Brexit and the British State
By Duncan Whitmore
Following the drama of the past two weeks which culminated in the embarrassing behaviour of opposition MPs blocking the Speaker’s chair in the moments of Parliament’s prorogation (pictured above), we can hope for some dying down of the recent hysteria now that they have been royally booted out for a month. At least, that is, until October 19th, when Boris Johnson must either pull a new Brexit deal with the EU out of his hat or ask for an extension to the October 31st deadline.
In the meantime, we can enjoy the comedy value of the Labour Party trying to square the circle with its Brexit policy. Trapped between a rock and a hard place by its support coming from both working class Leave voters on the one hand and middle class, liberal Remainers on the other, their aspiration is to negotiate a new deal with Brussels in order to show their Leave credentials. But they will then call a second referendum in which they will campaign against their own deal in favour of Remain. Such absurdity has driven even Remain-biased journalists to barely concealed sniggering. On Wednesday of this week, deputy leader Tom Watson chimed in by suggesting that Labour should campaign for a second referendum ahead of voting for an Autumn general election (the conditions for which Labour has already shifted several times since they backed the Brexit delay bill last week). Given that Labour is the official opposition and, by far, the second largest party in Parliament, whatever it chooses to do is likely to carry more weight than whatever the likes of Little Bo-Swinson and the disproportionately mega-mouthed Ian Blackford have to offer. So, amidst the hyperbolic outrage at the Scottish Court of Session’s finding that the prorogation of Parliament was “unlawful” (strange how there were no screaming headlines when the first instance judges drew the opposite conclusion) as well as at the release of the worst case scenario no-deal planning documents this will probably be the only thing to keep much of an eye on for now. Read more
Boris and Brexit
By Duncan Whitmore
At the time of writing, a bill to delay Britain’s exit from the European Union beyond the October 31st deadline is making its way through the House of Lords, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s loss of all of his votes thus far in the Commons. Johnson has also lost his Commons majority after one MP defected to the Liberal Democrats on Tuesday while a further twenty-one were denied the Tory whip for voting against the government that same evening. It is, therefore, probable that the bill will be passed and, without the ability to call a general election, somebody will be carted off to the EU to grovel for a Brexit extension until January 31st.
Nevertheless, in contrast to the Maybot (whose repeated defeats ground her down into the appearance of an exhumed corpse), Johnson remains remarkably upbeat. If his chief strategist, Dominic Cummings, is as brilliant as he is reputed to be, then this may be no surprise. After all, every major obstacle to achieving Brexit, “do or die”, on October 31st was known in advance, namely:
- An overwhelmingly pro-Remain Parliament which could be expected to use the excuse of an alleged no deal “catastrophe” to tie the Prime Minister’s negotiating hands;
- The existence of a significant number of rebellious Tory MPs amongst a Parliamentary majority of just one;
- A Speaker barely able to feign impartiality through a willingness to bend constitutional propriety and parliamentary procedure.
Trump, Brexit and Leftist Delusions – A Taste of Things to Come?
By Duncan Whitmore
Over the weekend Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally concluded his investigation into the possibility of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia in the run up to the 2016 presidential election. A summary of the findings released by Attorney General William Barr cleared Mr Trump of the allegations, thus ending a wrangling, two year process that has seen a number of Trump aides prosecuted for peripheral charges but nothing that smacks of being in bed with “the enemy”.
Over here in the UK, final frustration with the quagmire of the EU withdrawal process on the Remainer side has led to a petition to revoke Article 50 receiving a record breaking five million signatures, while a “People’s Vote” march in London on Saturday apparently attracted more than one million attendees – both dubious figures, incidentally. Thus, we are now expected to believe that the “will of the people” has turned against a Brexit that never could have been anything other than a complete, unmitigated disaster.
All of these events represent, on both side of the Atlantic, the childish attempts by the leftist-liberal elite to block out of their minds the possibility that maybe – just maybe – their vision of globalisation, open borders, multiculturalism and ever greater degrees of economic control in the hands of multinational institutions really isn’t what millions of their fellow countrymen and women wanted. That may be Trump really did get elected to office fairly and squarely, and it was not a foreign-orchestrated stitch up; that may be the British people didn’t just swallow a bunch of “lies” from the official Leave campaign, nor was their vote for Leave, to quote Lord Adonis, a “populist and nationalist spasm” rather than the manifestation of a long, deep seated antipathy towards the EU that has been bubbling under the surface since the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. All of these charades by those on the losing side have been nothing more than exercises in coating themselves in yards of bubble wrap – postponing the day when they have to step out of fantasy into reality, and realise that their visions of a world order that seemed so secure prior to 2016 are, in fact, crumbling around them. Read more
Distinguished fellow of The Ludwig von Mises Centre Hans-Hermann Hoppe offers his thoughts on Brexit and the European Union during an episode of the Austrian talk show Hangar 7.
The dialogue has been subtitled in English by the original poster of the video on Facebook.
Mrs May’s Disastrous Deal
By Duncan Whitmore
Albeit for the wrong reasons, Theresa May never ceases to amaze. In spite of having first tabled an almost universally unpopular proposal for withdrawal from the EU at Chequers in July of this year, and then having done the equivalent of inject that proposal with steroids through the draft “Withdrawal Agreement” with the EU, she soldiers on in the face of all resistance.
Sean Gabb has summarised the contents of the draft agreement unveiled last week in an earlier post on this blog so there is no need to repeat that here. What we will do instead is to outline the combination of circumstances that have led to this situation and conclude with some thoughts as to what libertarians can make of this whole this debacle. Read more
Sore Losers: “Remainers” and the EU Referendum
By Duncan Whitmore
In spite of the fact that we are now more than two years after the event, the sore losers on the “Remain” side of the Brexit vote persist in their efforts to deny the legitimacy of the referendum result in favour of “Leave”. The most strenuous effort, in accordance with the propensity of the EU to require repetitive voting until they receive the right answer, is the push for a second referendum – either on the so-called “deal” that our government is trying its best to fashion into a resemblance of EU membership in all but name, or a rerun of the entire process.
In the first place, it must be nothing short of astonishing that every single argument that is advanced in order to discredit the outcome of the referendum is exactly the same as every argument that was made against democracy itself prior to its ascension as the unquestionable holy grail: that the voters are too uneducated; that people didn’t know what they were voting for; that the majority is not a real majority; and so on.
Particularly following Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s polemic, it is true that libertarians are at least suspicious of democracy, and are likely to view it more as an enabler of state growth rather than a straightjacket. However, such suspicion applies only to representative democracy or the kind where we are, essentially, voting on how tax loot should be divvied up. It can scarcely apply to a referendum the very purpose of which is to determine the sovereignty of a nation, and where there is a chance to move that sovereignty closer towards the individual through a rejection of state centralisation and consolidation into ever larger behemoths governing wider territories.
Although the efforts from the “Leave” side to defend the legitimacy of the result are all cogent enough, they are usually content to address the “Remainers’” objections on their own terms instead of challenging the underlying assumptions. This short essay will attempt to provide some additional, more fundamental ammunition in order to refute the most typical arguments. Read more
Although he wrote the following passage in 1909 about the United Kingdom and the question of Irish Home Rule, G.K. Chesterton might just as well have written it about the EU and UKIP. Enjoy:
union is no more a good thing in itself than separation is a good thing in itself. To have a party in favour of union and a party in favour of separation, is as absurd as to have a party in favour of going upstairs and a party in favour of going downstairs. The question is not whether we go up or down stairs, but where we are going to, and what we are going for? Union is strength; union is also weakness. It is a good thing to harness two horses to a cart; but it is not a good thing to try and turn two hansom cabs into one four-wheeler. Turning ten nations into one empire may happen to be as feasible as turning ten shillings into one half-sovereign. Also it may happen to be as preposterous as turning ten terriers into one mastiff. The question in all cases is not a question of union or absence of union, but of identity or absence of identity.
Chesterton, G. K. (2010). Heretics (255). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Chesterton wrote the above in the context of correcting the idea that older politicians like Gladstone were idealists whereas newer ones like Joseph Chamberlain were materialists. In fact, he noted, the real difference between them was that Gladstone thought of his ideals as things he would like to change reality to resemble, whereas Chamberlain thought his ideals simply described the way things were in any case.
Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.