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Should I vote for Brexit?

by tyronen Wed Jun 22nd, 2016 at 03:49:02 PM EST

Last year I vowed to vote in favour of Brexit. I just could not stomach the EU anymore, and still can't.

Now find myself getting cold feet. There was the death of Jo Cox. And other issues. This article from Jacobin magazine offers a powerful left-wing case for Remain:

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

A victory for Leave would represent a massive shift rightward in British politics. It's difficult to see how Brexit could have any progressive effects at all. And, given the prevailing balance of political forces and the Left's utter marginalization in the Leave campaign, it is -- as Butler notes -- simply "fatuous to imagine a constellation of minoritarian left-wing groups will be able to fundamentally change the political orientation of an exit."
If Britain withdraws on the terrain the Leave camp has laid out for it, it is unlikely to benefit progressive, left-wing forces across the continent. Instead, it would boost the arc of reaction developing across Europe -- from the presidential campaign of the National Front's Marine Le Pen in France to the rise of the AfD in Germany to the electoral successes of the Austrian Freedom Party. The prospect of the imminent collapse of the EU in such a climate is too terrifying to contemplate.

After all, what do I really want? I've never actually wanted the UK to not be a member of the EU. Rather I wanted the EU to allow Keynesian economics in the eurozone again, to be willing to write down Greek debt, and to eventually pool funding for counter-cyclical social programs. This would be keyed off a genuinely democratic structure where the Council is abolished, and the Commission becomes proper parliamentary government, with commissioners drawn from the ranks of MEPs and required to assemble majority coalition in Parliament. Any MEP could initiate legislation.

Could this happen? There are various domino scenarios:

  1. The UK leaves, followed by others. The Czech Republic and Netherlands have popular pro-exit parties, and they go. With the Dutch proving that euro withdrawal is possible, Austria and Greece follow suit. Desperate to stem the bleeding, the EU agrees to the kinds of reforms I outlined above.

  2. Far-right parties take office in the countries above and eliminate virtually all immigration. Greece remains under Syriza control, but even after leaving the euro is brutally punished by a vengeful rump EU, supported by the former members. Policies both inside and outside the EU drift rapidly to the right. Poland and Hungary become out-and-out dictatorships.

Plus what are the effect in UK domestic politics:

A) Prime Minister Johnson puts through a series of right-wing policies, all unpopular except for cuts to immigration. Labour wins the next election when it promises not to restore immigration.

B) Er, just the first sentence above.

Meanwhile, a Remain vote would leave us with the status quo. Greece is crushed for the next half-century. The eurozone struggles with sluggish growth and bad economic policies for decades. The far-right eventually wins power in several countries, although none leave the EU. Welfare and immigration keep the UK Conservatives in power for at least another decade.

Or maybe speculation is pointless. I could dream up many scenarios, but no one knows what will actually happen. Perhaps I should just vote for the option closest to what I want. That might be Remain, but...

I have no way to punish the ECB and the Commission for their actions. And I can't let them get away with what they did in Greece.

So I'm genuinely undecided. And the vote is tomorrow. I'm asking for advice.

Should UK voters opt for Brexit?
. Leave 42%
. Remain 57%

Votes: 7
Results | Other Polls
I vote leave.

The way I see it EU is in a downward spiral, both economic with ongoing austerity and political with the transfer of power to ECB and eurogroup. Britain leaving either triggers political and economic reform or (more likely) doesn't.

If it doesn't at least Britain has better odds of establishing a decent precedent for leaving, giving countries an option to leave and choose a less insane economic way.

I don't think Britain leaving will change the rise of the far right across Europe, that is more driven by economic factors, primarily the lack of full employment.

by fjallstrom on Wed Jun 22nd, 2016 at 09:54:38 PM EST
And what do you think is driving those economic factors, if not the dominance of the right in Europe?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 06:41:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would put the ideological capture of the social-democrats and the institutional straight-jacket of the Euro on top of the list. That causes the Tina situation which empowers the right wing by lack of opposition, and fuels the far right and the far left as the choices for alternatives.

The Brexit vote will not affect the ideological capture, and if Britain leaves it would slightly weaken the institutional straight-jacket. As Britain leaving in and of itself doesn't change much in the economics of say Hungary or Sweden, there is not much political effect.

by fjallstrom on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 09:14:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Orbán ran an advert urging the Brits to remain because without the British vote, the right-wing Europhobes have less weight in the EU.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 02:57:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain has better odds of establishing a decent precedent for leaving, giving countries an option to leave and choose a less insane economic way.

Would other countries with their current elites chose less insane economic ways? Will Brexit Britain chose less insane economic ways and establish a decent precedent? I am rather doubtful on both counts.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 02:59:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suggest vote remain.

The right wing economic policies being pursued by the EU are actually a reflection of the dominance of right wing political parties throughout Europe. If anything, political momentum is currently trending even further right with various extreme nationalist and neo-fascist parties coming to the fore.

The rise of UKIP and the right of the Tory party, if consolidated by a Brexit victory, will reinforce that trend in the UK and the EU.  Every nationalist party in virtually every member state will make the same arguments as UKIP, and seek to game the system to force the EU even further right. Everyone will seek to advantage "their own" at the expense of all "foreigners", even if from another member state.

Free movement of labour will be extremely constrained under the guise of containing largely mythical welfare tourism and strains on national health services etc. Beggar your neighbour economic policies will be pursued and Keynesian policies shunned because many of their benefits "leak out" to neighbouring economies and workers.

The EU as it is may not be great, but it is a damn side better than what will emerge if the Brexit side win.  If anything it has held extreme right wing forces at bay - until now.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 12:03:27 AM EST
Wish I could help you.
I see no positive outcomes from a remain win. However the idea of Boris Johnson negotiating an exit is terrifying. While I'm not sure if the end result will even be anything like a clean break, I am sure it will be a frontal attack on everything I value. On the other hand if Corbyn was Prime Minister I'd say go for it.
by generic on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 08:02:11 AM EST
I flt this was a clear and precise laying out of the questions that undecided voters should ask themselves before they approach the ballot box. It isn't making a partizan point although the author does not deny they lean remain. But it's worth reading.

All that is Solid - Dear Undecided Voter

I'm a socialist who will be voting Remain this Thursday. But don't let that put you off. I'm not going to patronise you with a bucketload of stats, or insult your intelligence by saying this is right and that's wrong. Nor am I about to spring a persuasive piece on you to nudge you in Remain's direction. I'm interested in helping you make up your own mind by giving you things that, I think, are worth considering and thinking through.

In response to understandable confusion about the costs and benefits of Remaining vs Leaving (and vice versa) a lot of people have expressed a desire for "unbiased facts" provided by someone who hasn't got an agenda. I'm sorry to disappoint, but you'll be searching for that someone in vain. When it comes to political questions, invariably those "expert" on the issue will have an opinion on it and use their knowledge and standing to push that position. Yes, it's frustrating, but you're going to have to think about who you trust the most. And if there isn't anyone, think about why leading advocates for each side push the arguments they favour.

Consider the two key figures in the campaign, David Cameron and Boris Johnson....

Me? I'm voting Remain. simply because, as you say above, the Leave Campaign is all about Johnson, Gove, IDS, Redwood, Farage and all points rightward. There is nothing in any agenda they will propose that I support. I am instinctively opposed to every project they undertake. And let us not forget the dark forces they have unleashed in their wake.  Therefore, I cannot, in conscience, vote leave.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 08:58:42 AM EST
And that is the logic I suspect most late swing voters will apply, giving the remain side the edge on the day.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 09:06:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My hunch is Remain will win with a 10% margin, yawn.
Neither side is suggesting concrete solutions to the biggest problems, so I would probably abstain on political grounds or vote remain on personal ones.

Whichever choice sunders that cobbled together fault line in the Tory party first will have been the right choice. Extra points for pissing off Schauble, Farage, Disselbloem and/or Junk-ger. Double points for Jungker.
Triple for Osborne, bonus for Boris.
Time for the Bullingdon boys and all their sycophant enablers to meet their iceberg.
 Make way for Corbyn and common sense, finally, hopefully with President Sanders' helping hand across the pond.
The whole Eurocrazy needs to be opened like a can of tuna and turned over to the 5* movement. :)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 11:59:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anecdote isn't data, but many of the Irish emigrants to the UK are beginning to feel unwelcome. Imagine what the Poles and the darker skinned immigrants are feeling.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 09:07:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A Polish friend of mine has also reported becoming uncomfortable in certain situations.

It is interesting that, again, anecdotal hearsay suggests that established "empire" immigrants feel more comfortable voting leave than those from other countries.

In terms of population, London is France's 6th largest city; I wonder how they feel?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 09:42:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well I have read that this figure is greatly exaggerated, and indeed from the number of people I see on election day I don't think that there are quite so many of us really living in London.

But to answer your question (and bear in mind that our kids are 25% Moroccan and 25% Laotian, which probably makes me the least reviled of us 4), the answer is "not great". I would not have minded a Leave vote on other grounds (especially as I am shocked that Cameron's blackmail has been met with yet more undeserved privileges. I know you feel they amount to nothing, Miguel and I think they are significant, in any case they should have BEEN nothing), but that campaign...

I don't know whether I am actually unwelcome - but I do know that I don't like the idea of living in that society. I also abhor the fact that the tories have passed a law to send home immigrants who have a job that does not pay enough in their views - making sure that only people who are motivated by money stay around is an interesting way to conceive society.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 01:16:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]

which probably makes me the least reviled of us 4

Dunno, you are pretty conspicuously French ...

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 02:18:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whereas the others are so only covertly - you may have a point.
But Thatcher saw to it that they are only French, despite for two of them never having lived outside the UK.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 03:43:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, we pulled similar shit in a referendum here, to the country's shame.

Well, I wish it was ashamed.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 04:51:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whereas my daughter, born in France and living in Glasgow, gets basically full citizen's rights including the vote, based on holding a Commonwealth nationality.

We'll be seeing more of that, I expect. I've been told Britain wants its Australasian bar staff back : they've been crowded out by central Europeans, you see.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Jun 26th, 2016 at 10:45:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My gf was talking to some Australian expats last night. Some of them have literally spent tens of thousands of pounds working towards full UK citizenship, so they can then live and work in the EU.

Are they ever pissed off now.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 26th, 2016 at 06:19:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And don't forget the Israelis who have been working on reclaiming their Ukrainian citizenship for the same reason.....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Jun 26th, 2016 at 08:13:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks to all who commented.

I remained undecided to the very end.

I walked to the polling station, at a local public library, still wrestling with it. I sat down in the library still going over the points. After more than twenty minutes, my wife arrived from dropping the children at school and was surprised to see I still hadn't voted. She hustled me into the booth.

I stood there, looking at the ballot, and lifted my pencil to the Remain box....but then suddenly crossed the X by leave.

And I still wonder if I did the right thing. I may never know for sure.

by tyronen on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 10:35:14 AM EST
In the Swedish Euro-referendum (the one on wheter to adopt the Euro as currency) I listed the pros and cons, ignored the irrelevant arguments (mostly about the bills and coins as such) and came up with two systems of not directly elected central bankers running NAIRU policies on either a national or European scale.

In the end, I flipped a coin and voted. I don't remember which way the coin landed.

It was a very important referendum, but not for any arguments that were presented. Ok, yeah, the left against euro did say that we would give power to unelected European central bankers, but I don't remember hearing about the scenario that actually happened.

It will probably not turn on your single vote anyway.

by fjallstrom on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 10:58:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have to make a choice, as the UK doesn't let expats vote anyway. So I'll have to decide how to vote in the referendum on Renzi in the autumn instead.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 11:04:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What referendum is that?
by fjallstrom on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 11:15:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A reform to the constitution, mainly to reduce the power of the Senate, while the Chamber will give a guaranteed 340 seats to one of the parties (the latter is a law that has already been passed). The reform passed parliament, but without the required supermajority, so a referendum is needed (but without a minimum participation, so the usual problem that voting No could mean Yes is eliminated).

Renzi had said that in case of a No he would resign, but he may be backtracking on that promise.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 11:28:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the referendum does not pass and if Renzi resigns, is there a new election? And will it be under the old election law or the new?
by fjallstrom on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 12:33:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why should there be a new election? Renzi was never elected in the first place.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 01:04:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The reform is co-written with Denis Verdini, arch mob villain from Berlusconiville, and that shuffling of the Senate will extend parliamentary immunity to the most corrupt layer of the state bureaucracy, the regional governments.
Renzi was installed to change the (unconstitutional) electoral law, which if left as is or with the modifications in the reform referendum will hand semi-dictatorial powers to any leader with a dominant 30% of the vote.
Ironically if the 5* went to elections with this system they would have a huge opportunity to ram through major changes with much less bicameral delay.
They on principle oppose the electoral law reform  even though it could advantage them, another sign of their fair-mindedness.

Renzi first made the mistake of vover-personalising the referendum, by promising to leave of it fails, then the even bigger one of announcing he might break his promise.
He is a cocky bantaM with delusions of grandeur, a legend is his own mind, and a puppet of the bank and fossil fuel lobbies. A gift of the gab got him the gig, but Italians are tiring of his corporate optimism and facile, glib chirpings. The serial lying and boasting powerpoint cockerell is running on fumes.
These elections have bloodied his beak, but the final reckoning... roll on autumn.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jun 24th, 2016 at 12:23:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're the kind of guy who gives the pollsters heartaches! No doubt some psychologist here will be able to divine your subconscious motivation for leave after your rational processes still left you undecided.  I suspect v. view voters actually go through those rational processes in the first place - except at a very superficial level.  

That is why we live in an era of post truth politics in the first place - political psychologists have figured out that what motivates most people is not some worked out rational position, but their gut fears and anxieties, who they spoke to last, the personal feelings they have about the main protagonists, and their family history of voting which often goes back generations and is rooted in some long forgotten trauma  - war, national health service, unemployment, first job, and maybe, sometimes, current perceptions of personal economic self-interest.

Do you prefer Cameron over Boris, do you reflexively support establishment institutions like the Bank of England or do you feel the establishment has betrayed you and you want to give them one in the eye?  What are your friends and neighbours saying and doing. Who do you trust even slightly more.  Corbyn doesn't seem to inspire confidence on either side, and so Labour risks being shunted into irrelevance.  Lots of people like Boris for all the wrong reasons, but does that matter. Farage seams to have tapped into a widespread feeling of betrayal; that Briton doesn't look after its own any more, as in the days of empire, but would you buy a second hand car off him?

My guess is that this is not like an election where "if in doubt, vote them out" might apply.  Constitutional change is too scary.  The Brexit side too shrill. In the end, something as emotive as the killing of Jo Cox may have been the deciding factor, insofar she embodied how a lot of Brits like to see themselves.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 11:47:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Congratulations. You've just bitten into the biggest con job of the 21st century.
by Bernard (bernard) on Fri Jun 24th, 2016 at 08:41:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well until an election victory for Drumpf.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jun 25th, 2016 at 08:09:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would vote Remain if I had a vote.

I don't think any of us are in love with the EU, for the reasons you've listed and more, but folks on the left supporting Leave remind me a bit of Christopher Hitchens supporting the Iraq War "for different reasons than the neocons".  Which is fine, but the neocons didn't care about Hitch's reasons, and they were the ones running the show.

Leave doesn't stand for "ditch the EU and put something more liberal in place".  Leave stands for "kick Cameron out for Mayor Bam-Bam, encourage the rise of xenophobes, and pay more for Volkswagens and French wine".

As for Greece, if anything, it makes it worse.  Among the conservative parties ruling the major EU members, the Tories under Cameron and Osborne were among the few who were at least somewhat supportive of guys like Varoufakis, as I recall.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 12:01:46 PM EST
Why would those loansharks support Varoufakis? Trolling probably to get up Frankfurt's nose. Varoufakis is sworn enemy of their ilk, I thought.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 11:36:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I want to make three arguments towards you.

First. Britain as it is now is ruled by and for the City and the aristocrats, and its election system, unelected House of Lords and unelected Queen make sure that that doesn't change. The British government is actively destroying both labour rights and human rights. And the media is in the pockets of the ruling class. The situation is almost hopeless. So, do you want to exit or dissolve Britain?

You see, IMHO one of the core (false) assumptions of the whole British EU debate is that every problem of the EU is treated as an existential question for the EU, unlike for any other institutions with major problems.

Second. Even if your second domino scenario (which I see far more likely than your first: you'd need several government changes in the rest-EU for that) doesn't materialise, things can get much worse with a race to the bottom. In fact, among new EU members, there was a race to the bottom in one field (flat tax) after EU accession too, and I'd expect much more without EU regulations to maintain.

Third. I don't think even far-right parties can eliminate virtually all immigration, unless they cause a severe depression. This is a delusion. Numbers may drop but not to zero. Hungary closed off its southern borders with a fence, but it looks like Swiss cheese and there is a new golden age for smugglers. If the majority of voters would be rational, they would see this as government failure; instead, this is opportunity for the government to perpetuate its anti-refugee rhetoric (we'll have a referendum for which they put up posters with the slogan, "Let's tell Brussels so that they understand it, too!").

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 02:51:07 PM EST
So, do you want to exit or dissolve Britain?

Many Scots do. Its just that most people don't think this is an option.

by generic on Fri Jun 24th, 2016 at 09:23:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now I'm really curious about the path Scotland and Northern Ireland will take (Remain was ahead in both).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 24th, 2016 at 09:34:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scotland will push to remain in the EU, having had a 62% vote in favour. No one seems to have commented on how conflicted N. Ireland voters were. Nationalists would have wanted to vote remain in order to stay in the EU with the Republic, but would also have been aware that an overall Brexit win would have hastened the break-up of the UK.  In the end they squared that circle by having a much lower turnout.  

The result has been ideal for them, handing the DUP a defeat, and at the same time demonstrating a pro EU majority in NI (read closer ties with Republic), but at the same time hastening a break-up of the EU and making a case for a new United Ireland referendum.  

The problem is the Republic can't afford the £11 Billion cost of sub-venting the essentially failed NI economy.  So expect a prolonged period of uncertainty until the English discover they are paying more for NI than they ever did to the EU and are getting nothing back in return.

Then the fireworks will begin all over again...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 24th, 2016 at 11:35:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
" but at the same time hastening a break-up of the EU"

should read:
"but at the same time hastening a break-up of the UK"

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 24th, 2016 at 11:42:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And, even tho' it's now too late, there would have been this to consider as well;-

Zelo Street - Vote Remain-The Media Payoff

Here on Zelo Street, it's not just about the serious business of the EU referendum - I've already posted on that - but the lighter side of what has been a singularly acrimonious contest. That acrimony could be reduced significantly, and in some cases, banished forever, if the electorate votes to Remain. How? Here's how;-

Nigel Farage would vanish from the TV screen. No more waking up on Sunday to see Mr Thirsty on The Andy Marr Show (tm) or Peston On Sunday. No more photo-ops with Nige on his third pint of the morning. No more watching the head Kipper swanning around in his most offensive pair of strides. Gone.

All the other UKIP talking heads going off air, too. Like Paul Nuttall doing his Pub-Landlord-Meets-Alexei-Sayle schtick. Like Douglas "Kamikaze" Carswell. Like Roger Helmer. All swept away and replaced by actual reasonable and less boring pundits.

and there's more....

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 04:27:17 PM EST

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