Brexit - The UK and the EU

formby

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Interesting article:

Wolfgang Streeck argued last week on LSE Brexit that the EU was a ‘liberal empire’ that is about to fall. Peter Ramsay (LSE) suggests that the EU is a very particular type of empire, one that has arisen from the political decline of the nations that comprise it, and that this explains the tortured politics of Brexit.


Wolfgang Streeck does the Brexit debate a service by reminding us of the imperial character of the EU. British Remainers have claimed that Brexit is all about nostalgia for Britain’s maritime colonial empire. They have conveniently forgotten that the European continent is familiar with a different tradition of land-based multinational empire. Remainers would very much like the UK to Remain a part of this type of empire.


Streeck calls the EU a ‘liberal empire’ because it is explicitly committed to constitutionalism, private property, and competition. It is imperial nevertheless because one of its member states – Germany – has become hugely dominant over the others, and because EU institutions have progressively constrained the democratic process at the national level in the interests of the markets’ big players. Streeck’s account of the EU as an empire tells us much about its operations. Nevertheless, we should be wary of creating a left-wing version of conservative Euroscepticism, in which we replace bossy Brussels bureaucrats with greedy German capitalists as our image of EU overlords. It is not that there is no truth in either story, but they both tend to obscure the most significant aspect of the EU.



Francesco Albani, “Jupiter, in the shape of a bull, carrying off Europa”


If the EU is an empire then it is exceptional in being a legally voluntary empire. However much German or EU officials may connive to punish Britain economically and diplomatically for proposing to leave, Britain’s right to leave is not contested in Berlin or Brussels. Rather it is in London that Britain’s right to leave is bitterly contested by a British ruling class that is fighting to Remain. If Germany has acquired the position of an imperial hegemon, it has not been by conquest or through an overweening sense of national destiny or racial superiority but rather by default, a result of the weakening of national loyalties within all of the EU’s member states.


The EU’s liberal empire is a type of government improvised by national governing elites that are reluctant or no longer able to rely on the political authority provided by democratic politics. Instead of the nation within, those governing elites look outwards to supranational intergovernmental arrangements for their authority.


It is this peculiar characteristic of the EU’s ‘liberal empire’ that explains the tortured political process in Britain following the Brexit referendum. The electorate voted to ‘take back control’ of politics and the state. In response, the bulk of the political class has been united with the civil service, big business and academia in a shared determination to resist that. The British elite prefers intergovernmental collaboration to assertions of national sovereignty. Its preference for this way of governing is so ingrained that the government has been unable to imagine adopting a robust negotiating position with the EU, and even the weak negotiating efforts of the executive have been relentlessly, and very publicly, undermined by Parliament and other politically influential figures. The effect has been to create a situation in which the options now available to the UK are so unattractive that a sense of emergency can be manufactured. In this climate, it might be possible, one way or another, to nullify the effect of the original vote to Leave. While, as Streeck argues, the German hegemon and its ally France have an interest in making the British people pay a high price for daring to defy the EU, their most effective ally in that endeavour has been the British elite itself.


The British ruling class finds in the EU an effective and attractive way of asserting its interests. And this is so even if Germany is the major gainer from the arrangement. The British elite’s repulsion from the claims of the nation is much stronger than any downsides it may experience from playing economic second fiddle to Germany. The EU is a voluntary empire made up of states that are in denial of their national character: in denial of the fact that the state’s authority derives from the political nation.


This turn by Europe’s ruling classes against the nation has transformed the terrain of politics in Germany’s ‘liberal empire’. So Streeck observes of Brexit, that in so far as the decision to leave the EU ‘was driven by nationalist…concerns, it may amount to a historical mistake’. The reason for this, he suggests, is that Britain is likely to lose international influence in Europe and the world while France will gain what the UK loses. His prognosis may be right but, as any observer of the Brexit debate will have noted, it is British Remainers who have repeatedly bemoaned this likely loss of British international influence resulting from Brexit. As Richard Tuck has shown, the case made in the 1960s for the UK joining the European Economic Community was dominated by concerns over how to maintain Britain’s global influence as the British Empire declined. Similarly, contemporary Remainers reject nationalism, the better to ensure Britain’s global influence. The laughable post-Brexit fantasies of the UK’s current Secretary of Defence only underline the fact that Leaving the EU will radically limit Britain’s remaining imperial ambitions. For this reason, Brexit is welcomed by true internationalists the world over.


The point to grasp is that the ruling classes of the EU’s former imperial states have stopped trying to project their influence at home or abroad by mobilising nationalism. Instead, they do it through participation in the supranational empire of intergovernmental cooperation and by opposition to the alleged nationalism of others (particularly of Russia and of their own populations).


Streeck declares that the liberal empire is ‘about to fall’. He points to the EU’s current evolution towards still more authoritarian and now militaristic politics, driven by tensions that may yet bring it down. So far, only the populist right has really understood the distinctive aspect of the EU’s liberal empire – the denial of the nation by the imperial ruling classes of Europe. Democrats and internationalists urgently need to catch up. Against the claims of imperial cosmopolitanism, we need to reinvigorate the idea of the nation as the site of the authority of the people and of solidarity with the nationhood of others. Against the identity politics of both the populist right and the woke left, we need to popularise the idea of the people as a citizenry of self-determining persons.
 

Scherensammler

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Beat me to it! Given the anger of the Tory government this might not be a farce.
Hopefully this will put either an end to May's stupid attempt to blackmail parliament into accepting her deal or lead to a GE after the the 29th of March.
Good thing Mr. Bercow is Jewish, should keep him (relatively) save from any backlash...
 
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Kingstonian

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Not a fan of Bercow but I cannot fault him rejecting an attempt to offer the same bill three times in a row.

I would also be glad to see the back of the withdrawal/surrender agreement. Delay does not equal remain win -regardless of what doom merchants claim.
 

Pimpernel Smith

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Another day and one looks forward to reading yet again the MailOnline's desperate spinning of May as a heroic figure battling the anti-democratic forces and delivering us a safe, clean Brexit.

3 years and the results are nothing.
 

Scherensammler

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Quick search on Guy Verhofstadt. Looks like he is a hard-core communist:

http://www.spinelligroup.eu/people/guy-verhofstadt

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altiero_Spinelli


Altiero Spinelli (31 August 1907 – 23 May 1986) was a former Italian Communist[1][2] politician, political theorist and European federalist. Spinelli is referred to as one of the founding fathers of the European Union due to his co-authorship of the Ventotene Manifesto, his founding role in the European federalist movement, his strong influence on the first few decades of post-World War II European integration and, later, his role in re-launching the integration process in the 1980s. By the time of his death, he had been a member of the European Commission for six years, a member of the European Parliament for ten years right up until his death. The main building of the European Parliament in Brussels is named after him. The 1987–1988 academic year at the College of Europe and the 2009–2010 academic year of the European College of Parma were named in his honour.
 

doghouse

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The quest for Brexit has killed Britain









By Nick Cohen
March 18 at 7:19 PM

Nick Cohen, a British author, journalist and political commentator, is a columnist for the Observer.

Brexit Britain has reached populism’s inevitable terminus. The government is collapsing as Conservative ministers vote against their own administration with impunity. The equally chaotic opposition cannot oppose. No one can say whether my country will crash out of the European Union provoking an economic and social crisis. Honest commentators don’t make predictions anymore, but stare at the wreckage with slack-jawed disbelief.

“We have no idea where we are going,” Sam Gyimah, from Theresa May’s ruling Conservative government, said last week (although I use the word “ruling” advisedly). “There is no strategy; there is no plan.”

The British crisis is deeper than the United States’ because at its heart lies a failure of truth-telling. We have no equivalent of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives; no power center or coherent voice that can expose the populist politicians whose combination of cynicism and magical thinking led us to this pass.



The Brexit that the electorate narrowly voted for on June 23, 2016, could be achieved in two ways. Britain might choose a complete break with the European Union. It would necessitate rebuilding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that would threaten the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, one of the greatest political achievements of my lifetime. It would rip Britain out of the E.U.’s single market, the destination of 44 percent of our exports, and out of 46 years of agreements that allow the frictionless movement of goods, services and people. It would destroy Britain’s Customs Union with the E.U., along with free-trade agreements with 56 other countries. It could still be done, but by God, it would hurt.

Alternatively, we could stay in the Single Market and Customs Union, accept E.U. laws we had no say in making, and leave in name only. A course that would raise the pertinent question: Why bother?

Like populist movements across the West, the Leave campaign refused to make a tough call. Instead, it promised that wrenching change could be achieved without pain. Unlike the nationalists of the 20th century, who fetishized sacrifice, their successors are the authentic representatives of a baby-boomer generation that wants to have it all. Boris Johnson, an upper-class politician who could make President Trump seem a model of integrity, and his fellow supporters of Brexit promised that the task of securing a fresh trade deal with the E.U. would be “one of the easiest in human history.” As it has turned out, the tension of reconciling the populist propaganda of the referendum campaign with protecting the economy has caused a nervous breakdown in politics, and the real negotiations haven’t even begun yet. Meanwhile, British exceptionalists, like their American counterparts, insisted that other countries would bow before us. We were repeatedly assured that the E.U. needed us more than we needed them, a brag that grows more absurd by the day.

But it has been the referendum’s aftermath that has killed Britain. May had supported Britain staying in the E.U., but she never took apart the fantasies of the Leave campaign or made the hard choice explicit. The opposition Labour Party is under the control of Jeremy Corbyn and his far-left faction, which is closer to the communist than the social democratic tradition. Uniquely, among European center-left and post-Marxist leaders, Corbyn has been anti-E.U. all his career. In another instance of British exceptionalism, he believes against all evidence that Britain can go it alone and build socialism in one country. Naturally, he and his supporters have shown no inclination to argue the pro-European case either.

As a result, millions believe that Brexit is failing not because it was a doomed project but because an evil elite is subverting the people’s will.

The complicity of our political leaders has emboldened the worst type of nationalist. Right-wing ultras have twice stopped May’s tentative attempt to begin a deal with the E.U. by protecting the Irish peace settlement. They cannot stand compromise, however modest. Although individual journalists, activists and politicians have tried their best, most of the 17.4 million who voted for Brexit in 2016 have never seen the men who so casually offered them false promises held to account.

It is anyone’s guess what will happen next. There’s talk this week that perhaps May’s withdrawal agreement will pass Parliament on the third or fourth attempt, but parliamentary procedure might prevent her trying again. No one knows. Parliament said on Thursday it is now prepared to ask the E.U. to extend the deadline for Britain’s departure beyond March 29. The E.U. is under no obligation to agree. Even if it does, what would be the point? There is no consensus on what we should do next. Britain is deadlocked, and the catastrophic possibility of the country crashing out of the E.U. without a deal should not be underestimated.

I have no wish to diminish the seriousness of the criticisms against Trump or suggest that he is fit to govern a great country. But Trump will be gone by 2020 or, if the Democrats mess up, by 2024. Brexit gives every indication that it will paralyze Britain for a generation.
 

formby

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Cohen has annoyed the fuck out of me over Brexit, he's little more than a propagandist at this point, and I'm saying that as someone who owns his books...

He doesn't seem to understand, or want to understand the reason why people voted to leave.

A failure of the imagination, tragicomic really...
 

Fwiffo

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This thread started about a referendum to leave the European Union and has now gone to quoting a politician who was famous for his "rivers of blood" speech. As a student of British history during my uni days, I'm perturbed.
 

Pimpernel Smith

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As a student of British history during my uni days, I'm perturbed.
As a student of British history, you will be aware that Enoch Powell was an MBE, a classical professor by the time he was 25, a philologist, poet, author and was fluent in French, German and Italian and another 7 languages. He served in WWII and reached the rank of brigadier, the youngest to attain that rank in the Army at that time. He was a patriot and gentleman of conviction who believed truth must be told however unpalatible. The truth as he saw it in the infamous speech enraged the establishment and did indeed contain racial and fiery rhetoric that was at best extremely ill-judged. But as a prophet on the numbers of mass migration he massively underestimated the numbers. At the time of the speech, amongst the public, he remained the most popular politician in the country and the dockers marched in London in support of him. He was a man of his time and he paid for that speech as he was destined to be PM.

A man and politician of such stature and controversy does not deserve to be erased from history, no matter how enticing that is in these more enlightened times. And with particular reference to this topic, his inclusion is quite apt, quoted The Telegraph's orbituary.:

QUOTE
The cause celebre for Powell during those years was Britain's entry to the European Economic Community. His first act of rebellion as a backbencher in 1950 had been to refuse to support the Schuman Plan that set up the original community. Now, because of the erosion of Parliament's sovereign rights that membership would entail, Powell was even more bitterly opposed. A faction in the party led by him came within eight votes of defeating the European Communities Bill on Second Reading. The Whips made it clear Heath would resign and call an election on the question if defeated, and this brought to heel just enough waverers.
Heath's U-turn in 1972, when the neo-Powellite "Selsdon Man" vision of Toryism was wrecked by state intervention, was the last straw for Powell. Once the February 1974 election was called - on what Powell declared to be a bogus issue, "Who governs Britain?" - he wrote to the chairman of his constituency to say that he could not stand in the Conservative interest. More to the point, he advised the country to vote for Labour as the only party likely to take Britain out of the EEC. His words probably lost Heath the election.
Powell relentlessly pressed home his opposition to Heath during the campaign, criticising his reversals of principle during the preceding four years. At a rally in Shipley, three days before the election, when a member of the audience yelled "Judas!" at Powell, he retorted: "Judas was paid! Judas was paid! I am making a sacrifice!"
Powell had planned a retirement devoted to textual study of the Greek New Testament and the works of Shakespeare - which he believed were written by committee. But before the October 1974 election he was invited to stand as Official Ulster Unionist candidate in South Down. He did, and won.
He spent the rest of his parliamentary career sitting for this Ulster seat and visiting his constituency once a fortnight. His strategic experience was invaluable to the Unionists, and helped to force the Callaghan Government to increase Ulster's seats at Westminster from 12 to 17.....

Though in his later years Powell gave an impression of being a haunted, solitary figure, he was a kind, humorous and sensitive man, happy in his family life and devoutly religious. He enjoyed travelling and reading with a new verve, and sought more and more the company of younger people.

In retirement he eventually completed his version of the Greek New Testament, and it was published in 1994 to acclaim not unmixed with controversy. Powell was also an expert on - among other things - church architecture and monumental brasses in particular. Wherever he went to speak or visit he would try to ensure he made time to look at some of the local churches.

In interviews he often gave a glimpse of the emotional side of his character, a feature best viewed in his four volumes of poetry, which are deeply Housmanesque in style. He published two volumes before the war and two more in 1951, the second of which, The Wedding Gift, included 32 lyrics about the desolation he felt at being rejected by a woman - the "B" of the dedication - while a rival was favoured. The experience was crucial to his character, and one that, afterwards, ran too deep for expression.

Powell lived somewhat eccentrically, keeping no office at the Commons and working in its library. But when he spoke in the Commons, members listened. His private address and telephone number were in all the reference works, a brave act. He was helpful to those who sought not to waste his time. Once asked if he was happy, he replied: "Unhappiness, like grey hairs, is part of life. I am as happy as the human condition allows."

Until he began to be debilitated by Parkinson's disease after he turned 80, he travelled around London on the Underground, a familiar sight in his dark coat and homburg hat on the District line between Westminster and Sloane Square, near which he lived.
It is undeniable that his promise was not fulfilled: but by the very nature of his talents and principles it is hard to see how, without the compromise to which he was so averse, it possibly could have been. Despite his long retirement, he was widely admired as a giant of modern politics and modern thought up to the time of his death.
He was appointed MBE in 1943, and sworn of the Privy Council in 1960.
UNQUOTE

This is a 100% relevant to now:

 

formby

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As a student of British history, you will be aware that Enoch Powell was an MBE, a classical professor by the time he was 25, a philologist, poet, author and was fluent in French, German and Italian and another 7 languages. He served in WWII and reached the rank of brigadier, the youngest to attain that rank in the Army at that time. He was a patriot and gentleman of conviction who believed truth must be told however unpalatible. The truth as he saw it in the infamous speech enraged the establishment and did indeed contain racial and fiery rhetoric that was at best extremely ill-judged. But as a prophet on the numbers of mass migration he massively underestimated the numbers. At the time of the speech, amongst the public, he remained the most popular politician in the country and the dockers marched in London in support of him. He was a man of his time and he paid for that speech as he was destined to be PM.

A man and politician of such stature and controversy does not deserve to be erased from history, no matter how enticing that is in these more enlightened times. And with particular reference to this topic, his inclusion is quite apt, quoted The Telegraph's orbituary.:

QUOTE
The cause celebre for Powell during those years was Britain's entry to the European Economic Community. His first act of rebellion as a backbencher in 1950 had been to refuse to support the Schuman Plan that set up the original community. Now, because of the erosion of Parliament's sovereign rights that membership would entail, Powell was even more bitterly opposed. A faction in the party led by him came within eight votes of defeating the European Communities Bill on Second Reading. The Whips made it clear Heath would resign and call an election on the question if defeated, and this brought to heel just enough waverers.
Heath's U-turn in 1972, when the neo-Powellite "Selsdon Man" vision of Toryism was wrecked by state intervention, was the last straw for Powell. Once the February 1974 election was called - on what Powell declared to be a bogus issue, "Who governs Britain?" - he wrote to the chairman of his constituency to say that he could not stand in the Conservative interest. More to the point, he advised the country to vote for Labour as the only party likely to take Britain out of the EEC. His words probably lost Heath the election.
Powell relentlessly pressed home his opposition to Heath during the campaign, criticising his reversals of principle during the preceding four years. At a rally in Shipley, three days before the election, when a member of the audience yelled "Judas!" at Powell, he retorted: "Judas was paid! Judas was paid! I am making a sacrifice!"
Powell had planned a retirement devoted to textual study of the Greek New Testament and the works of Shakespeare - which he believed were written by committee. But before the October 1974 election he was invited to stand as Official Ulster Unionist candidate in South Down. He did, and won.
He spent the rest of his parliamentary career sitting for this Ulster seat and visiting his constituency once a fortnight. His strategic experience was invaluable to the Unionists, and helped to force the Callaghan Government to increase Ulster's seats at Westminster from 12 to 17.....

Though in his later years Powell gave an impression of being a haunted, solitary figure, he was a kind, humorous and sensitive man, happy in his family life and devoutly religious. He enjoyed travelling and reading with a new verve, and sought more and more the company of younger people.

In retirement he eventually completed his version of the Greek New Testament, and it was published in 1994 to acclaim not unmixed with controversy. Powell was also an expert on - among other things - church architecture and monumental brasses in particular. Wherever he went to speak or visit he would try to ensure he made time to look at some of the local churches.

In interviews he often gave a glimpse of the emotional side of his character, a feature best viewed in his four volumes of poetry, which are deeply Housmanesque in style. He published two volumes before the war and two more in 1951, the second of which, The Wedding Gift, included 32 lyrics about the desolation he felt at being rejected by a woman - the "B" of the dedication - while a rival was favoured. The experience was crucial to his character, and one that, afterwards, ran too deep for expression.

Powell lived somewhat eccentrically, keeping no office at the Commons and working in its library. But when he spoke in the Commons, members listened. His private address and telephone number were in all the reference works, a brave act. He was helpful to those who sought not to waste his time. Once asked if he was happy, he replied: "Unhappiness, like grey hairs, is part of life. I am as happy as the human condition allows."

Until he began to be debilitated by Parkinson's disease after he turned 80, he travelled around London on the Underground, a familiar sight in his dark coat and homburg hat on the District line between Westminster and Sloane Square, near which he lived.
It is undeniable that his promise was not fulfilled: but by the very nature of his talents and principles it is hard to see how, without the compromise to which he was so averse, it possibly could have been. Despite his long retirement, he was widely admired as a giant of modern politics and modern thought up to the time of his death.
He was appointed MBE in 1943, and sworn of the Privy Council in 1960.
UNQUOTE

This is a 100% relevant to now:

Interesting that Heath threatened to resign and call an election if he didn't get his way. Heath is in many ways is the cause of our current troubles.

And Powell is in many way responsible for the reason we find it difficult to talk about race/immigration in Britain.
 

Pimpernel Smith

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Always beware when someone states with conviction ''Its literally 100% accurate.....''

May's speech yesterday was profound, I mean the threatening and pleading facial gestures in equal measure and the way she turned around and stomped off at the end. Truly, there's nothing left of her spell, the enchantment is broken. According to a Sky News survey, which is pro-Remain or the surrender deal, 90% of the UK public across all ages, demographics and political affiliation consider the process to leave so far as a ''National Humiliation''. Julia Hartley-Brewer Twitter feed is worth checking out, real humour on the situation last night and this wretched PM. The Tory MPs are waking up too!
 
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