Friday, June 24, 2016

Ashes of Brexit

Well, shit.

Some genius cut a line somewhere on our development last Friday, so I was forced to dash in and out of the internet to check the progress of the Great Brexit Vote last night and collapsed in a heap assuming, as many people did, that it would be a narrow, razor thin margin of victory for the Remain Camp. Instead, I woke up to find that, no, in fact, people had apparently done the opposite and voted to Leave- admittedly, by a razor thin margin of victory.

Well, shit. Look, I'm sitting on my perch across an ocean and let's be honest here- there are family ties to the mother country but nostalgia is really what drives my connection at this point. And an expired passport that I'm going to have to renew at some point, but won't, in fact guarantee my wife or children freedom of movement around Europe as it had me- that's assuming there's much of a UK left to move back to in order to secure them dual citizenship, which the Missus and I have long talked of doing- if only for a few years.

This is going to be like a slow-motion trainwreck for at least the next two to five years and god only knows what Britain (or what's left of it) is going to look like when it's done. The rubble is still falling, so I'm sort of unpacking what to think about all of this, but in no particular order, some thoughts:

Democracy isn't pretty. Like it or not, there was a vote last night with a healthy turnout of over 70% and the people have spoken. Now, it's a legally non-binding referendum, so technically the government doesn't have to do a damn thing, but what really pisses me off is reading about remorseful Leave voters regretting their choice because 'they didn't think their vote would count.' This is why I remain steadfast in my belief that there's no such thing a fucking wasted vote. Every vote counts. Last night proves it, despite an apparently significant number of absolute numpties across the pond who apparently can't walk and chew gum at the same time.

Gosh, I'm glad I'm not retiring any time soon. The Dow is down 600 points, as apparently- nobody could have expected this.

David Cameron is an idiot. I mean, I get it- you shut the Eurosceptic wing of your party down if you go out and win this referendum, but the key words in that last sentence are 'win this referendum.' I wasn't overly impressed with the way he handled the Scottish Independence Referendum (you got the feeling that cynically, Tory hearts weren't really in it, after all, if Scotland goes, it's pretty much Tory rule for decades in what remains of the UK) and he pissed this referendum completely down his leg.

Where the hell is the Labour Party? Does it have it's head up its ass? I mean, look at these full results... FFS, look at the goddamn map.  Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle voted Remain- but not by much. Disturbingly large chunks of Wales voted Leave. There's a sea of blue all over Northern England which should have the Labour Party asking some serious questions of itself. If it can't carry it's traditional working class strongholds, there's a problem here. A big one. I'm not surprised someone tabled a motion of no-confidence against Jeremy Corbyn- looking at the map, whatever they were saying apparently didn't get through.

The prospect of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister... smh.

I'm honestly not sure how big a role immigration played in all of this, but if there's a lesson for the global elite/establishment, it's that people don't want open borders and unrestrained and unrestricted immigration. They want rules, they want a system in place that works. From an American point of view, I think it's culturally ingrained in all of us at a  young age that cutting in line is bad. And that, to me, is really the heart of the immigration issue. There's always going to be a racist/xenophobic fringe to this question, but the bulk of people just don't like people who cut in line. Take a number, dot the I's, cross the T's and do it right. Plenty of people do.

Is Scotland gone? I'm not sure... it wouldn't surprise me, but there's a lot of question marks that need answered which is why I don't think Nicola Sturgeon is going to swing for that particular fence unless she's damn sure she can win. She might say that she's going to push for a second poll, but saying it and doing it are two separate things.  The downturn in the oil market means that the SNP has a math problem that the other parties in Scotland are pressuring them on and a Second Independence Referendum would expose a lot of the economic uncertainties that still remain and that could make a second vote a less than sure thing. (But this is an interesting thought experiment. Hmmmm...)

Is Northern Ireland gone? I'm going to say 'not yet' to this, but this vote did open up that particular can of worms again. Especially if after the rubble settles Northern Ireland finds itself at a significant economic disadvantage. But a united Ireland? Might have to wait a generation or so before it becomes a serious possibility, but it's a blip on the radar in a way that it wasn't before yesterday.

At the end of the day, I'm still not entirely sure how to feel about this. There's a real chance that the United Kingdom won't exist in it's current form in 20 years. But there's also an equal chance that this could touch off a whole series of populist revolts across the EU. I understand the arguments to stay, but Brussels needs to understand the arguments to Leave as well. People were watching- especially after what the EU did to Greece and probably weren't all that crazy about what they saw in terms of national sovereignty being trampled on in the name of ensuring the stability of the Euro.

Politically, I'm not sure a United Europe was ever going to work. Economically, it seemed to be a lot more stable- and if it evolves into anything, I'd bet on an economic union more than a political one.

I honestly have no idea what happens next.

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