GATT was signed, because it was in a trade bloc with the rest of the EU. UK signatory status to GATT, now WTO, was conditional on UK membership of the European Union – no separate accession was ever negotiated for the UK.

            How GATT deals with the (partial) dissolution of one of its signatories and the resulting successor states is a subject that I am not an expert on, but then I’m not the one claiming Brexit is a good idea (for Britain). It really behooves the ones who do so claim to give a slightly more convincing answer than ideological platitudes about the imagined purpose of the organization.

            – Jake

  16. Well summarised Jake.

  17. Patricia Leighton says:

    Interesting if sometimes sterile debates, while organisations and individuals are themselves having to take decisions. How many businesses and jobs have to leave the UK before real alarm sets in. Can Rick please keep a list of ‘Leavers’? And a list of UK organisations becoming isolated?

  18. gunnerbear says:

    @perebois says:

    “There’s an offensive fury about the Brexiteers. They see nothing wrong with calling the people we elect to the House of Commons scum.”

    For years, Leavers who questioned the ‘benefits’ of mass immigration were called racists, just as during the Brexit campaign the Remainers kept shouting that leavers were ill-educated, racist dross…

    “They secretly harbour a deep contempt for democracy, yet go on and on and on about a narrowly won referendum a year ago, and how that should bind our parliamentarians forever. We can never now change our minds. The decision to leave the EU is etched in stone and cannot be interpreted by anyone other than the high priests of Brexit themselves.”

    Contempt for democracy? No, it’s Leavers who want the UK parliament and UK Courts to be supreme and sovereign and not ruled by unelected officials in Europe.

    For decades Remainacs kept chanting that there must never ever be a vote on Brexit…for forty years the Remainacs were happy to see the UK ruled from Brussels and chanted “No Brexit vote…no Brexit vote”. For 40 years a minority denied the UK people a vote on the UKs membership of the EU…the Remainacs were terrified by the idea of giving the people the vote. The Remainacs hated giving the people the vote….

    • George Carty says:

      The most vocal grassroots supporters of Brexit certainly count as “ill-educated, racist dross” (go to any of the pro-Brexit Facebook groups if you don’t believe me), even though I suspect such creatures account for no more than a quarter of the Leave-voting population.

      Oh, and I think the New Labour government shares a good part of the blame for Brexit (which is why I think Tony Blair’s decision to campaign against Brexit may well be counterproductive). It was that government that was so determined to expand the EU into Eastern Europe (often over the objections of the continentals) and it was mass immigration from these impoverished countries (made worse by the fact that of the EU15 countries, only Ireland and Sweden joined the UK in giving nationals of the new member states an immediate right to immigrate as workers) that gave Brexit legs.

      • gunnerbear says:

        Ahh, the old, old screams of the die-hard Remainer that all Brexiteers are ill educated racists and didn’t know what they were voting for…

        …how strange…the Remainac’s never point out what staying in the EU means…what would a vote for staying in the EU meant? Ohh, that’s right, the continuation of HMG as a parish council, open borders, terrible EU regulations, floods of immigrants into the UK ready to soak our benefits system…

        ….the Leavers knew exactly what they wanted – OUT, OUT, OUT.

        Perhaps if Labour and the Conservatives had not thrown the doors of the UK open to all and sundry and kept them open….Brexit might not have happened….but even afterwards the EU were determined for the EU to be a USE…..there is no way a huge chunk of the UK public would ever accept that…..time for the UK to be sovereign again.

        • George Carty says:

          “Ahh, the old, old screams of the die-hard Remainer that all Brexiteers are ill educated racists and didn’t know what they were voting for…”

          Can’t you read? I said that I believed that only about a quarter of Leave voters were ill-educated racists, but that almost all of the most vocal supporters of Brexit were from this group.

          “continuation of HMG as a parish council”

          You don’t really believe this do you?? That would imply that we already had a single European state – not even a federal United States of Europe, but a unitary European Republic!

          “terrible EU regulations”

          Can you name just one EU regulation that has negatively affected you personally?

          “floods of immigrants into the UK ready to soak our benefits system”

          Another myth — immigrants to the UK (EU and non-EU, legal and illegal) come here to work not to live on benefits. The Scandinavian countries offer more generous benefits, and a few years back there was even a colony of British benefit scroungers living in Berlin!

        • George Carty says:

          “Perhaps if Labour and the Conservatives had not thrown the doors of the UK open to all and sundry and kept them open….Brexit might not have happened….but even afterwards the EU were determined for the EU to be a USE…..there is no way a huge chunk of the UK public would ever accept that…..time for the UK to be sovereign again.”

          In today’s world it is not possible for a medium-sized country like the UK to be 100% sovereign (in the sense that it doesn’t interact with foreigners except entirely on its own terms) unless it is willing to utterly impoverish itself (by becoming essentially North Korea without the communism). Countries that aren’t continental-sized (like the USA, Russia, China or possibly India) must work together with others if they want to be prosperous.

          I guess that’s the real fundamental difference between Remainers and Leavers: Remainers tend to be positive-sum thinkers, while Leavers tend to be zero-sum thinkers (which is why they tend to define sovereignty in terms of ability to exclude people).

          • gunnerbear says:

            “In today’s world it is not possible for a medium-sized country like the UK to be 100% sovereign (in the sense that it doesn’t interact with foreigners except entirely on its own terms).” I’m talking about controlling immigration and border controls…..just as just about every other nation in the West (non-EU) actually does e.g Australia.

  19. gunnerbear says:

    @Paulchevin,

    Are you mad….you attack me for using RN and CB as sources….two men who are widely respected for their knowledge and expertise in how the EU really works (read the Great Deception) and instead you call in in Monbiot….a man so deeply enmeshed in the Greenwash and so pro-EU it’s a wonder he doesn’t get paid in Euro’s….

    …and the article you quoted didn’t mention anything do to with the EU other than in passing….

    ….look, if you’re a Remainer that wants the UK to stay in the EU, be over-run with immigrants, be forced to use the Euro, to turn parliament into a parish council in the Greater German EU then fair enough….

    …I don’t….

    • Paulchevin says:

      “Are you mad”

      No, far from it! The real problem here is that you are not as skeptical and objective as you appear to believe.

      I’m a PhD scientist and I’ve been following the evolving science of climate change ever since I learned about it as part of my degree almost 40 years ago. I’ve come across the spurious claims of both Booker and North on a number of occasions; they are part of a well-organised and funded misinformation campaign that is strikingly similar to that used by the tobacco industry to undermine public confidence in another well-established science. The aim of the tobacco campaign was to delay anti-smoking legislation. No prizes for guessing what the anti-climate science campaign is about!! As someone who actually understands the science I can tell you that the climate “skeptics” arguments are all deeply flawed and misleading. Curiously, the same people who deny climate change seem to believe that Brexit will be great for the UK……. again, in defiance of the evidence!

      Booker and North rarely tell out-and-out lies. They tend instead to rely on a strategy known as a “cherry-pick”; they present a piece of evidence which, when considered in isolation, appears to reaffirm their desired message. It’s a strategy that is very effective, because the subjects they’re dealing with tend to be complex and nuanced and only those with a good grasp of ALL the facts will spot the flaw in their argument; context is crucial in the evaluation of complex subjects, but Booker and North thrive on denying their readers that context. They also frequently rely on “experts” who, on closer inspection, aren’t any such thing. Bill40 is correct; they have an AGENDA!

      The “greenwash” tag you assigned to Monbiot tells its own story. The “green is the new red” soundbyte is all part of the neoliberal strategy aimed at stopping people like you from taking environmental issues (that threaten corporate profits!) seriously. Green issues are actually science, which is based on evidence. Monbiot doesn’t get everything right, but he does give his readers the links they need to check his claims back to their ORIGINAL source. If you take the trouble to follow the links in the article from Monbiot you will find that his conclusions are correct; I’m not saying that Booker and North are always wrong, but you would be wise to be highly skeptical of their claims until you have sound evidence from reliable sources that backs up what they say.

      • George Carty says:

        The aim of the Big Oil/white-supremacist alliance which Trump and Putin represent has an aim that is Nazi-level monstrous: to prevent any shift away from fossil fuels that would render their trillion-dollar asset base worthless, and then to seal the Western world’s borders against the resulting waves of climate refugees.

      • gunnerbear says:

        Climate science eh? The sort of science involving scientists that are prepared to ‘redefine what peer-reviewed means’, the sort of scientists on a gravy train funded by the public that would rather keep their data hidden than expose it to the world.

        The Greens….the sort of people who scream at people for using air travel yet routinely travel by air even when trains are available. Scratch a Green, you’ll always find a Red….

        • Paulchevin says:

          As a scientist I never cease to be amazed at the lack of skepticism that people such as yourself exhibit! I also find it ironic that you will accept anything that questions a well-established and accepted science (that dates back well over 150 years) but can’t countenance the possibility that those you believe (who are wedded to big business interests with a vested interest in stopping environmental regulation) might not be telling you the truth!

          With regard to your specific claims, I presume that you’re referring to the “scandal” that was “Climategate”. The problem, of course, was that when investigations were launched they actually found the scientists had done nothing wrong. Here’s a summary of all the investigations, with links back to the original reports:

          https://skepticalscience.com/The-question-that-skeptics-dont-want-to-ask-about-Climategate.html

          Peter Hadfield (aka “potholer) also did some excellent videos, but the following is probably the most relevant:

          Incidentally, since the video was made, Willie Soon, the main author of the paper under discussion, has been suspended after it emerged that he had failed to disclose funding (a big no-no in science)…….. from the oil industry!!

          Regarding your claim that scientists withheld data, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee noted that “In the instance of the CRU, the scientists were not legally allowed to give out the data” – this is because it was not theirs to give. As far as I’m aware, this problem has now been remedied and all data is now publicly available.

          Finally, I would draw your attention to a much more recent video which skillfully exposes how another journalist, David Rose from the Mail (in the same vein as Booker and North) used flawed analysis to falsely claim that NOAA had manipulated data to exaggerate global warming:

          Booker used equally flawed analysis to claim that the data for land stations was similarly being manipulated. If he had done what any good journalist SHOULD and talked to the real experts, he would have known he’d got it wrong…… but then he wouldn’t have been able to write an article of complete bunkum telling people like you what you want to hear!!

      • gunnerbear says:

        Oh, look, Monbiot shredded again….

        http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86552

      • Blissex says:

        «Booker and North rarely tell out-and-out lies. They tend instead to rely on a strategy known as a “cherry-pick”; they present a piece of evidence which, when considered in isolation, appears to reaffirm their desired message. [ … ] context is crucial in the evaluation of complex subjects,»

        I have followed the blogs of R North and his son, and my estimate is that they are sincere, but deluded; in particular as to the “Leave” thing they seem like so many with their background to be affected by a profound feeling of national humiliation that England is “just a member” of the EU, and that deeply colors their perception of the context.
        As to climate change, I have some sympathy for “deniers”, because my own best guess is that climate change is both real and a conspiracy :-), but I can see that selective appreciation of aspects of the context can lead many on either side to advocate one or the other conclusion.

        • Paulchevin says:

          I can’t make up my mind whether Booker and North are simply deluded or whether they have a deliberate agenda, but I find it hard to understand how they get things as wrong as they sometimes do if they are really interested in giving their readers the full picture and not writing to an agenda.

          When it comes to climate change the situation is rather different, as it’s a science and science is based on evidence; the principles are very similar to a court of law. I suspect that a lot of the claims of “conspiracy” stem from the fact that the science is complex and nuanced and most people don’t really understand it – it’s a subject where a little knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge at all! Far too many people see the world in binary and expect simple yes or no answers to everything, but science doesn’t work like that.

  20. Blissex says:

    Bah! I think that out blogger seems to be making a “no strategy” claim while the strategy instead was very clear and public and well discussed: to have all the advantages of EU membership, without any of the perceived disadvantages. As a continental politician said, England decided, unilaterally, instead of being in with any opt-outs it wants, to be out with any opt-ins it wants.
    And the advantages of the strategy of being out and of the desired opt-ins were clearly explained by the “Leave” campaign and persuaded a majority of voters.

    So there was and is a clear strategy. Too bad it is unrealistic. The same happens in large organizations, consider this starting point by our blogger:

    «Here’s a situation I’m sure will be familiar to many of you. You embark on a major organisational change programme. [ … ] “Why are we doing this? What’s the purpose?” Questions get referred up the line and nothing comes back.»

    That is not at all a familiar occurrence: it happens quite rarely that a “major organisational change programme” just happens with no vision or strategy. The familiar case is that it gets started with a delusional vision and an unrealistic strategy, that crumble when it comes to implementation, and that questions “referred up the line” do get answered, but with useless platitudes.

  21. gunnerbear says:

    @George Carty

    ““Once we’re out of the EU, the next step is to get out of the ECHR and the ’51 Convention on Refugees.”

    And thus gunnerbear lets the misanthropic cat out of the bag!”

    Err…no, it’s only the same policy that the Australian’s operate via their ‘Maritime Acts’ – since they’ve implemented that policy, the flood of illegals trying to reach Aust. has dropped and thus far, far fewer are dying at sea.

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