March 12, 2018
[brexit] What are they after?: How Could the Tories?
… What do the Brexiteer Tories Want From Brexit?… ‘For all his idiosyncrasies, Johnson typifies something about contemporary conservatism, which might best be understood biographically. The cultural forces shaping the new conservatism resolve in a particular stereotype: men born between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s, with some constellation of expat backgrounds, famous fathers and first careers in the media. All four things apply to Johnson, but a Venn diagram of these various characteristics would also include Michael Gove, Douglas Carswell, Daniel Hannan and Jacob Rees-Mogg. The result of these disparate characteristics is a comfortable familiarity with the myths and rituals of the British state, but a blasé indifference to the impact of policy.’
June 13, 2017
[brexit] Britain: The End of a Fantasy
… some strong analysis on Brexit and the current mess the United Kingdon is in …
Theresa May is a classic phony Brexiter. She didn’t support it in last year’s referendum and there is no reason to think that, in private, she has ever changed her mind. But she saw that the path to power led toward the cliff edge, from which Britain will take its leap into an unknown future entirely outside the European Union. Her strategy was one of appeasement—of the nationalist zealots in her own party, of the voters who had backed the hard-right UK Independence Party (UKIP), and of the hysterically jingoistic Tory press, especially The Daily Mail.
The actual result of the referendum last year was narrow and ambiguous. Fifty-two percent of voters backed Brexit but we know that many of them did so because they were reassured by Boris Johnson’s promise that, when it came to Europe, Britain could “have its cake and eat it.” It could both leave the EU and continue to enjoy all the benefits of membership. Britons could still trade freely with the EU and would be free to live, work, and study in any EU country just as before. This is, of course, a childish fantasy, and it is unlikely that Johnson himself really believed a word of it. It was just part of the game, a smart line that might win a debate at the Oxford Union.
But what do you do when your crowd-pleasing applause lines have to become public policy? The twenty-seven remaining member states of the EU have to try to extract a rational outcome from an essentially irrational process. They have to ask the simple question: What do you Brits actually want?
May 16, 2017
[press] Is the editor of the Daily Mail the most dangerous man in Britain?
… The Guardian on on Paul Dacre
and Brexit… ‘His own success at the Mail has bought him schooling for his two sons at Eton, membership of the Garrick, a chauffeur, a house in the country, flat in town and a shooting estate in Scotland (generously subsidised by the EU). He rarely rubs up against the people he believes he represents. “It always amused me that his shoe leather never wore out,” one reporter told Addison, “because every day he was on a carpet in the office; he strode out the door and was in a car which deposited him either at home or a restaurant. He would be horrified at what modern Britain had become – but he was never part of it.” Despite this insulation, Dacre has always presented himself as having a unique “feel for the emotions of ordinary people”. He still apparently locates this feeling in the 1950s London suburb of Arnos Grove in which he grew up, and which persists as the model of the Mail’s middle England.’
July 15, 2016
[brexit] Everything you need to know about Theresa May’s Brexit nightmare in five minutes
… TL;DR – We’re fucked basically…‘An interim agreement. This would deal with her main problem, which is time. The Article 50 timetable is just so punishing no nation could come out of it safely. She could skip all this two-year stuff and agree an interim arrangement where the UK stays in the single market while it negotiates its ultimate Brexit deal, with a deadline of 2020 to coincide with the general election. Then she could go to the country looking for a mandate to sign that deal. That would calm the markets, provide a better situation for a decent deal with Europe and other countries, and generally make the whole process a lot less frightening and hysterical for all involved.’
July 11, 2016
[brexit] Brexit: a coup by one set of public schoolboys against another
… Brexit – it’s all about the Oxford Union apparently … ‘The moment Brexit was achieved, Johnson and Hannan airily informed Britons that immigration would continue after all. No wonder, because the public schoolboys don’t care about immigration. Whether Poles and Bangladeshis live in unfashionable English provincial towns is a matter of supreme indifference to them. The public schoolboys turned out to have no plan for executing Brexit. I’m guessing they considered this a boring governance issue best left to swotty civil servants. Johnson actually spent the Sunday after Brexit playing cricket. In the great public-school tradition, he was a dilettante “winging it”.’