More on Brexit

Our previous post on diversity and Britain’s E.U. referendum drew comments both pro- and anti-Brexit.

One charge was that the issue was “decided by the old but it will affect the young.” Yes, the old voted Leave. They did so as a matter of duty and honor, and out of reverence for the sovereignty and institutions of their great and ancient nation. (These being utterly unknown concepts to modern youth, who know their past only insofar as they have been taught to despise it, it isn’t surprising to hear them grumble; expressing grievance is more or less all they are trained to do anyway.)

Another was that the shakeup would have negative economic consequences. Indeed it will. It is understandable that for those who imagine all the world’s people to be perfectly alike and interchangeable, and to whom the very concept of a nation as anything more than a border with an economy is an embarrassing relic of benighted times, economics would be all that matters. But there are those who see nations as the sovereign homelands of particular peoples, and as sheltered havens for the expressions of their unique and precious cultures, traditions, and folkways — and for such people, the idea of selling their children’s right of self-determination to faraway busybodies for twenty pieces of silver was never worth the gain. They took this last chance to reclaim and secure their heritage.

One commenter said: “You can’t have a world-class economy based on tourism, Marmite, and Stilton cheese.” But if that is all England has to offer, then what, exactly, are they offering the E.U.? Is the point here that England is useless and spent, incapable of producing anything that anyone wants, and so its people should be glad to exchange their self-determination for alms in their dotage? What a miserable and insulting vision of a great nation and people. Any Englishman told that this is why he should prefer remaining in the E.U. should spit in his interlocutor’s eye.

In the same comment, we read that “[i]n a globalized world, you can either have prosperity or you can try to go it alone, outside of trade blocs and multilateral groups.”

I have two responses to that. First of all, there is no reason that an emancipated U.K. can’t make trading arrangements as its people see fit — as of course they will.

Second, this comment assumes that a “globalized world” is both desirable and inevitable. It is neither, and the U.K.’s departure from the suffocating regulatory apparatus of the E.U. is a sign that globalism is crumbling. Moreover, engineers who design and troubleshoot complex systems know all too well that to-tight “coupling” is at the root of most catastrophic failures; the tight coupling of globalization makes the world system far more brittle and subject to chain-reaction disasters of every kind, from disease to terrorism to economic collapse.

But it’s really pointless to bicker about this. Your view of Brexit, like so much else, will depend on your axioms, and neither side is likely to persuade the other. As seems true of every aspect of politics today, Brexit exposed the yawning fissure between two wholly incommensurable visions of Western civilization. It is a pity that we live in such fractured times, but here we are.

Related content from Sphere


  1. “They did so as a matter of duty …”

    Nice essay, Malcolm.

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:07 pm | Permalink
  2. Whitewall says

    I watched some 20 something hipster types in London being interviewed by a reporter. They asserted they were not ‘British’, but European. If they have been secured away in a mega city like London with all of life at their finger tips…well that might be understandable. But then a couple of the kids went the extra mile and said they were “citizens of the world”. I thought, what kind of smarmy nonsense is that? The real world will descend on them one day and their “citizenship” won’t sound so posh.

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink
  3. JK says

    But it’s really pointless to bicker about this. Your view of Brexit, like so much else, will depend on your axioms, and neither side is likely to persuade the other.

    Bear with me please but, if your preference is to “Not” then, at least take note of my ending link I’d endorse as a bookmark.

    I’ll take the liberty of pasting a comment from an earlier post from the same site:

    Something I noticed today from Remain is their casual dislike of democracy – today I have heard several times that a young persons vote is more important than an old persons (because they will live longer!). A fascinating exchange on Newsnight this evening where an old historian challenged this notion and was rebuffed with “don’t interrupt me, let me speak, you are a typical old white man who interrupts women”

    The same audience had just watched interviews with poor people from Burnley who almost all said that they voted Leave because wanted their votes to be noticed again, and even if it meant tough times ahead they thought the pain would be worth it if at the end they regained the sovereignty of their democratic voice. The Remain girls retorted that Conservatives could never represent these people.

    Sound familiar? (At least from some quarters?)

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink
  4. Apropos: “Another was that the shakeup would have negative economic consequences.”

    “Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves.” — Albert Einstein

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
  5. CanSpeccy says

    Already the German car makers are demanding Britain be granted free trade with the EU.

    But why should the Brits agree? Let the Germans drive their own Bimmers and Mercs. The Brits used to make and drive plenty of crap cars, Austins, Morrises Rovers, etc., let them make crap cars again. True they’ve sold off most of the good names, MG to the Chinese, Jag and Land Rover to the Indians, Rolls and Bentley to the Germans. But there are plenty of other two-letter combinations in the Roman alphabet to replace MG, and there are plenty of cats in the forest beside jaguars. So let the revival of British engineering begin. Then the old fogeys who know how to do math and other hard subjects will have something useful to teach the mostly ill-informed and decadent youth of the nation.

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink
  6. Whitewall says

    About EUReferendum, I checked that blog on Saturday and noticed that the usually prickly Richard North had allowed himself to be in a good mood for a few minutes. I think I began keeping an eye on them a good decade or more ago.

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Thanks for spotting that typo, Henry.

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
  8. JK says

    Indeed Whitewall.

    And I frankly am of the opinion (feeling?) that “mood” is probably being too easily dismissed just now – as you’ve probably noticed elsewheres, there’s the occasional, “Calm down dear, Breathe.”

    Mood I consider, and over the next weeks or so to be of, Supreme Importance.

    A panicked crowd is not a good place to find oneself amidst. “My name is Mob.”

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink
  9. Musey says

    Malcolm, I was in the UK just a few short weeks ago and talked this subject to death.
    You can believe that the old voted out as a matter of duty and honour, if you want to. My belief is that their motivations were far less noble. A vague nostalgia, a longing for times past, but most of all a fear of immigrants coming in unchecked..that’s what drove their vote.

    I was listening to Alastair Campbell (advisor to Blair, straight-talker, never a popular man) giving his analysis of the situation. He lamented the outcome of the referendum as a catastrophic mistake but said that he was unsurprised because he was aware that people had stopped listening to the arguments. His rage though was most obvious when talking about Boris Johnson. He reckoned that Boris had expected, indeed wanted, a narrow remain result. Narrow enough that Cameron would be weakened and he could take over in the near future. What he’s got is the result that he campaigned for which brings with it an enormous set of problems, and he will inherit this mess if he becomes PM. You have to laugh at that.

    I agree with you about the pointless bickering, Malcolm. We all have our own opinions but it’s good to know where the other side is coming from. I do not think that another referendum is possible, likely, or even desirable. The decision has been made, it should be irrevocable, and we will deal with the consequences.

    One last thing. None of you seem to have any faith in the youth of today. For some reason I find that more depressing than anything else that has been written here.

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says


    You can believe that the old voted out as a matter of duty and honour, if you want to. My belief is that their motivations were far less noble… most of all a fear of immigrants coming in unchecked.

    If you ask me, preventing mass Third-World, particularly Islamic, immigration is a matter of duty and honor.

    I can think of no better way to destroy the traditional British nation (or, for that matter, any nation) than by displacing the people from whom it sprang, as an organic expression of their distinctive particularity, and importing more and more Islam. Let that happen, and everything else is mere commentary.

    What you dismiss as “vague nostalgia”, I admire as rightly placed reverence for Britain’s ancient traditions and institutions, and a determination to preserve them against yet another mortal threat.

    To paraphrase a quote posted at Kevin Kim’s place: Why on Earth should the British live under an ever-expanding web of regulations they didn’t ask for, imposed by people they don’t know, didn’t elect, and can’t remove? How any self-respecting Briton could prefer such an arrangement to self-determination is utterly beyond my understanding.

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 6:45 pm | Permalink
  11. Epicaric says

    Whitewall: Citizen of the World. Smarmy, indeed. It is a term heard most from two types of very different people: young Westeners living in a pleasant bubble, oblivious to its fragility, and the impoverished- and increasingly frustrated – masses of the developing world yearning to enter that ever more fragile bubble. The former positively shines with an effervescent universalism. He is oblivious to the Hobbesian reality outside the thin walls of his bubble, ready, as it were, to throw down Chesterton’s wall. The latter understandably seeks the comforts of materialism, if he can only scale the teetering wall. While on the outside he will castigate its denizens with self serving cries of “Sharing is caring!”

    In short, Citizens of the World either understand little of the world, or understand it all too well. As for me? I speak five languages fluently and have lived my entire life overseas. It is no wonder, then, that I am not a Citizen of the World but rather consciously an American.

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 7:03 pm | Permalink
  12. Malcolm,

    “If you ask me, preventing mass Third-World, particularly Islamic, immigration is a matter of duty and honor.”

    In addition, if you ask me, protecting the youths of our nation from their own naiveté, inexperience, and more than a little ignorance, is also the duty of society’s older generations. Ascribing naiveté, etc., to our youths, does not imply that every single one of them is naive, etc. There is every likelihood that many exceptions to such a generalization exist. Nevertheless, a recounting of anecdotal evidence does not constitute proof that the generalization is false. Look around — the evidence that youths are, in general, hopelessly naive about the real world is ubiquitous.

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 7:36 pm | Permalink
  13. CanSpeccy says

    Calling the old folks opposed to “immigrants coming in unchecked” ignoble, is like calling the North American indians who opposed mass white settlement xenophobic racists.

    And who’s to say they were not. Thing is, though, what they said made a sort of Darwinian good sense, whereas the liberals of that and the present day are all candidates for the Darwin award for lethal stupidity.

    Perhaps Mutti Merkel will be nominated for the Darwin Award in honor of the self-genocidal sacrifice of the German people in favor of the Syrian refugees.

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:05 pm | Permalink
  14. CS,

    I checked out the link you gave for the Darwin Awards. The Awards are quite amusing.

    But I think the 1996 Award to the Polish farmer, Krystof Azninski, who “staked a strong claim to being Europe’s most macho man by cutting off his own head”, though quite amusing, doesn’t qualify for the Darwin Award. Because Polish.

    Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:34 pm | Permalink
  15. colinhutton says


    You racist, you.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 12:01 am | Permalink
  16. Well, Colin, first of all, Polish people do not comprise a race — they are a nationality. Second of all, I am allowed to indulge in a Polish joke because I was born in Poland, though technically I am not a Polack — I am a Polish Jew. Third of all, I also indulge in self-deprecating Jewish jokes, which aren’t racist either (they’re ethnic).

    Here’s another Polish joke:

    A Polack walks into a store, marches up to the counter and orders a kielbasa (a Polish sausage). The guy behind the counter says, “You must be a Polack.” The Polack becomes incensed. “How dare you assume I am Polish just because I ordered a kielbasa? If I had ordered an Italian salami, would you assume I was Italian?” And the counter guy replies, “Mister, this is a hardware store.”

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 12:31 am | Permalink
  17. Musey says

    Malcolm, from what I’m hearing a leave vote will not achieve any curb in the immigrant flow and in the short term,quite possibly a surge. People did not realize this and they were deliberately not told. They were duped. So who is naive?

    David Cameron posed a question to the British people that he thought he knew the answer to..turns out that he was wrong.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 1:48 am | Permalink
  18. JK says

    Via Up2L8 Malcolm. (I think. Ups I’m certain but …)

    On June 15, 1215, the rebellious barons met John at Runnymede on the Thames. The king was presented with a document known as the Articles of the Barons, on the basis of which Magna Carta was drawn up. For a document hallowed in history during more than 750 years and frequently cited as a forerunner of the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, Magna Carta is a singularly undramatic document. It is thorny with problems of feudal law and custom that are largely untranslatable into modern idiom. Still, it was remarkable in many ways, not least because it was not written in a purely baronial interest but aimed to provide protection for all freemen.

    Apparently, the month of June is set aside for testing the English.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 1:54 am | Permalink
  19. JK says

    ” … [F]rom what I’m hearing … quite possibly … [t]hey were duped. So who is naive?”

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 2:21 am | Permalink
  20. colinhutton says

    Now now Henry!

    I had assumed that an irony alert was not necessary. Or that, even though I’m a relatively recent and not frequent commenter, the risk that you or our host would miss it was very small.

    Mind you, perhaps by ‘taking me seriously’ you are being even more deeply ironic than I was? If “yes”, well, touché! (or may I say mazel tov?). If you missed it you conform (no offence intended) to the stereotypical view of Brits and Aussies that Americans ‘don’t get irony’.

    Our good friends include four Poles; an accountant, a tradesman, a Jewish software developer and a teacher. And an acquaintance (although I would be honoured to qualify as a friend of his) who is a professional pianist of some renown who has dedicated his life to promoting Chopin. We have the greatest respect for all of them and for the contributions of so many other Poles to western civilization.

    We also have numerous Jewish friends. So I enjoyed and ‘get’ your Polack joke.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 2:59 am | Permalink
  21. Musey says

    JK, you have to say more before I can understand you.

    Let me say this: preventing immigration, especially Jewish immigration, is a matter of duty and honour.

    And you may not like that. Why? Maybe because it’s hateful and wrong? But what’s the difference? Your prejudice, that’s what.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 3:00 am | Permalink
  22. Colin,

    I understood your first remark as irony (the “,you.” in your remark gave it away) and my response was intended as irony as well.

    I am glad you enjoyed (and relieved that you got) the Polack joke. If you hadn’t gotten it, I would have had to conclude you were Polish :)

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 3:19 am | Permalink
  23. colinhutton says


    You Polack, you!

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 5:23 am | Permalink
  24. Whitewall says

    Epicaric, from yesterday evening re “citizens of the world”–you presented the best description of the species I have read yet.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 7:18 am | Permalink
  25. Whitewall says

    Speaking of Polish people, my youngest sister-in-law is second generation Polish American. Her family settled in Corning, NY and many worked for the famous glass company for years. She and my youngest brother met in school. He was always a sucker for natural blondes.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink
  26. Robert,

    He was always a sucker for natural blondes.

    Aren’t we all?

    Me and the lovely Trish
    (Artist: Jonathan Schneider)

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink
  27. Whitewall says

    Henry, an attractive couple for sure. I am the odd lot in my family. I have a soft spot for red heads. Well ok, a very large soft spot for red heads. Especially auburn red.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink
  28. Robert,

    Trish is actually a strawberry blond, with blue eyes and some freckles — Swedish/Irish/Czech.

    Jonathan’s painting is based on photos of us (before we met).

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink
  29. Malcolm says


    Let me say this: preventing immigration, especially Jewish immigration, is a matter of duty and honour.

    And you may not like that. Why? Maybe because it’s hateful and wrong? But what’s the difference? Your prejudice, that’s what.

    Come on, you can do better than this.

    For starters, let’s use a more accurate word: discrimination. (“Prejudice” is inapt because what we are talking about here, after 1,400 years of strife with Islam, is judgment, not pre-judgment.)

    Your “argument”, if we can dignify it with the term, seems to be something like this:

    (1) Restricting Islamic immigration is discriminatory.

    (2) All discrimination is morally wrong.

    (3) Restricting immigration is morally wrong.

    The weak point is, of course, (2).

    Do you really think that peoples are interchangeable? Do you think that admitting a million Danes to a Western nation will have the same effect as a million Somali Muslims?

    Look at the example you give, the Jews. Do you suppose that admitting Jews to Israel has the same effect on Israel’s future as admitting Muslims?

    Every nation can admit or deny entry to anyone it likes, based on its own understanding of its best national interests. Discrimination in immigration policy is not only morally necessary (if a nation’s leaders have any moral obligation to the citizens they lead), but is also a matter, as it is for any living system, of survival.

    You say that the Brexit vote will not reduce immigration. Perhaps. But what it does do is to put the choice into the hands of a sovereign British nation and people. What they do with that power is up to them.

    Mass Muslim immigration is the stupidest and most self-destructive thing that any liberal Western nation can do to itself.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  30. Malcolm,

    Your analysis is incisive. Your description is cogent. Your examples are crystal clear. And your opinion is sensible.

    Other than that, your comment is spot-on.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  31. CanSpeccy says

    @ Musey

    from what I’m hearing a leave vote will not achieve any curb in the immigrant flow and in the short term,quite possibly a surge.

    What you are hearing may be codswallop.

    The effect of Brexit is to take back national sovereignty. That done, the British Government can do what it pleases about immigration.

    It is true that the present UK Government favors massive immigration, since that creates the demand for houses, roads, hospitals, etc., the construction of which brings vast profit to the friends of government who do the property development and build the new infrastructure. But out of the EU, the government has no one to blame but itself for unpopular policies, so whatever its motivation, a post-Brexit government will likely have no option, if it wishes to survive, but to cut immigration, or even impose a moratorium.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink
  32. JK says

    Oh there was some “duping” went on. Except it wasn’t the Brexiteers wot dunnit.

    If we’ll recall under the terms “as set forth” the Brit leadership agreed to take in 100,000.

    The 2015 UK final tally?


    (By the by – not even the Muslim-majority Islamic governments accept Muslim refugees – the Saudis for instance.)

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink
  33. the one eyed man says

    What does England have to offer the EU? London is its financial center. This will shift to Paris and Frankfurt. Post-Brexit, England has a lot less to offer than pre-Brexit.

    Services industries form a much larger part of the British economy than manufacturing, and the other service industries besides finance are similarly mobile in a digital world. Ceteris paribus, it’s better to have operations in a EU country than a non-EU country. Companies will leave the UK, taking their best and brightest with them, or they will simply decline to invest there.

    UK companies can still make trade arrangements, but they are less likely to be as their people see fit. The reason to have a trade bloc is to obtain the leverage which comes with scale. A British farmer buying potash will pay higher prices without the negotiating clout which comes from having European farmers as trade partners. His higher costs will make his goods more expensive domestically, and less competitive globally. The land where Jethro Tull revolutionized agronomy with the invention of the seed drill is now the place where pensioners decided: hey, let’s go living in the past.

    In addition to subjecting themselves to a 10% tariff and caused their (usually functional) government to go into acrimonious dysfunction, their foot-shooting includes establishing significant barriers to whatever trade arrangements they make. It’s a lot easier for a Manhattan company to sell to a buyer in Minnesota than in Manitoba. Sure, you can sell to Canada, but it is more difficult, costlier, and more complex. Being a member of a trade bloc facilitates and expands trade within the bloc, as well as impeding trade outside the bloc.

    Whether Brexit has any effect at all on British diversity and demography is a very open question. England is not part of the Schengen group. British citizens living in the EU will continue to want to do so, and the EU won’t allow that without reciprocity. By leaving the EU to effect changes in immigration, the aim of the pro-Brexit forces missed the broad side of someone else’s barn.

    (This is not to excuse the EU. The world’s economic engine is America and Asia ex Japan, and EU ineptitude has a lot to do with this. The only major countries with any real growth are the US, China, and India, as the fiscal and monetary policies adopted by EU countries post-crash failed spectacularly.)

    The passage of Brexit is Exhibit A of the triumph of agnotology over empiricism and hysteria over ratiocination. If the British want to ship jobs, industry, and human capital to the rest of the world in the name of sovereignty: that’s their choice. They can wave the Union Jack from the unemployment line As H. L. Mencken wrote, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” The colossal mistake the British people made gives further proof to his aphorism that “democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 3:16 pm | Permalink
  34. JK says

    What does England have to offer the EU?

    Widen your view (if possible being monocularly challenged) and look what’s just now and suddenly tipped.

    You see the ramifications of that don’t you One-Eyed?

    Or. You gonna tell me, “Just pure coincidence JK that it followed so soon after the referendum.”

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink
  35. The “Sage of Baltimore” was pretty good at aphorism that was heavy on “pithy” and extra light on “general truth”. A more pertinent version of his famous aphorism would have been:

    “Progressivism is the theory that the self-anointed elite know what the common people want, and the latter will get it whether they like it or not.”

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink
  36. Malcolm says


    The fact is that the E.U. itself is far weaker now than it was before it lost Britain, which was its second-largest economy and had its largest military.

    London has been a first-tier financial center for centuries now. It will continue to be one. Meanwhile, Britain is simply a vanguard in a rising tide of rejection of bureaucratic globalism; the citizens of other E.U. member states are now contemplating exit as well. The idea that the E.U. is everything, and Britain is nothing, is simply false, and I think it will soon become apparent that the truth is exactly the opposite. As more and more fractures appear in the tottering E.U., don’t be surprised if people turn to Britain looking for stability.

    Yes, the E.U., in desperation and anger, will certainly try to punish and coerce the U.K. at first, especially on immigration and work visas. C’est la vie. There were expat Brits all over Europe long before the E.U. arose, and no doubt there still will be, long after the E.U. is kaput.

    Meanwhile, all of your arguments are economic, and you pointedly ignore everything I have said about sovereignty and honor. I’m not surprised; I already knew that you consider tradition and heritage to be antique concepts of no current of no value; as mere artifacts to be discarded at each generation’s pleasure.

    But as I said, each of us will view Brexit through his own lens, by the light of his own axioms. Yours are globalist, statist, secular, anti-traditional, and universalist; mine are exactly the opposite. I would rather see Britain have to work at rebuilding its trade arrangements for a few years, if that’s what it takes to reclaim its self-determination, honor, and its control of its own laws and borders; you would rather see the nations of Europe disappear altogether, to be replaced by an atomized and deracinated multicultural corporation controlled by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. Gone and buried, under a landslide of alien and unassimilable immigrants and a suffocating web of “small, complicated, minute, and uniform rules”, will be all the distinct and fascinating cultures of Europe; each place will have the same sullen and fractious public order — and as happens everywhere that the ideology of multiculturalism holds the whip, the horizontal ligatures that make possible a harmonious and organic civil society will loosen and fall away. A dull, gray sameness is the best possible endpoint of this sort of enforced centralization; far worse, and far more likely, is general disorder or even, as the history of violent disaggregation everywhere in Europe has shown us again and again, civil war.

    It didn’t have to be this way. If the E.U. had been more sensitive to the particularities of its member nations, and had, upon effectively removing its internal borders, correspondingly tightened its external ones, it might never have come to such a pass. But no, the busybodies and know-it-alls who took the reins of power in Brussels immediately set about micromanaging everything they could, admitting hordes of aliens who were then free to go wherever they liked, and insulting, demonizing, and even arresting anyone who objected — all, seemingly, in blithe and total ignorance of the realities of human nature, human biodiversity, and the lessons of history (which are obvious, ample, and recent).

    You seem to see things just as they did. This is the result. For the rest of us, it was all very easily foreseen. There is much more to come.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 4:40 pm | Permalink
  37. Loki says


    The passage of Brexit is Exhibit A of the triumph of agnotology over empiricism and hysteria over ratiocination.

    Nope. That would be these folks.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  38. epicaric says

    I am loathe to reduce the Brexit question to economics alone. Post war independence movements had little to do with economics and arguably left many of the former colonies in far worse economic condition than in which they found themselves as subject nations.
    Those that argue the economic case – warning of dire consequences for the UK as an EU outsider should first consult current UK trade statistics. Of its leading trade partners, the U.K. enjoys a surplus only with the US and Switzerland, neither EU members. Germany, China and the Netherlands lead in exports to the UK. EU countries thus enjoy positive trade balances with the U.K.; a privilege they will hardly wish to imperil by “punishing” the UK for its exercise of popular democracy. It is the EU, rather than the UK, which stands to lose more by applying punitive tariffs. In any case, money – as fungible as water – will find its level.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink
  39. Malcolm says

    One thing that needs keeping in mind is that England’s demographic damage is almost entirely self-inflicted. Any immigration reform is going to have to come from the people themselves, and there is no guarantee that it will.

    At least now the choice is entirely theirs, though.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 8:49 pm | Permalink
  40. At least now the choice is entirely theirs, though.

    They made their bed (so to speak), so now they have to sleep in it — though they can now change the sheets first if they so desire.

    Posted June 28, 2016 at 9:37 pm | Permalink
  41. Musey says

    As evidenced by this comments thread the Brexit issue is divisive in the extreme. Malcolm, as you know, my argument was your argument with just one word change. You also know, for obvious reasons, that I have the greatest regard for Jewish people. And though what I wrote may be facile and tongue-in-cheek, it is true that your attitude to Muslim people in general is not just unkind but dismissive of millions around the world.

    Mass uncontrolled immigration is a nightmare. Many people that I talk to think that I’m a fascist for proposing that many should go home, when it is safe for them to do so, and with significant help from the richer nations to re-build their own countries. No, we can’t accommodate a million Somalis but we can offer temporary refuge and some assistance. We can’t just drive these people out into the sea.

    Denmark is a first world, western country so its population is quite happy to stay put.

    Just to enter into the spirit of bragging rights around here, my husband is a Jewish software engineer (although the Jewishness has only recently come to light) and my son is set to marry a girl of Polish heritage. She is a stunningly beautiful, natural blond.

    My husband was talking to his colleagues in Cambridge yesterday. The wonders of distance working and skype cannot be exaggerated. Amongst all these Cambridge boffins there is consternation and dismay over the Brexit result. These guys are not the establishment, they’re the super educated, super clever elite of Britain and, from what I hear, they’re universally unhappy with what has transpired.

    Never mind, the latest news hot off the presses is that the UK has a sovereign government and will most likely never trigger article 50. So it will not leave the EU, not in any meaningful way. All that has been achieved is a massive polarisation in British society and the fomenting of a rage which will be difficult to contain. Interesting times.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 1:41 am | Permalink
  42. Whitewall says

    Musey, ” All that has been achieved is a massive polarisation in British society and the fomenting of a rage which will be difficult to contain. Interesting times.” That is a good comment. Brexit didn’t cause any polarization, it exposed what has been there for generations. There was a time not that long ago that the aristocracy and the members of government ran everything. This divide seems quite similar to that, just with a modern face.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink
  43. JK says

    Amongst all these Cambridge boffins there is consternation and dismay over the Brexit result. These guys are not the establishment, they’re the super educated, super clever elite of Britain and, from what I hear, they’re universally unhappy with what has transpired.

    “The EU has created more regulatory barriers, not less,” Stern said in an interview. An exit from the EU could allow the U.K. to compete as a place with less regulation, and that could have a positive business impact, he said.

    Solarflare operates a research center in Cambridge, England, and its two co-founders are from the University of Cambridge.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 8:12 am | Permalink
  44. Whitewall says

    Now this is good!

    More coming I hope.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink
  45. Malcolm says


    Malcolm, as you know, my argument was your argument with just one word change.

    “Yesterday, a snowflake fell on Mary’s head.”

    “Yesterday, a piano fell on Mary’s head.”

    Just one word!

    Denmark is a first world, western country so its population is quite happy to stay put.

    How lucky those Danes are! Imagine: to find themselves, completely by random chance, living in a prosperous, orderly First World country.

    …your attitude to Muslim people in general is not just unkind but dismissive of millions around the world.

    “Unkind”? All I’ve suggested here is that our first obligation, as far as “kindness” is concerned, is to our own nations and people. I am happy to provide assistance, in situ, where there are humanitarian emergencies. (Noblesse oblige.) Mass importation of Islam to the West, however, will destroy the First World’s ability to do any good for anybody anywhere. As they say on the airlines: put your own oxygen mask on first, then help the children around you.

    I’m surprised that you push back so hard here. We seem to agree in substance; as you say, “mass immigration is a nightmare”. As far as I can see, it’s just that you don’t like the way the frankness of my remarks makes you feel.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  46. Alex Leibowitz says

    I don’t know enough to have an informed opinion about the Brexit, except to feel a vague sympathy for my college friends et al. who don’t like it, but I’m a little surprised that you would be so sanguine that such an important decision was put in the hands of the general public. The Brexit is having such a large effect on so many people, and I certainly feel a little uncomfortable that at the whim of a majority in some country or other (and not a large one, at that) the world order might be turned upside down. I write not from the conviction that anyone else was more qualified to decide about these matters than the people — but rather with the belief that when it comes to doing things that will have momentous consequences, we should arrange the system so that it is as difficult as possible to put them in motion. Isn’t that how the American constitution was designed?

    Posted July 8, 2016 at 6:08 am | Permalink
  47. Malcolm says

    Hi Alex,

    Good points, and as you know I am hardly a fan of raw democracy. In this case I was simply pleased with the outcome; clearly the elected (and unelected) officials of the UK and Europe have been hell-bent on the destruction of their traditional societies, and so Brexit was a welcome reaction.

    Posted July 8, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink
  48. Alex,

    “Isn’t that how the American constitution was designed?”

    Indeed. But Great Britain and the British people are not governed by the American Constitution. Neither are they, as a sovereign nation, governed by world-at-large opinion. Brexit, though it has consequences for other nations, is, nevertheless, a British issue.

    America (as well as other sovereign nations to a lesser degree) frequently takes actions that can (and frequently do) have profound effects on the rest of the world. But America is not obliged, albeit our government has normally considered, what the effects of our actions may have on the rest of the world. And, in my humble opinion, this is how it should be, so long as the world is organized into a community of sovereign nations.

    Posted July 8, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink