It is a busy week in the UK House of Commons. At this writing, Meaningful Brexit Vote 2.0 (We Really Mean It This Time) has failed by 149 votes. This deals an apparent death blow to PM May’s attempts to negotiate an orderly retreat from the EU. The likely result will be a lot of hand wringing and a vote to delay the process.
The entire exercise appears to be based on what Winston Churchill once accused Americans of doing, namely “Once we have exhausted all the other possibilities we do the right thing.” Ignoring the will of the people after a referendum requires a period of slow torture and likely another popular vote (We Really, Really Mean It, We Promise).
All of this is quite impossible for one simple reason: Brexit isn’t really about Brexit. Like most political issues in developed nations today, the cause of all this noise and nonsense isn’t really the issue at hand. It’s not about whether the UK should be in the EU or not – in an ideal situation it’s rather obvious that it should be. The problem is that we are so far from ideal that no one can make any sense of anything. And that’s where this American politely, humbly, offers his opinion on this situation.
The vote went for Brexit. The hounds of chaos have been unleashed. Is this a harbinger of a Trump victory in November? Political trends in the US have first shown in the UK before, with Margaret Thatcher predating Ronald Reagan and Tony Blair arriving before Bill Clinton. More importantly, the polls were as wrong on Brexit as they were on Cameron’s big win in the last Parliamentary elections. Is this a sign?
The short answer is “Yes”, but the long answer is “No”. This has a long way to play out before the US votes, and we don’t yet know what will happen. There will be a lot more anarchy in the UK and the final lesson is far from written.
I’m sitting here watching the BBC site as the results of the Brexit referendum pour in. It’s not looking good for the EU right now, and that has to give us all pause. The EU is absolutely essential, in some form, but the bureaucratic mess that has resulted isn’t necessarily helping anyone. The UK never went all in, keeping the Pound, so their view has always been a bit askance.
For far too many, it comes down to an interesting revelation. Did Germany actually “win” after all? Signs point to yes, they did. But how? What does this mean to other industrialized nations? Is there something we should all learn? Is Britain right for possibly wanting to go it alone?
Jo Cox, MP, was killed today in Birstall, West Yorkshire. She was leaving a “surgery”, the British term for what we in the US call a “town hall”. The attacker was reported to have shouted, “Put Britain first!” a reference to the referendum in one week on whether the UK should leave the European Union (EU).
If you were thinking the whole world has gone mad, you are right.
While we in the US are shaken by a horrific attack on ordinary citizens, the UK now has to contemplate political violence – something it has not seen since the end of the IRA’s campaign in 1990. There is no comparison between terror inflicted on the public and on the political system, as each is horrible in its own way. But we can reasonable expect there will be more of each until something dramatic happens.