A rather earth-shaking event happened last night, as Great Britain voted to pull out of the European Union. The vote was close; it was 51.9 to 48.1 in favor of the Leave side.
And today, markets across the world are taking a pounding on fears that Brexit will signal a global economic downturn; there is no reason over the intermediate or long term why that should be true. High finance might be less well off, but high finance is the tail, not the dog – and the EU poisons the productive economies of its members with crushing, unreasonable regulation. Britain’s Main Street economy should be considerably better off without those regulations.
David Cameron, the prime minister in the UK, resigned today as a result; it will become effective by October.
Speculation has it that Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London who helped lead the Leave side, is the most likely successor to Cameron. The Labour Party is in shambles; its leader Jeremy Corbyn was a leader of the Remain side and his resignation is expected soon.
There are more referenda coming. The French, Italians and Dutch will all see calls for an exit vote shortly. The EU is likely to break up within two years – or at least revert to some form of trade alliance rather than a political union.
But as conservative hero Daniel Hannan, another of the Leave leaders and a member of the European Parliament from Great Britain, noted yesterday, this is less than the apocalyptic event than has been portrayed by both sides. Hannan says Brexit is a process rather than an event…
I have no idea which side will win. But one thing that seems clear is that it will be close. The losing side will represent a minority, but a large minority. In a democracy, large minorities can’t be ignored.
Think of the recent Scottish referendum. When 55 per cent of people voted for the status quo and 45 per cent voted for complete separation, all sides quickly recognised that the only way to build a consensus was with something in between those two positions. A new devolution package was put together, based on fiscal autonomy. It may go further than some unionists wanted; it may not go far enough for some separatists; but everyone can live with it.
If today’s vote should result in a similarly even split, the same logic will apply. If, as I hope, we vote to leave, we won’t be able simply to ignore the concerns of those who wanted to stay. A narrow leave vote is not a mandate for anything precipitate or radical. It is a mandate for a phased repatriation of power, with the agreement, wherever possible, of our European allies. Many of our existing arrangements will remain in place; and those which we want to disapply won’t be scrapped overnight. Brexit, in other words, will be a process rather than an event. It will be the moment when Britain starts to pursue a different trajectory, away from political union with the EU and toward a looser arrangement based on trade and co-operation.
Of course, the same logic ought to apply if there is a narrow remain vote. Just as Leavers need to acknowledge Remainers’ concerns about keeping our economic ties to the EU, so Remainers need acknowledge Leavers’ desire for more sovereignty. A narrow vote to stay would not be a vote to carry on as now; it would be a vote for a looser deal. British Europhiles, sensing how close things are, are falling over each other to promise further reforms in the event of a remain vote. William Hague, Tom Watson, Andy Burnham, Ed Balls and, most prominently and most recently, David Cameron – all assure us that it won’t stop here. Vote to stay, they say, and then we’ll continue to take powers back.
The question is whether Brussels will – or can – behave as Westminster did after the Scottish vote and devolve power. My guess is that a remain vote, however narrow, will be taken by Eurocrats as the end of 40 years of British stand-offishness. They’ll want to push ahead with full political merger, vindicated in their belief that, as the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz puts it, “Britain belongs to the European Union”.
In another unhelpful (from Remain’s point of view) intervention, Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday that there was no prospect of further reform if Britain voted to stay. We can’t claim we haven’t been warned.
The question of Scotland and Northern Ireland will be an interesting one – both favored the Remain side (Wales, on the other hand, voted Leave). There are calls for a new referendum on Scottish independence now, in order that the Scots might break away from the UK and yoke themselves to the EU. Politics has never been the Scots’ strong suit.
This might be less upheaval than advertised, but it’s still a major break from the status quo. Why did it happen?
There are economic reasons, of course. The EU is a regulatory disaster which stifles entrepreneurship and squeezes the middle class with taxes and inflated costs. Europeans live far poorer than they should, and the effort to manage 28 national economies at the same time from Brussels is no more successful than the far-flung Soviet Union’s five-year plans were.
But the main reason Brexit happened was immigration, and the EU’s complete failure to develop policies to satisfy the concerns of its citizens.
And interestingly, it was Barack Obama who lit the fire will ultimately have consumed the EU. Because it was Obama who (1) pulled out of Iraq and created the vacuum into which ISIS poured, and then (2) drew a line in the sand on Syria and then didn’t enforce it, thus allowing the Syrian civil war to turn into a massive refugee engine. When those forces were let loose, the millions of Middle Eastern Muslims who already wanted to migrate to Europe needed only to follow those dreams. Add Angela Merkel’s suicidally stupid idea to take all comers into Germany, and Germany’s domination of the EU meaning those wishes would be made policy, and the fire would become an inevitable inferno.
Then Obama went to the UK in April and made an ass of himself by running his mouth about Britain’s proper course, as though he had any influence or expertise to offer.
Obama was the best friend the Leave side ever had. The question is whether he has the same kind of negative influence on his own country.
– My American Spectator column for this week is up, and it is not friendly to the elected morons who spent a chunk of this week sitting on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
So in the face of pristine evidence that the problem Orlando presents as a matter of policy is the presence of jihad in our midst, Barack Obama gave us…gun control.
And the Democratic Party has talked of little else since.
This week the House Democrats, who since being turned into a minority in the 2010 elections have had virtually nothing to do, decided to make themselves “relevant” by staging a geriatric version of a 1960s sit-in on the House floor, led by the geriatric John Lewis. The Georgia congressman, who has lived for nearly half a century in politics off the fame he garnered for having marched with Martin Luther King and been injured in the fray, served as the face of the protest. His pouting visage covered the front pages of newspapers across the country as the Democrats mooned for their own mobile phone cameras smuggled onto the floor, while the Republican leadership attempted, unsuccessfully, to put down the revolt. Finally, on Thursday House speaker Paul Ryan gave up, putting the House into recess until after the Fourth of July. Lewis boasts that the sit-in will continue at that time and he and his cohorts doubtless are praying for Capitol Hill police to intervene by arresting them.
After all, as Ryan noted, the entire stunt is little more than a fundraising gimmick.
And what’s all this for, other than an attempt to motivate easily-led leftists? Why, gun control. And specifically the promotion of legislation so inimical to the constitutional principles for which Lewis marched in the 1960s — our civil rights under the Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments — as to make a mockery of his continued identification as a “civil rights hero.”
Lewis is no more that than Bruce Jenner is an icon of American masculinity. Jenner, after all, was at one time an Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon rather than the world’s most famous tranny.
Would Dr. King, a gun owner placed on a government watch list, have looked favorably on the legislation Lewis promotes with his derriere attached to the House floor? The “civil rights hero” would make it impossible to buy a firearm if an unaccountable government functionary puts one on a list of suspects. No due process, no notice given. Just go to a gun store and find out the bad news that your rights are being denied to you — and then you can lawyer up and spend your own money in an attempt to recover them.
There is more, including a nice Swedish massage of Loretta Lynch for her virtuoso performance in that bizarre press conference in which she admitted to have allowed Omar Mateen’s wife to skedaddle, and suggesting love as a defense to terrorism.
The result was painful. This was part of it…
— J L Falwell (@JerryJrFalwell) June 21, 2016
See that framed magazine cover just to the right of Falwell’s wife? Yep, that’s Trump on the cover of Playboy.
It’s perhaps a small thing, but it symbolizes perfectly what has happened to the religious Right as Trump has become the nominee. You can’t illuminate any better than this the sellout of that community than to see Junior Falwell’s wife posing next to a Playboy cover with Trump on it; the morality and virtue the Falwells are supposed to stand for doesn’t hold up so well when it lends its endorsement to a man with Trump’s manifest moral failings.
What’s more offensive about this, though, is the sloppiness. Nobody looked at the composition of that photo and recognized it would be a good idea to rearrange the magazine covers on the wall so the Playboy mag wouldn’t be in the shot? Falwell didn’t see the picture and decide either to crop it or not tweet it?
They just come off as dummies who don’t know what they’re doing. They come off like the Starks of Winterfell, who plague themselves with colossally unwise decisions bringing on predictably bad results.
The Falwells can’t even help Trump now. They’re laughingstocks. And the others who traveled to New York for that meeting are also tainted.
Yes, he’s a mean snake, lady. He’s a snake. What do you think he’s gonna do when you try to turn him into a pet?